Super Quiet G4 Cube!!

zootbobbalu

Registered
I like the fact that my Cube doesn't have an internal cooling fan because of the noise a fan can create. My Cube was so quiet the noise from my internal ATA HD was starting to annoy me. Apple just released a firmware update for the G4 Cube and this new update now allows Cube owners to boot from any external Firewire drive. I already had a Maxtor external Firewire drive (X01FWRA040) which is ten times more quiet, so I installed OS 9 and OS X on it. Sure enough the new firmware update did allow me to boot from my Firewire drive. This got me to think about how I could turn off my internal ATA drive since I could now boot off my external drive.

After watching Late Night with Dave, I opened up my Cube, unplugged the power connector to the internal drive and powered up my computer. Believe it or not, this did the trick. My Cube can boot from the external Firewire drive without having an active internal drive. This made my Cube almost silent!! I don't even notice when it goes into sleep mode anymore!! Now I can listen to the quiet passages of any CD without having my ATA drive cut in with a high pitch hum.
 

Tigger

Bring mich zum Licht!
Hey, with a long FireWire cable, you could even put the harddrive in the closet or something like this, So you wouldn't hear anything at all, even if you were trying to.

My loud G3 B/W really starts to annoy me... ;-)
 

zootbobbalu

Registered
I forgot to mention that I put my drive behind my desk, but my Maxtor FireWire drive is so quiet I don't think it would matter where I put it. My monitor is more noisy than my Maxtor drive, but this is not putting down my ViewSonic at all. The other nice thing about using a FireWire drive is the fact that ATA drives require some CPU overhead. This is not the case for a FireWire drive, so I could see better performance from my Cube.

I might be sacrificing some transfer speed. I think a FireWire drive maxed out at 400Mbps is a bit slower than an ATA66 in max transfer rate (50MB/sec vs 66MB/sec), but I can't tell much off a difference. Not sure about the math, please someone correct me if I'm wrong.

My old 6400 sounds like a hair drier and my Dell at work sounds like a yard blower now!!!

G4 Cube + Mac OS X + FireWire - cooling fan - ATA = Awesome!!!!
 

scruffy

Notorious Olive Counter
I own a B&W G3, two hard drives and two fans, and the computers at school still sound terrible - old PCs with dead fans that screech and rattle to drive you insane. Listening to a CD loud enough to drown those things out would be deafening!

I could handle a Cube, if only there were room for another video card in them...
 

zootbobbalu

Registered
I played with two monitors for about two months. Unless you're in publishing doing page layout, I don't see any reason to add an extra monitor. I did think twice about the fact you couldn't add an extra monitor. I came to the conclusion that 1600 by 1200 is enough desktop space for me. Having a small portable desktop computer that is neat to look at, pretty fast and now dead silent makes me wonder why more people don't get over the obvious short comings of the Cube and take a closer look at what it does better than everything else out there.

The worst thing that could happen if you decide to buy a Cube is you might start hating 90 percent of the computers in use. I already have.
 

glowurm@mac.com

aH-NAH :: GHASAD-Ha
Originally posted by zootbobbalu
The other nice thing about using a FireWire drive is the fact that ATA drives require some CPU overhead. This is not the case for a FireWire drive, so I could see better performance from my Cube.

I might be sacrificing some transfer speed. I think a FireWire drive maxed out at 400Mbps is a bit slower than an ATA66 in max transfer rate (50MB/sec vs 66MB/sec)... {edited} ...please someone correct me if I'm wrong.

G4 Cube + Mac OS X + FireWire - cooling fan - ATA = Awesome!!!!
Sorry to be a booger but I do know that you are probably mistaken about that CPU overhead bit in that their are not any Firewire native devices available on the market today (to the best of my knowledge); all devices (hard disks, cd/dvd-rom/r/rw/ram, zip, tape drive, etc.) to date use some sort of bridging technology to go from the Firewire interface to the ATA/ATAPI/EIDE/SCSI/WHATEVER device. So not only are you losing actual transfer speed but you may be loosing CPU cycles too.

In addition, the rotation speed of the Firewire drive vs. the internal stock drive on the cube may differ (5400/7200 RPM) depending on what the manufacturer decided to drop in there. Do you have the original specifications handy so you can compare? Check out the seek time while you're in there, lower is better and it is usually rated in ms (milliseconds) with 9ms being average.

Finally, no matter what, you will not get the full bandwidth from any device all the time period. When comparing two items it is important to check the difference in sustained transfer rate. This will give you a good idea of what you can expect as far as more general performance is concerned. I am not sure about ATA but I'm sure that Firewire is more susceptible to high bursts of speed with a lower sustained transfer rate.

In conclusion, I hope this provides a good jumping off point for your research, but realize that I am not an engineer and may be wrong too. Please look into this further if you are concerned about performance at all; some people aren't and that is OK. I come from a "digital media" background and have always needed the most I could squeeze from my machine. If you are doing video or prepress or even web development you need to look into this further.

PS: Please forgive my poor grammar and spelling, where applicable.
 

zootbobbalu

Registered
glowurm,

Great info!! That's funny that there still are not any native FireWire devices out (kind of surprising since FireWire has been out for a while).

All valid points, but a little too focused on what "might" be a problem for Cube owners. I'm an engineer, but not a hardware engineer. I do know that design philosophy tries not to focus on one aspect of a product. In this case my primary objective was to bring my Cube closer to it's intended design goal, which was to make a fast tiny quiet "cool" computer. I also record music on the side, so I place greater value in having a quiet working environment than a graphic artist or programmer. If you really need disk speed, you wouldn't buy a Cube and you probably would be hooked up to an RAID array. One of the main reasons I bought the Cube and accepted some if it's compromises was because it didn't have a cooling fan and its easy to move around. Disk speed is an issue, but not for my computing needs.

My external FireWire drive is doing a pretty good job. I haven't timed the difference in start up times, but both internal and external drives boot up pretty quick. My Cube still boots up faster than the SCSI II upgrade on my 6400, but I know this is not a fare comparison. FireWire has the potential to serve as your main drive when the 1600 Mbits/sec (200 MB/sec) standard comes out. I'm just happy that FireWire 400 works beautifully. Don't forget it's a serial bus!!







 

zootbobbalu

Registered
Mac OS X version 10.0.2 has a bug that makes it seem like you can no longer boot off an external FireWire drive without an active internal ATA drive. After I updated to 10.0.2 and upon the required restart, I got a split classic mac during startup. To fix this problem, all I had to do was hold down the option key during startup a couple of times until my system recognized my external FireWire drive.
 
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