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iMac G3 Slot-Loading - Upgrade & Repair

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iMac G3 Slot-Loading

The slot-loading (referring to the style of CD or DVD drive fitted) iMac G3 replaced the original tray-loading design less than a year and a half after it came out. And while the original model was the trailblazer for Apple's stunning new look, it's the slot-loader that really represents the refinement of the iMac G3 design into the iconic machine of the turn of the millennium. Upgradeable to a full 1GB of RAM, using DIMM modules rather than the SODIMMs of the original, the iMac G3 slot-loader was designed to be an iMac from the ground up (the tray-loader feels a bit more like a laptop squeezed under a CRT monitor).

Peak iMac G3 was perhaps the iMac G3 400 DV (and iMac G3 400 DV SE that came out at the same time, and differs only in colour). This model came with a DVD-ROM drive, and had a FireWire 400 port added for usefully fast access to external storage and peripherals (no iMac G3 ever had USB 2). This came out all the way back in 1999 when the PowerPC G3 chip had only just started to be replaced by the G4 in the high-end PowerMac range of workstations, making the iMac G3 400 DV both feature complete, and extremely competitive with the rest of the contemporary Apple lineup. The iMac G3 DV SE is a model we saw a lot of back in the day, since it seemed to be popular among professional users, who were keen to upgrade the RAM and drive to meet their requirements. The addition of FireWire made it a much more useful machine, and the more restrained colour vs the standard DV options perhaps made it a more popular choice for those users.

Sadly our days of upgrading iMac G3s are long over. But if you have one as a project, you can use most PC133 DIMMs without issue, which is probably easier to find than PC100. The drive bays are all 3.5" PATA type (Ultra-ATA) - probably some kind of adaption to an SD card would be the best option, though you would presumably still be limited to addressing no more than 128GB by the Ultra-ATA controller. Booting from FireWire is also possible, and will support larger drive sizes. Do remember that CRT monitors can hold dangerous amounts of charge long after they are turned off and take proper precautions.

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