Power Mac G4 Cube (also known as Power Macintosh G4 Cube) is a quiet, fanless, compact Macintosh computer from Apple Computer. It was sold from 2000 to 2001.
Apple targeted the Cube at the market between the iMac and the Power Macintosh G4. This diminutive 8"x8"x10" cube housed a PowerPC G4 processor running at 450 or 500 megahertz, and had an unconventional top-loading slot loading DVD-ROM drive. A separate monitor — either digital or VGA — is required for the Cube, in contrast to the all-in-one iMac series. Also unlike the iMacs, it had an upgradable video card in a standard AGP slot. However, full length cards will not fit, as there is no space. The Cube also featured two FireWire ports, and two USB ports for connecting peripherals. 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. It also used a silent, fanless, convection-based cooling system like the iMacs of the time.
It was popularly perceived as being too expensive, initially priced slightly higher than the cheapest model of the much larger and more expandable Power Mac G4 line, thus leading to slow sales. Additionally, early Cubes suffered from a manufacturing defect that led to faint lines in the clear plastic case. After seeing low profits, Apple attempted to increase sales by bundling more software with the cube, lowering the price of the base model, incorporating a CD-RW drive standard for the 500 mhz, and offering an improved NVIDIA graphics card as an option. These efforts could not offset the earlier perceptions of reduced value compared to the iMac or Power Mac G4 lines, and in July 2001 Apple issued a short and slightly unusual press release (http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2001/jul/03cube.html) announcing the product was to be put "on ice".
The failure of the Cube project forced Apple to issue a profit warning in August 2001 that reduced their stock price from around $65 to below $20. The stock did not recover until mid 2004.
While the cube was generally considered very visually attractive, the limitations of its design led to several practical inconveniences. Most remarked on was the thermal vent. If this is blocked, the unit may start to overheat, and will be automatically closed down. Unfortunately, the flat top of the unit makes a very tempting place to put down books and papers, rendering this scenario not unlikely. All connectors were in the base, and turning the unit upside-down to connect USB or firewire cables would also block the vent, as well as potentially disturbing a rotating hard disk. Also, the unit had no less cables than any other computers (perhaps more, because the power supply was external and the mouse/keyboard had a large external connector); this meant a tangle of wires in the void below the computer and elsewhere, diminishing the "clean lines" effect.
- Power Mac G4 Cube at apple-history.com (http://www.apple-history.com/frames/body.php?page=gallery&model=g4cube)