Learning things the hard way

Sometimes, we G5 owners have to learn things the hard way.

In the midst of holiday sales, I ended up with a $10 off coupon to Best Buy in my inbox. I also noted that a decent PNY Optima SSD, 240Gb in size, was on sale. With an extra $10 off, this was a solid deal to upgrade my G5. I ordered online and picked it up from the local Best Buy. So excited to get this thing going, I almost ended up being late to an event I had that evening.

Here’s the bad news – it didn’t work. In my haste to grab this solid deal, I neglected my own research on SATA III devices and Power Mac G5s. While I assume there might be 1 or 2 out there that work, SATA III drives often cause funny, bizarre symptoms on our older Macs. Yes, the drives might say they are compatible with older SATA I or II standards, but that doesn’t always mean what it’s supposed to mean. (I even note this on my Hardware page about how some SSD drives have jumpers to make them run in a safer compatibility mode.) This PNY Optima did not have any jumpers, but I had hoped I would be lucky. I figured it would magically work for me.

What were some of the symptoms? It acted like it was having motherboard issues, power management issues, or even a dead PRAM battery. I was certain it was these problems, so I tried everything in the book. I reseated the RAM. I pressed the CUDA switch on the motherboard. I reset the PRAM. The Mac would not boot from anything, including the Leopard install DVD on an external Firewire drive. At worst, it froze. At best, it flashed the dreaded System Folder question mark.

Some have found that SSDs work better in a different bay on your G5, so I even tried that. No luck.

But when I took out that new SSD and plopped in the old Corsair F60, the G5 booted up just like normal. No motherboard issues. All that work for naught. I ended up returning the SSD and decided to wait for another decent deal on a more compatible SSD down the road.

Is there a lesson to be learned? One: G5 owners are slowly (and sometimes rapidly) getting left behind. Two: always do some googling, read some reviews, and rely on some of the experience of the PPC community. Three: SSDs are awesome and finicky creatures.

In other news, you can grab an updated build of TenFourFoxG5 that promises to work a little bit better on dual core machines. I know they’d love your feedback over there. Also, a security hole in the NTPD server/process, although you may not be technically affected.

— Nathan

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