The iMac G5 Page.

All righty, I now have the iMac G5 ó my Christmas pressie from 2018 ó 7 months later. Itís also my 1st ever item from eBay. This is a 2.1 GHz model with 1.5 GB of RAM. It came with an early revision of Mac OS X Tiger installed, but I decided to upgrade it to Mac OS X Leopard, which I felt was a better choice for its purpose as a family central kinda computer. Iím also running Mac OS X Tiger from a FireWire connecting portable hard drive, in case I want Classic and other stuff, which I will mention further down.
Like the Power Mac G5, this iMac was one of the last computers from Apple that used a PowerPC CPU, before the transition to the Intel ones. If you were filthy rich, or were running a business, the Power Mac G5 was the more grunty option. Unlike the iMac, its RAM ran at half the CPU frequency, where as this computer runs it at a third. This apparently helped reduce the heat a bit too. The PowerPC G5 CPUs run pretty hot, which is why the Power Mac has so many air holes and more fans than Elvis.
The speed of these iMacs ranged from 1.6 GHz to 2.1 GHz over 3 revisions. The last one of which, supported a maximum of 2.5 GB of RAM, which is probably plenty. The very 1st iMac G5 could take up to 2 GB of RAM. So, even though the G5 is 64 bit, the iMacs didnít overly benefit from how much memory could be accessed.
If youíre used to PCs, like I was when I 1st saw these kinds of iMacs, youíll say to yourself: ďWhereís the rest of it?Ē Well, this IS the whole thing. The monitor and computer are combined, just like the G3 & G4 iMacs prior to it, and indeed the very 1st Macintosh. You could probably say that the iMacs are aimed more at the casual computer user who needs a computer, but doesnít want to fork out for the top of the line Apple offering. Plus you get the monitor included with an iMac. Unlike the Power Mac G5s, which usually had 2 CPUs, (or indeed 2 dual core ones,) the iMacs only have 1, because it would probably work up too much of a virtual sweat with a dual core CPU in there. And if you have it processing DVDs in iDVD, that thing is going to be running for hours at nigh on full CPU usage. My Power Mac G5 can take a little over 4 hours to process a DVD on professional quality. The iMac would probably take 8 or 9 hours. If your work revolves more around word processing, reading stuff on the Internet and looking through your holiday snaps, the iMac is more than powerful enough.
I did initially have the idea of having a family central computer which would connect to the TV, and I was focussed on a Mac Mini. Luckily, I didnít find one, because another computer showed how unsuitable the telly was as a monitor. Cropped edges and weird scaling of the image too. Plus its full resolution didnít seem to be reported to the computer it was connected to, and it was also unable to show the BIOS, due to a resolution incompatibility. So, the iMac seemed the next best idea that was in the same price range. At least since these are 2nd hand now.
Like its bigger broí, the iMac G5 takes serial ATA type hard drives, which is good, because these are currently available, unlike the older parallel IDE type ones. (Or whatever it is. The ones with the fat, usually grey ribbon cable.) Because of the slender case, the DVD drive is a slot loading type, which probably means that 8 cm discs are a no-no. (The Power Mac has a full size tray loading drive.) The other difference is the RAM. The iMac I have will take up to 2.5 GB, as far as I know, where-as my Power Mac can take a jaw dropping 16 GB. (But 2 is enough for me.)
When the 1st iMac G5 came out in 2004, I was using a 3 year old CRT type monitor with a maximum resolution of 1600 ◊ 1200 pixels. Although, because that flickered too much, I usually ran it at 1152 ◊ 864 pixels. The iMac has a (50.8 cm) LCD of course, which runs at 1680 ◊ 1050 pixels, which is pretty sweet. Better than my MacBookís screen of 1280 ◊ 800 pixels, but of the same 8:5 aspect ratio. The smaller 43.18 cm iMac has a resolution of 1440 ◊ 900 pixels.
Every G5 Mac will run Mac OS X Tiger & Leopard, so you can have the best of running newer software and older goodies in Classic. Youíll need a partitioned hard drive to do this though. Macs donít mind loading up from an external FireWire connecting drive either, so thatís always an option. Although the iMac only has the 400 Mb per second type. The 800 Mb p.s. sockets are reserved for the Power Macs. Booting from USB connecting drives is not officially supported, and it may not work if you did try it. Because PowerPC Macs can only start up from a drive with an Apple Partition Map, that means you are limited to 2 TB. Trying to use a bigger drive would probably result in corruption or other weird things going on. Both Mac OS X Tiger & Leopard can read from a drive that uses the GUID method, so thereís no reason why you canít connect a larger, external drive for storing other data.
For some strange reason, both iMovie & iDVD had issues in Mac OS X Leopard, and even after patching iDVD, it was complaining about missing files, which WERE present. So Iím running these in Mac OS X Tiger now instead, which does work flawlessly. Itís confusing, because these programs run fine in the same OS on my MacBook and Power Mac.
The price of the iMac G5 ranged from $1999 up to $3199 in Australia, back in the day, depending on the model. You probably couldíve got a pretty comparable PC for about the same price, or less, if you ask me. But if you wanted Mac OS X, a Mac you would have to get.
Like I said on my Power Mac G5 page, there are no laptop computers with this CPU, due to the heat. Apple did iBooks and PowerBooks with G4s up until the transition to the Intel Core type ones. (This could be said about the Mac Mini as well, I guess.) This marked the end of Classic support, (as did Mac OS X Leopard,) so you were now down to Mac OS X programs only. PowerPC programs would be emulated with Rosetta. Apple have now been using the Intel CPUs for longer than the PowerPCs.
This iMac has an iSight camera, which means that you could use it for iChat, and do face to face conferences & stuff. (But mine doesnít work for some reason.) You could also use it with Photo Booth to take photos of yourself and make quirky faces. I remember groups of school girls fiddling with the Macs in the shops doing this. Itís not something you would fork out for an entire computer for though. iMovie will also record videos from the camera, but donít expect the quality or resolution of a proper video camera.
Unlike the iMac G4, there is no built-in modem. Thatís not so much of a worry for me now, but if this had been my primary computer when it was brand new, I still wouldíve needed a modem for the next 12 years. There is however, an Airport card, which does both the WiFi type connection and BlueTooth. And of course, a normal ethernet socket dealie on the back, which is MUCH faster. Speaking of on the back, there are 3 USB sockets, 2 FireWire ones, a video output socket, plus audio input and a headphones socket, which also somehow supports some kind of optical connection too. My Power Mac G5 also has optical audio connection sockets, but theyíre separate.
I discovered that you can use the same remote control from my MacBook with the iMac, so thatís probably going to get more use with this than the laptop compo. Programs like VLC will work with it as well, and itís good for just plain old changing the volume.
Speaking of VLC, Iíve tried 3 versions of it with this computer, in particularly, some tests regarding videos with separate subtitle files. Now, version 2.08, I think it was, is really good on my Power Mac G5, because of the dual core CPU, but it seems to stutter a bit on the iMac when loading each line of the text. However, the subtitle settings are quite adjustable, and they do look the best with this one. Version 1.1 is better, smoothness wise, but the subtitles donít seem to look as good, and arenít all that customisable. I found that MPlayer OS X Extended (which is for Mac OS X Leopard), is potentially a better choice, if you set it up correctly. I needed to set the subtitles to UTF-8 and the bit about skipping frames to off, and it seemed to be quite a bit nicer. At least from my quick testing with it.
If youíd like to see what other kinds of programs you can run on the iMac G5, check out the page about the Power Mac. Itís pretty much the same. The main weaknesses now of course, are new web browsers and if you want more recent games. (Apart from my 3 or 4 little games.)
So, what is Classic like? Itís pretty much like Mac OS 9.2 running in a virtual machine, but one thatís kind of integrated into Mac OS X. In some instances, programs will run very well, where as others can be unstable and a bit chunky. When a program in Classic has focus, the menu bar is taken over in Mac OS 9 style, but you can still see the Dock & other parts of Mac OS X surrounding it. It doesnít require a separate window to exist in. Running programs will also have their own icon displayed in the Dock. Classicís own icon has a clever ďfilling upĒ number 9, which indicates the amount loaded, since it usually takes a few seconds to kick in.
Some older programs from the 1980s can be problematic, and may need you to tread carefully, as it were. Unlike other virtual machines, Classic can use the same hard drive partition as Mac OS X Tiger, and on earlier G4 CPU based computers, it should be bootable too. (My iMac G4 can do this.)
Mac OS X Leopard will recognise pre-Mac OS X programs, but it has no way to allow them to be executed. Carbonised programs will run however, since theyíre made primarily for Mac OS X anyway.
If you want to run older Mac software, this is a good choice of computer, but if youíre looking for grunt and donít need support for Classic or PowerPC programs, the newer Intel CPU based Macs will easily out do this one. It all comes down to what you want to run, how much oomph youíre after, and how much you want to pay. For a 2nd hand iMac G5, you should be looking at about $350 at the most, and that would be one thatís had an upgraded hard drive and more RAM added.