Review: going back to an iMac G3 400MHz with Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X 10.4.7 Tiger

“A few months ago [OSNews’ Thom Holwerda] bought and reviewed an iMac G3 333 Mhz while it was running Mac OS 9. I was always fond of the looks of the classic iMacs. They were just too cute to not want one. Recently restocked their Mac line with refurbished iMac G3s. They sent us one in, a 400 Mhz DV model (first released in October 1999) and we tried out not only Mac OS 9.2.2 but also the latest Mac OS X, v10.4.7,” Eugenia Loli-Queru writes for OSNews.

“I was amazed at how fast Mac OS 9.2 boots and operates. OS9 reminded me of another era, a more innocent era in operating systems. Today users require so much from their desktop software that developing and delivering an OS has lost lots of its joy. But even today OS9 could serve a less-needy user. It comes with IE, Netscape, Outlook Express and there are still thousands of applications to freely download or purchase. OS9 might not be supported anymore by Apple, but it can be used to fill up most modern needs,” Loli-Queru writes.

“I was impressed by the speed of Tiger on this 400 Mhz G3. I remember a time in 2001 when our ex-housemate bought a 500 Mhz iMac with Mac OS X 10.1.5. It crawled! But Apple has made an exceptional job optimizing Mac OS X since then. Especially with Panther and now with Tiger, a supported 400 Mhz G3 is more than enough for some basic internet usage,” Loli-Queru writes.

“The way I see the value of these older G3 iMacs is this: great gifts for small kids (up to young teenagers) or older non-technical people. While they won’t satisfy young gamers or business environments anymore, these iMacs still have a place in the kids’ bedroom or the office of your grandparents. So if you have newphew, young kids or older parents who don’t need “more” or just need an introductory computer, these iMacs are a great deal. They sell between $50 and $100 and they provide the full monty. And if you are a geek, you probably are going to get one for yourself too,” Loli-Queru writes.

Full article here.

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  1. I don’t know why MDN is linking to this young writer Thom Holwerda, first he writes ok, then he trolls Mac users, then he writes ok again.

    I guess as long as MDN rewards his good articles with hit traffic and not the troll articles.

    Positive reinforcement.

  2. I run my database/web design business entirely off of an iMac G3 500MHz Graphite, my wife uses a 350MHz Grape in her high school classroom for her email/web browsing, and my teenage daughter has a 350MHz Indigo for her school work, email, iChat, web, etc. They are definitely still viable machines — the key is plenty of RAM.

  3. My folks have two iMacs. One in CA and one in OH. Unfortunately the one in CA is an original Bondi at 233MHz. Not enough hard drive or RAM to run Tiger. I won’t set up two different systems for them and dad won’t spend any more $s on computers so they’re stuck on OS 9. He periodically asks me if he needs the “latest turbo” whatnot from Earthlink… ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”rolleyes” style=”border:0;” /> .

    I like OS 9 well enough, but I wish I could set up two OS X boxes in a near kiosk config and just about eliminate any support from me. Oh well.

  4. The chief concern I’ve found with the older iMacs is that some internet providers have updated their code to OS X, and it’s difficult to find an OS 9 version of the stuff lying around. My mom has an old bondi iMac running OS 9. She uses AOL (yuck!), and it took awhile to find a good OS 9 version. She still misses out on a lot of what AOL offers, and it has some other issues as well.

  5. Run Tiger 10.4.7 on a iBook G3 800 MHz with 640 MB of RAM, 32 MB of VRAM, and stock 4200 RPM 30G hard disk. Works well for web cruising, emailing, MS Office stuff, Photoshop, InDesign (with large monitor attached) Adobe Acrobat Pro, BBEdit, etc.

    Will even play online YouTube videos well enough, or you can watch a DVD that is playing from internal DVD player.

    It stumbles with H.264 video, or movie material that is compressed using some of the newest codecs — not enough CPU horsepower to decode in real time.

    If you don’t need to play heavy-codec QT movies, work with iMovie or iDVD, or play 3D games, then the G3 is still a capable CPU, even when running OSX Tiger.


  6. I have a 400 Mhz Pismo with partitions for OS 9 & OS 10.3. I could upgrade it to 10.4, however the G3 processor really runs much smoother under 10.3, IMHO.

    I also have a stack of 5 years worth of Mac Addict CDs with tons of OS 9 software. It’s fun to go back and explore the old disks for game demos and utilities when I have the time. I’ve recently discovered that old Alice in Wonderland slasher game. So cool…

    BTW, anyone still using AOL should have their Mac taken away. Makes me feel SO dirty just thinking about it. <shiver>

  7. I went a little nuts on ebay a few years back. The 400 mhz imac are just such good little machines. Anyway, I knew what i was looking for and picked up six of them over the course of a year or two. My three kids each have one in their room, one is a spare console in my home office and the mother-in-law and an aunt are also enjoying their slot-loading goodness.

  8. I sent an old Indigo G3 400 iMac to an aunt of mine and she uses the thing daily and has had no trouble out of it. The computer has never been repaired and has only been opened to replace the motherboard battery. Think about that record of reliability in light of today’s stuff. Clinton was in the White House with quite a bit of time left when it was new.

    Tiger hadn’t come out when I shipped it to her so it has Panther. It runs very well with 384 MB of RAM (one 128 & one 256 card). The only problem she has had was when the Microsoft mouse I shipped with it died. A $12 Logitech off of the clearance table replaced it and all is well.

    If memory serves me correctly that computer was about a grand. It is still alive and kicking and has provided countless hours of service to a whole bunch of people over the years. It was well worth every penny.

  9. A Powerbook G3 Pismo is still my main work horse. Runs Tiger just great! Gave my 11 year old niece a G3 333MHz iMac last year with Panther installed. She loves it.

    I have a developer friend who still uses a G3 Mini Tower to develop with. Says it’s the greatest Apple computer he’s ever had. Runs Mac OS 8.6.

    If it wasn’t for the stability problems of OS 9 and the funky cache of the Pismo, I’d still be using OS 9. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

  10. Well a tad off topic, but I have an old beige 8500 that i upgraded to a g3 900. It runs Panther well (no need for tiger on it), and I use it with 9.2.2 as well. Right now it is the only machine I have that is 9.2.2 native, AND scsi for my old scanner.

    I also use it to remote desktop to work, email, web, and all the things that I dont need to fire up the quad for, so there you go, a machine that I put 250 bucks into (g3 upgrade and fw/usb combo card), got for free, and still use daily.

    lets see an 11 year old pc do that…hehe…just shows how good macs really are, i think i am getting my return on investment from that little 8500. If I had an older iMac, it would do the same…anyone wanna give up one, I promise it will go to a good home! HeHe.

  11. Our trusted iMac400DVSE is humming along nicely under 10.4.7. Admittedly, the hard drive is a 40 GB Maxtor these days, and RAM is at 512 MB, but these upgrades were just small change. My wife uses this iMac for internet and office apps, and she does not want a newer one.

  12. It’s all of the tales of the old school Mac’ers who use their ten year old machines that persuaded me to go try Apple. Well, also all of the no spyware, adware and viruses. Not to mention the cool designs.

    Admittedly, I’m still stuck with a wintel “Bigger, better, faster now, or your machine will be obsolete within six months!” attitude. After upgrading another couple of times, I’ve now got a dual 2gig powermac with 450 gigs of hard drives, 2.5 gig ram and a radeon 9600 pro video card. Still look at the new intel macs with some longing, but for the most part, I’m content. Am looking into a faster video card and more ram, but nothing I’m really dying to do.

    I’ve told myself that I’ll allow myself to get a macbook once my p4m laptop breaks or becomes unuseable for work, but so far, it’s tenanciously hanging in there.

    May have to look into getting a g3 iMac for my office and leaving the laptop at home.

  13. clyde-

    hehe well, I use my quad for the heavy lifting, so trust me I like faster, better, etc, also. What is nice is that I have the option to keep the old skool 8500 around, tinker with it as much as I want, without getting “nervous” if I mess it up, as it always comes back if I screw something up on it. For that reason alone, it has given me the chance to really dig into the terminal of osx, play with the hardware, hack around with unsupported pci cards, and learn a lot that I would just be afraid to do on the quad since I still owe on it and I need it for my work.

    You can always go to Other World Computing, pick up a cheap g4 or g3 upgrade, and keep your machines happily running along next to the new faster killer machines, just depends on what you want to do, and how much you want to spend.

    For me, I like to tinker, and my 8500 has given me that and a hell of a lot more, I kinda get misty when I think about it…hehe.

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