Advice needed on old Mac clones & OS X

6 replies [Last post]
Joined: Jun 8 2004
Posts: 17

Hey all, this is my first post but I'm a long-time Mac user. My first Mac ever was an old LC, and I still have an old Motorola StarMax 3000 with a G3 upgrade card.

Over the years I've fallen behind in Mac technology. I've dabbled in it from time to time, but I'm still sorta lost when it comes to OS X.

I'd like to learn OS X and sorta transition back into the Mac world, but inexpensively (college student). I was thinking of purchasing an older Apple and maybe upgrading it a bit to run OS X.

So my question is this: what recommendations can you make for running OS X cheaply ($500 or less)? I was considering getting an old beige G3 and buying a G4 upgrade card and some RAM. If it is possible to get OS X running on non-G3 based systems (like an old clone), I'd be all for that too.

Thanks in advance! Smile

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Eudimorphodon's picture
Joined: Dec 21 2003
Posts: 1203
$500 budget?

I'd say don't bother going halfway. "Sawtooth" AGP G4s are slipping to well under the $500 mark assuming you do some smart shopping, and really, OS X sort of sucks on anything less.

The alternatives would probably be, in decreasing order of desirability and price:

1: Refurb/used "eMac". (Faster then the Sawtooth, but... it's an eMac.)
2: White iBook. (You can probably find one for less then $500.)
3: "Blue and White" G3 or PCI G4. (You *really* should blow the extra scratch for AGP, though.)
4: "Slot Loading" iMac, firewire equipped *strongly* preferred.

Anything "Beige", Apple or Clone, isn't worth the money to upgrade for OS X. If you already owned or someone *gave* you something that already had a G3/G4 upgrade and oodles of RAM it might be worth trying an unsupported install on, but it's a bad idea to buy your way into that situation.


Jon's picture
Joined: Dec 20 2003
Posts: 2804
If you can fix hardware, or c

If you can fix hardware, or can find something that someone else screwed up and wants off of their hands, you should be able to come well under the $500 mark. I already had my 600MHz iBook when I found my iMac, but the iMac was a case of "someone thought they broke it, and really broke it further trying to recover the HDD" syndrome. Look for iMacs where someone tried to install OS X without doing the firmware update, they'll come REALLY cheap at times. Fixing them isn't simple, but it's fairly easy. I got mine for $10, and I dropped in 256MB of free RAM, a free 10GB HDD, repaired the ailing CD-ROM myself for free (cost me time, but it was fun), fixed the botched OS X/firmware issues, and only actually spent more money when I decided to add a fan to the poor fan-less iMac and get a $6 PS/2 ms/kbd -> USB adapter. So, a G3 350MHz slot-load iMac Blueberry with 10GB/256MB/24xCD-ROM that is now running 10.2.8/9.2.2 cost me south of $25 total. I'm a poor sorta-college student (on an indefinite break) and I spent $475 under your budget because I shopped round and was willing to take a cheap risk on fixing something up myself.

My words of caution, though, are: Don't take a "cheap" risk that ain't really cheap. Risking $10 meant no drive-thru lunch for a day or two. Risking $100-200 would have hurt alot more if it didn't work.


I am not in this world to live up to other people's expectations, nor do I feel that the world must live up to mine. - Fritz Perls

Joined: Jun 8 2004
Posts: 17
Thanks for the advice! How wo

Thanks for the advice! How would a beige G3 with a G4 upgrade card do? I would assume that any beige G3 is fine, even a 233 since you're bypassing the primary CPU. I could get one for about $100 on eBay then the G4 card for another $100, some RAM, and just buy OS X. Good idea?

I saw some Power Mac G4s for right around $500 on I'd need a monitor to match. Perhaps if I start raking in more money in my job I'd consider it, but for now it's a bit too pricey.

Joined: Jun 8 2004
Posts: 39
I've run Jag on a Beige All-i

I've run Jag on a Beige All-in-One 466 G3 and it was decent. No (easy) possibility of a video card upgrade though so I switched to a desktop with a Radeon 7000 (flashed PC version) which I used at work without any problems - that Dell had to get off my desk on way or another. Beige's are going for something like $35 + shipping on the LEM-swap list right now. Find a great big Trinitron CRT from some company liquidating their old monitors to make room for their new crop (crap) of Dells with LCDs. You can at least be well setup for 9 to start with for $50.

You might also consider a Lombard or Pismo Powerbook G3. Forget the 333MHz Lombard though. I've sold quite a few of these and they run X just fine - even better with Panther than Jag. Of course I don't really push them, maily websurfing, email, Office and occasionally something more. $400 should easily get you a cool X laptop. Plus its a great portable DVD player! I personally can't deal with the 12" iBook screen...probably why I said go get a BIG monitor Tongue

Of course, an AGP G4 is still your best bet. Keep your eyes open for awhile and you'll find one.


Joined: Jun 8 2004
Posts: 17
Well I've found a UMAX J700 a

Well I've found a UMAX J700 and a PowerTower Pro very cheap (both are 604e machines). There is a G400 upgrade for them. Realistically, how easy is it to install OS X on one of them? I know you technically can't do it, but people have gotten around it.

Again, keep in mind that I just need something that will run OS X smoothly. I don't intend to author video, play games, or do graphics work. Just the basics so I can dabble in X.

rael9's picture
Joined: Dec 26 2003
Posts: 215
OS X installation

Here's my article on installing OS X 10.3 on my Beige. It should give you some idea of what you are getting yourself into:


James M. Baker
Computer Nerd
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