iMac or G5: Leaving PC behind

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by djole, Nov 2, 2008.

  1. djole macrumors newbie

    Oct 28, 2008

    The other day I was here to discuss an upgrade to my wife's G4, but today I'm here for a different reason: I am switching! Yes, I'm a PC.
    I've been having some issues with my PC and it probably isn't something that couldn't be fixed for $200 max, but my years of experience tell me that in a month or two something will happen again, and I'm tired of having constant problems.

    Anyway, back to the issue:
    I need some smart advice on what to get. I'd love to get a Mac Pro but I can't afford it, so I've narrowed it down to
    - 24" 2.8GHz iMac with 4BG of Ram (I have some discount with Apple so it'll cost me $2030), OR
    - this refurbished 2.7 GHz G5, or similar G5, to which I would add 8GB of this Crucial RAM. The G5 with RAM and Leopard would cost me around $1650.

    iMac Pros:
    - Intel processor
    - Large 24" screen
    - Bill Gates hates it

    iMac Cons:
    - Hard to upgrade
    - Glossy screen which sucks as far as color is concerned (I'm a photographer so the color matters a lot! The viewing angle is very small under which the color looks OK on the iMac). This is based on mu experience with the new iMac's)
    - No eSATA (Can't use a 5-bay SATA enclosure which I'm thinking of getting)
    - Single internal drive. Currently I have 3 internal and 3 external backup drives. Add the eSATA factor to this and my only option is a 5-bay FireWire enclosure.

    G5 Pros:
    - It's not a PC :)
    - eSATA
    - Price

    G5 Cons:
    - Old processor
    - Have to use my old Samsung 1280x1024 monitor as opposed to a 24" 1920x1200. I could buy a different monitor for $350I would save if I got a G5, though??? And for the time being, is this old monitor going to work fine on the G5?
    - I can use 3 internal drives.

    So the looming questions are....

    - The applications that I use on a daily basis and whose performance is of the utmost importance are Lightroom and Photoshop CS3 (extended). It is possible that I will upgrade to CS4 pretty soon. How's CS3, or CS4 tomorrow, going to perform on a G5 as opposed to an iMac?
    - Additionaly, I am planning to start using FinalCut Pro. Same question as above.
    - How's Leopard performing on the G5, and what about the G5, CS3 and Leopard combo? Are they getting along?
    - How's Windows doing on Leopard? I would still need Windows for my Quickbooks free edition.
    - Any other things that I am not considering but that could be a factor in this?
    - What are the best places that sell refurbished Mac Pro's? (In case I take this path)

    Thanks a lot for your help!
  2. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus


    Jan 9, 2004
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    Windows is fine in Leopard, but it's not fine on G5's. If you really, seriously need Windows, then the G5 is probably not a realistic option for you (although deciding between two fairly powerful computers on the basis of being able to use Windows Quicken seems a little... well, yeah).

    It sounds like you have a lot of fairly significant cons to using the iMac -- you could use Firewire quite satisfactorily for the drives, but if you're really convinced that you cannot do your photography on a glossy screen (not trying to debate this), then that seems like a game killer.

    The option of finding a used / older Mac Pro seems like the most reasonable option.
  3. wilse macrumors newbie

    Oct 30, 2008
    Up North, Nr Doncaster
    Hi there

    Unless you really need the Intel Mac capabilities I would personally go for the G5!

    The fact that you can fill with extra drives, mirror soft raid etc.
    8GB of ram is not to be sniffed at, although you might have to check what the maximum photoshop can use...

    I'm using a Mac G5, 2 x 1.8Ghz, 3Gb Ram 160Gb internal, running Creative suite 3 everyday. I retouch 30-150Mb images, and process .ps files 1.2Gb into pdfs. The G5 handles this faultlessly.

    My friends have 24" Imacs, they are OK, slick looking, but glossy screens, and technical glitches that I don't get.

    I also use USB 2.0 external drives and FW 400 drives.

    I'm currently running leopard 10.5.5, and have only 1 issue [ can't hide indesign and then un-hide it] it's a known adobe/apple issue.

    If you are serious about work, get a G5, the expandability easily outweighs the miniscule performance increase you might get by an iMac.

    good luck, keep us posted.

  4. California macrumors 68040


    Aug 21, 2004
    That's way too much cash for the G5.

    Also you are looking at a liquid cooled model.

    You want a fan cooled Powermac G5

    I have the dual core last revision PMG5 2.0.

    The thing is silent. Fast. And wonderful.
  5. zer0tails macrumors 65816


    Mar 23, 2008
    I vote for the iMac. Consider going refurb and you can get even better specs like the 3.06ghz model for less.

    The G5 while a great machine, I would not suggest it because of the price $1650 (way too much) and it isn't intel. You might be ok running leopard on it now etc. But when snow leopard and all come out, you'll be further behind.

    Conclusion: get the iMac
  6. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    Have you checked out the Apple refurb store? If you can wait, then I think that is the way to go, 'cause sometimes you will find a refurb mac pro for not much more than you want to spend. The quad core gives you the pro's of both the G5 and the iMac. Its upgradeable, its Intel, its powerful, it will run (likely) Snow Leopard. If you have to start with less memory, or storage.... thats OK because you can add it as you go. Watch the page daily, and check it early in the day. When you see a good deal, move on it - it won't be there for long.

    Good Luck
  7. grue macrumors 65816

    Nov 14, 2003

    G5 is fine for right now, but it will shortly become unsupported technology with Snow Leopard's release.

    Also, Boot Camp isn't going to run on a PowerPC machine.
  8. SuperCompu2 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 23, 2006
    I dont think we should rule out the G5 quite yet, but for that price you might want to search for something a little more worthwhile...

    I would personally try searching for Cinema Display/G5 combos at the similar price point of the iMac. This way, you get the best of both computer and display! Many people usually go this route when selling to get an entirely brand new system too, so the entire setup sales are fairly common.

    In terms of becoming obsolete, I'd say the G5 and iMac are about dead even on future-proofing. There's a lot of talk about the Snow Leopard release, but if the system software runs fine now for what you do, why upgrade later? Plenty of companies still use Macs with OS 9, and early OS X versions on their machines every day, so what's a minor release of OS X going to affect performance? With the iMac, you have hard to upgrade HD space, a lower ceiling on RAM, and a graphics chip that can't be upgraded, so the realistic point of obsolescence will happen much sooner. Not to mention with the iMac, you have that one display to stare at (barring expansion with mini-DVI) for the life of the machine, where as the PowerMac can have up to a 30" ACD, or as tiny a screen as you'd like attached with no issue whatsoever.

    PowerPC over Intel chips is a relative performance ranking in my opinion, where if it works for what you're doing, why upgrade? (I still use a PowerBook G4 all the time!)

    It's honestly a coin flip at this point. I'd personally go with a G5 right now, but if you can find a cheap iMac or if the design suits you, go for it!
  9. grue macrumors 65816

    Nov 14, 2003
    Snow Leopard seems aimed at the overall crappy performance of OS X, I'd say it's a bigger deal than any other OS X release since perhaps Panther.

    With any luck they'll be cutting down on the INSANE bloat of Leopard and the miserable performance of certain subsystems.
  10. SuperCompu2 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 23, 2006
    Be that as it may, I think in terms of performance if the G5 is running Tiger, Leopard, etc, and runs the programs fast and well, there would be no sense in upgrading when Snow Leopard arrives because it would already be doing tasks fine!

    The iMac will handle the Snow Leopard upgrade better, but having to upgrade OS to make programs run faster just seems silly to me...
  11. grue macrumors 65816

    Nov 14, 2003
    Sure it's silly, but OS X right now is a bloated pile. I've said for a while I'd be more than happy to buy (and indeed, pay extra for) a stripped down version without all the flashy crap, 1283917289312 languages, and codebases for two entirely different architectures.
  12. zer0tails macrumors 65816


    Mar 23, 2008
    Ok so we don't rule out the G5 just yet.

    But definitely need to look for one with a better price. $1650 is way too steep in my opinion.
  13. SuperCompu2 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 23, 2006
    You can choose to not install a lot of the "bloat" when you first install OS X. As for the two architectures built in, you'll have to wait a few years before you'll have a hope of single architecture again. And even then, Apple just hired a key IBM PowerPC engineer recently, so who knows what the future holds.
  14. grue macrumors 65816

    Nov 14, 2003
    Even after hitting the install with XSlimmer to remove the languages I don't speak and the PowerPC libraries I don't need, it's still several gigabytes, for a friggin' operating system.

    But then again, none of the software engineers give a damn, they say "Hey, ram and storage are cheap! Why should I bother coding efficiently?"
  15. OrangeSVTguy macrumors 601


    Sep 16, 2007
    Northeastern Ohio
    You can find already upgraded 2.7ghz G5s for under/around $1000 so that $1600 price is way to steep. For the price of your iMac you're looking to get, you can get a used Mac Pro for roughly the same price. The G5 can be upgraded way more then the iMac but the G5 is not Intel. Parallels and VMware Fusion won't run on the G5 architecture either so you won't be able to run windows. Only emulator I found to work on the G5 is Q emulator, and it runs slow even with Windows 98.

    I'd buy the G5 or MP since you do photography and you can buy your own high quality non-glossy monitor.
  16. Chaos123x macrumors 68000

    Jul 8, 2008
    I think the 2.7ghz is a great machine (my first mac). I think comes with a free version of quicken.

    That said the 24 iMac is a great deal.

    But if I were you I would look for a used quad 2.66ghz Mac Pro.
  17. djole thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 28, 2008
    Thanks for your responses! I see that the main issue when it comes to the G5 is the price. The $1600 I mentioned was for the G5 ($1150), 8GB of RAM + Leopard.
    I figured that the iMac won't do it so that's off the list. There is one single thing that favors it: Intel processor. Everything else goes against it, and there are quite a few things in my case. I'm kind of thinking of perhaps a 2.66ghz Mac Pro as Chaos suggested. There is one on ebay going for $1800. Still not sure. Some thoughts down below...

    First, what websites do you recommend for used/refurbished Macs?

    Second, is it too risky to go to ebay and look for these deals? This is not the smartest question but I just wanna know if you'd dare :).... There is for instance this 2.5 G5 with 4GB of RAM for $985. Additional 4GB would cost me $120. Add a monster 150GB Raptor for $180, a $450 NEC monitor, and I have a pretty good system for $1800.

    One more thing, is there a lot of difference in performance between dual and quad 2.5 GHz? Should I even consider paying $400 more for a quad?

    I don't have a lot of time so hoping that Apple will have something refurbished isn't really an option. I'd need something in the next few days as my PC is partially functional. Not good...

    Again, thanks a lot!
  18. sushi Moderator emeritus


    Jul 19, 2002
    A couple of things to add:

    • With a G5 Pro, you will be limited to running Leopard. Snow Leopard will only run on Intel Macs. Leopard will be the latest OS to run on the G5.

    • You can always connect an external display to the iMac. So you can have dual displays, the external one can be Matte.
  19. djole thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 28, 2008

    True, but I'd rather avoid having one more monitor on my desk. And I don't want to concern myself with Snow Leopard right now. I don't think I will desperately want to upgrade. I hope...

    One thing that I should have mentioned perhaps: the goal here is to leave Bill Gates behind while getting a Mac that won't cost a fortune yet it will do most things I do daily. And by getting a G5 for say a $1000, I haven't spent a ton of money, so when the better times come and I'm able to get the newest Mac Pro, I won't feel I'd wasted thousands. And my wife will be happy to upgrade from G4 to G5 :)
  20. GoKyu macrumors 65816


    Feb 15, 2007
    New Orleans
    Have you checked options other than the Apple Store? Here's a deal from


    Apple-Mac Pro 4-Core Workstation
    ONE Quad-Core 2.8GHz Intel Xeon Processor,
    2GB RAM, 320GB HD
    ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT
    16x SuperDrive

    Price: $2098.99

    It's only a single core 2.8, but remember that's a XEON chip in there - it'll blow the 2.8 in the iMac out of the water, and you were already going to pay $2030 for the iMac anyway.

    The only extra thing you'd need is a monitor, and with the MP, you can get a *MATTE* screen for editing photos. (That's why I bought my Mac Pro too - I do color correction and that's very important for me.)

    And for the memory, check out OWC ( - you can either get a 2 gig upgrade for $92, or a 4 gig upgrade for $129 (for this system, you'd need the 800Mhz ECC memory, not the slower 677Mhz RAM.)

    You're not spending much more than your original highest price point, but you *are* getting what you really want - a current generation Mac Pro, which will last a lot longer than a current iMac, and will definitely outlast a G5. You also have your choice of monitor and can upgrade to up to 4 internal 1TB hard drives.

    Go for the Mac Pro, you won't be sorry!
  21. zer0tails macrumors 65816


    Mar 23, 2008
    I second the mac pro option. And personally, I don't think you'll feel like you've wasted thousands if you purchased one and a new one comes out months later.

    Unlike the notebooks, the mac pro is a machine of longevity, and I am pretty confident 8 cores will be more than enough for your computing needs.

    If you can push it to its limit, and find yourself constantly hitting the ceiling because of its specs, then yeah you might be better off waiting for the new mac pro.
  22. sushi Moderator emeritus


    Jul 19, 2002

    Just wanted to present those points for your consideration. Snow Leopard should be much faster than Leopard due to a rewrite of the Finder and other parts of the OS.

    Since you do not like the new glossy screen on the current Intel iMacs, how about a used one (White model). You can get one cheaply, and they have matte screens.

    Anyhow, good luck with your selection.
  23. djole thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 28, 2008
    Well, we've come to some conclusions. I didn't need convincing that a Pro is a long lasting investment but I knew I couldn't afford it. But you've definitely convinced my wife, who in turn convinced me, to go with a Pro. She tells me that she's tired of seeing me under the table fixing the PC. I'm even more tired! I'm going to sell some photo equipment that's mainly collecting dust to help pay for my new toy... And since I've decided to spend more than $2000 on a Mac (and wait some better times to get a monitor), the only thing I'd like to know is how much will I gain if I get a 2 x 2.8GHz as apposed to a single 2.8? Is it worth additional $500?

    See you in the morning :)
  24. Chaos123x macrumors 68000

    Jul 8, 2008
  25. ReanimationLP macrumors 68030


    Jan 8, 2005
    On the moon.
    Well, a single 2.8 is still quad core.

    But its worth it to go with the dual.

    Why? To add that second CPU down the road, if it IS possible, it would cost a lot more than the 500 now. The nice thing about the Mac Pros too, compared to last year, the RAM prices have come down a LOT.

    I would not spend more than 800 or so on a G5, and thats only if it was the last revision Dual 2.0 model, as those use DDR2 and PCI-E graphics, so upgrades are dirt cheap. The liquid cooled models have a problem with leaking coolant, espically after years of usage.

    On the slightly odd flip side, I'm about to sell off my Powermac G4 Quicksilver and some other stuff to build me a new PC with Core2 Quad, 8GB of RAM and Dual Radeon 4850s, for gaming. I dont really use the G4 anymore, after I built my Hackintosh. (Hackintosh completely stomps all over G4)

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