Help me turn $3500 into $100 or more
February 23, 2006 10:51 AM   Subscribe

Upgrade my PowerMac 9500/132, sell it, or sell as parts? Or something completely different?

Okay, I've got this PowerMac 9500/132 holding my carpet down. It's a great machine but nearly useless and worthless now.

Upgrade - Best I can tell, it's gonna cost in the neighborhood of $1000-$1500 to upgrade it to G4 level (including CPU, memory, video, HD/USB/etc controllers, and so on). Crap. Are there other options for upgrading this thing?

Sell - A quick glance at ebay tells me that if I upgrade it with a G4, I can sell it for about three bucks (okay maybe $40). Yikes.

Sell the parts - This would take a while, be somewhat involved, and may net me $40 and a pile of unsold parts.

Are there any other ideas out there? Upgrade it with PC parts and a Dremel?
posted by mumeishi to Computers & Internet (12 answers total)
1) donate, tax write-off. That's probably the best value you're going to get.

2) Build a cool nerdy project with it. Like a mp3 jukebox or something.
posted by fishfucker at 11:15 AM on February 23, 2006

I don't quite know what you are asking.... but, I'd have to say, the only reasonable thing here is to get another computer. You could get a very functional, fairly fast desktop these days for less than $500.

The only reason anyone would buy it would be for historical purposes.

PC parts and a Dremel? well, if you want an art project, sure. It'd be fun, and you'd have a PC that looks like an old mac.

For the love of god, don't upgrade it.

On preview: yeah, cool nerdy project. install linux, and have your own webserver/email server/ jukebox/ VOIP telephone thingy.
posted by Freen at 11:16 AM on February 23, 2006

Throw it out of a 20th story window. At least you'd get some entertainment value out of getting rid of it.

You could easily buy a recent model (even new) Mac for $1500.
posted by chrisfromthelc at 11:19 AM on February 23, 2006

Donate it to a school or other organization that can get some mileage out of it.

Or hollow it out, hide a Mac mini inside it, and amaze your friends.

The trouble you will go to partsing it out is probably worth more than the parts, sadly.
posted by adamrice at 11:20 AM on February 23, 2006

Yea, absolutely, totally, completely NOT worth the trouble to upgrade--believe me, I've been there. If you actually need to replace it with a working, more modern machine, then just plunk down $500 for a Mac mini, or $1000 for a shiny new iMac. Or the same amount (probably less) for used G4 towers.
posted by cyrusdogstar at 11:32 AM on February 23, 2006

The worthy-to upgrade-curve with Macs is at about 5-6 years, meaning that anything older than a Sawtooth G4 is not worth the effort to dump any cash into, and I'm probably being generous with my cutoff.

Keep in mind that for a 9500, even after you'd spent all that money: A. the painfully slow bus speed will eat up much of the advantage of a G4, B. the 168-pin memory is slow as well. C. you'll need some software hacks to run OSX. and D. you'll be cursing and nursing sore knuckles after wrestling with the 9500's notoriously cramped and difficult-to-upgrade case. And as you sit back and wonder why you did all this, your non-standard, essentially non-replaceable power supply konks out due to age and the strain of all the new bits...

Add in all the PCI cards you'll (as you noted) need to buy - FireWire, USB, IDE, video, etc. and it's clear you could spend less money and end up with a vastly superior machine - i.e. a late model G4 tower, or even one of the cheaper new Macs...
posted by jalexei at 1:26 PM on February 23, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks.

Yeah, this is pretty much what I expected. I didn't expect the Mac Mini idea, or the donate-it thought. Although.... that'd just mean I'd have a really (really) huge Mac Mini.

Hollowing it out then filling with an Athlon64 system would be kind of interesting.

Any thoughts on where to donate that would take it? How to valuate it for the write-off (35 bucks?). I would imagine most schools would probably want something more powerful or current. Yes?
posted by mumeishi at 1:47 PM on February 23, 2006

Heh. I've got a UMAX S900 / 225Mhz (pretty much the same machine, just a tad faster) that I'm currently pondering the same dilemma with. The last time it came up -- about 4 years ago -- I sold it to my parents for about $100 (thus upgrading them from their Performa 6116), and my father still uses it to good effect, although it's developed some quirks, and he's considering buying a windows machine from Dell. Then it'll be time to decide what to do with it.

In my geekier moments, I tend to think the Linux project option is best -- but I'm not sure what flavor will run well on it and provide reasonable capabilities. Or, I could go after some old Digidesign hardware (say, an 828 and associated card, or a handful of AudioMedia IIIs) and turn it into a circa 2000 audio production machine).

But really... my powerbook can probably do any of those jobs as well, and not having it take any of my time and attention for a life already full of projects and ideas might be the best thing. I think I'll just let my parents give it to Goodwill when the time comes.
posted by weston at 2:54 PM on February 23, 2006

Best answer: Any thoughts on where to donate that would take it? How to valuate it for the write-off (35 bucks?). I would imagine most schools would probably want something more powerful or current. Yes?

Last time I donated a computer to WEAVE (like Salvation Army or Goodwill or whatever) they just asked me how much it was worth, then wrote me out a receipt for that value. I'm not an accountant/tax lawyer, so I can't tell you what you could get away with if you were to get audited (and of course, none of this really matters if you're not doing line-item deductions anyways, afaik*). I think there is a calcuation businesses use to determine depreciation on tech items which you could probably make use of if you were worried about being on the up and up.

Wouldn't bother donating it to a school, as most schools (at least universities) are throwing away computers better than that -- and anything below a uni probably won't have resources to deal with something that old. I'm sure there's KIDS at schools who would be interested, but they're not going to write you out a receipt.

I'd just take it to goodwill or whatever.

* Again, I'm a tax retard. don't hit me!
posted by fishfucker at 3:42 PM on February 23, 2006

Best answer: Hollowing it out then filling with an Athlon64 system would be kind of interesting.

I've always loved the 9XXX series Mac cases, even though they were such bears to upgrade (though the 9600 was dramatically easier to work on). Remembering how heavy and huge those things were, I don't know if the tax write-off would be worth the effort to lug it somewhere.

If you at all enjoy tinkering, I say make it into a project - have some fun - put an Athlon board in, then get an airbrush and make the case look all rusty and old, like it was at the bottom of a lake. Add some clay barnacles, turn it into a race car, etc. etc.... Go nuts...

Heh. I've got a UMAX S900 / 225Mhz

I have a PowerComputing PowerCenter 120. Still works, and I was using it regularly until about 2 years ago. Remember the Daystar Genesis? A quad-processor 9600 - Retailed for $6500, but with RAM at about $25-$30 per meg, I remember seeing them loaded up for well over $10K.
posted by jalexei at 5:30 PM on February 23, 2006

Donating is tough, even to poor non-profits. Most want Wintels cause that's what their people know. It's hard to get service and software for older models and Macs are a bit exotic (yeah even old ones.)

As far as a tax write off, if you try to take more than $200 you are asking for trouble. Even throwing it out is problematic because of the plastics and metals involved.

Cleanest thing to do is to wait until your city has a toxic waste collection day and take it in, open a beer that night and drink to the wonderful service it gave you and then go buy a new one hoping you will get as many years out of it as your 9500.

Thinking differently...
posted by leafwoman at 5:48 PM on February 23, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone. If you get any more ideas, they're welcome and appreciated. Since I'll probably not "get around to it" for a while still (maybe when I put new carpet down :-), I'll noodle around with various thoughts until then.

Goodwill sounds good. Simple and to the point.

I'm still wondering how tough it would be to nail an nvidia/amd board into it with a new power supply, and all the associated plastic surgery that would be required. Will have to pull it open and take a look again. I remember being impressed with the thing's case engineering, but building Frankenmac might change my appreciation into agitation.
posted by mumeishi at 6:58 AM on February 24, 2006

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