With a possible Apple computer purchase on the horizon I found myself in a bit of confusion on the upcoming switch to Intel processors. For those who aren’t familiar with this news, the basic story is that Apple, after using IBM processors for quite some time, has decided to switch to Intel processors. The switch begins in the early summer of 2006 and should end by the end of 2007. So, with my mac purchase being somewhere around January I had to ask, should I just hold off and wait until the switch happens and buy a mac then? It wasn’t as easy to decide as I thought it would be.
There are a few things that I have to consider. First the pros of buying now:
- The current PowerMac line is increadibly fast, even at it’s lowest model. I believe that I can get buy with a dual 2.0Ghz machine thank you. Even though the primary motivator for Apple’s switch seems to be processor speeds, I don’t think there’s really that much different between the current G5 chips and the current Intel chips.
- Even after the switch, most all software released for macs will be compatable with both the IBM and Intel chips. It’s not like I’m going to be left in the dust wishing I had the Intel mac. Most are saying that Apple would be forced to support the IBM macs until around 2009. By then my computer would be a candidate for replacement anyway.
- The current PowerMac G5s are tried and true. They’ve been on the market long enough to have the bugs worked out and have been found to be very nice machines.
- Most are saying that the PowerMac line won’t be updated to include Intel processors until the end of the transition in 2007. This means rather than waiting a few months for my purchase I could likely be waiting more than two years. Yikes!
- There is an old rule that I haven’t seen mention of in a while: Never
buy revision A of Apple hardware. How this applies in the x86
transition is going to be interesting to see, but in the past Apple’s initial releases of new hardware have been plagued with problems. Most will remember the iBook recall issues a year or so back. I don’t want to be party to such a fiasco.
- Apple has said that they’re planning on releasing more IBM-based hardware before the transition is complete, so they’re obviously not planning on abandoning all of the IBM users out there if they’re going to release new IBM hardware before and during the transition.
- Apple’s next OS release, Leopard, will be supported by the IBM models. This means that Apple must support all IBM machines until around at least 2009.
The pros of waiting to purchase an Intel based mac:
- Having the newest hardware Apple offers. This is one of those hidden benefits that often takes a stronghold on me. Many of us want to have the newest, best version of everything. This is especially true of me when it comes to computers.
- The ability to have a dual boot Mac/Windows system. As much as I hate Windows, it’s a necessary evil for the time being. It would be nice to have Windows running on the same machine and have the ability to load Windows-only software.
- There are going to be some overall hardware improvements coming with the Intel macs. Speculations include: PCI Extreme, new motherboard designs, DDR2 memory, etc.
Personally for me, I’ve decided to purchase a current IBM system rather than hold off and purchase an Intel system. If you’d still like to read some other opinions, here is a good thread posted on MacSlash about this topic. It answered many of my questions.