Power Mac G4 Cube

The Power Mac G4 Cube is a small form factor Macintosh personal computer from Apple Computer, 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]

Power Mac G4 Cube
Power mac g4 cube.png
A Power Mac G4 Cube
DeveloperApple Computer, Inc.
Product familyPower Mac
TypeDesktop computer
Release dateJuly 19, 2000 (2000-07-19)
Introductory priceUS$1,799
DiscontinuedJuly 3, 2001 (2001-07-03)
CPU450 or 500 MHz PowerPC G4
Memory64, 128 or 256 MB PC100 SDRAM; supports up to 1.5 GB
Storage20, 40 or 60 GB hard drive
GraphicsATI Rage 128 Pro with 16 MB of SDRAM
Nvidia GeForce2 MX with 32 MB of SDRAM (both cards use an AGP 2x slot)
Connectivity2 USB 1.1 (dual-channel), 2 FireWire 400, 10/100 Ethernet, 56k v.90 modem, VGA and ADC ports
DimensionsHeight: 9.8 inches (25 cm)
Width: 7.7 inches (20 cm)
Depth: 7.7 inches (20 cm)
Mass14 lb (6.4 kg)
SuccessorMac mini
Related articlesPower Mac G4


The small 8×8×8 in (20×20×20 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. The Cube is exceptional as the only Macintosh without a built-in speaker (as of 2016). 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 salesEdit

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.

An Apple press release on July 3, 2001, made the unusual statement that the computer – rather than being canceled or discontinued – was having its production "suspended indefinitely" due to low demand. "The company said there is a small chance it will reintroduce an upgraded model of the unique computer in the future, but that there are no plans to do so at this time."[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.


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
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 "Tiger" and Mac OS 9.2.2
Mac OS X 10.5.8 "Leopard" if LeopardAssist is used.
Dimensions 8.9×7.7×7.7 inches (23×20×20 cm)
Weight 14 pounds (6.4 kg)

Modifications and upgradesEdit

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 productsEdit

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 TVEdit

The Apple TV is a digital media receiver designed to bring digital content to a 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. The AirPort Express shares the same dimensions as those Apple TV models, but is white instead of black.

Mac MiniEdit

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 was 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 had 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 had a larger square base, matching the dimensions of the G4 Cube.

Mac Pro 2013Edit

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 cultureEdit

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 , 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.

Sixteen Cubes were used to power the displays of the computer consoles in Star Trek: Enterprise.[5]

As artworkEdit

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). G4 Cubes are also a popular candidate for "Macquariums"—fish tanks made from the chassis of Apple computers.[8]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ MoMA: The Collection: Jonathan Ive
  2. ^ Siracusa, John. "G4 Cube & Cinema Display (review)". Ars Technica.
  3. ^ Apple Puts Power Mac G4 Cube on Ice, Apple, Inc., retrieved August 10, 2020
  4. ^ Toporek, Chuck. Mac mini: Steve Jobs gets his Cube Back, O'Reilly Mac Dev Center, January 2005.
  5. ^ http://www.trektoday.com/articles/enterprise_set_visit.shtml
  6. ^ Kahney, Leander (July 28, 2003). "APPLE CUBE: ALIVE AND SELLING". Wired Magazine.
  7. ^ http://www.moma.org/collection/browse_results.php?criteria=O%3AAD%3AE%3A7237&page_number=1&template_id=6&sort_order=1
  8. ^ Sayej, Nadja (June 20, 2016). "Where Do Old iMacs Go Anyway? Right, They're Upgraded Into Aquariums". Motherboard. Retrieved November 8, 2017.

External linksEdit