A beige G3 Story

Posted by: BillHarrison

A beige G3 Story - 06/20/04 11:22 PM

Hi everyone, and glad to see a mac modding site! I am a LONG time PC user (had fun BBS'ing on my 5 1/4 inch floppy drive 8086 in the mid 80's!). Just getting into macs, and thought I would share my experiences for others considering taking the trip!

Honestly, my first true love was an Amiga 2000. I never owned it, but when I saw it running a demo for the Video Toaster at a local pc shop in the late 80's, I found out that PC's were actually behind the times. My first mac experiences were in middle school with some black and white early macs. Nothing special, never really cared for the early mac os's, and PC's were cheap and finally coming into their own. Fast forward to now. I own a Dual Athlon XP system with two athlon XP's overclocked to 3400+ speed (2.5ghz Each). Yes, its fast. Yes, it does everything I could possibly imagine i would need it too. So, why am I here? Well, glad you asked!

I first saw OS X while piddling around at CompUSSR. It was running on at the time modern hardware, and I liked the fluid look, the cleanliness of the interface, and the fact that everything just looked so NICE! Loved the dock concept. Well, thats where it stayed for a couple years, because I COULD NOT bring myself to pay for a prebuilt computer. It just was not in my nature. I kept up on the emulators, hoping one day one would pan out. Never really did (although there is one now, PearPC, but only running at 1/40th of your pc speed ATM, this should improve in future builds, but still a good way from usable!). I started doing some research on how to build a mac. Problem is, G4 boards fetch IMHO WAY too high of prices. 2-300 bucks for just a logic board. No way. B&W g3's seemed a little better, but still a bit high. Finally I found my victim. Enter the Beige G3. The last tan mac. I started doing some research, and things were looking good. Regularly found on ebay for VERY low prices (sub 50$). PCI expansion. Built in video / SCSI / IDE. Zif upgradable processor with speeds of up to 1ghz. After doing some more research, I stumbled upon the G3 AIO. A "pre" Imac of sorts, this model uses the standard Beige G3 Logic board, but with a built in monitor, Floppy, Cd-Rom, and 3 PCI slots (look for those on an Imac or Emac!). Bingo!

Watched a few auctions, finally caught a pair of them (the Ebay auction claimed they were none functioning) for 1$ each + shipping. Of course, being heavy beasts, the total was 100$ for 2. So I patiently wait for these to arrive on my doorstep. In the meantime, I purchased a copy of Jaguar, and of Panther. I knew jag was supported by apple. So that should be a breeze to install. I was hoping for Xpostfacto to get me to panther.

The day finally arrived, and I had 2 very large heavy packages waiting for me. I opened them up, and they were in decent shape. Came from San Francisco school system. Plugged them in, and flipped the switch on the back. Sure enough, did'nt work. Got to looking, figuring there has to be a power button (PC guy here!). Nope. Hmmmmm. Had no keyboard or mouse. After a bit more research, found out the power button is on the keyboard! There I was. Ordered an ADB keyboard / Mouse combo from ebay for 12$ shipped. But my patience was overcoming. So i figured out how to "jump start" them using a paper clip in the ADB port. Bang, both units fired up and booted on the installed harddrives. OS 8.6 on a 4.3 gig WD. Yahoo! I was gonna put one together outta 2, but now i had 2 working units.

First thing I did, was wait for my keyboard. Never could get the typing down with the paperclip. Popped in my Jag disk, and the installation went without a hitch. And actually somewhat usable at a weak 233mhz and 64mb ram. Well, slightly. First things first. Ebay here I come. 2 256mb PC133 dimms (16 chip, important, single sided dimms are not fully recognized!) slid right in. Now for a bit of overclocking. Got the 233 up to 292, and it ran OK for web surfing etc. Still slow for my taste. Next, found a great priced 600mhz G4 zif at http://www.4daystar.com. 179 with a trade of an apple zif. Heck, i had no use for it! Ordered her up, set the jumpers for 83mhz FSB on the board, and the zif to 7.5 multiplier. Bingo, booted at 625mhz. Installed the cache enabler, which automatically set the cache at 250mhz. Wow, very usable setup. And for the price of an entry level B&W G3, which would only be running about 350mhz G3!

So theres my story, and its not done yet. I have a scsi card on its way, along with a pair of 36.7gb 10k rpm scsi drives. Biggest bottleneck atm seems to be the stock hd (very small and weak 5400rpm unit). Picked up an Apple labled CDRW off ebay for 10$ shipped. Works great so far. It had a bad gear, but it was the same as my stock CDROM, so i opened her up and switched gears, works great now! I have Panther on now using Xpostfacto. And I am looking to future overclocking on this G4, it seems to have some steam left in it once i get a REAL heatsink on it, I think close to 700mhz should be doable.

But, here I am, love me or hate me, I am gonna mod this mac to hell and back!

BTW, I now have the Dual Athlon box up for sale, and will be purchasing a G5 duallie soon (while the beige G4 is now very usable, It doesnt do much for divx encoding, I am used to 1 hour encode times, not 10!).
Posted by: oojacoboo

Re:A beige G3 Story - 06/21/04 10:17 AM

Bill, that sounds really great. I am glad to hear that you are getting rid of your pc and getting a G5. Not that getting rid of your pc makes me happy, but that you are getting a mac, does wink Take some pics of your mods and make some mod guides here. We are trying to build up the database and any mod guides that you can provide are very very much appreciated. Even if its a gear change in a cdrw drive! Best of luck and hope to see some pics and mod guides from you soon.

Posted by: orpheus

Re:A beige G3 Story - 06/22/04 07:58 PM

What are Zifs? I have a beige G3 desktop (and access to a beige G3 minitower) and this sounds like a fun project to do, but I've never heard of a zif.
Posted by: mark

Re:A beige G3 Story - 06/22/04 10:44 PM

A zero insertion force connector (something like that anyways) PCs used it some. Its just another connector for a processor card.
Posted by: BillHarrison

Re:A beige G3 Story - 06/22/04 10:51 PM

You are correct. Zif stands for Zero Insertion Force. It is the "card" that the CPU is mounted on. It also includes the Cache and a small amount of circuitry required for interfacing with the motherboard. If you have any questions, just let me know! I am using it daily now, and I quite enjoy my beige so far!