Yes, you can use a PowerPC in 2020 (or any other year)
It’s that time again. PowerPC (PPC) is being slammed by the unknowing.
If I had the time I’d make a response video, like Greg Hrutkay has, and set the record straight on a few things. Sadly, I do not have the time to shoot and edit such a video so I’ll write this article instead. Now I won’t start hating on this guy. I don’t know him or his channel so I won’t judge him for being terribly misinformed. Why do I say he’s misinformed? Let’s get into this..
According to MacintoshMen, there are two big problems that make using a PPC in 2020 a big no-no.
1. CPU Speed.
2. Software support.
I won’t re-hash the whole video, it’s 10 lines up, just watch it there 🙂 I will address the two issues as stated.
As the last PPC was made in 2005, the best CPU you can hope for is a dual dual core (quad) 2.5GHz G5. If we’re talking raw specs, this is a machine that scores just over 3600 on Geekbench. Compare that with a low end Intel Mac, let’s say a Late 2006 1.83GHz MacBook, which benches 2400 on a good day, the G5 doesn’t look too bad. Compare the G5 with a 2012 Mac Pro 12-core 3.06 which benches 25,000, the G5 looks pretty shitty.
At the end of the day, guess what, these numbers don’t matter! The 2015 MacBook which is 10 years newer than that same G5, benchmarks 2500-2800 which is still 1000 points shy of the G5 score. As much of a garbage product as the MacBook was, it was better optimized to deal with the modern web and applications, so it can do things the G5 can only dream of. I’m just pointing out that geekbench scores mean very little.
I use a Power Mac G4 MDD almost every day. I’ve used it with supercharged dual 2.0GHz CPU upgrade cards, overclocked dual 1.67GHz CPU cards, and am currently using it with a lowly dual 867 MHz CPU card. Geekbench had this machine at 1621, which is pretty damn good for a G4 but is absolutely worthless in the eyes of geekbench comparisons. But what if I were to tell you I can do 90% of my daily work on this machine?
Modern processors outperform the PPC by a long shot, MacintoshMen states. This is true of course but does not invalidate the power a PPC has.
You can’t use any OS newer than 10.5. You can’t run any of the latest apps as developers have abandoned PPC a decade ago. Browsing the web is a nightmare as the hardware is too slow. Forget Youtube, forget streaming, forget netflix. No Office, no Photoshop. It’s so frustrating to use, it’s slow and sluggish. Yadda yadda.
I run my PPC on 10.4.11 Tiger. Adobe CS 4 runs better and faster on my G4 than Adobe CC 2020 runs on my 12-core Mac Pro! I can update my database, update my website, work on my wordpress websites (hi, typing this on my G4 now), send and receive email on ALL of my accounts which are IMAP, and connect over SSL and this includes iCloud. Using software support as an argument to invalidate older hardware is bogus. How often do you contact Apple for support? How often do you contact developers for support? I know the answer. “Support” is just a buzzword that means absolutely nothing.
My OS is not supported by Apple. The hardware itself is not supported by Apple. None of the applications I use are supported by their developers. But it all, still, works.
With a 1TB SATA SSD and 2GB of RAM, I can start productive work 50 seconds after I press the power button. Waking the system from sleep takes no more than 3 seconds. Starting Photoshop CS 4 takes 9 seconds (CC 2020 takes 15 seconds to start). Dreamweaver CS 4 launches in 10 seconds. I can edit text and spreadsheets just as well in AppleWorks or iWork on the PPC, just as well as Office or other apps on Intel. Browsing the web is a non-issue. It takes TenFourFox a while to get going from a cold start but once the browser is running and fully loaded, pulling up a new tab and loading a site is no problem. Sure it’s not as fast as browsing on a modern Intel but that is to be expected. Doesn’t mean browsing on the PPC is a no-go.
I can go on and on about all the apps I use and all the work I do on my PPC but you’ll just have to take my word for it; it’s as usable today as it was 17 years ago.
Audio producers can get the job done on a PPC (in fact, many still prefer PPC even today).
Graphic designers can get the job done on a PPC.
Gamers have more choice of games on PPC than they do on Intel.
Web developers can code just as well on a PPC as they can on an Intel.
Bloggers can update their blogs on a PPC.
Accountants can use office, quicken, and other apps on the PPC.
The. List. Goes. On.
So why the constant “advice” that PPC is useless? Because people don’t remember (or have never experienced) how to use a computer. If you use a multi-thousand dollar system for entertainment only, you need something fairly recent. Youtube, social media, Reddit, 4chan, discord, whatever other time-wasting stuff is out there. These things do not work on a PPC. This does not mean a PPC is useless! This just means PPC’s are reserved for those that remember how to do productive work on an older machine and can enjoy older forms of entertainment.
Yes, compromises have to be made. No iCloud drive, no dropbox, no *insert most cloud solutions here*. But there are ways around that. Why would anyone do work on a PPC and then use an Intel machine later to upload/share that work to various cloud services? Productivity. The time saved by doing productive work on a PPC completely justifies the additional step of sharing that work from an Intel machine later. You’ll likely still have saved an hour or more in your day after that. Any documents that need to be synced to online services which are not available on my G4 are synced with other apps. Carbon Copy Cloner syncs documents from my G4 to my Mac Pro constantly, the Mac Pro syncs these with online services as soon as they land on its drive. You can automate these things.
“PowerPC is dead, it has been dead” Wrong. PowerPC is alive and kicking and still offers significant productive value for those that know how to harness it. There is more to computer usage than youtube and social media but this is a point that is difficult to drive home to most people born after the year 2000 as they mostly have no idea what a computer has historically been used for. I can talk about this for a hundred pages but I’ll wrap it up here.
Want to build a website? Grab a PPC. Want to learn a new language, learn PHP, hone your writing skills…. do any of a million things! Grab a PPC. You’ll appreciate being able to do these things without the constant distractions from notifications, pings, blings, mentions, tags, messages, etc. If you’re serious about being productive, 90% of people would be better off using a PPC.
Change my mind. (you won’t but feel free to try)
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22 thoughts on “Yes, you can use a PowerPC in 2020 (or any other year)”
I’m mostly taken by the launch times between the two setups.
I don’t think web dev is something you can do much of using PPC unless you’re SSHing into servers as a backend guy or making some Ruby stuff. Most of the modern web tools arrived long after the death of PPC Macs, Node (and the billion things that depend on it), webpack, docker, modern linters, and access to any modern browsers that use modern JS engines to support ES2015 etc. Perhaps there’s a git port for PPC macs? Dunno.
You might be able to swing a good chunk of it in Linux. Node is big enough there probably is a PPC port, and there’s probably modern browsers. Writing a React app would be slow to compile and painful to debug because of RAM limitations but it _probably_ is feasible if you used Gulp and not webpack. Hmm…..
I use an IBook G4 and I use Discord (granted using TenFourFoxBox). It’s slow but I can still watch videos, play LEGO Star Wars, and some web games. Heck, I even use it to run Retroarch. The only unfortunate thing is that no one plays the PPC version of Halo any more. (stupid Bungie for taking away my fun 🙁 ) I am very annoyed that they would say that PPC is dead. It’s just hard and dead if you want new stuff. I’m writing this on my IBook right now. FOREVER POWERPC!
No more Halo on PPC?! What?! 🙁
For years i have been a Power Pc Die Hard Fan still using my iBook g4 from 2005 to 2016, until it burned. now i´m using a PowerBook G4 with 1.5 ghz 1.5 SDRAM and it works great! Adobe CS2 suite begins photoshop in the same 9 seconds you´ve said, itunes 4 in 3 seconds, mail in 2 seconds, Pages in 4 seconds, illustrator in 10 seconds, simply i love it.
Awesome! Yeah I don’t see these machines becoming useless for a long longggg time 😀
I have a bunch of triple boot osx 10.4 / 10.5 / ubuntu mate 16.04 with wifi working systems I use. If you know what you are doing you can get a powerpc to do many things a pentium can. I have a powermac g5 that i have ubuntu 16.04 running qemu running windows 98 and xp. I have firefox running youtube with an html 5 addon and i have an addon to just download the video so I can watch it in vlc , mplayer, or xine. I just boosted my memory so i should be able to get 7 and 10 working albeit probably really slowly until i boost my ram to 16 gb and then it should be able to run some good apps and no games. The laptops are stuck at opengl 2, but i’ve seen some modified video cards for the powermac g5 can get working current opengl / 3d for ubuntu.
I am sorry, but I must disagree with all of this. I have 3 PowerPC machines of which 1 “was” a beast, the other 2 were like every day machines.. i saw were because 3-5 months ago, and maybe before Trump was elected in 2016, the PPC macs I have: a Quad G5, PB G4 1.67 and yes, a PB G4 Pismo 550 were able to at least browse the web and youtube. Now its 2020 and those bastards at google are making fun of us.. Why are they deprecating our machines and not allowing us to have internet ability ? whO WANTS to word process and do non internet related stuff in 2020 ? Me personally, i’D LIKE to see the end of the internet and the starting a new again.. but this will never happen. Let that sink in… 3 good machines i have like you guys, running leopard, one Tiger and can’t browse the effing net and or do anything else on them besides Office, emailing.. no twitter, none of that social media crap. Intel will die and I will have the last laugh when Apple finally moves to ARM – it will be a memory and stab in the back for Steve’s arrogance and his stupidity for dropping PPC. i AM SORRY, there was a time I was pro-powerpc.. i EVEN fixed them, configured the OS’es on them. Why is OS 9 so antiquated ? Why can’t a G5 Quad browse the net with its strength of quad core processing at 2.5ghz per chip ?
SAD.. very sad. But, intel macs will soon die and ARM will be the replacement – That will mark the end of Intel, maybe Apple since they will finally wake up and realize what they did was stupid, corporate suicide !
Yeah, and oh yes I wrote this a shitty 5,1 mac pro which is an intel machine, a PC – whatever happened to think different ? Jobs is dead and good riddance to that. Now, Tim Cook is bringing the company down.. everyone wants gadgets now.. because no one has the money to buy a stupid intel machine.. look at catalina who its destroying macs ??? Apple of today is garbage.. OUR LAST HOPE AND WE NEED TO GET ON OUR HANDS AND KNEES TO AMIGA BECAUSE THEIR OS IS THE LAST THING WHICH CAN BRING US TOGETHER. I WOULD RATHER RUN AMIGAOS THAN MAC OS X LEOPARD.
I use my powerpc to read usenet …. so yes you can use it in 2020
Sonnet 1.8GHz w/ 1.5GB of ram, 7200 RPM drive. I mean OSX 10.4.11 is running a GUI with bloat with an underpinning of Debian. I mean honestly? YES you can.
As a developer, my question is how many folks are still using PPC machines?
I haven’t tossed out the carbon source of my personal projects and am trying to decide if maybe I shouldn’t dust them off.
YouTube is more than doable. For Leopard use TenFiveTube, PPCMC, SMTube or mps-youtube. For Tiger use PPCMC, SMTube or mps-youtube. The latest PPCMC also now allows for YouTube and streaming Twitch.tv as far back as 10.3.
Linux is another option if you want more current browsers than what 10.4/10.5 has to offer.
mps-youtube: Install macports, then python3 and pip3, then pip3 install mps-youtube
Here’s some Linux Youtube options:
Video of my lowly mac mini G4 handling web browsing, youtube and twitch with ease: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QCiKkrYZf8Q&t=150s
This is one of the best articles on PPC I have read in a long time. Thanks, I think our hearts beat the same way there.
Most convincing: productivity vs pings and blangs and notifications all the time.
Thanks a lot!
Markus, 42, Germany
Hi, I’m looking to upgrade my Powerbook G4 1.67Ghz from 2005 and came across your article. I don’t know too much about computer hardware but I read elsewhere that to upgrade to an SSD might require a PATA SSD or SSD IDE? Do they make those in 1TB versions or did you get a SATA SSD? I’d appreciate any insight you could provide. Thanks so much.
Stritcly due to a serious lack of time, I refer you to the Low End Mac facebook group where you’ll find tons of people that can answer this question, share personal experiences with certain products and more. While IDE SSD’s are available, performance has in my experience been less than stellar. An IDE adapter that can hold an mSATA SSD is typically a lot more stable.
None of this addresses the core point of this article – cost. You prob. paid about £700 for a brand new PPC Mac. And now you’ve got a virtual brick that can’t even run YouTube or lots of other websites. Why? Because the hardware’s too slow. That’s what the article writer says. Now I’ve got a Windows PC which I’m using right now that’s about the same age as my PPC mac and it runs Windows 10 and the Internet like a dream, I can even play Eve Online on it!
Why did you let yourself get ripped off all that money for a machine that’s slower than a PC and can’t even run the Internet like a PC the same age? I came here because I seriously thought something had gone wrong with my PPC Mac – I wanted to use LABS, online music plug-ins – with Logic, which I’ve got on the PPC and yup, it’s legal. No way. The computer just beach-ball-of-deaths to an ultimate, frozen grave! Now I’m reading it’s just because the hardware’s too slow.
So I spent all that money on a machine with sub-standard hardware, that can’t even do the Internet’s modern websites. If you – any of you – bought anything that wasn’t fit for the purpose for which it was advertised, you’d be onto the manufacturers like a shot, wanting a refund or at least to know why.
So why the heck are you all accepting being sold a sub-standard product just because it’s got Apple on it? This is the bit I don’t understand. How the heck Apple get away with marketing these vastly overpriced, sub-standard products AND HAVE PEOPLE DEFENDING THEIR RIGHT TO DO IT!
Jeez. Wake up, you lot. Stop finding excuses and ways to keep Jobs’ junk going – somehow – and switch to something that’s almost fully backwardly compatible – try saying that about a Mac – works everywhere and can run a modern operating system despite its age.
Price? Forgot to say. Paid about £700 for the PPC when I got it. Paid £90 in total for the parts for the PC I’m using now with Windows 10. So yup – I got suckered by Jobs too! Having SAID that, I’d LOVE to be able to use my Mac with Logic online so I could use LABS. IF anyone knows a miracle way by which I could DO that (at the moment it won’t even run YouTube without dying and it takes 20 minutes to open an E_mail!) I’d LOVE to know!
Yours respectfully – Macs are always prettier to look at, I’ll give them that –
You need to compare the G5s against Intel or AMD processors from 2005. Situation for a Pentium D or Ahtlon 64 would be similar, limited by among other things the Max RAM amount and probably stuck at Windows XP.
2006 was the year of the big change with Core 2 Duos , a Core 2 Quad Q6600 from the end of 2006 is still OK for Windows 10 today but this processor was mainly sold starting in 2007.
The thing that I don’t like from G5s is linked to the issues with the capacitors but this was a major problem for many manufacturers not only Apple.
Note: I do have an Athlon 64, a Core 2 Duo from 2006, a Core 2 Quad from 2007 and a Mac Mini G4 from 2005, aswell as many other PCs and Macs from different years including modern ones. Now I am searching for iMac G5 even though I’m not confident about their durability.
Had an iMac G3 back in the day. Was the most reliable and productive computer I ever used, and I regretted “trading up” to a PC for years. Now with a modern Intel T2 Mac (although not M1), I’ve every intention of using it for the next 20 years at least for productivity, hosting virtual machines for my business, and for accessing the few websites I need to interact with.
Great article, many thanks!
I use my Powerbook G4 1.5 ghz…I still use iWork 09 & Office, it surely works. As for cloud, well, you can connect through webdav to one of the provider & sync it with multcloud.com (it’s practically free) that has connection with your modern device (iPad, iPhone, Droid, MacIntel or PC). For YouTube viewing, I agree why watch YouTube while you do your productive work in your PPC machine. But, there is TenFiveTube that can deliver the enjoyment of watching YouTube in low (360) resolution.
PPC still work, and it works fine.
I picked up my 17″ G4 in 2004 for I.T. work – and I still use it for I.T. work. Granted, I also have a 16″ M1 Max – but the G4 has the ports I need without dongles, has a huge easy to read screen, a wonderful keyboard, and generally makes for a really nice computing experience even eighteen years later.
I’ve replaced pretty much everything in the G4 with NOS parts over the years; left-side power board, right-side USB/clock board, the last SuperDrive they made (8X), an IDE-to-mSATA adapter with a 120G drive on it, 2G of ram, new battery, new wallwart…
I’ll miss the old tank when it finally dies…
I was just interested on what really *could* be done with a Powerbook G4 or iBook G4 these days. I’ve seen where someone in (I think) Red Hook NY has one of each for sale, $10 each on Craigslist. They’re missing the power adapters and apparently have bad HDDs. I have been sorely tempted to pick them up anyway, just to play with (maybe run MorphOS?), but I already have too many projects.
I couldn’t care less if my G4 can ‘handle’ the internet, because I can’t. I’m well and truly fed up with 99% of it anyway. YouTube used to be good, now every freaking ‘influencer’ pumps out videos on it, bloated with commercials and little regard of . So I don’t watch it anymore.
Websites are more pooha and flashy graphics that actual info, so why bother?
My daily driver and preferred machine is a G4 is from 2003, so 19 years old. It has the full Adobe CS2 suite on it, which for those of you who don’t do graphic work is arguably the best software available for graphic work. Adobe charges a monthly fee now, not for me as the older versions were before subscriptions started. Work out how much I save annually, year in year out, just on subscription fees alone. And before you climb in your keyboard and tell me the G4 is too slow for heavy Photoshop work, it’s fine up to A3 files. You all seem to forget the world was full of graphic companies in the 90s too.
You may say I’m a dinosaur. Fine with me. My G4 has survived all, and that reads ALL, the other computers, laptops and tablets in our company. Including my own MacBook Air, MacBook Pro (which lasted to just outside the warranty period) and let’s not even start on iPhones! I like it better than that hateful iOS swipe thing called an iPad. My productivity is at least on par with them too and I’m not continuously pestered with messages and update reminders.
For me the G4 is a tool, like a hammer is for a carpenter. Yes I have a backup. In fact all my work is on an external disk as well. I have a complete backup machine too, which is a 17 year old G3
Amen dinosaur, amen 🙂