When Apple last updated their professional line of
they added more than just a faster processor, the company also changed the architecture of machines. While the form factor of the Power Mac G4 basically remained the same, the machines did get a small facelift.
The dual 1.25GHz Power Mac features Xserve architecture with support for up to 2GB of Double Data Rate (DDR) memory at up to 333 MHz, an ATI Radeon 9000 Pro graphics card (you can custom order the Nvidia GeForce4 MX card or the NVIDIA GeForce4 Titanium) and support for storage up to nearly half a terabyte.
The first thing I noticed when booting the dual 1.25GHz was the incredible amount of noise it made. I have really never heard anything like it before coming from a desktop computer — it sounded more like a rackmount server than a pro system.
Once the system started up the excessive noise went away and the computer settled in to reasonable hum in the background. With the release of a firmware update in late November, Apple took care of the excessive startup noise leaving the system at the same steady hum all the time.
I say that the noise level is reasonable, but to be honest I don’t notice the hum of the computer at all. I don’t find it any noisier than the previous generation 1GHz machines — I think it’s what you get used to. The people that may notice an increased level of noise will be those upgrading from systems two generations ago.
The other thing I noticed when booting the dual 1.25GHz was the speed with which it started. Even with a 25 percent processor increase, I was surprised how fast the machine booted up.
While the increased speed carried over into working with applications, the biggest difference I found was starting Classic in Mac OS X. Whether it’s the speed of the CPU, refinements in the Classic layer or a combination of the two, I have never seen Classic start up so quick.
The dual 1.25GHz comes standard with a 120GB hard drive, 512MB RAM, a SuperDrive and Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar. With the included iApps like iMovie and iDVD it doesn’t take long to turn your desktop computer into a movie-making workstation.
Of course, if you want to take your movie making skills to the next level you could purchase DVD Studio Pro and Final Cut Pro. I would definitely recommend more RAM if you plan to tackle these applications, but the standard configuration works just fine if you plan to stay with the included iApps.
In benchmark tests recently published by our sister publication Macworld magazine, the 1.25GHz machine outshone all other Apple competitors, which makes sense given the higher processor speed. But the new architecture of the current systems didn’t seem to help the dual 1GHz past the previous generation dual 1GHz machine.
The computer also comes with 2 FireWire ports and 2 USB ports (with another two on the included pro keyboard). The systems also have a 256K on-chip level 2 cache and 2MB of DDR SRAM backside level 3 cache per processor, which greatly helps out with speed.
While Apple’s pro machines come equipped with a Gigabit Ethernet port, they don’t include an AirPort wireless card. I think if you are going to spend US$3,300 for a computer it should support all of the most current technologies out of the box.
Given Apple’s commitment to Bluetooth, I would also like to see built-in Bluetooth on their hardware. Using a D-Link Bluetooth adapter wasn’t a big problem for me, but I don’t use very many USB devices so using a port didn’t bother me.
Apple’s included mouse and keyboard are cool looking, but I can’t remember the last time I used an Apple optical mouse. For years I have used a four-button mouse with a scroll wheel to simplify many of the repetitive tasks and surfing the Internet, immediately tossing aside the Apple mouse.
Overall, the dual 1.25GHz Power Mac is definitely a winner, combining speed and architecture to produce the fastest Macintosh to date. The dual 1.25GHz may find its biggest competitor to be the recently released Titanium PowerBook 1GHz — more on that this week.
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