A reader that's a professional musician asked if I could post a request for reports from owners of older G4 towers (he has a Gigabit Ethernet Dual G4/450 tower) on plugin performance with CPU upgrades. (He's considering a CPU upgrade and was reluctant to buy a new G5 unless business improves.) If you've upgraded the CPU on your G4 tower and use Audio apps and can comment on performance improvements, any issues you've seen, etc. let me know your system/audio app and CPU upgrade details. Thanks! (He's using Logic 7 and OSX 10.4.3 but all Audio apps reports are welcome.)
Reader Reports: (most recent first)
(from a CPU Upgrade report)
System: Digital Audio G4/733 (originally)
Upgrade: Fastmac G4 1.5GHz (7455)
(OS version 10.3.9)
I have been using the upgrade now for about 4 months and it is solid as a rock. However, it is not without its problems for the kind of work as an audio engineer. Apart two 120GB seagate ATA HDs and a ATI 9000 Radeon with 64MB and Dual Head graphics the computer is original spec. I record using a MOTU 2408mkII with PCI 324 card. The problem is all the audio ports on the 2408 now crackle really badly, as if the volume is too loud. Recording is impossible. The more taxed the processor the worse the crackling gets. I have tried taking everything out still to no avail. The only solution is to put the old 733Mhz processor back in and it works fine again. So as you can imagine the processor gets used when I don't have to record.
(Just for the record I asked Alec what OS version he's using.)
I am running Mac OS 10.3.9, but I occasionally boot under os 9.2.2 for using a program called Hyperprism; which although was part released (as more of a plugin suite) for OS X it lost many of its time and record functions in translation. I cannot find the company anywhere now, they were called Arboretum Systems?!
For price, speed, noise and stability I would give it 10 out of 10. However, as it fails to be compatible with the MOTU 2408mkII, unlike the original processor and my sawtooth 400 before that, so it gets 1 out of 10.
I wanted to try it with a new audio card before I send it back. I must say that Darlene at FastMac has been excellent, first class communication all the time, it is only a shame her techies could not shed light onto my problem.
I believe it must be a conflict with the new processor card and the MOTU as audio play back via the 'built-in' jack port it is fine with the FastMac in.
Another reviewer here pointed out that the CPU speed is reported incorrectly as 133MHz. As this is exactly the same processor as the GigaDesigns 1.53Ghz one (correct me if I am wrong) (Reader FYI - as mentioned before here and years ago in early 7455 CPU full reviews at the main site, the reason for incorrectly reported CPU speeds on some upgrades is due to re-using some (older CPU design) lower bus/cpu ratios for higher multipliers - the incorrectly reported speeds happen *if* the bus/CPU multiplier is set to a non-integer ratio (i.e. 10.5x, 11.5x, etc. vs 10x, 11x, etc.) - some years back sonnet had a utility/patch for that also. With some later CPUs (7447A, etc.) Apple system profiler often misreports the CPU type (i.e. may call it a PowerPC 60x IIRC from past reviews of 7447A's a couple years ago.)-Mike) I installed the GigaDesigns patch Giga Meter 1.0.1. The correct speed is now reported: www.gigadesigns.com/index.asp?PageAction=Custom=6.
Tests in 10.3.9 with XBench 1.3 (easy comparison, but varies between runs)
System Info DA 733Mhz FM 1533Mhz
TOTAL 24.39 / 54.18
CPU 26.09 / 81.04
Thread 32.16 / 68.23
Memory 18.33 / 35.78
Quartz 37.60 / 70.78
Open GL 37.71 / 70.44
User 11.38 / 38.09
Disk 45.24 / 50.81
The biggest performance difference is the CPU followed by graphics. I would say that it is at least twice the speed for most applications and I can now open 20-30 tabs in FireFox without colourful beach ball. For the price $259 it is much much better value than the 7447 or 7448 which don't have the L3. The L3 makes a massive difference when running audio apps, compared to a G4 1.67Ghz PowerBook without the L3. Had this processor worked with the 2408mk2 it would have tied me over easily before upgrading to a MacPro or MacBook Pro, which won╠t run some of the old OS9 apps like Hyperprism. Although Hyperprism has a version for OS X it does not include the recording/scribble facilities of the OS9 version.
Time to burn a CD in Toast has halved and plugin count in Logic Pro 7 is more than doubled. It is now possible to use two Space Designer reverb plugins with long reverb tails and UltraBeat, plus all the usual compressors and EQs and a host of other plugs and the system is still responsive. Even though the Logic 'Performance' meter is at the top other plug ins can still be added. The 733Mhz would stop at one UltraBeat and one Space Designer. Of course, I have to run the sound out of the 'built in' and cannot use the processor for recording at all with the MOTU.
iTunes graphics will burst up to 50 frames at 1024/768 at high res. Another thing to note is just playing MP3 with the visualizer off through the 2408mk2 the sound is 99% free from crackle, once the visualizer is turned on, which uses User 80-92% CPU (Activity Monitor) the audio crackling starts really badly like record static on steroids - highly annoying and disappointing.
Any advice on the crackling would be really helpful! Thanks for the excellent site Mike - keep up the good work.
Maybe some issue with the upgrades pwr supply design? It may not matter (if the noise is on power) but I asked if he had the PCI card in the farthest slot from the CPU module. He later replied "It is in the farthest one now; although I have tried it in all four slots and all crackle, but it is not a problem with the old CPU in, just rather slow."
There's an older page (from 2002) on Comments on Logic Audio Pops/Noise w/G4 Upgrades in G3 or Older Macs but most with that problem were running OS 9.x back then.
(This also reminded me of the intel-cpu macs audio noise issue (with ext. speakers) after the OS X 10.4.10 update, where apple released an update to address that.)
Hello! I am running a G4 digital audio (466 originally). Upgraded to:
PowerLogix PowerForce47 dual 1.7GHz
1 gig RAM (I had to replace the original upgraded RAM to get 10.4 to
Dual SATA firmtek PCI card with OS on one of the SATA drives
SIIG PCI firewire USB2.0 card
MOTU 2408MkIII with PCI 424 card. I am also using 2 Analog ADAT interfaces to give me 24 tracks of analog I/O total.
The RAM was the weird part of the upgrade process (which has been
ongoing for 4 years). It took a little bit of sleuthing to discover the
sensitivity of 10.4 to RAM issues.
I added the CPU upgrade a couple months ago and it is pretty stable. I
still get an occasional spinning beach ball that never stops but have
recorded and edited a lot of audio and video with no problems.
Technical Services Manager
(from a 12/23/2005 "rate your cpu upgrade" database report)
"Power Mac G4 Dual 500MHz Gigabit Ethernet
with Sonnet Dual G4 1.3GHz (7455 - 256KB L2/2MB L3 per CPU)
Overall, extremely happy with this upgrade (have been running it for a few weeks with no problems). As other reviewers have noted, it does run extremely hot (I installed an extra fan that vents out an open PCI slot, just to be safe).
Special note to owners of the M-Audio Audiophile 2496 PCI soundcard: M-Audio's website states that CPU upgrade cards might be incompatible with their soundcards. This CPU upgrade card did conflict with my Audiophile 2496. It was fine the first day or so, but then every time I launched Cubase SL 3.0, my Mac had a kernel panic, and made the most painful squelching noise through the speakers. Since removing the soundcard, I can use Cubase and my Mac without either of them crashing.
And here's a few benchmarks:
PS7 Bench (before/after): 450.3 sec./312.9 sec. to complete
(10MB test image or 50MB?-Mike)
For the music-making Mac users out there:
Export a 5m37s song from Cubase SL 3.0, that uses 3 stereo audio tracks plus several VSTi's (before/after): 3:41/2:22
I also compared the number of instances of a VSTi I could open, before and after the upgrade. Using Pro-53 as my test VSTi (4 voices) and setting the audio buffer to 1024 in Cubase, I was able to open 9 instances of Pro-53 (before upgrade) and 17 instances (after upgrade). During this test I was also running Reason 2.5 via Rewire. In my opinion, the upgrade had a very noticeable effect on my audio/music software performance.
I wonder why the 7455 CPU upgrade has problems with that PCI card, as it's the same CPU model used in some G4 towers from Apple. I've seen some companies (even Apple) note CPU Upgrades are not supported, etc. just to avoid any tech support calls (cost) that could be related to an upgrade (even though there's usually no real compat. issue) but from your comments it sounds like there was an issue.
"This summer I upgraded my G4 400mhz with a Sonnet dual G4 1.33GHz. It is
very stable, and has been a great update. I recently added 1 gig of ram
for a total of 2 gig, and I was surprised that it gave a little more
speed to an already fully functionnal computer.
For audio, I use a Digi001, Protools 6.4 and lot of plug-ins (synths, drums, etc..).
Before, I could only use 7 to 8 tracks with very little plug-ins (1 or
2). After the upgrade, I can use all 32 tracks with plug-ins,
depending which of course.
There a some issues: fan noise is a bit high
and I wouldn't tolerate working with my tower in the same room. The
other one is that Digi001 is not supported anymore and that the
Protools 7 version is able to use multiprocessors. So, if you don't use
OS9 or a Digi001, and is able to spend on new software, I would
recommend going for a G5. I know people who are completely satisfied
with a IMac G5 with a Firewire audio device, but dual processors sure
would be a great thing with plug-ins.
"I have a G4 dual 533 that I upgraded with a gigadesigns dual 1.2 G4.
I used the computer for Protools sound design and Final Cut Pro.
Extremely stable. The upgrade almost doubled my plugin count in
Protools, and really picked up the responsiveness of the computer
especially when multitasking. After 18 months the upgrade is working
perfectly with OSX10.4.3. Excellent upgrade.
"I have an old G4 "Digital Audio" that was originally equipped with a
733MHz G4, which I upgraded a year or two ago with an OWC/Mercury
Extreme 1.33 GHz G4 upgrade. I use Peak with a bunch of Waves plug-
ins and a couple of soft synths, and haven't had any problems.
Everything runs noticeably faster after the upgrade. I also threw in
a faster drive and an second controller when I upgraded the CPU, so I
can't say how much of the improvement is due to the faster CPU and
how much is due to faster I/O. When editing 1gig+ files you can
guarantee they aren't all in memory...
"I upgraded my Quicksilver 733 with a dual 867 Quicksilver CPU. My software tools of choice are Tracktion (from Mackie) and Audacity. Performance as compared to the original is much faster render times and launch times. I'd estimate it to be about twice as fast, sometimes more, due to the L3 cache. Specifically, I haven't run into the "peg the CPU" issue when you have lots of effects, and there seems to be a lot less delay in the system.
"I too am a recording musician and a Mac consultant with years of
troubleshooting under my belt. This combination appears to be what it takes
to keep DAWs running reliably these days ;-) I use a highly modified G4 Cube
with its internals placed in a rackmount case and the VRM bypassed by
replacing it with a MDD G4 PSU. So it's basically a very quiet tower now.
Originally I used a Sonnet Tech 1.2GHz G4 upgrade (7455) with 2MB L3 cache.
Complete machine specs were as follows:
- G4 Cube with custom case and PSU
- 1.2GHz G4 7455
- 1.25 GB RAM
- 120 GB Seagate Barracuda
- Pioneer DVR-109
- Mac ROM flashed 64MB Radeon 7000
- Apogee MiniMe with USB option for sound I/O
- MOTU USB MIDI Timepiece AV for MIDI I/O
- MOTU Digital Performer 4.60
- MOTU Symphonic Instrument 1.0
- Mac OS 10.4.1
- External FireWire 400/USB 2.0 Seagate backup drive
The 7455 processor worked very well and MOTU's Digital Performer 4.6 ran
great right out of the box. MOTU's Symphonic Instrument ran pretty good too,
but I needed to set DP's buffers from 256 to 512. This introduced a little
more latency but still OK for using a software synth like MSI. After running
this setup reliably for a while I upgraded the processor to a Powerlogix
dual 1.2GHz (7447). The machine specs remained the same other than the
processor. I found the 7447 to work very reliably but it required some
modifications to DP's settings. I had to increase the host bus multiplier to
2 and run the buffer at 512 to avoid processor spikes that seemed to come
from no where. I also tried creating an aggregate device in Audio MIDI setup
to combine the input and output of my audio interface into one device.
Then I used this device in DP with a host bus multiplier setting of 1. This
worked a touch better but not enough and spikes still remained. DP would run
at about 50% based on its audio performance meter and then it would clip the
processor meter and drop playback. After modifying the performance settings,
this issue was resolved. I also noticed that MSI was taxing the processor a
bit more than it did the 7455 and will not work correctly without
deselecting the audio input for DP. With the 7455 processor, I could have
the input and output of my audio interface enabled at the same time and
still use MSI. Now I have to disable the input or MSI will exhibit pops and
I have confirmed that I can run about twice the plug-ins
with the dual 7447 though. The downfall of this efficient processor with its
lack of L3 cache seems to be when audio programs require less latency;
primarily software synths. They really seem to push the processor to the
limit. I don't think the software or the processors are entirely at fault
(maybe MSI's update from 1.0 will be released soon though), it's just
something you deal with at the cutting edge. Scale it back a bit and
everything works just fine.
I would stick with a dual 7455 with 2MB of L3 cache if I had to do it again.
I also noticed that processor spike issues decreased with the Mac OS 10.4.3
update. Something to do with thread management I believe. This was after the
spikes increased after upgrading to DP 4.61. My current version of 10.4.3 is
on a separate partition for audio only. Spotlight and Dashboard are both
disabled and the only programs running are DP and MSI. No third party device
drivers besides those needed for the MOTU software and hardware are used.
There's some good topics about the issues above at UnicorNation's board
(www.unicornation.com), some of which I have contributed.
(he later wrote)
I did post my Dual 1.2GHz 7447 upgrade a while back. I don't think it had as
much detail as the email I sent you since I hadn't run into or came to a
conclusion on the performance issues. I don't mind my email being added to
the entry though.
(There's been some reports in the past on upgraded Cubes having USB problems
(USB failures in the system log, USB audio problems, etc.) at times (during
heavy I/O especially IIRC) and Ryan replied:)
As for USB, I haven't had any problems but I am using a
MDD PSU which is plenty powerful and I have never used an ADC equipped
monitor. The CPU upgrade's VRM bypass is using the 24V line that the AGP
slot uses though. With some of the newer hard drives pulling up to 2 amps on
spin up, it's not surprising that the Cube has some trouble. Probably better
to not set Energy Saver to spin the drive down there. Additionally, I
always keep a hub in front of the USB ports for anything but the keyboard
that needs bus power.
Always a pleasure to give some knowledge back.
"I upgraded my sawtooth g 4 450 to a 1.8 Ghz sonnet card and all seems
well. Very nice on Pro Tools le and logic.
Any idea how to get my Adaptec 39160 to run a hard drive correctly?
Thanks, TJ Glowacki
Not sure what problem you're having (adaptec had some OS X beta drivers
and there was an OF patch for some later G4 towers required to boot
from these cards but no idea what problem you're having (drive jumper settings correct, termination OK?),
or what OS you're using. I know there's been some issues with some SCSI cards
in OS X - I stopped using SCSI drives with OS X (couldn't afford a new Atto card
and new drives and IDE/SATA drives just got huge/cheap and more than fast enough for
I used to own a dual 450MHz G4 upgraded with a gigadesign dual 1.2GHz cpu. I'm using Logic Pro 7. The CPU boost was great (about twice the power with logic). It was a no brainer upgrade, and everything was working great. On the other hand, I'm actually working with a dual 2GHz G5 and I found my system to be much more stable than the Upgraded G4.
Previous reports didn't mention any stability problems, but that's always a possiblity. (If you can afford it, a new G5 would offer much better performance than an upgraded older Mac. The reader asking for reports on CPU Upgrades was reluctant to buy a new G5 unless business improves however.)
About 2 months ago I purchased a PowerLogix 7457 dual 1.3GHz (w2MB L3 per CPU) for my Dual 500MHz 2GB Ram Gigabit Ethernet G4.
After simple installation, running the PowerLogix CPU Director utility
displays the following: PPC 7457 1300 MHz 512K L2 1300 MHz 2MB L3 217
MHz 100 MHz bus Unit-North Rev 8
I use this Mac mainly as a DAW.
Logic Pro 7.1
Adaptec 29160 Ultra SCSI controller, Maxtor Atlas 10K5
ATI Radeon 9000 Pro, Dual 19' monitors
M-Audio Firewire Audiophile audio interface
I have had excellent success with this upgrade. Everything just works,
and works well. No audio crackles, pops, or clicks!
Prior to this upgrade I had trouble running anything more than simple
patches with ES2 synth or Sculpture, and I had to freeze almost all
Logic track bounce times are about the same as prior to the upgrade, but
Logic startup is much faster.
"I have a 733 quicksilver upgraded to a 1.4 OWC .Its been rock solid
in Logic, GarageBand and Protools. I can do a lot more plug-ins and
"I have GarageBand as well as Audacity running on a G4 450 upgraded to a G4
900. I was able to double the number of Midi tracks in Garageband and of
course my bounce times also decreased. It's not a G5 but it's stable.
- Christopher C.
Valley Road and Macintosh Support
"I'm using the Sonnet 1.7Ghz upgrade in a Sawtooth 450Mhz system and I'm quite happy. It's the second upgrade I've done, the first was a 1Ghz processor.
I can see a huge difference between the 1.7 and the 1.0 - many of the CPU intensive plugins that were overloading the system now run smoothly. I have 1gig of RAM installed.
I'm using Cubase SX 3.1 with lots and lots of plugins. The ones the upgrade helped are Altiverb, Rayverb, Reaktor, and Pluggo.
For other Audio replated articles, see the Audio topics page.