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Mac vs. Intel vs. Adobe

March 06, 2006

So here’s where we’re at on announced MacIntel computers right now: we’ve got the MacBook Pro, the Mac mini, and the iMacIntel.

Does anyone spot a trend? Neither do I. The releases are happening in seemingly completely random order, without much concern to the traditional consumer and pro lines. So Apple’s charging away at the transition, regardless of the lineup. Great.

Except for those of us who want to buy new technology right now. See, Adobe has seemingly committed to not porting existing software (meaning both CS2 and Studio 8 here, remember) to MacIntel. Instead we’re going to have to wait for the next versions, which, given the current product cycle, means we’ve got a year or two to wait it out.

Yes, you can run the existing software in emulation mode, but it ain’t quick. It’s hard to justify shelling out now for a speed decrease, when the actual benefits won’t kick in for another year or more.

Here’s the big dilemma for Mac-based creative professionals looking for new gear at the moment: buy a G5-based system now and get the speed boost for the short term, thus facing obsolesence in a few year’s time. Or, buy an Intel-based system now, take a short-term speed hit, and be assured that your system will live on well after the transition is finished.

Of course, with the PowerMacs you don’t even have the choice, the Intel versions haven’t been announced yet. And there’s another variable: you’d need to stick it out until they arrive, and buy then. Anyone needing new gear right away is going to get stuck with a very tough choice.

I’d been thinking about a PowerMac lately myself, but this issue made the decision a lot harder. I was all set to pick up a quad-core G5 at some point in the very near future, until I started seeing the Intel benchmarks. I had assumed the G5’s would still out-pace the Intel chips for the first generation or two, but it sounds like the new chips are way faster already when running Universal binaries. So that doesn’t help the matter.

Right now, I can’t see any way to personally justify buying a G5 PowerMac. It’s a lot of money for something guaranteed to be obsolete within a few years. At the same time, I can’t really justify laying out the same amount of cash for a system guaranteed to chug away for the next year or more. So PowerMacs just don’t make sense until Adobe’s on board.

I realized that, just as Apple is in the middle of a transition, I guess I’ll have to be as well. So I ended buying a 20” iMac G5. It’s cheap, it’s got a nice big screen, and even with the stock 512MB of RAM (which will get maxed out in short order) it’s already running circles around my Powerbook.

When it makes more sense to jump into the world of MacIntel, I’ll do it. But a week in, I’m not regretting this move one bit. I can always sell it when it’s time to move on, but I already suspect it’ll be hard to get rid of.

Word of advice though: if you’re thinking along the same lines, go and get one yesterday. It seems Apple is putting them to bed rather quickly, to the point where mine may have come from the very last shipment of iMac G5’s to the local Mac outlet.

Garrett says:
March 06, 16h

Thanks for the article Dave, I’ve been pondering myself lately on getting a Mac … though my only concern is about being able to check cross-platform compatibility on my web applications. Mac Safari and others are gaining (slowly) market share and I think its important. To this point I’ve relied on gecko-friendly code to be sufficient for Mac browsers, but I don’t think thats enough anymore.

My plan is to buy a new mac-mini with a dualcore intel, and hook that and my PC up with a KVM switch. That I think is cost-effective and should serve me well enough for now. What do you think?

Garrett, from Vancouver.

Andy Hume says:
March 06, 16h

Hi Dave,

The G5 iMac sounds like a good choice to me in your situation. If you need knew kit, particularly from Apple, you’ve just got to bite the bullet and go for it. This Intel transition is just highlighting that fact a little more.

I’m really happy with my 8 month old Powerbook right now - should see me out for another year and then I’ll move over to a MacBook thingy. Of course, I’m not a heavy user of any of that Adobe software, so it does make my decision slightly easier!

Incidentally, nice meeting you in London a while back. Can’t wait to hook up again at @Media!

March 06, 16h

Proof that there’s no good time to buy computers, only bad times.

March 06, 16h

You’re right, it’s a lot of money for something that’ll be obsolete in two years, but isn’t that always the case. Any new Mac is awesome for a year, average for a year, and then obsolete. For me it’s more about software, there’s no reason to buy until adobe’s stuff runs native. Of course apple realizes this, and that why the towers will be the last to transition.

March 06, 16h

I always find it amusing when people worry about a new computer going obselete in a couple years when they are looking to buy. It seems to me that you should simply be looking at what kind of speed you need and not what kind of speed you can get at some point in the future. If the current PowerMac G5 is fast enough for your needs, then get it. If it isn’t then wait for something that is fast enough that also suits your software compatibility needs.

If you were considering buying a new PowerMac G5 before you realized how much faster the Intels were, why should thhe speed of the Intels affect your decision. Shouldn’t your decision simply be whether or not the G5 is fast enough, and not how much faster another computer is if that other computer doesn’t fit your needs?

If you always wait to buy because something faster is on the horizon then you would never get a new computer. At the rate that technology is progressing, there will never be a good time to buy a new computer without the risk of it going obselete before you get it out of the box.

Neil says:
March 06, 16h

I just picked up an Intel iMac Core Duo 20” and I couldn’t be happier. This is upgrading from a G5 iMac (rev.b).

Yes, Photoshop is not a speed demon on this machine, but for web work it’s completely, totally usable. I just did a full round of site mockups on this machine over the weekend and it was a tad slower than my Powerbook (a G4 1.5ghz 15”). If you’re pushing print or gigantic print files then it might be an issue (I didn’t test this) but for most other tasks it’s great.

That said, I have 2G of ram in this machine, but I don’t see the point in buying a brand new, top of the line machine and not maxing out the ram.

I guess it comes down this: all of the other applications I use constantly (both development-related and otherwise) are universal and *very* fast, and the ones that aren’t universal yet either run really well (FontExplorerX, Word) or run well enough (Photoshop, Illustrator) that it’s fine for me. Obviously mileage will vary - I think my workflow is fairly indicative of a working web designer / amateur photographer, but perhaps I’m an anomaly.

March 06, 16h

I recently got a 20” iMac Core Duo at work. (replaced a Dual 2.0 PowerMac G5 .. so I can evaluate the Intel machines for possible deployment)

It’s a really nice machine. One big improvement over the iMac G5 is in the video card. It has the Radeon x1600 instead of the Radeon x600 .. and I ordered mine with 256 MB of VRAM, and of course the new iMac can drive a second display, instead of just mirroring the built-in display. (My only complaint is that they’re using their stupid mini-DVI port. That makes sense on a laptop, but on a desktop machine? Grr. stupid unnecessary adaptor.)

Admittedly I rarely run photoshop, but the machine performs extremely well for me. Native programs feel nearly as fast as they were on the Dual G5. Some things are much faster. There are a few minor annoyances (the inability to run screen savers or preference panes in Rosetta, for example, and the lack of Universal Binary web browser plugins) but I imagine those will be fixed over time.

Proud says:
March 06, 16h

I still don’t see why people are worried about the G5 becoming obsolete. Hell, the G3 can still run Tiger today, and my 7-year old G4 tower, too. The panic is exaggerated — G5’s will still be supported for at least another 5 years or so, certainly another two system revisions anyway,

erica says:
March 06, 16h

you know, i got an imac g5 xmastime, just before the new ones were released. i couldn’t be happier with my sexy new computer. i knew there would be bugs, so i’m in no big rush to switch over, and by the time i AM ready to make the big switch, so will be Mac. it’s actually easily my favorite computer ever. glad you like yours too.

Dave S. says:
March 06, 17h

Okay, a few of you are confusing obsolesence with speed increases. When I say obsolete in this case, I mean the new Intel PowerMacs have a completely different processor architecture. At some point in the next few years we’ll start seeing ‘Made for Intel Macs’ on software, and that’s it. End of the road for the G5.

If it were a simple matter of speed increases, I would be more at ease buying a G5 tower right now. But we’re talking about actual end of life for the usefuleness these systems.

March 06, 17h

Garrett: just for web testing,I’d go for the cheapest Mac you can get. A second-hand mini would probably be your best bet. An iMac G3 should do, spec-wise, for your purposes, but you’ve got the potential of the screen going wrong (unlike the mini), and at some point soon the G3 might not be supported by OS X (although that’s just my personal unsupported speculation).

March 06, 17h

Dave -

I purchased a Mac mini for my wife literally three days before the Intel minis were announced. I had a clue it was coming, but I didn’t care.

Truth is, she needed a machine that she could do email and browse the web on. That’s it. Nothing more. So it doesn’t matter if the new machines are 4 times as fast.

Now, for those of us who need to run Adobe apps, there is quite a quandry. Unfortunately, Adobe’s apps aren’t written in Xcode. This makes creating a universal binary a little more troublesome and time consuming.

However, I think that the land of limbo could hurt Apple’s hardware sales. But I don’t see Apple in a panic sending a bunch of engineers to Adobe to port CS over.

I think the order of release was like this because they needed a boost to the PowerBook line, and from there, the consumer line made more sense because of just this reason. Pros might hold back and wait for Adobe.

- the “other Dave S.”

Dave S. says:
March 06, 17h

Thanks, ‘other Dave S.’, for being one of the few so far who have realized this post has Adobe in the title as well.

March 06, 17h

oh, and as for reasons to release them in this order… the PowerMac and Xserve are going to be last. Because they need something better than a Core Duo. (I imagine Apple is waiting on one of Intels 64-bit chips) .. also, they’re probably hoping that something can be done to improve Photoshop performance. (And G5 emulation for Rosetta would be good for the few 64-bit apps out there .. I imagine that’s coming someday)

Why the MacBook Pro before the iBook (or possibly named MacBook)? Because it would look really bad for the consumer model to be significantly faster than the Pro model. And the new iBook will almost certainly be faster (for Universal Binaries, at least) than the PowerBook G4. Also, getting the higher margin laptop out first means they may pick up some extra “Pro” sales from people who don’t want to wait on the consumer model.

The order makes a lot of sense to me.

Dave S. says:
March 06, 17h

Tim – good thinking. Hadn’t pieced that together, but it makes sense.

ramanan says:
March 06, 17h

I think you should try and track down a Intel based Mac and try using one. I’ve been using Photoshop for the past week or so on a 2.0Ghz Dual Core iMac, and I don’t find it painful to use in the least. (Mind you, I am upgrading from a G3 800Mzh iBook, so that might bias me in the new computer’s favour.) You may find the real world usage is good enough. Plus, the other applications you use will be much faster.

March 06, 17h

I’m having the same problem you are, except I’m a PC user. I never really switched to PC. It’s an odd thing to describe. I always wanted a Mac for myself (my dad had bought quite a few for his business throughout the years starting with the Mac II), but I never could afford it. I just built myself my own PC and have sort of suffered because of it. When I went to college I was able to get a Powerbook through scholarship money. I love that thing to death.

I think this move hurts people who are on limited budgets, but want to purchase a very nice Mac computer every few years. I have plans to buy myself a PowerMac, but I don’t want to buy one until Adobe releases their software for the new Intel Macs. I would also like to have Corel release a new version of Painter for Mactel, but I’m not sure if they have any plans for it. I assume they do. Adobe typically takes 18-24 months between versions. I don’t remember when CS2 was released.. April last year? It would be October this year (if my estimate is correct) at the least for a new version to be released. I’d love to ditch my PC as my primary computer before then, but I’m having to wait because of Adobe. If I buy an iMac I won’t have the money to purchase a PowerMac when the time comes, so I’m having to sit and wait unfortunately.

March 06, 17h

Everybody seems to be having the same dilemma. Personally, I’ve decided to stick it out another year or so with my PowerBook. Once Adobe comes through, I’m hoping to also buy a 2nd iteration of the MacBook Pro, hopefully without all of the bugs that come with 1st iterations.

March 06, 18h

I got the Intel iMac and it runs all the Adobe apps more than fast enough for me (under Rosetta). It’s faster than my Powerbook G4 for sure (but not quite as fast as the Dual Powermac G5 I have at work). It’s unfortunate that Adobe won’t be releasing their native versions anytime soon, but in the meantime, Rosetta runs the Adobe suite quite nicely.

March 06, 18h

I own a 20” G5 iMac at home and I use a 20” Intel Core Duo iMac at work. They’re both fantastic machines, and for anything non-adobe, the intel mac works fantastic, but I admit, if I can, I save my photoshop work for home when it’s easier and simpler and faster to run it on the g5 there.

Dave, I think you made the right move. That g5 imac is a cheap way to get a fast, wonderful and powerful machine. If you have lots of print design work to do, or just need photoshop all the time, then the g5 is the way to go. Even with the intel macs out now, it’s a terrific value.

You can take the money you saved and give it to adobe in a year when they charge us for the intel versions of their apps.

March 06, 18h

Jeff makes a great point. If you’re upgrading from a Powerbook G4 , then you haven’t been spoiled by a g5, and as speed tests show, the Photoshop on Rosetta on Intel ends up being about the same speed or a little faster than on the Powerbook.

March 06, 20h

I’m going to do an apples-to-apples (ahem) comparison in a few weeks, when the 17” iMac G5 iSight at work goes to a coworker and I get its immediate replacement, the 17” iMac Core Duo. At least that’s the plan.

I think Dave made a smart move here, because the iMac G5 runs his daily bread Photoshop very, very well (at least in my experience), and will be a great machine even down the line as a second computer or for someone else (wife, friend, or third-party buyer) – once the pro-level Intel desktop Macs come out and, importantly, have been revved at least once, and Adobe gets their ducks in a row.

Plus the iMac is probably the sexiest personal computer out there right now, period, which is something in itself. I love how I can treat it like a luggable laptop – just unplug, grab the keyboard and mouse in one hand and the screen in the other, and go to another room. I’ve even used it for presentations by putting it in a rolling suitcase. If you don’t need a battery, it makes a very nice transportable PC:

March 06, 20h

The whole G5 vs Intel transition is a case of damned if you do, damned if you don’t. In terms of pro apps, such as Adobe CS3, waiting would really depend upon the eventual feature set of these apps, and whether there’s any features in the new suite you can’t see yourself living without. It also depends on the frequency with which you replace your hardware.

March 06, 21h

After my experiences with the first model G3 blue and white model and the horror stories of the first model Ti Powerbooks (I bought the second model). I would wait for the second model of the MacIntel. I am waiting until at least the first MacIntel ibooks before looking at replacing my now very battered Powerbook.

I don’t want to replace it with a G4 powerbook or G4 ibook, because my current Powerbook lasted 5 years and I would like the same life span for my next laptop. And will Apple, Adobe and others still be supporting the G4 chip as well as they support the Intel chip, during the last years of that laptop’s life.

March 07, 01h

I’m with Jon Henshaw on this one. My current g4 powerbook, whilst not being a speed demon, still does everything i’ve ever needed it to do. I’m happy to wait until Adobe come out with UB and purchase a 2nd (or maybe even 3rd) revision MacBook Pro at that point in time.

With the current top of the line MBPs actually topping out marginally faster than the iMac in terms of CPU power (2.13ghz) I am expecting good things when I finally get a new Mac.

I guess it depends how long in the tooth your current machine is getting and if it’s doing what you need or not. I think it was Khoi Vinh who noted that his Mac seemed fine until Apple announced that the new was faster and then it literally seemed slower to him!!

Sophie says:
March 07, 01h

I bought my 20” iMac G5 last June and I’m very happy with it.

As far as Adobe/Macrobe goes, I’m quite disappointed by Photoshop CS for Mac OS X. Doesn’t it bug anyone here that when Photoshop CS crashes, the file you were working on reverts to the previous saved state ? Adobe doesn’t use any of the *nix goodness available on Os X.
When Apple Works crashes, I can recover my file in the state just before crash. I mean *Apple Works*…
Maybe it’s different on CS 2. Is it ? I remember Dave posting on his lack of enthusiasm for this upgrade, the ability to recover files would be a reason to upgrade.

Meanwhile I have no great hopes for Photoshop for MacIntels. Porting to XCode might give Adobe the opportunity to *get it right* this time, but they might be too busy porting quick and dirty to take time for that.

Marco says:
March 07, 01h

This ‘few years’ is just about the normal lifecycle of a computer system these days. So why not buy one?

I feel great about my dual 2.7Ghz G5 I got half a year ago. I know it will serve me well for at least 2 years to come. If a G4 is still ‘fast enough’ for many people I’m sure as hell a dual G5 will do it for me for quite a while.

The only thing I see that does NOT make sense right now is purchasing Adobe CS2 for Mac licenses. You know you’ll have a piece of software that will run totally shitty on the shiny new Intel Mac you’ll buy in three years’ time.

Olly says:
March 07, 01h

“It’s a lot of money for something guaranteed to be obsolete within a few years.”

The same could be said about any computer. Amiga 2000 / 3000 / 4000 / AmigaONE. PowerMac 603 / G3 / G4 / G5. Windows on 286 / 386 / 486 / Pentium etc. They are/were all guaranteed to be obsolete within about ten minutes. The same is true of cars, mountain bikes, washing machines…

March 07, 05h

I don’t want to start a Mac vs. Windows argument here, but as a Windows user, I find it unbelievable that Apple are yet again, releasing systems and an OS that are natively incompatible with current software.

They already did this when they went from OS 9 to OS X, where if you wanted to run any 9 software in X you had to run it through an emulated version of 9 (classic) which is a pain for anyone, not to mention slower.

At least with Windows, when new versions come out, 90% of your software will still work. I just can’t understand why Apple decided to make all old software completely incompatible with OS X, and now their doing it again! It seems like the best way possible to discourage users from upgrading, absolutely ridiculous.

P.S. Please correct me if I’m wrong, I’m no Mac expert.

iolaire says:
March 07, 06h

Once the new inventory of G5 iMac systems are gone, refurbished systems from the Apple Store will still be an easy option for at least a year or so. Its worth it to think about a refurbished especially if you are buying a temporary computer.

That being said, remember that Steve has said that the enter line will be Intel by the end of the year (2006). So we may have the Pro desktop line fairly soon.

Here is the current price breakdown for G5 iMacs (may show older versions):
iMac G5 17-inch 1.9GHz SuperDrive - $1099
iMac G5 1.8GHz/ 256MB/ 160GB/ SuperDrive/ 56K/ 20-inch - $1149
iMac G5 20-inch 2GHz SuperDrive - $1249
iMac G5 20-inch 2.1GHz SuperDrive - $1299

The Apple Store refurbished inventory can be found in most countries by going into the base (web) Apple Store, a looking for a red Special Deals graphical link on the lower right hand corer of the page. (Additionally, I track this inventory at my site.)

March 07, 09h

“Here’s the big dilemma for Mac-based creative professionals looking for new gear at the moment: buy a G5-based system now and get the speed boost for the short term, thus facing obsolesence in a few year’s time. Or, buy an Intel-based system now, take a short-term speed hit, and be assured that your system will live on well after the transition is finished.”

There is one more choice - for the same price is very limited singlecore G5 you can buy dualcore Intel/AMD PC with Windows XP, and enjoy Adobe CS2 with much better performance than ever before..

Steven Sprague says:
March 07, 11h

Ok, this is a bit late to the thread, but I will pitch in my 2¢.

I picked up a Dual 2Ghz G5 just after the announcement of the Intel switch. Justification: I like how the current apps run on one (I have the same machine at work) and worse case scenario - if the switch does not go smoothly, I have a machine I am happy with, til I find something else to do. (looks like my rational was not too far off.)

I also wanted a laptop really bad for a couple of years. I was one of those holding out for a G5 version. Well, out comes the MacBook Pro and the announcement by Adobe that there would be no apps in the near future. Solution: I bought a Pentium M (1.73Ghz) Acer for $699 after rebate. Justification: CHEAP CHEAP CHEAP - and I only needed it for 2 things. 1) surf the web from different locations in the house - it does that. 2) need to do Actionscript work in the same room as wife - wintels run Flash really well.

I know that is not a popular decision, and I have never owned a Wintel machine before. I have to say, it works good, and it will get me through a year or more till all this ends up figured out.

March 07, 12h

Hi Dave, this is a bit off-topic, but where are you planning on buying your RAM for your iMac? I too have a 20” G5 and am stuck w/ the 512MB looking to upgrade, but not sure where to go.

patrick says:
March 07, 13h

Got my G5 a year and half ago and haven’t looked back - it’s the best computer I have ever owned.

Robert dM says:
March 07, 14h

Although very eager to switch from pc to mac for some time now (ever since I got a second hand iMac bondi blue, dating back to ‘98, for testing purposes) I’m gonna restrain myself some more: I’m relying on Abode/adobe-macromedia products for most of my work, so it’s crucial to my switch to mac. If by then we’ll have a clearer view on what direction the adobe bundles will be going in the future, it’ll be an added bonus.

Greg says:
March 07, 19h

I’ve been thinking of buying the new iMac as well - it’ll be my first Apple. I’m not too concerned about running Photoshop or Illustrator because I use them primarily for layouts and basic photo editing - and with 2GB or RAM I’m sure that Rosetta will perform ok. My only concern is that I won’t be able to test new projects in a standalone version of IE (I’m plannig on ditching the PC completely). Will the Firefox IE tab extension suffice for this? Or can anyone tell me of a fast, free service that’ll alow me to look at projects a la Internet Explorer?

Sophie says:
March 07, 23h

Josh, I went to Crucial for my iMac G5 2Gb memory upgrade. 1 bought 2*1Go and found someone interested in the original 512Mo.

Marc Jones says:
March 08, 11h

Crucial memory all the way. Boosted my G4 (867 bought two weeks before the speedhole upgrade) my iBook G3 (just before G4 iBooks) and my G5 with Crucial memory - flawless, recommended heartily.

As for what mac to get - well get what you can afford and what does what you now want it to - guess what? My week 50 2003 Dual 2ghz G5 is still way fast enough for me. Would I like faster? Sure, do I _need_ faster… well that’s open to hand-wringing and navel gazing.

If I needed a new mac I think my use of InDesign and Photoshop would probably say “go PowerPC” but Apple had to get in and force the change and hope software co’s felt the heat and got busy. Quark on OS X anyone?

giuliano says:
March 08, 15h

After all maybe the suite will be released prior than expected:

johnnie_w says:
March 08, 19h

All this hilights the value of open source software. We can avoid this whole mess if we had a set of platform-independent tools that we didn’t have to pay $3,000 per license for. Sure, the GiMP isn’t quite photoshop, but it works on every machine out there and you can bet that it will be optimized for both the old Motorola/IBM and the Intel chips.

There are other solid open source apps out there….. but instead of ranting I’ll just direct you to for a short list.

good luck and good night,

Jarrod says:
March 09, 09h

I’ve had the same problem with the Apple/Adobe issue. I am still using a PowerMac G4, and have been looking forward to upgrading to a PowerMac G5, but then htey announced they were switching to Intel, so I held off, and now I’m going to have to wait for Adobe to port all their software, so I’m just going to wait until the next version of Creative Suite and then I’ll get the new Mac+Adobe software…

My other concerns (maybe a little off-topic) is whether my upgrade path will still exist to upgrade to CS3 from CS2… especially if they plan on merging CS with some Macromedia products like Dreamweaver/Fireworks.

Anyway, the Mac-mini looks like it may be a good option since it’s so cheap and is still a huge performance boost over my 1.2Ghz G4… I’ve got 2 19” LCDs though so hopefully they will hook up to the mini…

Anthony says:
March 09, 14h

This is all very interesting. I just dealt with this yesterday and happened on this entry today, after the fact but it reinforces my decision to get a non-intel chip mac. I use Adobe software pretty exclusively and seeing the performace losses on Rosetta helped me decide to purchase a PPC instead. The benchmarks on Mac World using photoshop really cemented things for me.

Britney says:
March 10, 07h

I junked my Mac along time ago and switched to a whole new type of hell called Dell but still use the Penitum chips because they rock! Was so glad to hear Adobe bought Macromedia and can not wait for a new release of software from Abode featuring Macromedia intergrated technology.

joomla says:
March 10, 13h

I couldn’t agree with you more. I just shelled out for a MBP 3 days ago, and read your article (among others) and had to call and cancel the order. I ended up purchasing a PBG4-17” instead. The CSR at Apple seemed to rush the process through without question not to mention a very standard MacBook Pro cancellation reply and I couldn’t help but think, “man, they must be getting an awful lot of those.” My order was immediately cancelled and I was sent to the product page for a fully loaded PBG4-17”.
I didn’t want to give up my 17” widescreen anyway. I’ll probably have enough to get the MBP-17” when it comes available and by then we’ll probably have more Universal apps.


Michael W says:
March 10, 14h

Motorola Mac vs Intel Mac

There is no reason to upgrade to a slower machine. If the Intel machine offers post-emulation better performance than your current system, then I would say go Intel. If not, buy Motorola. A reasonable half-life of any modern computer is approximately 18 months. After that there will be new high-end applications that it will not be able to run. I do not foresee Intel-only must-have applications in the immediate future.

If you absolutely need cutting edge you will be buying a new machine around the same time as the Intel Mac becomes practical. If your system does everything you need it to now, do not upgrade. I have a 3 year old PC and I have yet to find a program that it cannot run efficiently. I use an “old” G4 Mac, and it can also handle any application that I need. As soon as that fact changes I will upgrade, but until then it would be a waste of money. When I do upgrade, the equipment available then will out perform the equipment available today; thus I will get more out of my investment.

As a financially strapped college student I this is my best option; but then my Mac is not my livelihood.

March 11, 20h

Tim Buchheim is right: Apple is waiting for Intel to release Conroe for use as a G5 replacement. The Core Duo would simply be inadequate in this situation, particularly for using Adobe’s apps under Rosetta. (FWIW, Adobe have recently announced their intention to deliver universal binaries, as CS3, before year’s end.)

So, Core Solo/Duo as G4/low-end-G5 replacement, Conroe as high-end-G5 replacement.

Test releases of Conroe have recently taken back the PC processor crown from AMD, and the commercial release should happen around August 2006. Hmm, what else is happening around that time … hmmm … ah, that’s right, Apple’s developer conference, strangely pushed back a month or two from its normal timeslot.

See a pattern forming now?

some guy says:
March 12, 12h

is that Quad G5 really guaranteed to be obsolete in a few years? Don’t forget that most (if not all) software from here on out will be released as a Universal Binary, so it will run on both PowerPC and Intel hardware for many years to come. Don’t forget how long it took people to ditch Classic. Mac developers are writing code for a pretty small market as it is, so i’m sure they will not hesitate to go to the extra trouble of making every one of their apps available for the bleeding-edge IntelMac owners and the PowerPC holdouts who will keep their machines for several more years.

With this information in mind, I think buying a Quad G5 is a great idea. If the software won’t be native on Intel for a while, why not go for it? Some benchmarks might make the Intel stuff look way faster, but most of the non-Apple benchmarks have been showing gains that are nowhere near what Apple’s PR people would have you believe.

The bottom line: if you really needed the power right now, you’d have ordered the Quad G5 last week! The Intel transition is going to take several years to fully play out. If you really need the hardware right now, just get the fastest thing you can buy, which will also run all of your existing software – the Quad G5. If that seems like a bad idea, maybe you don’t really need the power that badly anyway.

Remember, to be a Mac fan is to play a waiting game with Apple. Just get what you need right now and don’t regret it.

David Robarts says:
March 14, 00h

I feel confident that Mac OS 10.5 will be Universal and I wouldn’t be surprised if 10.6 still supports PowerMacs that can run 10.4, but certainly within five years we will see software that will be for MacIntel only (I suspect the early abandoners will begin dropping PowerPC support within two years of the transition.) Upgrade form G4 to CoreDuo, no question (that’s why the MacBook Pro was so early in the transition). G5 vs CoreDuo = dilemma.

March 14, 02h

/******************** quote
So here’s where we’re at on announced MacIntel computers right now: we’ve got the MacBook Pro, the Mac mini, and the iMacIntel.
/******************** quote off

Well, with the exception of the iBook, there is a trend though ;)
It’s all mobile-based. Because of heat/powercomsumtion, ánd because a lot of consumers tend to buy a PowerBook/Mac BookPro anyways, the current line of Intel-based Macs is pretty good I think.

I’m not entirely sure why Apple didn’t have an Intel-iBook (Mac Book?) yet, but perhaps that’s because of an overall redesign for a 13” version. I can’t tell… but eitherway, it’s mostly a consumerbased setup instead of a business-based trend. And what better way to test your new product then in real life? If Apple would use the business-section as guinnipigs, they would probably get a lót of complaints.

George O says:
March 15, 07h

I’ve recently gone for the MBP and am still waiting on it arriving. I’m a heavy user of Photoshop and Illustrator so this is a big concern. The benchmarks look awful so the machine might well be going back!

It is a little annoying that Apple didn’t explicitly tell users this. I don’t think it is fair for Apple to point fingers at Adobe and vice versa. It leaves the consumer stuck in the middle.

Thank god for the return policy though.

edie says:
March 16, 09h

just learning macromedia (loving it)… discovered zen and this article.
i have had rare exposure to macs, my boss (rabid mac afficionado) has been very helpful with mac research and am looking to purchase. given the information displayed here, i am sometimes confused, followed by a moment of clarity. i am sensing that an imac g5 would be a good machine for me so that i can get away from the pc based craziness and move over to mac… any other suggestions?


March 16, 12h

Even if you bought an Intel based Mac right now, by the time all the software gets ported there will be much more powerful Intel processors available. So either way you are looking at a new purchase in a few years.

Maybe buy a PC and use that for a few years before going back to Mac? I KID! I KID!

Jon says:
March 16, 16h

Hi, I dont know if you guys know this. But as far as the rumours go, apple is helping adobe with porting their apps to intel. So the rumours says we can expect to have a new adobe release in 2006. :)


Pete says:
March 18, 04h

Here’s a solution - buy a PC, but… wait until later this year when they release Vista which will look as pretty as a Mac, along with all the more functional improvements.

Last year I bought a Mac mini, which was pretty cheap and allows me to test pages on Safari and Camino, I don’t use it for anything else though, even though my background is in Art and Graphic design I’ve never liked Mac’s because compared to PC’s they’re much less for your money, also, I find the Macintosh brand irritatingly pretentious.

I mean if you can get more power, storage, speed, flexibility, compatibility and maintainability for much less money, it’s a no-brainer. I find this situation with the Intel chips just further signs of Macintosh arrogance.

Choke says:
March 18, 22h

Recently I resigned from a job that provided me with PB 1.5Ghz PPC and I had this very debate of MBP vs PPC when I went to purchase my replacement laptop. I went back and forth… reading lots of comments here (thanks everybody) as well as consulting friends and my wife.

In the end, I decided on a PB 1.67Ghz PPC because my main priority was to get a laptop that will allow me to keep working with my other clients. The deciding factors: (1) Software (Adobe mainly) for MBP is not there yet; and (2) “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it”.

So that’s what I did. But I am sure I will get MBP once the software comes around…

michael says:
March 19, 19h

I’m looking at moving from a couple year old Powerbook to the new MacBook. Even though the Intel processors running Photoshop are a bit slow, from my playing with a friend’s new iMac, I won’t be going backwards in speed. Photoshop in Rosetta on an iMac is a bit faster than is Photoshop on a 1.2GHZ G4 Powerbook. Same with Dreamweaver.

I had the same reservations about switching from OS 9 to OS X. It took the better part of a year before all the programs I had were X native. I lived through running Classic and I expect that I’ll live through Rosetta.

If I were looking at Video or Audio I would probably go with a G5 but for my web work, that’s overkill.

Matthew Munsey says:
March 21, 19h

Hmmm, well this has me kinda worried now. You see I just got my self a new G5 and upgraded all my Adobe software. I really had no choice though because my last computer fried. I guess Ill just have to take the hit, though I’m not really looking forward to having to buy a new apple in a year or two when I thought this would last me at least three to five. Are we certain that Adobe won’t be putting out some sort of transitional faze of their software to be a little easier on their customers?

Stephane says:
March 23, 03h

I got a MBP for myself, while keeping the G5 dual to use my RIP and drive my printer until the RIP is available in UB this summer (it doesn’t work at all on the MBP). It is blazing fast both with Mac OS X and UB apps (BBEdit, Transmit, GraphicConverter, Omnigraffle etc.) but chokes on Photoshop and Indesign. I find it really slow with both apps (it is way better with AI, Golive and Acrobat) that sport some bugs also (ie numbers are stranglely rounded up, ending with huge decimals written in the transformation panel boxes).

And Rosetta is very very RAM hungry.

But I think Rosetta will be far more useable on a Desktop than on an iMac/MBP for this reason. I am pretty sure that Intel Mac desktops should alleviate Rosetta limitations in a big way (more and faster memory available, more Intel cores to manage translation on the fly, faster disks… and graphics on par with PCs should do wonder when CS3 will leverage CoreImage). Also, it is pretty sure that with 1 to 3 OS X updates to come, Rosetta will then have matured enough to suppress the bugs affecting Adobe apps. I really think that when next Apple pro desktop is available (this summer ?) you will be able to better judge of Rosetta impact and have a better idea of Adobe roadmap so as to choose more easily.

For nomads, that is another story : for me, it is too early to go both mobile AND Intel…exclusively.

Martin says:
March 23, 11h

RE Jack’s comment:

“At least with Windows, when new versions come out, 90% of your software will still work. I just can’t understand why Apple decided to make all old software completely incompatible with OS X, and now their doing it again!”

I’m no expert but it seems to me that Apple’s drive to move forward whilst providing ability to run older software in emulation is the smart way to go. It could be said that Microsoft’s insistence on backwards compatibility is precisely what’s holding them back and delaying the release of Vista.

Brent says:
March 27, 02h

I have been buying mac products scince 2000 when I switch for FCP and a 400MHz G4 and it still works today. I decided then, I would never go back to PC.

I am now curious as to why apple would put a processor that is so easily hacked. Now the internet is full of stories of how XP runs naitively on macintel. And also the stories of OSX being hacked to run on generic PC’s with intel chips. So I am left to wonder why not buy a well put together PC and put OSX on it. The PC market is larger and it is cheaper to replace hardware. You’d get the best of both worlds. Now this is not a hostile comment, I love my macs but I feel like if I buy a new one I’d just be buying an overpriced PC.
Anyone that can set me straight I’d love to hear from you

Simon says:
March 29, 16h

I have been a PC user for years doing a bit of Photoshop and Dreamweaver in my spare time. It was time to upgrade and I thought it was time for a change so bought a Mac Mini Dual Core and upgraded the memory to 2GB. I realised that there would most likely be a performance hit when using the current versions of both Photoshop and Dreamweaver though thought 2GB should do the trick. Unfortunately not when using both applications there is a noticable lack of responsiveness - just enough to be annoying. It is as if the program is half a step behind you.

It’s too late to take it back to the Apple Store and to try and source a Power PC version. :( I really hope Adobe release a new versions later this year as rumoured.

In the meantime I’m going back to my trusty old PC as these apps run without the noticable response delay that occurs on my new Mac Mini.


Greg says:
April 05, 15h

Apple today released Boot Camp Public Beta

I just installed this on a Intel iMac. It was incredibly easy and fast. You tell it how much hard drive space to give to Windows, install Windows off of an WinXP SP2 disk and just go. It’s great. I am going to try to load it up with all of our Windows software and start testing for bugs.

Available as a download beginning today, Boot Camp allows users with a Microsoft Windows XP installation disc to install Windows XP on an Intel-based Mac, and once installation is complete, users can restart their computer to run either Mac OS X or Windows XP. Boot Camp will be a feature in “Leopard,” Apple’s next major release of Mac OS X, that will be previewed at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference in August.

“Apple has no desire or plan to sell or support Windows, but many customers have expressed their interest to run Windows on Apple’s superior hardware now that we use Intel processors,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. “We think Boot Camp makes the Mac even more appealing to Windows users considering making the switch.”

Boot Camp simplifies Windows installation on an Intel-based Mac by providing a simple graphical step-by-step assistant application to dynamically create a second partition on the hard drive for Windows, to burn a CD with all the necessary Windows drivers, and to install Windows from a Windows XP installation CD. After installation is complete, users can choose to run either Mac OS X or Windows when they restart their computer.

The public beta of Boot Camp is available immediately as a download at, and is preview software licensed for use on a trial basis for a limited time. The final version of Boot Camp will be available as a feature in the upcoming Mac OS X version 10.5 “Leopard.” Apple does not provide support for installing or running Boot Camp and does not sell or support Microsoft Windows software. Apple welcomes user feedback on Boot Camp at

Bootcamp requires a firmware update for the Intel Mac running Windows:

iMac (Intel) Firmware Update 1.0
MacBook Pro (Intel) Firmware Update 1.0
Mac mini (Intel) Firmware Update 1.0
Firmware Restoration CD v 1.0

Jeremy says:
April 06, 19h

Simon - looks like you got lucky! Bootcamp will allow you to install winXP and you can call Adobe to get your license switched to the PC version. Away you go.