PowerMac G4 in the store

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PowerMac G4 Mirrored Drive Doors

Apple has decided to transfer the experience gained while designing the Xserve servers series to the line of professional computers – PowerMac G4. The DDR motherboard architecture was rebuilt completely; there were many modifications in the housing as well. Shiny drive doors and four vents characterized a new look. Users often compared the case to the classic 1938 Buick Roadmaster line.

That’s how the Apple Power Mac G4 was created. The modified machine officially called „Mirrored Drive Doors” (also dubbed by the abbreviation „MDD”) was presented on August 13th, 2002.

Like Xserve computers, the PowerMac was based on a PowerPC 7455 processor operating initially at 867 MHz, 1 GHz, or 1.25 GHz. In the year 2003, on January 28th, Apple introduced the update, showing a model that offered the sky-high 1.42 GHz frequency and a built-in FireWire 800 connector. These models were also the first Apple computers not supporting the classic macOS.


All versions were offered with a double setup of processors with a cache chip level 3 and an analog audio input jack. The first release does not have a frontside DDR bus. That means the CPU can only use up to 50% of the new system’s theoretical memory bandwidth without providing any improvement over previous models.

The MDD models had three drive rails: ATA33 for media drives, ATA100 for hard drives, and an unused ATA66 rail that could serve for additional drives.


Apple Cinema Display and Studio Display monitors were both sold with the computer. The Cupertino company also suggested buying dedicated Apple Speakers for the computer. With the set, the user got Apple Pro Keyboard and Apple Pro Mouse.


At the premiere, the PowerMac G4 MDD with the 867 MHz processor cost $ 1699 (as of today, it is $ 2,457). A computer in the best configuration with a 1.42 GHz processor in June 2003 cost $ 2699 (today, it is equivalent to $ 3,817). Brought back to life in June 2003, the first version was also the cheapest option at just $ 1299.


Shortly after its premiere, computers were dubbed „Windtunnel G4” users due to the computer’s noise level. Apple offered a free fan and power supply replacement program, but this disadvantage of the first series computers stuck to the PowerMac G4 MDD. The housing designed for less power-hungry (and therefore generating less heat) components was the reason for such excessive noise. Apple used the openwork back of the computer’s housing and variable fan speed, which caused quite a nuisance noise in effect.

A considerable disadvantage of the PowerMac MDD series was that the MacOs 9.x could not be installed. Many professionals worked on software that did not yet have support for MacOS X. It turned out to be particularly painful for the DTP industry, in which QuarkXPress was the universal standard.

The PowerMac G4 MDD was probably the only Apple computer that was reinstated to production after being withdrawn. This decision was made to appease QuarkXPress users, as the version for MacOSX of this software did not exist.



The model with the G4 processor and solutions copied from Xserve offered a maximum of possibilities. Although its production was relatively short-lived and ended on June 27th, 2004, it was sold in large numbers.

Professionals highly appreciated the computer. But its most outstanding contribution was to break off from MacOS 9.x and switch to a refined MacOS X. With the support of Adobe InDesign sales, Apple finally buried the most popular desktop publishing program of this time – QuarkXPress.

Apple ceased production on June 27th, 2004, and the remaining stock was disposed of. The end of the PowerMac G4 MDD production was also an ending of the 20-year tradition of classic Mac OS support.