Can an imac really handle a PC processor as well?

So it could be one Mac processor and another PC one?

I really dont understand but I have an IMAC 400mhz with 320MB of ram.

I am wondering wether I should upgrade this computer or just buy a new PC one instead or foes it make sense to do both?

Anyone have experience with this?


While the PowerMacs are quite upgradable, iMacs generally can’t be upgraded very much at all.

It’s not really feasible to add a “PC” processor (Intel or AMD) to any Mac. Honestly, I’m not sure why you’d want to.

You’d probably be happiest buying a whole new Mac. The eMacs and the iBooks are quite cheap and are very nice machines that will handle practically anything you throw at it without any problems.

I’d strongly advise against buying a Windows PC, if for no other reason than you’d have to buy all your software all over again to run it on a PC.

What sort of things do you want to do with your computer? Why do you want to upgrade? The answers to those questions will help us help you.

Okay well I am using it for making music and I need to have ProTools running through a USB M-Box…

I dont like Windows but for what I need to do and the budget I have a new kick-ass PC seems to be the only affordable option.

Ideally I need a fast processor with at the very least 512 MB of RAM but hopefully more like a gig.

I also use the following programs…
Cool Edit Pro
Tons of VSTis and VSTs



Well, it would probably cost a lot less than you think to get a Mac. You can get a new eMac for $700 or a new iBook for under $900.

Getting a comparable Dell desktop would probably run about $900, while a comparable laptop would probably be around $1200.

I think you’ll find that Macs tend to be more reliable in both hardware and software, and that there’s less to be concerned with viruses and hacker attacks.

Most of the people I know who are working with music use Macs.

It would definitely cost more going with a comparable Macintosh. According to his requirements, he needs at least 512MB of RAM, preferably 1GB. A 1GHz eMac with 1GB of RAM costs $1100. I just configured a Dell desktop for $719 after rebate.

The dell has 1GB of DDR, a 2.4GHz Celeron processor, WinXP Home, 17" CRT monitor, DVD-ROM and CD-RW, and is generally equivalent to the eMac when it comes to accessories. So the dell is $400 cheaper and comes with a much faster processor (yes, I know it’s a celeron, but it still beats a 1GHz G4).


Or another option is the AMD route. Their new 2500+ processor is amazingly cheap, and you’ll never look back at a macintosh computer once you notice the much better performance for a much better price.

Macs are nice machines, but if cost and performance is an issue, than, sadly perhaps, 'Doze is the way to go. I use a lot of the same software as you, and going for the cheaper e-macs or i-books isn’t going to cut it.

I don’t know if you are familiar with Max/MSP, it’s a sort of graphical programming environment for sound synthesis. On a performance test for that program the following computers scored:

Dell Inspiron 5150 P4 3.06 GHz: 46
Desktop G4 Dual 1.4 GHz: 63
Powerbook 12" G4 867 MHz: 121

Smaller values mean faster performance.

The powerbook is about 1100$, the G4 about 1600$. The Dell starts at 900$ and is three times faster than the powerbook. That means that for the same price, the Dell notebook will be able to run about three times as many vst plug-ins. Or so the benchmark test shows, but in my experience that’s about right.

Also, since you are doing CPU-intensive DSP stuff, I’d skip the celeron machines as performance is going to be not so great.

I’ll vouch for Celeron suckiness. I’d built a box for a friend with a 900MHz Duron, and it was quick as heck for a low-end processor. So I built myself a box with a 1.8Ghz Celeron (comparable, you’d think) that just seems so dang slow. This is with a better motherboard and graphics.

Of course this is subjective, but I’d put the “feel” of this XP box at just a little faster than my G3/400MHz PowerBook. My 933MHz G4 Mac, though, runs circles around the 1800MHz Celeron box. So, I think you’d have to compare prices with a real P4 and not the Celeron.

Thank God I can afford my Macs – even having a good XP system with a faster clock isn’t good enough for me.

When comparing prices, don’t forget about the reinvestment of software. That’ll definitely make switch back to a PC more expensive. Add headaches, reinstalls, crashes, and so on, and the price of a Mac is worth it.

If you don’t mind putting it together yourself, you can get a bargain by buying PC parts and assembling your own box. I just priced the following for $747.98 (incl. shipping) from

ATX mini-tower case w/ power supply
ASRock motherboard
Athlon XP 2500+ processor
80 GB hard disk
DVD+RW/CD-RW drive
Floppy drive
17" Hitachi monitor
Windows XP Home edition

Substitute 512 MB RAM, a 40 GB hard disk, and a DVD-ROM/CD-RW drive, and the price drops to $590.98.

No offense to Aviary intended, but it doesn’t sound like he’s that computer literate. And you’re telling him to build his own? That doesn’t sound like a recipie for success.

While I do admit that it is possible to get a PC cheaper than a Mac, I argue that it’s rarely all that possible to build a -comparable- system that’s much cheaper. When you go to and start adding things that anybody would want in like CDRW/DVD drives instead of plain ordinary CD drives, the cost goes way up.

And what’s the price of having to be constantly worried about hacker attacks, viruses and spyware? My Mac is connected directly to my cable modem, and has been for the last 3 years. No firewall, no virus scan software, and no problems. I’ll say that again. I’ve -never- been infected with a virus, -never- been infected with spyware, and -never- been hacked.

That peace of mind and ability to concentrate on my work instead of maintaining my machine easily outweighs the (maybe) couple hundred extra dollars I spent on it.

On the PowerPC, you could buy a PC card which included an Intel processor and allowed the machine to dual-boot Apple and Windows OSs. I helped put together a computer lab on a college campus a while back that used these machines because the department building the lab had a lot of special-purpose software for both PCs and Apple which they wanted to make available. This option allowed them to have both, so you could simply boot to the OS you needed for the software you wanted to use. While not inexpensive, it was certainly less expensive than buying complete duplicate systems. I don’t know what the hardware specs on the PC card were and I don’t know (but would be surprised) if they would work in an iMac.

I remember the products you’re talking about, but I’m quite sure that they haven’t been on the market for a number of years now. (Maybe since 1996?)

At any rate, iMacs don’t have the PCI slots that would be required for such a solution.

Another voice here saying don’t get a Celeron. Really, they are just castrated Pentium4s, and are way out performed by Athlon CPU’s that are cheaper to boot.

Did you read my post, right after yours, at all?

The only reason I priced out the Dell Celeron was to compare it to the eMac since the other poster recommended it and said it would be more expensive. The Celeron is the bottom of the barrel in terms of processing power on, yet still superior to a 1GHz G4, $400 cheaper, and comes with almost identical accessories.

Personally, I would never buy a Celeron. Unfortunately, Dell does not sell AMD-powered computers, and I just wanted to do a quick price check to show that the other guy was wrong.

So I should NOT get Celeron, right?

Only AMD or Intel?

I need a gig of RAM and 2.4 gigs of processing power…

Here is some music I made with my friend using the computer Im using right now and a little music hardware.


Get an AMD AthlonXP 2500+. For its price, it can’t be beat.

better idea would be to tell us how much you’re willing/want to spend.

Celeron’s are made by Intel - they are just budget versions of the Pentium4; they are alot slower than their clockspeed would suggest; my 1.67ghz AMD Athlon runs circles around my friends similarly equiped 2.4 ghz Celeron machine.

Stick to Intel Pentium4s or AMD Athlon chips for the CPU.

As other posters suggested, if you want to try a Windows box, I reccomend giving us your budget, and plenty of us will be willing to configure a machine for you.

It takes some computer knowledge to choose parts, but hardly any to put them together. These days, the only things you can accidentally plug in backwards are case lights and switches, and you rarely have to set jumpers - mostly you just need to know how to use a screwdriver, and how to avoid static electricity. There are even web sites like this one that help newbies build their first PC.

Good for you… I’ve never been infected with a virus or been hacked either, and I use Windows XP.

OS X is probably more secure than Windows because it’s based on BSD, but a Unix-based OS is not a “get out of worrying about security free” card. And even the BSD core won’t help keep you safe from viruses or spyware.

Intel is a brand, you should look for a Pentium 4 (the high end model) and avoid a Celeron (the low end model). AMD is also a brand… their high end chip is the Athlon XP.

Note that I’m NOT suggesting Aviary try this, as it sounded somewhat difficult, and it seems like a decision has been made to go with Windows, but to somewhat answer the question in the OP: I was at the bookstore today, and flipping through TechTV Leo Laporte’s 2004 Technology Almanac. There was a short section on building a Mac G4/Windows XP hybrid. Sounded pretty neat. I’d love to try it myself, but I’m not that mechanically minded; I think I’d need more instructions than it looked like were included in the two page description. Not exactly what Aviary was asking for, but it sounded like a fun project.

I’m pretty sure the PC/Mac cards micco is referencing were made by OrangeMicro, and I believe Mojo is right; they haven’t been around for years, and even if you could find a used one, I doubt they’d work on a modern Mac.