Intel Inside After All

June 7th, 2005  |  Published in old and busted

So the “Mac on x86” thing came true. I think it’s kind of cool, but not for any reason I can put my finger on besides feeling like the effort of explaining why MHz aren’t directly comparable between architectures was getting to be too burdensome. Well, there’s that and the fact that my well-established taste for stuff changing now and then is satisfied.

The low-end Macs are supposed to be first to see the x86 processors, some time before this time next year, which’ll put my G4 eMac at two years old, meaning I’ll have about a year before AppleCare ends and I start thinking of ways to get rid of it and subsidize a new machine. From my perspective, that’s near-perfect timing.

Since learning how to clean up the noise in my super-noisy Athlon box, I’ve been feeling a lot more optimistic about a pair of the few hardware-related things I really care about in either my eMac or iBook surviving the shift to x86 hardware: Heat (the iBook gets warm, but never hot) and noise (the iBook doesn’t make any unless it’s hitting the CD, the eMac is pretty quiet, but not much more quiet than the properly tuned Athlon system).

But the only thing we can know for sure about the first Intel Macs is that they’ll be considered interesting collector’s items in years to come … something Mac nerds proudly show off as either the beginning of the end or a specimen from the beginning of another renaissance.

Everything else is up in the air, no matter how much Intel thinks it has Apple’s requirements nailed, and no matter how cold Apple’s engineers will think they have the initial designs down. If I had to lay a prediction, it would be that the first few palettes of Pentium eMacs (if they keep that line alive) or Pentium minis will be troubled machines.

So about the time the real lead-n-bleeders are snarfing up the very first of the higher-end machines due out in 2007, a lot of cleanup will have happened on the lower end machines, where people like me live. I’ll probably be able to buy 2007’s notion of an eMac with confidence. If the mini gets the nod for the first conversions, and if it goes six months without reports of spontaneously combusting, maybe I’ll treat myself early if the benchmarks show it’s spanking its G4 incarnations really hard, but I kind of doubt it.

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