Review by NojEsco

"High End Hardware, Optimal OS -- Lacking Library"

As of Late, Apples Are Indeed for Graphical Use –

I work for a company that makes special effect software, dual platform, for both PC and Mac. To work support, I have been issued both a Pentium 4 Windows XP system, and a dual G5 OSX machine. The two largely operate to full capacity, but during any moments I get to experiment or such with the products and their rendering or previewing capabilities, the Pentium 4 machine almost seems like a bad joke in comparison.

Despite having twice as much RAM as the G5, and a superior graphics card, simple animations on the Pentium 4 will take upwards of 3 times as long to render than an even more complex one on the G5. When it comes to graphical heavy-duty workload, the Mac side of things seems designed specifically to effortlessly conduct work that would otherwise choke up the PC.

Along with that, I have a weaker G5 at home, which I've had for upwards of 2 years now. The OSX is out of date, but has yet to crash on me a single time. The same goes for my OSX at work, which I've had for the past year, while at the same time, in a mere 15 months of just conducting work, sometimes merely working with customer emails, my Windows XP system has crashed 4 times.

Along with that, OSX viruses are very rare, so internet activity is only a risk because my OSX machine can act as a carrier to a virus; I can unknowingly transfer a Windows-based virus to other Windows machines, but I will not feel any effects from the virus myself. My G5 is hard-powered and secure.

Note: While not a Windows fan, I will give Windows XP its props, as it's the most advanced Windows to date, without a doubt, and I'm quite impressed with how well it's been holding up. I just don't want to sound like I'm writing this just being biased against the PC world.

Regardless of Library, Things Aren't Perfect –

I did get my G5 at the exact same time as my sister got a Pentium 4, and my G5 is substantially more powerful. However, now I will cover the problems with a G5, regardless of Library size.

First off, PC's can be purchased for the simple purpose of things like gaming and surfing the Internet. While I do use my G5 for some graphical applications now and again, Apple doesn't really offer this as an option. Additionally, because it's designed for work, not play, the G5 costs considerably more. While my G5 does have several times the power of the standard PC released at the same time, it also cost me about 3 times as much.

I compared the specs of my machine to my sister's at the time we got them, and in the Mac's favor were things like processors, and the fact that my HD came at a 160 GB standard. That's right, I said STANDARD! My sister got hers with an extra sized hard drive, which was merely 40 GB. And lastly, mine came standard with a DVD burner, while hers is the conventional CD-burn, DVD player.

However, on to the darker side, my G5, with some souped up hardware, also came with some odd shortcomings. One would be that both my sister and I were given the same amount of RAM. Why I was given two very powerful processors and yet a minimal amount of RAM is really beyond me, and unless you specifically ask for more, which I was unable to do, the desktop Macs will come with a minimal amount of RAM generally. Along with that, I was given a low end video card: the GeForce 5200, while the 6800 had been out for about a year. Like the RAM, I was given a low end graphics card while given two processors designed with graphics in mind.

Which brings me to my final problem, upgrade costs. While the Mac is one that's balanced, high price for high performance, the upgrades for certain things can cost considerably more. The primary example would the be GeForce 6800, now three years old, is more than twice the cost for the Mac if I were to buy it for the PC. They're the exact same card, so why is the cost so much higher?

I fell into this trap recently because while I can play Command & Conquer: Generals in full resolution without any problems, Doom 3 gives me the occasional stutter, even while running the second lowest resolution level. My system in some parts can handle the game perfectly, but it's also a very RAM intensive game, as well as one that pushes a lot of data through the video card, so with both being lacking, my system can't keep up.

Lastly, the Library –

Anyone who plays PC games knows that the Mac side of things is not one for gaming – really at all. In fact, half the games out on the shelves of your local Mac store are still OS9 compatible! If you're on a PC, you'll think twice of a game that can be run on a Windows 95, since it obviously doesn't do anything really advanced, and the same rule applies here.

But the primary problem is that there aren't many good games at all. Sure, if you make a game for the Mac, Mac users will buy it. But it's not remotely near the market for PC. Not to mention, while I give a lot of glory to Apple's OSX operating system, note that it's also harder to program for…from what I've heard, quite a bit. As such, to release a game on the Mac, you'll have to spend more money, only to get fewer purchases. While I would love to see more Mac games, I can not blame the manufacturers for passing over the Macintosh gaming market.

Just to throw this in, even though I do not apply, Mac gamers are generally unable to play multiplayer games in the same world as the PC users. If you play an MMORPG on your Mac, the other users are Mac players. While some games such as C&C: Generals are okay with this, huge games like World of Warcraft will appear very barren in comparison.

7/10 for the Macintosh – Strong but Desolate and Pricey –

While I love my G5, and can play what few games I have for it all day long, to recommend the Macintosh on a gaming site, as such specifically for gamers, is something I simply can't do. If you want to play PC games, get a PC, for all of the Mac games are PC in origin. As for me, I'll primarily stick to the consoles, at least for now.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 08/09/06

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