Tray load iMac with G4 upgrade = decent OS X machine?

4 replies [Last post]
Joined: Nov 4 2005
Posts: 43

I know that the G3 iMacs have lousy video under OS X, but I was hoping that a G4 upgrade would help. What do you guys think? I've always wanted a Rev.B Bondi iMac, but I cannot have any more "useless" computers sitting around, or I will end up single.

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Eudimorphodon's picture
Joined: Dec 21 2003
Posts: 1204
Not really, no.

The *huge* annoyance of the tray loading iMacs, other then the lousy video support, is the 8GB hard disk partition size limit for OS X. Upgrades don't change that. Being limited to 512MB of now-somewhat-hard-to-find memory doesn't help either. It's also worth noting that those machines are creeping up on nine years old, so reliability is a *huge* question mark.

(I recently gave away one that had probably run a total of 40 or so hours since given to me in late 2000. While cleaning off the hard disk I heard a few *pzzt* noises and saw the screen flicker, which is a pretty sure sign the analog board is going to go soon. Good luck finding one in better shape. This was a "low mileage" example.)

If someone dumped one on your front porch for free with the G4 upgrade installed, fine, keep it and see if you like it, but don't spend any money on one. The $99 G4 upgrade from Daystar is cute, but you'll probably regret buying it after your flyback transformer dies next month.


Simon27's picture
Joined: Jul 7 2005
Posts: 73

Unless the Mac has FireWire, Tiger won't let you install. It is still possible, as I've heard of someone who took out the hard drive, put it in an enclosure, connected it to another Mac that had FireWire, and then installed Tiger on that drive before putting it back into the iMac.

FireWire isn't necessary for the installation or operation of Tiger. The install DVD just uses FireWire as a 'bookmark': if the Mac doens't have firewire, then it probably won't run Tiger very well.

Even if the iMac had FireWire, you would need to make sure that it had a DVD-ROM drive.


'As the name implies, an ombudsman is what you get when you combine words from the diverse fields of meditation, beer, and something called "sman"' -- Scott Adams, Dilbert Creator

iantm's picture
Joined: Apr 2 2005
Posts: 709
With some caveats ...

I wouldn't invest any money into a tray loading iMac at this point in time. As has been mentioned in previous posts, these machines are getting close to being ten years old. At work, I have a tray load iMac on my desk that I use as a dedicated OS 9 testing environment. (I still have a good sized number of OS 9 users)

If you're going to drop money into a tray loader iMac, the money would be better spent on a slot loader or a B&W G3/early G4 tower. Machines of the 1999-2002 vintage are getting cheap, if only because of the mac mini. If you're planning to spend more than $200, find a used G4 mac mini. If less, a B&W G3 or G4 tower is a good cheap machine.

The analog boards on the tray loader iMacs were never the most reliable components. Because of that, even in their prime, the most I'd ever invest in a tray load iMac would be ram or hard drive (if only because they can be reused elsewhere).


- iantm
ACPT & ACDT (long expired)
BMW Certified Technician

dankephoto's picture
Joined: Dec 20 2003
Posts: 1900
US$99 G4 _is_ tempting

The Daystar G4 trayloader upgrade is tempting, if only because of its relatively low price. No, it really makes little 'sense', but I can see the appeal.

I do wonder if it'd actually be able to play DVDs, something my 400MHz G3 rev D iMac is unable to do in an acceptable way. Anyone out there actually have one of these jobbies? (The ability to play a DVD smoothly is my rough benchmark for a usable modern Mac.)

dan k


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