Wednesday, May 04, 2005

iMac G5 May 2005: An excellent update

Apple yesterday released the new iMac G5. Although many of the updates are fairly small, there are a ton of them, and Apple has either kept the price the same (at the low end) or decreased the price (at the high end). Some of the updates include:

1) CPU speedbumps. The top speed is now 2.0 GHz, still with the G5 970FX.
2) 256 -> 512 MB RAM. This one's especially nice since the 512 MB is one stick, leaving the second DIMM slot free for additional RAM.
3) Increased hard drive space. The minimum size now is 160 MB, and the top end gets 250, with the option to upgrade to 400 GB.
4) 8X dual-layer DVD+/-RW SuperDrive. This is likely the Panasonic UJ-845.
5) GeForce FX 5200U -> Radeon 9600. ATI's Radeon 9600 is certainly not a stellar performer, but it is a definite improvement. Games will be faster, and so will Core Image/Core Video/Motion. However, just as importantly it's a big marketing win for Apple. People respect the 9600 name much more than the 5200, even if the 9600 is still relatively low end.
6) 64 MB -> 128 MB GPU memory. This is a nice bonus for video games at higher resolutions, and for some people (who like a lot of open windows) the extra memory may be important for Exposé on the 20" iMacs.
7) Gigabit Ethernet. For most of us this is unimportant, but it will be useful for some institutional settings and for some looking at the iMac for video work, etc.
8) Integrated Bluetooth 2.0. We benefit because we all get Bluetooth now, and we have Bluetooth 2.0 compatibility for the future. Apple benefits because it simplifies the stocking of iMac models.
9) Airport Extreme. Quite frankly, I'm surprised Apple decided to do this, but see #8. I'm not complaining.
10) International power supply. You can now buy a US iMac and use it in China, without having to get an expensive adapter.
11) Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger. This is expected and welcome to home users, but may prove problematic for some institutional purchases. It will be some time before everyone upgrades to Tiger because of new bugs that have not unexpectedly cropped up. Many in this situation would rather not purchase a lot of machines only capable of running an OS they haven't had time to test.
12) Ambient light sensor. When the new iMac is sleeping, its pulsating sleep light fades when low light conditions are sensed "so you and your iMac G5 can both catch some Zs".

Overall, this is an excellent update. In fact I was so bowled over by the new update I ordered one for myself:

20" iMac G5 2.0 GHz
512 MB RAM (to be upgraded to 1.5 GB)
400 GB SATA drive
Wireless Bluetooth keyboard and mouse

My new machine is shipping next week. :)


Anonymous said...

You should match the memory modules. Check this info from Ramjet:

Overview: The stylish new iMac G5 has two memory slots, one of which will be filled by the factory with your original RAM. Memory does not have to be installed in pairs, but a performance gain is realized if memory is installed as matched pairs (i.e. same size MB module in both slots). This pairing enables your memory controller to address both DIMMs as a single 128bit memory bank.

Eug said...

Thanks the comment, but I'm aware that I'll lose out on dual channel support by adding unmatched RAM (1 x 1024 MB, with the stock 1 x 512 MB).

However, the impact on the vast majority of usage will likely be minor. I believe I'll get a bigger boost for some usage by going with single channel 1.5 GB than dual channel 1.0 GB.

Ideally I could go with dual channel 2.0 GB, but I didn't really want to spend the extra money right now.

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