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Beige G3 MT Internal IDE Drive Upgrade
Published: 12/21/98
(Updated: 12/22/98 for Performance test results)
(Updated in 2001 for info on OS X installs)

Updates/Notes: OS X Install Notes: If you're not installing OS X, you can use a single partition drive of any size (80GB, 100GB, etc.). However if you are considering installing OS X, the Beige G3 is one of the macs that has the requirement that the volume that OS X is installed to must reside fully within the first 8GB of the drive. (For a large drive, you'd need to parition the drive with the first partition being 8GB or less, for use with OS X. See this Apple TIL for more info.) Selecting the "Custom Initialization" option in Drive Setup will allow dividing the drive into partitions which you can select and adjust before formatting. [Note - The comments below about copying the contents of the old disk to the new disk is not for use with OS X. There are invisible files, etc. that will not get copied over. If you have OS X installed on your old drive, do a fresh install of OS X on the new drive, then copy your User folder over to the new drive, which should retain all your previous user settings. A reader mentioned a way to clone/backup a disk in OS X using the terminal, but I can't remember the info right now.]

ROM Dimm Upgrades: For rev A Beige G3 owners (ATI RageII chip on motherboard), reports say that replacing the ROM Dimm with a Rev B or Rev C ROM dimm adds IDE slave support.

Also, a rev B Beige G3 owner noted in our Searchable Drive Compatibility Database that he moved the CD and ZIP drives down one bay to allow adding a Maxtor 20GB drive in the original CD bay position. This allowed the Maxtor retail kit cable master/slave connectors to reach both the new (slave) drive and the original master. I have a SCSI CDRW in my lower bay, but for those that don't have that bay filled this may be a good solution for adding a slave drive.

Remember that this article was originally written in 1998 before the larger, faster ATA/66 drives were available. However readers report good results with new drives like the Maxtor 40GB ATA/66 drive (or even faster IBM 75GXP series - but both these drives are faster than the onboard ATA/3 IDE controller in the Beige G3). See the IDE articles page here for the latest reviews and articles. Safest is to use Apple's latest drive setup rather than 3rd party drivers, but some IBM and WD drive owners reported warm start (reboot) issues in some cases that were solved with drivers by (noted at the main site news over the past year and in the FAQ). This is generally not needed with the Maxtor drives which have generally good results with Apple's drivers which are preferred for compatibility with future OS versions.

The original 1998 article follows - remember the prices and drive models mentioned in the original article are from 1998, so there are far faster, far larger and much cheaper IDE drives available now. See the main IDE topics page for the most current reviews/articles.

Many readers of my G3-ZONE and XLR8YOURMAC.COM sites have asked for an article on upgrading the stock IDE drive in the Apple (Beige) G3 series computers. Most needed a larger drive, all wanted higher performance than offered by the stock 4GB and 6GB 5400 RPM drives (usually Western Digital and Quantum drives, respectively). One IDE drive that has been very popular with both Mac and PC owners is the 7200 RPM 10GB Maxtor DiamondMax™ Plus (not to be confused with their lower priced/lower performance 5400 RPM DiamondMax™ drive). The current issue of NewMedia magazine has an extensive hard drive performance article that noted the Maxtor DiamondMax™ Plus was the fastest IDE drive they tested (1998), not only outperforming the 7200 RPM IDE drives from IBM and Seagate but also many 7200 RPM Wide SCSI drives as well. Also be aware the Maxtor drive has been reported to work great in other IDE based Macs like the 6400. [Note: search our Drive Compatibility Database for owner reports on all types of drives and macs and check the IDE articles page for later reviews/tests of IDE drives.]

This page details the installation process, performance test results are shown in part two of this article.

What's Included in the Maxtor Kit:
Although the box says "Windows 95 required", the Maxtor 10GB drive works fine in the Apple G3. Unlike many PCs (esp. older ones or those not running FAT32 (included in OSR2 version of Win95 and Windows 98), the drive can be formatted as one 10GB volume if desired (HFS+ format is highly recommended for large drives to save storage space). Apple's drive setup 1.5 was used to install a driver, and later I used Drive Setup v1.6 and 1.6.2 to update the driver as well.

The drive kit includes a disk with Maxtor's drive preparation utility for Windows (not needed of course on the Mac), drive brackets to allow mounting in a 5.25" drive bay and a dual drive IDE cable. Since I was replacing the existing drive I did not need the cable or the brackets. I considered adding the drive as a slave (2nd IDE drive on the boot disk cable) but due to the layout of the G3 MT, the cable was too short to reach both drives. One possible solution would be to move the CDrom and ZIP drives down a bay and mount the Maxtor where the CDrom originally resides. The cable might fit in that setup. I chose not to since I wanted this article to apply to rev 1 G3s, which do not support IDE slaves. One option for rev 1 G3s is to replace the IDE CDROM with a SCSI version and use that channel for a 2nd IDE drive.

DiamondMax™ Plus Drive Specs:

  • Enhanced IDE/Ultra DMA interface
  • 7200 RPM spindle speed
  • 512KB cache
  • 9ms seek time
  • Claimed 21.9 MB/sec transfers
  • UltraDMA compatible (theoretical 33MB/sec burst rate)

Tests in Atto Tools and FWB's Benchtest showed the drive was capable of 11-14 MB/sec Read/Write sustained rates, indicating that Apple's G3 IDE interface is better than expected and compares well to PC UltraDMA IDE performance. With no benchmark to show CPU utilization however, it is unknown how efficient the interface really is. Busmaster DMA IDE on the PC typically runs less than 20% CPU utilization, sometimes below 10% depending on system configuration.

The IDE Slave Support Issue: Although I didn't use this drive as a slave due to cable fit issues, I've gotten a lot of mail asking if owners of early G3's can add slave drives in their system. As noted many months ago at the G3-ZONE (dedicated to apple G3 systems since Feb of 98), there is an easy way to tell if you have a G3 Rev 2 or later (rev 1's do not support IDE Slave drives). Look at the ATI graphics chip on the motherboard:

  • If it says "ATI RageII+..." you have a Rev 1 (no Slaves)

  • If it says "ATI RagePro..." you have a Rev 2 (or later)

Reader Tai sent a note that Apple's System Profiler 2.1.2 will show if you have a RagePro chip installed (my 2.01 version does not). Considering I did not have a spare drive sled and didn't want to move my CD and ZIP drives down (in the MT) to allow it to fit I'm not covering slave drives in this article.

Adding components to the inside of your Mac is not a job for the inexperienced. This article documents what steps I performed, and is not to be construed as a recommendation for those not qualified to attempt the same. Consult a local qualified technical or Apple service center for assistance with upgrading your Mac. You assume all risk of personal injury or damage to your computer for any work you perform inside your Mac. Modifications will void your Apple warranty as well.

IDE Jumper Settings:
IDE (Integrated Drive Electronics) drives have a very simple drive jumpering scheme. Normally there are 3 possible settings - Master, Slave, or cable select. The Maxtor drive shipped with the Master jumper enabled, removing it would make it a slave (2nd drive on the same cable with a master). Just as a note - some IDE drives have a "Master with slave present" setting that may need to be set if you do decide to add a slave drive. For Western Digital (and some Quantum drives) - "Master" means "Master with slave present" - so if you're installing one of those drives as the only drive on the cable use the "Single Drive" jumper setting. (Check the drive label for settings info but Western Digital drives I've seen have no settings on the lable - see this Western Digital Jumper Settings page.)
The image below shows a picture of the Maxtor drive jumpers.

maxtor drive jumpers
Maxtor DiamondMax™ Plus Master/Slave Jumper

Due to the way I'm installing this I never needed to touch the default master setting (another plus). By temporarily using the CDrom's interface cable to run the Maxtor drive (for setup and formatting) you never have to touch the drive jumpers at all.

How I did it:
First I shut down and powered off the Mac and disconnected the AC power cord from the back of the case. The G3 case side cover easily comes off by pressing on the green button in the center of the side cover's top edge. I gently lay the G3 minitower on its side to allow better visibility and easier access.

As always, I discharge any static electricity I have by touching the metal G3 power supply external case, and it's best to use a anti-static wrist strap whenever touching, inserting or removing electronic components from inside your Mac.

To make preparing the drive quickly, I used the CDrom drive's cable and power connections and left the G3 laying on its side, with the Maxtor drive temporarily connected to the CDrom IDE and power cables. The picture below shows the internal layout of the G3 Minitower and notes the positions of the CDrom and stock hard disk.

Internal Layout of the Apple G3 Minitower
When I connected the Maxtor drive to the CDrom IDE cable I made sure to invert the drive (label side down) while it was laying on the edge of the G3 case so as not to short the circuit board of the drive to the case of the G3 during the setup phase (later it would be mounted in the original hard drive mounting bracket).

Temporary drive connections
New Drive Temporarily Connected for Preparation

With the new Maxtor drive connected I reattached the AC power cord and booted the system.

Prepping the Drive:
Running Apple's Drive Setup the Maxtor drive was shown in the list of attached drives (unformatted of course). (While you're at the setup stage, think about partitioning the drive into two volumes. I like to have one partition for applications and one for data. This simplifies backups for instance.) I selected initialize in Apple Drive Setup and chose HFS+ format (which uses smaller block sizes to save substantial storage space) and within a few seconds the drive was formatted and appeared on the desktop. Later when I updated the OS 9 versions, I used Apple's later Drive Setup versions to update the driver on the disk just to verify updates were possible. No performance change was seen however with the later driver versions. (For info on using Apple's Drive Setup to format a new drive, see this page.)
Update/Note on OS X: This article was written long before OS X was released, but when Apple released OS X they noted that the Beige G3 (and AIO G3, iMac 233-333 and PB G3 wallstreet) requires a 1st partition of 8GB or less for OS X to install if you install a large drive on the onboard IDE. Otherwise the disk will be grayed out in the OS X installer.)

The advantage of using Apple's driver is that future OS upgrades may go smoother. There may be faster disk drivers out there, but for most the compatibility and easier OS upgrades may be a good tradeoff. Contrary to what I expected using HFS+ did not seem to have any performance penalty in any of the tests I ran. Even large file IO in ATTO Tools tests showed literally identical performance with HFS+. Quite a surprise as the smaller block sizes should have increased file IO overhead (a 10% perf. loss is usually seen in FAT32 under Windows for the same reason).

Transferring Files:
[Note - these comments are not applicable to OS X, only OS 9 or earlier. See comments at top of page for OS X.]
After formatting the drive, I then copied over the boot drive's System Folder and ran many performance tests (see part 2 of this report) with several benchmarks and also timed tests in the Finder and applications like Photoshop. Before removing the stock disk, you'd want to copy all files and folders over to the new drive of course.
(Note: The desktop icons are kept in an invisible folder at the HD root. If you drag the disk icon to the new drive, it's copied over. Otherwise you can create a folder at the root of the old drive (I call it "aliases") and select all your desktop icons and drag them to that folder before copying the contents to the new drive. Or drag the entire drive icon over to the new Drive, then after the copy is completed, open that folder, rename the "Desktop Folder" to some other name (call it "desktop aliases" for instance), then select all and drag the contents out to the root level of the new drive.)

For performance tests, the Maxtor drive had only the system folder and any needed applications. Later for comparison, the stock drive had all its contents copied over to the Maxtor drive and then all unnecessary files were deleted and the drive defragmented to allow a fair comparison between the two. Testing a 80% full drive or one that was fragmented would not have been a fair comparison of performance.

The Final Switchover:
After all tests were run and the Maxtor drive was verified as running correctly (it was set to the startup disk and operation was checked to be ok), I shut down to remove the stock drive from the mounting bracket. Some may wonder why I didn't just swap the drive over first, but its best to wait until you verify the drive is ok first. The photo below shows the location of the two screws that secure the G3 minitower's hard drive to the case.

drive bracket to case mtg screws
G3 MT Hard Drive Bracket Attachment Screws

After removing these two screws the drive and bracket slide out the side of the case. The next step is to remove the stock drive from the bracket and mount the Maxtor in its place, then reattach the bracket in the case. The image below shows the locations of the 4 mounting screws that secure the disk to the mounting bracket.

Drive mtg bracket screws
Location of Drive Mounting Screws on Bracket

Removing the 4 screws above allows sliding the old drive out and replacing it with the Maxtor drive.

inserting new drive
Removing Drive from Bracket

After inserting the new drive in the bracket, align the 4 holes in the bracket with the holes on the bottom of the drive and reinsert the 4 screws to secure the drive. Reconnect the power and IDE cable and replace the bracket back in the G3 case. Secure the bracket to the case with the two screws previously removed.

With the new drive secured in the case, reconnect the CDrom power and IDE cable. Replace the side cover and you're ready to enjoy your new drive.

The Maxtor drive was very quiet and ran extremely cool. Even after hours of use it was barely warm to the touch. Other readers have made similar comments, noting the Maxtor drive ran quieter and cooler than any other 7200 RPM drive. All things considered if you need more storage space for your Apple G3 the Maxtor 10GB DiamondMax™ Plus is worth serious consideration. It provides excellent performance and value. Maxtor drives are available at most computer stores and mail order houses. However be aware that the standard 10GB Maxtor drive is a 5400 RPM model, only the Diamondmax™ Plus drives feature the higher RPM and larger cache (512K vs 256K).

Performance Tests: Part Two of this report lists the results of performance tests in Photoshop 5, ATTO Tools and FWB Benchtest (v2.5.2) between the new Maxtor drive and the stock Quantum 6GB drive.

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