Tools Of The Trade Apple Power Mac G5 Dual 2.5Ghz

A 'dehumidifier' with processing punch
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When Apple first launched its G5 computers, some disputed its claim to be the fastest personal computer in world.

Faster computers may well be on the market now, but few wield their power as unobtrusively as the latest - and fastest - G5 Mac. Apple's machines use different microprocessors to Windows-based PCs, favouring IBM's PowerPC design over Intel's Pentium chips.

The difference in chips means that the processors' clock speeds are not directly comparable. The fastest Pentium PCs have processors running at over 3Ghz. Apple's PowerPC machine comes in at a pedestrian 2.5Ghz.

The figures do not tell the whole story, though. Tests running the popular application Photoshop - admittedly by Apple - put the power of the top of the range G5 reviewed here at twice that of a single processor Dell computer running a 3.4Ghz Pentium 4 chip and comfortably ahead of a dual processor Dell workstation.

Apple argues that the combination of a different processor and fine tuning of the system deliver the power that designers, video editors, musicians and scientists need.

Apple has also added plenty of other features to please the professional user. Digital audio input and output comes as standard, as does a DVD recorder and a powerful graphics card that can drive two monitors. And the computer can support up to 8Gb of memory, thanks to its 64-bit processors.

But is it possible to harness all this power? For most computer users, a machine of this specification is overkill. But for designers working with large images, video editors, and digital musicians, there is no such thing as too much power.

Testing the machine with Apple's DVD Studio Pro - designed for developing high-end DVDs - proved that the G5 can take the most demanding applications in its stride.. Apple's Final Cut Pro video editing software also failed to stretch this computer, at least with footage shot on a consumer camcorder.

Despite its small market share, Apple has been able to demand a price premium, especially for its high-end computers. But the top of the range G5 is not that expensive. A Dell Precision workstation, with a similar configuration to the one used in Apple's tests, costs more.

The G5 is tightly integrated and represents good value for money. Users who run high-end creative applications will need one. Lots of others will want one, even if it does resemble a portable dehumidifier.


Rating: 4 out of 5

Pros: immensely powerful

Cons: other G5 Macs may be better value, unless you really need that power

Cost: £2,199 (inc VAT)