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Upgrades Businesses Apple

Upgrade Your eMac 90

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 ) <> 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 metalligoth ( 672285 ) <> on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @07:45PM (#7979761)
    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.

    Obviously, it's not that big of a deal to most people, or they wouldn't be buying laptops in larger and larger quantities. I expect the old "you can't upgrade a Mac" argument to be history in a couple years.

    Then again, lot's of people have no idea OS X exists.
    • 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.
      • If that person would have had to pay a professional $100 or $200 to clean up the machine, and it was an older machine, replacing it may have been the most cost-effective option for her. Now if they have friends or relatives willing to do it for free, on the other hand :) . . .
    • 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
      • 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.

        • Yeah, but you don't have to pay for the funeral yourself! ;-)
    • by G4from128k ( 686170 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @09:56PM (#7981040)
      Most people want a computer they can improve, much like people that mod and tune their cars.

      I wonder if the percentage of upgraded computers is really that high? I know people think they "want" expandability, but I doubt that many consumers actually take the plunge and upgrade anything. Likewise, I wonder how many large corporations routinely upgrade the hardware on their desktops (rather than replacing them with all new models).

      As with cars, I suspect that a small minority actually modify their machines. I'd bet that the vast majority of computers get discarded with the same hardware that they came with. I know that most of the old computers that I see at garage sales are factory stock.

      Anybody any numbers?
      • by York the Mysterious ( 556824 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @11:47PM (#7981917) Homepage
        Think of it like an SUV. Everyone wants and SUV they can go offroading in. They all want the AWD or 4WD models, but how many ppl see anything more than going over a curb in a parking lot?
        • They wouldn't be buying Durangos and Escalades.
        • 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 ma

          • I think you are misstating the cause and effect here. People don't buy SUVs rather than station wagons because of CAFE. The average consumer is unaware of CAFE. Automakers push SUVs because of CAFE. SUVs are less expensive than a car of similar size because of CAFE.

            People do buy SUVs because they like the sense of power, and it is nice to sit up higher and be able to have a clearer picture of the road. The 4WD is nice in a pinch too.

            • I think you are misstating the cause and effect here... SUVs are less expensive than a car of similar size because of CAFE.

              Actually, that was my exact point.

              I will agree that the safety of big SUV's is a factor for some people, to a point... except for the fact that the #1 truck in America is the Ford F-150, which had the absolute worst off-set front-side crash test rating of any truck on the market. Worse than a lot of compact cars. The engine compartment fails to absorb much impact, resulting in the

          • ahem...

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

            BIGGER == BETTER (for most Aemricans)
        • Our club goes off road all the time, but I think that we are in the minority.

          SUV's Offroad []
      • So I buy a PC thinking I can upgrade it when I feel like it.

        A while later, I put in some RAM. No problem.

        Then I decide I want a new hard drive. But I have the old version of the hard drive controller, and to get full performance out of a new hard drive, I decide to buy a new hard drive controller to plug in.

        Then I decide I want a new graphics card. But my motherbord has an AGP x slot, and the card I want uses AGP 4x, so I end up buying a new motherboard.

        After that, I decided I wanted a new CPU. But
        • OK, that's why there are places that will buy your old hardware.
          • OK, that's why there are places that will buy your old hardware.

            Wow, you begin to grasp the Macintosh way of upgrading, sir!
            • Personally, my way of upgrading is this: upgrade it as far as it will go, then push it as long as it'll run, and then when it dies, replace it (and sell off working, but unusable parts, and use the other working parts). My Celery box will come back to life as one of the first Pentium M desktops once PowerLeap releases their adaptor for the Pentium M to run on any Socket 478 motherboard. The box I'm typing this on, an old PMMX-233 with 96MB of RAM, has two HDDs - one of which is pulled from my Celery. I don'
      • [Getting offtopic, but anyway...]

        There are a good number of computer and electronics stores around here selling various upgrade components -- hard drives, faster CD/DVD drives, video cards, etc. Even Walmart, which requires a high sell-through, has some "internal" upgrades! I'm pretty sure there aren't enough geeks in the area to keep those departments open.

        Many computer stores have a service department for computers, so that non-techies can have their upgrades installed (sometimes for free, sometimes not
        • I'm pretty sure there aren't enough geeks in the area to keep those departments open.

          No, but there are enough of them to call when the buyer can't manage the upgrade on their own.

        • Generally I find businesses do not upgrade, because it can take a lot of staff time to do. From what I've seen computers get shuffled around the office to people who don't need the latest & greatest, while certain people get brand new computers.

          The classic in an office is to see a boss with a top of the range box who uses it for e-mail and the occasional bit of word processing, while their secretary has a much less powerful computer and is doing all the multi-tasking and heavy spreadsheet work. The tri
      • I don't know if you remember the outcry when Apple started selling Macs with "only" 3 NuBus slots instead of 6. The PC press especially was "outraged".

        Funny thing is, when Apple did a little research, they found that the overwhelming majority of users (particularly home users) never added an expansion card. It was extremely rare to find anyone who added more than two.

    • Yeah. I have this dead rat old box I'd like to upgrade but there aren't any compatible components for it any more. I've been told AGP isn't electrically compatible with the AGP I have on my box and the RAM wouldn't work either (a 66 MHz SDR DIMM system). Can I find a slot1 cpu to max out my mobo today? Nah... upgradability is a false icon... it's just componentization useful for VARs; the end user (old term... correct is 'consumer') will go for the various USB/FW devices...
    • Uh, more like most users, when they can't get IE to open say something like "The internet isn't working."

      It is always tempting to think that the world around you is similar to the rest of the world. Watch out for that mentality, it can be very dangerous.

  • The main upgrade I'm concerned about is the processor; 800 mhz to 1.33 ghz is a huge leap! Could this be done as easily on other models? I have a 1ghz TiBook (not that I'm willing to experiment on it) but it would be interesting to see what it's "full potential is." But, overall, this upgrade is a sweet way to get a over 1.3 ghz machine for around 1100 USD. That's less than a dollar a mhz.
  • by LeninZhiv ( 464864 ) * on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:41PM (#7980330)
    I upgraded my Emacs to 21.2 a couple years ago and I've never been happier. Having icons in X (even though no one ever uses them) brings a more modern feel, and colours in the terminal is nice to have too. Unicode and multilingual support is now seamless.

    By the way, has anyone else noticed how many typos there are on Slashdot these days...

  • Interesting. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tweder ( 22759 ) <stwede@g[ ] ['mai' in gap]> on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:41PM (#7980333) Homepage
    I'm writing this from an eMac right now - but mine is the latest revision with the 1GHz G4.

    All of those upgrades were available to me as build-to-order options in the online store @

    I've got 160GB HD, 1GB of RAM, Superdrive, 1GHz G4 - seems to me I don't need to hack it to make it a decent workhorse out of the box.
    • He ran at 1.33GHz instead of 1.0 that yours is at now. He reported reliability at 1.33GHz, but crashed at 1.4(2?)GHz after only 2 or 3 minutes.
      • While the extra 333MHz is impressive with just a quick solder job. My point is, the eMac is a great workhorse right out of the box. The story implied that it's anemic and slow without these hacks.
        • His probably was closer to being slow than yours, since he started with an 800 Mhz processor rather than the 1 Ghz you have. Not a huge difference, but worth pointing out--he squeezed over 500 Mhz extra out of that little thing.
          • Re:Interesting. (Score:2, Informative)

            by BigBir3d ( 454486 )
            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.
    • Re:Interesting. (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      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.
    • I agree that the 'stock' 1GHz eMac is fine as is, although I can relate to people who chose to overclock their machines in search of more grunt. I dont think of the eMac as a games machine, but I couldnt resist installing a demo of the last version of UT just to see an application work the machine (1GHz, 1GB RAM, stock video card) hard. To my amazement, the demo was quite playable - well done, Apple.
  • by agent dero ( 680753 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @09:33PM (#7980825) Homepage
    Johnny see warranty go RIGHT out the window.

    Why not just hold onto it a year, extend AppleCare, and then later when you want to upgrade, sell on eBay for about 80%-90% of the current price, and get a new one.

    Sheesh, you don't have to mod everything, use some logic kiddos
    • 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.
    • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @11:10AM (#7985445) Homepage Journal
      Why not just hold onto it a year, extend AppleCare, and then later when you want to upgrade, sell on eBay for about 80%-90% of the current price, and get a new one.

      No question Macs hold their value amazingly well. Also that, if you really look at what you get, you get a pretty good deal for the money. While the components are quite conservatively rated, leaving room for overclocking etc., the price of a more powerful machine is so reasonable that if you paid yourself anything for your time you could have a machine with the performance characteristics you want and a warranty. Also you'd have more time to actually use it.

      But all these things are equally true of a car like a Honda Civic; it still doesn't stop people from trying to customize them for higher performance.

      Wisdom, in these cases, doesn't consist of deciding to mod or not to mod. It consists of understanding why you want to mod or not mod.

      If you have plenty of dough and not much time, the idea that you'd be an idiot to do something like this to save money. However, if you do it for the challenge, or if you are somebody who needs the computer power, doesn't have much money, and has the time it may also make sense.
  • 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 numbski ( 515011 ) * <> on Thursday January 15, 2004 @11:45AM (#7985838) Homepage Journal
    I can't help but wonder if the iMac model can see a similar performance gain. I own that one...should probably tear it down and see if I can find a similar resistor bank. Anyone able to beat me to it and look?

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