PowerMac Buying Advice

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by salmacis, Jun 16, 2005.

  1. salmacis macrumors member

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    Vienna, Europe
    #1
    Hello everybody,

    Looking forward to buy a new PowerMac (Dual 2.7) soon. Currently I´m using a PowerBook G4 1.5GHz (1GB RAM), that seems to be overstrained with my stuff (Software Development: Java/Python etc., Photo editing - iPhoto is so slow with 5000+ photos..., video editing and authoring: mpeg-coding an so on). I think, that a fast desktop machine will handle those tasks very well (faster bus, hd, cpu etc...), also looked at the iMac, but it is not that extendable and I have a Cinema Display already.

    Thus it should be a Dual Power Mac. Since I´m not a frequent machine switcher and use my machines 4-5 years, I´ll probably go with the 2.7 - I think that it should be OK for those next 4-5 years. I also though about the 2.0 model, but I don´t know if it would last those 4+ years - of course I could switch in 3 years to a Rev.B Intel machine, this could be an option. But the 2.0 model has only 4 memory slots, and only PCI (not -X). Since I´m planning to put in 2GB+ RAM inside, I could use 8 slots.

    However, there are rumors that the 970MP is about to be launched soon (a dual-core chip), and this worries me a little bit. I mean I do not need the machine so urgently - I could probably wait until fall. And the dual-core is a rumor, so it could be also possible, that there are only some minor speed updates for the current 970FX, no 970MP at all. Another question is the performance gain of a dual-core, and if dual dual-cores (quad-cores) are realistic (and affordable)?

    I mean, I would surely be very happy with the 2.7, but would be somewhat angry if dual-cores or even quad-cores would come out soon.

    And I´m being concerned about the frequent power supply noise issues that were reported with the G5 Power Macs. I mean, of course the desktop is louder than my PowerBook, but I would be fed up with strange noises from a 3000$ computer.

    I would be happy about any comments that could help me a little bit.

    Thanks!

    salmacis

    PS: Does anyone know if the Power Mac BT-option is a 1.1 or a new 2.0/EDR?
     
  2. brendel95 macrumors regular

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  3. gabriel_uk macrumors regular

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    England
    #3
    Most (but not everyone!) on this forum would probably say if you need a PowerMac now, buy one now.

    Personally, I'm going to try and wait - on the basis that the last PM upgrade was only a speed bump, and that the 970FX is now rather dated. There are some other lesser hardware considerations, but that's the crux of my hesitation.

    So the question is when will the next update take place? The earliest has got to be September, while the PM's average cycle would make November the most likely month.

    However, it may not happen until the 1st quarter of next year, if you accept the theory that there will be only one more significant PPC upgrade before we get PowerMactels in 2007 - and Apple need to get the timing right. So my amateur guesstimate is that we will see 970GX and/or 970MP Macs appear around January 2006.

    One last point - the 2.3 GHz PM may be preferable over the 2.7 PM because it's fully air-cooled, without the questionable water-cooling system added to the 2.7.
     
  4. topgunn macrumors 65816

    topgunn

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    Location:
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    #4
    You could keep an eye out for Apple refurbs and get a Dual 1.8GHz or Dual 2.0GHz for $1,499 or $1,649 respectively. This way you aren't out a bunch of scratch if you want to get a new Intel based Mac in 3 years time.
     
  5. deadfrog macrumors regular

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    UK / Bournemouth
    #5
    Well, just decided to bite the bullet yesterday and ordered myself a dual 2.3. The way i see it, intel powermacs are a couple of years away i reckon. Dual cores would be nice, but id imagine they will be more expensive and i just wont need that kind of power. Reckon dual core intels will be superior anyways, so id end up just waiting and waiting.....

    Id have to agree, about the 2.7, the main thing that put me off that is the price difference and whole liquid cooling bit. Pretty sure i read somewhere on here alot of liquid coling systems can leak after a few years. Is enough to put me off...

    Obviously dont have it yet, but i dont think i made the wrong decission since i wanted something that could handle motion graphics stuff..
     
  6. salmacis thread starter macrumors member

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    #6
    Could be this way, but I think just one update of PowerMacs in two years is too few. I personally think that there will be an update before the end of this year (GX or MP), and then somewhere in 3Q/2006 another update of this line (speed bump). All based on the asumption that PowerMactels are expected at around 1Q/2Q of 2007.

    The question for me is of course, if the 970MP would offer such a great performance gain over the current 2.7 FX, that would be worth waiting. Of course this is hard to answer :). I mean it is clear that computers are getting faster and faster, but it could be a possible performance booster not just a (rather linear) speed increase. If I could get one of these for about 3000$ I would surely wait, but who knows...

    Really? Do you have bad experiences with it? I think and also read that the liquid cooling system is really sophisticated and runs very well.

    salmacis
     
  7. salmacis thread starter macrumors member

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    #7
    Thanks. If I´m using a wireless keyboard then - is it possible to use the keyboard for issuing startup commands like command-s (single-user mode) or holding the alt key (for selecting the boot volume) - or do I need a USB-keyboard anyway?
     
  8. gabriel_uk macrumors regular

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    England
    #8
    Yes, I think you are right - which is why used the description 'signigicant upgrade'.

    I guess this will depend on the demands of your usage.

    I just know that there have been boardroom concerns, according to reports mentioned on this site.
     
  9. gabriel_uk macrumors regular

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    #9
    Good reasoning - By the way, what kind of graphics card are you getting with your 2.3? And how much RAM?
     
  10. deadfrog macrumors regular

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    #10
    decided to to go for the ati 9650, for the extra £30 i figured it was worth it. More video memory is never a bad thing and when you are spending that much, whats £30?

    As for memory, well i decided that i would get 1gb of apple ram. Yes i know they are slightly overpriced, but at least this way i wont be waisting the slots and leaves more room for future memory.

    Prices on crucial.com are very tempting to put another 1gb in, especially with the exchange rate as it is...

    hope this helps...
     
  11. salmacis thread starter macrumors member

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    #11
    Perhaps you´re right. There are no long-term experiences with the liquid-cooling systems of the 2.5 and 2.7, so a conventional cooling is surely the safer bet. About the 2.3: This model is also tempting me, but one could be concerned, that since the 2.5 forced engineers to use liquid cooling and the 2.3 uses traditional air cooling, it could run rather hot and have noise issues because of heavily rotating fans. However, just a speculation - I believe Apple´s engineers know what they´re doing, and a 2.3 with air cooling goes well.

    Does anyone has some pointers to reviews or benchmarks of the current PowerMac models? Especially a test of the 2.3 could be interesting - I have only tests of the 2.0, 2.5, 2.7 models. Thanks!

    Congratulations to your purchase! At least you´ve done it, and the box will surely be great. I wished I would be sure what to buy already.
     
  12. salmacis thread starter macrumors member

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    #12
    Of course your right, but I think one would always want to get the best out of the money he spends. Waiting 4 or 5 months for just some speed increase of the current FX is not worth waiting in my opinion, but waiting for the MP might be well worth it.
     
  13. gabriel_uk macrumors regular

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    England
    #13
    This is a great website - http://barefeats.com - and here is what you should look at - http://barefeats.com/g527.html

    I feel sure that the 2.3 is the most powerful/safest Mac one can buy right now.
     
  14. gabriel_uk macrumors regular

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    #14
    I agree! :) But I've gotta admit that I think deadfrog has swayed me towards buying a 2.3 sooner rather than later - 'later' meaning waiting for the MP whenever that will be... despite my initial comment! :D

    Deadfrog hits my nail on the head when he says "Dual cores would be nice, but id imagine they will be more expensive and i just wont need that kind of power. Reckon dual core intels will be superior anyways, so id end up just waiting and waiting....."

    I haven't completely decided, but I'm veering that way.

    So what are you gonna do salmacis?
     
  15. deadfrog macrumors regular

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    #15
    That site was very interesting, am hoping 9650 will be suffucient for a bit of light gaming. I mainly use my mac for doing work so think ill be ok with the card on that side of things.

    If anyone has a dual 2.3 with the 9650, i would be interested to hear how they find it on gaming and pro apps..

    Good luck with the decisions gabriel and salmacis.

    cheers
     
  16. salmacis thread starter macrumors member

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    Vienna, Europe
    #16
    Thanks for the link to barefeat.com - great site. Also checking some other reviews, it seems that the 2.3 is really a good deal. The 2.3 performs nearly as good as the water-cooled 2.5.

    Despite of the price saving over a 2.7, it´s also noise that could be interesting. I read a review saying that the new 2.7 produces about 3.5 Sone under full load, the 2.0 model only 2.5 Sone. (The 2.5 produced 5.1 Sone, so the 2.7 is much quieter). I had no noise information about the 2.3, but I think it will be somewhere around the 2.0 model, and this is totally acceptable. (In idle mode all models are very quiet though).

    Since noise is also important for me, the 2.3 is in favor.

    Besides I would probably go for the 9650 as deadfrog did. It is a bad game performer, but this is not important to me. What is nice: it is passively cooled. (Don´t know if the 9600 is also passively cooled). For about 50$ more you get double the memory and a dual-link dvi (which could be nice for adding a 30" when they get affordable :))

    And I would add the Bluetooth-module to hang on my Wireless Keyboard.

    For the money saved compared to the 2.7 I would also consider AppleCare.

    Since I have 8 memory slots I would leave the 2x256MB and add 2x1GB or 4x 512MB Kingston RAM for a total of 2,5GB.

    In any case I will think about all this over the weekend, and hopefully reach a decision soon. Some days waiting could be worth it, since it could be possible, that there´s a slight price drop because of the removal of the single 1.8. Anyway I would wait only until end of next week.

    Any experiences about noise produced by the 2.3 (and of course other comments etc.) would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you all,

    salmacis
     
  17. whitepawn macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2005
    #17
    I am having trouble making a decision for the PM dual 2.3 as well-

    I was really stuck on the 2.0 for a while but I think a lot of the arguments I've read for the 2.3 here make sense. Especially the one that said it is the fastest/safest. The 2.7 would be great but the price seems inflated because of the 'best' factor and the liquid cooling issues which have already been discussed. I mean, I'm sure it's faster but stability is a big reason for why I am purchasing this. (Thank god there isn't a 2.5 available now or thid decision would take another 6 weeks!)

    That also led me away from the whole Mactel thing. Even if Apple did come out with a machine in 4Q06 or early in 07, it is still the first generation of this new technology. I personally would prefer to wait a year at least before spending that kind of $$. Which also means that which ever machine I buy today I will most likely be using until Intel is producing the mac cpu. scary.

    These are the specs I think I am going to order. First time customizing a mac and would love any and all feedback-

    From Apple.com
    dual 2.3
    512 megs of ram
    250 gig hd
    9650 Video Card
    bluetooth/airport extreme card
    combo drive

    After market:
    1.5 Gigs Ram
    250 gig SATA
    Pioneer A109 DVD-RW
    external CD-RW Firewire case.

    All of the after market stuff I am buying is significantly less expensive than if I were to just upgrade during customization. The DVD-RW for example. The PM superdrive is (in most cases) the Pioneer A09. The cost to upgrade from the combo drive to the superdrive is $100. The Pioneer A109 (same drive- renamed for comsumer mkt) is available for less than $100. So buying after market means spending less and having a combo drive.

    Anyway, sorry for the long post. This is a pretty big deal for me and I am a bit nervous. Thanks for reading and of couse any feedback.

    m
     
  18. salmacis thread starter macrumors member

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    Vienna, Europe
    #18
    The good things about the 2.3 are (despite the nice performance gain), that you get pci-x and 8 memory slots in addition, which makes the whole thing more future-safe (regardless if you would need it or not...).

    The jump from the 2.3 to the 2.7 is only a speed bump (though a nice one). Its about the same money you pay more jumping from 2.0 to 2.3 and from 2.3 to 2.7.

    About the liquid cooling: I think the whole system is done very, very well - I have read that Apple's engineers did a great job and that the cooling system is unique and sophisticated. Meanwhile I don´t have doubts, that it would be functioning well over many years - the doubts are just speculations, which are common when looking at 'unknown' things...

    Looks reasonable. It is surely smart to get RAM elsewhere, and with 8 slots you can leave the standard 2x256. I will take the SuperDrive anyhow.

    Yeah, I understand you well! For me it´s also hard. However, I have set a personal deadline for me: next Wednesday (since I´m going on a travel then, and want the baby delivered when I come back :))

    Good luck, and please tell us when you´ve reached a decision!

    salmacis
     
  19. DrRock macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2005
    #19
    1st time poster & mac buyer

    I'm new here, and I've been reading a lot of these threads to try and figure out which route to take. I've seen a lot of good advice, and was wondering about anyone's opinion on the 2.3 vs. the 2.7. I know this topic has been addressed, and I've seen some good responses, but for my situation specifically, I wanted to know what people thought.

    I'm in the market for my first mac, and I want to go with a G5. I will primarily be using it for editing (FCP) and photoshop. Of course, it will sevre as my standard, all-purpose computer as well, but for performance, the video, audio, and photo stuff will be its main function.

    Is the $500 price difference justified to get the dual 2.7 model? I know the bus speed is faster, and the graphics card is better, but is the difference only marginal otherwise? I have a PC that I've had for six years, and I typically get a lot of life out of things that I buy, so I usually go with the best available model, but give me an idea of whether anyone thinks it's worth the extra $$, because if not, the $500 could go toward my monitor setup.

    I've read that a lot of people aren't keen on the liquid cooling setup, and noise isn't really a factor to me, so for the $$ should I stick with the dual 2.3 setup?

    Thanks in advance!
     
  20. wiseguy27 macrumors 6502

    wiseguy27

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    USA
    #20
    It's true that people speculate about the long term viability of liquid cooling, but it's not just based on "fear of the unknown". When the first dual 2.5GHz Power Mac was to be introduced with liquid cooling, Apple had to delay the release because of some water leakage issues with the design. Moreover, it's not Apple that designed the cooling system - it's done by Delphi (automotive) in Michigan. I also remember reading somewhere that the "useful life" (or something of that sort) of these cooling systems was around 2-3 years (as claimed by Delphi)! That's a HUGE concern unless your plan is to dispose it within 2 years or perform some kind of maintenance checks regularly (no idea what) - why risk losing an entire computer because of a leakage? Ok, it would be prudent to have AppleCare, but it still would be a big hassle if something of that nature happened. I have to admit that I don't have facts to prove what the useful life of a liquid cooling is predicted to be. And all the people buying dual 2.5GHz and dual 2.7GHz are not entirely idiots either. It's a matter of knowing and being comfortable with what one knows. :)

    I have a dual 2.3GHz and while it does get hot, I don't think it's a major concern. With increasing CPU load, the fans might rev up a lot more and you would hear a "whirr" if you're close to it, but I haven't felt it to be annoying or "too noisy". Of course, this is a subjective thing.

    If you're really concerned about noise, I would recommend that you go to the nearest Apple retail store (or an authorized reseller), play with the dual 2.3GHz, open some "heavy duty apps" simultaneously and try some kind of photo rendering or video conversion (try something with iMovie). That would make the fans rev at their fastest and you would get a sense of the noise (and the heat, if you put your hand behind the Mac where the heat exhaust outlets are).

    P.S.: The fans revving up on power up of the Mac sounds like a "cool" automobile! :)
     
  21. wiseguy27 macrumors 6502

    wiseguy27

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    #21
    Tell me about it! :) It's never easy to decide "fast". :)

    Your shopping list looks well researched. This sounds like a very good combination and it definitely makes it cheaper for you to upgrade stuff with the after market components.

    I'm guessing you're going to add another 250GB SATA after you buy it - I recommend Seagate or Hitachi (look for deals where the drive costs 50 [US] cents a Gig or less).
     
  22. wiseguy27 macrumors 6502

    wiseguy27

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    #22
    In my opinion, it sounds like the dual 2.3GHz is more closer to what you need (and desire). You could use the differential amount to buy more RAM, which will help a lot more in boosting performance, considering the fact that the "recommended RAM" for FCP is 2GB. You may also want to upgrade the video card after buying the Mac. Something like the shopping list that whitepawn has created might be suitable, with higher after market upgrades. Get the lowest configuration from Apple and upgrade the RAM, superdrive, video card, HDD etc. from outside to reduce your costs.

    Like whitepawn has indicated, getting an enclosure to use the stock combo drive is better than selling it when upgrading to a superdrive - this would allow you to return the Mac to Apple for repairs (if any) in the configuration you bought it. Otherwise Apple may either say that your configuration is not supported or (worse still) send a replacement machine with the stock configuration you had ordered. When sending your Mac for repair, it is always recommended to "strip" your machine to the configuration you had ordered from Apple.
     
  23. salmacis thread starter macrumors member

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    Vienna, Europe
    #23
    Thanks for that info! I´m planning to get AppleCare, but also to use the machine more than just 3 years...

    Thanks for that info too. Are you sitting next to your machine (meaning is the Mac on your desk?) And is it rather silent, when idle?
     
  24. salmacis thread starter macrumors member

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    #24
    Also planning to add a second SATA, 250GB afterwards. Will probably make a (software) RAID 1 out of it. Does anyone know, if I have to reinstall / repartion for this. Or is it possible to plug it in, and configure RAID 1 and everything is mirrored? And what about performance? Is it seriously affected?

    Thanks!
     
  25. whitepawn macrumors newbie

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    Jun 9, 2005
    #25
    I've placed my order .. (for better or for worse, right?)

    After all of that research I decided in the last second to up the order to the dual 2.5 machine. I was getting down to the last few minutes of my deadline and decided to paruse the sale websites one last time. Well, one of them had a price for this tower that was a lot tower than expected. I admit it did pull me out of my budget but not by much. With the 2.5's I feel like I will be able to hang on to the machine a little while longer as well.

    If anyone is interested in the price or site I am buying from pls pm me.

    So now all I need is a monitor.. (I can hear the groans).
     

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