Don’t Buy A Quad G5

by Hadley Stern Oct 21, 2005

Back in the pre-Intel days I must confess there would have been some drool hitting the keyboard as I write this right now. Quad G5s?! Holy moly! It sounds to good be true. You mean not only do I get one blazing fast Intel-snail-crushing G5 chip, but I get it by the factor of 4?

Oh, except for the Intel-snail-crushing part. Which is why Steve Jobs was absent when the announcement was made. All this was was a speed bump for a dead chip. Yes, folks, a chip that is dead, as in end-of-the-line. Cancelled. Irrelevant.

What was most curious to watch was the Apple hype-marketing machine turned off. Sure you can see a hint of it on the copy describing the new G5s. But the comparisons we have seen in the past have gone.

The G5 no longer matters to Apple. And that is why, unless I had some very pressing high-end video project over the next six to twelve months I wouldn’t even consider buying the new G5. It is simply a waste of money. And something that in short order, I’d want to replace with not only a new chip, but also a new architecture (and hopefully, given my thoughts of the G5 design) a new form factor.

It will be interesting to see how sales of this new G5 are. I do suspect that Apple knows they will be mediocre at best. This, along with the powerbook update was just an update; something to keep the current line-up alive while the real deal gets worked on inside Cupertino.

I, for one, can’t wait to see what that real deal is. Whatever it is, I can guarantee you one thing, Steve will present it himself, and he’ll have a few Keynote slides about how it kicks the Quad G5’s butt.

What do you think? Would you consider buying a new G5?


  • I’d be willing to bet money that the PowerMac will be on of the last machines to get an intel processor.

    For the course of the next year at a minimum the 64 bit versions of Intel’s processors are going to be drawing about 145W of power per socket.  The current line of products (3.xGHz/2MB) draws about 110W a socket.

    Unfortunately Apple doesn’t have a lot of info but IBM’s info on the 2.2GHz 970FX shows max at 65 deg C of power draw is 31W.

    I don’t think dual core 2.5’s is going to draw much more than 60w a socket.  But that’s a guess at this point.

    Future Intel dual core chips are supposed to be on 65nm process which will drop the power draw some.  I’m willing to bet Apple will wait for those chips which are 4Q06 or later.

    The notebook is what they’re worried - their high volume product.  The PowerMac will be one of the latter, if not last models moved over to EM64T Intel chips.

    Trekkie had this to say on Oct 21, 2005 Posts: 6
  • I would buy one for sure. But not now. I will buy one 3 years from now for the same reasons why I am still buying G3s and PPC604s: they are Macs and teher’s always some random music server/game server/jukebox project I could come up with.

    BigMac had this to say on Oct 21, 2005 Posts: 5
  • It’s the old issue:  if you need a new computer now then buy it.

    The PBs showed some decent improvements and an increase in the value presented, especially with the price cuts.  I had to buy when the 1.5 14” came out because airport security dropped my 667 on the floor and the cracks were spreading.  (It did last almost 2 years after the drop, which was impressive.)

    The PMs are the same.  Apple made the best with what they had.  The only surprise for me was that they didn’t provide for a BTO option to add a second dual in the lower two ranges.

    For people making a living off of a Mac and needing a lot of power then it’s a matter of looking at the cost (less the tax break) and comparing it to any additional income from a faster computer.  Is there a benefit to justify a year or two on a faster Mac?  If so then it’s time to order - and wait for the rev b Mactel.

    MacKen had this to say on Oct 21, 2005 Posts: 88
  • You are so wrong.

    Today’s software (my $30,000 worth) is all compiled for PowerPC.  This will have to RUN UNDER EMULATION on some MacIntel until the Intel versions come up.

    For me, this is a no brainer, all of my software will urn 100%+ faster from my Dual 2 Gig G5, and new software will be slow to come.  Besides, the Power Mac will be the LAST Mac to go Intel.

    This is JUST like the transition to PowerPC.  The first Power Macs SUCKED (6100/60) and my shop was using a Quadra 840av running software at full speed until a year into the PowerPC product line when we got faster emulators, and the 604 based PCI Power Macs which were 10 times faster.

    Anyway, its about the next 24 months, not about the chip.. and for the next 24 months, this quad machine will run MY software much faster than any emulated MacTel.

    My 2 cents.

    MacMatt had this to say on Oct 21, 2005 Posts: 1
  • Right on the money MacKen. Buy it when you need it. You have to take the plunge at some time. It’s inevitable that no matter when you dive in, something better is going to be announced sooner or later…

    MacNuggets had this to say on Oct 21, 2005 Posts: 17
  • It is simply a waste of money.

    Oh Brother.


    How is it a waste of money?!

    It is a very fast machine, much faster than current machines (apparently the dual core 2.3 is even faster than the dual proc 2.5!)

    It is here *now*, the Intel Macs are not. Well, ok, the high end is available in about a month.
    Maybe the Intels will be a lot faster, but they’ll have to be pretty [email protected]#N! fast to make up for the head start the Quad has on them. (I can buy a Quad in a month and have it crunching my numbers for, oh, at least a year (?) before the Intel Mac can even get started.)

    You know, I keep on getting sucked into these AppleMatters articles by the inflammatory headline, and when I get there, realize the actual article doesn’t have any new or interesting ideas, it’s just the same old meaningless argument: Computer X is no good now, because computer Y will be better later. Ok, you’ve convinced me, I will never buy another computer again. It’s a waste of money, because something better is bound to come along next year.

    daver had this to say on Oct 21, 2005 Posts: 13
  • I’m seriously thinking of buying a dualie.  Most of the reasons have been mentioned, but there’s one more reason why now is a good time to buy a desktop.

    Indications are that Apple is going to join Dell in the Intel-only bed, at least for a while.  Steve probably made the right decision for Steve: I’m sure Apple has some serious “marketing” dollars coming its way, and Intel mobile processors completely outclass the competition. But Intel desktop and server processors are completely outclassed by AMD and IBM processors.  As pointed out in the anandtech article, the PowerMac G5 is very competitive with the x86 competition as long as you don’t cripple it with OS X.  All the money is in mobile, so you can’t blame Steve, but it is annoying.

    bryan had this to say on Oct 21, 2005 Posts: 1
  • I will be replacing my old iBook before the Intels come out, and possibly my first gen G5 too.  I think the transition from the PowerPc to the Intel architecture will be a large step backwards, and I frankly have no desire to purchase one.

    rongoodman had this to say on Oct 21, 2005 Posts: 1
  • Cripple it with OS X!!?!?!!??!

    What the heck are you talking about?

    had this to say on Oct 21, 2005 Posts: 2
  • It’s the fastest freakin’ Mac ever to see the light of day, why shouldn’t one buy it if in need for what it is all about, POWER? I honestly admit that I am not one of them, but some people have a need to have the fastest thing available, because they make their money from its speed. Of course it will be done for in a while, but MacMatts argument is totally valid - Pros tend to have enourmous software investments, and until *all* they need runs 100% on Intel, and faster at that, why should they buy a MacIntel once it comes? I predict the day first rumors about imminent PowerMacIntel releases drop we will see a stampede for the remaining G5 machines for just this sole reason.

    Bad Beaver had this to say on Oct 21, 2005 Posts: 371
  • Hell I’d buy.  PCI Express. Dual Gige ports. Quad cores

    (note Luxology’s Modo rendered a file in 38 seconds on a Dual 2.5…the Quad G5 rendered the same file in 17 seconds! Who wouldn’t pay for that power?)

    The Powerbooks are the most disappointing but that’ll change with the Dual-Core Yonah’s coming.

    hmurchison had this to say on Oct 21, 2005 Posts: 145
  • While AMD and IBM might be “better” than Intel I think Apple was right in going with Intel for the long run.  IBM isn’t going to invest the money and human resources to move the Gx line along at the same speed as the PC chip makers.  AMD is going to continue focusing on the PC market and won’t have the resources to focus on Apple related products.

    The key about Intel is that they have a lot of very talented people, but are stuck working with PC makers that want everything to be backwards compatible with old, old MS software.  They are also on thin margins and won’t want to invest in new ideas like Apple will.

    While the first round of Mactels will be interesting it is the future rounds that provides Intel and Apple to move into areas where the PCs are afraid to go - especially since Apple can provide some very good engineering talent to future developments..  Apple will lead the way and the PC/MS crowd will have to follow - eventually.  2006 is step one, then there are going to be some exciting leaps.

    MacKen had this to say on Oct 21, 2005 Posts: 88
  • I’ve gotta’ quit reading these damn Mac sites. Tech heads—Mac enthusiasts in particular (and I am both)—are the most negative, egocentric, whiney people on the net. Seriously.

    Everyone seemed to agree that the Power Mac line was due/overdue for an update. And they’e already said that it will be AT LEAST a year before it switched the line to Intel chips. What are they supposed to do? Ignore the line? Let it waste away and encourage people to look into Wintel machines?

    If you want to wait for the Intel Power Macs, by all means do. But please, please, please stop whining about how the sky is falling.

    adboy2000 had this to say on Oct 21, 2005 Posts: 2
  • If you need a speedy mac, I don’t see why not. That’s not buying a Ferrari because another completely different one is coming out in two years - that’s always going to happen. All the apps you need to run now is not going to stop working the minute the Intel Macs comes out - is it? No. I knew people still using an SE as late as 5 years ago so if you need a fast mac, have the money, and you need to get something done - do it. AND the big thing is that it’s going to take a while for apps to stabilize, never mind the OS so you’re really talking probably 1 to 3 years for high end apps to make the complete transition and presuming Apple’s announcement timetable doesn’t change of the low end & powerbooks changing first, you might be really be talking about 2-3 years before the top of the line gets swapped AND things are stanilized (ie: all the apps you need are ported over natively and running at top speed). Frankly, I’d rather be running iDVD Studio or Phtoshop or FCP at full speed natively at up to quad speeds versus a kludge half Intel/half Moto machine if it runs slower.

    It’s fine if you just want the latest and greatest mac and of course, who doesn’t want to be first on the block with an Intel Mac but that does not mean you stop everything just to wait for that. you access your needs. If all you do is type and surf the web, buying this machine is probably not the smartest thing to do but if time is money, this machine might save you both and two years down the line - you worry about vthat after the machines been making you money for 2 years ...

    jbelkin had this to say on Oct 21, 2005 Posts: 41
  • OK… First off… A new computer is never useless unless for some reason you’re paying $3000 for an empty case. That’d certainly suck!

    Oh, sure, there’s always something better around the corner. It will ALWAYS be that way, whether you like it or not. Me? I want a Quad G5. You know why? I’m still using a 400MHz G3 and it’s lasted 6 years (and will continue to last). I figure, with the track record most Macs I’ve used or seen have, I can expect a Quad G5 to go a minimum of 6 years too.

    When saying OS X is crippling in regards to servers, I highly recommend reading Anandtech’s two-part No More Mac Mysteries article. It’s not meant to bash OS X - it’s meant to figure out why it’s slower than other servers running Linux even though the hardware is more or less identical in power. OS X is great (especially over the old OS 6-9 days!), but it has problems.

    There will undoubtedly be some hitches in the road with the Intel switch. But, so what?! Who in there right mind that is so picky about tech buys 1G products?! Generic consumers buy 1G products, mostly don’t know what they’re getting, and upgrade later when they have the money.

    So sayeth He Who Must Complain About Everything Through Cynical Optimism.

    Waa had this to say on Oct 21, 2005 Posts: 110
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