Which G5 Whispers Better?

We’re considering our first new Macs in years for the home office. Both of us have fallen in love with the new iMacs, but I’m still inclined toward the expandability of the PowerMac — I’ve got a stack of external drives on my desk that I’d love to mount in the case. One of our goals is to eliminate or greatly reduce the constant hum of computers around here, but I’m not coming up with much concrete info on the relative noise levels generated by these two (aside from trying to listen closely in a store crowded with people and machines). Sent a question for publication to MacSlash last night and they’re running it. Will be interesting to see results from the field.

Music: Kahil El’Zabars The Ritual :: Ocean Deep

12 Replies to “Which G5 Whispers Better?”

  1. My dual 1.8 is pretty darn quiet. Hard disk noise is audible over the normal level of sound the machine puts out, as are the tiny fans in the set top box that is my server 6 feet away. My system is seldom loaded enough for the Pulse meter to show more than chatter at the bottoms of the scales, and you have to beat on the CPUs for a sustained period before the fans spool up. I’ve only heard the thing go to maximum cool once, and that was during a crash. It sounded like a vacuum cleaner on my desk. LOUD. So for quietness I’d recommend the G5, though I haven’t even seen the new imacs yet.

    The G5 also has faboo audio. I just plugged my Bose noise cancelation headphones into the headphone jack on the machine, and am realizing that the cruddy Radio Shack amp I’ve been using these last few years (before I got my first mac) has been muddying my music almost to unrecognisability.

    The only caviet with the dual G5 is the freezing problem, where the windowserver process hangs (Apple has yet to admit this is a problem), possibly due to an OpenGL bug or a firmware problem in the video card. Some machines do it, some don’t, apparently. Mine does, once every few days if I hold the mouse pointer button down scrolling on things. This could be a fatal bug for people doing digital art on the thing. The reports I’ve read about the “gui freeze” problem suggest that it spans the entire DG5 line, at least up to the first generation 2.0 GHZ machines. I’m debating pursuing the matter before my warrantee elapses.

    Also, be aware that there aren’t many firwire 400 ports on this machine. (one on the back, one on the front) so you’re probably looking at needing a firewire hub or (if you can find one) a firewire card that will work with PCI-X. (some types of older cards will catch fire if you plug them into PCI-X, and not being up on PCI I’ve elected not to risk such a spectacular voiding of my warrantee. Advice would be appreciated. :)

    On balance I’m happy with my G5, it’s smooth and powerful, everything is *snappy*. I don’t imagine I need to recommend that you NOT order additional RAM from Apple – Crucial will sell you RAM for the machine for about half the price.

    hope this helps.

  2. we’ve got 3 first generation dual 2Ghz G5’s.
    almost silent till you put a heavy load on the cpu. And even then, it’s only loud compared to itself. (heavy load in my case is printing a 1000 page pdf while checking e-mail and using the smear brush in photoshop on a 16×20 doc @ 1600 x 1200 res.)

    I wouldn’t expect to get any external drives into it though. the case is designed very specifically to direct airflow, and there are only slots for 2 hard disks and one optical drive.

    If you were to try and wedge something else into it, you’re bound to disrupt the cooling system and get fan noise all the time, so if that’s your only reason for not choosing the iMac, then go with the iMac.

    G5’s are hella fast though. if you’re stepping up from a g4 to a dual 2Ghz then you will be very pleased. (first computer that will keep up with me using photoshop and the afore mentioned smear brush)


  3. forgot to mention..
    fill the thing with ram whatever you decide to get.
    1-2 gig’s is about right.

    I prefer 2 gig’s, but I am using Adobe’s creative suite, so I am probably above average memory hog.


  4. Dual G5 1.8ghz 1GB RAM PCI – all stock. Almost as silent as my old G3 600 iMac. The G5 sits next to me on my desk. In a room where there is nothing but silence (except for the keyboard and some distant crickets outside) the only thing I can hear on the tower is the soft swoosh of the fan, and the crackle of the HD when it needs to search the disk. I’m not sure why Apple used a HD that crackles when there are so many models out that are virtually silent.

    I haven’t used the Superdrive that much yet, but in my experience I’ve never encountered a CD drive that didn’t make a din — especially with cheaply made CDs.

    Hope that helps.

    My greatest regret about getting an iMac way-back-when was the fact that I couldn’t upgrade the monitor or video card, which in my experience are the two most often needed or desired upgrades.

    That said, my mother is getting a G5 iMac — which will be a monster for her needs, she wasn’t even using her G3 iMac to full capacity and was fully happy with it until it died.

  5. After reading all of the comments on MacSlash and here today, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a more or less a draw between the two machines, noise-wise. And the nice thing about a tower is that it can live under the desk, giving it even more noise damping.

    Not sure why I thought the G5 tower was designed to take four drives rather than two. Hrmm… that’s too bad. But the iMac only takes one, so I’d still be better off on that front.

    Jeremiah, yes definitely 2G RAM, and yes, always from Crucial :)

    Jim, I hadn’t heard about the window server issue – doesn’t seem to be affecting everyone. Is yours a first-gen G5?


  6. There may be another manufacturer that makes a similar solution to Wiebetech’s, but I’m not sure. Wiebetech does had a reputation as a maker of premium products.

    Scot, if you’ve got a stack of external drives you’d like to mount in the case, you might be out of luck if they’re not SATA. Is there a PCI-X card that can be installed in a G5 that allows use of ATA? On the other hand, the top of the G5 is flat enough and large enough so that you can sit a stack of drives on top of it.

  7. Hmm… good point about SATA being used in the G5. I wonder if they also offer ATA for compatibility, or if it’s SATA all the way…

    I’m sure there’s a PCI card that could be purchased… but then add another chunk of change. I’m starting to think that I should get a multi-drive external enclosure and, as you suggest, put the whole thing on top of the case under the desk.

    baald sent me a URL with a ton of great external FW multi-drive enclosures. I wonder what the noise on some these is like… especially the quads:


    I love my Wiebetech ATA/FireWire adapter – the stack of drives I have is “naked,” i.e. not in enclosures. Just plug the adapater into the IDE interface and pop in a FW cable. A thing of beauty. But the price on those Jams is naughty.

  8. I have the 1.6 G5 and the only time I ever hear it is on boot, it makes a brief *vroom* like it’s revving up. It’s so cute ;) The CD drawer, though, when the door opens it makes a ka-chunk noise, very plasticky and cheap-sounding, but I don’t use it very much…and it makes your standard whirring but it’s not nearly as loud as the one on my G3 or the G3 Powerbook (which sounds like a vibrator, very embarrassing out in public).

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