: How to buy a Mac - I need one!

May 22nd, 2004, 03:33 AM
Hi there! I'm the new guy.
First of all, this web site - cool, informative and Canadian- love it!
Obviously everybody here uses a Mac, I have a PC, Pentium II, 200MHz, 2GB HD.
Okay, stop laughing. I need help, I want to buy a Mac, I want to switch. My PC is driving me up the wall, no, it’s driving me though the wall. I can’t take it any more, I want that thing berried, destroyed, cut it up in little pieces and feed it to… anyway, I know little of Macs. Okay, I know nothing of Macs except that it suppose to be reliable and easy to use. So how do I start? I looked at some magazines and web sites, but it’s all techno talk: G-force that, X this, Beige here, 10.something there, I just don’t know what all that means. So before I make some salesman with the best of intentions (I’m sure) very happy, I would like some advice from the experts on what should be my first Mac, where to buy, what to look for and what to avoid. Now, this would be for home use, with a Photoshop for digital darkroom, word pro, few games, possibly with a DVD player, a zip drive and of course the Internet. Also, before you want to show off and go techno on me, (which I’m not) go easy, step-by-step, talk to me like I’m a six year old, and if any other web sites you have in mind which would tell me how to start with a Mac would be appreciated.

Really, really, thanks.

May 22nd, 2004, 06:07 AM
LOL! Hey man [welcome.

Basically, there's two ways I would suggest you go, hardware-wise:

A) Get a new eMac. They're reasonably fast, wonderfully featured and very well bundled -- and at a decent price. It would handle all the "consumer level" Photoshoping you'd want. Just get LOTS of RAM.

B) Get an older Sawtooth and upgrade the hell out of it. You'd end up spending about the same amount as the eMac -- maybe even a bit more, if you went bonkers. The point of this approach is that you can stuff some kickin' DUAL G4 processor upgrades in it that would smoke the eMac on dual processor aware apps like Photoshop. Another plus is that if you're tight on dough, you can start with a stock Sawtooth for about $650.00, use a standard VGA monitor, and your two button USB mouse. You'll also have to pay for OS X and some software, too, wherears the eMac comes with lots (not Photoshop, though).

Others may have alternate suggestions. Also, if you have other questions, let 'er RIP. smile.gif

May 22nd, 2004, 07:34 AM
Welcome. I was sort of in your shoes a few months ago and ended up switching in March - I wanted the portability though so I decided on an iBook.

My friend, ScriptKiddie, showed me around the Mac world a bit - he bought an eMac and uses it for all of the reasons you mentioned and he and his family love it.

I agree with Macaholic - you get a lot of machine in the new eMacs and they are very affordable and packed with goodies. Of course you are likely very used to tinkering so a Sawtooth would also be a good start.

I would think though, if you have been limping along on a P2 with a 2Gb HD - an eMac will really blow you away.

Check them out on Apple's (http://www.apple.ca) website and you can browse the specs.

Good luck.

May 22nd, 2004, 07:35 AM
Macaholic's suggestions are right on.

To find out more about the eMac, you can't really do much better than Apple.ca. Look at the hardware tab, not the store. Under hardware they detail exactly what the eMac can do in fairly plain language.

I recently bought the latest eMac for home use. Very, very impressive computer. My daughter is a Photoshop animal and it handles it very well - I maxed out the RAM. Really good value for the cash. If you have specific questions about this model, ask away.

You are going to love the iLife suite of products, all detailed on the Apple site. Wonderful for home use.

May 22nd, 2004, 08:57 AM

I'm with the others - go with the eMac.!

Now to answer some of your other questions:

Apple divides its computers into segments - Pro and Consumer.

Pro models would be the G5 Powermac, the G4 Powermac (although this would make an excellent home machine too), the G4 Powerbook.

Consumer models: eMac, iMac (this is the one with the LCD screen that looks like a desk lamp), iBook.

If you buy new then buy from the consumer line. If you buy used then buy from the pro line. The pro line is generally more upgradeable than the consumer line, which generally has closed architecture. You can still upgrade ram and hard drive in the consumer line but there isn't room for expansion cards.

OS X means 'Operating System - 10'

We are currently up to OS X 10.3 'Panther'. In the Mac OS nomenclature every successive release increases by an increment of .1, so the last release was '10.2 Jaguar' and later this year 10.4 'Tiger' will be released.

As for 'where to buy', give or MacDoc (http://www.macdoc.com) or DPI Mac (http://www.dpimac.com) a call and discuss your needs with them. I can personally vouch for these two. Tell them you're interested in the eMac but say you're also interested in exploring used machines.

You want something with a G4 processor, not a G3, unless you go for a recent used iBook laptop, which have only now switched to G4 in the new models. You don't want a beige tower- those were G3's from the late 1990's. They are called 'beige' because of the PC like beige plastic case.

Do you really need the ZIP drive? If so you may will need to get an external drive - Apple stopped including ZIPs in their pro towers several years ago. All new Macs now have at least a DVD R/CD RW, and many have DVD RW/CD RW for storage, which obviously is far superior to ZIP, which is obsolete btw. Also you'll probably need to pick up a new printer if the one you have now isn't USB.

Jacek, please visit
Apple History (http://http://www.apple-history.com/) . This site will give you a nice overview of the history of Apple hardware.

May 22nd, 2004, 09:05 AM
Welcome, Jacek.

As a first time buyer, I would strongly recommend buying new from a reputable Authorized Apple Reseller! The quality of after sales service will likely be a major factor in your experiences with the Mac. Plan your future uses for the new Mac carefully and base your purchase on your perceived needs. Apple's iApps (iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD) may provide all kinds of incentive for future uses, and you want to be sure the Mac model you buy will serve you well as time goes by.

The discussion you have with a reseller should provide you a feel as to whether or not he/she is the right person for you to deal with. Take your time and don't be afraid to ask ANYTHING!

May 22nd, 2004, 10:56 AM
hey all smile.gif

I just want to point out again that, with a Sawtooth, he could have a cheap fixer-upper that has the potential to significantly out-perform an eMac -- IF this is important to him. It may not be.

There are two main things that an eMac DEFINITELY has that he may or may not require -- but would be paying for anyway in that eMac package: a 17" CRT and Combo or Superdrive. If the guy just wants a FAST CDRW, he's not getting one. If he already has or wants a (different) CRT -- or an LCD -- then he doesn't need the eMac's 17".

A possible scenario would be buying a used Sawtooth for >$550.00 and adding a single 1.4GHz G4 for CAN$628.75 and it'll out run the eMac. OR, he can get some eMac stompin' HONKIN' DUAL 1.25GHz processor for CAN$945.16. Yeah, that's A LOT more than an eMac when you total that duallie with the Sawtooth, but it will also outperform most any G4-based Powermac Apple ever made in Photoshop.

As an example, here's my over five year old rig's stock config (http://www.lowendmac.com/ppc/g4saw.shtml) :

G4/450 (1MB L2 cache, no L3)
20GB 5400rpm drive
DVD-ROM drive
2X AGP ATI Rage 128 Pro (16MB)

Over the years, I have upgraded it to this:
Dual 1.3GHz G4 (2MB L3 cache per processor
A 72GB 7200rpm IBM Deskstar and a 120GB 7200rpm Seagate
ATI Radeon 9000 Pro
And just today, I added dual 17" NEC flat panels (model LCD71v with 16ms response time) :cool: The emac does have an external monitor connector (or can go out to S-VHS), but it only ddoes screen mirroring. there is a hack "out there" that allows you to do screen spanning instead of mirroring

Here are my "xBench" scores (http://ladd.dyndns.org/xbench/merge.xhtml?doc1=55267), which are ore than a little faster than the AVERAGE score of any G4-based Powermac category.

So, Jacek, it all depends on how high you ultimately want to fly, because you will probably never be able to upgrade the eMac's processor. On the other hand, it IS a great package (including Word/Excel compatibility for Mac and Windows) all in one purchase.

If you can't afford a G5, and as high-end dual G4 Powermacs are hard to come by, this -- to me -- is the best way to get the most power in exactly the combination of components you may want (like it is with your PC, there).

All food for thought.

May 22nd, 2004, 11:23 AM
3 (easy) steps to Mac goodness:

1) Buy an eMac!
Visit your local apple reseller. In Toronto I recommend=>
Click on Macs:
everyone and their mother recommends:
Carbon Computing:
www.carbonation.com (http://www.carbonation.com)

2) Visit your local PC store and pick up 2 x 512 MB DDR PC2700 RAM. Pick up some more or less reputable ram, something like Kingston, Crucial, I recommend =>

Canada Computers: www.canadacomputers.com (http://www.canadacomputers.com)

3) Get a book unless you are pretty comfortable with computers in general. I recommend something like=>

Amazon.com Link - Panther Tutorial (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0596006152/qid=1085239223/sr=8-1/ref=pd_ka_1/104-4132155-2699110?v=glance&s=books&n=507846)

EDIT: Made link shorter, messed formatting for both 1024x768 and 800x600 users. smile.gif

RESPONSE to Chealion: Sorry for being lazy, using a 1600x1200 res. you forget bout these issues.

[ May 22, 2004, 09:31 PM: Message edited by: insertclevername ]

May 22nd, 2004, 06:45 PM
If the guy just wants a FAST CDRW, he's not getting one.Um, Apple's current Combo drives burn at 32x speed - that's considered slow?

May 23rd, 2004, 10:01 AM
The eMac also has the cheapest extended warranty,
That in it self is a bonus.

Dave :cool:

May 23rd, 2004, 12:00 PM
Okay. Point taken. The gist of my point, however, is that he can config the Sawtooth any way he wants.

May 23rd, 2004, 01:00 PM
Thanks for posting the xbench scores. I like to see this stuff.
Our eMac scored an average (out of 3) of 134.4, which isn't too bad.

Must say, this eMac (using it now so gotta be quick before wife or kids throw me off) is pleasantly fast. The monitor is much better than I expected. My impression is that the graphics are better than some Dells I know, presumably because of the dedicated (and not shared) 32MB.

If I was buying a desktop for me I might grab a tower 'cause I like to goof around and upgrade stuff. For what Jacek has described I think the eMac would do. Whatever, not the iMac as it currently stands. For that cash I would want a lot more power and upgradeability.

May 23rd, 2004, 07:53 PM
Hiya Paelo smile.gif

Keep in mind that xBench IS NOT dual processor aware. So, your score that edges mine out in xBench scores will get blown away when dual processor apps are used -- like Photoshop ;) The eMacs are a great bang for the buck, though.

May 24th, 2004, 04:17 AM
Thanks, I appreciate your feedback.

I have browsed the Apple’s site and I liked what I saw. The iMac – very classy, but a bit pricey, iBooks – cool, but not on my budget. Yet the idea of having such a computer and being able to store it in a drawer sounds very appealing. Then there is the eMac SuperDrive – very sophisticated, affordable, flat screen and a good software combo. How can I go wrong? I cannot. The only thing that bothers me is the idea of not being able to do any tinkering with it. But by having a new powerful computer I may not have to. Sure, but if I want to add something extra, lets say I want to have two CD-ROMS or I still have 12 ZIP disks, it would be a waste if I could not keep using them. Wright? If I want to upgrade, is that also mean I have to buy a whole new computer every let say five years? Or should I look in to something like a Future Shops eMachines H2742 Intel Celeron 2.7GHz Computer, 17 inch Monitor and HP Printer Package? That one has an upgradeable tower. When it comes to used somehow I don’t feel comfortable with getting a used computer system that I never had experience with and also which is definitely out of my league, remember I’m still using Pentium II. There is another thing, my friend told me that it is very hard to get software for a Mac, (I’m talking about sharing) everybody has a PC. I do have some cool software which I like, for example ACDsee, Microsoft Office 2000 Pro, Adobe Photoshop 7 and Elements 2.0, Print Artist, War craft II and more. If I switch to Mac it may be very hard to replace them. I worry.
NOTE: Apple.ca advertises the same (I think it’s the same) computer for two different prices. On one page eMac SuperDrive for $999 and on another for $1,299. Am I missing something?

May 24th, 2004, 07:32 AM
Macaholic - about Xbench, ya I know. The difference in handling a big photoshop file between my eMac and the G5 we have at work clearly noticeable. The G5 is a bit creepy the way it tears through stuff.


You can easily add external drives to the eMac. But if upgrading is a real issue then go the tower route.

You need to clearly examine what you will use the computer for over the next few years. The consider how important your computing experience is to you. Do you want to spend time computing, or do you want to share your computing time with time spent managing your computer? This is one of the fundamental differences between Mac and Windows. With a Mac you just get on with what you want to do.

The Emachines computer you mention has the appearance of a good buy. IMO you would soon be back to square one: frustrated with what you want to do.

As for software - well, it is a rare thing not to find a Mac version of what most people use on a daily basis. There is no question there are more PC titles. Which software will you really use. Yes, you will have to spend on some new software. Yes, occasionally you will not find a Mac version of what you want.

It might be worth going over again why your current computer is frustrating you. Is it simply because it is out of date (happens much faster with a Windows machine)? Or is it that you want a more productive experience? Or both?

See if you can find a way to spend a few hours with a Mac.

May 24th, 2004, 10:54 AM

we have a tendency to focus on hardware too much, when the real reason for using the mac is the operating system - currently at Panther. say goodbye forever to those endless 'fatal error' or 'this program has performed an illegal function' pop ups.

say goodbye to driver conflicts. say goodbye to viruses. say goodbye to winbloze - to a crappy operating system that, to be blunt, isn't very good at what it's supposed to do.

say goodbye to Internet Explorer, the worst internet browser ever written. you'll find the internet a much less harrowing place on a Mac. you're free to choose whichever browser you like with no hassle. i have 5 browsers but use Apple's Safari anyway because it's hands down the best.

the point i'm trying to get across is that the principle benefit of mac ownership is the software, not the hardware. a mac will do wonders for your stress level.

to answer your question about ZIPs - last time i checked ZIPs cost about $10 - 15 ea. and could hold 100mb or 250mb, depending on the type of disk and the drive being used. a DVD will hold almost 5 GB of data and a CD aprox 700 MB, and cost only a fraction of a ZIP. ZIPs are obsolete. it's time to move on.

as for the need to upgrade? the emac is equipped with all the latest technology, and will remain completely viable for the the next four or more years, after which you simply buy another one. that's the way the emac was intended to be used. four years of tinker free and trouble free operation. there are many, many of the original CRT imacs still being used productively today, many years past their prime. the same cannot be said of pcs, which you can certainly appreciate as a user of a pentium II that you are going to bury, cut up into pieces and feed to something.

also, why would you want two cd drives in your machine?

as for ways to 'share' software, it is possible and actually quite easy to do that on a mac, but the policy of this board is that it's not discussed in the open. file sharing, especially illegal mp3 downloading, is much less problematic on a mac.
Acquisition (http://www.acquisitionx.com)

[ May 24, 2004, 11:25 AM: Message edited by: TroutMaskReplica ]

May 25th, 2004, 03:17 AM
Okay, I get the point.
I got my Pentium in 1997; so I guess if I lasted that long with a PC, I could definitely last longer with an eMac. But what you say about the Mac just seams to good to be true. I still think PC – it’s hard to break free. I guess I need to see it for my self.
The force is strong with the dark side; but it may not be to late, yet.

Here is the thing about the ZIP disks. They’re reusable. I can store and delete as many times as I want. If I’m working on a photo, lets say, and I want to store different variations of it, I can do it up to 100MB. If I don’t like it, I can delete it and still have 100MB for future use. I can’t do that with a CD, but I do use CDs to store the end result.

I have two R/W-CD drives in my computer. This is simply for convenience. If I want to transfer data directly from CD to CD, I can. While I’m using one CD drive to browse, play or save I can do that while listening to my favorite music CD by using the other drive. What do you think?

Here’s another question: if I was to go with brand new (affordable) consumer line, is eMac the only option? Not counting iMac. What else is out there?

May 25th, 2004, 03:45 AM
ZIPs are obsolete. it's time to move on. Not to hijack the thread... but I totally disagree. I use zips when my printer's net access is down, or when I need to throw around a larger file to someone else's desk. I like that the zip is reusable.

One of the printshops I was dealing with was in the process of upgrading their systems, and were considering getting rid of their zip drives. I pointed out how I always brought in a zip (or FTP'd things in..), and many other customers did the same. He told me to just burn him a CD - I told him no way. Not only because of the cost (each cd is cheap, but they do add up), but mostly because of the environmental consequences.

After being told in no uncertain terms that he'd be losing my business, (and i'm sure a few other customers spoke up as well) he kept the zip drives.

*we now return you to your regularly scheduled thread...*

May 25th, 2004, 08:19 AM

i'm going to address your concerns point by point:

I got my Pentium in 1997; so I guess if I lasted that long with a PC, I could definitely last longer with an eMac. But what you say about the Mac just seams to good to be true. I still think PC Ė itís hard to break free. i'm not going to guarantee that you'll still be using the eMac seven years from now, but i will say there's a good chance the hardware will still be in working condition. count on four years and then you'll probably want to replace it.

Here is the thing about the ZIP disks. Theyíre reusable. I can store and delete as many times as I want. If Iím working on a photo, lets say, and I want to store different variations of it, I can do it up to 100MB. If I donít like it, I can delete it and still have 100MB for future use. I canít do that with a CD, but I do use CDs to store the end result.
you work with mindset of someone stuck with a two gig hard drive for the last seven (!) years. don't forget your new machine will have an 80 or 160 GB hard drive. That's 80, 000 or 160, 000 MB ! pick up a cheap firewire hard drive or use DVD's for backup. i personally prefer the external HD to optical media as i find burning CDs a hassle. The advantage of an external HD (which you can pick up at very low cost these days) is you can back up your entire system on one device with blazing speed.

I have two R/W-CD drives in my computer. This is simply for convenience. If I want to transfer data directly from CD to CD, I can. While Iím using one CD drive to browse, play or save I can do that while listening to my favorite music CD by using the other drive. What do you think? You haven't yet discovered iTunes, have you? You can easily rip your CDs into one central database and listen to them whenever you want. As for transferring data from one CD to another - from the old CD simply drag the files to you desktop, insert a new CD, drag the files to the new disc which will appear on your desktop, and hit eject. The new CD will then burn before ejecting. ZIPs are unfortunately obsolete - on Windows or Mac platform.

Hereís another question: if I was to go with brand new (affordable) consumer line, is eMac the only option? Not counting iMac. What else is out there?
no, emac isn't the only option, but it certainly is the best bang for the buck. you might want to consider the G4 iBook, or the single processor g4 tower as well.

talonracer, the cost of CDs is pretty small in the grand scheme of things, but i see your point, however cheap hard drives, CDs and DVDs, faster and cheaper internal networks, and FTP (especially FTP) have rendered the ZIP obsolete for most tasks. Certainly they are not a viable backup solution in Jacek's case.

May 25th, 2004, 08:34 AM
Don't forget guys there are USB versions of the Zip drives available. Also USB flash drives are a reasonable alternative as well.

I stopped using my Zip drive altogether and rely on USB flash drives now. This is assuming every machine you encounter has USB ports.....

May 25th, 2004, 04:46 PM
I'm currently typing my reply on an iMac that is three to four years old. In all that time I've only added some RAM, but otherwise it's the same machine. And I have brutalized this computer - throwing it in the back of cars, as if it were the dirty laundry.

Now if there were a reason to upgrade I'd jump at an eMac, but there isn't. This machine works - actually it's never, ever faltered, and since Apple is usually one step ahead with ports, I have the firewire I would have had to buy in a PC.

My advice then? buy an eMac. It's probably built as well as my iMac, it's probably surprisingly resistant to obsolesence, and you can throw it in the trunk for those fast getaways. It's like using a battle-proven metal Leica camera instead of a peice of clunky plastic.

special-op navy seal
May 26th, 2004, 11:39 PM
The computer I'm on right now is very similar to yours. I think it's an AMD at 233 mhz with 2GB and 128 mb ram. This computer was top of the line in 1997, but now it can't really handle much. It will do internet browsing and games that are older than 1999. It still works well and at a reasonable speed and have had to reformat it a couple times. It requires a lot of maintainance which I do about every second day. That is why I am really considering to buy a new emac.

May 27th, 2004, 07:43 AM
You mean, you don't have a Mac, special-op navy seal? The way you post in here, I asumed that you had already switched ;)

special-op navy seal
May 29th, 2004, 10:32 AM
No unfortunatley I don't have a mac. I like macs a lot and I have the money to buy one, but I'm having trouble convincing my parents. They say I don't need a computer. We have 3 old and very old computers. We always have problems with them, and they just keep spending $ on fixing them. They can't understand that mac is better and that we need a good reliable cpu. They don't let me do anything with the computers except use word and research on the internet because they think they'll get viruses if I do anything else (like play games). The computer has like a 40 gig hard drive. 2 Gb are being used.

May 29th, 2004, 11:50 AM
They don't let me do anything with the computers except use word and research on the internet because they think they'll get viruses if I do anything else The typical life of the typical Windows user. My sister is like that with her PC. You have my condolences. ;)

May 29th, 2004, 12:31 PM
My condolences too, especially since you have the cash for a new computer. One of the newer eMacs would be such a pleasant change for you.

Suggest you get a trusted 3rd party on your side... smile.gif

Jun 5th, 2004, 12:58 PM
Macaholic, I agree with you that the sawthoot is a better choice than a eMac. I would go for a used Digital Audio model with the 133mhz bus and the 4X AGP slot. Not a lot more expensive than the previous model but a better machine over all. Just add a good video card, a G4 upgrade and enjoy.........

Jun 5th, 2004, 01:07 PM
IF, Glassonion, he desires speed which outperforms an eMac. The eMac is an awesome package, excellent for "switchers" -- IF it fulfills the extent of that switcher's expectations. If a guy wants "eMac class" performance and feature set, he'll save A LOT OF MONEY going with the eMac:

eMac: SINGLE 1.25GHz G4 (no L3 cache), 256MB DDR-RAM, Superdrive + 80GB drive, ATI Radeon 9200 w/32MB RAM for $1,299.00.

Now, Sawtooth with hardware upgrade prices at Other World (software prices from CDW or Mac Warehouse, Canada):

Used Sawtooth $550.00
Single 1.25GHz G4 (2MB L3 cache): $498.73
DVD-RW: $146.32 (8X)
80GB Seagate Barracuda 7200rpm 2MB Cache (add to the stock 20GB for 100 total): $111.13
256B RAM (add to the stock 128 for 384MB total): $66.40
ATI Technologies RADEON 9000 PRO MAC EDITION 128MB (better card): $216.85
Panther: $146.32
iLife: $60.00
Appleworks: $118.99
Quicken: $60.00 (app.)
TOTAL: $1,974.74

Now, as I only got prices and components from Other World, some of this Sawtooth system specs out higher than the eMac. but, it's close enough to show how "eMac class performance" is better acquired through an eMac, rather than an upgraded Sawtooth. It's when you're looking at buying a new or recent DUAL G4 where the bang for the buck tilts in favour of upgrading a Sawtooth -- OR if one happens to pickup a used Sawtooth that may already have some components upgraded. This is because -- pretty well regardless of the upgrades a Sawtooth has benefitted from -- people tend to ignore them and think "It's a Sawtooth. Sell CHEAP!", which I think is just dumb and unfair, considering how fast an upgraded Sawtooth can go. I'd put my upgraded Sawtooth up against ANY stock Quicksilver and almost any stock MDD Powermac and it will perform really well. In fact, according the the xBench results, my Sawtooth's is higher than ANY G4 category's average score, and it beats any stock Quicksilver. Bear in mind, dear readers, that I'm still using the stock ATA66 drive bus. Considering how cheap an ATA100 RAID could be, there's STILL lots of room for improvement -- if one needed faster drives.

Jun 5th, 2004, 03:33 PM
macaholic, if you have any room left in your case you should consider a RAID - the difference is quite dramatic. i've got two 8 meg cache drives in a RAID and photoshop fires up in couple of seconds.

Jun 5th, 2004, 04:51 PM
Well, I'm okay with the drives as they currently are. I will, however, be getting a Superdrive.Dpown the road, I may very well upgrade the drive interface -- if only to brag that the only stock items in my Mac are the power supply and the mobo.

Jun 5th, 2004, 05:30 PM
The only gripe I have with Apple is that if you don't get the
drives installed when you buy it (Like in the Apple store),
Then later on you end up paying an arm and a leg to install
a Super drive (For example) in a laptop.

The only third party at the moment appears to be M.C.E. for
laptop Optical drive upgrades and they are extremely costly.

Why can't Apple have an after market store?

My 3Ę

Dave :cool:

Jun 7th, 2004, 03:15 AM
If you could clear up couple of things for me, please:
Sawtooth – is that mean a used computer or some kind of operating system?
If you could tell me in short, what is it, what does it do and would I really need it?
- L3 cache
- ATI Technologies RADEON 9000 PRO

Also, doesn’t eMac SuperDrive package include DVD-RW and nowadays since PC’s come with 2.4GHz as a standard, is 1.25GHz a bit slow for eMac?

One more thing, if I was to buy a used “Sawtooth” for $550 (which sounds a lot better then $1299.00), what features would it normally come with (assuming it hasn’t been upgraded), would it be as reliable as a brand new eMac and do you know of any places in Toronto where I can find one?

Jun 7th, 2004, 07:57 AM

'Sawtooth' was Apple's development code word for the first generation of G4 PowerMac, released around 1999. they were also the first Mac to have AGP graphics.

so in short, they are the ideal candidate for upgrading today because they have many modern technologies and they are cheap to buy used.

you can pick up a stock unit with DVD, USB, Ethernet, SDRAM, 20 GB hard drive for about $550 - $650. it's uncommon to find a unit that is completely stock - most have 512mb to 1 gig of RAM and a bigger hard drive, but it doesn't seem to affect the price much.

i'm not convinced that you should take this route, if you want the PowerMac tower form factor you might consider buying a later used model and don't bother upgrading it too much. it'll cost you less than upgrading a sawtooth and you'll have a machine with a longer shelf life.

Jun 7th, 2004, 08:03 AM
in my opinion, the upgrade route really only makes if you already have a sawtooth, like macaholic did.

Jun 7th, 2004, 10:45 AM
Troutmaskreplica answered some of your questions very well, Jacek, but we differ in opinion on the validity of the "This Old Sawtooth" approach. Whether or not it's a good way to go really depends on what a person's needs are.

A list of the specs of Powermac and any significant facets of them are available here:
Under ďG3-G5 ModelsĒ, don't go any higher (or older) than the Sawtooth.

If one is looking for "eMac class" performance, that being essentially single G4 performance with 512k L2 and no L3, then the eMac itself is an awesome -- and cheaper -- way to go. It provides all the average person needs, including the oft overlooked software bundle that includes "iLife" and Appleworks with Word and Excel compatibility. It's all there, right out of the box. $1,049.00 for the Combo drive version. $1,299.00 for the DVDRW version with double the disk size. Its performance is well suited for the average consumer.

IF, on the other hand, one is looking at buying a Mac that is faster than an eMac -- particularly in rendering -- then upgrading a Sawtooth starts to become a more valid option. What is also good about the upgrade route is that, if one is on a tight budget, one can buy a Sawtooth, Mac OS X Panther, Appleworks and maybe some extra RAM and get going on the Mac life for less than the eMac. And, the Sawtooth can be upgraded as finances allow. Sure, running OS X on a 350 or 400MHz G4 won't be greased lightening, but it definitely works.

The other advantage of the Sawtooth way is that you can upgrade ONLY what you need? Aren't a gamer? Then you're okay with Sawtooth's stock GPU. Not doing loads of disk intensive chores? Then you don't need to buy an ATA100 or SCSI card. Want FAST rendering? Then the Sonnet dual 1.3GHz upgrade and lots of RAM is what you need. Don't need to burn DVDS or watch them on your computer? Just buy a CDRW. You get the idea, and it all comes in cheaper than a new or recent (competitively sped) G4 Powermac that might be overkill in light of the above points. Some comparisons:

eMac: SINGLE 1.25GHz G4 (no L3 cache), 256MB DDR-RAM, Superdrive + 80GB drive, ATI Radeon 9200 w/32MB RAM for $1,299.00.

Now, Sawtooth with hardware upgrade prices at Other World (software prices from CDW or Mac Warehouse, Canada):

Used Sawtooth $550.00
Single 1.25GHz G4 (2MB L3 cache): $498.73
DVD-RW: $130.00 (Pioneer DVR-107 8X)
80GB Maxtor 7200rpm 2MB Cache (add to the stock 20GB for 100 total): $106.99
256B RAM (add to the stock 128 for 384MB total): $66.40
ATI Technologies RADEON 9000 PRO MAC EDITION 128MB (better card): $216.85
Panther: $146.32
iLife: $60.00
Appleworks: $118.99
Quicken: $60.00 (app.)
TOTAL: $1,957.28

In the above scenario, the eMac makes sense. Now, how about speed superior to the eMac? Read on:

New G4 Powermac Dual 1.25GHz PowerPC G4 2MB L3 cache/processor
80GB Ultra ATA drive
Combo Drive
ATI Radeon 9000 Pro
Comes with Panther and iLife, but no Appleworks or Quicken. TOTAL for the package is not $2,397.99. That's for a Combo drive (not DVDRW), less RAM (but faster RAM... to an extent and 4X AGP vs. 2X) and 20GB less drive capacity (but a faster drive bus).

And, if you want a NEW G4 Powermac with a DVDRW, the scales tip even better in the Sawtooth's favour:

Dual 1.25GHz PowerPC G4
2MB L3 cache/processor
80GB Ultra ATA drive
ATI Radeon 9000 Pro

As for newer used. The maxed out Sawtooth will beat any stock Quicksilver and most MDD G4 Powermacs one may be lucky enough to come across.

Here is a CURRENT SINGLE 1.25GHz G4 Powermac up for sale. is it the best way to go, given the Sawooth approach:

To me, the Sawtooth wins -- especially in light of the custom configuring you can do to it as you upgrade... which could make it cheaper. Like, I pretty well added all the bells and whistles to the Sawtooth. Not everybody may need that.

As for how fast you can go with a Sawtooth? Well, I have about the fastest dual G4 upgrade you can get. There's an OS X benchmarking app, called xBench (http://xbench.com/). This app can report UNALTERED test results to the author's site. I got a score of 131.10 (http://ladd.dyndns.org/xbench/merge.xhtml?doc1=55267). Unfortunately, xBench is NOT dual processor aware. So, such systems will be faster than reported.

As of this date, the AVERAGE score for the fastest class of G4 Powermac is 129.27 (http://ladd.dyndns.org/xbench/compareindex.xhtml?sort=score#tableTop). Comparing my processor score to equally clocked G4 Powermacs, my system competes. Check out the following systems' CPU scores.

Mine (dual 1.3GHz):

The following are G4 Powermacs possessing the same processor speed as what Apple is currently selling, which is a dual 1.25GHz config. I beat them all:



Here's a dual 1.33Ghz Powermac whose processor score does beat mine:

Because of my 100MHz FSB, however, I do get beat on memory bandwidth tests. Whether that matters or not and whether 100MHz is fast enough for the Mac OS X will depend on who you ask. not surprisingly, the G5 category has an AVERAGE score of 172.44. The fastest G5 (probably with a RAID) IS 273.36 if you got the dough for one, of course.

Others dismiss "This old Sawtooth" approach completely. I wouldn't be so hasty.

Performance-wise, the new dual G4 Powermac will outperform my Sawtooth by a bit... but not A LOT. Depending on the process, my Sawtooth will equal the new Powermac. And my Sawtooth will outperform any eMac/iMac or most any recent used G4 Powermac one may be lucky enough to find. Processing power can be equaled. Drive interface can be equaled. Memory bandwidth and graphics throughput cannot.

If you want the fastest Mac you can afford, but can't afford a G5, "This Old Sawtooth" aint a bad way to go! At least that's what I think.

EDIT: They have great prices here: http://canadacomputers.com/storage.html This is where I got my DVD-RW.