• Price: from £1,960 plus VAT

  • Company: Apple

  • Our Rating: We rate this 8 out of 10 We rate this 8 out of 10

There’s no question that this Mac is fast. Rendering Digit’s usual test scene on the dual 2GHz Power Mac G5 – a multiprocessor-aware task that favours CPU processing power – took 32 minutes and 32 seconds with two processing threads. That’s almost 20 minutes faster than the same task running on a 1.6GHz G5.

The multi-threaded nature of the OS and the 64-bit processor means that tasks can be divided even further. With four threads, our 2GHz Mac flew through the tasks in 22 minutes and 24 seconds – over 10 minutes faster than with two threads. This is faster than our top-rated Pentium 4 machine, Dell’s Dimension 8300, which took over 26 minutes – and almost as fast as the dual-Xeon driven Acumen from Evesham, which leads the field with a speed of 16 minutes and 32 seconds.

Our review unit’s spec had been filled out to match the processing power. The RAM has been expanded up to 2GB, and the graphics card upgraded to ATI’s Radeon 9800 Pro, increasing the price to £2,830 plus VAT.

However, the G5 lacks the option of a more powerful graphics card, as neither 256MB gamer cards nor workstation-class cards are available for the Mac. This is a severe blow, as high-end 3D (and games) requires this sort of power. The G5 is lacking a number of other high-end functions. The case design is ingeniously quiet but prohibits internal RAID arrays, so you’ll have to pay more for external housing. There are only two internal drive bays for up to 500GB of serial ATA-only storage, and a single external bay filled with the DVD-R/CD-RW SuperDrive.

These gripes are more likely to put off current Xeon owners than Mac users, who should be used to paying more for external kit by now. Mac users will appreciate the ability of our 2GHz G5 to work through a series of Photoshop actions in three minutes and 23 seconds – a third of the time it took the 1.6GHz G5 (with 768MB of RAM), and less than a tenth of time it took a dual 1GHz G4 with 512MB of RAM.

No Xeon or Opteron owner is likely to move to the Mac for even this most powerful G5, and with falling PC chip prices, plus workstations built with Athlon 64s just around the corner, the G5 is less competitive than it previously looked. However, if you’re already a user of broad-base Mac tools such as Photoshop or Final Cut Pro, you can’t go wrong here.