PowerMac life extension
November 23, 2009 12:08 PM   Subscribe

Squeezing a bit more out of a PowerMac G5...

I'm seeing the spinning beachball more these days... wondering if spending $85 on 2 more gigs of RAM (from 4GB to 6GB) will make it show up a little less often.

I know I'm not going to be able to move over to Snow Leopard with this machine, but hoping to get a few more years out of this hard-working box.

specs = PPC dual 2gHz / OS x 10.5 Leopard / 4GB RAM currently installed / model came out in June 2003 / upgraded video card

Thanks, hive mind!
posted by omnidrew to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My hypothesis, without knowing more about your particular install / usage patterns, is that you should backup, initialize the drive and do a clean install of the OS. Then reinstall the apps you use and transfer the docs you need. This will speed up your Mac by getting rid of a lot of the cruft it has accumulated since you first started using the machine. 4GB of RAM is probably plenty.
posted by thejoshu at 12:11 PM on November 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

It all depends on what you're doing with the machine. You can check Activity Monitor (in your Utilities folder) to see how much memory is currently being used, to see if more is really necessary. Seems to me that 4GB ought to be plenty unless you're doing some hardcore video editing or 3D modeling or something. Activity Monitor will also indicate what programs are making the most demands of your resources, so if you have a suspiciously leaking app you can identify it and troubleshoot the problem from there.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 12:13 PM on November 23, 2009

I had major speed problems when I went to 10.5 on my dinky G4 - along with the fresh install thejoshu is suggesting, is it possible for you to downgrade to 10.4?
posted by pocams at 12:16 PM on November 23, 2009

Best answer: My Mac hunchery tells me that unless you are editing multi-gig video or image files, there won't be much detectable difference between 4GB and 6GB of memory. Both qualify as "lots".

I endorse thejoshu's idea. You should not be dealing with spinning beach balls with two processors and that much memory. Something is wrong, perhaps just a lot of cruft and clutter, perhaps with disk fragmenting or errors that are being patched around, or maybe even something more fundamental is wrong with your hard disk (is that the same seven year old boot drive it was built with?

But your first step should be a reinstall with a fresh disk format. I'd also run a few diagnostics on that startup drive.
posted by rokusan at 12:16 PM on November 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I recommend running YASU (Yet Another System Utility) to clean out some of the cruft. It helped a couple G5ers I recommended it to in a previous question.
posted by sharkfu at 12:28 PM on November 23, 2009

Response by poster: Among other things, I am doing video editing, print layouts to PDF, etc. Major apps like Quark 8, CS4, Digital Performer are a little sluggish now.

Earlier this year I did a clean install of 10.5 on a fresh disk format when I put in a 500GB internal startup drive. I'll d/l YASU, hit it with DiskWarrior, and sweep up the cruft again before spending more $ on the beastie.
posted by omnidrew at 12:35 PM on November 23, 2009

if you want a major speedup, install a good SSD as your boot+applications disk, and keep the 500gb drive for media/files/your home folder etc. I agree that 4gb is enough that you shouldn't get constant beachballs, but another couple of memory sticks is never a bad thing to do while you're in there.
posted by bonaldi at 2:05 PM on November 23, 2009

What does top report when its slow? Is the CPU pegged? Is RAM low?
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:48 PM on November 23, 2009

Response by poster: SSD for boot + apps is a good idea, thanks Bonaldi.
posted by omnidrew at 7:32 AM on November 24, 2009

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