For the first time last week, I was the envy of the entire office. Approving nods from the front office staff. Slaps on the back from the accounting guys. Our producers’ eyes grew wide, then huge smiles spread across their faces. Our editing team was awed into silence (for once). At one point, the entire art department walked into my office and hung around, chatting excitedly and pointing. The reason for this new-found popularity? A courier had dropped by with my shiny, brand-new 2 GHz dual G5 Power Mac, fresh from my local Mac reseller. Ever since his visit, I’ve been the envy of the office.
I’ve been wanting to upgrade my system for a while. My four year old 400 MHz G4 desktop has only been used recently by my wife to collect email and play Tetris. My two-year old 667 MHz G4 PowerBook, my main workhorse system since the day I bought it, just recently went out of style when Mac software publishers started selling games with minimum requirements that surpassed my unit’s upper limits. I needed a new computer. Something that can churn through After Effects comps like butter. A computer that can spin through Photoshop filters and re-scale entire folders of matte paintings without breaking a sweat. A system that can scale the highest Cinema 4D mountain I can create and still make it back to the beach for sunset. And a gaming machine that can immerse me into the world of 1600x1200 resolution, full screen anti-aliasing, detailed shadows, realistic weather effects, anisotropic filtering, massively multiplayer online first-person shooter, with nary a stutter or dropped frame. Steve Job’s new high end machine was it!
Now, I don’t normally go for the top of the line Mac. After days of torment and weeks of financial planning, common sense usually prevails, with the MHz percent argument usually winning the match. I always know the fight is over when a voice in the back of my head says “Well, it might be the slowest of the new Macs, but it’s still the fastest Mac you’ve ever had.” Words of defeat.
I hate those words.
Well, not this time. The minute a hole large enough in my credit card bill was dug out, I overstuffed it with a bill from Apple for my very own “world’s fastest desktop computer”. Have I done the right thing? Is the new, much-vaunted G5 chip, let alone the dual desktop model at the top of the Apple product line, worth the 4,099 loonies* I paid for it? Read on to find out, ‘cause you’re probably just as interested in Apple’s sparkling new machines as I am curious to make sure I’ve spent my money wisely.
* A “loonie” is the name of the Canadian one dollar coin, named in honour of the prime minister who first introduced its use to disgruntled tax payers almost fifteen years ago.