733MHz "Digital Audio" G4 upgrade suggestions!

in Current Mac Hardware edited January 2014
Maybe this should go in a "Older Hardware" forum...

Anyway, here's the skinny; I just bought this G4 from a client. Payed $300.00 for it. Good price I believe... It's a stock "Digital Audio" G4.

Some specs:

733MHz with the 1MB backside L3 cache.


256MB of PC133 RAM.

32MB GeForce.

60GB Ultra ATA 66.

Superdrive (CD-RW/DVD-R drive (2x DVD-R, 6x DVD, 8x CD-R, 4x CD-RW, 24x CD).

OS 9.1 and 10.1 (ouch!).

It looks like it was just pulled out of the box except for a big gouge on the non-door side panel.

It won't be used for any gaming. However, I MIGHT be willing to transfer Microsoft Office and Photoshop from Windows and buy their Mac counterparts if... here's my question to you all.

How will this machine handle Panther. How might it handle Tiger? What upgrades would you people suggest? Is the video card a detriment to Expose?


  • Reply 1 of 13
    algolalgol Posts: 833member
    Things I would do in order of performance gains achieved for the price:

    1. More RAM--Add 512MB

    2. upgrade to 10.3.7

    3. upgrade graphics--Radeon 9000 64MB or better

    4. I don't know the speed of your HD, but a faster one may help

    5. CPU upgrade (this and more ram will make the biggest dif but a CPU upgrade will cost you around 400)

    It'll handle panther fine. Not as fast as a new Mac but it'll def be 100% usable. I assume tiger will run fine as well.

    The number ONE thing to do it get more ram. 256MB is just not nearly enough to run OS X. 512MB+ I'd go with 1GB if you are doing photoshop etc.
  • Reply 2 of 13
    I picked up a Digital Audio 466 about a month ago and did the following:

    G4 1.33GHz/2MB L3 Upgrade (Giga Designs) - $275

    1.5GB RAM (crucial) - $150

    Radeon 9800 - $249

    You only need to upgrade that GeForce2 MX if you plan on gaming. Then again, you can pick up a Radeon 9600 for under $100 that will let you use CoreImage in the upcoming 10.4 Tiger. This will let you see all the eye candy in 10.4 like ripple effects when you plop a widget down. Even the new Mac mini won't do it. You mention it has 10.1 installed, well 10.3 runs alot faster.
  • Reply 3 of 13
    The very first thing I would do is get a processor upgrade. I've read many benchmarks on the DA 733Mhz Powermac, and they wern't the greatest. Something with the processor in your mac was a failed attempt to increase speed. Many test have shown that times the 733Mhz proc was slower than the older 500Mhz G4 tower systems in some PS tests, and even just real world applications. So get a new processor first, than ram, then Optical Drive upgrades, then SATA.
  • Reply 4 of 13
    OK, so let's say for now I just go with 1Gig of RAM, ATI 9200 vid card and a faster HDD, maybe 10k_rpm. Is the Processor still that much of a bottleneck for smooth OS X performance with really moderate Photoshop use?

    I do appreciate all comments people.
  • Reply 5 of 13
    algolalgol Posts: 833member
    Motorola pushed the pipeline stages from 4 to 7 with the introduction of the 733Mhz G4 in order to reach higher frequencies. Increased pipeline stages results in a higher speed being necessary to get the same performance. Therefore, the 733Mhz G4 is not all that much faster than the 500Mhz G4 that came before it. The 733Mhz G4 is pretty slow over all. If you are planning on keeping the system I would stick a faster CPU in for sure. Perhaps a 1.33Ghz G4 or something like that. HUGE DIFFERENCE
  • Reply 6 of 13
    The reason the 733MHz was particularly slow was the lack of L3 cache.
  • Reply 7 of 13
    so, my ideas:

    1. better graphics: at least radeon 9600 with more vram it can

    2. lot of ram: the more you can afford

    3. serial ata controller and Hard Disk

    4. an audio card with midi and open al acceleration

    5. if you want a new superdrive (pioneer 109)
  • Reply 8 of 13
    just to compete my post:

    only with panter your mac will be faster, but with the upgrade that i have suggested will be a pleasure to use.

    in tiger things will go simply better, so i belive you can use without problems for at least 3 or 4 years
  • Reply 9 of 13
    dfilerdfiler Posts: 3,420member
    More ram and a dual processor upgrade (with L3 cache) will make the biggest difference.
  • Reply 10 of 13
    I have that same model that I upgraded to a dual 1 Ghz powerlogix chip. I am willing to sell the dual chip to you. Contact me at tomk @ 3cm.net if you are interested. I am selling my tower to go with a powerbook. I am definately selling the powerlogix CPU and the 733mhz computer seperately.
  • Reply 11 of 13
    it seem that the best video card you can buy is radeon 9800 128 MB http://apps.ati.com/ATIcompare/result.asp

    actually is a very powerful card, with tiger will be life, expecially with 2D grafic application that will use coreimage
  • Reply 12 of 13
    I do recall the big flap when the 733MHz QUICKSILVER was introduced. It was slower than the Digital Audio because it lacked the backside L3 cache that the previous generation model (mine) had.

    The Digital Audio DOES have a 1MB level-3 backside cache.

    Keep in mind guys, my usage of Photoshop is basically tweaking and manipulation of "snapshots". Yeah, I've gotten more creative lately, but that's about it. Word, PowerPoint and Excel are the other big three for my livelyhood.

    To reiterate, I want OS X to run smoothly, I'd like to enjoy some of the "eye candy" that OS X offers. Like Expose. I don't need gaming power on this machine.

    Thanks for all the advice so far people!
  • Reply 13 of 13
    As already mentioned by many people, a CPU upgrade will produce the most visible speed increases.

    However, there are incompatibilities between hardware and problems with VRMs so don't just buy any CPU upgrade. Check out this site:


    This site will help you find a previous user who already made the CPU upgrades that you plan to make. This will help you make the best decision on your purchase. Read as many reviews as possible. Just because one customer was happy, that doesn't mean that everyone was pleased with the upgrade.

    Some manufacturers have great products but terrible quality control. Try to get a feel for their track record (including tech support).

    Other recommendations: 1GB RAM, Radeon 9800 (for maximum graphics performance with Tiger) or Radeon 9600 (for the best performing passively-cooled and quiet videocard), faster & bigger hard drive.

    The 9600 can be found at OWC (http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/item/7292/APL630ATI96G4/) from time to time. It is a modified PowerMac G5 card so ATI warranty will be void and the ADC port has a few issues (see OWC site for details) but it is still a good deal.

    BTW, if the XLR8YourMac site helped you out and if you decide to buy something from OWC, return the favor by going to OWC via a link on the XLR8YourMac website (www.xlr8yourmac.com).
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