The New G5 iMac | August 31, 2004

The G4 iMac was destined to become a design classic the moment it was launched. With it’s sleek lines, adjustable screen and tiny footprint, it was a design with character. No wonder people likened it to one of Steve Jobs other creations, Luxo Jn.

G4 iMac

As soon as the G4 iMac became available in the UK I rushed out and bought one. As a home computer it was perfect. It didn’t take up much space, looked great and was initially quite a talking point.

My iMac has served me well, but for the last 9 months I’ve been wanting an upgrade. I needed a machine with more storage and enough power for occasional game of Halo at a reasonable speed. The G4 iMacs have been through several speed bumps but have been stuck at 1.25GHz for a while now. With the new G5 chips being launched it was only a matter of time before they bought out a G5 iMac. Rather than invest in a top of the range G4 iMac only to find it become obsolete in a few months time, I though I’d wait and see what the G5 iMacs would be like.

I’m sure you’ve heard by now that Apple have just launched the G5 iMac. It’s a product I’ve been anxiously waiting for, so I was pleased when it was finally announced, only a few months later than expected.

G5 iMac

I have to admit that my first impressions weren’t great. While a 1.8GHz G5 processor would definitely provide me with the casual gaming power I was after, I felt that the form factor was a bit of a step backwards. Compared to the beautifully proportioned G4 iMac, the G5 looked top heavy and awkward. While the innovative “angle poise lamp” design of the G4 allowed you to move the screen into pretty much any position you required, the G5’s height is fixed and all you can alter is the angle.

I’m going to reserve judgement till I actually get to see one in person. I know images on the web can be deceptive. For instance, I though the iPod mini pics looked awful, but the actual devices look pretty cool in real life. However I think I’m going to be faced by a bit of a dilemma. While I really want the extra power of the new G5 iMacs, the G4 iMacs are just such a design classic. Should I buy the technically superior, but in my opinion visually inferior G5 iMac or a great looking, but technically redundant refurbished 1.25GHz, 17” G4 iMac?

I’d be interest to hear you’re first impressions of the new iMac, especially from people who have actually seen it in the flesh, and how you think it compares to the G4 iMac design.

Posted at August 31, 2004 10:50 PM


Jonathan M. Hollin said on September 1, 2004 2:11 AM

Should I buy the technically superior, but in my opinion visually inferior G5 iMac or a great looking, but technically redundant refurbished 1.25GHz, 17Ē G4 iMac?

I can’t believe you’re seriously asking this question Andy. Surely the performance, features and connectivity of any computer are more important than the design of its case?

In my opinion, the answer is obvious: choose the iMac G5.

Amit Karmakar said on September 1, 2004 2:13 AM

I would probably buy one of these in time. Well am hoping so anyway :) I am so glad I moved to mac!

Dan said on September 1, 2004 3:39 AM

I find the new design OK, but not great.

The white space in the front is a bit off-putting but the 20” model makes it less noticeable.

I would have rather seen them impliment their dual arm design.

Gabriel Mihalache said on September 1, 2004 7:21 AM

If you wall-mount it you might like it more, although I don’t know how you’d reach the back ports.
Regarding your question… function over form, ALWAYS. In 2 weeks you’d be pretty much accustomed to any case and then find it boring. Go for substance!

Small Paul said on September 1, 2004 9:27 AM

I must admit, I’ve not seen it in person, but let’s remember that the curvy, quirky, swing-arm iMac (which I also own) just did not sell that well. Great to look at, but it clearly didn’t fulfil the feature/price point wish-list of the average consumer - which is exactly the market that the iMac is aimed at.

This new one seems to be only as big as a flat screen monitor (very good), yet packs in a fast machine (very good) and starts at under £1000. That’s under £1000, for a machine with a posable 17” flat screen, that takes up no more room than said flat screen.

I really think this baby could sell. So, my only worry is Apple getting machines into retail channels. Demand is great, but revenue is much, much better.

Jon Hicks said on September 1, 2004 9:33 AM

I though it looked like an emac with the back cut off. An inelegant slab of ‘white’.

Personally, I’d snap up a G4 17” widescreen if there are any still to be had. I know what you mean about seeing things in the flesh making a difference, but I think in this case we’re onto a loser.

Rob said on September 1, 2004 9:49 AM

Having never liked the g4 iMac anyway I think the g5 should be one to get. I’m still waiting for my g5 powerbook to get here.

Adam said on September 1, 2004 12:10 PM

Well I personally hated the G4 iMac when I saw them in the adverts. Very space 1999 but when ours arrived at work I was converted. I think you’ll be surprised when you actually see one, or I’m hoping to be anyway.

I think if you lose the mount and get a nice VESA wall mount and bluetooth controls the main issues will dissappear. And at the end of the day it’s a G5…..

Matt said on September 1, 2004 12:25 PM

Personally, I would do what any good student would do; sacrifice any social life for the next 3 months and get both. And think about it, with the two of them, you’ll easily spend a good 3 months playing with them, networking them, and doing other lovely, all of course legal (¨¨), things with them. You’ll never even notice you never went out for all that time!

The student logic is almost always the best logic, somehow…

Olly Hodgson said on September 1, 2004 12:25 PM

I like the new one’s looks. You’re right, its not as night as the G4 iMac, but its still nice.

I’m not so sure what it’ll be like with loads of wires hanging out of the back of it, but we shall see.

The wireless keyboard and mouse option is the way forward I feel.

The printers (etc) cables will have to be routed through the hole in the back of the stand and hidden somehow though…

Luke Scammell said on September 1, 2004 12:57 PM

Even the fastest computers are slow enough, you’ll hate yourself if you buy something that’s a couple of generations old, especially if you’re ever going to play a game.

One concern I have about the design is what happens if the screen goes? You’re completely stuck. Of course I may well have missed a VGA/DVI port hiding away somewhere. If there isn’t one I consider it a massive oversight, as at least that way you can plug in any old monitor to get anything work copied off while it’s away for repair.

Gotta love the looks/design though ;) (steadfast PC user)

Jonathan M. Hollin said on September 1, 2004 1:31 PM

“The white space in the front is a bit off-putting”

Maybe, but it has a purpose - Apple understands how its computers are used! :-)

K said on September 1, 2004 2:00 PM

“No wonder people likened it to one of Steve Jobs other creations, Luxo Jn.”

Um, I know this was a joke, but aren’t we giving a bit too much credit to Mr Jobs? John Lasseter, folks, John Lasseter.

Chris Carpenter said on September 1, 2004 2:13 PM

I don’t think it’s too awful looking, and the performace is too much of an advantage to sacrafice for a slightly better design. Just concentrate on the sleek operating system and don’t pay attention to the computer it’s in.

Personally, I want a G5 Powerbook. Oh, and yes, there are VGA outs on the new iMac (Luke).

nick said on September 1, 2004 3:16 PM

generally I like the new iMac. And I agree with a number of others here - function outweighs form in the long run (course by the time you’re accustomed to the form, the function will be old hat per Moore’s law…)
What concerns me is that the stand/leg/base looks too narrow to properly stablize/balance the large (heavy at 18+ pounds) screen/system. I’m fearful (having not seen it in the store, and tried tipping myself hehe) that a bump could send the iMac onto it’s side or face.
I’m sure Apple is smarter than that, but that’s my initial thought. will see it when it gets to the stores…

ian said on September 1, 2004 4:04 PM

so if they can fit a G5 chip into something so thin.. surely the G5 powerbook is around the corner? Now thats what i’m waiting for :-)

Phil Robinson said on September 1, 2004 4:16 PM

Andy, I had the same design concerns as you when I first looked at the G5 iMac, but I have to admit it’s growing on me.

The problem I’m having is how do I (as a long time PC user who just blew up his home PC) justify to my wife the extra cost (and you have to admit, the extra cost of ownership) of getting the iMac over a new Wintel PC. :)

I also considered getting a G4 iMac, but I can get twice the machine (in RAM and HDD anyway) in a new G5 over any deal I can find here in the U.S. on a new G4 for just a couple $100 more.

aj said on September 1, 2004 4:53 PM

The G4 iMac was a step forward, but its design turned off as many people as it excited. This new iMac is definitely targeted at Windows switchers (“Get this cool accessory for your iPod…it even matches!”) I do like the fact that you can VESA mount this iMac on any number of standard tilt/swivel arms - as others have said, adding Bluetooth input devices means a potentially clutter-free desktop, and its thin profile means it can go a lot of places the older one couldn’t — in the kitchen, very small offices, EasyInternet cafťs, wallmounted to workstations in university dorms, etc. It seems infinitely more attractive (especially in the CD-ROM-less educational version) as a client workstation for large deployments for schools or even corporations. To me, the design seems much more functional than other all-in-ones (like those horrible Sony ones with the fold-up screen, or the Gateway Profile); comparatively, it’s right in line pricewise with similarly specced brand-name PCs.
A lot of buyers do look just at the specs — a 20” G5 widescreen seems like a bargain at $1899. People have mentioned that at that price, Bluetooth and WiFi should be built-in, and I agree: I’m betting those will be the loss-leaders that 3rd-party Apple retailers use to lure buyers.

Xian said on September 1, 2004 5:41 PM

The Quicktime VR of it helped it grow on me quite a bit. But I’ll have to make it down to the apple store before I pass final judgment.

James said on September 1, 2004 6:14 PM

It looks alright in the pics but just imagine how it will look with a dozen cables out of the back…

Sara said on September 1, 2004 6:39 PM

My initial impression was that the G5 iMac looked boring compared to the previous design, but after taking a closer look at the pictures on the website (and I have a feeling that it looks even better in person), I’ve completely changed my mind. It’s not boring - it’s sleek, simple, and elegant. I would buy it in a second, except I have no use for another Mac right now.

Hopefully the thin size of the iMac is indicative of a G5 PowerBook coming soon!

Andy Budd said on September 1, 2004 6:45 PM

Thanks for all the feedback so far. Seems people are pretty evenly split between liking and disliking the new G5 iMac. I definitely see it giving you much more bang for your buck than the old G4. However being a very shallow person I think what’s on the outside is often as important as what’s on the inside. I’d have no problem using a G5 iMac at work, but I’m not sure I want one lurking in the corner of my flat, scaring my visitors. I can just see the conversations now. “What’s that big white thing in the corner Andy? It looks like a Mac but it’s really ugly”.

Funnily enough I really like the back of the new iMac. If I do buy one I think I’ll have to turn it around when it’s not in use, or invest in some kind of hi tech cover. The big white space at the bottom just throws the whole design out of proportion. Even if it was designed so you could post stickies there, how many stickies do you folks need!.

The 20” version looks better, but the 17” version really does look like a box on a stick. I think if the edges were more bevelled it may take some of the severity off the shape and make it look less think. I know it’s pretty cool that they have fitted the whole machine into essentially a screen casing. However I’m sure Apple must be a little sensitive about it’s thickness because they’ve been describing it as less than 2” thin. They don’t even want to say the word thick.

A few people have mentioned the VESA mounts, but I’m not really convinced. I doubt many people will actually live/work somewhere where they’d want to wall mount their computer. You could desk mount it, but the arms lack the clinical cool of the G4’s arm. I’m really hoping that it looks better in person, but after reading a few reviews it doesn’t look like it is. Who knows though, maybe it’ll grow on me in time. I just don’t feel great about ditching a design classic for an uglier, albeit faster machine. After all, if it was just performance I was after, I’d be a PC owner.

On the subjects of PC’s vs Mac’s, while I agree with Phil that Macs are more costly to buy, I definitely don’t agree that the cost of ownership is more. I feel a hell of a lot more productive on a Mac, don’t crash or encounter technical glitches half as often as my PC friends and spend a fraction of the time installing software, patching my system or the million other annoyances that come with being a PC user.

Phil Robinson said on September 1, 2004 7:30 PM

“On the subjects of PCís vs Macís, while I agree with Phil that Macs are more costly to buy, I definitely donít agree that the cost of ownership is more. I feel a hell of a lot more productive on a Mac, donít crash or encounter technical glitches half as often as my PC friends and spend a fraction of the time installing software, patching my system or the million other annoyances that come with being a PC user.”

As far as cost of ownership goes, my observation (backed up by the experience of my peers) is that Mac software tends to be a bit more pricey than comparable PC software. What I was really referring more to is the cost that I will incur either to re-build my 4-year-old son’s PC game collection (he “owns” more software than I do!), buy completely new games for him, or invest in the software to run Windows software on a Mac. Not a huge deal, but still a consideration.

I’m not really sure what kind of software is running for those folks who are always complaining about PCs crashing. I’ve been running Windows 2000 Professional at work and at home for several years (and running a pretty odd combination of things at work, by the way), and aside from the occaisional game that won’t run under Win2K or very strange software glitch, while not elegant, it’s been pretty rock solid.

That is until I tried to flash update my 6-year-old system’s BIOS at home just to add support for a newer, larger hard drive. I guess that’s what I get for venturing into uncharted territory!

All that being said, I’ve nearly convinced myself (as well as the wife!) — almost 75% — to make the “switch.”

jay pettitt said on September 1, 2004 7:55 PM

Ok, I have yet to see it in the flesh, but my beige pc looks better than the new G5 iMac. Look everybody, It’s a particularly ugly monitor. What were Apple thinking? Surely time to consider putting a proper grown up G5 Mac under the desk.

Will Croft said on September 1, 2004 8:30 PM

I think everyone in the Mac community knows how you feel on this subject, it’s definately a love/hate item.

However, all I can add to this, is make it your destiny to check this site out (, the photos there do the iMac G5 MUCH more justice.

I think it looks yummy now =)

Anthony Morales said on September 1, 2004 8:40 PM

Gabriel wrote: “In 2 weeks youíd be pretty much accustomed to any case and then find it boring. Go for substance!”

I never got bored looking at my 17” G4 iMac. It’s just a beautiful computer. When it came time to get my Powerbook, it was painful selling the iMac, so instead I gave it to my parents - so I can visit it once in a while :)

Jeff Croft said on September 1, 2004 9:53 PM


I totally agree with you about the imac G4. It’s got to be the most elegant computer design ever crafted.

I don’t completely agree with you about the G5, though. I do like it, if not nearly as well as the G4.

I’d buy the G5. To me, it’s still a very attractive computer and the value is much, much higher. If you just want a decoration, get a G4, but if you actually want to use the thing, you have to go G5. It’s the only reasonable choice.

Andy Budd said on September 1, 2004 11:29 PM

Will, those pics you pointed me to are definitely an improvement on the official ones. The pics on the Apple site make the G5 iMac look matt and dull. At least the ones you mentioned show a little sheen and make the displays look closer to the iPod styling.

gb said on September 1, 2004 11:51 PM

Someone mentioned a “cd-rom-less education version.” This must be a remnant of the incorrect pre-announcement rumours. Having visited the apple education store, there is no version minus the drive that I can see (unless it is a special order version that is hidden from the general educational public).

As for G5-based Powerbooks, don’t hold your breath, folks. Remember that even though the iMac is thin, it still isn’t “PowerBook” thin. They need to figure out how to lop off another inch or so before they can make a laptop version. Apple said today (or perhaps yesterday) that the G5 powerbook is still quite a ways off. Expect a revision with faster G4s (and possibly the new dual core processor from Freescale) before you start waiting for a G5.

Small Paul said on September 2, 2004 10:19 AM

Yeah, the G5 weighs 18 pounds. That’s a bit heavy to be lugging around. seriously, no G5 Powerbook until middle of next year: I’ll buy you a beer if I’m wrong (and you can find me).

Jon Hicks is very welcome to buy my 17” G4. 18 months old, 1GHz, one 512Mb RAM chip, 80Gb HD, Airport Extreme card, internal Bluetooth module, one careful owner. Shall we say £900?

aj said on September 2, 2004 12:02 PM

Gregory, the optical-media-less 1.6GHz version was indeed announced on several Mac news sites. You won’t find it on the generic Educational pricing store because that’s aimed at individuals, students mostly, it would be available through the authorized educational purchasing agent store only, which you need a login to access - designed to help people make proposals and quotes for bulk purchases.

David Barrett said on September 3, 2004 12:10 AM

Personally, I quite like the new G5 iMac. I think it looks pretty damn sweet. When I first saw it, I didn’t think so; but it’s definitely grown on me.

Maybe you should take a second look at it?

Jacob Saariaho said on September 3, 2004 1:32 AM

What’s kind of interesting about the whole thing is that the G4 iMac now seems like an in-between step. The iMac’s transition from “Fun and friendly” to “Sleek and simple”.

Besides the “Luxor” design didn’t look or move as well with a 20” monitor attached, so this new design has more room for growth and evolution.

It’s probably a good sign for Apple that those of us who loved the “Luxor” design now have issues with the “iPod” design for being too dull, boring or just plain ugly. It means those who can’t take a computer seriously unless it looks serious are more likely to give it a try.

Funny how Jobs and Ives went from the “Not just another beige box” philosophy to the “Look! Another shinny white/brushed aluminum box” philosophy.

Besides we don’t love Apple just for the computer designs, right? We’re still way ahead of the rest of the pack. If this helps sell more computers are we really going to complain that much? Buy the G5 and put a picture of the G4 as your desktop.

Mike said on September 3, 2004 10:17 AM

Do not like the look of the new G5, I think itís a step back. If the G4 imic did not sell well this baby will stay on the shelf in the shops by the thousands. I just hope it does not cause a loss in converts.

Dedicated Mac user

Ian Clay said on September 7, 2004 4:33 AM

I’ve been debating (with myself) on whether I need a G5. It works out a better deal if you look on ebay for an Atari. For £20 you can get a system with some pretty cool games.