Ben Szymanski

Software Engineer • πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ & 🐊

PowerMac G4 MDD, PowerMac G4 Cube, Mac mini

We all know that there's some version of an operating system that works best on any one of our computers or phones. We feel it - animations are smooth, system performance just feels snappy and good. It's something that we want to hold on to and cherish forever.

The question then becomes: Which operating systems work best on which hardware?

Working through the latest hull of Macs that I have restored and added to my collection, the biggest point of cogdis I come across when working on each machine is deciding which software to install.

After some trial and error, I'm recording my findings.

PowerMac G4 MDD (2002) - 1.25 GHz x 2, 2 GB RAM

Original OS Maximum OS
10.2 and 9.2.2 10.5.8
  • 10.5.8 - Miserable. Animations and graphics drag. The system feels sluggish and overburdened.
  • 10.5.9 (Sorbet Leopard) - Better, but still very sluggish.
  • 10.4.11 - AMAZING. Wow is this fast - it feels nearly as fast and snappy as my current M1 Pro MBP.

PowerMac G4 Cube - 450 MHz, 1 GB RAM

Original OS Maximum OS
9.0.4 10.4.11
  • 10.4.11 - Sluggish. Everything works but it feels so laggy.
  • 10.3.9 - Similar to 10.4.11.
  • 10.2.8 - AMAZING. The entire system is fluid and responsive.
  • 9.2.2 - WARP SPEED. Mac OS 9 is like warp speed fast on this machine. Hyper-optimized.

Somewhere I once read that the graphics drivers in earlier versions of Mac OS X were specially and carefully tuned to make the interface and performance of the Cube feel great. I'm not sure if that's true, and I can't find where I read it but I can report that the 10.2 interface is phenomenal and smooth on this machine.

Though this machine was only released with MacOS 9, it's clear that it was designed to be a Mac OS X machine. It appears those graphics driver optimizations held all the way through 10.2.

Mac mini G4 (2005) - 1.25 GHz, 1 GB RAM

Original OS Maximum OS
10.3.7 10.5.8
  • 10.5.8 - Okay but really laggy.
  • 10.3.9 (Server) - AMAZING.
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