If you don’t read any further, at least you know how I feel about Apple’s dual 2GHz G5. The company has delivered not only the fastest Macintosh to date, but also one of the fastest personal computers in the world.
I first saw the Power Mac G5 when Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled it at the Worldwide Developers Conference keynote in June. I must admit that my first thought upon seeing the new computer was that Apple had surrendered its sense of leading-edge industrial design in a quest for speed. Even when I played around with the G5 after the keynote, I kept wondering why Apple couldn’t have maintained the cool look of the machines it’s put out over the past couple years and still accomodate the speed of the G5.
It wasn’t until I got an extended opportunity to work with the G5 that I realized that Apple had, in fact, continued the commitment to design that has won the company so many accolades over the last three or four years.
Since the introduction of the Blue and White G3 desktop Macs, Apple has gone from a normal computer fan, to no fan in the Cube (still one of my favorite computers), to a noisy fan in some of the recent Power Mac G4s, to a whopping nine fans in the Power Mac G5. Nine fans! And yet, when they’re side-by-side, I can hear the noise of my dual 1GHz G4 over the G5 — that is amazing.
The attention to detail in the G5’s industrial design becomes apparent when you take off the side of the case and start to see how the engineers managed to funnel air from one end of the computer to the other. The entire front and back of the G5 are big vents, channeling air through to the different components inside the aluminum case.
The G5 case is much bigger than its predecessor — put the G5 next to a dual G4 and it makes the G4 look like a child’s toy. But it’s not just the design, or the fact that the G5 is faster than the G4, that people are talking about. This time Apple decked out the G5 with a full complement of new technologies to ensure that people are more productive when they work and have more fun when they play.
The G5s have a new processor based on IBM’s 970, but more importantly, they have a completely new architecture. Speed bottlenecks in previous machines have been overcome, offering developers the power they need to build the next generation of their applications.
The 64-bit G5 microprocessor features full support for 32-bit applications, can handle 215 simultaneous in-flight instructions, and sports two double-precision floating-point units and an optimized Velocity Engine. The chips are also designed for full support of symmetric multi-processing (SMP).
The new systems are equipped with standard Nvidia GeForceFX 5200 or ATI Radeon 9600 Pro graphics cards, Gigabit Ethernet, FireWire 800, two FireWire 400 ports, and, for the first time on the Macintosh, three USB 2.0 ports. And they are the first personal computers to offer built-in TOSLINK optical digital audio input and output, which means they’re ready to be a central part of surround sound systems for content creation and playback.
Having new technologies is fine, but if they really don’t make our working life easier, they don’t really help us. The G5 certainly lives up to Apple’s claims that people will notice the benefits these machines deliver.
If you only use a Mac to to browse the Web with Safari and check e-mail, you’ll still feel the speed with which the machine boots, and the increased responsiveness of the system and Finder. Professional users, who work with high-end production applications such as Photoshop or Macromedia MX Studio, will appreciate the difference when launching and working within the programs. (See
Macworld’s benchmark tests
on the G5).
The Power Mac G5 has refocused attention on Apple as a viable option in the computer wars. IBM and Apple have done a great job, and users can take advantage of it right now. And Steve Jobs’ promise that G5 speeds will grow to 3GHz by the summer of 2004 shows that the companies are fully committed to this processor, which means future customers have a lot to look forward to.