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Upgrade Your eMac 90

Posted by pudge
from the or-don't-what-do-i-care dept.
Leo Bodnar writes "This eMac upgrade proves that with some effort Apple's entry-level consumer models like eMac can be converted into reasonably serious workhorse system at very reasonable cost. Not for everyone, but some find it useful!"
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Upgrade Your eMac

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  • Impressive (Score:5, Informative)

    by CptChipJew (301983) <michaelmiller@gm a i l . com> on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @07:40PM (#7979719) Homepage Journal
    This isn't the only old Mac that be somewhat upgraded.

    Companies like MCETech [] sell DVDRW drives for the G3 iMac and iBook.
  • by JoshWurzel (320371) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:25PM (#7980116) Homepage
    Sorry, you're gonna be out of luck. All of the titanium powerbooks have the CPU soldiered(sp?) directly to the motherboard. To upgrade, you'd have to completely disassemble the unit and get a new motherboard.

    Not cheap or easy. What you want is a machine which has a processor daughtercard (G4 towers, G3 powerbooks). Those make it easy to upgrade the processors.
  • by asquared256 (637499) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:46PM (#7980389) Homepage
    Well the author of this article did not actually *replace* the CPU, he only *overclocked* it from 800 MHz to 1.33 GHz by changing some traces on the motherboard. It should work on any motherboard that supports more than one type of CPU, without removing the actual chip. This also assumes, however, that the existing chip will run at the increased speed without additional cooling, which may be difficult in a laptop.
  • by trouser (149900) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:54PM (#7980474) Journal
    In my experience most people don't upgrade computers anymore, they replace them. And most people don't modify their cars either.

    I actually know somebody who recently replaced a computer because she couldn't work out how to fix a simple virus infection and figured the machine was ruined.
  • by SofaMan (454881) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @09:51PM (#7980978) Homepage
    This all goes back to the original Macintosh and Jobs thinking it was a piece of artwork that shouldn't be tampered with. Most people want a computer they can improve, much like people that mod and tune their cars.

    I used to sell Macs, and I can tell you this: people who buy eMacs are generally not these sort of people. They might add some extra RAM (which they can do easily), but that's it. If you want an upgradeable machine, buy a G5. eMacs are there for people who want something that will work out of the box, and don't want to take up space with room (or money) for upgrading they will never use. I use an eMac myself for this very reason: cheap, relatively small footprint, and will do what I need for a few years yet.

    I've lost track of the number of people I know with Windows towers that still have the exact same amount of empty space in them as the day they bought them, and they will stay that way until the day they are disposed of. They bought them, having been sold the "Well, you might want to upgrade..." line, but never do. Consequently, they end up with a computer that takes up 3 times more deskspace than it needs to, filled with expensive empty space (the hardware for those expansion slots isn't free).

    Most people are not l33t b0xen hax0r5. Don't knock the all-in-ones; they fill an important computing niche.
  • Re:Interesting. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @09:51PM (#7980986)
    You can take them to 2GB RAM (mine has 1.5GB), and the 1GHz G4 I clocked up to 1.4, where it's been running stable for 4 days. I don't expect to have any problems with it either, after seeing others run slower G4s at 1.33 so well.

    You're correct that they run well right out of the box, though, I'm an interminable tinkerer.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @10:11PM (#7981181)
    For anyone interested in accelerating/modifying/etc your Mac, there is a huge repository of information at In particular, it has searchable database of Mac upgrades rated by the people who installed them, often with useful comments appended by the Mike Breeden, the site's owner. It also has a fairly extensive FAQ (although it's not always easy to find the answer you're looking for) on a dizzying list of mac system & upgrade tweaks, gotchas, and little known issues that might be relevant to someone mod'ing a Mac. Finally, the site has a daily news page on all manner of Mac related topics, but most typically involving updates, tweaks, compatibility info, etc...

    The compatibility database is great because it's really the only relatively complete resource for figuring out whether something like an aftermarket CD-RW drive is likely to be compatible with iTunes, etc... (A lot of drives are clones of one another, or really similar, and Apple doesn't list all of those on its site, so having a reference of actual compatibility reports is especially useful.)

    Unfortunately the forum isn't currently accepting new members, and it seems like it has been that way for a really long time. : (

    NOTE: I'm not affiliated with in any way, except that I visit the site and find it useful.
  • by bash_jeremy (703211) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @11:09PM (#7981641)
    I think it's a really great deal. You can buy a refurbished [] 800 Mhz emac for $529. If you overclock it to 1.33 Ghz, you get an inexpensive mac that should perform pretty well.
  • Re:Impressive (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:43AM (#7982601)
    Sometimes Apple has eMac refurbs. They're typically sold in the $500 - $550 price range. Go the the store at, then look for the special deals section off on the right hand side.

    There are also frequently other refurbished models, and they usually sell for a lot less than new equipment. All refurbs come with a standard one year Apple warranty, but Apple will gladly sell you extended warranty coverage if you want it.
  • by Golias (176380) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @04:03AM (#7983258)
    Bah. I voided my eMac warranty with upgrades less than an hour after I bought it! It's a fantastic machine to hack around with. I will give this little bit of advice, though:

    Step 1: Know what the fuck you are doing.

    Working on an eMac can kill you. I'm not saying that figuratively, I mean that if you touch the wrong parts just the wrong way, you can receive enough of a shock to stop a healthy young heart, and die. So if you don't know the proper way to work around exposed CRT's, make a point of learning before you even consider working on an eMac beyond a simple memory upgrade. Almost everything on the eMac is nestled inside a little Pita Pocket of shielding nestled under the picture tube. So do me a favor, and don't get yourself killed just for the sake of a little extra HD space. Buying a firewire drive is a lot cheaper than funeral services these days.

  • by Golias (176380) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @06:36AM (#7983815)
    No, it's a myth that people are buying SUV's for the fantasy of off-roading.

    People buy SUV's because the CAFE standards have made it nearly impossible for a middle-class family to own a large car. Vehicles with truck frames are exempt from these standards, so the SUV (and to a lesser extent, the mini-van) have replaced both the station wagon and the luxury sedan. Notice that nobody makes station wagons anymore, and Lincoln no longer makes the Town Car.

    The AWD and 4WD are popular packages because they make the vehicles safer for on-road driving. This is especially true in places like my home state of Minnesota, where snow, ice, and sleet are all factors which can compromise your ability to control the vehicle.

  • by EricWright (16803) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @09:21AM (#7984497) Journal
    Doesn't matter. CRTs have some pretty hefty capacitors which store a charge even when unplugged. Hit it with a piece of metal in the right (wrong?) place and it'll ground the charge right through your body.

    The parent poster has it right... futzing around inside an open CRT is a good way to end up in a box in the ground.
  • by Golias (176380) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @11:25AM (#7985612)
    You are a perfect example of my need to re-emphasize rule 1.

    Rule 1: Know what the fuck you are doing!

    A CRT can kill you, even if it is unplugged.

  • Re:Interesting. (Score:2, Informative)

    by BigBir3d (454486) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @11:52AM (#7985915) Journal
    The point was it is the same processor for the 800MHz or 1GHz machines. The speed is limited on the motherboard. This is how processors from the same branch are made. Each is tested, the "good" ones are given higher speed rating, and sold as 1.33GHz, and the "average" are sold as 1GHz, and the "below average" were sold as 800/700MHz chips. Essentially, the chip was sold to be used in a underclocked application.
  • by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @12:07PM (#7986105) Homepage Journal
    As the othe two posters mentioned, you are a likely candidate for doing something wrong. The issue is with capacitors. Capacitors are used to increase the voltage available to the CRT. The voltage they build up is many magnitudes higher than what comes through the mains. The catch is even when unplugged they maintain their charge, unless they are either properly discharged, or find themselves the nearest human tinkering with them.

    Just to give you an idea, from Repair FAQ [] :

    "TVs and monitors may have up to 35 KV on the CRT but the current is low - a couple of milliamps. However, the CRT capacitance can hold a painful charge for a long time. In addition, portions of the circuitry of TVs and monitors - as well as all other devices that plug into the wall socket - are line connected. This is actually more dangerous than the high voltage due to the greater current available - and a few hundred volts can make you just as dead as 35 KV!"
  • by BigBir3d (454486) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @12:29PM (#7986353) Journal

    AUDI, M-B, BMW, Volvo, Subaru all make good station wagons, all available as AWD, IIRC.

    BIGGER == BETTER (for most Aemricans)
  • by lbodnar (741368) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:13PM (#7986966)
    Not only they have hefty capacitors but also hefty discharge resistors that savvy engineers placed there to prevent brothers on repair floors from sitting on their benches until lunch, waiting for hefty capacitors to lose their hefty charges. As well as keep those brothers away from poking their hefty charge dischargers right into the guts of CRTs and summoning hefty sparks that kill hefty capacitors much sooner than aforementioned engineers have planned.
  • by m_gear (741940) <(ac.potpihodif) (ta) (raeg_m)> on Thursday January 15, 2004 @03:15PM (#7988686)
    Possibly, BUT there is one little problem. The iMac is a pain in the arse to get open. You can't tip it on any side, or you'll wreck the screen! How do you get around it? Simple, Apple gives all authorized service providers a foam shell that cradles the bottom and the screen in the perfect position to open it up. How a normal person such as you or myself would get one... that I do not know.
  • by Cybrex (156654) on Friday January 16, 2004 @10:26AM (#7997467)
    Your argument is based on the assumption that Macs are an inherently inferior platform because they're not as hardware hackable. This simply isn't true. I'll certainly grant that the open architecture of PCs makes them more conducive to hardware hacking, but since my "O/S of choice" is Mac OS X it doesn't really matter.

    I very much enjoy doing upgrades and case mods, and I've been doing hardware hacking since before it was called modding (1993). At home I run a mixed networked environment that (at the moment) consists of 4 PCs, a 12" PowerBook (connected via WAP) and the iMac I'm typing this on right now. All but one of the PCs are homebuilt from the ground up (the fourth was a freebie), and I've done some minor upgrades to the iMac (replaced the hard drive with a beefier one- a snap in a PC but a much more significant endeavour on an iMac!). I've also homebuilt PCs for friends who wanted something better than a stock Gateway machine but lacked the ability to do it themselves.

    That said, when I want to play Call of Duty I use a PC. For everything else, however, Macs provide a much more enjoyable and productive environment. I can get into the OS nitty-gritty much moreso than I can with Windows, and there's simply no comparison in the user interface.


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