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The dual 2.5-GHz Power Mac G5: Unadulterated power

October 20, 2004 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Although Mac fans might find it hard to believe, the dual 2.5-GHz Power Mac G5 does indeed exist. The new top-end Power Mac was officially unveiled in June, but only a few of them have trickled into customers' hands, and four months after its debut, it remains one of the rarest Macs out there (with the scarce iMac G5 not far behind).
Apple unveiled its latest Power Mac in June and promised that they'd be shipping by August. That date slipped into September, and even now, the top-of-the-line Power Mac, which goes for $2,999, is harder to find than hen's teeth. Order one online today from the Apple store and you'll find the estimated shipping is still three to five weeks out.
In other words, if you want one by Christmas, you'd better get in line now.
Thanks to Apple Computer's review program, I've been able to use one of the new Power Macs for the past three weeks or so, and I can tell you that if you need unadulterated processing power, the dual 2.5 is worth the wait. No, it's not quite the 3.0-GHz G5 Steve Jobs optimistically promised in 2003. But it offers more than enough warp-factor power for just about anything this side of genomic sequencing.
The review machine was packed with 4GB of RAM (it can take twice that amount), a 160GB Maxtor Serial ATA hard drive (with a 250GB Serial ATA hard drive available as a $100 built-to-order option), an ATI Radeon 9800 XT graphics card that offers 256MB of video RAM, and an 8x SuperDrive. (The standard graphics card is the ATI Radeon 9600 XT -- upgrading to the 9800 will set you back $300.) Like other Power Macs, it boasts the usual assortment of USB 2.0 and FireWire 400 and 800 ports, and an AirPort Extreme card for wireless networking.
This is Apple's first liquid-cooled Power Mac, and as best I can tell, the cooling system works as advertised. This is a good thing. The 2.5-GHz G5 chip runs very, very hot, requiring a variety of solutions to keep this machine from self-igniting. Apple touts four discrete "thermal zones," a variety of low-speed fans in each of those zones, 21 temperature monitors and the new, maintenance-free "closed-loop liquid cooling system."
I have to admit that it is a bit disconcerting to see a warning printed inside the Power Mac's case that suggests you unplug the computer right away and to "consult manual" should you see liquid leaking out. D'oh! But with those G5 chips fiery hot, the new

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