In September of 2004, I took delivery of my Dual 2.5 GHz PowerMac G5. It was the most powerful machine Apple sold at the time, and the processors were so blazingly fast that they actually had to be liquid-cooled. I’ve been holding onto the machine, waiting to replace it until Apple refreshed the Mac Pro line again. They’ve basically been the same for more than a year, and I prefer to buy into a line when it’s new. Still, an Intel desktop would be nice.
I’ve gotten used to using two matched Dell 20″ monitors, and I don’t want to give them up. The problem is that the only machine that can handle my monitor setup is a Mac Pro. There’s nothing in between the iMac and the Mac Pro.
True, the iMac can drive a second monitor, and I could buy a 20″ iMac, but then one screen would be glossy, and the other matte, which would not be great. So I’d decided to hold off on upgrading the G5 until the Mac Pro refresh, which I figured would probably be in January, around Macworld Expo. Sometime in the first quarter of 2008, at worst.
But in the last few days, the G5 has started acting wonky. It would have trouble booting up, and then it would run for a while, then the fans would go crazy and it would go to sleep. Today, it finally got to the point that it would not boot at all unless I took the side cover and the interior air deflector off, which makes the thing’s nine internal fans go into jet-engine mode. Then it will sometimes boot, but will fall asleep if there’s any stress on the CPUs. A look at the Console logs reported “Thermal Runaway detected.” Finally, I inspected the bottom of the G5’s enclosure, and saw a dried green residue, which means the liquid coolant has leaked out.
Some Googling showed that this is not unknown in G5’s of this vintage. It also means that the thing is now pretty much a very expensive, very attractive aluminum brick. I’ll be able to salvage some parts, but it’s not long for the world. And a repair would take a month (at least) and cost almost as much as a new machine.
My desktop is my main work machine; the MacBook won’t cut it for bigger writing projects. So it looks like I’ll have to buy a 2.66 GHz Dual Core Mac Pro. It will be nice to have a new, faster desktop, but it’s a big financial hit, because I really won’t be able to sell the old machine for much, if anything. At least the new machine is air-cooled.