Apple talks expansion, noise, dual processor systems
By Dennis Sellers
If you’re considering buying one of
Apple’s new dual processor Power Macs, you may be wondering “Are they expandable?” and “Do they run louder than previous models?” According to Apple, the answers are “yes” and “no,” respectively.
The new systems are designed for maximum expandability, with four PCI slots and one AGP slot, four drive bays and two optical bays. In other words, you can, for example, have a Power Mac with a SuperDrive and a combo (DVD-ROM/CD-RW) drive — in case, as Apple puts it, you want to watch a DVD at the same time as you’re burning your own movie masterpiece.
You can also take advantage of four 3.5-inch bays. The Power Mac G4 comes with one 7200-rpm ATA drive pre-installed on a ribbon cable that has a connector for a second drive. There’s also a second ATA bus, so you can have four internal ATA drives — two Ultra ATA/100 and two Ultra ATA/66. Or you can also choose to install SCSI drives in any of the four drive bays, attaching them to a SCSI PCI card (sold separately) with a ribbon cable.
Apple thinks that most users will order the extra goodies as BTO (build to order) options. But if you do buy a system, then want to beef it up later, you can, though you’ll have to shop around.
“We don’t sell hard drives or optical bay kits separately,” Tom Boger, director of Power Mac product marketing, told MacCentral. “However, there are many retailers that offer internal optical drives and hard drives.”
Plus, VARs (value added resellers) like to customize solutions for their customers, he added. Boger recommended that those interested in after-the-fact expansion check with resellers or the companies that make the installable components to make sure they’re a fit with the new systems. What’s more, a good online guide is
Apple’s own Product Guide, which lists various categories of software and hardware products.
If you do buy one of the new systems, you’ll find that it generates about the same amount of noise as the previous generation of pro systems, Boger said. And that’s something Apple is proud of, he added.
“We’re offering a lot more internal capability and faster processors without growing the physical dimension of the enclosure or significantly increasing the noise level,” he said. “We’ve added internal circuitry that controls the fan speed based on temperature.”
However, if you trick out your system with the maximum amount of hard drives and are doing processor intensive calculation, the fans will spin faster and you’ll probably notice an increase in the level of ambient noise. Overall, the new systems are being very well received, Boger said.
“With the release of Jaguar and an all dual processor lineup in our pro systems, our professional customers, and several new customers, are excited about the systems,” Boger said. “It’s been a while since we’ve seen this many of our pro uses planning to upgrade.”