Are iMac G5's really this slow?

Discussion in 'Macintosh Computers' started by macquestion99, Jan 28, 2005.

  1. macrumors newbie

    Jan 28, 2005
    I’m a long-time Dell & Windows user (though I did use Macs back in the early 90s when, until NeXT came around, they had the best GUI going). I took the leap and bought the 20” iMac G5 in December. 1.8Ghz PowerPC G5, 1GB DDR SDRAM, 160 GB harddrive.

    The press, and the reviews, said that this iMac is blazingly fast. That it screams.

    My iMac seems so slow, so sluggish, that I am beginning to question how badly Mac users may have had it all this time. I am the one screaming, not the iMac.

    Three examples of unacceptible slowness:

    1) When selecting multiple individual photos in iPhoto (using Command-Mouseclick), the blue selection box cannot keep up, the CPU stays spiked near 100%, the Rotate menu is seriously delayed, and the song playing on iTunes skips.

    2) When syncing with an iPod Mini while playing a different song in iTunes, with iPhoto open in the background (but not being used), the CPU is maxing out, and iTunes skips repeatedly.

    3) And, perhaps the most annoying and unacceptible of them all: When trying to listen to a smart playlist (U2) through a remote Airport Express (using AirTunes and iTunes), the music drops out, randomly, for about 1 second each time, about 2-5 minutes between each drop. The only apps open are iTunes and Finder. This is worse than a skipping CD! The Wi-Fi signal strength appears to be at maximum, and I’ve tried it with both Interference Robustness on and off--no difference in the skipping problem.

    Please, does anyone have any ideas for why my “screaming” iMac G5 is so slow? Perhaps I have a defective unit? Or perhaps it is too much to ask that this Mac can do two things at the sametime? Or just do one thing, iTunes, well?

    Can anyone reassure me that I haven’t bought $2.4K of junk?

    Originally Optimistic, but Now Seriously Concerned
  2. macrumors 603


    Sep 3, 2003
    North Carolina
    Is your hard drive full? If you've got less than 10 percent of your HD free, that can cause a lot of problems. In any case, sounds like a problem relating to the HD. You could also boot from your install CD and run Disk Utility to look for problems.
  3. macrumors 6502a

    Jul 18, 2002
    you should definitely be able to do the things you are trying to do without any hiccups. Did you call Apple Tech?
  4. macrumors 6502

    Nov 11, 2004
    Virginia Beach
    My eMac (specs below) does not even do what you are mentioning. There are definitely issues with your hard drive it seems.
  5. macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    May 19, 2002
    Hopefully you didn't install any Norton Software... that'll mess up the system.

    Edite: So can some of the USB scanner and printer drivers.
  6. macrumors 68000


    Jan 28, 2004
    Sounds to me like a bad unit, unfortunately. Even my (now) ancient 500 MHz G4 performs better than what you are describing. I would call Apple and explain the issues you are having and see if they have some recomendations.
  7. Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004
    Do a search on this forum...

    ...for iPhoto performance problems.

    I vaguely recall people saying that iPhoto 2004 had probs and that the latest version was much improved...

    And the iTunes: something's not quite right there... it does sound like HD probs.
  8. macrumors 68000


    Aug 11, 2003
    Launch Activity Monitor (in the Utilities folder) to see what is going on. Either you have something buggy (app or other process) hogging all of the system resources or as was suggested earlier, your HD is full and there isn't enough room on it for paging. As the others have mentioned, this is not at all typical with any Mac, much less a G5.
  9. macrumors 6502a

    Sep 29, 2004
    Somewhere close to a dairy in East Texas
    I'm running an iMac G3 500 Mhz at work, and I can do what your saying without your problems. Definitely not normal!
  10. Administrator emeritus


    Jun 28, 2002
    North Central Colorado
    threads merged. Please don't post duplicate threads in different forums. Gives me indigestion.
  11. macrumors 6502

    Jul 7, 2003

    As for the question asked in this thread, it's clear that either:
    1. something is hogging your system resources, and shouldn't be (which you can investigate using Activity Monitor)
    2. you have bad hardware that Apple will take care of.

    A 5 year old Mac with 128 MB of RAM could do everything you're trying to do without hanging. ;) So a G5 iMac sure can.... Cheers. Good luck.
  12. macrumors 65816

    Mar 14, 2004
    You certainly haven't spent $2.4K on junk. The iMac G5, especially with a whole gig of RAM, is a nice machine and should handle the tasks you mentioned without lagging. You seem to have a hardware problem. Let Apple take care of it.
  13. macrumors member

    Feb 10, 2004
    The common item I seem to notice is iphoto. I've got a revC 12" powerbook and recently loaded the new ilife product. The machine seems to come to a crawl when scrolling through my photo library. I've got ~2000 photos and it just crawls when selecting photos or working with them. All other apps seem to work as expected. I'm pretty disappointed at the moment. i don't believe it to be a hardware issue, but rather an application issue.

  14. macrumors 68020


    Jun 18, 2003
    My wife has the same machine. She's listened to iTunes and edited DV in iMovie without the problems you describe. Check your settings in the Energy Saver Perferences (in addition to checking your processes as described above).

    Also, I've had mixed results with AirTunes on a WiFi network when both the music server and Airport Express are wireless, although that may be because I have a 802.11b WiFi access point. I haven't upgraded, since my TiBook has 802.11b and that's what I'm usually using when I roam around the house. WiFi, both b and g, is not noted for being robust in the face of link errors, since the network layer protocols (tcp/ip) should recover (retransmit). However, this isn't particularly good when you're streaming media, due to the realtime issues involved. Guess I'm rambling ...
  15. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 28, 2005
    More info...

    One thing I had heard, before becoming a Mac owner, was how helpful the Mac community was, and certainly how helpful they tried to be. Thank you for all of the quick responses!

    I've used Activity Monitor since Day One, upon noticing this sluggishness. But I only use it to track CPU usage. Upon checking it now, I notice that iTunes is at around 9% CPU usage (though it ranges between 2% - 18%) and is taking 190MB of virtual memory. Are these useful items of info? Safari is hogging the most, at 13% CPU and 290MB of virtual memory.

    iPhoto was not running in one of the instances (the most annoying instance) of iTunes skipping; only the Finder and iTunes were running then. But, iPhoto could be a problem, given what I've read: I have 2390 photos in my library, and it's iPhoto 4. And yes, I get the spinning colored disk very often.

    Also, my iTunes files are stored as Apple Lossless Compression, which probably doesn't help (given, perhaps, the CPU cycles necessary to handle this compression scheme). But still, I expect better.

    The hard drive has 80 GB of free space. The remainder of the harddrive contains my iTunes library, those 2390 photos, and the OS. That's it.

    Looks like I need to call Apple support, which I've also heard is solid. Guess we will see!

    Thanks everyone. And if you can think of anything else, please let me know.
  16. macrumors 603


    Jul 23, 2002
    Fuquay Varina, NC

    Run the cleanup scripts using Terminal or MacJanitor

    There is some level of maintenance required, and these suggestions may or may not help.

    Also make sure you are up-to-date with system and software updates - which often times contain performance fixes.
  17. macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    Sounds like you're already headed to tech support, but a couple comments to back up what's been said already:

    You may well be having some sort of a hardware problem, as everything you describe indicates that the disk is being overwhelmed. Have you taken a look at the Disk section of Activity Monitor and checked how much data is going in and out? If the numbers are in the 10s of MB/s, then the disk is indeed pegging, though I'm not sure why it would be with that much RAM doing what you're describing. If it's not, then maybe there is something wrong with the hardware.

    It's also worth noting, though, that iPhoto does slow down significantly as the library grows, and although '04 is much better than the previous version (haven't tried '05 for comparison yet), it's still prone to major slowdowns with a few thousand pictures in the library, or when doing certain operations (like selecting a lot of photos). This isn't the fault of the iMac, really, though you can complain about iPhoto if you want--it's decent, but far from perfect.

    Not at all sure about the AirTunes issue, though, as I've never tried it.

    By the way, if you don't mind, on #1 what size are the thumbnails in your library set to? With the slider at minimum (about 300 photos to a page), the blue squares can lag a tiny bit, but otherwise I can't even make it do that when I'm trying.
  18. jsw
    Moderator emeritus


    Mar 16, 2004
    Andover, MA
    Just curious - if you go to the apple menu (upper left) and select "About This Mac", does it show 1GB of RAM? Your machine would also act that way if it had a lot less RAM and had to page often - perhaps one of the sticks is loose?
  19. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 28, 2005
    I haven't called tech support yet--I typically like to describe concrete problems, whereas this seems very vague. I am not looking forward to the conversation.

    To answer your questions:

    Disk data in/sec: 272 KB Disk data out/sec: 0 Bytes (These seem to be the most common values)

    iPhoto thumbnail size: Slider is in the middle, which means I have about 80 photos showing at any one time. And the lag is very noticeable: I can click on about 12 pics before the blue highlight halo catches up.

    Also, an earlier post suggested I check my Energy Saver settings. I did, and Processor Performance was set to Automatic. I have since changed it to Highest. iTunes has still skipped since doing this, but it may have helped (the average CPU usage levels for the applications seems to have declined).

  20. macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    May 19, 2002
    I would also say to run Disk Utilities/Disk First Aid/Repair off the DVD and possibly fsck on a single user boot... (neither of these is a one pass repair, run until repaired or no changes can be made.)

    Because drive catalog/file system problems will make the machine sluggish as heck.
  21. macrumors 68020


    Jun 18, 2003
    In the Energy Settings, also make sure that the "Put disk to sleep when possible" checkbox is NOT checked.

    As for iTunes loss-less compression: When you are streaming to Airport Express, regardless on how your music is encoded, iTunes converts it to loss-less and encrypts it before sending it to AExp, so loss-less is actually better. Is there any way for you to be wired into you network from the iMac G5, rather than wireless? Even if it's only temporary, it may help figure out whether the iTunes issue is the iMac or the network.

  22. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 28, 2005
    I did have that checkbox checked. I have now unchecked it.

    As for wired vs. wireless, I have had the iTunes skipping problem even when playing directly on the iMac's speakers. And the iTunes library is located on the harddrive, not the network.

    I did just discover (as the instructions warned, but I did not truly believe) that microwave usage drastically decreases the Airport Express data rate (from 150 KB/s down to, essentially, 0), and this does knock out AirTunes. But this is separate from my iTunes skipping problem (which occurs independent of microwave usage).

  23. macrumors 604


    Jan 20, 2005
    Force pre-binding. Do you have filevault enabled? as well as Journalling?
  24. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 28, 2005
    In terms of ease-of-use, doesn't it seem like we shouldn't have to do this? Is this really a routine part of caring for my iMac?

  25. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 28, 2005
    Uh-oh, my Mac Newbie status will be clear here: I don't know what pre-binding is. I don't think I've ever enabled Journaling.

    I do have FireVault enabled, however, so that probably isn't helping.


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