Things Macintosh

What Do You Mean Calling the Cube Low-End?

Rodney O. Lain - 2002.04.08

What's new is old.
- folk saying

Without regret, I bought one of the first Power Mac G4 Cubes, proud that I now owned what is still arguably one of the most original and eye-catching computer designs out there.

Ignoring the fact that my Cube doesn't have an internal CD-RW nor a Radeon graphics card, I still expect Power Mac G4 Cubeto get many years of service out of this baby. However, I never expected it to be so quickly relegated to having the word "old" used to describe its design or its power.

With products like the new iMac, this has become the the case.

Who would have thought that Low End Mac would include any G4 in its "low-end" ranks so quickly?

Regardless, this machine should not be discounted. Ever since its unveiling, it has been the subject of debate, both pro and con. I have been laughed at for shamelessly promoting a computer that "failed" in the consumer market, while simultaneously being hailed as the standard bearer of industrial design excellence.

I stand by my shameless promotion.

The Power Mac G4 Cube is still a powerful machine in its own right, serving me as home file server, Web site host, home music player, and a host of other uses. With 1,024 MB of RAM, a 30 gig 7200 rpm hard drive, and a "mere" 450 MHz G4 processor, it runs OS&
  - ;X like a champ. Megahertz really is overrated, even with PowerPCs.

But how can this be a "low-end" Mac?

Low-end Mac is a term that should be reserved for Mac LCs or Power Mac 7200s or StarMax clones, not my Cube. This is Twentieth Anniverary Macwhy I am protesting LEM's inclusion of the Cube in its list of low enders. The 20th Anniversary Mac maybe, but not my Cube. [Editor's note: We include profiles of every Mac, even brand new ones, because sooner or later each one becomes low-end.]

What's that? No, I don't have any sound reasoning to support my view, but I stand by my view nonetheless. The Cube is still one of the best computers out there and shouldn't be included among the list of Road Apples and Mac has-beens.

Instead of vaulting the Cube, Apple needs to bring it back as a limited edition, upgraded, and modestly priced for the discriminating user:

  • 700 MHz G4 processor
  • 256 MB RAM
  • 32 MB DDRM on a 4x AGP Nvidia graphics card
  • 40 gig hard drive
  • DVD-ROM/CD-RW "combo" optical drive
  • Bluetooth compatible
  • AirPort ready
  • includes OS X, AppleWorks, Quicken 2002, World Book X, iApps, etc.
  • Price: $1,199

Okay, the price is negotiable, but the main thing is to give this baby another chance. There are some Apple products that should have been killed, without a doubt (can you say eWorld?), but not this one.

Alas, I know this will never happen, since the latest iMac has taken up the role of the compact G4 Mac. However, the Cube could remain as a monitor-less alternative for those who prefer the small footprint of the iMac but want their choice of flat-panel display.

Excuse me? No, I am not doing drugs.

The Power Mac G4 Cube has my vote as the best Mac ever, and I hope that it will have a second chance on the market to prove it.

Excuse me? No, I was not dropped on the head as a baby. Nor was I dropped as an adult.

Fin. LEM

Rodney O. Lain (1968-2002) called himself a fashion victim: He liked wearing socks with his sandals. When he wasn't dispensing fashion advice, Rodney wrote for Low End Mac, The Mac Observer, Applelinks, and many other websites. Rodney lived in Minnesota. His own website was, and we have collected as much of his writing that has since disappeared from the Web as possible in The Rodney O. Lain Archive.

The most widely read Things Macintosh columns:

  1. Apple is a company, 10/4/1999
  2. The main difference between Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, 1/17/2000
  3. The $600 iMac, 12/24/1999
  4. Apple will rule the computer world, 11/17/1999
  5. I'm not paying $20 for my OS X upgrade, 2001.07.25.
  6. A Mac is like Prozac, 10/13/1999
  7. I'm a drop the funk bomb on ya: Milking the Macintosh for all it's worth, 2001.03.20.
  8. More links and links to memorial articles in the Things Macintosh index.

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