I bought my Power Mac G5 about 5 years ago – back then, I thought I got a pretty decent deal (around $200), as I had mostly PowerPC software and was into some light audio/video work.
Today, I’d highly recommend against spending anywhere near that on a Power Mac G5. After a quick glance on eBay, it looks like you can get a used G5 starting from around $50, maybe less. With each passing year leaving G5s behind in software options and security, the PowerPC world is becoming the domain of hobbyists, stubborn people, and probably some lingering legacy cases. So why or why not should you pick up a G5? And how much should you spend?
I have PowerPC apps that I cannot replace to keep my business/livelihood/data intact.
It’s clear that this is the strongest case for keeping and investing in a Power Mac G5. With the prices the way they are, it would be wise to go out and grab some backup machines to use for parts or as an insurance policy in case of disaster. Long term, you will still want to figure out an upgrade route to move that data and discover different app possibilities, since our machines are rapidly approaching the age of 10 (if not more). And security is not getting better in Mac OS X. In the meanwhile, spend what you need to keep your operation going.
I love PowerPC machines.
Good for you. Whether it’s for nostalgia or tinkering or fun, fiddling with PowerPC machines is a learning experience. A G5 is pretty much the ultimate PowerPC Mac with its somewhat recent hardware design. So, go for it – but even as a hobbyist myself, I encourage you keep it within reason. Be sure to shop around and stretch your dollars. Try to get an old machine for free or next to nothing if you can. There is no point in outlaying some serious money on old tech unless you have a serious need.
I need an updated computer, or someone wants to give me their old Mac for free so I can surf the internets.
Let’s be clear – yes, a G5 can be a decent machine to get stuff done, surf the internet, email friends, and what not. But unless you are getting something for free with a knowledgeable tech person to help walk you through limitations, I’d recommend spending a fraction more to get something newer with updated browsers and better security support. In this case, unless you are really in for a learning experience, it’d be best to pass on an old PowerPC and look to something a little more current. Again, if the situation is right, it might not be an impossible choice to keep that hand me down rocking and rolling, but make sure you are aware of all of the caveats and limitations.
Maybe I’ll add some further scenarios in the future. Basically, unless you have a real critical need or a passion to be a hobbyist, a Power Mac G5 (and other PowerPC machines) is kind of a mixed bag. With the right knowledge and support, they can be darn useful – but the world is quickly passing us by.