How do I find out how old an inherited iMac is, how much RAM it can handle, and what OS it should run?
September 17, 2004 9:10 PM   Subscribe

AncientImac filter: I searched and didn't find it, I swear. I inheritted an Imac today. 64 meg ram and blue, running OS 9 something. How do I find out how old it is, how much RAM I can stuff in it, and what's the best OS version to run?

On further consideration: lable on back says: Imac 350.
posted by daver to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)

To answer your questions (from the linked page):

1. About 5 years old
2. 512 MB
3. Mac OS 9 would probably be fastest, but Mac OS X is above and beyond OS 9.
posted by bitpart at 9:32 PM on September 17, 2004

Definitely up the RAM by at least 256 MB and install OS X. My mom's got a similar vintage iMac 400 and OS X runs great on it. It has 2 DIMM slots that can each take 512 MB, so it can really go up to 1 GB total memory if you desire.
posted by boaz at 9:48 PM on September 17, 2004

You should have an application in your Apple menu called "Apple System Profiler". It will tell you everything about what you currently have. From there you can figure out what you need to do to max it out.
posted by jjg at 10:32 PM on September 17, 2004

This must not be as old as my 233mhz, which I was told, would not run, or not run OS X well?
posted by ParisParamus at 10:43 PM on September 17, 2004

If you don't go to OS X, you still have a fine computer--much less annoying than the XP machine I have as the office...
posted by ParisParamus at 10:43 PM on September 17, 2004

I ran a Powerbook 333 Mhz G3 for years with Mac OS X, with 320 MB of RAM. For the most part, it worked just fine. I suspect a similar speed iMac will, too.
posted by weston at 1:38 AM on September 18, 2004

Nothing annoyed me more than when I realized my ex-'s similarly vintage iMac could kick my ~600mb pentium's ass at SETI@home. Great little machine, though. And yeah, everything above is pretty much accurate, OS X runs quite well on those machines.
posted by Space Coyote at 3:35 AM on September 18, 2004

Once you get the info from the Apple System Profiler, MacTracker can tell you what you need to know about your machine's capabilities.

posted by ursus_comiter at 7:55 AM on September 18, 2004

I'd run Mac OS 9.2.3 on it if you're mostly looking to browse the web or send the odd email. Sure, OS X is much cooler and useful for a power user, but it seems like Aqua (the GUI) is video card intensive (especially for one without OpenGL support) and makes the OS feel sluggish. Fill it full of RAM and run Mozilla 1.2.1 and it'll very rarely have problems.

If you must have OS X, make sure you run 10.3. It'll perform okay... I'd probably run OS X on it myself, but would mostly use it as a terminal.
posted by maniactown at 8:08 PM on September 18, 2004

You should be able to update the basic board to 600 or 650 mhz if you want (with a bit of dissasembly) but that's extreme. Boaz is right about the RAM - about 1 gig. Then, you can stuff in just about any size hard drive.

OS 10.3 is truly better than the previous OS X versions. But, I'm endeared to OS 9.2.2. Sometimes OS X freaks out in weird ways.
posted by troutfishing at 9:44 PM on September 18, 2004

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