Apple Power Mac G5 dual 2.5GHz

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Apple Power Mac G5 dual 2.5GHz
The 2.5GHz dual-processor Power Mac G5 is an expensive but elegantly designed, fast computer that could use more internal expansion options.

The current Power Mac G5's industrial design -- a gleaming, silent, almost spooky tower of power -- will probably stand in museums long after Moore's Law sweeps away its components. And though we think Mac fans should give more consideration to Apple's tendency to overprice, underconfigure, and minimally support its desktops, including this top-of-the-line Apple Power Mac G5 dual 2.5GHz system, it's hard to argue that the company doesn't have a knack for melding form and function. Based on the results of our new Photoshop and video encoding tests, the Power Mac G5 isn't the fastest PC to have graced CNET Labs, but we don't have any qualms about its performance. This powerful, dual-processor system can lay claim to being the most powerful Mac you can own, and it will well serve creative pros in terms of overall performance and presentation.

Flipping an elegant but sturdy latch opens the Power Mac G5's side panel, which slides off and on so smoothly, other case designers must envy it. The inside has an austere, extremely efficient layout that makes gaming PCs, with their flashing lights and glowing cables, seem as cheesy as the Caesar's Palace casino. There's nary a cable to be seen, brushed metal conceals the liquid coolant running through the heat sinks, fans spin silently, and the cavernous case has wide open spaces to enhance cooling and proper airflow.

As expected, the Power Mac G5 outperformed every other system in Apple's stable; it took top honors on our iTunes and Quake III tests. And it operated sufficiently fast while we worked with apps such as Final Cut Pro HD, Adobe Photoshop CS, and Sorenson Squeeze 4.0, as well as while performing routine tasks, such as calibrating the display with the ColorVision Spyder2Pro and burning discs. We did crash once while downloading video from a MiniDV tape and a few times with Squeeze, but the system recovered well, and it earns high marks for stability.

Apple's use of a last-generation memory bus and relatively low clock-speed chips, however, constrains its performance on these types of specialised apps. For instance, single-processor PCs with faster CPUs easily outperformed the Power Mac dual 2.5GHz on our new Photoshop test, which is memory-bandwidth intensive. The same holds true for our new, CPU-intensive video-encoding test, where a large gap in raw processing speed ultimately overwhelms the advantages of a second processor.

Unfortunately, the Power Mac G5's design often opts for elegance over expedience. It has only a single bay suitable for an optical drive, which comes equipped with either a CD-RW/DVD-ROM or a DVD-R/CD-RW drive. We'd appreciate the option of having at least two optical drive bays, even if it meant losing some of the Power Mac G5's visual appeal. Though the system supports speedy Serial ATA hard drives, it can take only two internally, maxing out at 500GB. So if you're a creative professional -- and especially if you work with video -- you'll likely have to add a raft of devices externally.

The scarcity of external expansion made sense when we had daisy-chainable SCSI for the job: one port could support up to 16 devices. But this system supplies only three USB 2.0 ports and three FireWire ports (one FW800 and two FW400). On the upside, Apple sprinkles these hubs liberally around the work space. Another two USB 2.0 ports are available on the Apple Cinema Display, should you choose to bundle it with your Mac (ours came with the 23-inch model) and two USB 1.1 ports on the wired keyboard. If you decide to opt for a wireless keyboard and mouse, which Apple really should include for the price to begin with, you're down two USB ports; if you go with a less expensive display option, you're down another two ports. And regardless of which peripherals you choose, you won't find an option for adding a media-card reader to the system, a feature increasingly found as a standard option on PCs of all varieties these days. The Power Mac G5 includes dedicated ports for Bluetooth and Airport Extreme antennas (modules optional), however, and built-in Gigabit Ethernet and 56Kbps modem.

Nor does the Power Mac G5 allow for more powerful preconfigured options -- and it should. The current maximum of 500GB (two 250GB drives) may seem like a lot of storage space, but you can use that up quickly working with media files. And while it's great that Apple supplies optical audio in/out ports, we think that for the money it charges, Apple should ship the system with a decent 2- or 2.1-channel speaker system, not just the internal speaker, and that it should offer more than just 5.1-channel speaker options.

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The Power Mac's motherboard supplies three PCI Express slots, two 133MHz and one 100MHz, but at least three of the four graphics cards that Apple offers, including the 256MB ATI Radeon 9800 XT in our test system, have heat sinks that block the adjacent slot. Our test system also came with 4GB of memory configured in eight 512MB modules that occupied all the Power Mac's DDR400 memory slots. The baseline configuration for the Power Mac G5 dual 2.5GHz is AU$5,299, but the price for our test system quickly jumped to AU$9,997 with just the memory upgrade (AU$704), the bundled 23-inch Cinema Display (AU$3,499), and the 9800 XT graphics card (AU$495).

And for all that, you get a piddling 90 days of toll-free phone support and a one-year warranty. Given Apple's reputation for generally indifferent service, spending another $AU419 to upgrade to AppleCare Protection for a one-year tech support/three-year warranty combo seems like adding insult to injury. We are happy to report, however, that Apple has redesigned its Web support, making it much easier to find help in the FAQs and the knowledge base. The printed manual also supplies some useful info, from installation procedures to installing new drives and troubleshooting problems.

Photoshop CS  (Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Time in minutes  
Velocity Micro ProMagix PCX (3.6GHz Intel P4 560, 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz)
Bully Computers Tyrant (3.2GHz Intel P4 Extreme, 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz)
Apple Power Mac G5 dual 2.5GHz (dual 2.5GHz PowerPC G5, 4,096MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz)
Note: * Velocity Micro ProMagix PCX CPU and graphics card are overclocked. Products shown are for comparitive purposes only and are not necessarily available in the Australian market.

CNET Labs uses Adobe Photoshop to evaluate a Mac's performance as an integrated whole -- the CPU, the memory, the hard disk, and the graphics card. We run an automated suite of operations that simultaneously stresses a variety of the machine's subsystems and simulates a real-world Web-production work flow. The suite includes launching the application; converting between colour spaces and bit depths; applying a variety of filters; working with layers, selection areas, and alpha channels; and resizing and compressing images. We time how long it takes to run the suite on 15 files that range from 1.8MB to 49.2MB, in 8- and 16-bit colour.

Video encoding   (Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Time in minutes  
*Velocity Micro ProMagix PCX (3.6GHz Intel P4 560, 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz)
Apple Power Mac G5 dual 2.5GHz (dual 2.5GHz Power PC G5, 4096MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz)
Note: * Velocity Micro ProMagix PCX CPU and graphics card are overclocked. Products shown are for comparitive purposes only and are not necessarily available in the Australian market.

In order to evaluate a Mac's performance on CPU-intensive operations, CNET Labs encodes and compresses a 54-second, 1GB video clip using Sorenson Squeeze 4.0, a multithreaded video-encoding application. We create an MPEG-4 data stream with a target data rate of 1Kbps and apply settings such as streaming hints, 2-pass VBR, and global motion compensation to increase the stress on the CPU.

iTunes  (Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Time in seconds  
Apple Power Mac G5 dual 2.5GHz (dual 2.5GHz Power PC G5, 4,096MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz)
Apple Power Mac G5 dual 2.0GHz (dual 2.0GHz Power PC G5, 2048MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz)

CNET Labs uses Apple iTunes as another indicator of a system's performance. This test times how long it takes to convert a 107MB AIFF audio file to MP3.

Quake III  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Frames per second  
Apple Power Mac G5 dual 2.5GHz (ATI Radeon 9800)
Apple Power Mac G5 dual 2.0GHz (ATI Radeon 9600 Pro)

To measure 3D gaming performance, CNET Labs uses Quake III Arena for OS X. Although Quake III is an older game, it is still widely used as an industry-standard tool.

System configurations:

Apple eMac
Mac OS X 10.3.3; 1.25GHz PowerPC G4; 256MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; 32MB ATI Radeon 9200; 80GB 7,200rpm Ultra ATA/100

Apple iMac G5
Mac OS X 10.3.5; 1.8GHz PowerPC G5; 512MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; 64MB Nvidia GeForce FX 5200; 80GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA

Apple Power Mac G5 dual 2.0GHz
Mac OS X 10.2.7; Dual 2.0GHz PowerPC G5; 2048MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; 128MB ATI Radeon 9600 Pro; 160GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA

Apple Power Mac G5 dual 2.5GHz
Mac OS X 10.3.5; Dual 2.5GHz PowerPC G5; 4,096MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; 256MB ATI Radeon 9800; 160GB 7,200rpm Serial ATA

Bully Computers Tyrant
Windows XP Professional SP2; 3.2GHz Intel P4 Extreme; Intel 875P chipset; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 6800 GT (AGP); two WDC WD740GD-00FLX0 74GB 10,000rpm Serial ATA; WDC WD2000JD-00HBB0 200GB Serial ATA 7,200rpm; integrated Intel 82801ER SATA RAID controller

Velocity Micro ProMagix PCX
Windows XP Professional; 3.6GHz Intel P4 560; Intel 925X chipset; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 6800 Ultra (PCIe) ; two WDC WD740GD-00FLX0 74GB 10,000rpm Serial ATA; Hitachi HDS724040KLSA80 400GB Serial ATA 7,200rpm; integrated Intel 82801FR SATA RAID controller

Note: Products shown are for comparitive purposes only and are not necessarily available in the Australian market.

Apple Power Mac G5 dual 2.5GHz
Company: Apple
Price: AU$5,299
Phone: 133 622


Type Personal computer
Product Form Factor All-in-one
Packaged Quantity 1
Built-in Devices antenna, stereo speakers
Processor / Chipset
CPU PowerPC G5 2.1 GHz
Data Bus Speed 533 MHz
Cache Memory
Installed Size L2 cache - 512 KB
Cache Per Processor 512 KB
Type L2 cache
Per Processor Size 512 KB
Installed Size 512 KB
Max Supported Size 2.5 GB
Installed Size 512 MB / 2.5 GB (max)
Memory Speed 533 MHz
Memory Specification Compliance PC2-4200
Technology DDR II SDRAM
Installed Size 512 MB
Rated Memory Speed 533 MHz
Interface Type Serial ATA
Type none
Read Speed 24x (CD) / 8x (DVD)
Write Speed 24x (CD) / 8x (DVD±R) / 2.4x (DVD+R DL)
Rewrite Speed 8x (CD) / 4x (DVD±RW)
Environmental Parameters
Humidity Range Operating 5 - 95%
Min Operating Temperature 50 °F
Max Operating Temperature 95 °F
Widescreen Display Yes
Type LCD
Diagonal Size (metric) 50.8 cm
Display Resolution Abbreviation WSXGA+
Hard Drive
Interface Type SATA 1.5Gb/s
Spindle Speed 7200 rpm
Type HDD
Interface Class Serial ATA
Installed Qty 1
Capacity 250 GB
Type keyboard, mouse
Storage Controller
Interface Type Serial ATA-150
Type Serial ATA
Installed Qty 1
Storage Controller (2nd)
Type 1 x IDE - integrated
Controller Interface Type IDE/ATA
Installed Qty 1
Wireless Protocol 802.11b/g, Bluetooth
Optical Storage
Drive Type DVD-Writer
Type DVD±RW (+R DL)
Interface Type IDE
Installed Qty 1
Max Supported Qty 1
Type PowerPC G5
Clock Speed 2.1 GHz, 2.1 GHz
Floppy Drive
Type none
Storage Removable
Type none
Brand Apple
Product Line Apple iMac
Model G5
Packaged Quantity 1
Compatibility Mac
Included Accessories remote control
Monitor Type LCD
Native Resolution 1680 x 1050 (WSXGA+)
Diagonal Size 20 in
Viewable Size 20 in
Image Brightness 280 cd/m2
Image Contrast Ratio 800:1
Max Transfer Rate 56 Kbps
Data Link Protocol Bluetooth, Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet, IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11g
Form Factor integrated
Compliant Standards Bluetooth 2.0, IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11g, Wi-Fi CERTIFIED
Wireless LAN Supported Yes
Type personal computer
Hard Drive Capacity 250 GB
Dimensions & Weight
Width 19.4 in
Depth 7.4 in
Height 18.6 in
Graphics Controller
Interface Type PCI Express x16
Graphics Processor ATI Radeon X600 XT
Video Memory 128 MB DDR SDRAM
Form Factor all-in-one
Manufacturer Form Factor all-in-one
Built-in Devices antenna, stereo speakers
Form Factor integrated
Audio Output
Form Factor integrated
Sound Output Mode stereo
Manufacturer Warranty
Type 1 year warranty
Data Bus Speed 533 MHz
Type none
Interface USB
Features built-in two USB 1.1 ports
Environmental Standards
ENERGY STAR Certified Yes
Expansion / Connectivity
Slots 1 memory
Physical Characteristics
Form Factor all-in-one
Weight 22.05 lbs
Type power supply
Power Consumption Operational 180 Watt
Min Operating Temperature 50 °F
Nominal Voltage AC 120/230 V (50/60 Hz)
Max Operating Temperature 95 °F
Operating System / Software
OS Provided: Type Apple MacOS X 10.4
OS Provided Apple MacOS X 10.4
Type Apple Address Book, Apple DVD Player, Apple Dashboard, Apple Hardware Test, Apple Mac OS X Mail, Apple QuickTime, Apple Safari, Apple Sherlock, Apple Spotlight, Apple XCode Developer Tools, Apple iCal, Apple iChat, Apple iLife '05, Apple iSync, AppleWorks, Drivers & Utilities, Front Row, Marble Blast Gold, Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac Test Drive, Nanosaur 2, Photo Booth, Quicken 2006 for Mac, World Book 2006, Zinio Reader, iWork (30 days trial)
Video Output
Interface Type PCI Express x16
Graphics Processor ATI Radeon X600 XT
Graphics Processor Series ATI Radeon
Video Memory
Technology DDR SDRAM
Installed Size 128 MB
Service & Support
Type 1 year warranty
Service & Support Details
Type limited warranty, technical support
Service Included phone consulting
Full Contract Period 1 year, 90 days

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