Mac Daniel's Advice

What Is a Beige G3 Good For?

Korin Hasegawa-John - 2001.09.12

Q: After reading your article on beige G3s, I was wondering what you think these computers are good for?

A: It depends on what you are doing or trying to do with your hardware.

People who should look at beige G3s:

They are definitely great for students, since they are inexpensive, expandable, and reasonably fast out of the box. However, a major detriment to student usage of these computers is their lack of hardware 3D acceleration. They do have ATI Rage IIc or Rage Pro acceleration, but these chips are slow and equipped with an anemic 2 MB VRAM or 6 MB VRAM, which isn't enough to produce good textures in games such as Unreal or Quake II. Unreal Tournament, Quake III, Oni, and Deus Ex look downright ugly.

If you use productivity apps such as FileMaker Pro, ClarisWorks/AppleWorks, or Office 98 or 2001, a Beige G3 running 9.1 with 192 MB RAM will be a perfectly good computer for you. The total cost might come to about $500 or so including a decent 17" monitor.

The beige G3 is also a good choice for those who are relatively new to the Mac. The speed is very impressive running 8.6 or 9.1 with enough RAM, and, while they make nothing like the statement of the iMac, they have a nice, pleasing industrial design. They are also cheap and relatively upgradable and expandable.

People who should not invest in a beige G3:

Graphics artists would do well to give the beige G3 series a pass, unless it is one of the high-end minitowers. The low-end beige G3s shipped with painfully slow EIDE hard drives and did not have enough drive bays. The high end minitowers sometimes shipped with an 8 GB 80 MB/s Ultra Wide SCSI array, which provides excellent throughput rivaling today's ATA/66 systems. The minitowers also provide two full size external drive bays. However, these high-end systems still command a fairly high price on the used market.

Gamers should also avoid the beige G3s. They require too much money for upgrades before they become good gaming boxes, and they are hobbled by the slower 66 MHz bus - and they don't include AGP slots or fast PCI slots.

Crazy people like me who like sticking anything and everything possible in their Macs should pass on this computer. I personally get some sort of strange kick from putting over 3/4 of a gigabyte of RAM in my Mac and filling all the available slots and bays with SCSI cards, USB, FireWire, video cards, audio cards, hard drives, CD-RW, and everything else. If that description fits you, you certainly should give the beige G3 a pass, because it only has three RAM slots, one 3.5" internal and one 3.5" external drive bay, and three PCI slots. That's not nearly enough compared to the 12 RAM slots, two 5.25" external drive bays, six PCI slots, and a daughtercard slot on the 9600.

Related Links

Editor's note: In recent months, the beige G3 has become the most popular Mac profile on our site. Recent sales on eBay typically close at under US$250 for a basic beige G3.

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