The Low End Mac Mailbag

Best AGP Mac Video Card, Leopard on 667 MHz PowerBook G4 and 'Sawtooth' Power Macs, and More

Dan Knight - 2007.11.01

Best Video Card for Sawtooth Power Mac

From Carson Eggerding:

I was reading a recent article that told me the best video card for the Sawtooth is the Radeon 9800 Pro 128 MB. However it is an 8x card, and I need if for a 4x unit. I read that I can buy a pre-taped video card from you guys (I thinks that's what it said), or if that's not true could you direct me to a store where I could by that particular pre-taped video card?

Carson Eggerding


Our friends at Bare Feats benchmarked the ATI Radeon 9700 and 9800. They found no performance difference between them. Buying the Mac version of these cards can be pricey, but someone going by the name of applemacanix is buying PC versions of these (and other) cards, flashing them for the Mac, and selling them on eBay. You can buy the 9700 for $109 plus $12 shipping - or you can sometimes pick up a used one for a bit less.

According to The Mac Elite, the Sawtooth is the only AGP 2x Power Mac that doesn't need to have pins 3 and 11 taped.


Video Card Options for AGP Power Macs

From Rudy:

Hi Dan,

Thanks for the reply!

I saw this at the top of the page for the link I sent you, "Here is a compatibility chart for Retail/OEM/Flashed cards for Power Macs G4 & G5 AGP:" and just assumed that by "Retail" they meant Mac Edition video cards.

I do have a Power Mac G4 400 MHz Sawtooth running both OS 9.2.1 and OS X 10.4 Tiger with a ATI Radeon 9200 Mac Edition video card that powers a ViewSonic VA800 LCD monitor. I specifically got the 9200 and the VA800 to be able to pivot into portrait mode. The only problem is that there are noticeable scan lines on the VA800 in both landscape and portrait modes.

I recall reading somewhere that ViewSonic includes cheap video cables, so I believe their cheap video cable is causing the scan lines. I mostly use my Pismo with a G4 upgrade chip running OS X 10.3.9, so I haven't upgraded to a better video cable yet to see if that will solve the problem.

Anyway, I wasn't expecting a reply or even one so quick so thanks again for the reply!



Thanks for writing. We're slowly building our AGP video card profiles, one card at a time. Give us a month and it should be fairly comprehensive. :-)

Anyhow, your email jogged my memory. I remembered reading something about cheap video cables, Googled it, and came home to Low End Mac. Andrew Fishkin wrote about it almost a year ago in Cheap Is as Cheap Does: A Crappy Cable Cripples a Capable Display. A $50 replacement cable solved the problem, but he ended up returning the monitor and buying a Samsung for less than $50 more than the ViewSonic had cost him.

I picked up a Dell 1704FPV display when I bought my used dual 1 GHz Power Mac G4 a couple years back. It's a 17" 1280 x 1024 display that pivots, had great reviews, and included both analog VGA and digital DVI cables. It was $270 at the time, and it's long discontinued, but I love it to this day. Kinda ironic I'm running Low End Mac using a Dell monitor, but nobody ever said everything Dell made was crap.


Leopard on a PowerBook G4/667 MHz

From Jan Lukens:


The subject line says it all: I have successfully installed (using the FireWire Target Mode trick, running the installer from my AlBook 1.5 GHz) Leopard on an old TiBook 667 MHz (the DVI version). It has a 30 GB hard drive and 512 MB RAM. This PowerBook uses ATI Mobility Radeon 7500 with 32 MB of VRAM, and Leopard runs incredibly good on it. In fact, everything seems to work (including Time Machine [yes, the graphical front-end works too], Front Row, and DVD Player; they all work fine).

To be honest, I am quite puzzled as to why it isn't officially supported. The only thing I would do if it were my main computer is add more RAM, because 512 MB is barely enough. Still, I think the performance of the TiBook running Leopard is comparable to running Tiger on it. Which is fine, and I'd like to stress this again: Why isn't this machine supported? It really is perfectly capable of running Leopard, in fact running it comfortably.

Jan Lukens


Thanks for your report. I had a strong suspicion that Radeon graphics would make a big difference and that 667 MHz of G4 power would supply an perfectly adequate Leopard experience. Thanks for verifying that it works - and so well at that!


Leopard on a 450 MHz AGP Power Mac

From David Pollock:

I read your article about installing Leopard on unsupported machines and would like to confirm some things with my experience so far. I have installed it using Target Disk Mode from an iMac G5 onto my G4 AGP with a 450 MHz G4, 1.25 GB RAM, and a Radeon 9800 Pro (PC video card converted to Mac). With this card in here it appears all functions work, a bit slow, but it does work. Time Machine makes its backups, and the interface does load properly, DVD Player plays through a full movie okay, and Front Row works. It would appear as long as your video card is decent enough to support Core Animation, you can use Leopard on whatever you want.

Dave P


Thanks for writing. Based on feedback thus far, it looks like even old Radeon cards do a decent job with Leopard, but the older RAGE cards don't have the power to really do the job.


Xbench Scores: Leopard on a 400 MHz Sawtooth

From Peter Brockie:

I just thought I'd give you some updates on my G4/400 running Leopard.

So far I have had zero problems with it on my machine.

DVDs still play properly, Time Machine works perfectly (a little slow in the GUI, as expected), everything is just as speedy as Tiger - if not faster.

Below are Xbench results from my machine.

(note: my video card is a Radeon 9000 Pro Mac Edition, 64 MB)

System Info      
Xbench Version 1.3
System Version 10.5 (9A581)
Physical RAM 1024 MB
Model PowerMac3,1
Processor PowerPC G4 @ 400 MHz
Version 7400 (Max) v2.9
L1 Cache 32K (instruction), 32K (data)
L2 Cache 1024K @ 200 MHz
Bus Frequency 100 MHz
Video Card ATY,RV250
Drive Type MAXTOR 6L080J4 MAXTOR 6L080J4
CPU Test 24.37
GCD Loop 38.73 2.04 Mops/sec
Floating Point Basic 14.42 342.61 Mflop/sec
AltiVec Basic 157.38 6.27 Gflop/sec
vecLib FFT 21.66 714.69 Mflop/sec
Floating Point Library 17.39 3.03 Mops/sec
Thread Test 16.90
Computation 17.49 354.29 Kops/sec, 4 threads
Lock Contention 16.35 703.24 Klocks/sec, 4 threads
Memory Test 21.87
System 18.62
Allocate 81.52 299.37 Kalloc/sec
Fill 14.82 720.80 MB/sec
Copy 12.29 253.80 MB/sec
Stream 26.50
Copy 27.26 563.10 MB/sec [altivec]
Scale 27.82 574.81 MB/sec [altivec]
Add 25.71 547.68 MB/sec [altivec]
Triad 25.35 542.35 MB/sec [altivec]
Quartz Graphics Test 19.43
Line 17.54 1.17 Klines/sec [50% alpha]
Rectangle 12.81 3.83 Krects/sec [50% alpha]
Circle 15.13 1.23 Kcircles/sec [50% alpha]
Bezier 28.50 718.86 beziers/sec [50% alpha]
Text 47.54 2.97 Kchars/sec
OpenGL Graphics Test 21.08
Spinning Squares 21.08 26.74 frames/sec
User Interface Test 5.49
Elements 5.49 25.22 refresh/sec
Disk Test 29.07
Sequential 51.48
Uncached Write 41.26 25.33 MB/sec [4K blocks]
Uncached Write 56.32 31.87 MB/sec [256K blocks]
Uncached Read 48.32 14.14 MB/sec [4K blocks]
Uncached Read 66.65 33.50 MB/sec [256K blocks]
Random 20.26
Uncached Write 6.32 0.67 MB/sec [4K blocks]
Uncached Write 58.65 18.78 MB/sec [256K blocks]
Uncached Read 84.09 0.60 MB/sec [4K blocks]
Uncached Read 97.22 18.04 MB/sec [256K blocks]


Thanks for sharing these results.


Another Sawtooth Running Leopard

From Mike Villeneuve:

Hi! Hope you can use these infos!

Mike Villeneuve 

  • What unsupported Mac(s) have you installed it on? G4 Sawtooth (originally 400 MHz)
    • How much RAM? 1.25 GB
    • How fast a CPU, and what brand, if it's an upgrade? Sonnet 1.33 GHz
    • What video card does your Mac have? Flashed Radeon 9200 128 MB
  • Which installation method did you use, a modified installer or installing from a supported Mac? Normal Leopard DVD, standard installation
  • What doesn't work? Especially check out Time Machine (which requires a second hard drive at least as big as your main one), DVD Player, Front Row, and VLC. Everything works, even front row!
  • How does performance compare with Tiger subjectively and objectively? I think mostly Leopard is faster, more reactive


Thanks for sharing your findings. Sawtooths (Sawteeth?) seem to be a popular choice.


Leopard on a Blue & White G3?

From Joseph Burke:

I just read the article by Leo Titus LeBron V, concerning the G3 B&W [Why the Blue and White G3 Is the Workhorse of the Mac World]. He says that he is going to spend the money for a 1 GHz G4 upgrade and use the machine for another 5 years for the same price as a Leopard supported G4, and he thinks it will be faster.

It will not be faster.

First you have the bus speed of 100 MHz in the B&W compared to 133 MHz in the 867 MHz Quicksilver. This difference in the bus speed alone is a big equalizer. Even though the G3 with the 1 GHz upgrade might seem faster on the surface, it really isn't.

Another big equalizer is that the Quicksilver comes with 4x AGP video compared to the PCI video on the G3. If he thinks he is going to install Leopard on that G3, he is going to be disappointed when most of the graphical bits either don't work or are glitchy because the video card he is using cannot support Core Image/Core Animation.

If he finds he needs more CPU in the future, the G3 will be maxed with the 1 GHz CPU, where the Quicksilver can be upgraded to dual 1 GHz using Apple parts or dual 1.8 7448 or dual 2.0 7447A processors using aftermarket upgrades.

The Quicksilver will also support newer, bigger, faster hard drives better than the G3. The Quicksilver also uses PC133 memory compared with PC100 in the G3, for faster memory access.

I believe that Mr. LeBron would be better served into the future by making the move up to a Quicksilver machine if he is going to be spending the money anyway. A Digital Audio would be an even better value if a faster G4 isn't a priority right now, since apart from external appearances and CPU speeds, it is more or less the same machine as a Quicksilver and can use all Apple Quicksilver CPUs with a one wire mod - and all aftermarket CPU upgrades with no mods at all.


I can't argue with that. The G4 supports a faster memory access system than the G3, but only on a motherboard that's specifically designed for it. Bare Feats benchmarked the 400 MHz G4 Power Macs with PCI video and AGP video (a.k.a. Yikes! and Sawtooth) and found that the faster memory access and AGP video made the Sawtooth model 24% faster overall than the Yikes!, which is essentially a Blue & White G3 with a G4 upgrade.

Geekbench results put the AGP Power Mac at 232 (350 MHz) and 245 (400 MHz) vs. 223 for a 450 MHz B&W Power Mac G3. No Yikes! results, but it's pretty impressive when a 350 MHz G4 can so handily outperform a 450 MHz G3. (Geekbench doesn't really test graphics, but mostly CPU and memory access.)

Xbench results for the Yikes! top out at 16.88 for the 350 MHz model, 19.62 for 400 MHz. The AGP Power Mac has maximum scores of 18.11 at 350 MHz and 21.06 at 400 MHz, 7.3% better.

Every benchmark measures something different, which is why results from Bare Feats, Geekbench, and Xbench are all different - but they are consistent in demonstrating that the Sawtooth with a logic board optimized for the G4 processor and AGP video is 7-24% faster than the Yikes! model.

With you, we would strongly recommend a Power Mac with AGP video over a Blue & White G3 or PCI G4 - and not just because it's faster. You also have a lot more powerful video upgrade options with the AGP slot, such as the Radeon 9700 and 9800 Pro, while the Radeon 9200 seems to be the latest Mac PCI video card.

However, in Leo's case, he already owns the Blue & White G3, so he isn't going to be investing $100+ in a used computer. Assuming he can get Leopard running on a G4 upgraded Blue & White, he may be happy with it, especially if he's put in a better PCI video card. No, it won't be as snappy as an AGP Power Mac, but it will be a big improvement over the G3 CPU he's currently using.


But the point was that he said he was going to buy a G4 1 GHz upgrade, not that he had it already. He also mentioned that his case was a little beat up and needed repairs, which is going to cost even more. He also mentioned upgrading the motherboard to a revision 2 board. The G4 1 GHz ZIF upgrade is going to cost him in the vicinity of $175, and if he intends on upgrading anything else to take better advantage of the faster CPU and AltiVec, the money would be better spent towards a Quicksilver or Digital Audio machine.


I have to agree with you. From an economic standpoint, it would make more sense to pick up a nice used G4 Power Mac with AGP, but there's no accounting for the passion some people put into upgrading their Macs. (Witness the world of Color Computer modders!)


Leopard on a Power Mac 7500?

From Patrick Fitzmorris:


I'm guessing that with XPostFacto, a 100+ GB SCSI hard drive, 1 GB RAM, and a 1.2 GHz g4 upgrade card from Sonnet, it will be possible. (Wonder if I'd need a discrete graphics card.) Unfortunately, the 7500 I have is currently at original spec (100 MHz for the win!).

Now, to get into the realm of the affordable, do you think that I could upgrade it to say, 700 MHz (G3 or G4), with 384 MB RAM and 40-60 GB hard drive with USB {FireWire?} for less than 250 USD?


It's been a couple of years since I looked at G4 upgrades for PCI Power Macs, but Sonnet has a couple of incredible values: 500 MHz for $50 and 1 GHz for $100. The Power Mac 7500 has 8 sockets for RAM, so you could bring it to 1 GB for $112. The Sonnet Tango 2.0 card can give you FireWire 400 and USB 2.0 for $50. You can pick up a PCI Radeon 7000 for the Mac for $40, and the much newer 9200 for $85. Ultra ATA hard drives under 80 GB are cheap, but SCSI ones aren't, and by the time you add a 40 GB SCSI drive or an Ultra ATA controller plus hard drive, it just isn't economical.

Total cost to bring a Power Mac 7500 into the G4 realm: $150 minimum (500 MHz G4, 512 MB RAM, Radeon 7000), $350 maximum (1 GHz, 1 GB, FW/USB 2.0, Radeon 9200).

With used AGP G4 Power Macs starting at $100, I'd hesitate to drop that much money into such an old Mac, especially one with a 50 MHz memory bus and PCI graphics.


Booting a PowerBook from a PCMCIA Card Reader

From Michel Alarie:


I'm a big fan of LEM. I have a Pismo (which came back to me after a short escapade with a younger, faster, but unreliable iBook G4). I wanted to stretch battery life. I have read your article about booting on flash drives. I have bought a PCMCIA type 2 adaptor and tried my Canon 1 GB CF card. I installed OS 9 and OS X 10.2, but it did not work. I even tried some Terminal sudo lines to bless the System Folder and fixed permissions, but it never wanted to boot on the CF card. I always tried to select the CF's system in the startup prefpane.

I have just reread an article about IDE adaptors. I am surprised that PowerBook 150s had an IDE bus. Are you sure about this? I thought they had SCSI hard drives. Could this mean my old PowerBook 520 could be modified with one of those adaptors?



I've had spotty results booting from CF in a PC Card adapter. It works with some CF cards, not with others - the same thing I found with the internal IDE adapter. That was true with both the PowerBook 1400 and my PowerBook G4/400, so it should be true for your Pismo as well. Look for a CF card with UDMA support, and you should be set. See Compact Flash Hard Drive Options for more on that,

Yes, the PowerBook 150 (1994) used an IDE hard drive. It was the first PowerBook to do so. The PowerBook 500 series was introduced two months earlier and uses SCSI hard drives. You might be able to locate a SCSI/IDE bridge card for 2.5" notebook drives, but they're getting hard to come by. The only one I can find is the Century 2.5" IDE>SCSI Internal Converter Kit (¥11,000, about US$95).

For your PB 520, I'd suggest you try a PCMCIA Compact Flash adapter and a CF card with UDMA support.


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Dan Knight has been publishing Low End Mac since April 1997. Mailbag columns come from email responses to his Mac Musings, Mac Daniel, Online Tech Journal, and other columns on the site.

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