iMac or G5 Tower?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by barrettd, Nov 25, 2004.

  1. barrettd macrumors regular

    Sep 8, 2003
    Oklahoma City
    I'm looking into buying another Mac. I previously had a 1GHz Powerbook, which I loved, but the wife wasn't into. I wanted to get into transferring my VHS tapes to DVD and doing minor editing, so I souped up my PC. In the meantime, since my wife didn't care for using the PB (I didn't have Mac versions of some of the software she uses, plus the whole old dog, new tricks thing, not that my wife's a dog, or get the point), I traded it here for a Thinkpad, which she uses a lot and is happy with. Now I've decided I need a G5. I love the 20" iMac and all the hardware it's equipped with. I'm just not sure if the smarter move would be the G5 tower. I'd love to get rid of my PC tower, but I want to make sure my computer will be future-proof, at least in the short term.

    Given the type of stuff I'll be doing on it (VHS to DVD, etc.) and the fact the important stuff is the same on the 1.8G tower and the 20" iMac, what's the recommendation? I've got a 19" monitor on my PC right now, but I wouldn't hate to get rid of it.

    Thanks in advance for the input. I know this kind of thing usually comes down to personal preferences, I'm just looking for things I might have missed, or the kinds of things that aren't listed in specs (upgradability, etc.).
  2. JasonL macrumors regular

    Feb 13, 2004
    Ware, MA
    I'd go with the PM. As you seem to be aware of the PM can be upgraded quite a bit more than an iMac. If you already have a decent display it would make even more sense to go with the PM. You could always get a nicer display later.

    So, if you have the space and you aren't completely lusting for an iMac then I can't see why anyone would recommend the iMac over the PM for any reason other than cost (the 17-inchers are pretty cheap, and certainly cost is an important consideration for most of us).

    Good luck.
  3. Poeben macrumors 6502

    Jul 29, 2004
    I agree. I don't think any home is complete without at least one PowerMac G5 tower. If you can afford it, have the space, and are remotely thinking of doing anything involving audio/video I'd say go with the tower. The only reason I can see to get the iMac is if space is an issue or if you have already fallen in love with the design. Don't forget to get lots of non-apple brand ram too.
  4. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    May 19, 2002
    The current Single Processor PowerMac is a headless iMac G5, the low end PM is using the same architecture as the iMac G5.

    The lowend dual uses a modified PowerMac G5 architecture, they skipped the PCI-X HT tunnel and hooked PCI to the Southbridge chip (so no hope of turning the PCI into PCI-X with a soldering iron like the Rev A PCI machines) -- so it's the 2nd different motherboard design.

    The rest of the them use the 3rd motherboard design, the one we know and love from the Rev. A days.

    --- You should be confused now. ;)

    You can look a little deeper into the machines here...

    Mac Developer Notes

    ... which shows you what chipsets all the machines use.

    The SP PM basically is the same niche as the PowerBook 12, which crosses over with the iBook.
  5. maya macrumors 68040


    Oct 7, 2004
    somewhere between here and there.
    LOL, you forget that the iMac G5 has a max of 2Gig ram and the SP PM has 4Gig ram max. Plus a wide variety of ports compared to the iMac G5 for instance FW 800. :D

    Plus iMac G5 has a 4x DVD burner and the SP PM has an 8x DVD burner.

    Plus GigaBit Ethernet while the iMac G5 only has 10/100 Ethernet.

    If I were this person I would buy the SP PMG5 since it seems he likes his monitor and can benefit from the future expansion by adding more ram to encode DVD content.

    Buy the SP PMG5 1.8GHz :)
  6. tiselday macrumors member

    May 25, 2003
    I bought the iMac G5 17" 1.8 Ghz, used it for two weeks and was slightly dissapointed by a few things:

    a) The quality of the 17" screen, specially the viewing angles (but this does not apply to the 20" model)
    b) The fact that, every time I started doing something, the fans started ramping up, bothering me to no end (I had bought the computer to use it)

    So I returned it, and bought the SP 1.8 Power Mac with a Radeon 9600. Although there is a constant fan noise in the background (very quiet), it has yet to show any signs of stress!! And I can use it with any external monitor I like, which is a big bonus.

    Having used the two machines, then, my recommendation goes without doubt to the Power Mac.
  7. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    May 19, 2002
    Didn't forget, just thought he was smart enough to figure that part out once he knows they are the same basic architecture.

    But they are both two banks of memory machines, so they both suffer from the one memory upgrade before you start removing memory problem.


    When Apple repackages stuff, they really do a good job -- they stuffed the PowerMac architecture into the eMac G4 (all SDR units) and everybody though it was a CRT iMac G4. ;)

    Of course with the SP PM they reversed the architecture sharing.

    So things are not always what they seem, hence the need for the developer notes.
  8. caveman_uk Guest


    Feb 17, 2003
    Hitchin, Herts, UK
    a) FW800 is pretty pointless unless you want a faster external drive. It won't be adopted for camcorders etc and is dead in the water.
    b) 4x vs 8x - how often do you actually burn DVDs? Doesn't affect day to day running of the machine
    c) Gigabit ethernet - utterly unnecessary in a home computer.

    The only advantages of the SP powermac are better videocards, more RAM, and you can put PCI cards in it (like capture cards). And you can choose you own monitor (or go dual head). I personally can't see the point of the SP PM. It's not a real Powermac. It's a imac G5 in a bigger box without the monitor. For me the powermac range still starts with the dual 1.8. It's a good price and actually has a performance advantage over the imac G5.
  9. JasonL macrumors regular

    Feb 13, 2004
    Ware, MA
    Oh, is that all? ;)

    Really? You just stated a pretty good case for the SP PM. Don't underestimate the importance of being able to upgrade the GPU and RAM...not to mention the ability to use a display that you already own, or a display that is superior to those found in the iMacs.
  10. caveman_uk Guest


    Feb 17, 2003
    Hitchin, Herts, UK
    Yes, you too have the option of adding graphics cards costing $350-$500 to a computer that costs $1500 - and which you won't use unless you either game or use motion. Or adding 4GB of RAM instead of 2GB. Realistically how many people are going to do that? Really? Do you have more than 2GB? I've got a powermac - the only PCI card it's got is a USB2 card. I got that powermac because it was dual processor.

    My point is that the SP powermac performance-wise is the same as a 17" imac and offers you very little else that will actually be of much use to you. The dual 1.8 on the other hand does. Sure this guy has a monitor...but it does seem that bothered about keeping it.
  11. barrettd thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 8, 2003
    Oklahoma City
    I appreciate all the info so far.

    To answer a few questions:

    -Yes, I fell in love with the iMac design. However, I'm not sure I should spend that much money on something I won't be exceedingly happy with just because it looks great. I've heard about the fan noise issue and that's not appealing to me.

    -I like my 19" monitor just fine, it gets the job done, but eventually I'll want an LCD.

    -I'd love to not have a tower underneath my desk, but that's not a major dealbreaker.

    After listening to the advice here, I'm now thinking I should take a much harder look at the SP and DP 1.8 PM.

    -If I'm going to upgrade my DVD burner in the PM in the future, would I have to purchase an Apple drive, or will any drive fit?

    -The SATA drives are standard, correct? I've got a 200GB SATA drive I could use in the new machine.

    -The AGP slots are standard too, correct? I've got an ATI 9800 Pro I'd like to be able to use.

    -Any inexpensive solutions for connecting my HP printer? It's a Laserjet with a parallel connection. HP's print servers look quite expensive.

    Thanks again for the input. It's really helping me out.
  12. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    May 19, 2002
    AGP Slots are standard, but the supported video cards are not.

    People's mileage vary on how well the flashed cards work, and sometimes ATI has a habit of killing some of the flashed cards during driver updates.

    I think there are some other companies that have alternatives to HP's print server, can't think of the name right now.

    Although I don't know if they supported parallel printers, or just the old AppleTalk printers (the pre-ethernet ones.)
  13. caveman_uk Guest


    Feb 17, 2003
    Hitchin, Herts, UK
    1. The burners are all standard drives but with Apple firmware. I've replaced the 1x superdrive in my powermac with a normal PC 8x DVR-107D and it works great. Generally apple doesn't support all DVD burners...only certain ones. The others can be made to work using a bit of software called patchburn.
    2. The SATA connectors are standard and PC drives work in them. It's best to reformat them to HFS+ which is the mac standard.
    3. The AGP slots are standard but the graphics cards need Apple firmware not PC firmware - which means your old PC card won't work. It's not an easy thing to reflash them either. :( . Apple cards generally cost twice as much -which sucks. ATI sell a range of after-market cards for macs but it's probably best to get what you want when you buy the machine. At the least I'd upgrade to a ATI 9600 from a Geforce5200 which is the standard card in some models
    4. Oooooo, parallel ports. I dunno. Macs haven't had them for a while. Maybe you can get an adapter????? As you may have guessed USB is best for mac compatability.
  14. barrettd thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 8, 2003
    Oklahoma City
    Thanks again for all the help. Now I've basically decided to get the most for my money and am looking at the dual 1.8 machine.

    One last question remains, concerning RAM compatibility. My PC currently has two identical sticks of DDR 400, each 512MB. What are the chances they will be compatible with the PM? My motherboard is an Asus A7N8X-E Deluxe and when I look it up on Crucial I get a few choices. When I look up the G5, I get completely different choices, but the tech specs all appear to be the same. If I could drop the 1GB I've got into the new G5 it would save me around $200.

    My hope is they're all compatible. Can anyone confirm this? Thanks again in advance.
  15. jared_kipe macrumors 68030


    Dec 8, 2003
    It depends on what your definition of "future proof" is. Do you like the newest and greatest games at the highest resolutions you could ever run them at? Or do you just want to be able to take part in the next wave of technology like TIVO and what not? The purpose of converting movies isn't really going anywhere in the near future, nor is digital video or audio. The iMac would suit you fine. And if you're a game user, then get the PM, but if you're that kind of a game user, get the imac and a cheap ass PC just for games.
  16. timsq macrumors regular


    Feb 27, 2004
    New Orleans
    All the way! It's fast at the top. I love my iMac G4 and it's a conversation piece (even whrn I'm alone). The Dual 2.5 G5 is raw unbridled RRRRrrrrrrwwww..... and that's a serious power trip. I can't pick one over the other either. So Both!
  17. barrettd thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 8, 2003
    Oklahoma City
    Gaming is the only reason I've kept my PC so long. Two days ago, I finished Half-Life 2, which was probably one of the best games I've ever played, so why not give up the PC finally and leave the gaming to my Xbox? :)
  18. Santaduck macrumors 6502a


    Oct 21, 2003
    smarter move would be the G5 tower, unquestionably.

    If futureproofing is your primary consideration, the G5 tower wins out in all departments over the iMac G5.

    However, if 1) cost, 2) semi-portability, or 3) space are considerations, the iMac G5 wins hands-down.

    benefits of Tower over imac g5:
    faster front side bus
    dual processor, each at faster speed
    gigabit ethernet
    usb2 (although both have firewire)
    hard drive bays (although iMac has a full-sized drive... you can BTO 250G, or probably use a 3rd party 400G)
    pci-X (future proofing issues right here)
    real AGP port to change graphics cards in the future. (iMac stuck with a middling level card, even in comparison to existing cards avail. for tower)
    RAM up to 8G (iMac only 2G)

    Regarding CPU, two more notes:
    * Due to noise, you'll probably be running the iMac at a slightly slower "automatic CPU" setting to reduce heat & fan noise in the Energy Saver CP in System Preferences
    * If history repeats, 3rd party CPU upgrades will be available for the tower... some day.

    That said, I went for the iMac. Portability was supreme, cost was up there as well.

    Things the iMac does have or support
    LCD display
    USB (3 ports)
    Firewire (2 ports)
    Bluetooth (e.g. wireless keybd/mouse)
    aiport extreme (802.11g) & airtunes
    monitor out
    audio out
    optical audio out
    audio in
    OS X & iLife
    CD/DVD write
    fullsize SATA hard drive
  19. caveman_uk Guest


    Feb 17, 2003
    Hitchin, Herts, UK
    Crucial gives different product codes to the same RAM depending on the machine it's for. They do the same with compact flash for different cameras and it's all the same stuff. So, as long as the specs are identical then it could well be fine. Try it and see. If the machines stable, fine. If it isn't then you need new stuff

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