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Is this the last of the G5 PowereMac machines before the switch to Intel?
Apple’s current top of the line PowerMac is a nice machine, featuring
dual 64-bit PowerPC G5 processors running at 2.7 GHz and including Mac
OS® X version 10.4  “Tiger”. The new Power Mac G5 line delivers
higher performance graphics options with more memory and built-in
support for Apple’s breakthrough 30-inch Cinema HD Display on the 2.7
GHz model. The new line also includes larger hard drives, a faster 16X
SuperDrive(TM) with double-layer support and 512MB of memory across the
line.

“The Power Mac G5 continues to deliver the ultimate performance for our
most advanced customers running bandwidth- and compute-intensive
applications,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of
Worldwide Product Marketing. “With dual 2.7 GHz 64-bit G5 processors,
dual 1.35 GHz front side buses, ATI Radeon 9650 graphics, 16X
SuperDrive with double-layer support and Mac OS X Tiger, the new Power
Mac G5 is the most powerful and advanced Mac we have ever made.”

Features

Powered by dual 64-bit PowerPC G5 processors, the Power Mac G5 provides
a 128-bit memory architecture, delivers expansion of up to 8GB of fast
400 MHz DDR SDRAM and supports graphics cards with up to 256MB of video
memory. The top model features two 2.7 GHz processors, each with an
independent 1.35 GHz front-side bus for a bandwidth of up to 21.6
GBps. 

All new Power Mac G5 models come standard with dual-display support
with either the ATI Radeon 9600 graphics card with 128MB of video
memory or the ATI Radeon 9650 with 256MB of video memory.  The new
Power Mac G5 line gives users new graphics options to drive Apple’s
gorgeous 30-inch Cinema HD Display. The dual processor 2.7 GHz Power
Mac G5 features built-in support to drive one 30-inch Cinema HD Display
right out of the box.  Available as a build-to-order option on
every model, the NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra DDL high-performance
graphics card can drive up to two 30-inch Apple Cinema HD Displays.

Every Power Mac G5 ships with a new, faster 16X SuperDrive with
double-layer support capable of burning up to 8.5GB on a single DVD,
512MB memory and larger hard drives for up to 800GB of internal
storage, all within the Power Mac G5′s signature aluminum enclosure
featuring innovative computer-controlled cooling for quiet operation.

The Power Mac G5 that we tested, with a suggested retail price of $2,999 (US), includes:

*    Dual 2.7 GHz 64-bit PowerPC G5;

*    512MB 400 MHz DDR SDRAM (8GB maximum);

*    250GB Serial ATA 7200 rpm hard drive;

*    AGP 8X Pro graphics slot;

*    ATI Radeon 9650 with 256MB DDR SDRAM and support for one 30-inch Apple Cinema HD Display;

*    3 PCI-X slots (one 64-bit 133 MHz, two 64-bit 100 MHz); and

*    16X SuperDrive (DVD+R DL/DVD±R/CD-RW).

Build-to-order options include up to 8GB of RAM, 250GB, 400GB and two
400GB Serial ATA hard drives, Combo (DVD-ROM/CD-RW) drive, graphics
cards (ATI Radeon 9600, ATI Radeon 9650, and NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra
DDL), AirPort® Extreme Card, Bluetooth module, internal v.92 56K modem,
Apple Fibre Channel PCI-X Card, Apple PCI-X Gigabit Ethernet card and
Mac OS X Server version 10.4 “Tiger.”

In Use

Well, this is certainly a fast Mac. Overall it is faster to use than a
pure CPU speed comparison would give because of the improvements to the
video, internal bus and memory speed. We used it to do some work with
Motion 2 and the new FCP, and certainly noticed much snappier
performance. Also in some fractal rendering we got render times of 11.3
seconds compared to 16.3 seconds on a dual 2.0GHz G5 machine, trimming
some 30% off the render time. This calculation is dependent on memory
and processor speed.

Speed aside, the PowerMac’s have some issues, in my view. Firstly they
have far too few ports. On the back there are only two USB 2.0, one
FireWire 400 and one FireWire 800 port. The front adds one more USB and
a FireWire 400 port. A pretty bare bones HP desktop that is sitting
here for review comes with six USB on the back and two on the front. If
Apple is serious about the PowerMac as being a professional workstation
then they need to add more ports. I also find the capacity for only two
internal hard drives is inadequate. Sure with drive capacities up that
means you can fit a lot of data inside, but with the norm on PCs of the
same size being three drives, Apple tends to push you to externals
sooner than many people would like.

Given the size of the case, I’d like to see three internal drive bays,
six USB ports on the back, two on the front, plus at least the existing
FireWire ports. I guess we will have to wait for the first Intel
PowerMac for any hope of this. Since this unit never really seems to
run hot, it certainly has the cooling capacity to cope with more
expansion.

And that brings us to the big question: how many people will be put off
buying one of these while they wait for the first of the Intel models?
Only Apple’s sales figures will tell that, and I suspect they will be a
most closely guarded secret. If people do hold off it will be a shame,
because this is mostly one lovely system. Apart from the lack of ports,
it is great. Powerful, easy to use and setup, at the moment if you need
a very fast Mac this unit is the way to go. Recommended.

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