Silencing a Power Mac 9600

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robegian's picture
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Hi all,

I was unsure if posting this issue in the "PowerPC Macs" or in the "Hardware Hacks" forum — I ended up with posting it here.

Anyway: I'm still using my old Power Mac 9600 as a host for a Korg OASYS PCI audio card in this setup:
http://www.giannotta.eu/photolink/ReteMIDI-audio.pdf

Having successfully silenced the Power Mac G4 MDD (a.k.a. Wind Tunnel) hosting my other Korg OASYS PCI, now I'm on a quest to annihilate (or at least to dramatically limit) the Power Mac 9600's annoying noise, mainly through replacing its fans with others, quieter. Does anyone know the specifications of the fans I have to look for — that is, CFM and the likes? Any suggestion and/or link?

Thanks in advance and ciao from Italy,

Roberto

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eeun's picture
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Re: Silencing a Power Mac 9600

Ciao, Roberto;
The power supply fan and the side panel fan are both standard 12V DC. Side panel is 120mm, pretty sure the PSU is too.
The 9600 wasn't much of a heat generator compared to your MDD, so you can focus on getting the quietest fans and not worry about CFM.
You might want to look at shielding and case plastics around the fans that could cause cavitation noise. The option is there to cut the case and replace it with a metal fan grill, or place the fans on rubber standoffs to move them slightly further away from obstructions. (I'm going to guess, though, that you know most of this already)

Speaking of the MDD, I'm curious what you used to successfully silence that very noisy machine.

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Re: Silencing a Power Mac 9600

Another noisy component to think about would be the hard drive. Mechanical drives tend to get noisier as they age, so even if you swap out the system fans for quiet ones, you'll likely still hear the drive whirring. IIRC the 9600 used an IDE drive, and there are a couple of manufacturers out there who make IDE solid-state drives.

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robegian's picture
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Re: Silencing a Power Mac 9600

Thanks for the replies.

Looks like I'll have to disassemble the PSU to find out the fan's size. By the way, when I got rid of most of the PCI cards populating all six 9600's slots, ending with only an ATI Radeon video card and the Korg OASYS PCI, I simply disconnected the side panel fan, presuming that two PCI cards won't need all that cooling.

eeun wrote:

Speaking of the MDD, I'm curious what you used to successfully silence that very noisy machine.

I replaced three fans and disconnected one (the side panel fan cooling the DVD burner, which I never use) — consequently the machine got remarkably quiet. The only noise now is the IDE drive's, which luckily is not very noisy (though clearly audible). The new fans spin very quietly — they're barely audible actually.

I placed one 120mm SilenX iXtrema 120 (noise level 18 dB, air flow 90 CFM) for the CPU, and two Xilence Slim 60mm Case Fans inside the PSU (22dB, 29.7 CFM).

I followed some instructions found here:
http://coolstuff.wordpress.com/2007/02/19/powermac-g4-mdd-cooling-and-noise-reduction/

And here:
http://www.xlr8yourmac.com/systems/g4_mirrored_drive_doors/noise_reduction/g4_ddr_noise_reduction.html

I faced just one problem: the iXtrema 120 sports three grey wires while there are only two pins on the motherboard, so I had to figure out which wires to connect (see photo — turned out the central wire is +).

The two 60mm fans are considerably slimmer and move less air than the original fans, but this doesn't seem an issue. Here's an image showing the new and the old fan side to side, and here's another one showing the new fans placed in the PSU.

Here's a picture showing the innards of the PSU, and the fan's connections. Watch out the 450V capacitors in the PSU (although they probably don't represent a threat).

Dr. Webster wrote:

IIRC the 9600 used an IDE drive, and there are a couple of manufacturers out there who make IDE solid-state drives.

Unfortunately the PM 9600 uses SCSI drives. Maybe a PCI card with an IDE controller could be a solution, although I'm not sure if they're available: does anybody know of specific models of IDE PCI cards working with Mac OS 9?

eeun's picture
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Re: Silencing a Power Mac 9600

robegian wrote:

Unfortunately the PM 9600 uses SCSI drives. Maybe a PCI card with an IDE controller could be a solution, although I'm not sure if they're available: does anybody know of specific models of IDE PCI cards working with Mac OS 9?

I've got a Sonnet Tempo card - ATA133 - and it worked a treat when I had an 8600 w. OS9.

Thanks for the MDD info and photos Wink

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Re: Silencing a Power Mac 9600

Sonnet made ide cards but I'd skip them and go to a Sonnet Tempo SATA card from OWC. Works with any PCI Mac and small SATA SSDs are cheap.

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Re: Silencing a Power Mac 9600

Have you considered using a CFFA Card?

http://www.startech.com/HDD/Adapters/40-44-pin-IDE-to-Compact-Flash-SSD-Adapter~IDE2CF

I placed one of these into my PowerBook 5300c and I have never had a problem.

Steven Smile

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robegian's picture
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Re: Silencing a Power Mac 9600

Thanks for the suggestions.

Since the Power Mac has SCSI and PCI, I especially like the idea of the Sonnet Tempo SATA PCI card. Still, buying a card + an SSD would be an investment I'm not sure the Power Mac 9600 is worth — but I'm considering it nevertheless.

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Re: Silencing a Power Mac 9600

You could just get the SATA card and then look for a deal on a small SSD on CL. Lots of people bought too small an SSD and upgraded shortly after. Even a 30gb is a lot of hard drive on a 9600.

robegian's picture
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Re: Silencing a Power Mac 9600

Actually it's more or less what I'm considering. The problem is, I don't know which SSD's can be managed by Mac OS 9.2 and formatted HFS or HFS+. I saw some cheap 30GB Kingston SSD, in example — but will they work in Mac OS 9?

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Re: Silencing a Power Mac 9600

I don't have a lot of SSDs so I can't help there. I know Sonnet said the card worked with OS 8 and I've heard of people using it with 7.6. With OSX I've used a 3tb drive with that card.
A while ago I did a little benchmarking with some mechanical drives and found that SATA 1 drives outperformed SATA II and SATA II outperformed SATA III. Since the card is a SATA 1 interface, I guess that shouldn't be surprising.

robegian's picture
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Re: Silencing a Power Mac 9600

Just bought the Sonnet ATA card on eBay for 60€:
http://www.ebay.it/itm/321359727416

This costed me more than the present value of the whole computer (and I still have to find the SSD), anyhow it can be handy since I have several PCI Power Macs laying around, and their old SCSI disks are noisier and noisier and prone to failure.

Now hunting for a cheap SSD. Still having doubts about compatibility though — in example, does any of these SSD drives feature proven compatibility with Mac OS 9, in your experience?
http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_trksid=p2047675.m570.l1313.TR5.TRC1.A0.H0.Xssd+30gb&_nkw=ssd+30gb&_sacat=0&_from=R40

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Re: Silencing a Power Mac 9600

... and by the way, which is the most sensible version of Mac OS to use with the 9600, in your opinion?

Currently it has Mac OS 9.1, but I was wondering if 8.6 would be a better choice.

eeun's picture
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Re: Silencing a Power Mac 9600

Both OS choices are fine, but you might check the SATA card requirements in case it limits you to OS 9.
For actual production work, the differences between 8.6 and 9 won't really matter. If I recall correctly 9's use of virtual memory was better, but if you're working with audio you may have that disabled anyway.

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Re: Silencing a Power Mac 9600

There's a guy on 68kmla running 7.6, 9.1 and 10.4 off a SSD on a 9500 https://68kmla.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=20124

also http://xlr8yourmac.com/ might be a good place to look

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Re: Silencing a Power Mac 9600

I’ve just finished replacing the PSU's fan and it’s a partial success: it works, but it’s still noisy (albeit less noisy than the original fan) because the fan is clearly set at full speed, moving quite a lot of air. I recall the original fan was moving less air, probably rotating slower than this, and in this photo depicting the original fan, something like a resistor is peekabooing near the wires: maybe it’s been used to slow down the fan a bit?

By the way, I placed an identical fan in the Power Mac G4 MDD (a SilenX iXtrema 120) and it’s definitely rotating slower, with a quieter-than-whisper noise. I think it would be sensible to slow down the one in the Power Mac 9600’s PSU too, also because it’s moving quite a lot of air, remarkably more than the original fan. This fan has three wires (where the original has two — and in fact I connected just two wires in the new fan too): maybe I could use the third wire (presently unused) to control the speed somehow? Or maybe I could put the «regular» wires through some resistor or potentiometer to control the speed? Any suggestion?

The process of replacing the PSU fan was a bit trickier than what I thought, although not too difficult. Compared to the old one, the new fan is about double the height, although it fits anyway. Actually it has precisely the height to fill entirely the volume where the fan has to be put, like shown in this picture, while this picture shows the PSU ready to host the new fan (visible in the background, while the old fan is in the foreground). Here the PSU is almost fully reassembled, with only its cover lacking. A big 450V capacitor has been a bit of concern, but it's been easy to avoid to touch the relevant parts.

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Re: Silencing a Power Mac 9600

Some time ago I made a Hackint0sh and had a fan noise problem, which solved by buying silent fans (10db) and reducing the voltage to them from 12v to 5v, making them slow and almost noiseless. I can't tell if my computer is on from 5 feet, really have to get next to it to hear a hum.
I forgot how to reduce voltage in fans but think involves modifying the cables, very easy. Look online.
Hope this helps.
Javster

robegian's picture
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Re: Silencing a Power Mac 9600

A friend of mine suggests this link:
http://www.webx.dk/oz2cpu/pcmod/fan-reg.htm

By the way, the Power Mac G4 MDD now is *astonishingly* silent — that's why I'm persisting with the Power Mac 9600.

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Re: Silencing a Power Mac 9600

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

Now I'm using probably the most silent Power Mac 9600 on earth :->

After replacing the PSU fan, I've installed a Sonnet Tempo SATA PCI card (no drivers required), and a couple of silent 2.5" 40GB SATA drives (paid 5€ each), removing the old noisy 3.5" 9GB SCSI drive after I copied its content to one of the SATA drives (featuring Mac OS 9.1, which booted beautifully from the «new» SATA disk), and replacing it with a SCSI terminator.

Both SATA drives are residing in the bay under the Zip drive (of course I placed back the front panel afterwards). I had just to file a bit two already present screw's holes to mount the 2.5" drives on the bay's support.

I also installed the previously linked DIY fan controller, which efficiently reduced the fan's speed. This is its appearance from the outside (one big knob!):
http://www.giannotta.eu/photolink/PM9600-FanControllerOutside.JPG

From the inside:
http://www.giannotta.eu/photolink/PM9600-FanControllerInside.jpg

Before installing it:
http://www.giannotta.eu/photolink/PM9600-FanController.jpg

Its thermal sensor:
http://www.giannotta.eu/photolink/PM6500-ThermalSensor.jpg

I put the sensor inside the PSU, between the coolin fins of the central component (although I'm not sure it's the most appropriate placing):
http://www.giannotta.eu/photolink/PM6500-PSUThermalSensor.jpg

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Re: Silencing a Power Mac 9600

I love Mac but I am a fan of Ubuntu. I think is better than Microsoft or MAC. This post has really helped me in so many ways.

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Re: Silencing a Power Mac 9600

I'm going to refurbish a Powermac 9600 someday. I'll keep this thread in mind for modding it.

What I'm worried about is that I plan on running OS8.6. Some of the drivers for the hardware I use were written for OS9. I'm unsure if OS9 drivers will work OK in 8.6 or not. Some of the software I use was made for OS9 as well. Hmm...

What kind of video cards have you got in there? I have two 1920X1080 monitors running on my MDD G4 on a single Nvidia card. I hope it won't be too much trouble getting two 1920X1080 monitors working on it once I decide to rebuild the system.

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Re: Silencing a Power Mac 9600

I'm using a couple of ATI cards, a Radeon Mac Edition and a Radeon 7000 (PC version, flashed for Mac). The latter supports up to 2048x1536 monitors (RADEON7000UserGuide.pdf) but the former up to 1600x1200, if I remember well. I'm using them with Mac OS 9 anyway.

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Re: Silencing a Power Mac 9600

I remember there being a resolution problem with the ATI card I had on a G4 with OS9. It could run 1920X1080 fine, but what it couldn't do is keep the same aspect ratio like 1280X720. It would give me other resolutions, but it would 'stretch' the screen to fill everything up so 1920X1080 was the only true 16:9 res it supported. Do you find that being a problem with either of those cards? Nvidia cards can do it.

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Re: Silencing a Power Mac 9600

Presently I'm using the Power Mac 9600 with a 15" Apple LCD Display in 1024x728 mode, and I never connected it to a 1920x1080 monitor. Actually I've always used 4:3 displays with this Mac.

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Re: Silencing a Power Mac 9600

I'm reading about audio dropouts when using that SATA card in multiple forums. Here is one: https://68kmla.org/forums/index.php?/topic/18958-9500-with-sata-card-sound-problem/

Have you had trouble with that?

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Re: Silencing a Power Mac 9600

The Power Mac 9600 now is not used anymore for recording audio, but only as a host for the Korg OASYS PCI (and for some nostalgia gaming), so the drive is mostly read and seldom written — therefore I didn't have the chance to experience those dropouts.

P.S. Anyway, I remember some similar problems ages ago, solved (at last) with an accurate planning of the PCI slots use.
Some bits of information can be extrapolated from this discussion:
http://www.applefritter.com/node/9310#comment-27565
And from this:
http://www.applefritter.com/node/22869#comment-54557
And from this too:
http://www.applefritter.com/node/20696#comment-46230

robegian's picture
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Re: Silencing a Power Mac 9600

About the SATA card performance, I run a test with FWB Hard Disk Toolkit and indeed it gave weird results. I've linked a screenshot showing the performance of the two SATA drives (seen as SCSI bus 2 by the FWB HDT) and the old SCSI drive (SCSI bus 0).

http://www.giannotta.eu/photolink/PM9600-SATAPCI-FWB.jpg

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Re: Silencing a Power Mac 9600

I have two issues with my SATA card.

I find that depending on which slot my SSD is plugged into dictates whether or not there's a floppy icon showing up upon boot. When I plug my boot drive into the port so that it says ID0 on SCSI Bus 2, the floppy appears. When I plug it into the other one, the floppy icon goes away. No big deal, just something I noticed.

However the real issue is that I constantly get a shutdown error message upon reboot. Every time I shut down normally it gives me the "your computer didn't shut down correctly" and does a scan. Does yours do that? It does it literally every single time so I just disabled that in the General settings.

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Re: Silencing a Power Mac 9600

I ran the FWB test on mine and the results aren't what I would have expected.
https://drive.google.com/?usp=folder&authuser=0#folders/0B9r6vH-4NK4NYmQ5M2QxM2ItYTQzNS00NDEwLWFmOGEtZjY5YzBiMzViOTYx

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Re: Silencing a Power Mac 9600

thared33 wrote:

However the real issue is that I constantly get a shutdown error message upon reboot. Every time I shut down normally it gives me the "your computer didn't shut down correctly" and does a scan. Does yours do that? It does it literally every single time so I just disabled that in the General settings.

My 9600 with the Sonnet SATA card behaves less erratically, nevertheless it's not "as before" — that is: when I restart or shut down the 9600, it logs out correctly, shuts off the display and then it plays the restart chime... and stays there permanently, without booting (the display still black). I have to manually switch it off (through the on/off front button) and then turn it on again, but luckily it boots correctly, with no error messages.