by Gary Dailey
I need performance but...
As a leading manufacturer of G3 upgrades for PowerPC« Macs«, we are often asked by prospective customers, "Why should I upgrade if a new Mac is less than $3,000?"
Only you can answer that question. We can
provide factual information to help you make a truly educated decision.
First you need to ask yourself some questions.
If you answer yes, then an upgrade is the
Do you need more than two PCI Expansion Slots?
G3 ships with four slots. One is dedicated to graphics. The second
is intended for normal SCSI. If you choose to buy a new system and
you use high-end video, tape backups, Jaz«,
multiple U2, secondary displays, or dedicated PCI devices, you'll
need to make some difficult decisions. You'll need to decide what
to keep and what to discard. If you choose to upgrade, you just plug
in the card and go.
Do you have a large investment in RAM?
The new PowerMac G3 does not support the same
RAM as existing systems. At over $2 per megabyte, you need to decide
if you can justify liquidating your existing RAM to purchase new RAM.
Do you need expanded RAM capacity?
If you use Photoshop, you better review this
one well. The PowerMac G3 only has four DIMM sockets compared to the
12 on the 9600 or 9500. Your 9500 can expand to 1.5 gigabytes of RAM.
You can load up to 1 gig in the new PowerMac G3 using 256 MB DIMMs,
but you'll need to discard the existing RAM first. Remember, with
the newer, robust OS and expanded applications, 128 MB doesn't go
as far as it used to.
Do you have a large investment in SCSI?
To use SCSI peripherals on the PowerMac G3,
you'll have to purchase a third party SCSI PCI card. This will make
troubleshooting and booting a little more complex as well, nothing
is as robust as SCSI from the motherboard, like on your current PowerMac.
Do you use Floppies?
Like the iMac, the Floppy drive is now a third
party product. If you use floppies, you'll need to add the cost for
third party floppy drive. And since it's high powered USB, add the
cost of a USB powered hub (ours of course) to power the floppy drive.
Do you need 100% up-time on your system?
Buying a new system is more than just moving
one box out, and another in. With new peripherals, a new OS, radically
new hardware and new expansions specifications there will be incompatibilities.
New systems offer a lot of benefits, but will
have more downtime than a simple upgrade. You can either upgrade the
entire environment (with the hope of increased productivity later)
or upgrade with a single CPU card, which will limit the variables
and hidden costs.
New systems have new needs as well. Like optional
bezels and unique expansion cables. These will follow in time. But
if you want to expand today, be sure that all the pieces you need
are available today.
Do you have software that is not yet ready for System 8.5.1?
The PowerMac ships with System 8.5.1. Many
older applications and games may have some incompatibilities. Check
out your software first. Then budget for all the latest software updates
that are needed.
Are you happy with your current monitor?
Check with your display's manufacturer on
this one. You know the color of the case is different. But with new,
faster refresh rates, you'll need to make sure that your monitor is
supported as well. Or you can always budget for a new monitor to sync
up with the PowerMac G3.
Do you prefer Apple Platinumto the new translucent colors on your desktop?
Not to be forgotten--buying the new PowerMac
G3 may be like repainting your walls. Everything else will look very
outdated. You may want to budget for some new USB or Firewire peripherals
Will you need to be upgraded to the next CPU (G4) when it comes out?
Apple has made a pretty clear statement by
imbedding the G3 logo in the case. You'll need to buy another PowerMac
to get G4 from Apple. If you're still not sure which route to take;
take the safe bet upgrade your existing system now (it will pay for
itself in a couple weeks), wait for the next rev of systems with the
new CPU (late this summer?), then make the move.
The Bottom Line
Add up the hidden costs, then evaluate the
benefits. In many cases an upgrade is nearly half the cost of an equivalent
new system purchase. With so many changes coming by the end of the
year, the safe money is to extend your investment by upgrading now
and immediately doubling your productivity, then move up on the next
system, CPU modification late 1999
Dailey. Product Manager, XLR8
[Editor's Note: With new Macs coming out XLR8 naturally wants
to pull you in their direction. Think you should be? If you have a
similar perspective to the one above or think that buying a new Mac
makes much more sense put your arguments into article form, send
them to us and we just might publish them in this space]
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