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Power Macintosh Graphite G4 M5183 733mhz

You should've seen this poor thing on the shelf at the 'tip shop'. It was covered in mud, scuff marks, scratches and looked to have the absolute poop beaten out of it. I asked the price anyway, as I've always wanted to tinker with one of these things and this was in a perfectly restorative condition. It turns out that the going rate was AUD$5.00, so I purchased it and an original Macintosh A/B serial switch as well. (That'll work well for the MIDI devices I want to hook up.)

Getting it home...

Fortunately I had appropriate wrapping in the boot and insulated my newly acquired hazardous goods from anything on which it would leave a mark. It then went straight outside onto the balcony where I regretted yet another one of my impulse-purchases.


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Look at that grime... There was actually dirt falling out of it whenever I moved it and the wrapping I had it in had a collection of ... 'waste' that fallen out on the way home. Sliding around in the boot probably didn't help either.

Identifying it...

This turned out to be easier than expected... It's an M5183 G4 733mhz Power Macintosh 'Graphite'... but the guts aren't 100%. It was meant to come with an NVIDIA GeForce 2, HDD, etc... but instead has an ATI RAGE 128?



Oh well... as long as it works!

Tearing it apart

Thanks to Apple's lust for ease-of-tear-down, this machine unscrewed and disassembled itself. The case is actually really nice; especially how it pops open with two latches and unfurls so that cables are secured and not in the way.


Cables on hinges are expected to fail over time... but it looks like this one met a harsher fate...


Meanwhile... yes... check out that grime! The entire case had a layer of crud inside, and this ain't dust. This is land-fill-biological-waste which was treated with every caution required. Fortunately it was all dry, so hopefully there weren't too many living organisms. Actually, I half-expected something to crawl out of the power supply but, apart from fertiliser and dirt/dust, it was relatively unscathed!


The case got the full treatment. It needed it. Unfortunately, working with base metal chassis' always means human casualties. Fortunately I have a plentiful supply of disinfectant and bandaids.


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Building it back up again...

This was the fun part... there's always screws left over! For the most part everything just slotted back together. The only real issue was the IDE cable.

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As that the original cable was damaged, I tried to find one from my stash that would fit, but none were long enough. The cable would end up supporting the mainboard panel when trying to open the case.


Either way, it worked when closed... It was time to add voltage!

Flicking the switch

I really didn't know what to expect here... just because things are clean, doesn't mean they won't fry your local electrical circuits or trip breakers. I used a protected powerboard to provide an extra level of safety and plugged in the power cable. It actually gave a small crackle as it started to pull power; probably the first time in years that it had. These power supplies are always using some amount of current, as they're always in some form of standby, so it wasn't unexpected that I'd already have current draw on simply plugging in the power.


Fortunately, everything just worked... it even wanted to boot a Mac OS9 Lives ISO!

Roll-your-own IDE cable

Of course, Apple love their proprietary bits and pieces. In this case (hah, pun), the IDE cable is extra-long and runs around the entire length of the case before getting to the ZIP and CD drives. This is an 80-pin UDMA cable and, in my case, had been damaged where it flexes to the mainboard. I attempted to crimp on my own IDC header, but a standard 40-pin doesn't do the job.

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Seems to be an extra crimp row on the 80-pin header... something about every-second-pin being ground? Regardless, I just made my own 40-pin cable. Meh, the CD and ZIP wont perform at their capacity, but they'll work!


All the components were easily acquired from Jaycar... crimping them needed a hammer and a solid bench (sorry kitchen.)


I tested it. Yes. On bare carpet. Even with an after-market drive! The original 'super-drive' was having difficulty... might need to clean it out also.


Routing it back through the case was easy enough. I wasn't game to 'fold' the cable into the angles as much as they did, so I just pressed them down as much as was required.


Nice. And then it just worked perfectly! I still need a ZipDisk to check that drive.

OS Versions

This machine can support anything up to Mac OS X 10.4.11. You can find the 10.4.6 ISO online pretty easily (I really miss WinWorldPC)... then you just need the 10.4.11 PPC Combo Update to bring it up to the last possible version.

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I actually initially installed Mac OS9 Lives, with OSX 10.4.6 installed after it onto a secondary partition. OSX actually wouldn't boot when this was the case! It just showed that stupid 'prohibitory' 'cancel' symbol above. It seems that Mac OS9 formats the disks (or installs drivers?) in some way that stops OSX from finding the "root device". Either way, installing OSX first, and ticking the 'Install support for Mac OS 9 Disk Drivers' when partitioning!, worked perfectly. I now have a nice dual-boot scenario. I think I can even boot the Mac OS 9 partition inside 'Classic', but I haven't tried this yet.

Cleaning the case

As can be seen from the first pictures, the case was in a dire need of a scrub. Turns out it's not just superficial though! The cuts are deep and full of gunk. There was also a good crap-tonne of dirt on the inside-side.

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Once scrubbed clean, it was time to spit-and-polish. I tried both the 'dremel' and wet-dry sandpaper, but ran out before I could really get the result I wanted... back to the hardware store soon to sand down more of the scratches. I'll then need some kind of real buffing solution to get the shine back. Unless matte Macs are a thing now?

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This machine has three RAM slots and OS 9 showed up 1.25gb of RAM. Interesting that someone would choose to mix RAM size values. A quick inspection of the actual DIMMs showed that one was indeed 256mb instead of 512mb. I was initially worried that the slot with a missing latch was the issue... thankfully not.

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My box'o'RAM helped out here and gave me a 512mb from the IBM NetVista that, with Windows 98SE installed, couldn't support more than 512mb RAM anyway.

Equivalent Vintage iPod

Just for fun, I plugged in my intel-formatted iPod. iTunes appeared and it 'just worked perfectly'(tm).


Nice to have suitably vintage tunes also!

What's next?

Might need to update the graphics card? Or maybe swap in a newer ATX power supply as this one makes a high-pitched whine and is probably not environmentally friendly. WiFi would be nice too, but it seems I really just need an internal PCMCIA Airport card. And then MIDI and games... I have a Roland UM-1, but it's not playing ball yet... more learning to do!

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  1. You could try plastx to return the shine.

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