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My New Vintage Hardware – Can Leopard be installed on an 800MHz machine?

iMac G4I have a vintage 800MHz iMac G4. There, I’ve said it, and wow, does that sound strange and unpleasant to me. I love my iMac – remember those commercials where it stuck its ‘tongue’ out at the guy on the sidewalk? – and I was very excited to hear, initially, that I could put Leopard on it. For a lot of people, these original-looking iMacs were their first sip of the Apple kool-aid: exciting, different, classy, with a form that looked like nothing else around as well as being ridiculously useful. (Pivoting, tilting monitor – yes please!) The version I have, when it first came out, was the top model for the iMac, and ones like it still command a solid 200 to 400$US on eBay.

So when Apple decided that Leopard would only officially support 867Mhz or higher machines now, I was heartbroken. I’m not alone here, either. The owners of the 800MHz flavors of iBook, PowerMac G4 (Quicksilver and Titanium), and eMac also now are the proud possessors of officially-vintage hardware.  These are not, for the most part, considered to be slow or obsolete machines; granted, they’re not as screamingly fast as the new Macs, but they’re still reliable and steady.

However, I noted that Apple made this decision because the installer ran too slowly, which makes me wonder. Also, earlier dev builds ran on machines like these, if slowly. If I’m willing to let it sit for an hour or so, can I still install Leopard on my iMac? I know I’m not the only one that’ll be wondering, either.

36 Responses to “My New Vintage Hardware – Can Leopard be installed on an 800MHz machine?”

  1. okay… so i bought my iMac 2002 on eBay for 50 bucks actually & see is the most beautiful computer ive ever seen in my entire life… runs perfectly, ive installed tiger on her making it a version 10.4.11; which completely kills me because sims3 just came out & you have to have mac version 10.5.7; i would also love the photobooth feature. people have told me to just get a new computer but i refuse 1 due to the money factor & 2 cause this is the most beautiful looking computer in the history of computers… add a brand new iMac bluetooth keyboard & cordless mouse & shell look as good as new :)

    i feel that is i ass a external hard-drive as well as extra ram i may possibly be able to put Leopard … call it high hopes but this is one computer im not looking forward to letting go for a while

  2. Anonymous

    You will be able to run it, but you will need to be running Panther or Tiger first. You need to run LeopardAssist, which you can download first. It tricks the system that it has an 867MHz processor, without overclocking. Leopard installs as quick as on any other machine. It is quite stable but things like YouTube skip a bit, at least on 512MB RAM

  3. Hmm… interesting. I’m not sure why some people think Leopard would be slow on an 800Mhz iMac G4. I have been successfully running OS X 10.5.6 on mine for about 4 months now with no problems, and strangely Leopard runs better than any previous release of OS X on my G4 800Mhz iMac. Here is how I installed Leopard…

    1. Created a Disk Image of Leopard Install DVD (I used my PowerMac G4’s DL-DVD drive).

    2. Installed my iMac’s Hard Drive in my PowerMac and made an extra 9Gb Partition on the iMac’s HD.

    3. Restored the Leopard Install DVD Image to the 9Gb Partition (the iMac Hard Drive) which took about 5-10 minutes.

    4. Hold down option key at startup and select the Leopard Install DVD Hard Drive and start up.

    5. Installed Leopard to my iMac’s Larger Hard Drive partition and Shut down after install was complete.

    6. Removed iMac’s Hard Drive from the PowerMac and reinstalled it to my 800Mhz iMac G4.

    7. Started up Leopard for the first time on my iMac, Installed the newest updates. Runs flawlessly :)

    I could have just put the iMac HD in the PowerMac and installed from the DVD drive but instead I restored the Leopard Installer DVD Image to a 9gb partition. This way I wont need my PowerMac again if something were to happen to my iMac’s Leopard Install in the future. Now I can just startup from the Installer Partition on my iMac if something goes wrong, of course I would still have to use LeopardAssist but I no longer need another Mac to install Leopard on my iMac G4 :)

    Not exactly the easiest way, but it works and only took about 30 mins to do a full install, and that includes making the Installer Image and switching the drives around.

    When I installed Leopard.. my iMac only had 512mb of RAM, I have since then upgraded to 2GB (yes iMac G4 800Mhz models can hold up to 2GB, though its not officially supported by apple and requires 2 different types of memory chips and bit more effort). After I installed more memory I noticed a “slight” improvement in performance but probably didn’t make much of a difference when just idling the OS.

    IF anything runs slow, it is not because your iMac CPU is too slow, but more likely that the video RAM isn’t drawing graphics as fast as it used to, since previous versions of OS X don’t have nearly as many pretty designs in their GUIs as Leopard does :P

    My point is, these iMac models are far from obsolete, and installing Leopard on them is still an option to consider. Us iMac G4 users are not alone!

    Hope this helps :)