The Cube Project, Part 4
After last week’s earlier, extensive and exciting overhaul, I thought that I would be content to let my Power Mac G4 Cube stay as it was: just about as powerful as it could get, except for a few small caveats: I hadn’t upgraded the video card or optical drive, and there was the matter of that not quite elegant USB-based 802.11n adapter. Then a few hours passed. Apple released the 802.11n version of AirPort Express. And I was inspired to do better.
Rather than clogging the low-speed USB port with a high-speed network adapter, I set up the new AirPort Express as a wireless bridge to my existing 802.11n network, connecting the Cube to it with an Ethernet cable. This solution, $44 or so more expensive than going with the USB adapter, struck me as a better overall option because it is comparatively invisible—except under a desk—and I can pull the Express to use when I’m on the road, too.
The optical drive was a somewhat different story. Apple’s stock drive in the Cube wasn’t having serious problems when I removed it—discs ejected only a hint on the slow side—and there wasn’t, strictly speaking, a “need” for an upgrade. But in the name of giving the Cube a full-fledged overhaul, I pulled the old drive out and replaced it with a Matsushita-built, Apple-picked SuperDrive, with 8X DVD burning and reading capabilities. The price was $199, and the drive removal and replacement process was comparatively straightforward, pulling off a metal panel at the bottom of the internal shell, taking out some screws, and replacing a couple of cables. Again, this is an impractical addition for the value-conscious, but it brings the machine closer to a modern level of performance, with only one caveat: apparently all third-party drives sold for the Cube eject discs on the low side relative to the factory unit, which popped discs out roughly halfway. I wasn’t tremendously bothered by this.
Finally, there’s the video card. Apple shipped Cubes with cool-running ATI Rage 128 cards, offering an original Radeon or GeForce 2 MX as options, but neither is even close to the specs of current video cards; the Rage doesn’t run Quartz Extreme or Core Image, which add nifty visual effects to the Mac OS and recent apps. Unfortunately, most other video cards made from 2000 to the present day neither fit in the Cube nor work with its proprietary Apple-developed ADC connector, which is the only way to connect the Studio Display monitor. Buying a replacement card ($50 or so) requires you to meet exacting size and heat requirements, and either use a different monitor or also buy a DVI to ADC adapter—typically $50 used or $100 new. Since I plan to keep the Cube connected to the Studio Display, I don’t know that it’s worth the cash to pursue these upgrades.
If there’s another update, you’ll see it here as Part 5. Otherwise, you can safely assume that the Cube is continuing to rest comfortably in its new home, with the spare casing occupying a display shelf in my office.
If you have a comment, news tip, advertising inquiry, or coverage request, a question about iPods or accessories, or if you sell or market products, read iLounge's Comments + Questions policies before posting, and fully identify yourself if you do. We will delete comments containing advertising, astroturfing, trolling, personal attacks, offensive language, or other objectionable content, then ban and/or publicly identify violators. Wondering why we're talking about something other than iPods? Check the Archives: Backstage has been here and kicking it since 2004.
- Apple to drop first-gen Apple TV, iPod classic support as of Sept 8th
- New Apple TV to feature motion sensitive remote
- Media companies balk at $40/mo. plan for Apple TV service
- Former Beats Music CEO Ian Rogers leaves Apple
- Apple partners with PayAnywhere for Apple Pay
- Report: iPhone 6S to retain 16GB base model
- Apple sends out invites to September 9 event
- iPhone 6S to get front flash mode? (Update: Rose Gold color on the way)
- Report: iPhone 6S to support Motion wallpapers
- Rumor: iPhone 6S Plus to have smaller battery, packaging revealed?
- Tech21 Evo Mesh Sport for iPhone 6 and Evo Elite for iPhone 6 Plus
- Thonet & Vander Koloss Bluetooth Speaker
- iHome iSP5 SmartPlug
- Spigen Apple Watch Nightstand S350
- DODOcase Lorna iPhone Wallet Case for iPhone 6 Plus
- SwitchEasy Blocks Customizable Dock Building Set for Apple Watch
- DODOcase Maritime Collection Multi-Angle Case for iPad Air 2
- Kanex iPhone ChargeSync Dock for iPhone 6 + iPhone 6 Plus
- Onanoff Sound Cover for iPad Air + iPad Air 2
- Native Union Clic 360 for iPhone 6
- A First Look at iOS 9’s Transit in Apple Maps (Updated for watchOS 2)
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iTunes 12.2
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 8.4 + Apple Music
- CE Week 2015: IK Multimedia, Monowear’s Apple Watch bands + More
- Live From CE Week 2015: Brand New iPad, iPhone + Mac Accessories!
- Opinion: The ‘Grand Experiment’ of shifting to Google Photos
- Will removing a credit card from Safari also remove it from Apple Pay?
- Can I mute Handoff calls coming into my Mac from my iPhone?
- How do I keep my iPhone calls from ringing on my Mac?
- Why doesn’t Traffic show up on my Today Notifications Screen?