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January 31, 2004

Upgrading a 400-mHz iMac DV

So, after 4 years of use and abuse by the kids, the DVD-ROM on Christy's iMac gave up the ghost.

The Mac is a 400-mHz Grape DV model, bought in February 2000, with 128 megs of RAM in the inner slot, 256 in the outer, and a 5400-rpm drive that holds 10 gigabytes.

I decided that, if I'm going to be in there anyway, I should upgrade the upper memory slot and the hard drive. I have a 512-megabyte DIMM on order from Crucial.com, which will replace the orginal 128-meg in the upper slot. I ordered the replacement DVD from Other World Computing; I saw a few advertised at a lower price, but out of stock.

I'll be picking up a standard IDE drive at Best Buy, with a gift card left over from Christmas. There's some debate about putting 7200-rpm drives in the iMac, but it's hard to find (non-notebook) 5400-rpm drives larger than about 40 gigabytes, so I'm going to give it a shot. As with my Lombard PowerBook, OS X requires a partition of less than 8 gigs to boot from with the ROMs in this iMac, so I'll be splitting the drive into 2 or more partitions. I don't think the original iMac's hardware can handle drives greater than 128 gigabytes; I'm looking for something in the 60-100 gigabyte range.

TechnoWarehouse, LLC also has a G4 upgrade for the slot-loading iMac, at about $300, but that would have blown my budget, and made me seriously consider a new eMac.

Once I've done all that, I'm going to try to migrate Christy to OS X. It's critical that you upgrade the iMac's firmware to 4.1.9 before installing OS X. A friend didn't, and wound up buying his mother a new machine.

Opening an iMac is non-trivial, but relatively straightforward. I had to remove another optical drive from an identical model when an employee at my former company inserted a business card CD into the slot (don't do this!). There are good directions available with pictures at theiMac.com. Make sure you stay clear of the CRT — I had an employee at UGA who touched the flyback transformer on an itty-bitty Mac SE screen, and didn't want to repeat the mistake; the iMac probably stores 3-4x the energy.

I'm likely to actually do the upgrade Tuesday or Wednesday night. I'll try to post some more details then. Looks like I'll be spending about $300, but I think the machine will be useful for at least another 2 years if I do so, and that's a tradeoff I'm comfortable with.

January 31, 2004 in Apple - Desktops, Apple - General, General computing | Permalink


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How did the upgrade go? I upgraded my iMac DV SE when I made the move to Jaguar. Added a 60GB 7200 rpm Seagate HD that is so much quieter than the orginal that I can hardly hear it spin. I also maxed out the RAM at 640MB, I think. I am not on it now or I'd look. But it was higher than the suggested 512MB.

My iMac works so much better now. And the heat from the new HD has not proven to be an issue at all.

Posted by: Charley at Feb 6, 2004 5:43:51 PM

It is not true that you need to have 2 patitions on a 400 Mz imac DV. I have the same one and it has one partition of 100MB.

see: Gray or White Screen After Hard Drive Upgrade at

But I heard that the 128MB limit is true.

Posted by: anonymous coward at Jun 9, 2004 1:08:23 AM

I'm looking for assistance w/ the partition issue on an imac DV SE. I dislike the partition and am unable to download any updates from Software update b/c there is no space left in that first 8GB. I'm wondering if anyone knows how to install OSX and then an update or two so that it runs quickly, w/o partitioning.
I also just installed 1GB of RAM and would like to see it really work...
Any thoughts welcomed. Many thanks. WS

Posted by: Whitney Smith at Nov 9, 2004 2:04:37 AM

i have read many places that 1GB ram is possible. I would use "not-bottom-of-the-barrel" memory 2b sure.

Above I read that a 7200 rpm disk works - but how much performance do you gain? I do get frequent errors from GarageBand saying "disk too slow"

Ideally - i would upgrade this second-hand iMav DV to a G4, 100GB 7200rpm HD, and 1GB ram. But since I cannot afford to do it all - if you were to pick one, wha would it be? I currently have 256/10GB/400mhz

Posted by: Ramon at Nov 14, 2004 3:47:18 PM

blue imac 400 dv, just given to me. No idea what it can do but the lady erased a bunch of files and I had to image the drive back to stock imac. had a whopping 64m on a single stick, I had a PC-100 256mb stick from a PC that I stuck in there and it booted right up showing 328mb or so. The original explorer 5.0 could not even read the apple.com/downloads page, would hang. downloaded Mozilla 9.0 and needed the memory upgrade, works fine now, but I lost the mozilla icon, back to IE5...It has OS 9.0.4 I believe, want to put X on it. My first apple.

Posted by: steve at Jul 31, 2007 1:52:54 PM