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MAD SCIENCE:
GeForce 6200 for G4 Cube

Originally posted March 24th, 2006, by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist

The CubeOwners are a stubborn bunch. They love their Cube. They snort at the Mac mini. They snear at the iMac. Amazingly there are a lot of upgrades you can make to the original G4 Cube to keep it going forever.

We have a 'naked' Cube on our test bench that we have upgraded with a faster hard drive, maximum memory (1.5GB), and a 'factory second' dual CPU upgrade (one CPU running at 1.4GHz and the other at 1.7GHz). Thanks to a member of the 'experimental graphics card' forum on StrangeDogs.com, we had a chance to test drive the latest graphics card 'darling' of the Cube bunch, a GeForce 6200. We compared it to the original card (GeForce2 MX) and a few other experimental cards that fit inside the Cube case without modification.

Graph Legend:
GeF2 MX - nVIDIA GeForce 2MX (32MB VRAM, original factory card)
GeF 3 -- nVIDIA GeForce 3 (64MB VRAM)
Rad 9000 -- ATI Radeon 9000 (64MB VRAM)
GeF 5500 -- nVIDIA GeForce 5500 (128 bit version modified with FX 5200 code, 256MB VRAM)
GeF 6200 -- nVIDIA GeForce 6200 (modified with GeForce 6600 code, 256MB VRAM)

CORE IMAGE
Believe it or not, there are owners of G4 Cubes who want to run Core Image apps. To do so, you need a card that can do the Core Image processing in place of the main CPU. The only Cube compatible card that supports Core Image properly is the GeForce 6200.

3D GAMES

CONCLUSIONS and COMMENTS
The 'mutant' GeForce 6200
is not only fast on the Cube, but it would appear to be the ideal GPU upgrade -- fits without modification, requires no auxillary power feed, runs cool and quiet, and supports DVI displays.

With no retail GPU options for the G4 Cube owner, it's nice to know some mad scientists on the Strange Dogs forum are giving hope and encouragement.

OTHER MUTANT CARD TEST REPORTS

GeForce 7800 GS on a QuickSilver 2002 with 2GHz upgrade

GeForce 7800 GS on a G5/2.5MP Power Mac

GeForce 7800 GTX "Killer" on a Quad-Core G5/2.5 Power Mac (PCIe 16X)

GeForce 6600 on a G4/1.42MP Power Mac

THE FLASH DEBATE
There is an ethical issue you must deal with when taking the ROM code from a Mac graphics card you DON'T own and flashing it into the ROM of a Windows PC graphics card. And it isn't that simple. Sometimes the ROM code must be modified before it will work in the PC card. Sometimes the ROM itself must be replaced with a bigger one. This really is rocket science. Do it wrong and you will end up with an expensive door stop.

There is a lot of frustration with the dirth of really fast aftermarket graphics cards for the various G4 and G5 Power Macs. And when a truly fast retail card appears, it's often much more costly than the PC equivalent.

We feel Apple Computer has created a lot of frustration by either NOT offering aftermarket upgrades (like the GeForce 7800 GT) -- or -- by offering them at high prices and then pulling them off the market even before the current model goes out of production (like they did with the GeForce 6800 GT and Ultra). These practices have made many consumers feel justified in experimenting with the flashing of PC graphics cards.

I commend ATI Technology for their continued efforts and investment in providing aftermarket, affordable GPUs for the Mac community including the $199 Radeon 9600 PC and Mac Edition, the $299 Radeon 9800 Pro Mac Edition, and the $399 Radeon X800 XT. I hope they will soon release the Radeon X1800 PCIe card that they were demonstrating at MacWorld SF in January 2006. Better yet, make mine an X1900 XT.

Also encouraging was the announcement by XFX Graphics that they have signed a licensing agreement with Apple to develop and bring to market a range of NVIDIA GeForce-based Shader Model 3.0 graphics accelerators to for AGP Power Macs. The initial offering in June 2006 will be a GeForce 6600 GT, though more powerful, higher-end variants are planned.

CUBE RELATED LINKS
Cubeowner.com -- has very informative Cube upgrade forum, including instructions for flashing PC cards for use in your Cube (or G4 Power Mac).

Strangedogs.com -- repository for ROM files needed for flashing various PC graphics cards to work on your Cube (or G4 Power Mac).

Patch to allow hard drives larger than 128GB from IntechUSA

List of PowerLogix CPU upgrades including the 100MHz bus series compatible with the Cube -- plus instructions for Installing the PowerLogix CPU upgrades (Movie)

List of GigaDesigns CPU upgrades including the 100MHz bus series compatible with the Cube.

List of Sonnet Technologies CPU upgrades for the Cube and G4 Power Macs.

WHERE TO BUY CUBE UPGRADES:
Other World Computing sells PowerLogix, Sonnet, and Mercury CPU upgrades for the G4 Cube. They have various models of the Radeon graphics cards plus the Power Cube, a larger enclosure for your Cube which includes the VRM mover kit. They also have memory and hard drives for your Cube.

Don't forget to ask OWC about the 8X SuperDrive upgrade for the Cube.

Small Dog Electronics for GigaDesigns and Sonnet CPU upgrades for the Cube.

TransIntl has processor, memory and hard drive upgrades for the Cube.

If you want to add a slot load 8X SuperDrive to your Cube, visit FastMacs.

For all kinds of original as well as custom parts, go to CubeParts.biz. They have been helpful to me providing missing screws, improved optical drive, USB speakers, etc. They are working on a custom end plate for the Radeon 7500 (and other graphics cards) that lets air circulate and eliminates cutting of your Cube's frame to make it fit.

WHERE TO ORDER YOUR MAC
When ordering products from Apple Store USA, please click THIS TEXT LINK or any Apple display ad as your "portal" to the online store. In so doing, you help to support Bare Feats. (DON'T LIVE in the USA? See links for Apple online stores in other countries.)

WHERE TO BUY REFURBISHED or CLOSEOUT MACS (12 month warranty)
For refurbished, reconditioned, open box (as well as new) iMacs, check with Small Dog and Power Max. Also look for the "SPECIAL DEALS" link on Apple's online store.

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2006 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"
Email , the webmaster and mad scientist