Power Mac G4 Cube
The Power Mac G4 Cube.
|CPU||PowerPC G4, 450–500 MHz|
The Power Mac G4 Cube is a small form factor Macintosh personal computer from Apple Inc. It was sold from 2000 to 2001. Its cube shape is reminiscent of the NeXTcube from NeXT, acquired by Apple in 1996. The machine was designed by Apple industrial designer Sir Jonathan Ive. The New York Museum of Modern Art holds a G4 Cube, along with its distinctive Harman Kardon transparent speakers, as part of its collection.
The diminutive 7" x 7" x 7" cube, suspended in a 7.65" x 7.65" x 10" acrylic glass enclosure, housed a PowerPC G4 processor running at 450 or 500 megahertz, and had an unconventional vertical slot-loading DVD-ROM or CD-RW drive. A separate monitor — with either an ADC or VGA connection — was required for the Cube, in contrast to the all-in-one iMac series. Also unlike the iMacs, it had an upgradeable video card in a standard AGP slot. However, there was not enough space for full-length cards. The Cube also featured two FireWire ports and two USB ports for connecting peripherals. Sound was provided by an external USB amplifier and a pair of Harman Kardon speakers. Although the USB amplifier had a standard mini-plug headphone output, it lacked any audio input. The Cube also used a silent, fanless, convection-based cooling system like the iMacs of the time.
History and sales
Apple targeted the Cube at the market between the iMac G3 and the Power Mac G4, and was the first desktop configuration offering since the discontinued Power Macintosh G3 almost two years earlier. Despite its innovative design, critics complained it was too expensive. It was initially priced US$200 higher than the comparably-equipped and more-expandable base Power Mac G4 of the time (450 MHz CPU, 64 MB RAM, 20 GB hard drive) and did not include a monitor, thus leading to slow sales. Additionally, early Cubes suffered from a manufacturing issue that led to faint lines (referred to as "cracks" or "mold lines") in the clear plastic case. This was often considered damaging to the aesthetic quality of the computer.
After seeing low profits, Apple attempted to increase sales by bundling more software with it, lowering the price of the base model, incorporating a CD-RW drive standard for the 500 MHz version, and offering an improved Nvidia graphics card as an option. These efforts could not offset the earlier perception of reduced value compared to the iMac and Power Mac G4 lineup. In July 2001 Apple issued a short and slightly unusual press release announcing the product was to be put "on ice".
In 2003, the G4 Cube received a brief return to the spotlight after a series of articles in Wired charted its cult popularity. The articles, focusing on upgrades installed by individual users and retailers such as Kemplar, led to a sharp rise in the Cube's resale value. Nevertheless, with the release of the relatively inexpensive Mac Mini (seen by some as a replacement), coupled with Apple's switch to G5 processors and eventually Intel Core-based processors, the Cube again faded into the background.
|Model #s||M7642LL/A (450 MHz) Configure to order only (500 MHz)|
|Dimensions||14 lb (6.4 kg), 8.9" H × 7.7" W × 7.7" D (248×195×195 mm)|
|Processor||450 MHz or 500 MHz PowerPC G4 (7400/7410) with 1 MB L2 cache.|
|Front Side Bus||100 MHz|
|Memory||128 MB, 256 MB, 384 MB, 512 MB, 768 MB, 1 GB, or 1.5 GB of PC-100 SDRAM clocked at 100 MHz|
|Graphics Card||ATI Rage 128 Pro with 16 MB of SDRAM, nVidia GeForce2 MX with 32 MB of SDRAM, or ATI Radeon with 32 MB of DDR SDRAM|
|Hard drive||20 GB, 30, or 40 GB Ultra ATA hard disk drive @ 5400 rpm, or 60 GB Ultra ATA hard disk drive @ 7200 rpm|
|Optical Drive||24X or 32X CD-ROM, 5X DVD-ROM drive or CD-RW
|Maximum Operating System||Mac OS X 10.4.11 and Mac OS 9.2.2
Unofficially can run Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard" with LeopardAssist
Modifications and upgrades
Since the Cube's demise, a number of Cube enthusiasts have made modifications to their machines. Some of the more popular upgrades are high performance video cards (complete with ductwork to allow the GPU fan to work correctly in the small Cube case) and third-party CPU upgrade cards (up to 1.8 GHz per August 2005); a few people have even modified their Cubes to take a dual-processor upgrade. A popular upgrade is the Geforce 2 MX, which exists in a version specially created for the Cube. Other popular changes include case modifications such as lighting and extra cooling. The Cube uses the same memory and hard drive components as a traditional desktop machine and these upgrades were common. Although the Cube uses a fanless convection-based cooling system, the mounting points for a standard desktop cooling fan are already in place. Upgraders of the Cube often take advantage of this to add a cooling fan to the system.
Comparison to other Apple products
Following Apple's discontinuation of the Power Mac G4 Cube, several of its products have been released in even smaller sizes while maintaining a square base like the G4 Cube's.
The Apple TV is a digital media receiver designed to be connected to a high-definition television (HDTV). Like the Power Mac G4 Cube, the Apple TV has a square base. The first generation's base measured 7.8 inches on both side, which is nearly identical to the G4 Cube's 7.7 inches, but had a much shorter height of 1.1 inches compared to the G4 Cube's 8.9 inches (or 10 inches with the enclosure). The second and third generation Apple TVs had a square base of 3.9 by 3.9 inches, about 75% smaller than the first generation model and the G4 Cube. These newer Apple TV models also have a smaller height of 0.9 inches.
Apple released the first Mac Mini on January 22, 2005, nearly a half decade after the Power Mac G4 Cube's launch. Rather than being a mid-range computer, the Mini is typically sold as a low-end consumer model for use as a desktop, although a mid-range server edition exists since October 20, 2009.
The Mac Mini has a square base, just like the G4 Cube. Early models released prior to mid-2010 had a base that measured 6.5 inches on both sides, which is noticeably smaller than the G4 Cube's 7.7 inches. The smaller machines also had a smaller height of 2.0 inches. Mac Minis released from mid-2010 onwards have a larger square base of 7.7 by 7.7 inches, matching that of the G4 Cube. Their height at 1.4 inches remains even smaller than that of the previous Mac Minis.
Mac Pro 2013
In 2013, Apple announced a redesigned version of the Mac Pro with dimensions comparable to that of the G4 Cube. The new Mac Pro is a cylinder 9.9 inches high and 6.6 inches in diameter.
In popular culture
The Cube can be found in many publications related to design and some technology museums. In addition, the computer has been featured in other forms of media. The G4 Cube was used as a prop on shows such as Absolutely Fabulous, The Drew Carey Show, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Dark Angel and 24. The computer was parodied in The Simpsons episode "Mypods and Boomsticks". The Cube is also seen in films such as Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, About a Boy, August and The Royal Tenenbaums. In William Gibson's 2003 novel Pattern Recognition, the character Cayce uses her film producer friend's Cube while staying in his London flat. In the movie "Big Fat Liar", a G4 Cube and a Studio Display can be seen in the background of Wolf's kitchen.
G4 Cubes are also a popular candidate for "MacQuariums", fishtanks made from the chassis of Apple computers.
- MoMA: The Collection: Jonathan Ive
- Siracusa, John. "G4 Cube & Cinema Display (review)". Ars Technica.
- Toporek, Chuck. Mac mini: Steve Jobs gets his Cube Back, O'Reilly Mac Dev Center, January 2005.
- Apple – Power Mac G4 Cube courtesy of the Internet Archive
- Video of Jobs launching G4 Cube at Macworld 2000
- Power Color Classic G4 upgrade at The Mac 512
- Power Mac G4 Cube at apple-history.com
- Cube-Zone Web Site
- Gallery of G4 Cubes mods and desks
- Cube Owner Portal
- Gallery of customised G4 Cubes
- The television ad for the Cube (QuickTime format)
- Upgrades and Technical Specs for G4 Cube – http://www.g4cube.com renamed
- Experimenting with high-intensity LEDs to illuminate a G4 Cube
|Power Mac G4 Cube
August 15, 1998