"Wicked fast" is the phrase that best summarizes the breakthrough
performance of the Power Mac G4 - the first personal computer
classified as munitions and under export restriction because of its
Offering up to twice the performance of the G3 and three times the
power of a Pentium III at the same clock speed, the G4 was Apple's
first serious pro computer after Steve Jobs became iCEO.
Designed in graphite gray, silver, and clear plastic, it even looks
professional. And with 1-4 gigaflops (billion floating point operations
per second) performance at 500 MHz; by government definition when it
was released in 1999, it was a supercomputer.
Note that there were two very different versions of the Power Mac
G4. Even though both looked the same from the front, they have
different motherboards and features. The "Yikes!" models use a modified Yosemite motherboard, while the model covered here is
based on the "Sawtooth" motherboard.
The Sawtooth G4 not only has bootable USB, but it also has two
separate USB controllers, "to better balance the throughput
requirements of the individual USB devices on the bus." (USB Info and
Benefits of Dual-Channel USB)
On October 13, 1999, Apple officially postponed the G4/500 until
January due to problems Motorola was having producing a 500 MHz
processor. At the same time, a G4/400 Sawtooth was introduced at the
price of the G4/450 and the G4/450 was configured to replace the
postponed G4/500. This could be the first time in personal computer
history that any model saw a downgrade in performance without any
reduction in price.
On December 2, 1999, Apple replaced the 350 MHz "Yikes" with a
Sawtooth model of the same speed. Although selling for the same price,
the newer model has DVD instead of CD-ROM, AGP video instead of PCI
video, and the ability to accept an AirPort card. (See Apple Revs G4/350 for more information.)
The video card on G4 systems made after 1999.12.02 is "up to 40%
faster" and includes a DVI interface for digital flat panel
Because this model was created before Apple adopted the ADC port
(which provides power to an external monitor), the Sawtooth G4 is
unable to support ADC displays. It may also be incompatible with AGP 4x
and later cards that include a retention tab. Because of voltage
differences between the AGP 2x and 4x specs, newer cards may also be
electronically incompatible with the Sawtooth G4.
Although the Sawtooth Power Macs support up to 2 GB of RAM, Mac OS 9 is
only able to recognize up to 1.5 GB of RAM.
You should have the most recent firmware installed in your Power Mac
G4. The newest version for this Power Mac is Power Mac G4
Firmware Update 4.2.8, which is only for Sawtooth, Gigabit
Ethernet, and Digital Audio Power Macs. To install this firmware
update, you must boot into Mac OS 9.1-9.2.2 from a writable partition
The "Yikes!" G4s (350 and 400 MHz) are covered on a separate page.