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Mac Big IDE Drive SupportReturn to News Page

iMac G4 and Quicksilver owner Reports on High-Capacity IDE Drives
("Big" drive support (i.e. 48bit addressing) using onboard IDE)

Last Updated: 6/27/2003

(NOTE: this is an old article from 2002-2003, for later reports, search the drive database here (see above links) for later reports/info.)

Although Apple's kbase doc on >128GB drives notes only Mirror Drive Door (MDD) G4 towers and Xserves have native bootrom support for large IDE drives using the onboard IDE interface (w/10.2 a requirement also), I've had several iMac G4 and Quicksilver G4 (2002 model) owners note they're using large IDE drives with 10.2 and the onboard IDE interface, without any 3rd party drivers (like Intech's) or PCI IDE cards. (Many PCI ATA/100-133 Mac cards have big drive/48bit addressing support, as do many new Firewire case bridge boards - but the subject here is support for big drives using the onboard IDE.)
In fact, so far all iMac G4 and Quicksilver 2002 (although some 2001 QS owners said not, some later have) users that have tried a big drive with Jaguar has noted it working at full capacity without any problems. (There was a report from an older G4/AGP Tower owner that moved a big drive formatted in a MDD G4 into that system and had problems writing to it, so I'm not sure if Sawtooth G4 towers or GigaBit Ethernet models have big drive support.)
Note: There are also eMac owner reports in the drive upgrades database noting native big drive support with 10.2.x and later. (I've personally installed a 160GB drive in an eMac w/ATI graphics in 2002 and it was fully recognized. Check the drive database for other/larger drive eMac owner reports which are not listed on this older page.)

(Reader FYI - for older macs that don't have native big drive support, normally you need a 3rd party driver (like intech's) or a PCI IDE card that supports big drives/48bit addressing. As noted in the FAQ, without 48bit addr. support, any large drives will be limited to appx 128GB (binary), regardless of the number of partitions).

Reader reports on iMac G4s and Quicksilver Towers with Large Drives: (most recent first - I ask that they also post a drive database report so that in the future readers searching the database can find them easily - also some early (2001) Quicksilver owners have reported no big drive support, some later reports from 2001 QS owners said otherwise. And again the drive should be formatted under 10.2.x - not OS 9 or OS X 10.1.x)

Another 2002 Quicksilver tower owner notes using a big drive (160GB maxtor) to full capacity under 10.2.x (Jaguar).

(drive database report from June 26th, 2003)
"I have a Quicksliver (2002), Education Model, running at 733MHz, with 1.25GB of RAM. I am using OS 10.2.6.

I was unaware of any limitation in hard disk size, so I ordered a 160 GB Maxtor hard drive from Staples.com (~$75 after rebate!). I installed it following the directions, leaving the jumper set for cable select, and putting it in bay #2, (Cable select may work fine with some older macs - but it's generally only used for Mirror Drive Door G4 Towers. Master or Slave (if 2nd drive) is the usual settings for pre-MDD G4 Towers. See my illustrated guide below. Also note that 2002 Quicksilver owners have noted native Big Drive support with 10.2.x but not some 2001 QS owners (BUT some later 2001 QS owners have noted big drive support in drive db reports - so YMMV). For older macs w/o big drive support, as mentioned in the FAQ you'll need either Intechusa.com's driver (but see their notes on OS X compat.) or a PCI IDE card that supports 48bit addressing (aka Big Drive support), otherwise the drive will be limited to appx 128GB formatted. And most all external cases now have bridge boards with big drive support as well.-Mike) keeping the original 40 GB hard drive as the master and primary boot drive.

It formated perfectly with a formated size of 152.65 GB. I installed a fresh 10.2 system onto it, and it boots quite nicely, giving me about a 50% increase in speed for disk operations, acording to xbench.

After doing this, I discovered that Apple claims that my machine shouldn't be able to use this size of drive! Checking your site, I find the other people have had the same experience as I have, so I thought I'd chime in.

To summarize: my Quicksilver (2002) recognizes the full size of my 160 GB hard drive.

Thanks for a great site. I can't tell you how many times I've used it over the years. I'm planning a processor upgrade in the next few months, and you can be sure that I'll check here before I buy. Thanks for all your work!

(FYI Illustrated guide to adding a 2nd HD here in B&W G3 rev2 and G4 towers up to the QuickSilver models.
IDE articles page RAID section has an illustrated guide for adding 2 more drives in the side bays.)

(mail recd May 27th, 2003)
feeling optimistic, i bought a maxtor 160gig hd this weekend (big compusa sale) and put it in my quicksilver dual 1GHz. lo and behold, it showed up as 152.66 gig, i partitioned it into six partitions and all seems to function perfectly! running it as the master with a western digital 80gig as slave, with 10.2.6.
adam s. "

Another QS owner mail from May 21st, 2003:

" Mike, just read the article on your site about Mark's Quicksilver and the WD 200GB drive. I had no idea that people were having problems with large drives in these machines. (Apple states only MDD G4s and Xserves have native big drive support w/10.2 for the onboard IDE interface, but so far all iMac G4 and Quicksilver owners that have actually tried big drives in 10.2 have all reported OK as noted in past news pages and drive database reports. The only real problem reports were for other models that tried have been older G4 towers noting big drives formatted in MDD Towers had problems in use. -Mike)
I have two Quicksilver Dual 1GB G4's that I bought in February and April of last year (2002) and they both came with IBM 60GB drives. The first thing I did is replace both units with IBM 120GB drives and then just this past February replaced those with IBM's new 180GB, 8MB cache drives. Disk Utility recognized them properly and I have loaded them up several times with video almost to capacity, within 5GB or so. I have a friend that also has the same machine bought at the same time using the same IBM 180GB drive with no problems. We all run the latest OS, 10.2.6 and the drive is installed on the interface that the original drive was installed on. No special drivers or software has been used or added to make them work.

I also have three ADS firewire external cases all loaded with the same IBM 180GB drives and again all works well. (Big drive FW case support depends on the bridge board firmware, new FW cases may already have it, although older cases/bridge boards won't. As noted in the July 2002 news page here, last summer OWC posted a firmware update for their earlier Firewire Oxford 911bridge based cases that enabled 48bit addressing/big drive support. See the Firewire section of the FAQ here for link/notes-Mike)

One thing is for sure, these drives are much faster than the 120's and I thought those were the fastest drives I have ever tested. I have also used these drives on the Acard hardware raid card and talk about fast..... I just don't like having hardware in my computers that keep needing updates and such every time there is an OS upgrade (and makes the computer take three times as long to start up) so I took them out and use the external drives instead for my extra capacity needs.

One more thing, bought Disk Warrior 3 last week and it fixed disc problems I was having in my PowerBook G4 that nothing else was able to repair. In the past 4-5 years, I have never had a program that has been as good at fixing problems than Disk Warrior and version 3 is no exception. Again, your site is the best. Have a good weekend, Mark "

I am a huge fan of Diskwarrior 2.x, but haven't bought v3 yet. There were some problem reports with failed restarts after running DW 3.0, but not sure they are typical.

Copy of Quicksilver report in May 21st, 2003 news page:

" (Western Digital WD2000JBRTL 200GB drive db report)
"Installed this 200GB WD HD into my PowerMac G4/867 (QuickSilver) as the 2nd drive on the IDE bus with the factory 60GB one. Disk Utility 10.2, running under Mac OS X 10.2.3 (build 6G30), formatted it to 186.29GB. Successfully copied 181GB of files to it via the Finder. Rebooting under MacOS 9, the drive didn't mount but I didn't select "Install Mac OS 9 drivers" during formatting.
Reformatting it with that option allowed it to mount under 9. Apple Knowledge Base article #86178 indicates only the recent Dual Mirror G4s have the BootROM neccesary for drives larger than 128GB. Perhaps they mean that's the only one that can boot from one larger than 128GB so copied a MacOS 9.2.2 to the 200GB drive, set it as startup and rebooted. It booted 9 without any problem so it seems all that's necessary is formatting with Jaguar's Disk Utility.
Mike: If you'd like me to do some further testing, please email me the details.
Mark S. "

The best test I know is one Mark seems to have already done - (write files to almost fill the drive up as a test to see if there are any problems writing to the full capacity of the drive). In the past, even big drives formatted in MDD G4s and moved to older Macs (G4 towers) resulted in problems in actual use even though the drive was still reported as having the correct capacity.
If any other Quicksilver owners have tried 160-200GB drives on the onboard IDE in jaguar, post a report or send an email with your experience. As noted in the main site news page a month or so ago - several iMac G4 owners also reported native big drive support (48bit addressing) even though Apple notes only the MDD and Xserves have this bootrom support in this kbase doc on >128GB drives.

" hello, I've installed a 200GB HD in my iMac G4/800 (15-inch model) without any trouble.
The system was 10.2.4 by the time and now is 10.2.5.
I have used it with only one partition and all was fine, but as I 'm using it for video captures, I have now two partitions.
Next step is to replace it by a new Maxtor 250Gb (7200RPM).
Best regards
Henri "

" Hi Mike,
I just installed a Maxtor 160 GB 7200 rpm drive in my G4 700 (Combo-Drive) iMac. It works without any problems, without any third party drivers, OS 10.2.5 starts up faster and the drive isn't even louder than the preinstalled 40 GB Maxtor 5400 rpm.

One note to the iMac-TFT-take-apart-article. I wasn't able to get the drives out until I removed the little black plastic bar that is glued onto the front of the CD-drive-tray. It's easy to remove with a sharp knife and easy to glue back on after you have installed the drive.
Best regards from Germany
Goetz "

I updated the iMac G4 take-apart article to include Goetz's comments on this.

(Here's the original news item from previous news pages as a FYI)

(Update:) I later searched the drive database here for iMac G4/Hard drive reports - omitting drive brand and spotted another iMac G4 owner report from January noting that 10.2.4 worked with a "Big" drive (180GB IBM). Also another reader with an iMac G4 and Maxtor 160GB drive noted he's also using the full capacity without problems. (original news post follows)
Previously Apple noted only the MDD G4 towers had native "Big drive" (IDE drives over 128GB) support (i.e. 48bit addressing to fully utilize very large IDE drives) without a 3rd party driver (like Intech's) or PCI IDE ATA/100-133 card. One of today's drive database updates included a report from an iMac G4 800 owner saying his 180GB IBM 180GXP drive formatted to the full size.

" Running 10.2.5 on a 800 mhz 17" iMac.

Replaced the original disk, a rather sluggish Seagate U6 5400 rpm with an IBM 180 GB 7200 rpm-disk with 8 MB cache. The new disk is twice as fast in xbench, and feels even faster. Highly recommended upgrade. No problem with the 128 GB-limit. Formatted drive-size is 172.54 GB.

Carbon Copy Cloned the two partions from the old drive into one partition on the new drive. No problems whatsoever.
(he later wrote)

No problems. The new drive is working beautifully. No sleep-problems, the iMac has been running 24/7 in the two weeks since I installed the drive.
Andre "

Apple's knowledgebase doc on Using 128GB and larger ATA Hard Drives still notes only the MDD G4s and Xserves as having BootROM support for big drives (with 10.2.x being the other requirement). That doc as of today (April 2003) notes a last revised date of Dec. 19th, 2002.
If any other mac owners have used "big" drives (160GB and up) without 3rd party drivers on the onboard IDE please post a drive database report. Thanks
(Reader FYI - the systems page, iMac section has a link to a reader's iMac G4 take-apart here that covered drive and ram upgrades.)

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