Hiya Steve. Welcome to ehMac and your impending Maclife [img]smile.gif[/img]
I’ll offer up a counter argument to the eMac in your particular case.
Boy, the things applications such as Reason and Logic Audio Pro (which I use along with the EXS24 sampler and other virtual keyboards and synths) need, which do a lot of real-time processing in RAM, are fast processors
and LOTSA RAM. Having big L3 caches don't hurt, either. Disk and disk bus speed is less of an issue, unless you're doing big loads of multitrack digital audio recording instead of host-based synthesis and sampling (which Reason is mainly all about).
Buying a dual
1.8GHz G5 (now the entry-level new Powermac) is killer -- but it costs. And, there may be features there that you may not need but are having to buy. As you don't game, 8X AGP is probably overkill.
The eMacs, while an awesome choice for most uses, fall way short for killer digital audio and video production on two counts: they have a single G4 processor and they have no L3 cache. And just recently, Apple announced the end-of-the-line for buying new G4 Powermacs. So, the ONLY new dual systems available today are the G5 systems.
Personally (and especially in light of the above), I'm a big proponent of upgrading older Macs, and the best suggestion I can offer that START OUT at the cheapest is buying a "Sawtooth" G4 Powermac
and upgrading it to meet your personal requirements. Buying a "newer" used Mac -- unless you find one that is exactly what you want -- doesn't seem to me as being the best way IF
your goal is the fastest G4-based system you can get. I know: that doesn't sound like it makes sense, but read on.
Yes, the specs on newer gear is better than older gear, but that doesn't always translate into better performance or performance where
you need it. Unfortunately, Motorola really dropped the ball with the G4, causing it to not be able to take FULL advantage of the motherboard architecture it was built on!
Newer specs, for example, don't translate into significantly faster performance because of their DDR RAM for L3 cache over SDR L3 cache. With the G4's architecture, it didn't make much difference. Even the main RAM and higher bus speeds of recent G4 Powermacs didn't make a hell of a lot of difference, either! Check out these articles:
Powerlogix, maker of G4 Processor upgrades, talks about L3 cache and DDR vs SDR:
More details here:
Now, you're probably thinking, "Well, THEY MAKE PROCESSOR UPGRADES. What else are they gonna say?" Well, check out what longtime Mac tester Rob Morgan found out when the DDR-based (166MHz FSB) G4 architecture first came out versus the older SDR (133MHz FSB):
He found the results "depressing and scandalous". After repeated and meticulous testing, he found NO DIFFERENCE in performance.
At other World Computing, a US upgrades retailer, they pitted an iMac G4/800 versus an upgraded first-generation 2X AGP-based “Sawtooth” G4 Powermac (100MHz FSB) running a single 1GHz processor upgrade:
Here are numerous exhaustive
tests across various system configurations running Panther (15 tests performed on 42 system configurations!). These tests pitted the 2nd generation AGP Powermac (the the “Gigabit Ethernet” G4 Powermac with 100MHz FSB) and the first generation 4X AGP Powermac (“Digital Audio). The older systems were also upgraded with a Serial ATA PCI card, 7200rpm 8MB cache’d drive, ATI Radeon 9800 128MB card and 2GB RAM (1.5GB in the133Mhz machine — more on that later):
Despite the old Macs having the Serial ATA card, in the tests that access the disk a lot, such as the boot test, newer stock machines did well against the older machines with even the fastest G4 upgrades. But, check out the tests that stressed processor and RAM (what Reason does), such as:
Time to execute a 21 routine script using Adobe Photoshop 8 CS
Time to export a 500MB DV File to MPEG-4 w/ Final Cut Pro 4 (with a file THAT big, it’ll factor disk bus speed in too, however)
AltiVec Fractal Carbon - Overall Score
Adobe After Effects 6 Pro - Render 10 Frames
CPU Loading (stress test) - iTunes & Photoshop CS (multiple apps, running simultaneously)
Cinebench 2003 (CINEMA 4D R8) - Overall Score
Generally, a >4 year old, 100MHz FSB, 2X AGP, ATA66 Sawtooth, upgraded with dual 1.2 Ghz G4 processors (and they’re a little faster now) often CLOBBERS
the tested 1Ghz iMac (167MHz FSB) and even the 17” 1.33GHz G4 Powerbook. Thanks to the dual processors, that old Sawtooth even bests the single G5 Powermacs in some tests!
So, if you want the best performance in Reason short of buying a G5 and doing so for app. two grand all told, I’d get a Sawtooth and upgrade it as you see fit. If you’re into virtual sampling in a big way, keep in mind that the 133MHz FSB G4 Powermacs (“Gigabit Ethernet”, “Digital Audio”, and “Quicksilver” Powermacs) only have three RAM slots. This means that they can “only” handle 1.5GB of RAM. The older Sawtooth can take 2GB of RAM. For the work I do on my Mac (LOADS of EXS24 sampling, with just about all of the maximum 64 audio isntruments Logic Pro can provide active), I am thankfull that I have the extra 2GB and not the extra 33MHz FSB of the other G4 Powermacs. Even with 2 gig, however, I hit the wall! if I had the dough, the dual 1.8Ghz G5 would be a great purchase!
For upgrading the Sawtooth, that two grand covers:
Used G4 Sawtooth: app. $550.00-600.00 (through a private sale -- would be considered “a good deal” now that new G5s are out)
GigaDesigns Dual 1.2GHz G4
(with 2MB L3 cache PER PROCESSOR): Shipped from Other World Computing in the USA, in Canadian funds with taxes and brokerage fee via United States Postal Service: app. $1,100.00. (there are dual 1.3Ghz available, and I’ll bet dual 1.5GHz will come soon (single 1.5 are out). Buyt, I personally don’t see the G4 scaling beyond 1.5GHz.
Add 1.5GB RAM to an assumed RAM config of 512MB on one stick of the used Sawtooth: US$82.00 per stick at 1-800-4-MEMORY in the states
, which translates to around CAN$376.00 including GST & PST (no brokerage or shipping in that estimate, however)
TOTAL for an eMac crushing dual 1.2GHz G4 with 2GB RAM “Reason system”: $2,076.00 — not counting sound card — OR more disk space. And, you can add to that old Sawtooth as you see fit, or go with a dual 1GHz or “just” 1GB RAM for less and STILL have dual G4s that will beat the eMac.
As for me, check my sig for the upgrades I have performed on my Sawtooth. I got the G4 upgrade at Other World, the RAM privately (already had 1Gb in it from before), the 120Gb drive at Tiger Direct (yes; a PC store), the DVDRW at Canada Computers (another PC store), the ATI card at a Mac store for a STEAL. I don’t really need it for music — but I do for my dual LCDs. The stock card, while not able to serve OS X as well as a 32MB Radeon, would be fine. As for YOUR GPU, I know that some PC GPUs can be flashed to run on Macs, but I don;t know if that’s only for PCI cards.
Much food for thought!