Power Mac G4 Cube

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Power Mac G4 Cube
Power Mac G4 Cube
The Power Mac G4 Cube.
Developer Apple Inc.
Type Desktop
Introductory price US$1799
Discontinued July 2001
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.[1]


The small 7×7×7 in (18×18×18 cm) cube, suspended in a 7.65×7.65×10 in (19.4×19.4×25.4 cm) acrylic glass enclosure, housed a PowerPC G4 processor running at 450 or 500 MHz, 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[edit]

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.[2]

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".[3]

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[4] as a replacement), coupled with Apple's switch to G5 processors and eventually Intel Core-based processors, the Cube again faded into the background.

Sixteen Cubes were used to power the displays of the computer consoles in Star Trek: Enterprise.[5]


Component PowerPC G4
Model July 2000
Model identifier PowerMac5,1
Model number M7642LL/A (450 MHz) Configure to order only (500 MHz)
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 PC100 SDRAM
Expandable to 1.5 GB
Graphics 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
AGP 2x
Hard drive 20 GB, 30 GB, or 40 GB 5400-rpm
60 GB 7200-rpm
Ultra/ATA 66
Optical Drive
Slot loading
Connectivity Optional AirPort 802.11b
10/100 BASE-T Ethernet
56k V.90 modem
Peripherals 2x USB 1.1
2x Firewire 400
Video out VGA and ADC
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
Dimensions 14 lb (6.4 kg), 8.9" H × 7.7" W × 7.7" D (248×195×195 mm)

Modifications and upgrades[edit]

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[edit]

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.

Apple TV[edit]

See also: Apple TV

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 (20 cm) on both side, which is nearly identical to the G4 Cube's 7.7 inches (20 cm), but had a much shorter height of 1.1 inches (2.8 cm) compared to the G4 Cube's. The second and third generation Apple TVs were about 75% smaller than the first generation model.

Mac Mini[edit]

See also: Mac Mini

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 which was noticeably smaller than the G4 Cube's. The smaller machines also had a smaller height of 2.0 inches (5.1 cm). Mac Minis released from mid-2010 onwards have a larger square base, matching that of the G4 Cube.

Mac Pro 2013[edit]

See also: Mac Pro

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 (25 cm) high and 6.6 inches (17 cm) in diameter.


In popular culture[edit]

The Power Mac G4 Cube with power supply, Apple Pro Mouse, keyboard, speakers, and a Studio Display.

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 , The Gilmore Girls 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, 40 Days and 40 Nights, 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.

As artwork[edit]

The G4 Cube and its peripherals were showcased in The Museum of Modern Art,[6][7] as well as in Digital Design Museum (a division of Design Museum).[8]

G4 Cubes are also a popular candidate for "MacQuariums", fishtanks made from the chassis of Apple computers.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Preceded by
Power Mac G4 Cube
August 15, 1998
Succeeded by
iMac G4