Has Apple heard our pleas for a lower-cost modular Mac? The single processor 1.8 GHz Power Mac G5 knocks US$500 from the price of it’s dual-processor sibling while matching it in almost every specification. The only significant difference, besides a single CPU, is the use of a 600 MHz memory bus vs. 900 MHz on the dual processor model.
This Power Mac uses the same one-third CPU speed bus found on the iMac G5, which also shares GeForce 5200 Ultra video. With the 17″ 1.8 GHz SuperDrive iMac G5 selling for the same price, it will be interesting to see how this Power Mac fares against it. Points of comparison:
- Apple’s cheapest Cinema Display, the 20″ model, adds $1,299 to the price, but the Power Mac can be used with a conventional CRT display or third-party flat panel display.
- The Power Mac supports dual monitors, but the iMac can only mirror what’s on the built-in display.
- The Power Mac has an 8x DVD burner vs. 4x on the iMac G5.
- The Power Mac has three PCI slots and room for additional internal hard drives; this expansion is lacking in the iMac.
- The Power Mac has FireWire 800, while the iMac is limited to FireWire 400.
In terms of performance, the 1.8 GHz iMac G5 and 1.8 GHz Power Mac G5 Single should be nearly identical, so it comes down to expandability and display flexibility vs. the convenience of having everything in a slim case.
Macworld also compared performance of this single CPU 1.8 GHz model with last year’s 1.8 GHz single processor G5 using the same hard drive and graphics card from the new model to determine how system bus speed impacts performance. In every test but one, the new model was 1-4% slower than last year’s model.
Note that this is one of Apple’s entry-level G5s, which means it uses 33 MHz PCI slots instead of 133 MHz PCI-X and has 4 memory slots instead of 8.
Power Mac G5 Reliability
Reliability ratings are based on statistics compiled by MacInTouch in June 2006, at which time the dual-core Power Mac G5 models had only been on the market for 8 months. Letter grades are based on failure rate: A = 0-6%, B = 7-12%, C = 13-18%, D = 19-24%, and F = 25% or higher. We also note the two components that failed most often.
- G5/1.8 single (June 2003), D+ (19%, logicboard, video card)
- G5/1.8 dual (June 2004), D+ (19%, logicboard, optical drive)
- G5/2.0 dual (June 2004), C- (17%, logicboard, hard or optical drive)
- G5/2.5 dual (June 2004), F (26%, logicboard, hard drive)
- G5/1.8 single (Oct. 2004), D+ (19%, hard drive, logicboard)
- G5/2.3 dual (April 2005), B- (11%, logicboard, power supply)
- G5/2.7 dual (April 2005), D (22%, logicboard, power supply)
In each generation, except for the final dual-core one, the fastest model is the least reliable, while the second-fastest is the most reliable. Logicboards are the most expensive component to repair, followed by the power supply. Hard drives, optical drives, video cards, and RAM can be replaced inexpensively using third-party components.
- Got a G3, G4, or G5 Power Mac? Join G-List.
- Our Mac OS 9 Group is for those using Mac OS 9, either natively or in Classic Mode.
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- Our Leopard Forum is for those using Mac OS X 10.5.
- Our Leopard Group is for those using Mac OS X 10.5 and 10.6.
- introduced 2004.10.19 with 256 MB RAM, 80 GB hard drive at $1,499; discontinued 2005.06.20
- Supported Mac OS Versions
- CPU: 1.8 GHz PowerPC 970
- Bus: 600 MHz (one-third CPU speed)
- Geekbench 2 (Leopard): 1049
- Geekbench 2 (Tiger): 1089
- RAM: 256 MB, expandable to 4 GB using pairs of 400 MHz PC3200 RAM, 4 RAM slots
- L2 cache: 512 KB on-chip L2 cache
- L3 cache: none
- Video: AGP 8x
- Nvidia GeForce FX5200 Ultra, 64 MB, standard
- Optional: ATI Radeon 9600 XT, 128 MB; ATI Radeon 9800 XT, 256 MB; Nvidia GeForce FX6800 Ultra, 64 MB
- VRAM: 64 MB (Nvidia) or 128 MB (Radeon 9600)
- Hard drive bus: 1.5 Gbps SATA Rev. 1
- Hard drive: 80 Serial ATA (SATA) 7200 rpm
- Optical drive bus: ATA/100 bus
- optical drive: 8x SuperDrive on Ultra ATA/100 bus
- 3 33 MHz 64-bit PCI slots
- Modem: internal 56k v.92
- Microphone: standard 3.5mm minijack, compatible with line-level input, not compatible with Apple’s PlainTalk microphone
- FireWire: 2 FW400 ports (1 on front), 1 FW800 port
- USB: 3 USB 2.0 ports (1 on front)
- Ethernet: 10/100/gigabit
- WiFi: antenna and connector for 802.11g AirPort Extreme card
- Bluetooth: built in, optional antenna
- PRAM battery: 3V CR2032 lithium
- power supply: 450W 661-2903
- size (HxWxD): 20.1″ x 8.1″ x 18.7″ (51.1 x 20.6 x 47.5 cm)
- Weight: 39.2 lb. (17.8 kg)
- Gestalt ID: n/a
- model number: M9454
- PRAM battery: 3.6V half-AA
Accelerators & Upgrades
- none likely
- Best Power Mac G5 Deals.
- Getting the Most from Your Power Mac G5
- Best Classic Mac OS Deals. Best online prices for System 6, 7.1, 7.5.x, Mac OS 7.6, 8.0, 8.1, 8.5, 9.0, 9.2.2, and other versions.
- Best Mac OS X 10.0-10.3 Deals. Best online prices for Mac OS X 10.0, 10.1, 10.2, and 10.3.
- Best Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger Deals. Best online prices for Mac OS X 10.4.
- Best Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard Deals. Best online prices for Mac OS X 10.5.
- What’s the Best Version of OS X for My Mac?, Ian R Campbell, The Sensible Mac, 2008.02.28. Which version of Mac OS X is best for your hardware depends on several factors.
- How Fast Is Classic Mode on a Power Mac G5?, Dan Knight, Mac Daniel, 2014.08.21. We run several benchmark tests from the Classic Mac OS era on a dual 2.3 GHz Power Mac G5 to see how well Classic Mode fares.
- The ‘Better Safe Than Sorry’ Guide to Installing Mac OS X Updates, Charles W Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2008.12.16. Most users encounter no problems using Software Update, but some preflight work and using the Combo updater means far less chance of trouble.
- Why You Should Partition Your Mac’s Hard Drive, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2008.12.11. “At the very least, it makes sense to have a second partition with a bootable version of the Mac OS, so if you have problems with your work partition, you can boot from the ’emergency’ partition to run Disk Utility and other diagnostics.”
- The Future of Up-to-Date Browsers for PowerPC Macs, Charles W Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2009.08.31. With Intel-only “Snow Leopard” shipping, software support for PPC Macs will continue its decline. Also, a look at SeaMonkey 2 and Camino 1.6.9.
- Optimized Software Builds Bring Out the Best in Your Mac, Dan Knight, Low End Mac’s Online Tech Journal, 2009.06.30. Applications compiled for your Mac’s CPU can load more quickly and run faster than ones compiled for universal use.
- Tips for Installing or Reinstalling Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, Adam Rosen, Adam’s Apple, 2009.06.10. Mac OS X 10.4 uses less memory than Leopard, supports Classic Mode on PowerPC Macs, and, unlike Leopard, is supported on G3 Macs.
- Choosing My Next Low-end Desktop Mac, John Hatchett, Recycled Computing, 2009.05.19. The recently deceased iBook G4 was going to take up desktop duty. Now the options are a G4 iMac, 17″ PowerBook, Power Mac G4, and Power Mac G5.
- PowerPC Architecture Was Not a Failure, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2009.02.16. CNET’s Brooke Crothers calls PowerPC a failed architecture, but 12 years of PowerPC Macs, IBM’s blade servers, and three game consoles tell a different story.
- Will Snow Leopard Support Some PowerPC Macs?, Simon Royal, Tech Spectrum, 2008.11.26. It just doesn’t make sense that Apple would ship a new OS that won’t support Macs sold less than three years ago.
- Leopard runs very nicely on PowerPC Macs, Simon Royal, Tech Spectrum, 2008.11.19. Some claim that Mac OS X 10.5 is so optimized for Intel Macs that it runs poorly on PowerPC hardware. That’s simply not the case.
- The future of PowerPC Macs and software as ‘Snow Leopard’ approaches, Simon Royal, Tech Spectrum, 2008.11.13. Apple phased out Classic Mode and G3 support with ‘Leopard’ last year, and next year’s OS X 10.6 won’t support any PowerPC Macs. Will other developers abandon PowerPC as well?
- How to clone Mac OS X to a new hard drive, Simon Royal, Tech Spectrum, 2008.10.07. Whether you want to put a bigger, faster drive in your Mac or clone OS X for use in another Mac, here’s the simple process.
- Tiger vs. Leopard: Which is best for you?, Simon Royal, Tech Spectrum, 2008.09.22. Two great versions of Mac OS X, but unless your Mac is well above the minimum spec for Leopard and has lots of RAM, stick with Tiger.
- Apple Trumps Microsoft in Making the 64-bit Transition Transparent to Users, Frank Fox, Stop the Noiz, 2008.09.18. To use more than 4 GB of RAM under Windows, you need a 64-bit PC and the 64-bit version of Windows. On the Mac, OS X 10.4 and later already support it.
- Does running OS X system maintenance routines really do any good?, Charles W Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2008.08.26. Mac OS X is designed to run certain maintenance routines daily, weekly, and monthly – but can’t if your Mac is off or asleep.
- The Compressed Air Keyboard Repair, Charles W Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2008.07.24. If your keyboard isn’t working as well as it once did, blasting under the keys with compressed air may be the cure.
- Mac Pro overclocking, Windependence with Darwine, Blu-ray for Macs, and more, Mac News Review, 2008.07.04. Also more on running Leopard on non-Apple hardware, Ubuntu on a Mac mini, the first autofocus webcam with Zeiss optics for Macs, and more.
- PowerPC’s last chance: The Mac’s history with the G5 CPU, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2008.06.24. The introduction of the G5 Power Mac in June 2003 promised a bright 3 GHz future, and failure to achieve that paved the way to today’s Intel Macs.
- Snow Leopard and the Death of PowerPC Support, Carl Nygren, Classic Macs in the Intel Age, 2008.06.23. It looks like Mac OS X 10.6 will only support Intel Macs – and possibly only 64-bit ones at that. Should G4 and G5 owners start looking at Linux?
- Virtual PC works with Leopard, Intel vs. PowerPC performance, beyond the Mac mini, and more, Dan Knight, Low End Mac Mailbag, 2008.05.20. Also upgrading Intel iMacs, Compact Flash in a PowerBook 2400, and thoughts on low-end Macs.
- Power Mac G5 vs. Intel Mac mini, video thumbnails lost in migration, OCR software, and more, Dan Knight, Low End Mac Mailbag, 2008.03.17. Also HARMONi compatibility with Mac OS X 10.4, a dual processor G4 auction, Internet access by digital phone, and more.
- 2.6 GHz MacBook Pro worth it?, iBook video fixed, Compact Flash vs. SSD, and more, Dan Knight, Low End Mac Mailbag, 2008.03.13. Also buying a used Power Mac G4, a Power Mac 7600 still in daily use, OCR software for modern Macs, and Leopard on a Blue and White G3.
- Leopard on a Cube, G4 CPU swap limitations, Power Mac G5 a good choice?, and more, Dan Knight, Low End Mac Mailbag, 2008.03.06. Also looking for a scanner that works with Panther and the hsitory of expansion slots in low-cost Macs.
- Safari 3.1 will be ‘crazy fast’, OS X 10.5.2 update, 20x SuperDrive from $35, and more, Mac News Review, 2008.02.15. Also Security Update for Tiger, Graphics Update for Leopard, Mac mini “as powerful as a larger desktop”, TechTool Deluxe update, and more.
- Restore stability to a troubled Mac with a clean system install, Keith Winston, Linux to Mac, 2008.01.15. If your Mac is misbehaving, the best fix just might be a fresh reinstallation of Mac OS X – don’t forget to backup first.
- How to Upgrade a G5’s Optical Drive, Rob Griffiths, Macworld, 2007.10.17. How to replace the older, slower optical drive in a Power Mac G5 with a newer, faster, dual-layer mechanism.
- External $100 Sony DVD burner likes Macs, Brian Gray, Fruitful Editing, 2007.10.10. The box and manual say nothing about Mac compatibility, but this 18x USB 2.0 DVD burner is plug-and-play (at least with Tiger).
- APG Card Compatibility, The Mac Elite, 2007.08.09. Guide to which ATI and Nvidia AGP video cards are compatible with which AGP Power Macs.
- Allegro USB 2.0 a great way to add several USB 2.0 ports to your Power Mac, Dan Knight, Low End Mac Reviews, 2007.03.28. You can never have too many USB ports. Whether your Power Mac has no USB 2.0 ports or too few, this $30 card is a great way to add the ports you need.
- 11 No Cost Tips for Optimizing Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger Performance, Ed Eubanks Jr, The Efficient Mac User, 2007.03.12. If your Mac is getting sluggish, here are 11 tips that can help restore its original performance.
- Region Free DVD Viewing Options for Intel and PowerPC Macs, Andrew J Fishkin, The Mobile Mac, 2006.09.12. Several hardware and software options that will let your view ‘wrong region’ DVDs on your PowerPC or Intel Mac.
- Power Mac G5 Reliability, Robert Mohns, Macintouch, 2006.07.06. On average, 17% of Power Mac G5 units require repair within their first year of use. That drops to 9% for the second year.
- Macs take away Microsoft pain, Macs revive James Bond, iMac king of all media, iWoofer, and more, Mac News Review, 2006.06.16. Also Windows users guide to switching to the Mac, Bluetooth firmware update for PPC Macs, universal USB 2.0 drive adapter, waterproof case for video iPod, and more.
- Drive matters, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2006.06.14. There’s more to picking the right hard drive than size, spindle speed, buffer size, and price. But how can a 5400 rpm drive ever outperform a 7200 rpm drive?
- iBook, Power Mac 1.8GHz Benchmarks, James Galbraith, Macworld, 11.02. How the slower memory bus on the new single CPU Power Mac G5/1.8 GHz impacts performance.
- Sonata SD, Sonnet Tech, 2004.06.01. First new PCI video card for the Mac in ages sells for just US$99, supports OS 7.5.3 and later plus OS X 10.1.5 and later, works with VGA or old Mac monitors, 16 MB VRAM. Also compatible with PCI-X slots in G5.
- Apple Specs: Power Macintosh G5
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