PDA

View Full Version : PowerMac G4 vs PowerMac G5... when is the time to buy?


Hodapp
Jul 23, 2003, 04:42 PM
Hey guys.

I'm looking at purchasing a PowerMac and a PowerBook in the near future here. Originally I thought what I would do is just go balls-out, get a G5 and a 17 inch PowerBook, and call it a day. But after thinking about it for a while, right now the 64 bit processor is more of a novelty than anything else. What true 64-bit software support would I even have that would make paying the super-premium of owning a top of the line PowerMac worth while? Panther isn't even true 64-bit. While it's true that the G4 that I would get (Dual 1.25Ghz) would be slower than the G5... With the software I'd be using and what I would be doing on the computer, (I do web development, use mainly photoshop and HTML editors to do ColdFusion) I'm not certain I'd even ever notice that I'm running a G5. Sure the case would be cool, and in theory it would be faster... but if RISC architecture is so nice, wouldn't a Dual G4 be more than enough?

I mean, I have the money for either, it's not really an issue of that. It just seems that going that balls-out on a brand new computer that consumers haven't even touched yet which has hardware that nothing takes advantage of is kind of silly. A year down the road when they supposedly have the 3.0 Ghz PPC970 in PowerMacs with a true 64-bit OS... then I'd say hell yes the G5 is the way to go.

*shrug* Just some stuff I'm thinking about I guess. It's a lot of money, and kind of a big decision as to what to get.

bastardx
Jul 23, 2003, 04:52 PM
It mainly depends on how much you actually do with photoshop, or how long you can wait for rendering times, etc. Although if the PowerMac is for your work, then I would suggest the G5, because it will be faster than the G4 mainly because it doesn't have the bottlenecks of system bus, it also has Serial-ATA hard disks that allow for faster transfer off of hard disks. It would be an overall faster machine no matter what you do with it, it is more of would you rather have a very powerful computer, or some extra money?

Makosuke
Jul 23, 2003, 04:55 PM
It's a legit concern for someone in your position. I can say that I do web development with similar tools, and the truth is I'm quite happy on even my lowly dual G4 533. I'll be scrounging cash for a top of the line G5, but that's for video work, not my web stuff.

That said, don't take the lack of 64-bit optimization to be a factor in your decision; the only difference that 64-bitedness will really make is that an application can access more than the ~2GB they're currently limited to.

Since there's no way most web development apps will use that much any time soon (if you'd even be buying that much RAM), the 64-bit issue isn't one.

G5 optimization, on the other hand, is--there is enough difference between the G4 and G5 that a G5 probably doesn't run any faster per-Mhz than a G4 unless the code has been somewhat optimized. In most cases, even a simple recompile with newer tools will probably be enough to gain plenty of speed, though, so I expect to see a lot of at least light G5 optimization pretty quickly (Adobe, for example, already has a plug-in more or less ready).

And of course, as apps get more optimized, the G5 is going to get progressively "faster" over time, whereas the G4 isn't.

That said, if you're worried, you can always just wait a little bit: The G5s won't ship for a month or so anyway, so just wait until the first ones start to filter out. If the speed gains look worthwhile, get yourself one. If not, pick up a used/closeout DP G4 or maybe and be happy with it, then get a G5 one or two generations down the line. I doubt you'll be hurting for speed either way.

Personally, I'd get a 1.8Ghz G5 if cash was an issue at all, even if the G5 isn't wildly faster, based just on its various architectural improvements--a hedge against the future, so to speak. On the other hand, if estimates play out, the single 1.8 G5 should be in the same speed range as at least a dual 1.25 G4, maybe a dual 1.42.

As for me, I'm going to try and get a dual G5 and dump a bunch of RAM in it, then enjoy it for another two or three years, which is exactly what I did successfully with my current computer.

daveL
Jul 23, 2003, 05:00 PM
Man, the dual 1.25 G4 ain't exactly cheap! I'd go with the G5. Your talking about a state-of-the-art system architecture for a couple hundred dollars more than a rather old machine (G4). If nothing else, look how much more "folding" you could do with the idle G5 CPU cycles :-)