5 Replies Latest reply: Sep 23, 2008 7:29 AM by Duane
retek Level 1 Level 1
For starters I have never used a mac before

We have some iMACs, PowerMac G3s and PowerPCs in stock which have had their HDDs erased (zero'd) so there is no OS installed.

I need to find the CPU type/speed & RAM size

Is there a boot cd I can load to determine this?
I assume there is no BIOS feature like in PCs where the hardware is listed?

Many thanks


iMAC, Other OS, No OS installed
  • Kenichi Watanabe Level 8 Level 8
    Mac OS X
    Apple's official specs are here.


    I like these spec pages better


    because the format is consistent.

    I assume there is no BIOS feature like in PCs where the hardware is listed?

    There is no BIOS, but there is Open Firmware. Here's an article about it.


    Now that you know the term "Open Firmware," just Google for more info.
  • retek Level 1 Level 1
    Thanks, I mangaged to get into the Open Firmware but it doesnt really list the info I require.

    The reason I didn't want to take the specs from the apple webpage is that these are second-user systems so may have had upgrades which I need to list.

    From the Open Firmware I got the CPU type at least but not the frequency:
    ff87cfa8: /cpus
    ff87d258: /PowerPC,G4@0

    And regarding the RAM I got this but it doesnt make a lot of sense to me:
    device_type memory
    reg 00000000 00000000
    00000000 20000000 <512MB?
    20000000 08000000
    slot-names 00000007

    I've got over 70 macs to get the specs from so this is going to be a laborious process unless I can get some sort of boot cd that'll give me some basic hardware information. Does anyone know of such an disk?


  • retek Level 1 Level 1
    Actually I think I've sussed the CPU frequency

    .properties gives the clock-frequency @ 29b92700 hex = 700000000 decimal = 700MHz (I'm assuming)
  • Kenichi Watanabe Level 8 Level 8
    Mac OS X
    A "boot CD" for a Mac is the Mac OS X installation disc that comes with it. You obviously don't have that... Mac's should always be sold with its original discs, but that's a pipe dream, I suppose.

    The next best thing is a retail Mac OS X installation disc. These are the discs Apple sells "in a box" to owners of existing Macs in order to upgrade to the latest OS release. If you get one for Panther (10.3) or Tiger (10.4), startup from it by holding down the C key. When you get to the first Installer screen, go to the Apple menu and select +About This Mac+. That will tell you processor type, processor speed, and amount of RAM installed.

    Make sure it's a retail disc. They are black with a silver X. Mac OS X installation discs that came with a particular Mac model (usually gray color) will usually not work on other models.

    The current OS release, Leopard (10.5), would not be a good choice for this purpose because many G4 and below Macs cannot run it.

    Tiger will work on all PowerPC Macs that originally had a G4 and have at least 256mb of RAM. It will also work on slot-loader G3 iMac (not tray-loaders), Blue and White Power Mac G3 (not beige), PowerBook G3 (only the model with FireWire) - not earlier G3 models.

    Panther will work on all PowerPC Macs that originally had a G4 and most G3's that have at least 128mb of RAM, so it may be the best choice for this purpose.

    There are some G3 Macs that need to have a firmware upgrade before running Mac OS X (even the installer) for the first time. This is particularly harmful to slot-loading G3 iMacs.


    If most of the Macs have a FireWire port, and you have an external FireWire drive, you should install either Panther or Tiger on that drive. Then you can boot each Mac from that external FireWire drive and run System Profiler to get more detailed information about the system. Mac OS X installations are generalized, so as long as a PowerPC Mac ran the installation, it should work with supported PowerPC Macs. Some Macs do not have FireWire. USB external drives are not bootable on most PowerPC Macs.
  • Duane Level 10 Level 10
    retek, Welcome to the discussion area!

    Another great utility is Mactracker.