Apple and Nvidia
the GeForce3 to the world at February’s Macworld Expo Tokyo. Steve Jobs indicated during his keynote address that the new chip would be “available first on the Mac.” The Apple Store immediately began accepting pre-orders for Power Mac G4 systems offering a new graphics card based on the GeForce3 chip as a build-to-order option. Apple also announced the pending availability of a GeForce3 Video Card Kit for other Power Mac G4 systems, to be released in April.
Now reports indicate that users are receiving word from the Apple Store that those GeForce3-equipped Power Macs, already overdue, will be a while longer. Apple now expects the cards to be ready sometime in May. Because of the delay, Apple is now offering backordered Power Mac G4 buyers choices — they can either cancel their orders all together, wait for the GeForce3 to be ready, or they can take hold of their order now, substituting the unavailable GeForce3 card with one based on the GeForce2 MX chipset, instead. Apple’s revised estimate for the GeForce3 Video Card Kit is now “late May.”
While the GeForce2 MX chips has considerably lower performance than the GeForce3, there’s an upside to the substitution. Once available, Apple will send GeForce3 cards to those Power Mac G4 buyers who opt for the slower card. Best of all, Apple doesn’t appear to be expecting the GeForce2 MX-based cards back. It may be a convenient offer for users who have another AGP-equipped Mac that they can drop the GeForce2 MX card into once the GeForce3 cards arrive.
Apple has also dropped the price of the cards to bring them more in line with what the PC market will bear. Originally available as a US$350 build-to-order substitution for the Power Mac G4’s stock GeForce2 MX graphics card, the GeForce3 is now available for only $250 extra instead. Likewise, the GeForce3 Video Card Kit offered by Apple is now only $499 — it had been $599 previously. At an effective street price of $500, Apple’s GeForce3 card is now closer to what many PC vendors are charging for their cards. In fact, Apple’s even beaten a few. Of course, graphics cards are a notoriously volatile market. It’ll take careful adjusting for Apple to stay in line with what PC graphics card makers charge.
In other news, the Apple Store now notes that the GeForce3 Video Card Kit requires a Power Mac G4 with a 4x AGP bus. When the kit was first introduced following February’s Macworld Expo Tokyo, Apple noted the AGP requirement but did not specify 4x. This means that Apple is only supporting the use of the kit with Power Mac G4 systems built since January. Apple revised the Power Mac G4 design in January with a new motherboard architecture that now features 4x AGP. This also effectively excludes Cube users from upgrading to the new card — the Cube sports a 2x AGP interface.