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Ask Max: Would a Mac mini provide comparable speed to my old G5?

Asked on 05/22/2009:

Hi there,

I do Flash animation (Flash MX professional) using a Wacom Cintiq 15x attached to a G5 dual 2ghz power pc. Works great.

For portability reasons, I would love to use one of the new Mac Minis. A Mac mini Intel Core 2 Duo/2.0 GHz (with max amount of ram). It needs to be able to run the Wacom Cintique... Another wrinkle is that I hope to use the same software from the G5 (in other words, not Intel native) so I guess it would be using that emulator (Rosetta?) they provide automatically with all the Intel Macs (is this correct?)

Question: do you think the Mac mini will provide comparable power and speed as the G5 I use? Will I be able to use my old software? Does Rosetta work?


A new or used Mac mini will not be an overly compelling upgrade to your used G5 tower. It should be fast in terms of processor power, but it will be a little wimpy on graphics power. The Intel Mac Mini uses an integrated graphics processor, which is OK in most applications, but can be short on power for games and some design programs. The G5 has dedicated graphics card that will outperform the integrated graphics of the Mac Mini.

The included Rosetta emulator in OS X works well, and you will likely not even notice it is active. It works seamlessly in the background. The Rosetta emulation does have a performance hit but it will not be visible to you due to the speed improvements of the Intel Processor. Just do not be surprised if it is not significantly faster at running your application.

Also the 2.5™ hard drive in the Mac Mini is slower than the 3.5™ drive in the G5, which will cause some latency writing large files. For your work you probably will not notice the difference but it could be an issue for video work.

All the negatives in mind you will still probably want to go for the Mac Mini. It is small, portable, and your performance will improve as you upgrade your software to Intel native applications.

I hope this helps with the buying process.


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