: Buy a new Intel or used PPC it comes down to software reliability?

Dec 25th, 2007, 08:16 PM
I'm a semi-destitute illustrator using a Powerbook G4, OS 10.2.8 using Quark, Photoshop, Distiller, Illustrator, mostly in Classic mode.

Funds are limited but a backup/replacement machine is finally necessary and here's the rub:
Am I better off getting a used PowerPC Mac that can still use my mix of Classic & OS X graphics software, or should I bite the bullet and get a new or refurbished Intel Mac? The ultimate question: is purchasing Intel-compatible software worth the considerable added expense and do the Classic/PowerPC emulators for the Intel really work? Can one reliably run pre-Intel OS X software on the new Macs?

My deciding criteria for all hardware & software is reliabilty and robustness. Speed is great but that's not why I love Macs anyway.

Any comments & suggestions are gratefully welcomed! And oh yes, happy holidays!

Dec 25th, 2007, 09:19 PM
If the software you want to use has an updated version certified to run on Intel machines it may well be worth the cost. You would be in with the present-day hardware and software and could be reasonably certain of a few (5?) years of functionality without having to upgrade. You could choose to, but you wouldn't *have* to. :)

If you need software that is only available for OS9 or older versions of OSX then save yourself a bundle and go with older PPC machines. Everything I have read about PPC emulation on Intel leaves a great deal to be desired; it's at the level of playing around, not production work.

This is only my opinion of course and I don't do the kind of work you do so... well, hey :)

At the very least, if you do choose to go with Intel / OSX 10.5, wait until after MacWorld in January. Nothing like dropping a few grand to find that a week later it could have bought you a much better machine.

Dec 25th, 2007, 10:20 PM
Thanks for the advice. I've been checking out the price of converting to all-new Universal Binary graphics software, looks about 1300-2000, then a cheaper Intel iMac starts at about 1000, ouch!

I have a feeling that carefully shopping for a good used G4 or 5 desktop model is my best bet I can't risk emulation headaches and I can't afford a simultaneous software and hardware upgrade.

I may be semi-destitute but I don't want any more trouble, no sir!

Dec 26th, 2007, 12:40 AM
If they're still available in your area a dual G4 will likely provide the best results for the money. If possible I'd skip the first gen. G5 towers and go for one of the later ones. I gather most of my info about doing more with less from http://www.lowendmac.com.

Dec 26th, 2007, 10:52 AM
thanks again

yes, this low end mac site is excellent, at times I get confused about the various Apple models & nomeclature, this site is like an Apple taxonomy!


Dec 26th, 2007, 06:53 PM

just wanted to say your artwork is very beautiful!

As for upgrade advice, I would suggest getting the most powerful G5 you can afford. But most importantly, GIVE UP CLASSIC. Seriously.

Find a good (legal!) copy of CS2 on ebay or somewhere, and switch to InDesign (you WILL thank me later), though I'm also going to say grab a cheap copy of Quark 6 too just to keep around.

Dec 27th, 2007, 12:46 AM
im in the same kind of boat.. i used my mac mostly for pro tools as much as i always want to have the latest and greatest.. it seems that one could get by with PPC for protools.. theres alot of cheap G5's on ebay :) any other pro tools users care to comment ?

Dec 27th, 2007, 02:28 PM
Yes, that seems to be the underlying question: is it necessary or merely better to update the professional software (Quark, Photoshop, Distiller, Illustrator, etc) to the Intel level.

It does seem clearer to me now that running an emulator is pointless.

I am confused though: the Mac OS went intel at 10.4.4, ergo, all OS's before can run PPC software. Any software that runs on both is the so-called Universal Binary, although the latter cannot run on earlier than 10.4?

I would be very interested in hearing from printing professionals who do a lot of pre-press work on their opinion of the Intel OS/graphics software versus the PPC versions of the same. I've found that pre-press compatibility, the ability to rip smoothly, esp. CTP with no redoes, etc that's the acid test, as much as the designer/illustrtors' opinions.

Thanks for the compliments. As I get more & more broke I draw better & better :D

Dec 27th, 2007, 04:27 PM
(note: I may be off on the .x numbers by a bit)

Everything up to 10.4.3 was PPC only as far as the OS goes. As of 10.4.4 Intel machines are supported by the OS.

The difference between a PPC-only and Universal is whether it will run on Intel machines. If you don't have an Intel you don't need to worry about Universal binaries, but do make sure that the software works on PPC machines as some very new software is Intel only. Some software has requirements based on the refinements in the OS (ex: "must have OS 10.4.9 or later") which has nothing to do with the hardware.

Simple version:
- Universal binaries can (*) run on any Mac computer using 10.3.9 or later.
- PPC-only = any G3 / G4 / G5 (*)
- Intel-only = Intel only which will be 10.4.4 or later.

(*) = So long as the software / hardware requirements for the software itself are met.

Any mistakes; please correct. :)

Dec 27th, 2007, 04:41 PM
It's a split decision.
Many are staying with PPC and CS2 - many staying with PPC and also going to CS3.

Quark 7 is an improvement all around.

Interestingly those furthest back seem more comfortable making the big leap to Intel than those with G5 backgrounds.

In terms of horsepower for graphics - it's a toss up between a G5 dual and iMac Intel for "speed".

The are comparable with each having somewhat different advantages.

We still sell 2:1 G5 over MacPro for graphics - may be even more.
iMacs for graphics and the even the MacMini are strong growth areas.

an MM with a colour correct screen is a cheap and effective intermediate workstation for around $1000

Dec 27th, 2007, 06:03 PM
Call me reckless, but I've gone with the latest and greatest most of the time, and only occasionally has this practice come back to bite me.

Currently using CS3 and Quark 7 on an Intel Blackbook w/two monitors and it's BY FAR the fastest, most stable machine I've used.

Please note that none of the previous machines my employers provided had 2GB of RAM, which is certainly one of the reasons, and also please note that I don't do work that requires PRECISE colour fidelity or a dedicated graphics card (but if I did, an Intel iMac would be my choice).

I'm not using InDesign as much these days as I did last year, but I've found that the new Adobe/PDF workflow "lifestyle" has been great for getting a lot done. I'm told Adobe needs to polish CS3's full compatibility with Leopard, but in my day-to-day use of PS and Illustrator and ID I haven't run across any problems.

If I were working in a print shop or graphics house somewhere I might want a tower with loads-o-RAM and a bigger, better, colour-calibrated monitor, but that's about all I could wish for.

Dec 27th, 2007, 06:42 PM
You make the case that I do for the MacMIni - for many users it's a brilliant fast solution and they can get into it with a colour correct monitor for way cheap.

Just waiting for the next round of Sammie 20 and 24s to make for sweet low cost layout system.