Upgrading an iMac

Originally published 18 September 2000 as a Mac Daniel column for Low End Mac.
Rated "Best of Mac Daniel" (top 15 most-read columns) from six months after its publication until it was pulled from the site.

Q: What sort of processor upgrades are available for my iMac?

A: Newer Technology and PowerLogix, those venerable Mac upgraders, are at it again. You can get upgrades for the Rev. A-D iMac. These include 400-500 MHz G3 upgrades and a 433 MHz G4.

Newer offers the only G4 option, a $550 (after $150 rebate) 433 MHz G4 upgrade. They also offer a 466 MHz G3 upgrade for $350 (after rebate). Like the PowerBook G3 upgrades Newer makes, the iMac upgrades are created by using old iMac daughtercards and soldering new processors and L2 cache onto them.

PowerLogix has two offerings in the G3 department, a 400 MHz upgrade with 512K of L2 cache for $300 and a 500 MHz upgrade with 1MB of L2 cache for $500.

As with most upgrades, whether or not it's economically efficient for you to upgrade is very much a personal decision. However, Rev. D iMac owners, whose machines are already running at 333 MHz, will not see a great speed improvement with any of these upgrades. Rev. A and B iMac owners, with their 233 MHz processors, will benefit the most.

Worth noting, too, is the extra price of the G4 upgrade, which is almost certainly not worth the expense. Unless you're doing heavy-duty Photoshop work on your iMac (and if you are, you're almost certainly not using an iMac with its small 15" screen) or you just have to get through those RC5 blocks faster, you have no real need for a G4. With the coming of OS X (and the obvious possibility that at least parts of OS X will be AltiVec-accelerated), G4s may become a more useful upgrade. Until then, save your hard-earned cash and stick with the G3.

copyright ©2000-2004 by Chris Lawson