The worm in my Apple

powermac g5
Good-bye old friend.

Hopefully sometime very soon, I will finally upgrade my beautifully engineered but increasingly obsolete Mac Power G5, purchased “way back” in 2006. I look at that machine, and I still marvel at its quality and the attention to detail built within it. Yes, the thing is kind of a behemoth, but I barely put a dent in its expansion capabilities. Unfortunately, the list of software that I use that won’t run on it grows longer. Apple won’t even provide a version of Safari or iTunes that will run on it. Also, despite its power, the machine performs worse than my 2007 Macbook.

So, what to buy? My immediate impulse would have me simply buy one of the new iMacs. The MacPros simply cost too much, and as the industry continues to take note, Apple has probably abandoned further development of that line.

As a professional user, I find myself for the first time in a quandary about which machine to buy. Put simply, I look at the new iMacs and I don’t like what I see. Apple has finally created a machine that makes it impossible for users to install upgrades of any kind. They’ve done it seemingly in pursuit of creating machines thin enough to cut through steak. With something generally portable, I can understand the appeal, but I’m looking for something that will sit — and stay — on my desktop. I don’t need it to be “the thinnest iMac ever.” I need it to be the best machine for my needs I can get for the money.

My experiences with my Macs have all followed a similar pattern. I typically keep my machines in service for six years or more. In that time, I upgrade the memory at least once and the hard drive twice What seems plenty capable at purchase becomes cramped and sluggish after about two or three years. Without fail, some new technology, software, or file format emerges that requires more computing resources.

The new iMac requires a return to the Apple store to install any of these upgrades, so it compels me to spend up front for extra drive space and memory, for which Apple demands a premium. The the 16 gigabyte memory upgrade that costs $80 at Amazon costs $200 with Apple.

The only alternative presented to my by Apple is their Mac Mini. I already own two of these, but I don’t use either of them for my work. One sits in the kitchen and the other I have attached to my television serving as a media center. The new Minis, though more powerful, are hobbled by slower processors and hard drives. I can, however, upgrade them myself, but I don’t want to buy a stock machine and only to replace the installed hard drive with a faster unit. And no, I don’t care about the lack of optical drive.

If I had one wish of Apple right now, I would beg them to establish a line of affordable power-user, geek-friendly machines. Maybe just one or two and call them the Super Mini line. I know that my plea echoes those of disgruntled power users everywhere and will go unheeded, but who knows what Apple’s future plans might be.

As someone who has used Apple products for almost thirty years, I just want a powerful, affordable machine that I can expand myself. I don’t need six expansion slots or four hard drive bays or two network ports. I just need a powerful Mac Mini that can run two monitors, that I can easily open without exotic tools and readily install parts, and easily expand. It doesn’t have to be the thinnest, smallest, or lightest. I have plenty of room on my desk, and I don’t plan on moving it all over kingdom come. Something as fast as an iMac, without the screen, and with a simple latch that lifts the hood.

Please, Apple? You can even make it in China with assembly by blind, six-year-old, Oompa-Loompa slaves if you want. I don’t care. I’ll even cancel my subscription to the New York Times.