Friday, October 21, 2005

The Quad Power Mac G5 is a bargain

Apple's Power Macs aren't usually known for being the cheapest on the block, but the new Power Mac G5 Quad brings quad machines into the mainstream. Not only can it be a good value as an ultra high end personal desktop computer (if for instance you need the extra speed for applications such as video encoding, etc.), it is quite the bargain as a professional 3D workstation. Let's compare the Power Mac configured as a 3D workstation to similarly configured AMD Opteron workstations:

Apple Power Mac G5 Quad

2.5GHz dual dual-core IBM PowerPC G5 970MP
Quadro FX 4500 512 MB GDDR3
250 GB Serial ATA hard drive
16x SuperDrive

Boxx 7400

2.2 GHz dual dual-core AMD Opteron 275
nVidia Quadro FX 4500 512 MB
250 GB Serial ATA hard drive
16x SuperDrive

2.4 GHz Quad-core AMD Opteron 280
nVidia Quadro FX 4500 512 MB GDDR3
250 GB Serial ATA hard drive
16x SuperDrive

The quad 2.2 GHz Opteron is over 20% more expensive than the quad 2.5 Mac.

In terms of non-workstation desktops however, one big drawback for some is that the available PCIe video cards for the Mac are few. Aside from the the very expensive Quadro FX 4500, the only option is the nVidia GeForce 6600 (or the 6600 LE on the low end Power Mac). The 6600 a fast card, but it is not state of the art. Apple advertises that a Power Mac with the nVidia GeForce 7800 GT is up to 84% faster than with the GeForce 6600, but unfortunately the 7800 GT is not currently available. That's too bad, because for applications such as Motion and Apple's new flagship photo application, Aperture, a 7800 GT would be most desirable. In fact, both these applications list the 7800 GT as recommended. Therefore it's likely it will become available within a couple of months. (Even if doesn't then perhaps ATI will come in and fill the void with the Radeon X1800. An added bonus with this ATI GPU is that it supports H.264 decode and transcode acceleration, which would be very useful if Apple chooses to support it.)

On the bright side, if you buy a Power Mac with the 6600 now, and then get the 7800 GT later, you could always run both the cards simultaneously, with a total of four Cinema Displays. :)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You could do both GPUs, but I'd say throw the 6600 into the 8x PCI-E slot to make sure you're getting full use of the 7800. Another question I have is, is there a way to force SLI on these new PowerMacs or are the mother boards incapable of this? Maybe on the next generation (which will undoubtedly be Intel-based)...

I agree that the Quad is a beast for its cost. I don't intend on getting a Quadro when I get one, partly because of the cost, but also because of a lack of need for it. In fact, the Quad is overkill for me as a PC, but I have my reasons!