Ask Max: Upgrading the Sawtooth, AKA "AGP Graphics" PowerMac G4
First of all, thank you for the great service you do in answering our questions about all things Mac. It's great having a dependable and knowledgeable source of information!
I have a 400mhz G4 "Sawtooth" Mac that I'm planning on upgrading with a new processor, more memory and a new DVD burner. The G4 has been a great machine and I've never had any major problems with it. I'd like to add an internal SuperDrive but I'd still like to keep the Combo drive that I already have since it works fine and hasn't given me any problems. Can the G4 accommodate two internal drives or must I opt for an external DVD burner? What models of DVD burners and 1Gb+ processors would you recommend?
I do love the Sawtooth, AKA "AGP Graphics," PowerMac G4. I used one to create video projects for my DVD company many years back and it always worked like a champ. For the sake of honesty I feel I must first recommend that you do not upgrade this computer. For the same money you could trade in that G4 for a Mirrored Drive Door PowerMac G4. The MDD G4 is the only G4 that can accept two internal optical disc drives. A Mac Mini could even work as a replacement if you do not have software conflicts moving to an Intel Mac. I just do not feel that after upgrading your Sawtooth you will be getting your money's worth.
That being said, I understand loyalty and nostalgia, so let me answer your questions as best I can. You can only have one optical drive in your computer so I think it may be best to buy an external DVD burner. I have always liked LaCie drives. They are more expensive than some other drives but they tend to buy the "A" stock of parts when other companies just buy whatever is cheap. For processor upgrades, I prefer Sonnet Technologies upgrade cards. You need to be able to trust your processor and I trust Sonnet. You will be able to get anywhere between 1.0 GHz to 1.8 GHz upgrades for your Sawtooth. In addition to buying more RAM, consider an additional hard drive. Because the more you can do with your computer the more you end up doing with it, and you will need a place to put it all.