My trusty G4 Powermac turned 3 years old in April this year, and I had been considering upgrading to a shiny new G5. However, the recent announcement that Apple will start switching all their computers to Intel processors within the next 12 months has made me shelve this idea. Traditionally, Apple machines have always had an excellent resale value, and this has always helped to ease the pain of upgrading. But any PPC PowerMac that I buy now will have almost no resale value in another 3 years, so I’ll wait until the new Intel Macs reach revision 2 before throwing down the cash for new hardware.
The problem was that my G4 was starting to it’s age a little, particularly running heavyweight applications like Creative Suite 2. So, instead of upgrading the whole thing, I decided to drop a little cash on a new video card. After 3 years, I was still using the original 32Mb nVIDIA GeForce4 MX, and my 20″ Cinema Display was stretching to the limits. I expected the 128Mb ATI Radeon 9200 to improve the performance; what I wasn’t prepared for was just how big the speed boost would be.
The new card has transformed the performance of my old workhorse. Switching between applications is almost immediate, and the speed of Exposé is a revelation; so far I haven’t managed to open enough windows to make Exposé pause noticeably. I also get the cube effect when I switch accounts, even with a lot of windows open (something the nVidia card couldn’t manage consistently) The performance improvement has certainly justified the cost of the card, and I’d recommend the ATI card to anyone who wants to squeeze a bit more performance from an older Mac.
I’m even tempted to install a game demo just to put the card through it’s 3D paces.