Two reasons you need to dump your old Power Mac for a new G4 minitower.
Posted 4/3/2000
© 2000 Rob Art Morgan, editor of BARE FEATS
A faster CPU does not a new computer make. There are other issues to consider. Like did you know that putting the same hard drive and hard drive controller in an old 7500 gets you different results from putting one in a new G4 Graphite? Look at the FOUR disk write speed scenarios below.

All the SCSI numbers are with the same Ultra2 SCSI drives and Miles Ultra2 controllers. All the IDE numbers are using the same Ultra ATA/66 controller(s) and Ultra ATA drive(s). Same disk(s), same interface boards, different results. Blame it on bus speed or memory speed but the fact remains, upgrades can't transcend the immutable bottlenecks of old technology.


A similar thing can be said of Graphics Accelerators. Put the same board in old and new machines, get different results.

I couldn't decided whether to use the Sawtooth or Yikes for comparison. Since the Yikes has a PCI slot, the same 3Dfx Voodoo3 3000 board could be used in both. But if you were buying a new G3 Graphite minitower today, you would be getting one with an AGP slot. So I included both the Yikes and the Sawtooth for comparison with the 7500. Either way, the 7500 loses.


Don't delude yourself that spending a few hundred on your old faithful will make it just like new. It just ain't so. There's nothing like a new computer. The expression, "They don't make them like they used to..." just doesn't fly with computers. Newer is almost always faster in every way.

And if you don't keep track of the creeping balance on your Visa card, you'll wake up one morning to discover you spent enough on upgrades to buy a whole new machine... twice over.


There are situations where upgrades makes sense. I know a guy with a 9600 that loves having 6 PCI slots. And he needs them. I know a video editing lab that has spent big bucks on professional video interface card and software for two Power Mac 8100's. Since their biggest bottleneck is render speed, adding a fast G3 cpu made a load of sense.

Another bright spot is FireWire. At least with the present crop of FireWire drives and controllers, a FireWire drive runs just as fast on a "legacy" Mac as on a new G4 (or about 14MB/sec sustained read/write). And you can always migrate the FireWire drives and controllers to a new G4 machine if you decide to get one.

The same could be said of buying Voodoo boards and bigger, faster hard drives. You can always use them in the new machine.

Final Thoughts
If you decide to buy new, consider selling your old Mac via your favorite news server or Ebay ( or United Computer Exchange ( Or donate it to a church or school and feel really good. But buy the new one first and make sure everything is okay before getting rid of old faithful. Reputable dealers will take the new machine back if you aren't happy. (CompUSA 14 days, OutPost 30 days).

See my UPGRADES page for more ideas on when to upgrade and where to get the good stuff for your particular machine.


Test Configurations & Procedures


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© 2000 Rob Art Morgan, editor of BARE FEATS
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