The Power Mac G4 Cube Thread
At MacWorld New York, 19 (?) July 2000, Steve Jobs unveiled a whole new Mac paradigm, melding the power of the G4 tower with the miniturisation and elegance (his words, not mine) of the G3 iMac. The result: an 18cm Cube suspended in a 19.4cm x 19.4cm x 25.4cm clear plastic case.
Featuring either a 450Mhz or 500Mhz G4 CPU, up to 1.5GB of RAM and 60GB HDD, with a choice of graphics cards including support for the Apple Studio Displays, and topped with a vertically mounted slot loading DVD-ROM or CD-RW drive, this machine packed quite a punch for a such a small package.
At a time when your (Mac) desktop choices were limited to either a G3 (CRT based) iMac, or a G4 PowerMac, the Cube attempted to straddle that market, intimating an answer to the iMac’s rigidity, without needing the space of a tower. The 18cm cube itself could be easily pulled from the casing to facilitate upgrades. The main issue with the Cube however, was that at the end of the day, the only functional benefit that the new device had over the iMac was swappable video cards, and choice over monitors
One of the Cube’s both features and detractors, was the inclusion of 3rd party speakers. Harman Kardon’s clear plastic spheres connected to the Cube via a small USB powered amplifier. The Cube did not feature the ubiquitous 3.5mm audio sockets of every other Mac since 1990. If the stock spheres didn’t impress, you could upgrade to the Harman Kardon “Sticks” with subwoofer, also featuring the clear plastic design.
Clearly, Steve was quite passionate about cuboids, given his infamous creation following his departure from Apple in 1985, and one can’t help but think that upon his return, he wanted to bring his NeXTcube design with him, albeit aesthetically redesigned by Jonny Ive, and shrunk by 36%…
Largely probably due to the price tag - being more than the iMac (which of course, had a built in screen), and only marginally less than the tower, the Cube is often termed one of Apple/Steve’s failures. It, for example, is said to have only reached 33% of its sales target for the last quarter of 2000 (with 29,000 units sold), followed by only 12,000 units for the next quarter.
Support for the cube however proved strong despite the apparent small market, with Sonnet providing various CPU options, and the availability of a plethora of compatible graphics cards.
Ultimately, despite anything else, the G4 Cube paved the way for the Mac Mini, and has taken its place in Apple History as probably one of the Top 5 most collectible machines of all time.
And I want one.