The Apple Power Mac G5 is an impressive upgrade from the pokey Power Mac G4. It uses a new 64 bit processor, which means something (although I’m not yet sure what). It can, because of the 64 bits, support up to 8 GB of RAM, which is, um, a lot. It is a lot quieter then the last generation of Power Macs, which I’ll call the “turboprop” model.
So cheesegrater is far faster then turboprop, can hold far more RAM, and has a better bus, faster FireWire, USB2, and a 4x DVD burner/CD burner which Apple continues to call the SuperDrive (that is funny because I believe it was the Sony 1.44MB floppy drives that could also read the old 800k floppies that was called the “Super Drive.”) What’s not to be impressed about?
Well, Apple is comparing the new model to PCs, talking about its Pentium-trouncing power. Apple goes in cycles. First the new G3s were (briefly) faster then Pentiums and Apple did their “snail” advertising campaign. Then the Macs started lagging, and Apple talked for a long time about the megahertz myth (Mhz is not a good measure of anything) and how the Macs were easier to use, etc. Now the G5 is out and Apple is once again shouting about speed…except that their benchmarks, like most computer benchmarks, are flawed. There are discussions as to why on the web, but I won’t link to them because it appears that the Apple tweaking is just like every other vendor does when using these benchmarks, they attempt to compensate for the different ways that different computer platforms process things and optimize the tests for their platform. Apple’s modifications were actually far less blatant then others have been, most notably the completely dishonest ATI video test results of late. But the point is, if megahertz doesn’t matter, neither do specific and non-standard lab tests. What matters most, it seems to me, is comparing the time it takes to complete tasks in common applications that have been independently optimized by their vendors for each platform. But enough about that.
My biggest gripe with the G5s is the incredible shrinking expansion options. My old G4 has 4 card slots and seven drive bays, so that I can add, say, video capture, an audio processor, a tape drive, and, oh, I dunno, five hard drives. The new G5s, while maintaining the 4 PCI slots, now only allows for two hard drives plus the built-in SuperDrive. Yes, I can add things like tape drives or Zip drives or CD burners or whatever using FireWire, but it is much nicer to just have an integrated unit. And only two hard drives? Sure I can have 500GB of storage, but I have to buy 2 expensive 250GB drives, instead of just popping in all the hard drives I have lying around like I would rather do. 😛 It looks from the photos like the G5 chips, along with their cooling units, are so huge and bulky that they take up most of the available room in the case.
Don’t expect to see a G5 laptop for a while…