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Power Mac G4 Cube

Power Mac G4 Cube
Power Mac G4 Cube
Developer Apple Inc.
Product family Power Mac
Type Desktop computer
Release date July 19, 2000 (2000-07-19)
Introductory price US $1,799
Discontinued July 3, 2001 (2001-07-03)
Media 5x DVD-ROM; CD-RW
Operating system Mac OS 9, Mac OS X up to 10.4.11
CPU 450 or 500 MHz PowerPC G4
Memory 64, 128 or 256 MB PC100 SDRAM; supports up to 1.5 GB
Storage 20, 40 or 60 GB hard drive
Graphics ATI Rage 128 Pro with 16 MB of SDRAM
Nvidia GeForce2 MX with 32 MB of SDRAM (both cards use an AGP 2x slot)
Connectivity 2 USB 1.1 (dual-channel), 2 FireWire 400, 10/100 Ethernet, 56k v.90 modem, VGA and ADC ports
Dimensions Height: 9.8 inches (25 cm)
Width: 7.7 inches (20 cm)
Depth: 7.7 inches (20 cm)
Weight 14 lb (6.4 kg)
Related articles Power Mac G4

The Power Mac G4 Cube is a small form factor Macintosh personal computer from Apple Inc., sold between 2000 and 2001. Designed by Jonathan Ive, its cube shape is reminiscent of the NeXTcube from NeXT, acquired by Apple in 1996. 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]


  • Features 1
  • History and sales 2
  • Specifications 3
  • Modifications and upgrades 4
  • Comparison to other Apple products 5
    • Apple TV 5.1
    • Mac Mini 5.2
    • Mac Pro 2013 5.3
  • Appearances 6
    • In popular culture 6.1
    • As artwork 6.2
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


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 a unique, slot-loading, low-profile DVD-ROM or CD-RW drive. A separate monitor, with either an ADC or a VGA connection, was required for the Cube, in contrast to the all-in-one iMac series. Also unlike the iMacs, it had a video card in a standard AGP slot. However, there was not enough space for full-length cards. The Cube also featured two FireWire 400 ports and two USB 1.1 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 similarly equipped Power Mac G4 (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 acrylic 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. According to an Apple press release on July 3, 2001, production of the Cube stopped indefinitely because of low demand.[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]


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 at 5400-rpm
60 GB at 7200 rpm
Ultra/ATA 66
Optical drive
Slot loading
Connectivity Optional AirPort 802.11b
10/100 BASE-T Ethernet
56k V.90 modem
Peripherals 2 USB 1.1
2 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 8.9×7.7×7.7 inches (23×20×20 cm)
Weight 14 pounds (6.4 kg)

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 (duct tape may be used to allow the GPU fan to work correctly in the small Cube case) and third-party CPU upgrade cards (up to 1.8 GHz); a few people have even modified their Cubes to take a dual-processor upgrade. A popular upgrade is the GeForce2 MX, which exists in a version specially created for the Cube. Case modifications, such as lighting and extra cooling, are also popular. The Cube uses the same type of memory and hard drive as many other desktop computers, thus making upgrades for the said components popular. Although the Cube uses a fanless, convection-based cooling system, the mounting holes make it possible to install a standard desktop cooling fan.

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 similarly-shaped, square base.

Apple TV

The Apple TV is a digital media receiver designed to be connected to a high-definition television. 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 sides, one-tenth of an inch longer than 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

Apple released the first Mac Mini on January 22, 2005, nearly three-and-a-half years after the G4 Cube was discontinued. 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 server model existed for the late-2009, mid-2010, mid-2011 and late-2012 models.

The Mac Mini has a square base, just like the G4 Cube. Models prior to mid-2010 had a base which was noticeably smaller than the G4 Cube's. The smaller machines also had a shorter height of 2.0 inches (5.1 cm). Mac Mini models released since mid-2010 have a larger square base, matching that of the G4 Cube.

Mac Pro 2013

In 2013, Apple announced a redesigned version of the Mac Pro with dimensions similar 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

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

The G4 Cube and its peripherals were showcased at The Museum of Modern Art,[6][7] and at the 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


  1. ^ MoMA: The Collection: Jonathan Ive
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Toporek, Chuck. Mac mini: Steve Jobs gets his Cube Back, O'Reilly Mac Dev Center, January 2005.
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^

External links

  • Apple – Power Mac G4 Cube at the Wayback Machine (archived December 16, 2000)
  • Video of Jobs launching G4 Cube at Macworld 2000
  • Power Color Classic G4 upgrade at The Mac 512
  • Power Mac G4 Cube at
  • 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 – renamed
  • Experimenting with high-intensity LEDs to illuminate a G4 Cube on YouTube
Preceded by
Power Mac G4 Cube
July 19, 2000, through July 3, 2001
Succeeded by
iMac G4
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