My Powermac G5 Is Dead

Wow, this sucks.

In 2005, rather than jump on the new Intel Mac bandwagon I decided I would get a refurbished G5 to ride onto until there was no choice but to get a new Intel Mac.

I think that time has come.

I thought that time would arrive when my favorite software was only compatible with Intel machines. The last PPC Macs were sold about 3 years ago, so it doesn’t make much sense to support them for much longer.

I never expected that my G5 would just up and die.

Earlier this week my Mac refused to boot up. It would chime, get to the grey Apple screen, and sit. Then the fans would go into high-power, as if something was wrong and it didn’t know what to do.

Sometimes, actually – just once, I can get as far as the desktop, but then this happens:

Weird Kernel Panic - Top

It refused to boot from the Leopard DVD. However, it did boot from the original software restore (only requires one processor?). I ran the Apple Hardware Test on the machine – it told me everything was fine.

Long story short, I’m pretty sure one of my processors is dead – or the Logic board needs to be replaced. Either way, I’m way out of warranty and any repair I need is going to cost about as much as a Macbook – which would outperform my G5 anyway.

What I find odd about it is that there seem to be a lot of reports about this same kind of behavior on Apple’s Powermac G5 Discussion Forums.

One user suggests that G5s are basically experiencing the Xbox 360 Red Ring of Death. It would seem that any G5 is a ticking time bomb, whether it’s in a Mac or an Xbox 360. I already had a problem like this with the iMac G5 at work, but it still had Applecare. The tech replaced the power supply and the mainboard.

I borrowed another G5, put my hard drives in it, and everything appeared to work fine. All my data is safe.

So – things I’ve learned from this.

Your Time Machine backup should be on an external drive.

My G5 has 2 hard drive spaces, so it felt natural to use one for the main OS and the other for backup. That’s a mistake, because now if I want to restore from that Time Machine backup I need to get a SATA > USB adapter. Should have just gotten a USB drive to begin with.

Lots of things are linked to the motherboard

iTunes authorizations and Time Machine sessions, to be precise. Swapping drives got me up and running again, but I had to give this new machine an iTunes authorization and am having problems making Time Machine pick up where it last left off. It wants to start all over again.

As for next steps, I don’t feel good getting a new machine with WWDC so close and Snow Leopard on the horizon. I’d rather get a Macbook this time around, but since my main audio interface works through Firewire, and Macbooks don’t have firewire anymore, I may be looking at a Macbook Pro. Otherwise I’d need a new USB interface.

I will try to coast for another month or two before making any buying decisions.