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The Final Chapter, Keeping an early iMac Current - Going Faster

by Keith Benicek, Editor (iMac/PowerBook addict)

Remove the spring and the two screws that hold the hard disk drive caddy in place. There are also two more centering tabs that hold the HDD caddy in place. Don’t bend them to get he caddy out, just slide the caddy back a bit to let the tabs slip out of the two centering holes. As the caddy comes free, unplug the HDD ribbon cable CAREFULLY! You’ll notice that all the ribbon cables for the CD-ROM and the HDD are nice marked.
 
  With the HDD "caddy" out, swap the old for new disk drive.

Once the old drive is out, all you need to do is set the selector jumper to Master position on the new Maxtor drive (cable select also works) and put the drive caddy back into the computer cage in the reverse order that you removed it. Make sure the two tabs under the HDD caddy are in the positioning slots. Ah….don’t forget to reattach the HDD ribbon cable, or you’ll be wonder why it doesn’t boot.

When you replace the CD-ROM drive, be sure to have the metal tab, on its underside, engage the slightly raised square section of the spring that is on top of the HDD. The tab keeps the CD-ROM from sliding back too far.

Again, make sure that all the ribbon cables are plugged in and well seated into the proper device connectors. Mistakes are easy to make, double check things.

Partition it
After you reassemble your iMac you’ll need to install the OS and applications that you will be using. Remember that when you install Mac OS X, either 10.1.5 or 10.2.6 “Jaguar”, you must create two hard drive partitions with the first boot partition at less than 8 GB for OS X. We suggest using a 7.90 GB partition to install OS X 10.2.6 Jaguar in, a second partition of 5 GB for OS 9.2.2 and the remainder of the space for a Data partition.

In the “Data” partition you can make folder repositories for you iPhoto files, your enormous iTunes/iPod music collection and even a folder to download your DV movies. But you don’t have a FireWire port you say?

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Pumping up the processor
In Part 1 and 2 of this series, I said that I didn’t think that the high price at that time for processor upgrade kits for the early iMac could be justified.

Since then, street prices for the Sonnet Technology HARMONi G3 kits have dropped the prices to as low as US$249. for the 500 MHz kit and US$312. for the 600 MHz version.

To revitalize a very faithful and reliable computer with modern FireWire and to get a sizable speed bump to boot, seems well worth these lower prices. If you’re like me, very into Digital Photography, Digital Video editing and ripping every song you own into your iTunes archive and creating different album mixes to burn or upload to your iPod, then upgrading you old iMac is a tasty treat.

I’ve wanted to use my old G3 333 MHz Blueberry iMac which I use every morning before leaving for the magazine to check emails, program Palm Desktop Manager and write some story material, also for ripping music and creating monthly mixes for my iPods. When I’m working from home and not using my PowerBook, the iMac is my story and management tool. So the combination of getting FireWire while increasing processor speed is a slam-dunk choice.

Another reason we choose to go with the Sonnet HARMONi G3 kits over other ones available from companies like PowerLogix or Techno Warehouse, is Sonnet’s advanced circuit design and use of a IBM PowerPC G3 processor with on-chip 256K Level 2 backside cache.

Unlike the Motorola PPC 750CX based upgrade kits from PowerLogix or Techno Warehouse, where the 1MB of backside cache is only running at 40% of the processor speed (200MHz), the Sonnet engineers used “on-chip” Level 2 backside cache operating at full processor speed, 1:1 Ratio. That means the smaller cache is running at either 500MHz or 600MHz; up to 3 times as fast at passing instructions through then off-chip cache. With on-chip L2 cache, the data path is also considerable shorter, further increasing throughput speed.

Techno Warehouse also uses “recycled” old Apple processor daughter cards with replaced faster G3 or G4 processors, rather than designing a new card from the ground up. Neither manufacturer offers a FireWire upgrade, crucial for justifying the upgrade for most who want to use Apple iApps like iMovies or iTunes with an iPod. I think the addition of FireWire port is the biggest selling feature alone for the Sonnet kit.

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