Ahh. Time for an upgrades=.

Let's see: Installing some new ram, or a new graphics card? Easy-peasy. Installing a new processor in a workstation? More difficult. Installing a new processor in the Cube, one of the smallest, and tightest form factor desktops built? How about that?

Well, let's see what the experts say.

The caveat on Sonnet Technologies' website, one of two makers of processor upgrades for the Cube, reads:

†Cube supported by SG4-C1800 only, and professional installation is highly recommended

Ok. So it, umm, might, be hard. Well, I tried it anyway. And uhh. After two hours of work, the cube is now an unstable bucket of bolts.

But it finally came around, and here' show it looked.

photos 1-4

I'm really sick of this project. This is the second time I've tried to write it. I screwed up on Blogger earlier. Whether or not this is a proper excuse for the ugliness of it, is up to the reader. As promised, pictures from the recent upgrade of a Mac Cube. These represent the first grouping, leading up to the installation of the purple G4 processor card. (Have I ever mentioned that I once worked as a hand model?)

The estimated project time of replacing the original processor card from a Mac Cube (G3 450 Mhz) and installing the Sonnet Technologies upgrade card (G4 1.2Ghz) and installing the fan to cool the system is 2 hours. It took about that long for me to complete it the first I installed it. Unfortunately, I made a mistake and, apparently, did not seat the processor card correctly. This led to Operating System instabilities. OS 9 would boot, or not boot, and then subsequently freeze. When I went back into the computer to make corrections, but not uninstall the fan, the installation process took about an hour. I would suspect if you were going to make this your hobby, you could reduce the process time further from there.

The Cube shipped with an older version of the firmware than required by the upgrade card. Thus, the firmware has to be upgraded, which can only be done in OS 9. The Cube here only had OS X on it, no classic, so I had to first track down an OS 9 install disk before upgrading to the latest firmware release for the Cube.

The Cube is an engineering marvel of its time. It's by no means as tiny as the Mac mini, but it predated the mini by 5 years and Windows-based machines still have come nowhere near the design of this icon. As a result of it's uniqueness (viz. Edsel, VW Beetle, and, actually, Apple computers [it's amazing that people still care about the Newton!?!]), the Cube has engendered a hugely loyal fan-base determined to keep their machines from falling into obsoletion.

Here's a rundown of what you see:

photo 1 the cube removed from its case.

photo 2 a few steps later, bottom, the logic board (see photo 6), graphics card and the posts have been removed. Note, the processor card and the aluminum transfer plate still attached to the heat sink.

photo 3 side shot of photo 3. Sonnet Tech instructs removal of the card and plate, but they were stuck on my heat sink.

photo 4 removal of the processor card

photos 5-8

photo 5 removal of the original processor card. you can see the aluminum transfer plate on which touches the processor

photo 6 the logic board underside

photo 7 the new Sonnet Technologies G4 GT processor card. Notice the white stuff in the middle of the orange square. That is an adhesive on the processor itself, which will line up with the aluminum on the transfer plate.

photo 8 installation of the new processor card. This is where I unknowingly erred. By not being able to remove the transfer plate, my attachment was improper leading to instabilities in the Operating System.

Part 2 has the conclusion to this project.