The day Steve Jobs announced the first Intel-based Macs would be shipping from Apple by next year, I got several e-mails from friends asking whether they should buy a new Mac now, or wait until the Mactel machines were released.
My answer was this—if you were planning to get a new computer before the announcement, there’s no reason to change your mind now. (As Jason Snell, our editorial director, pointed out in our Intel transition guide, if you’ve got an ailing Mac, do you really want to wait another year or two to replace it?) I also told them that I was planning to buy a new dual-processor Power Mac G5 myself, so I’m putting my money where my mouth is.
Why am I buying a new Mac now instead of waiting? Well, the current system on my desk at home is a dual-867MHz Power Mac G4 (Mirror Drive Door)—and to be honest, it no longer suits my needs. For example, I recently installed MusicMagic Mixer (part of Roxio’s new The Boom Box ), which is an app that analyzes songs in your iTunes library to create better playlists. To go through my entire library (admittedly large at 18,000-plus songs) was going to take more than a week of constant computer power. Encoding video for wedding DVDs I’ve made for friends also takes forever. (In fact, I’ve brought projects into the office just so I can use the dual-2.0GHz Power Mac G5 on my desk).
Part of the reason I’m the multimedia beat person at Macworld is that I actually enjoy playing around with audio and video apps, and things such as audio effects and real-time video transitions benefit greatly from more computing power.
Since I bought my G4 roughly two-and-a-half years ago, I’ve added RAM, replaced the Combo Drive with two Pioneer DVD burners (one a dual-layer burner), swapped out my stock hard drive for a bigger one and added a second hard drive, popped in a USB 2.0 PCI card, and added a USB Bluetooth module. In other words, I’ve done pretty much everything I can do to keep it modern (other than installing a processor upgrade). I consider myself a power user, and rather than sinking any more money into squeezing the last bits of high-end performance out of my current system, it’s worth it to me to invest in a new one now. A new Mac brings faster processors, faster RAM, faster bus speeds, built-in USB 2.0 and (optionally) Bluetooth, a serial ATA hard drive, a stock 16x dual-layer DVD burner, faster and more-powerful graphics, PCI-X, and more.
I had the idea in my head to upgrade to a new Mac before Steve took the stage last week, and I don’t see any reason to change my mind now. You can always wait for something better, faster, and cheaper to come along—but if that’s the way you look at things, you’ll never end up buying anything. Technology moves fast, and just like the old adage about how a car loses half its value the minute you drive it off the lot, so a computer can be considered outdated by the time you’ve unpacked the box it came in. But I’m confident that I’ll be able to use a current Power Mac during and past the Intel switch, so I’m ready.
If you don’t need a new computer now, there’s no reason to buy one—but if you do, there’s no good reason to wait.