Our lemon Apple

It seems one of the liquid cooled processors in Erin’s dual G5 sprung a leak. The coolant shorted out the power supply beneath it. Joy. I’d be less annoyed about this if it wasn’t the third time we’ve had a problem with the computer. The first two times, AppleCare replaced everything. Now that warranty has expired.

So, should we spend $900 to fix a three and a half year old computer? Or put that $900 towards a new Mac? An entry level MacPro is $2300. iMacs start at $1270. And that’s before you think about adding RAM.

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8 Responses to Our lemon Apple

  1. Erich says:

    Man, that sucks. What is this machine used for? Is it the only Mac in the house? Do either you or Erin need specific Mac apps? If you have another Mac, could you replace this one with a Linux or Windows machine and use the other Mac for specific apps you need? If not, maybe you should check benchmarks for the dual G5 versus, say, a new Macbook or even a Core 2 Duo Mac Mini. If she’s using the machine for video (as I suspect she is), it seems like you’d have to shell out some significant cash for a replacement, unfortunately.

  2. cbd says:

    I looked for benchmarks. Suggestions? The comparison is tough to make because the architectures are so different: dual core, mainboard speed, etc.

    Right now we are a one computer household; my trusty Athlon 1.3GHz/768MB RAM Linux box with Fiesty Fawn and SCSI hard drives is still snappy, as far as I’m concerned, though it’s six or more years old. The video card needs an upgrade, but I just haven’t gotten around to it.

    Windows is not an option.

    And yeah, Erin wants to do video. So we’re not really hot on a Mini. At least an iMac could drive an external display at a reasonable resolution. But external hard drives on FireWire are a poor substitute for SATA.

  3. Brendan says:

    The whole “sprung a leak” thing is why I’m terrified of the concept of H20 cooled computers. I understand the idea, but Yikes! Can you say NWE-computer closet?

    Thanks for the rsync instructions. My Next actions-Home folder has an otherwise blank page with these words on it:

    Rsync:
    google howtos.

    I’ve now adjusted it to say

    Rsync:
    Try cbd’s method

  4. cbd says:

    Liquid cooling used to be a lot more common, back in the mainframe days. My favorite nerd take on this is the mineral oil rigs.

    Google shows the Delphi cooling systems in these G5s sucked. No wonder Apple turned to Intel, if the best the PowerPC folks could do was chips which required liquid cooling, or dual core chips which failed to substantially increase performance.

    Let me know how rsync goes for you.

  5. Erich says:

    Well, I’ve had a 1st gen Core Duo Macbook with 2GB RAM as my only computer since October. It’s small, portable, and reasonably powerful. At home I use it with a bluetooth keyboard and mouse and a 19″ Dell monitor via DVI. It works great for my needs, but Erin’s are probably more graphic-intensive because of her video work. The weak link for the Macbooks and Minis is the integrated graphics.

    A google search for “macbook g5 benchmark” (no quotes) turns up a bunch of stuff. The first hit suggests that the 1st gen Core Duo Macbooks match or beat the G5s in several tests. Bear in mind that all current Macs (including the Mini) are now using Core 2 Duo chips, and so will perform better than these earlier tests indicate.

    The iMac gets you a discreet graphics card (and a nice-ass display, of course). My feeling is that the 2.4GHz 20″ iMac hits the price/performance sweet spot, unless you need the 24″ screen.

    So unless you want to shell out big bucks for a Mac Pro, I might suggest the 2.4GHz 20″ iMac + your existing display. That gives you a fast processor, lots of storage, and plenty of screen real estate.

    P.S. RAM is cheap these days; check newegg.com.

  6. cbd says:

    We decided to do the repair, with the caveat that if it breaks in less than a year we are personally going to Cupertino to register a complaint.

    The single disk is the problem I see/saw with the iMac; for video, multiples are really the way to go, ideally with RAID etc (and that’s limited by FireWire as the only external connector). Even for small stuff, having to read and write application, swap, input, and output data from the same disk really sucks.

  7. Erich says:

    I wonder if it wouldn’t be worth the effort to complain loudly now, rather than waiting until the thing breaks again. Rumors abound on teh internets that sending a polite, detailed complaint to sjobs@apple.com sometimes elicits a response from high-level customer support people who will work to rectify egregious problems like yours. It might be worth a shot.

  8. cbd says:

    We are going to write Apple now. Maybe they’ll do something. If not, at the least we’ve done our homework should, Jobs forbid, the problems return.

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