It’s that time again! The 2021 PPC Challenge

It’s that time again! The 2021 PPC Challenge

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Well to be more precise, it’s the 2021 68K & PPC Challenge now.
The rules and more info can be found on the Mac Yak website here but it’s quite simple (and always has been):

  • Use your eligible Mac as your daily driver for a week, as much as possible.
  • Mac, Macintosh or Apple Clone only.
  • Mac OS, Linux, your call.
  • No virtualization or emulation of an OS.

People are already sharing what their setup is going to be on the Mac Yak Discord server so I thought I’d do the same, and invite all the readers to join in!

In 2019 I used a 17″ iMac G4.

At 800MHz this offered plenty of power for my Mac OS 9 needs. It needed a hard drive replacement to run smoothly and for the most part it performed fine. I loved having this running as my music Mac, watching the old iTunes visualizers and enjoying the (still) awesome Pro Speakers and got a ton of work done on it. Unfortunately it fell short in the graphics department as for some reason Unreal Tournament ran like absolute garbage. The NVIDIA GeForce4 MX with 32MB VRAM should be more than enough to smoothly run UT’99 but it simply didn’t. After some troubleshooting and testing I came to the conclusion that either the drivers in the MacOS9Lives system were no good/conflicting or the card may be on it’s way out. I didn’t waste too much time on it and just used the Mac for everything else.

In 2020, I wanted a bit more out of my setup so I used a Power Mac G4 MDD. The Mac known to readers of this blog as “Maya“.

I did want the challenge to be somewhat of a challenge though, so I took Maya apart and put a lot of the stock parts back in. The 3rd party fan controller and Sweet MultiPort were taken out of the optical bays and a DVD burner was put back in. The Sonnet dual 1.8GHz (overclocked to 2.0GHz) was removed and a fairly low end dual 867 MHz card was put in. The USB 2.0, FW800 and SATA PCI cards, as well as the Radeon 9650 with 256MB of VRAM stayed in place. Rather than two 22″ displays, I went with a 22″ and a 17″.

This setup was incredibly fun to use! Switching between OS 9 and OS X I was able to do just about everything that needed doing. However, OS 9 did not like the Radeon 9650 much. The OS ran fine but again, UT’99 refused to launch. I’m not terribly surprised that OS 9 does not play nice with a G5 GPU. The UT’99 patched version for OS X is no good so I was left without UT again.

So what will my 2021 setup be?

I was thinking of building a nice Power Mac G3 (B&W) for this year’s challenge but then I saw the above G4 photo and the whole experience came rushing back to me. I will likely dust off Maya again for this year and make her a little more powerful.
Still not using the Sonnet CPU card but likely putting a dual 1.25 or 1.42GHz card (no overclocking) in just to get a little bit more horsepower. I won’t have much use for the fan controller or Sweet MultiPort but might be tempted to put a ZIP drive in this time around. Going with dual 22″ displays this year also sounds good to me. So a very similar setup, just a little less modest 🙂

However, a Gigabit Ethernet Power Mac G4 with Sonnet single CPU upgrade and some other goodies might be a nice option too. Certainly less noisy than the MDD.

I’m not sure yet. I might end up using a 12″ PowerBook G4 or a G5 Xserve for kicks but most likely, it’ll be Maya. A G4 Mac mini for my UT needs perhaps.

The 2021 68K & PPC challenge kicks off on January 7th. If you’re participating, make sure to read the Mac Yak page for the details, join the Mac Yak Discord server to share, help and be helped and start preparing now. A search for “PPC Challenge” on the Mac Yak website will get you plenty of material to read through with preparation tips etc. The pages I’ve linked to throughout this article will get you even more.

The more the merrier, hope you’ll join the fun!

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