Keep my Power Mac out of the landfill!
Q I have an old G5 Power Mac. As far as I know it still works, but it’s been languishing in the loft for a few years. I’m moving house soon so I’m clearing out a lot of junk. What’s the best way to reuse or dispose of this computer? Can I turn it into a media server for iTunes or photos? Does it have any resale value? If neither of these are viable, how do I get rid of it without harming the environment? My local council just seems to put any bulky items straight into landfill, which I don’t want to happen. Mark Prebendary
A Reusing old computers as file servers was a popular ‘how to…’ magazine feature about 10 years ago, but it really doesn’t make much sense anymore. Cloud storage is cheap and ubiquitous and the smallest external drives have capacities well beyond the hard disk of an old Power Mac. Repurposing a G5 in this way actually hurts the environment because of the extra electricity you use. The Power Mac G5 uses between 120 and 140W when idle, depending on the model. If you leave it switched on for 12 hours a day, that’s about 570kWh per year, which costs £86 in electricity before you even access a single file. Even if you actually needed a standalone file server, a new Mac mini would use less than a tenth of the electricity to do the same job, faster, more quietly and in a smaller space.
There is one part of the G5 that’s still useful though – the case. These are quite sought after and sell for about £50 – £80 on eBay. I have one that I use as a case for one of my Windows PCs, because most PC cases are unspeakably ugly. A working machine like yours sometimes sells for a little bit more, but it’s unlikely the buyer will want to use it as a whole computer, any more than you do. Most buyers are just after the case or some parts to fix an existing machine, and there’s no guarantee the rest will be recycled.
The more environmentally responsible course is to send it to a recycling company. There are plenty of companies that will collect from you but, unless you’re disposing of lots of computers in one go, they all charge for collection. Waste care (wastecare.co.uk), for example, charges £41. So if you sell the case separately first, it looks like you might just break even.
Beautiful on the outside, not very useful on the inside. The most valuable part of these Macs is the case. The guts that sit inside can be recycled.