Apple iMac G4: Retro Review

by birtanpublished on November 26, 2020

What's up guys Mike here the Detroit Board with something a little different so review basically every Apple product since I started making YouTube videos back in 2009 when I got my first iMac now some of my earliest videos were essentially retro reviews of older iPods and recently with the release of designed by Apple in California a book that chronicles the history of design and Apple since Johnny I've and Steve Jobs started working together it's sort of reignited my interest in looking back at some of Apple's earlier products many of which I never owned are used now the top of that list has always been the

IMac g4 for me it's by far the most unusual iMac design to date and still holds up as one of my favorites this generation was available from 2002 through 2004 becoming the first iMac with an LCD screen and replaced the hugely popular and iconic iMac g3 with a CRT tube now at the time this was simply known as the new iMac but picked up various names because of its unique form factor some describing it as the sunflower iMac or the lamp iMac the history knows it now as the iMac g4 because it was based on IBM's PowerPC g4 CPU now I'm actually never owned used or

Even touch an iMac g4 until I picked one up on eBay for this video I got this one for less than $100 and it's in fantastic condition for a 14 year old computer with all the original accessories and software now the version I have here is a fully SPECT out 17 inch model with a 1.25 gigahertz g4 CPU and an 80 gig hard disk drive running at 5400 rpm now this unit was originally equipped with 256 Meg's of RAM but the previous user added one gig of ram and I'm going to add another gig of ram to max it out now originally this launched only as a 15-inch model in early 2002 but Apple

Later added a 17 inch version it mid-2002 and a 20 inch model in late 2003 now this design was relatively short-lived replaced by the iMac g5 in 2004 which picked up the single slab form factor we still see today it's actually really interesting to look back at the keynote announcement for this computer at the time this design was seen as the best solution for keeping the display ultra thin which is one of its selling points Steve Jobs actually joked about what other manufacturers were likely to do which is to add the components to the back of the display we

Means for optical drives unsightly cable management and the computer that ultimately doesn't look very thin at all ironically Apple would take this approach to their subsequent IMAX if act eg for display is still thinner overall than the current thickness of these 5k iMac now speaking of that display LCD certainly has come a long way so the 17 inch display here is an active-matrix LCD panel versus Welby for IPS with a resolution of 1440 by 900 which was pretty decent for the time now compared to modern displays this one is washed out and dim with muted colors now in

Terms of brightness this is rated at around 200 nits but the fluorescent backlight may have dims over time because fluorescent lighting does have a half-life now just to give you a comparison most modern Macs are rated at around 500 nits with much higher resolution also like most LCD panels of the time there is severe off access distortion which is why it's a good thing this display can be articulated now speaking of that articulation the bezel of the display is specifically designed to be easily grabbed and repositioned I also really

Like how they sort of kept part of this bezel translucent to reduce the visual width of the frame which makes the display look even more impressive at least at the time now you won't find a camera built-in here but you'll find a microphone in the lower left corner and an LED status light in the lower right which is invisible until it's in standby mode of course the hallmark feature of this computer is that swivel arm it's very cleverly designed and has held up very well over the years it's all polished metal and looks really impressive so the display can be raised

Or lowered or pitched up and down so the great thing here is that each action can be done independently so the pitch of the screen doesn't change with the movement of the arm the entire arm can also swivel 180 degrees off of its base and this is made possible by keeping all of those connectors away from the back of the display now the design of this iMac started to pick up on the white plastic minimalism of the era as Apple moved away from the vibrant colors and glossy transparent plastics the plastic here is sort of translucent and has this very nice matte texture which feels and

Looks like frosted glass the cylindrical base is actually somewhat similar to the design of the Mac Chrome there's a single large exhaust fan at the top that draws air from the bottom vents also hidden behind the flush door on the front as Apple's 4x super dry for DVD playback and burn or ripping CDs this drive is by far the biggest component taken up the internal space of E dome now nothing reveals the age of a computer better than the i/o port and it's really amazing how many they were able to squeeze along the perimeter of the base first up on the

Left side is a Kensington lock for securing the computer from theft we also get a port I have never seen before this is a mini VGA port for video output we also get three USB 2.0 ports and two firewire 400 ports of course this is the early 2000s so we'll still find a 56k modem right next to Ethernet but you won't find two gigabit speeds at this time now when it comes to audio ports we have no less than three of them we have one out one in and then we have a dedicated proprietary port for the included Harman Kardon Pro satellite speakers now these translucent speakers

Are pretty legendary for Apple they've had them for years but they would eventually be phased out when the g5 iMac came around the g4 iMac does have a built-in speaker as well which doesn't sound great but it is passable so let's going to take a listen to what that sounds like versus be really impressive satellite speakers what's up guys Mike here the e tour Gorgon today we're taking a look at the surface studio from Microsoft this is their very first all-in-one desktop computer and the person I'm taking a look at here is the fully setup model which retails for

Forty $1.99 so this is a really high-end computer with a very specific audience in mind Apple has certainly gone in a very different direction with their keyboards in the recent decade because this keyboard is huge and heavy compared to the magic keyboard we know today I actually find this keyboard somewhat hard to get used to just because the keys are so tall the lots of mechanical travel so for me typing on this keyboard is very slow and kind of tiresome compared to what I'm used to today the keyboard also lacks those dedicated os10

Function keys at the top but does include a number pad around the back of the keyboard very conveniently is a set of USB connectors which is great for thumb drives or connecting certain peripherals but for the most part these connectors tend to be underpowered for most accessories so it's kind of hit or miss in terms of what will work with them the optical mouse is also really neat-looking designed with this translucent shell but you have to remember that this predates the scroll wheel and left or right click this was a single click Mouse now for right click

All you had to do was hold down the control key while making a click in this product the right-click feature although the g4 iMac did not have bluetooth you can use the most current magic keyboard and Magic Trackpad with the g4 iMac and in order to make this work you just connect the lightning cable directly to the USB ports on the Mac now for the most part this worked actually surprisingly well but features like right clicking and scrolling do not work so how does a 14 year old computer work in 2017 well very slowly the latest version of OS 10 that

Any PowerPC computer can run is mac OS 10.5 or Leopard which came out in 2007 so this computer hasn't seen a major software update in about 10 years most apps also stop supporting these power PC chips long ago including virtually all browsers such as Safari Chrome and Firefox Apple did keep iTunes updated on these computers until 2012 which is great because that means I can bring my iTunes Match library to this computer however virtually everything else about this computer is restricted by the legacy software and slow performance even browsing the web can be slow and

Tedious since the computer can't keep up with all the assets on most modern web pages and ultimately when browsing the web on these older browsers you're going to run into plenty of compatibility issues or security issues which restrict you from accessing those websites with such an old browser however for the most part you can still get around the web pretty easily you can even watch YouTube videos although the computer does struggle even with 360p and just moving the cursor while watching the video is enough to cause it to stutter and drop frames of course you don't want to do

Too much multitasking either now this computer can still be used for basic tasks such as writing emails browsing the web or social media and playing your music through iTunes but ultimately this computer is more vintage collectible than the bargain PC that you can use day-to-day now the great thing about these older Mac's is that they actually come apart really easily and were designed for easy user upgradability so the circular panel at the bottom is actually famous for its design with the etched Apple logo in the middle many of these have actually been turned

Into wall clocks which is actually how you learned about the iMac g4 in the first place now if you look closer you'll find all the specs and regulatory information esta the edge it's actually really nice to see the original specs engraved on the bottom so you know exactly what this computer was supposed to have from the factory now removing the bottom is easy there are four Schwartz screws which loosen up and stay attached to the bottom panel so you don't lose them which is very nice now the first thing you'll see are the two user upgradeable

Components the airport card to end Wi-Fi and the RAM slot so like many Mac's at the time you actually had to add Wi-Fi by inserting the airport card it didn't come with it now the previous owner actually never added this component so I was able to find this really cheaply on ebay so this computer is getting Wi-Fi for the first time in 14 years now when it comes to upgrading the RAM there is an open sodimm slot on the bottom which is very easy for the user to upgrade themselves and you can add 1 gig card at maximum but there's another slot on the inside of the computer and that's a

Regular dim slot which is a full size card then that's very easy there plays but it's a little more complicated so let's go ahead and start digging into this so you'll find for long torque screws which come out very easily now once you remove the screws you might find that it doesn't come apart right away and that's because they used thermal paste to connect the heat pipes to the upper part of the chassis which is what they used to cool the motherboard I just have to sort of wiggle this in order to break the connection and then everything should

Drop down then you just sort of want to lay it down so that the cables don't pull apart now when they first opened up this computer it was packed full of dust and you could definitely smell it when the computer was running so kind of smell like smoke as if the previous owner was a smoker so I very carefully brushed away and vacuum the dust away and use compressed air to blast it clean so now it looks very clean in fact it looks basically brand new obviously cooling is much less effective if clogged with dust so this is probably something you want to do regardless of

Operating the RAM the area that had the most us was where the CPU is and that's because that's where most of the ventilation is focused so pulled in the most dust and the entire CPU and heatsink were covered in it now the heat pipes that are used to cool the processor actually attached to the upper frame and joins with thermal paste to help conduct the heat so if you take this apart you will need to remove the old paste and reapply it now before I do that I want to remove the old 256 Meg's of and replace it with one gig it's

Actually very cheap I got this for about 10 bucks now it's simple to do you just spread the clips apart and remove the old ramp and installing it is pretty basic it just snaps into place and you just want to make sure it's seated correctly so we don't go back in here and reinsert it if it pops out now I'm not going to completely take this apart but if you look at the upper half of the computer you can see the large super drive right in front and above that stacked right on top is the hard disk drive now if you want to intact you pretty easy to install an SSD or just

Replace the hard disk drive with another one now before I close everything up I just need to clean up the heatpipe surfaces once again now I had already done this in my original teardown to clean out the dust and the old pace had basically turned into drives up chewing them so it was much less effective it was definitely time to replace it now the thermal compound is actually very cheap you can pick this up for about ten dollars or less and in this particular situation I like to spread it out with a spatula just because the metal is pretty rough so it may not evenly distribute

When you just use the dabbing method which you might use with a cpu so there are basically two places to apply this pace then you just want to make sure you get good coverage and once you're done applying the pace you just need to carefully drop the computer back down on top of its motherboard and make sure it's lined up before you sort of move it around until you find the right spot because doing so may pop out the RAM and just spread the grease everywhere so you want to be careful with this process and the next thing we need to do is just make sure that everything is in order so

I'm going to power it on and check the RAM system profile to see if everything is there alright guys hope you enjoyed this look at the iMac g4 if you enjoyed this please let me know and give this video a thumbs up I may continue this as a series if you guys enjoyed it as much as I did making it and until then I'll see you again in my next video you

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