View Full Version : G3 upgrade or new G4

04-16-2001, 08:35 AM
Hello and thanks in advance to anybody who replys to this plea for help.

I have a beige G3 desktop 233Mhz, 128Megs RAM. I am considering upgrading the processor to @500Mhz, and fitting a new graphics card (ATI Radeon PCI). One of the driving forces behind my desire to upgrade is that I want to get the Falcon 4.0 flight sim, and know that my present system will struggle with it! Besidess that, my trusty G3 is getting a little, well, 'quaint'!!!

Should I invest in the Sonnet Encore G3, or the XLR8?
Should I instead go for the G4 upgrade chip?
Should I consider a secondhand G4, to avail of AGP, and buy the AGP Radeon?

Some thoughts which enlighten you as to my thinking:

I really like the stability of my G3 running OS 8.6, as it supports Protools excellently, and I like having SCSI, and intend to add a SCSI CDRW shortly.

Is the Radeon card a bit of a waste of money in its PCI format, or would it, on its own, be sufficient to give the performance I need for Falcon 4.0, without having to upgrade the processor as well? If I upgrade the processor, would the rage card make a more economical, just as effective card upgrade, while at the same time, giving the G3 a general performance boost due to the new chip?

If I go for the G4 chip upgrade, I'm still stuck with the PCI motherboard, but I have read reviews that the 466 G4 wipes even new600Mhz G3 performance off the planet. Any opinions?

Big Al
04-16-2001, 08:49 AM
You said "If I go for the G4 chip upgrade, I'm still stuck with the PCI motherboard". Huh? PCI is good and all Macs have been PCI for about 5 years including the G4's. Unless you are referring to the new G4 having an AGP video slot. The other 3 slots in the G4 are PCI. In the G4 you gain a slot due to the AGP slot for video, but you lose a slot because they use IDE disks and you will need a SCSI card to keep any old SCSI peripherals that you have.

How serious a gamer are you? PCI video is still pretty good for games although AGP has a faster interface. If gaming is your main computer usage the new G4's may be a good choice. Besides a 4x AGP slot they have a faster front side bus. Other than very serious gaming, upgrading a G3 is easy and cost effective.

04-16-2001, 10:05 AM
Thanks Al,
Just to clarify, are you saying that only NEW G4's have AGP 4x? Am I in danger of buying the wrong MAC by going for a secondhand G4?

In view of your thoughts on PCI performance (echoed elsewhere, by the way) do you have any opinion on performance differences between Rage versus Radeon PCI?

Big Al
04-16-2001, 12:05 PM
I believe the earliest G4's were all PCI. I believe the first AGP G4's were 2X AGP slots. Do some web searching before you buy a used G4. This is from everymac.com:
What are the primary differences between the PCI-based and AGP-based Power Mac G4?

According to Tech Info Document #58418, the Yikes! PCI-based Power Macintosh G4 computers use a modified Blue Power Macintosh G3 logic board, with either
a 350 or 400 MHz PowerPC 7400 (G4) processor mounted on a ZIF, a 100 MHz 60x bus, support for up-to 1.0 GB of RAM, an ATI Rage 128 video card, and the
same USB, FireWire, Ethernet, modem, PCI, hard drive, and CD-ROM (DVD-ROM optional) support as the Blue Power Macintosh G3.

The Sawtooth AGP-based Power Macintosh G4 computers use a different logic board design, with either a single 350, 400, 450, or 500 MHz PowerPC 7400 (G4)
processor or dual 450 or 500 MHz PowerPC 7400 (G4) processors mounted on a new 300-pin daughtercard instead of a ZIF, a 100 MHz re-designed "MaxBus"
system bus, support for up-to 2.0 GB of RAM (1.5 GB of which can be used by the MacOS and applications), a 2X AGP slot with an ATI Rage 128 or Rage 128
Pro video card, a slot for an AirPort card and antenna, onboard FireWire, dual-independent USB ports, Ultra ATA/66 hard drive support (as opposed to Ultra
ATA/33 on earlier models), and no support for CD-ROM drives (DVD-ROM or DVD-RAM drives are standard, which can read CD-ROMs as well as DVD-ROM,
DVD-RAM, and DVD-Video discs).

The current AGP-based Power Macintosh G4 systems use a different logic board design than the earlier Sawtooth models, with either a single 466 MHz PowerPC
7410 (G4) processor, single or dual 533 MHz PowerPC 7410 (G4) processors, a single 667 MHz PowerPC 7450 (G4) processor, or a single 733 MHz PowerPC
7450 (G4) processor mounted on the same 300-pin daughtercard of the Sawtooth AGP-based systems. These systems also utilize a faster 133 MHz system
bus, three RAM slots that support PC133 SDRAM, a 4X AGP slot with a 16 MB ATI Rage 128 Pro or 32 MB NVIDIA GeForce2 MX video card, four PCI slots
(instead of three), and a digital audio sound system with a highly-efficient Tripath "Class T" amplifier. These systems have the same slot for an AirPort card
and antenna, onboard FireWire, dual-independent USB ports, and the Ultra ATA/66 hard drive support of the Sawtooth-based systems, but replace the
DVD-ROM and DVD-RAM drives with CD-RW drives and a hybrid CD-RW/DVD-R SuperDrive in one high-end configuration.

Essentially, the Yikes! PCI-based models, Sawtooth AGP-based models, and current AGP-based models are completely different computers. All models in the
Power Macintosh G4 series that shipped from December 2, 1999 to January 8, 2001 use the Sawtooth AGP-based logic board, and models shipped after
January 9, 2001 use the latest AGP-based logic board.

How can I tell if a particular Power Mac G4 computer is PCI-based or AGP-based?

According to the ever-helpful Tech Info Document #58418, the easiest way to determine if a particular Power Macintosh G4 computer is PCI-based or
AGP-based by external inspection is to look at the sound ports on the back of the computer. On Yikes! PCI-based models, the sound ports are horizontally
aligned, and on Sawtooth AGP-based models, the sound ports are vertically aligned.

The current series of AGP-based systems, announced on January 9, 2001, also can be distinguished from earlier AGP-based models by paying attention to port
layout. Besides the extra PCI slot, the sound ports have been moved to the top, and the "soft" power plug has been removed.

04-16-2001, 12:42 PM
for me, the easiest way is to just drop the door on the unit and open it up. You can do it, even when the Mac is running.


you can also use the Apple System Profiler utility to see if you have AGP.

the easiest way of all: if it is anything besides Graphite, it certainly has only PCI slots.

if it is a newer Graphite, it will have AGP. If it is an older Graphite, then you need to confirm.

if you decide to upgrade your beige G3, definitely get an XLR8 G4 500.

it can be upgraded later to dual-G4 Velocity.

it runs OSX!

as for Radeon vs Rage 128.....Radeon is faster, but not $200 faster.In other words, if you have Rage 128, leave it alone. If you have nothing....meaning, if you are running off the logic board video, go ahead and get a Radeon.

my two cents.

04-16-2001, 08:22 PM
If your main thing is Falcon 4, you'd best do some rethinking.

It's great, but only half finished. The RAVE is terrible and the game was written just before Apple released OpenGL, so it won't do OpenGL.

The only 3D API that works well for Falcon is Glide. Therefore, you need a Voodoo card. I used an old Voodoo 1 (Power 3D pass-thru card by Techworks) for a while and then got got a Voodoo3 card which works great. I imagine that the Voodoo 4 and 5 cards also work well. There were also Voodoo 2 cards.No Voodoo cards are now being made, so you'll have to hunt.

04-21-2001, 10:15 PM
Get the cheapest fastest Sonnet G3 card, and a 3Dfx Voodoo 5 5500 PCI @ Outpost.com for $144 w/ Quake 2. Many games run awesome with Glide, especially Unreal engine based games.

04-25-2001, 08:35 AM
Incidentally, what about the Formac cards??? Anybody any opinions...and thanks all for the insights up to now!