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Mac Upgrade: What should I buy?

Posted on 2010-09-20
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Last Modified: 2013-12-21
We need to upgrade a Macintosh computer for our (primary Windows XP) work environment. Please see specs on the current machine below. We need to transition the software as well (i.e. load it onto the new hardware) without buying any (or very little) additional software upgrades. What should we buy? How would you proceed?


Machine Model:  iMac G5
  CPU Type:     PowerPC G5  (3.0)
  Number Of CPUs:       1
  CPU Speed:    1.8 GHz
  L2 Cache (per CPU):   512 KB
  Memory:       256 MB
  Bus Speed:    600 MHz
  Boot ROM Version:     5.2.2f4
  Mac OS X : 10.3.9

HP Scanner:
Uses:
   HP Director 7.1.4

Database:
   FileMaker 7.0v2

Office Suite:

   Photoshop 8.0

   Illustrator CS 11.0.0

   InDesign 3.0

   Acrobat 7.0 Professional
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Question by:light-blue
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19 Comments
 
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by:strung
ID: 33719772
By upgrade, I assume you mean purchase a new computer? The iMac G5 is obsolete has Apple has switched from the PPC chip in the G5 to Intel chips. Hardware upgrades of the old G5, other than to increase the RAM would not be cost effective. It would make sense to purchase a new iMac.

Having said that, the installed memory of 256 Megs in your G5 is not nearly enough. In fact, it is a wonder it runs at all. Upgrading to 2 or 4 Gigs of RAM should make a substantial improvement.

You could also consider upgrading to OS 10.5 (which is not free), and then upgrading from 10.5.0 to 10.5.8 (which is free).

You can find out what the current version of your software is here:  http://www.versiontracker. com
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by:light-blue
ID: 33719912
By "upgrade," I mean purchase a new, replacement Mac. Hardware suggestions? Software migration issues?
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by:strung
ID: 33719954
If you purchase a new iMac, when you first start it, you will be asked if you have an old computer you want to migrate from. If you answer "yes" you will be told to connect the two computers together with a firewire cable (make sure you have one handy) and all your settings, documents and applications will be copied.

You will have to check the manufacturer's web site for compatibility of your software with OS 10.6.
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by:strung
ID: 33719967
Here is an OS 10.6 compatibility chart

http://snowleopard.wikidot.com/
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Mac2010 earned 250 total points
ID: 33723146
It looks like you still work with the Adobe CS1 suite, which is obsolete now too. It's not supported anymore and not 100% compatible with Intel processors. There were some issues with Adobe CS (notably Photoshop) for Power PC (like a G5) on Intel processors.

What machine to buy? That depends on your requirements. The recent generations iMac are good replacements for older workstations like G4 and G5 Macs. If color management is important, a Mac Pro with a separate monitor (like Eizo) may be a better choice.

I know a few people still using FileMaker 7 on Intel/Mac OS X 10.6 without too many problems.

You can expect some problems when using software ±5 years old on the latest hardware and OS. There should be enough budget to buy upgrades to the latest versions, when you upgrade. If you don't have that money, I suggest you get the G5 fixed and use it a little longer or buy a used Mac of your choice, but with hardware compatible with the software you use (especially Adobe CS).
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by:ron1666
ID: 33786653
iMacs give you the most performance for the dollar unless you need dual optical drives or extra internal hard drives. Your older software will work if you install "Rosetta".  As far as the suggestions above, software upgrades are available for all your software. You will get better performance with the newer versions.
To save yourself the full cost of the Adobe software, I would talk to Adobe and explain to them you want to migrate and update to the newer versions.  You will need to first unregister the software with Adobe and use the serial number to install the new software.

I would definitely check the amount of memory installed. 2 Gigs would vasting improve the performance.
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by:light-blue
ID: 33790579
Thank you to everyone who has responded! We are waiting on budget approval to purchase newer hardware and software. If we are denied, we will probably upgrade the hardware (memory and new hard-drive, the latter of which I'm assuming is Ghost-able?). As ron1666 recommended, I will talk directly with Adobe, whose website explains that our current CS1 software is too old for -- and thus disqualified from -- upgrade pricing.
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by:strung
ID: 33790600
The Mac equivalent of Ghost is the freeware CarbonCopyCloner:  http://www.bombich.com
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by:ron1666
ron1666 earned 250 total points
ID: 33790714
I would not clone the drive but start with a fresh install of the System software and use the Migration Tool to move all at Programs, preferences, share library files from the old hard disk to the new one.
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by:strung
ID: 33790742
That is good advice. When you first start the new computer, it will ask if you want to transfer over accounts, files, settings and applications from the old computer. If you answer "yes", you will be instructed to connect the two computers using a firewire cable and the O.S. will do the rest automatically.

Make sure you have a firewire cable (of the right type) to connect the two Macs together before you first start the new one.
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by:strung
ID: 33790764
In any case, you won't be able to clone the old drive to the new cpmputer because the new computer uses an Intel chip and the old uses a PPC chip and the system software will not be compatible between the old and new computers.
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by:light-blue
ID: 33790887
Regarding "Ghost-able", I meant cloning a copy of the current hard drive onto a new hard drive for the existing machine, if required due to budget constraints. Is that approach sound?
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by:strung
ID: 33790922
No, it is not, for reasons set out above.

 If you clone the drive, you will also be cloning the operating system and an operating system for a G5 will not boot an Intel Mac.

Instead just use the migration assistant as in the preceding three posts. That will leave the current up-to-date system software on the new Mac, but will automatically copy over all your other software, files, user accounts and settings.
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by:light-blue
ID: 33791073
>>"That will leave the current up-to-date system software on the new Mac,"
Sorry, what do you mean by new Mac? I wrote "..onto a new hard drive for the EXISTING machine" -- in other words, the old/existing/current/not-upgraded Mac and its related, original, OEM hardware. Again, we are awaiting budget approval, so no hardware/software has been purchased yet.

With this in mind, is the cloning option in my last post still sound? Admittedly, Mac PC's aren't Windows PC's, but both are PC's (despite the false dichotomy in the PC vs. Mac  ads -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_computer). Given that, and my business' successful cloning of Windows PC's on a regular basis, can I apply a similar cloning technique to a Mac PC? In that case, would I install a (new, currently not yet purchased) hard drive for the existing (not new, OEM, old) Mac to increase the latter's longevity?
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by:strung
ID: 33791130
Sorry, I misunderstood. Yes, you can use CarbonCopyCloner to clone to a new drive to be used in the original computer. CCC is free and works great. If you can't purchase a new Mac, a faster, larger drive and more RAM is definitely the way to go.

You can also clone using the Mac's built-in Disk Utility, but CCC is a bit more user friendly.  Just be sure, when you clone, to check the box to make the new drive bootable.

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by:strung
ID: 33791159
P.S., if you get a firewire enclosure for the new drive, you can clone to it and then boot from the external firewire drive before swapping the drives just to make sure everything has cloned properly. PPC Macs can boot from external firewire drives, but not from external USB drives. To boot from an external drive, boot while holding down the option key until the Boot Picker comes up.

Cloning will go much faster on firewire than on USB, so that is an additional advantage.
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by:light-blue
ID: 33823424
Thanks to everyone. This question isn't dead yet. We are still waiting for budget approval.
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Expert Comment

by:clayton89
ID: 34236582
I would suggest looking at a new mac mini.  The iMac is a great machine, but probably overkill for what you require.
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Author Closing Comment

by:light-blue
ID: 34250706
Thanks to everyone. We purchased a new iMac (Apple iMac MC508LL/A 21.5-Inch Desktop from Amazon), ran the migration utility, and also received enough money to buy the newest version of CS. Thanks again!
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