Announced on August 13, 2002, the newest line of Power Macs encapsulate a number of sorely needed upgrades.

Working from the outside in:

The case has been significantly modified. While it maintins the overall form factor (gray box with clear plastic handles, and a side-mounted door), the case now has four air intake ports at the bottom. In the middle-front lies the optical drive bay doors, which can open to accept CD or DVD media for reading or writing. The power button is located above the doors. A few inches above the power button resides the speaker.

The back looks rather strange. Four-fifths of the back panel (almost all the space not used by the various ports) is riddled with holes, like someone just took a shotgun to their computer. At the top of the back panel is a white tab that can slide out. The tab has a hole in the middle, which is designed to accomodate a simple lock, preventing the tab from sliding back in. As long as the tab is out, the case cannot be opened.

Below the tab is a recessed hole that contains four PCI card port slots, as well as the graphics card ports. To the right of thie recessed hole is the power plug.

Below lies the USB v1.1 and FireWire v1 ports (two of each). A 10/100/1000 Base-T Ethernet port and a modem port provide Internet access. A headphone port, audio in port, and a port for Pro Speakers provide audio capabilities.

Warning: Acronyms ahead!
Moving to the inside, we find the true goodies. PC 2700 DDR RAM is finally supported, and the maximum amount has been increased to 2 GB, up from 1.5. Unfortunately, the FSB is NOT DDR, so the RAM does not get full benefits. At 167 MHz, the FSB is still faster than PC 133 SDRAM.

An AGP 4x slot houses a graphics card - either a NVidia GeForce 4 MX, GeForce 4 Ti, or an ATi Radeon 9000 Pro provide an ADC and a DVI slot for connecting monitors.

Up to four hard drives can be connected to an ATA/100 bus and an ATA/66 bus, for a maximum of 480 GB of internal hard disk space. Nearly half a terabyte. RAID arrays are supported with a RAID card (not included).

Two optical drive bays are supported; this will make the copying of CDs and DVDs much easier. The first drive bay can house either a SuperDrive or a Combo (CD-RW/DVD) drive. The second can house either nothing or a Combo drive. On previous incarnations with one optical drive, an eject key on the keyboard was used to open and close the optical drive; I don't know how one will control the two.

And at the heart of every new Power Mac will lie dual processor G4s. Three options - dual 867 MHz, dual 1 GHz, and dual 1.25 GHz will be available. I have not yet been able to find what model number the new processors are; they may be MPC7455, or they may use a more advanced chip; any information on this would be appreciated.

Each new Power Mac will ship with some very nice software. First in line for recognition is Mac OS X 10.2 ("Jaguar"). This OS is absolutely phenomenal, both in terms of speed and beauty. Jaguar comes with the next version of Mail, which has, through Adaptive Latent Semantic Processing, acquired an eerie ability to recognize spam, and, should you wish, exterminate it. I plan on giving EDB all my spam; perhaps he'll learn to love the taste.

iChat is a nifty integrated Instant Messenger application. I still prefer Adium, but iChat isn't bad at all. Wats^H^H^H^H Sherlock 3, universally recognized as Apple giving the finger to pre-existing software, allows you to find common things like movie times, tickets, packages, eBay auctions, the weather, and more, without a web browser. Address Book is a step in the right direction, though not entirely there yet. Snapz Pro X, Adobe Acrobat, Internet Explorer 5, PixelNhance, FAXstf X, OmniGraffle, OmniOutliner, and Art Directors Toolkit all come bundled with every shipping PowerMac.

And, of course, all four iApps are included: iTunes, iMovie, iDVD, and iPhoto. iCal and iSync will be released for download later this fall, and may ship with the 1.25 GHz model. There are no plans for an iSuck application.