Is it worth it for me to return my new (powermac) iMAC for a newer (Intel based) one?
January 13, 2006 9:37 AM   Subscribe

I bought a 20" G5 iMAC two or three weeks ago, and now Apple has just released the new Intel based iMACs for the same price. They annoyingly brag that they're 3 times as fast. Is it worth it for me to try to return it and get one of the newer models?
posted by apetpsychic to Computers & Internet (28 answers total)
Your credit card may allow you to return the product, if Apple won't allow the return.
posted by Rothko at 9:41 AM on January 13, 2006

I'd say it's worth it (although, how silly of you to buy one right before their expo).
posted by booknerd at 9:43 AM on January 13, 2006

I made the same mistake with the last Ipod upgrade.
posted by mecran01 at 9:47 AM on January 13, 2006

I would. You don't say where you bought it, but lots of places, especially big stores, have a 30-day return periods and don't ask questions. Perhaps not that wise to buy right before MacExpo, but the store should've informed you of that as well. A case can be made.
posted by BorgLove at 9:48 AM on January 13, 2006

In most situations, yes, it's worth it to try & return. Both for future performance benefits and future resale value. However there are some short term caveats:

You'll need new versions of all your applications in order to run them at top speed. Older applications will run under "Rosetta" emulation, which should provide adequate performance but may not match the speed of your G5.

For example, Microsoft does not have a new version of Office available yet. (they're working on it.) Until it ships, you'll need to run Office under Rosetta.
posted by dudeman at 9:51 AM on January 13, 2006

Response by poster: I got it from CompUSA. I think it's a 30-day policy. Unfortunately, I'm not the type of person who takes note when Mac Expos happen...
posted by apetpsychic at 9:51 AM on January 13, 2006

What do you do with your iMac? Certain applications, like Photoshop, are not yet Intel-compiled, and may run slower (or maybe not -- if the new iMac is really twice as fast as the old, it may be able to emulate a G5 at near-native speed. I doubt that: in reality, there will be some small slow-down. Maybe even a significant slow-down).

The Pro apps aren't out until March, if those were vital for you, then that'd be a big problem, because they won't work well under Rosetta, I believe Apple said.

For some programs (Office, Creative Suite, etc.) it's unknown how long you will have to live with emulated software. Maybe weeks, maybe months. If you can deal with that, I'd say do it. The new machines look pretty cool. Especially at the same price point. It's (nearly) two processors at the same price as before. And a better graphics card, to boot.
posted by teece at 9:52 AM on January 13, 2006

Oh yeah, the other thing I forgot to mention: I don't know if a Universal version of Office, Photoshop, Mathematica, etc. is going to be a free upgrade, or a brand new product.

If you have to buy new versions, that could significantly up the price of the computer. Hell, if you have enough software, it could easily double the price of the computer. But I'm really hoping that a lot of the Universal upgrades will be free.
posted by teece at 9:55 AM on January 13, 2006

Response by poster: I'm mostly graphics (I'm a photo editor) and audio (that makes electronic music). I have no problem running slightly slower, since my larger concern is that once this shift to Intel is completed my iMAC will be obsolete.
posted by apetpsychic at 9:55 AM on January 13, 2006

Not necessarily applicable since you bought from CompUSA, but Apple allows returns within two weeks.

Also, regardless of what you do about the Mac, you should try to get a free or low-cost upgrade of the iLife application suite that came with it.
posted by alms at 10:00 AM on January 13, 2006

Response by poster: And please no one poke fun of me for getting it at CompUSA. I know. I know. I was home in Delaware for the holidays and didn't have much choice...
posted by apetpsychic at 10:06 AM on January 13, 2006

I posted a question about buying pre-Intel, and got some good answers from mac developers. And yes, I bought my iBook a few weeks ago, and I'm loving it.
posted by junkbox at 10:07 AM on January 13, 2006

Of course you should try to exchange it. Why wouldn't you? Run twice as fast, get the latest version of iLife, get the ability to run Intel-optimized code natively… this is a no-brainer. You have nothing to lose.
posted by designbot at 10:09 AM on January 13, 2006

You better hurry though.

CompUSA Satisfaction Promise
In-Store Purchases (CompUSA Superstore & CompUSA Megastore locations)
At CompUSA, we believe in being fair to our customers. If you are not satisfied with a product you purchased from us and you return the product with the original receipt or invoice within 21 days of purchase or invoice date, you may exchange the product or receive a refund, except as explained below. If you do not have the original receipt, you may exchange unopened product for a CompUSA merchandise card. Items must be in new condition, with the original box, packaging, manuals, accessories, and UPC code. Opened software, games, and videos may only be exchanged for the same title. Open notebook computers, projectors, and cameras may only be exchanged for a CompUSA merchandise card.

Credit card refunds will be credited to the original credit card. Purchases made by cash or check over $250 will be refunded by a check from our corporate office within 10 business days.

posted by designbot at 10:17 AM on January 13, 2006

actually, he has a little something to lose...

I don't know about the iMac, but I just purchased a Powerbook G4 (I know, I know... I knew Macworld was coming and couldn't wait...) from Amazon, and 14 days later Apple touts a new MacBook "Up to" 4x faster at a very similar price.

The big question, though, is when: I called the Apple Store, and they said they don't expect to receive them until "into" February... and they're already swamped with orders. My guess - and it's just that, a guess - is that you're at least 2 months away from being able to purchase a new MacBook.

I could be wrong, and I don't know if this applies to iMacs, but it's worth considering.
posted by fearless_yakov at 10:24 AM on January 13, 2006

The MacBook Pro was specifically announced as available in February; the iMac was announced as "shipping today."
posted by designbot at 10:26 AM on January 13, 2006

I'd probably say do it, then, apetpsychic. You're going to be on the bleeding edge, Mac-wise, though, so expect a little heartburn from time to time. But the hardware sounds pretty nice.
posted by teece at 10:32 AM on January 13, 2006

i've used one at the apple store ... even with emulation, things like illustrator and photoshop were noticeably faster than with the non-intel machine.
posted by luriete at 11:46 AM on January 13, 2006

Also, you could try jason kottke's approach:

Subject: Powerbook support
Date: January 10, 2006 4:55:31 PM ET
To: Apple Tech Support


I purchased a new Powerbook three weeks ago. It was working fine until a few hours ago when you announced the new Intel-powered MacBook Pro at MacWorld and I started to cry. "Four to fives times faster," I sobbed, "a built-in iSight, and a brighter, wider screen."

My display, while not as bright or large as the new MacBook Pro display, illuminated my wet cheeks and red, swollen eyes as my tears rained down on the backlit keyboard. An acrid smell rose up from inside the smooth metal machine as my salty tears joined with the electronics, joyfully releasing the electrons from their assigned silicon pathways to freely arc into forbidden areas of the computer and elsewhere, including, somewhat painfully, my hands.

Is this covered under my warranty and if so, can you send me a new MacBook Pro as a replacement, please? Thank you for your time,

posted by onlyconnect at 12:33 PM on January 13, 2006

I would definitely switch if I were you. If it's under 21 days, sounds like it'll be hassle free.
posted by Manhasset at 12:56 PM on January 13, 2006

While Jason's letter is amusing, I suspect it won't work. My powerbook g4 actually DID erupt into an electrical showcase, numbing my fingertips for 24 hours.

All I got was a 60 minutes interview consisting of about 150 questions, an upgraded motherboard, and a new power-supply.
posted by mmdei at 1:49 PM on January 13, 2006

I think what you have to ask yourself is were you happy with your iMac before you heard about the new Intel ones and do you feel the need to have the latest and greatest, even if it is cutting edge (some folks are saying to wait to buy the Intels until the next version comes out).

You mention that running a little slower isn't a problem for you, then in the immediate future, either computer is going to work for you. Also, the PPCs aren't going to be dead in the water obsolete for quite a while yet. I read/heard somewhere this week that it could be as much as five years before software upgrades that run on them aren't available anymore since most companies will be doing the universal binaries that run natively on both. Not everyone is going to run out and buy a new Mac immediately, and there are a lot of G5s out there right now (as well as even older PPC Macs). Not to mention, all the software you currently have and use is going to continue working just as it does now. If that's working well for you, it will continue to do so for at least some years yet.

My husband and I decided to "switch" late last year, because we finally had the budget to replace both our computers and all necessary software. We waited to see what news the Expo brought, and after hearing about the new Intels, we thought about it long and hard and decided to go ahead and get the G5 iMac and a Powerbook anyway. They are still great computers, and this will give both Apple and the software companies time to get everything working together natively and any bugs in the system to get worked out. In a few years, if we feel we need to, then we can upgrade to the Intel versions.

It's just something to think about. Your G5 iMac isn't going to become an expensive paperweight overnight and most likely not for some years yet, and if you were happy with it when you got it, you will probably continue to be happy with it ... unless you feel the need to have the fastest and newest Mac out there the moment it's available or don't intend to buy a new computer anytime in the next five years or so.

Sorry, that response got a little long. :)
posted by Orb at 2:09 PM on January 13, 2006

I, too, bought a G5 iMac exactly two weeks ago, at a retail outlet--and am NOT returning it, for the reasons that Orb, the developers in the linked AskMe thread, etc., mention.

I knew the expo was coming up, but wanted the tax deduction on 2005, so bought before the new year. I could exchange and still have the deduction work, but why? All the info says that current G5s are good for at least a few years, and I don't run high end graphics programs that would optimize a processor that's 2.5 times faster than the one I have now.

Plus, what a fucking hassle--I used that great Apple feature and dumped everything from my iBook onto the new machine, and have been working on some things furiously in the past two weeks, so it would take hours to copy everything back, clean the new machine, take it back, etc. etc.

Maybe I'm just lazy, but I like to think it's practical: this was a great machine two weeks ago, it's still a great machine now. As long as it's supported by software, it'll still be a great machine.
posted by LooseFilter at 5:32 PM on January 13, 2006

My Powerbook will be 5 years old next month. It's 400 MHz. The only games I can play are old ones, but otherwise it does everything I need perfectly well.
posted by neuron at 7:52 PM on January 13, 2006

My girlfriend just got an iMac G5 (which I'm using to write this) to complement my trusty old G3 iBook. I thought about returning it after the annoucement. But we decided not to. Basically my thinking is that, though I have every confidence Steve and his crew will manage the transition well, there are inevitably going to be some problems.

Problems like hiccups in the OS, software not being available in the "universal binary" form, etc.

I hadn't expected the intel iMacs to be available this soon--I thought the high-end lines would be switched first--so I didn't make the decision with full knowledge, but upon reflection I'm comfortable with it. In a couple of years, when we replace the iBook, we can get an intel notebook.
posted by lackutrol at 8:50 PM on January 13, 2006

Until your graphics and audio apps run natively on the new architecture, I'd stick with your G5.
posted by rleamon at 9:38 AM on January 14, 2006

One argument in favour of trading in is the fact you can add an external monitor for an expanded desktop. Any old CRT kicking around (or Freecycled) will do, though LCDs are better. You will be amazed at how much more you get done even with the built-in 20" screen, which probably seems big enough already.
posted by joeclark at 3:32 PM on January 14, 2006

Personally, I don't think so. Unless you are sure that the software you were planning to use is available for the new Mac, you'll just be waiting and waiting.

Not to mention that this is Apple's first foray into using the Intel processors and there may be issues that they won't discover until the masses get their hands on it. Early adopters are great, but if you really need to get work done and can't afford a lot of fiddling, you may want to let them get the bugs worked out first.

LONG ago I gave up waiting for the next thing from Apple. The come out with something new every time I buy something, whether there is an expo or not. Just decide what you need, get it and get on with life. The lastest and greatest isn't necessary, just a luxury.
posted by kdavies at 4:20 PM on January 14, 2006

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