My Dilemma


Very recently I had the chance to work with OSX and I was very impressed. So impressed that I now want to buy a mac :) It has been about 3 years since my last cpu upgrade (celeron 366 oc'd to 550) and I want to purchase a new machine.

My problem, I took a look at and the mac that I am interested in is the PowerMac G4 866. The price was considerably more than I had anticipated.

Another problem is that although I fell in love with the operating system (I have used linux for about 6 years of and on and I really don't like it. I also use Windows 2000) and I am wondering if I *really* need the mac at all. I usually just browse the web, listen to music, chat, and I am a photographer by hobby and I want to do work with my photos. I want a mac because I like the operating system and I am really getting tired of windows, but is this enough to splurge and buy a really expensive mac?

My questions:
1. Is it possible to buy a barebones mac and buy the other parts? Apple has a habit of charging extreme ammounts of money for cheap devices.

2. Will I be able to use some of the devices i currently have on the mac (Hp Cd-rw, Sblive, TNT2, Western Digital IDE HD)?

3. The flat panel monitors look nice, but they sure are expensive. Will I be able to use a svga monitor on the mac? I noticed it had a geforce2 in it by default.

4. What can it do for me compared to an intel machine?

I hope to get some responses soon :)

Thank you
Originally posted by Dinkmeister
. I usually just browse the web, listen to music, chat, and I am a photographer by hobby and I want to do work with my photos. I want a mac because I like the operating system and I am really getting tired of windows, but is this enough to splurge and buy a really expensive mac?

... if that's all you're going to be doing you really don't need to go out and spend tons on a g4 ... the imac will do fine for this kind of stuff ... saves you the price of a monitor too ... :) the g4, on the other hand, does give you tons more power and possibilties, but it may be a bit like using a ferrari for shopping when a volkswagen would do the job just as well ... :)

no idea about your devices, quite honestly... do they have usb? or firewire? maybe someone else knows... :)
1. OSX 10.1 will run on just about any Mac G3 266 or better. I am running it on a Powerbook G3 266 without a problem. That opens the possibilites of getting a good used Mac like dual 500mHz G4.

2. As far a your devices if they are usb or firwire and drivers for the Mac are available they should work. You will probably have to check with the manufacturers.

3. I think you can use PC monitors with most newer Macs.

4. The biggest thing is that OSX is unix. Many unix security programs and others are available from gnu. Windows with its many security flaws is a big target for hackers. Unix based systems so far are not as vulnerable. Other than that the two OS's are very similar and run similar software. I have had one since 1985 and feel it more stable than Windows has been

If you are lucky enought to have one of the new Mac stores near you go in and ask your questions there.

this is resated to another thread that I decided to stop arguing on, but I agree that Apple's prices are a bit steep on the pro desktops. If you're really cheap you could get the bottom iMac, but I have trouble recommending that little monitor to anyone anymore. My actual buying advice would be to look at the iBook. It's actually pretty sweet for the price, and Apple's laptop line has rocked for a while now. It should get you the parts and power you need, along with the happiness of having that little puppy with you wherever and whenever.

All that said, I am very happy with my dual G4 450. :) I have an additional PCI video card and thus 2 monitors side by side, both standard VGA plugs. Apple's site has good info on the tech specs about what each box has if you dig around a little.

As for what my mac does for me that Windows never does? It makes me smile. Like a complimentary mint after an expensive dinner, it tends to pleasantly surprise on a lot of things. As does this chat room bulletin board thingy here. I love you guys. ... OK, I've been up all night and I may be getting delirious. Good luck with your weighty CPU decisions.
You should take a look at the 733Mhz G4's, their price was recently dropped to around $1700. You can use just about any monitor with them, and your PC peripherals, as mentioned by others, may be compatible.
Originally posted by Dinkmeister
2. Will I be able to use some of the devices i currently have on the mac (Hp Cd-rw, Sblive, TNT2, Western Digital IDE HD)?
You can't buy a system WITHOUT the parts you are talking about, with the exception of the CD-RW, as your system may come with a DVD-rom. You may be able to replace or add your parts:

CD-RW: is it internal or external? IDE or USB or firewire? Check on Apple's site for a list of drives that are compatible with OS X's disc burner and/or iTunes.
TNT2: all the newer machines come with a GF2, so you would be downgrading your monitor, even if you could flash it with a mac rom.
SBlive: dunno :confused:
IDE HD: Definitely. With the G4, just open the case, plug it in, boot up, and you have yourself a second HD. If you go the iMac route, you can replace the internal HD, but it is no trivial task. To use it as a second HD for the iMac, I reccomend the purchase of a external firewire housing kit to make it a legit external drive.

4. What can it do for me compared to an intel machine?
Run OS X! :D

Keep asking questions, we'll help you sort through it all!

As has been pointed out before, you can go for a "smaller" Mac. Don't get diverted by Mhz. The Mac has a completely different processor and Intel Mhz don't straightly translate into Mac Mhz. A 500 Mhz Mac already is quite powerful.
You can basically use any kind of VGA monitor. Also you can basically use any kind of HD. (But try to check with the Apple Store).
As for your CD-RW - you can use Toast-, it supports a hell of a lot of burners.
E.g. I've got a Toshiba Combo-drive in my G4 (which is only supposed to run on PCs) which works quite nicely. I didn't even have to install a driver !
You can still try the integrated burning (Finder, iTunes, Disk Copy, especially Disk Copy is likely to support your CD-RW).
What can OS X do for you ? A lot. Apart from the sheer functionality of the system, it spares you a lot of hassle with drivers etc. Hardware integration is just lovely. E.g. I bought an external FireWire drive and just plugged it in. OS X just mounted it and I can do everything with it wihtout even installing any additional SW or drivers.
Music. You'll love iTunes (2). It's gorgeous and it's free (comes with your Mac).
Well, you basically have the same options as in the Windows world (IE, Netscape, Opera etc. plus a few extras (and the latest java integrated).
OS X is freaking Java comlpiant. E.g. Java Net Start comes with your Mac.
As for working with digital media, the Mac is perfect, because of its Quartz graphic layer, QuickTime etc. You'll find the Mac powerful in handling pictures etc. far beyond what you wd expect from the Mhz figure in the Intel world.

Just dive into it and you'll find a lot of stuff that's rewarding. I wont say that *everything* is perfect but I bet you'll often find yourself thinking "thank God I'm on a Mac".
P.S. Just in case you do want the command line: It's also there, but you don't *have* to use it.
Again, HW integration is really a big plus.

Hope my rambling was a little informative...
But you don't need a brand new one. I'm with the others here in that a nice used dual G4/500 should suffice. :)

I have an HP CD Writer 9500 that works fine in an ADS Firewire case. It works with the Finder and Toast, though not iTunes yet.

The Western Digital will be A-OK in the G4 tower. There are 4 drive bays in the G4 and they're all IDE - ATA/66 at least.

The SBlive is a question mark... they make a version for mac but I don't know how it differs from the PC version. Unless you're a profesional musician, the built in sound on the Mac is great.

With the RIVA I believe you're out of luck. I don't think there is any version of that card that runs on a Mac though I could certainly be mistaken. It has happened.
You can always get an older G4 dual processor model for cheaper.
For what you want to do you dont need a top of the line machine.

Also for OSes the macOS is nice ;) I have VPC with 20 x86 OSes on it he he (and I *only* have a G3 @ 350).

You dont need to buy RAM from apple, you can get your own RAM.
Also you dont need to get stuff like SCSI cards or extra peripherals from apple.

As for your stuff, you can probably make it work, if they are not USB you can get a USB adaptor for them. Graphics cards...well.. I am not sure the TNT will work for you. The HD will most likely work.

I do php development as well...and if i got a mac i'd love to get my hands in there and work around with some programming :)

I think I can get the bottom of the line g4 tower for 1700? And buy a gig of ram for about 100 bucks :)

I'm not into the whole iMac thing. I think they are really ugly hehe. And that screen is too small for my raisen-like eyes.

Although I do wish the powerbooks were cheaper :-( They'd be really nice for when i go to school next fall. Which brings up another thing i want to do with my mac :) I guess ill be doing all the things for school (Word processing, etc.).

And where can i buy these dual 500s? :p
Here's a question.....

If i buy a mac will it come with an osx cd? doesn't say it does and I'd like to install OSX onto the current hard drive I have if I get a mac :)
Not sure why you'd want to put OSX on your HD instead of the one tht comes with the computer. Do you have a higher RPM drive than the standard ones that come in Macs? If not I fail to see the advantage. You can (with a little trickery) move anything including user folders to a separate HD (ie your current one).

I'm going to second the iBook notion. Best bang for the buck in Apple's current line, and you can attach an external monitor I believe.
I have a Blue & White G3, 500MHz, 768MB RAM. It will be 3 years old in January and it is plenty fast enough for me for my current uses. I have no plans to purchase another Apple computer anytime soon - there's nothing wrong with the one I have. I originally ordered my computer as a 400MHz G3 with 128MB RAM, a 100MB ZIP drive, and a SCSI card from the Apple Store. I added more PC-100 RAM earlier this year when RAM prices plumeted. I fried my logic board recently by plugging in the keyboard to the USB connector when the system was not grounded, hence a refurbished logic board and a new processor. I added an MS-DOS formatted 7200RPM IBM UltraSCSI drive last year just to install LinuxPPC 2000, which was later removed for Mac OS X. All I did was start up Apple's Disk Utility program and reformatted the MS-DOS-formatted 18GB UltraSCSI drive as an Apple HFS+ volume with several different partitions (which had Apple HFS format and UNIX formats). I didn't use any special drivers for the computer to recognize the new drive. I just dropped it in and reformatted - no problems.

I would recommend buying a new lower end PowerMac G4 733MHz instead of the 867MHz G4. Sure it will cost a little extra cash than a used G4, but you probably won't have to upgrade for 5 years. You're really not going to notice a difference in speed with the new G4's, especially with Altivec. The 867MHz G4 is only 18.3% faster in clock speed than a 733MHz G4, AND if Altivec is crunching/pumping numbers as fast as it can, the system bandwidth would be the limiting factor for speed, not the processor. Anyone know what the maximum throughput of the 133MHz system bus is now a days? I'm pretty sure that a 733MHz G4 would likely saturate the system throughput with Altivec cranking out full speed.

A PowerMac offers you expansion slots for future expandability. An iMac is not going to accept a SCSI HD, AND, what happens when the monitor fails? With a PowerMac, you just keeping adding on to it as your needs grow/change. Need 2 monitors? Add a second video card and monitor, can't do that with an iMac.

Regarding your Western Digital IDE HD, I'm pretty sure the "New World" Macs (iMac, Blue & White G3 and up) can only have one UltraATA / IDE hard drive. Go with SCSI an extra/add-on HD, it might cost more, but it is FAST - you get what you pay for - SPEED.

Regarding SoundBlaster Live Sound card, you won't need it. Macs already come with excellent sound chips and they don't breakdown.

When you buy a Mac, the compenents are well-matched inside such that you aren't going to have to upgrade for a long time if you're an average user.

If you MUST have Mac OS X, save your money, get a $1800 733MHz G4 with a SCSI card. Buy your RAM (and I mean load it up) from some other place on the internet and drop-in a wapping fast IBM UltraSCSI drive yourself and install Mac OS X on that. You will SMILE!!! I've heard that IBM makes the best hard drives in that they have the longest mean time between failures. I use a CTX 17 inch color monitor, purchased from Sam's Club 3 years ago; it has a standard VGA connector.


Blue & White G3, G4 logic board, 500MHz IBM G3, 768MB RAM, 12GB IBM UltraATA, 18GB IBM UltraSCSI, Adaptec 2930 UltraSCSI Card, 100MB Zip (built-in).
Yeah, comes with all new Macs and is *not* dongled. So you can install your one copy on any number of Macs :)
And you'll want to get that, won't you ;)


If you are new to the mac get the 733 it will rock... but hey if you are planning for some games too... get the GeForce 3 as a BTO since it will cost a fortune if you buy it from Apple later :)

The Western Digital will be A-OK in the G4 tower. There are 4 drive bays in the G4 and they're all IDE - ATA/66 at least.

Even though there are four drive bays inside the g4 you will need to install either a scsi or ide card to use the other two.
There are only two ide controllers on the board. One channel for two hard drives and the other for cd rom and zip.
The price was considerably more than I had anticipated.

ever hear the saying "you get what you pay for"?

do you normally buy whatever gets the job done at the cheapest price?
if so, you should stick with your peecees, you'll never see the advantages of the macs.
if you normally are willing to pay a little bit more to get a quality product that you know is built reliably, will out live its usefullnes, and gives you more litle extras, then start doing a little more research into exactly which mac model will give you the best deal.
(hint: are the tv's in your house sharp/rca or panosonic/sony/mitsubishi?)

if you decide the mac is right for you, you might want to look into the online mass retailers like,,, etc. While they can't offer lower prices than the apple store, they can give you more little freebies to enhance the deal - especially extra ram.

my philsophy is to buy the best new mac-chine that you can afford. used machines may be just as good today, but will go unsupported far faster. until technology progress slows again, this is worth considering.

just my thoughts. you asked.:)
In simplist terms, the bottom of the line G4 for $1700 will be much faster than any PC you have been using and very adequate for what you've listed as your main uses. The gig of ram will be great for OSX. have no fear, that $1700 machine will go a long way. Yes the normal monitor will work with it too.