RetroMacCast

Where great old Macs live again!

I mean money pit in a good way actually.  I have a Sawtooth that I just can't seem to stop trying to upgrade and make it better like an ultimate FrankenMac.  The only fully original parts on the whole system (case and computer hardware) is the power supply, logic board and metal case skeleton.  The case plastics are painted with car paint.

In the past 2+ years I have invested at least $1200 into it and don't regret one cent of that expense.  The end result is a Sawtooth as fast as the higher end MDD or even a single G5 in some cases.  I don't find the 100MHz bus to be near the burden on performance that I thought it would be.  It is my main everyday computer.

Specs:

System

- Apple PowerMac G4 Sawtooth (AGP Graphics)

CPU

-Freescale G4 1.8GHz 7448 PowerPC w/1MB on chip L2

Memory

-2GB Crucial PC133 SDRAM (4x 512MB) w/heat spreaders

Storage/Optical (3.5 TB total)

FirmTek Seritek/1S2 2 channel PCI SATA controller
-Western Digital 1TB Caviar Black SATA HD 64MB buffer (boot)
-Hitachi 1TB Deskstar 7K1000.B SATA HD 16MB buffer
Antec MX-100 USB 2.0 HD Enclosure
-Hitachi 1TB Deskstar 7K1000.C SATA HD 32MB buffer
Antec MX-100 USB 2.0 HD Enclosure for Time Machine
-Hitachi 500GB Deskstar P7K500 SATA HD 16MB buffer
On-board ATA/33
-Pioneer DVR-112D PATA 16x DL DVD-RW
-iOmega 100MB Zip Drive

Video

-Nvidia Geforce 6200 256MB DDR2 AGP video card (core image, core video, core animation and quartz extreme support )
-Dell Ultrasharp 2407WFP-HC 24" LCD  (1920x1200 S-PVA panel)

USB

-NEC Chipset USB 2.0 PCI card w/ 6 ports (5 ext. 1 int.)
-Creative Xmod USB sound controller w/volume knob
-Elgato EyeTV 250 USB TV tuner w/65 channels
-iPod Shuffle 1GB 2nd gen. (silver)
-Canon iP2000 Ink-jet printer
-Apple Aluminum keyboard & Logitech Trackman Wheel trackball

Sound

-Logitech X-230 2:1 speakers
-2x Sony MDR-V300 headphones

Case

-Coffee-Brown & White painted case plastics (car paint)
-Noctua NF-P12 120mm fan w/anti-vibration mounts (system)
-3x Antec Tricool DBB 80mm fan (power supply, hard drive, extra system fan mounted on FF-class bracket)
-PCI fan controller for 2x 50mm CPU heatsink fans

Power

-OptiUPS 600 Watt voltage stabilizer
-MinuteMan 1800 Watt 2100 Joules surge protector

Software

-Mac OS X 10.5.8

Spare Hardware (parts)

-2x Sawtooths (fully functional but sit in a corner unused for future part needs)
-Sonnet G4 1.0GHz 7455 CPU w/2MB L3
-Approx. 1.5GB spare memory
-Radeon 7500 32MB AGP video card

A photo of my Sawtooth:



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I don't have your computer ability or money but I agree with you. I am a retired 63 year old on moderate income. The "new" Imac G4 that I have cost me $75 but it is a beauty. I love the design.The case is in good shape and it runs like a charm. It's only draw back is that it only has 512 ram.Since I am not able to do the work myself,i have to decide if it is worth it to upgrade the ram.I read the second ram is in an almost inaccessible spot. That means more money to install.
I also have a sawtooth and decided to upgrade the memory and hard drive.The memory I purchased was good but the hard drive wasn't.If the seller gives me another I will probably try again just because it is such a good machine.
My favorite computer is a 12 inch Ibook. I bought that for $65 and then spent around $83 ensuring it remains good. I bought a new power cord,two new batteries,one for a back up, and install disks.
Wow, Jeff you did a good job on your Sawtooth, at least I am not the only one who saw that they have potential, I do not have as much into mine as you do, but i was able to build mine from spare parts, parts I bought or traded for. Like you I also want to keep improving it.

I currently have about $250 in mine, and like you, I have no regrets, it is still exciting to use this Mac after what I have done to it.

I took mine apart and cleaned out all the dust, polished out almost all the scratches, cleaned the power supply, it's fans, the case fan (replaced it with a newer one from a Quicksilver, it is quieter) and put it back together.

Current Specs:
PowerMac G4 "Sawtooth" AGP Graphics

CPU
Powerlogix Powerforce G4 133, 233? (first digit is missing) 7447 or 7448 (sorry, but info on this chip has been elusive) Power PC running stable at 2 GHZ w/L2 at 512kb. Cooled down with one 50 mm cpu fan, hottest temp I have seen
through Temp Monitor software, 93 F.

Memory

2GB of PC133 SD ram 333 speed (512MB x 4)

Storage/optical

120GB 7200rpm Maxtor still based on ATA bus.
with Pioneer DVD-RW/ CD_RW DVR-106D.
iOmega 250MB zip drive.

Graphics

Nvidia GeForce2 MX 32MB AGP ( I was using a 128mb ATI radeon non agp, but saw no difference when using the Nvidia)
Balance CM2017 '17 in. LCD running at 1280 x 960

USB

2 stock 1.1
plus 2 on a 1st gen Mac Pro Keyboard
PCI

3 Firewire 400 + 3 on motherboard
4 plug USB 2.0 card from Compusa
Ties in a 1 GB 1st gen ipod shuffle
HP DeskJet 932c
One Broadcom chipped wifi card (System Profiler thinks its a Airport Extreme card)
Epson Perfection 636u scanner

Sound

Altec Lansing Dolby Digital with THX four channel speakers and a sup-woofer.

Internet
AT&T DSL running 6 mbit down and 2 mbit up.
Built in 10/100 ethernet

Power

One power strip with surge protecter

Software

Mac OS X 10.4.11 and OS 9.2.2

Yes, I have room for improvements, I would like to use OS 10.5 some day, just do not want to loose OS 9.
Next up, installing a 8 pin 4 switch dip switch to solder into the existing holes to see if I can raise the bus speed
the part is cheap but info on the outcome is lacking, unless someone from here knows?
Marc;

About your CPU.. if it has 512KB L2 then it is 100% a 7447. All the 7448 have 1MB L2. The 7448 in my experiences is noticeably more powerful at the same clock speed. For example my 1.8GHz 7448 would be equal to about a 2.2-2.4GHz 7447 if one existed.

The 7448 is the only G4 that Apple never used as it came out after they stopped using the G4. The G4 7448 is also a newer chip than all the G5's. It's also the first G4 to shrink to 90nm and is sure to be the last G4 I imagine. It would have been released around late 2005 but didn't show up in mac upgrades till maybe late 06 or early 07.

Don't get me wrong.. the 7447 is a great chip but the 7448 is a good 30-50% faster at the same speed. The market price of upgrades reflects this also. For example I paid 350 for a single 1.8GHz 7448 and you can buy a dual 1.6 7447 for only 25 more. http://eshop.macsales.com/search/MaxPower+G4

I would love the dual 1.8 7448 they sell but 800 is a bit high.
Jeff,

Thanks for letting me know, as I mentioned, finding info on this one was not easy, but knowing I have a 7447 series answers that question, the size you mention means the overall size of the cpu/ daughter card is smaller then factory or the 7447? I did notice that the 7447 is smaller then the 450mhz stock chip, even the 733 and 933 I have used on my Quicksilver. Yes, I do want to use the 7447 in the Quicksilver, but I do not have the correct heat sink, the current one will cover my ram (with out the ram), so, the Sawtooth gets to us it. This cpu I am using (7447) has a series of dip switched under the daughter card, about 6 to 8 of them, when off it tells me its running at 1.25 ghz, when first 2 are switched on, it reads 2 ghz. I have yet to find any info on the settings for this cpu, any ideas on were to look?

So, if i want a faster chip, I would need to find a 7448 series G4, that's good to know, I like these Mac enough to use them till I can no longer surf the net, but making them faster still make me want to modify
them.
Jeff,
Mine happens to be a Powerlogix 2.0 Ghz Powerforce 7447a 333 series, after what you told me i looked up and found the above title, this one came out in Aug of 2005. As for the info you sent me, the dip switch (only one) is under the cpu card facing the mother board, so, one has to remove the cpu to make any changes, not the same as the NewerTech cpu.
I found this finally, also, there seems to be a shared product between Newertech and Powerlogix, not sure how much or if this was OWC job, but I did find a picture with dip switch settings.
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My quest for a better Quicksilver began when a capacitor broke off the CPU daughter card during cleaning -- I was being thorough, okay!? I bought this machine new from Apple in summer 2001, with single 733MHz G4, 128MB, 40GB @ 5400 rpm, GeForce2MX. The only original "extra" was a Zip 250 drive.

This is the first time I've totaled up my investment... Let's start with the original price of $1700.

It went through a couple of hard drives during college (7200 rpm makes a big difference), and its memory went up as my friends discarded their RAM sticks. We Quicksilver fans are stuck with only three RAM slots, but it's a small price to pay for such a handsome tower!

After breaking the CPU card, I decided to honor this fine machine with some upgrades.
Here is the current configuration:

core
dual 800MHz G4s (from another Quicksilver -- eBay -- $100)
1.5GB of speedy RAM (Omni Technologies Hyperformance -- $150)
PRAM battery (newer technologies -- $5)

cards
GeForce4Ti with 128MB (from another Quicksilver -- eBay -- $150*)
low-profile 5-port USB 2.0 (Rosewill -- $10)
5.1 surround sound (M-Audio Revolution -- $90)
SATA controller (Sonnet Tempo -- $70)

storage
300GB @ 10,000 rpm (WD Velociraptor -- $200)
combo drive (from a PowerMac G4 MDD -- eBay -- $10)
Zip250 (original)

peripherals
Apple Pro keyboard (original)
graphics tablet + pen + mouse (Wacom Intuos4 M -- $350)
scanner (Canon LIDE30 -- $90)
laser printer (Samsung 2851ND -- $140)
4.1 surround speakers (Logitech Z560 -- $100)
24" 1080p screen (Dell, via other world computing -- $240)

mods
All fans replaced with Evercool -- beautiful green! (~ $30 total)
- 8cm for power supply
- dual 6cm for CPU (not easy to find, but I had a vision to uphold!)
- dual 9cm for case (above hard drive bays)
Lower fans suck in, upper fans blow out. Runs cool and nearly silent.

To make up for the environmentally-friendly fans, I made use of a terribly noxious rubberized coating from 3M. If it comes with an OSHA warning, it has to be good! This asphault-based paint is a great sound insulator and vibration dampener. It's supposed to be for tire wells, but hey, why not! Right now it's on the outside of each expansion card plate (for looks), and also lines the internal speaker housing to give it some extra punch.

The power supply and optical/zip caddies are painted dark metallic gray, same as the outside of the speaker housing. The inner face of each PCI card plate has just the black primer, which looks awesome. So the inside looks nicer, but is far from finished.

removed
Adding parts is just half the fun! Here's what has been removed:
- "extra" metal finger guard on the power supply
- case fan and cage (fabricated new housing for the 9cm fans)
- hood around CPU fan
- modem card, cable, and rear jack
- airport antenna
- extra hard drive cages (just using one of the flat plates)
- replaced clear zip-ties around electrical bundle with black

* I ended up getting a whole second Quicksilver (the 2002 model) for spare parts. This other unit was a little beaten up, but was once an amazing machine. It has dual GHz (with the really fast L3 cache), 1.5 GB, Zip250, superdrive, and the scavenged graphics card -- all stock from the factory! Got this for $150 + shipping, can't imagine its original price.

Why not use the dual GHz card instead? It came with a burned capacitor. These are the tiny surface-mount tantalum parts, not the "cans" on the 733 or dual 800 cards. It ran without incident when I first got the unit, but I don't want to risk further damage until my hand is steady enough to repair it. The power supply is also gummed up, but I think only the fan is bad. It gets very hot in there, as you can imagine, so it remains powered off.

The combo drive can read and write CDs at 32x, and also read DVDs at 32x. This puts it ahead of the superdrive.

I'd like to benchmark the expensive memory against the stock, now that I've got three 512 sticks of each. There was a premium for the "faster" sticks -- did I pay too much for this?

This "spare" G4 is subject to riskier modifications. So far, the rear ventillation has really opened up for the CPUs. I sacrificed both rear audio jacks for more wind capacity (or because it looks cooler...). USB, firewire, ethernet remain. As much as I'd like to chop off the several inches of blank circuit board on the GeForce4, I won't risk ruining it. Please don't worry, I treat the hardware with repect even while grinding or desoldering.

Since you mentioned your OS...
It originally came with 10.0 installed, and has run every version since. I normally run Leopard, with dashboard and spotlight disabled. It runs Tiger like a champ, but I miss QuickLook of all things, and some of the Leopard APIs. MacOS 9 runs like buttered lightning of course, but does have some trouble with the massive widescreen display. And it must use the lastest 9.2.2 to recognize the GeForce4 card. I recently switched from Yellow Dog Linux to Ubuntu, just so it would match the few non-PowerPC machines around the house.

Back on topic, how deep is my own G4 money pit? Not including paint, chemicals, tools, software, or parts not being used right now...

original -- $1700
parts -- $815
peripherals -- $920 -- shared with other machines

That's a little more than anticipated! But not so outrageous considering this Quicksilver was my main computer from mid-2001 to mid-2007. This is the machine that taught me how to program Cocoa, AltiVec, OpenGL and perl, so it deserves a little love and a few gifts, right? I think so.

I haven't put much money into my G4 server. It is a 350MHz model with 1GB of RAM. I did spend a bit on the Marathon G-Rack to rack mount it. It also has an OWC legacy SSD (60GB). That was a massive speed boost. 

I found an Xserve G4 1.0 ghz a while back on craigslist, paid $50 for it, works great,  maxed out the ram at 2GB, installed a 256mhz video card and a 120gb hdd, this one is suppose to be mounted in a 19 in. rack.  I do have the option to use 4 hard drives.  Not sure what server software I should use and the cd-rom drive is just that, no dvd, so installing software should be interesting.    As for SSD hard drive, I installed on in a G3 imac, yes, it boots faster then before, fun to install, but lost the dvd drive for space.  

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