Making my (nearly) two year old iMac G5 the best Mac it can be

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by iMacZealot, Feb 16, 2007.

  1. iMacZealot macrumors 68020

    Mar 11, 2005
    That's right. You read the title.

    I bought it on 5/5/05, so it's almost two years old. It's a 17", 2.0 GHz, Superdrive, and has .5 GB RAM. It also has a 160 GB hard disk, and I have to external hard disks: an 80 GB FireLite, and a 100 GB Firelite. Of the 340 GB I have, I've used almost 275 GB. I do a lot of video editing in Final Cut Express, and I think I'm ready to upgrade to Final Cut Studio. Before I do that, though, I want to make my iMac the best Mac it can be.

    I'm starting with the RAM. 512 MB RAM sounded like a lot to me when I first purchased it (coming from a G3 running at 500 MHz with 128 MB RAM.) FCE runs fine in it, but I'd like to bump it up to 1.5 GB. I talked to a guy at the Apple Store and he said that there was no point in buying Apple RAM. So, I think I might go with Crucial RAM. Any better suggestions?

    I think I might get another hard disk to install all the files for Final Cut Studio, as it requires 42 GB, and I only have 16 GB on my internal, 7 on my 80 GB external, and 44 on my 100 GB external (which is my scratch disk in FCE.) I like the FireLites, but I'd like something that gave me a little more GB for my $$$. Any suggestions?

    I want to make my G5 as fast as it can be so it can continue to fulfill my needs for up to another two years. What else can I do to make it a faster machine?

  2. dllavaneras macrumors 68000


    Feb 12, 2005
    Caracas, Venezuela
    I'd start with the RAM, and then upgrading the hard-drive to a bigger and/or faster one. I think Video editing may benefit from a faster (7500 or 10000 rpm) hard drive, but I'm not sure :)

    EDIT: by upgrading the hard drive I mean the internal one
  3. Allotriophagy macrumors 6502a

    Sep 5, 2006
    You might like to weigh up the cost of extra RAM and new hard drives with the cost of a refurbished Core Duo 17" iMac minus however much you can sell your G5 for.

    Have a look at this page here - machines similar to yours are going for anything from $600 to $1000, for some very odd reason.

    Compare that to the refurb prices here - machines with dedicated X1600 graphics start at $950 (though you may need to buy more RAM) or $800 for the GMA950 integrated ones.

    Just a thought, really!
  4. dllavaneras macrumors 68000


    Feb 12, 2005
    Caracas, Venezuela
    Somehow that idea sounds much better than mine :) I'd go for the one with a dedicated video card...
  5. iMacZealot thread starter macrumors 68020

    Mar 11, 2005
    Oh, no, I meant getting another external hard disk.

    Geez, you guys pointed out a good idea! I have about $600 saved up, and I've been debating several ways of spending it.

    I initially started thinking about buying a used PowerBook G4 12" off eBay, as they were very cheap last summer. Although, I'm always a little wary of what's on eBay, and, as expected, the price of PowerPC's have gone up.

    So I bought a new Sony DCR-HC36 and the 100 GB FireLite around September.

    After Christmas, I was back up to almost $600, and I initally started thinking about saving up for a MacBook. I'm a film editor, and what I do is I go to concerts around the country (occasionally world), film the band, make a 3-5 minute video, and then they put it up on their website. I thought about developing a system where I could bring the MacBook to the venue, begin importing (perhaps while I'm filming, if that's possible), begin editing, and then save the project to one of my FireLites and finish it on the G5 when I got home. However, I started to wonder how beneficial this would be. I probably would only use it one out of every 6-8 weeks. (I also considered a MacBook Pro for a while, too.)

    Then, I started talking to my dad, and he told me to save up for a Mac Pro. He thought that I might have enough money in a 1-1.5 years to buy one and that I could really use the power of the Pro.

    However, a few days ago, I thought that I should probably upgrade my iMac and upgrade to Final Cut Studio, as it's still a great computer. However, you have pointed out that I could just get a new iMac (minus the money I'd make in selling the G5) for the price of an upgrade.

    The two mistakes I made when I bought my G5 was 1) misjudging the hard disk space (hence the extra 180 GB in external storage) and 2) misjudging the screen real estate performance (I never realised how much space I'd need for FCE's timeline.)

    A 20" would be nice, but I guess I could go for another 17 again. Although, I'd certainly have to get the one with the X1600 graphics because FCS won't run on GMA. FCE will, but not FCS (which I don't have yet.) Plus, the GMA model is only a combo drive, which doesn't really work for me.

    I'd probably have to get a 250 GB hard disk, but I know I'd fill it up rather quickly considering that I only have 16 GB left of my 160 internal disk.

    1 GB of RAM would probably be fine for me. I could probably get a 1 GB stick to increase it to 1.5 GB pretty cheaply.

    Would a 2.16 GHz processor be much faster than a 2.0 GHz processor? Would I see a decrease in render time?

    So, if I were to get a 2.0 GHz 17" iMac with 1 GB RAM and a 250 GB hard disk, the total would be $1,167 (I can get an edu discount.) Now, if I sold my G5, I could probably get $800-900 for it (with Tiger, iLife '06, and FCE 3.5.) Hmmmmm.......very interesting. I just wonder if maybe I should save up for a better system I could get later on.

    What do you think?
  6. Allotriophagy macrumors 6502a

    Sep 5, 2006
    The MacBook would possibly outperform the G5. Perhaps you might consider a laptop for all your needs, with lots of external storage and a nice big screen for when you are at your desk?

    I had a 17" G5 iMac and upgraded to the 24". The difference in the screen size is astounding. I always liked the 17", as Expose and other Apple tricks made working with multiple documents very easy and fluid. But having the 24" and higher resolution is just orders of magnitude better.

    You could get the 17" and use an external monitor in conjunction.

    Seems to me like you just need to get some sufficiently large external drives. Or learn how to delete stuff. ;)

    You would not see a significant difference.

    I definitely think you should get the best system you can afford - it will last longer. Plus you use this system to earn your living. Increased working efficiency, reduced rendering/production/whatever all adds up to money in the bank or at least more free time or time to work on other things.

    I am inclined to think...sell the G5, get the refurbished 17" CD with X1600, upgrade the RAM a bit, sort out some increased external space (get new drives for your enclosures), maybe get a second monitor.

    You have a fair few options if a new machine is your decision. The limiting factor is cost.
  7. iMacZealot thread starter macrumors 68020

    Mar 11, 2005
    Oh, and if I were to get the Mac Pro, I could replace my mom's iMac G3 (which used to be mine) with the G5. But, the G3 seems to be going strong.

    Oh, what to do, what to do, what to do...
  8. Allotriophagy macrumors 6502a

    Sep 5, 2006
    Oh I dunno. It is all a bit too hard.

    Throw everything out and use pen and paper.

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