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The Yikes! Power Mac G4 is essentially a Blue & White Power Mac G3 with a better CPU and no ADB port. If the Blue & White G3 is a Best Buy, why is the Yikes! G4 a Road Apple?

The Power Macintosh G4 (Mirrored Drive Doors 2003) was released on June 23, 2003, alongside the new Power Macintosh G5. It replaced the six month old Power Mac G4 (FireWire 800) that came before it. Unlike its successor, the Power Macintosh G4 (MDD 2003) lacked a G5 processor, aluminum enclosure and USB 2.0. The power of a Power Mac—a G4 processor, a vertical slot-loading optical drive, hard drive, RAM, video card, and an array of ports—was all packed into that tiny space. It had no speaker, though. Instead, in a quirk perhaps picked up from the integrated Bose sound system in the Twentieth Anniversary Mac, the Power Mac G4 Cube included a.

Mostly because it could have been better. The Yikes! G4 was released at the same time as the Sawtooth G4, which supported the G4’s faster memory access mode and AGP video. Neither does Yikes! have a slot for an AirPort card, although that’s probably not such a big deal in a desktop machine.

Although the Ultra ATA/33 bus on the Yikes! was adequate in its day, the Sawtooth G4 came with the twice-as-fast Ultra ATA/66 bus. Both models support FireWire drives, but the Yikes! model can’t boot from FireWire.

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The biggest difference is memory bandwidth, which is what feeds the CPU. The Yikes! G4 is rated at 400 MBps memory throughput; the Sawtooth model doubles that. In the real world, Bare Feats found that because of the faster memory bus, the 400 MHz Sawtooth outperformed the 400 MHz Yikes! by 25%. Yikes indeed!

Originally introduced at 400 MHz, the Yikes! G4 was reduced to 350 MHz six weeks later and discontinued six weeks after that. The short product life lead to speculation that Apple introduced this compromised design to unload surplus parts intended for the Blue & White G3.

Re-using the Yosemite motherboard design also meant that the Yikes! G4 had a different CPU socket than all the other Power Mac G4s. In terms of upgrades, this means it takes the same ZIF upgrades as the Blue & White G3. In brief, Yikes! isn’t much different from putting a Blue & White G3 in a gray case, replacing the G3 with a G4, and removing the ADB port.

It’s precisely because of this that Yikes! is a Second Class Mac. You can buy a used Blue & White G3 for less, add a G4 upgrade, and still save a lot of money compared with buying a used Yikes!. This is especially true on eBay, where buyers may not be aware of the differences between the two types of 350 MHz and 400 MHz Power Macs.

On the plus side, since we published Yikes! This Power Mac G4 Just Isn’t Worth the Money, the retail price of used Yikes! G4s from Mac dealers has come down significantly, sometimes to the point where it’s less costly to buy a Yikes! than a Blue & White G3 plus a G4 upgrade. That’s what we’d hoped for.

“We’ve got all these old parts we can use” is a terrible reason to design a compromised computer, something Apple should have learned from the über-Road Apple x200 series. At least in this case the end result wasn’t nearly as compromised, and the Yikes! only merits a one bullet rating out of a possible four.

In summary, Yikes! isn’t a bad computer, just one with several unnecessary compromises. Since it’s really little more than a Blue & White G3 with a G4 CPU, it should be priced accordingly – and when it is, it provides a lot of G4 power for a lot less than the Sawtooth models. It isn’t compromised enough to be called a Road Apple, because it can be a good buy if you know exactly what you’re getting and what it’s worth.

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Additional Resources

  • Yikes vs. Sawtooth G4/400, Bare Feats, 1999.12.17.
  • Yikes!/Sawtooth: Both Released, What’s the Difference?, PowerBook Zone. Published when G4s were first released – Yikes! at 400 MHz, Sawtooth at 450 MHz (with 500 MHz promised).
  • Yikes! This Power Mac G4 just isn’t worth the money, Dan Knight, Mac Daniel, 2003.03.05.
  • Looking for a Power Mac G4? Here’s why you want an AGP model, Dan Knight, Mac Daniel, 2003.03.06.

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