Vintage Mac Living

How Much Mac Do You Really Need to Run OS X?

- 2006.11.16

Well, my experience with using only my Power Mac 6500 and the "classic" Mac OS for the last few weeks went smoothly.

I must say that while it can be done, I can understand why most people wouldn't want to. You have to put up with a lot of pages being rendered incorrectly, even when using iCab 3.

As much as I hate bloatware, I must concede that you can no longer avoid feeding the beast if you need an Internet connection.

For the Average Joe Mac user who needs to be online (and not put up with incorrectly rendered pages, and fewer "must have" features), you've got to have OS X 10.2.8 or later (I would suggest OS X 10.3.9).

While you might need OS X to access the Internet the way you want to, you definitely don't need a new computer to do it. That's why I decided to compile the following list of computers that I would recommend to the average user for daily use (prices are for base computer - memory, optical drive, and video care upgrades and OS X may be additional):

Low End: iMac G3/350 (1999) or iMac 350 (2000)

  • Mac OS X 10.2.8
  • 256 MB RAM
  • 10 GB hard drive
  • CD-ROM
  • US$50 and up

Low End Plus: iMac DV or DV+, 400/450 MHz (1999 or 2000)

  • Mac OS X 10.3.9
  • 384 MB RAM
  • 20 GB hard drive
  • DVD-ROM
  • US$100 and up

Midrange: Power Mac G3/400

  • Mac OS X 10.3.9
  • 512 MB RAM
  • 20 GB hard drive
  • replace CD-ROM with CD-RW or Combo drive
  • US$100 and up

Midrange Plus: Power Mac G4/500

  • Mac OS X 10.3.9
  • 640 MB RAM
  • 40 GB hard drive
  • replace DVD-ROM with Combo drive
  • US$190 and up

High End: Power Mac G4/667 (rare) or G4/733

  • Mac OS X 10.3.9
  • 768 MB RAM
  • 60 GB hard drive
  • SuperDrive
  • upgrade to 32 MB ATI Radeon AGP video card
  • US$400 and up

High End Plus: Power Mac G4/800 dual

  • Mac OS X 10.3.9
  • 1024 MB RAM
  • 80 GB hard drive
  • SuperDrive
  • upgrade to 64 MB ATI Radeon 9000 AGP Graphics Card
  • US$700 and up

I think these models with the configurations listed would be the best bets based on what you do. All you need to do is ask yourself: Do I need a low-end Internet station, a midrange G3, a G4 workhorse, or a high-end DVD burning power house? LEM

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