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QUESTION: Can You Upgrade A G4 Power Mac
To Go As Fast As A G5 Power Mac?

Originally posted September 21st, 2005, by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist

Owners of G4 Power Mac "QuickSilvers" have some exciting upgrade options for their system. On this page, we will show you the gains from replacing the original single G4/800MHz CPU with a single G4/2.0Ghz GigaDesigns CPU upgrade. We are often asked, "Should I upgrade my Digital Audio or QuickSilver or sell it and buy a G5?"

Throwing in test results from a DUAL G5/2.0GHz Power Mac isn't quite fair so, using the Apple Developer C.H.U.D. tools, we disabled one of the G5's processors. Since you can't really buy a 2.0GHz G5 without dual processors, we included those numbers, too. The results may surprise you.

The 2.0GHz upgrade made the QuickSilver go much faster than the original 800Mhz CPU. In all but one of the CPU intensive tests, the G4/2.0GHz QuickSilver held its own against the "single" G5/2.0GHz Power Mac. Even in the normal dual processor mode, the G5 only smoked the G4 when running multi-processor aware Photoshop actions or the very MP aware Cinebench test.

Like muscle cars of old, some QuickSilver owners find it hard to part with their beloved machine. Some just can't afford a G5 Power Mac. It's nice to know that you can give the G5/2.0 a run for its money for $369. Then again, if you sell your QuickSilver for $600, you can put that and the $369 as a down payment on a G5. If you haven't spent money on a graphics card, memory or faster hard drive, that can go toward your new G5 as well.

But let's say you are sticking with your QuickSilver. Maybe you already bought a CPU upgrade so you are "invested," as they say. But just like with muscle cars of old, stuffing a faster CPU in your QuickSilver or Digital Audio Power Mac may make it go fast in a "straight line" but what if you want to "turn a corner"?

We're thinking of "turning a corner" with a faster graphics card. We have tested as many as TEN graphics cards faster than the stock Radeon 7500, but, if you go on to PAGE TWO, you will see that we only posted results for the Radeon 9600 Pro PC and Mac Edition and Radeon 9800 Pro Mac Edition -- currently the only commercially available upgrades for the Digital Audio and QuickSilver G4 Power Macs.

Another often asked question is, "Should I get CPU upgrade with the fastest clock speed or go for a slower clock speed version with L3 cache?" The short answer: "It depends."

It depends on what applications you are running. In past testing, certain applications (such as Photoshop) thrived on L3 cache. A slower CPU with L3 cache (7455 or 7457) would often beat a faster CPU with only L2 cache (7447A) when running our test action sets. But this discussion has recently become academic since the upgrades with L3 cache are being phased out. In a very short time, they will no longer be available unless leftover in some resellers inventory.

Also, in our most recent tests, the fastest 7455 (1.42GHz with L3 cache) could not match the speed of the fastest 7447A (2.0GHz with L2 cache). That and the fact that 7447As generate less heat and use less power, we have to recomend the 7447A based upgrades like the one we tested in this article.

Then again, if you can get a good price on a G4/1.4GHz 7455 or 7457 based upgrade, it would give a G4/1.8GHz 7447A a close race on all our test apps and beat it running Photoshop.


for G4 Power Macs (Sawtooth, Digital Audio, QuickSilver)

MacGurus sells GigaDesigns G4 upgrades.

Other World Computing sells Mercury, PowerLogix, and Sonnet Technology G4 upgrades.

Small Dog Electronics sells GigaDesigns and Sonnet Technology G4 upgrades.

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2005 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"
Email , the webmaster and mad scientist