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View Full Version : Need help... Most basic Mac dilema: Mac or Intel WS


law guy
Feb 26, 2003, 11:14 PM
Arg. So. I've been wrestling with coming back to Mac for weeks... nay, months now. Losing sleep. MWSF was a really exciting event (just read the coverage) that I think has pushed me back to this point. Also need a good home system. The NT system at work seems very stable and way more so than my last mac which ran 7.x (which featured the then-apple equivilent of the blue screen of death: the system freeze-up/slow down).

This question is somthing of a combo-software/hardware query. The choice is down to: In the PC world - a dell PWS 650 with a mid 2.xeon (good: 3 yr. warranty, account assigned rep., 8x AGP, can upgrade the processor / add a second, Win. XP seems stable and fine, usual compatibility) or 1.42 power mac (a little less scalable than the dell, 4x agp, have to pay extra $249 for 3 yr. coverage, it seems more limited use of optical drive capabilities). I know folks love macs. But setting aside strong emotional feelings - why would the Apple be a better choice than the Dell WS? Also - is OS X really better than XP? Macworld magazine seems filed with software fixes for OS X and I see a good deal of advice on this board too. Reasons either way from folks who've had some experiences with similar systems would be really helpful and may help pin this one down. Help! Many, many thanks for your advice in advance.

Catfish_Man
Feb 26, 2003, 11:31 PM
What are you going to do with it? For gaming, for example, the Dell is going to kick the Mac's ass into next week (barring a few exceptions like EV:Nova, Coldstone, etc...). For digital photography/music/movies, the Mac wins clearly. For art (photoshop, low end 3d, etc...) they're about tied. For web browsing/word processing/etc... they're about tied. For high end 3d (or other really computationally heavy tasks) the Dell's going to win. For security, there really isn't any comparison, the Mac wins hands down (nobody writes virii for Macs). Development is great on Macs (free tools, great API), cross platform development is ok (unless you're doing Java, which is great on Macs). Stability is probably about equal. 8X AGP is useless (all of today's graphics cards are memory bandwidth limited, not AGP limited). Multiprocessor support is better on Macs (XP Pro does ok, but apparently still has some load balancing issues). Networking is easier on Macs (built in gigabit ethernet, rendezvous, ipv6 support, SMB, etc...). The Dell is going to be faster for most things, although the Xeon (unless you're talking about one of the big cache Xeons that costs a fortune) isn't going to be quite as hard to compete with as a high end P4. Processors can be upgraded on both, but it's easier and cheaper on the Dell.

If you care about people spying on your computer, don't use Windows ( http://www.theinquirer.net/?article=7980 , http://www.tecchannel.de/betriebssysteme/1126/index.html ).

law guy
Feb 26, 2003, 11:48 PM
Intended use is a classic mis-mash: writing (manual type writer will also work); manipulating large data base files and multi-taksing with large information retrival services files; movie making - digital video editing (hobby); games - would need to find a really good flight sim for mac; digital photography. The point about security is also very important to me - thanks for making it. Hmmm. Is the Mac OS less trouble than all of the fix-it articles make it sound?

benixau
Feb 27, 2003, 01:29 AM
you seem to favour the mac.

the mac has the advantage that its load balancing: the sharing of different processes across different processors is far superior to that of windows.

Of course if you want a similar result on a pc platfrom such as the Xeon then go get linux or solaris (unix).

as for a really good filght sim i dunno. i have heard that x-plane is pretty good but i can not say, i have never used it.

good luck

law guy
Feb 27, 2003, 09:04 PM
Well, I called the apple store today and was told that the dual 1.42 wasn't even a tangible option for another four weeks. They expect to have units by April.

samsflagdrummer
Feb 27, 2003, 09:24 PM
It sounds to me like you should go for the mac (not being bias at all), epecially if your planing on doing movie editing (iMovie, Final Cut Express, iDVD + SuperDrive), Databases (Excel X is awesome), and if security is a big issue. Btw, X-Plane is really great.

springscansing
Feb 27, 2003, 09:29 PM
Yes, X-Plane is freakin God. If you haven't used it, you've never used a true flight simulator.

Simulation first, fun second... which for me means fun first! Paradoxical...

KingArthur
Mar 1, 2003, 01:43 AM
Until Intel gets the bugs worked out of the Xenon, you are going to have varied results with it. It sometimes works really great with its Hyperthreading technology, but a lot of the times, it actually does a slower job in multitasking b/c it has problems with processes stealing all of the memory registers and thus, starving the other process. Look in the future to see a major advantage with the Xenon, but not right now. With multi-processing, OSX is hands down the better selection as others have stated b/c the only thing keeping Apple alive is multiprocessing. Apple has worked exceptionally hard to make multiprocessing as much like one, super-fast processor as possible to compete with the speeds of Intel. I have not used OSX in a long time (since 10.0), so I am only speaking from tech-documents I have read and such. I own a WinXP system, and must say that it is both impressive and depressive. You must get XP Pro if you want any of the stability Microsoft promotes. I use XP Pro and have had MANY friends with XP Home, and they constantly have problems. One thing that I don't like about Windows, also, is that Windows puts system files on your HD and then doesn't let them be moved. It doesn't even lable a lot of them in the Volume map, other than system file. Thus, Norton Utilities (which is a million times better than the built-in defragger) cannot do as effective of a job as on a multi-partitioned Mac. The Mac is also a lot easier to have multiple system disks. I personally like the interface and feel of the Mac to that of Windows, but that is my own opinion.

Dont Hurt Me
Mar 1, 2003, 12:01 PM
The complete computer experience is better on a mac. Thats it in a nutshell. The new osx is also the most friendly and easiest to use OS ever. The included iapps are simply terrific. The Macs also look the coolest. If you are going to mess with movies,photos,music,etc the mac is the way.

iJon
Mar 1, 2003, 12:36 PM
Originally posted by law guy
Well, I called the apple store today and was told that the dual 1.42 wasn't even a tangible option for another four weeks. They expect to have units by April.
ill sell you one. pm me if your interested in one.

iJon

pilotgi
Mar 1, 2003, 06:31 PM
I'm impressed that these posts sound so unbiased.

Do you have the experience/skills to build your own?

If you don't, there's plenty of info on the web to get you started. Reason I ask is, you could build your own using AMD MP processors and maybe you could avoid some of the problems mentioned above with the Xeon.

Of course, I haven't used the AMD's either so maybe there's issues with them too.

As for which OS to use, Windows definitely has the advantage if you want to play games.
Other than that, nothing beats OSX.

law guy
Mar 1, 2003, 06:45 PM
Originally posted by pilotgi
I'm impressed that these posts sound so unbiased.

Do you have the experience/skills to build your own?


No, unfortunately. Whenever I tried to even swap in or out different components on an older system, I'd see performance drop off because I wasn't reconfiguring everything in the software rhelm correctly.

Also - I'd like to echo the appreciation for the unbiased advice. I think a good deal is coming from folks who have both boxes side-by-side and that is a real help.

SoonToGetAMac
Mar 2, 2003, 01:52 AM
I just switched from a 500MHz PIII workstation to a 700G3 ibook...i haven't needed to use all of the fixes that you have read about for OS X (mabye that comes from people tinkering with X too much), and I have had only one kernel panic...much better than XP pro. Some websites aren't too compatible with OSX, for example I am looking at getting a new car, and many "build-a-car" sites are pretty bad with safari.. all-in-all, i don't regret the switch at all and iTunes, iPhoto, and iMovie are really some of the better designed programs in a while...whatever you decide, I hope you enjoy.

Steradian
Mar 2, 2003, 02:20 AM
law guy i read in your profile that your an attorney you might wanna read this thread throughHere (http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?threadid=19660&highlight=EULA)
what ever your choice your going to have a powerful machine

Megaquad
Mar 2, 2003, 04:16 AM
Originally posted by SoonToGetAMac
I just switched from a 500MHz PIII workstation to a 700G3 ibook...i haven't needed to use all of the fixes that you have read about for OS X (mabye that comes from people tinkering with X too much), and I have had only one kernel panic...much better than XP pro. Some websites aren't too compatible with OSX, for example I am looking at getting a new car, and many "build-a-car" sites are pretty bad with safari.. all-in-all, i don't regret the switch at all and iTunes, iPhoto, and iMovie are really some of the better designed programs in a while...whatever you decide, I hope you enjoy.
It is impossible that some websites "aren't compatible with OSX". Safari is still beta, and if some page doesnt work in it, use Chimera or Internet Explorer instead - problem solved.

SoonToGetAMac
Mar 2, 2003, 10:23 AM
Yeah..Safari was a the problem there. Sorry about that.

AlphaTech
Mar 2, 2003, 11:04 AM
I'm still waiting for Safari to go non-beta. I've tried the builds, but they still can't handle CSS2 properly. That is the current generation of CSS, and is supported by the recent versions of all browsers (for the past two years or so). Hell, even Opera 6/7 (Mac/pc versions) handles it properly, as does Netscape 6.x, 7.x, IE 5.x (all Mac/pc versions with IE 5.5 as a minimum on the pc) versions.

That said, I do know that AMD makes a quality processor. I've built several systems with them, and have never had a problem with the processor.

I also, recently, read that AGP 4x and 8x are a bit deceiving at this point. Mainly because you won't [really] notice all that much of a difference, if any. Most [all] quality motherboards are coming 8x compatible, but will also go down to at least 4x if not 2x for speeds. Also, until the GeForce 4fx cards actually start shipping, the ATI and nVidia based video cards are about equal as far as speed, overall performance, and rendering (real world testing, not ideal/skewed conditions).

I believe that a quality pc with dual AMD processors will run you about the same as the top end G4 tower (not the ungodly ultimate system, but the normal high end one). You also need to figure out how much you want to change in the future. With the majority of computer parts being built for pc's you will have more options open to you.

If you would like, I could price out a few systems/configurations for you (pc). At this time, I prefer to ship the pc's with Windows 2000, NOT XP. From my experience (and many others) XP has too much "bubble-gum" that gets in the way. Even if you turn that off, it still isn't as good as 2k (at least in my opinion). If you have a version of windows already, I can ship the system without an OS, that way you can install what you already have (I include all driver media that came with the parts in that case). I'm even offering to ship it with Linux if you want.

A

cubist
Mar 2, 2003, 11:15 AM
Hey Law guy, you might want to take a look at that new 12" PowerBook. It is a beautiful piece of gear, will look terrific in the office, and you can carry it around with you. The pictures don't do it justice :).

Most lawyers I see are constantly on the move; I know laptops in the past have been slow and clunky, but most of the tradeoffs no longer apply.

crazzyeddie
Mar 2, 2003, 11:43 AM
I use OS 10.2 , and my friend uses XP Pro.

Ive reinstalled my system once, because I had too many third-party utilities installed; it was by choice.

My friend has HAD to reinstall his system 7 times because of viruses. He has a virus now that hes 'just going to live with' because hes sick of losing all of his data, since you cant backup after you get the virus.

Ive been using Macs for 10 going on 11 years and have NEVER had a virus, and I download anything i want and have no virus protection.

Security and stability: Mac is the clear winner.

law guy
Mar 2, 2003, 01:07 PM
Originally posted by cubist
Hey Law guy, you might want to take a look at that new 12" PowerBook. It is a beautiful piece of gear, will look terrific in the office, and you can carry it around with you. The pictures don't do it justice :).

Most lawyers I see are constantly on the move; I know laptops in the past have been slow and clunky, but most of the tradeoffs no longer apply.

Cubist -

Your observation regarding mobility is right on the mark. My thinking is: a dual 1.42 G4 system would "do" more outside of the standard MS Office programs, which I imagine work just fine on most anything until database files get too large, or you just run to many programs at once. So, it seems that I could run final cut express better, etc. on the dual (I would be really interested if folks thought that programs like FC Express would run fairly competently on a 17" PB as that could be an option - now that Feb. 20th has come and gone, what have folks heard about when stores would have stock that one could just walk in and buy??). I would muddle through using the system at work and getting the loaner IBM Thinkpads our IT dept. has until there was a 970 PB. But perhaps my buying strategy should be the other way around? Order a 17" PB (if competent on video programs) and then buy a desktop when the 970s appear? What would be convient, would be a PB and a desktop, but I really don't want to buy TWO sets of G4 technology at once (my wife would also forbid that) that I'd probably keep for four or five years when the upgrades seem close. Also - re: which to go with first PB or Desktop, it seemed that the 970 might use less power and create a better laptop experience re: battery life, heating of the skin, and power. That is sort of a jumble of the back and forth I'm dealing with.

AlphaTech
Mar 2, 2003, 01:41 PM
Law guy, I have to ask, do you REALLY need the huge display of the 17" PB?? I have the 15.2" PB (800MHz/DVI version) and have yet to need anything larger (screen size). I am more then able to display multiple windows on my screen as well as work in GoLive 6 and PS7.x without squinting. Considering how the 15" PB's are cheaper then the 17" model I'd suggest seriously considering that size. I'd also wait until after the WWDC to see if Apple updates the 15.2" PB to include DDR memory and changes the case to match the newer models.

BTW, the Radeon 7500 in my current PB is more then enough to do everything I ask it to. I can only imagine how the new models video cards handle things (Radeon 9000 in the 15.2" and the GeForce Go cards in the 12" and 17" models).

IF you can wait, and you want something portable, spend less, get the 15.2" model (when it has DDR and such) and just get a larger secondary display. THAT way, you can travel lighter (it's also easier to fit the 15.2" model into cases) and plug into the large screen either at home or at the office and have TWO screens. That will allow you to work in two applications at once, and not have to hide them like you would even on the 17" model.

yzedf
Mar 2, 2003, 05:29 PM
Originally posted by samsflagdrummer
It sounds to me like you should go for the mac (not being bias at all), epecially if your planing on doing movie editing (iMovie, Final Cut Express, iDVD + SuperDrive), Databases (Excel X is awesome), and if security is a big issue. Btw, X-Plane is really great.

iApps are not professional grade tools.

Excel is not a database.

Security is based on the user more than the platform.

icetraxxg5
Mar 2, 2003, 07:04 PM
MySQL is one of the best databases; very secure; works PERFECT on MacOS X since its a unix based system.

Overall MacOS X is much more secure then WindowsNT (2000/xp/.net) even if the user has very good experience with the system or not much at all.

iApps are fine for some professional things.

crazzyeddie
Mar 2, 2003, 07:50 PM
Originally posted by yzedf
Security is based on the user more than the platform.

I disagree... What could I possibly do to make my computer as vulerable as my friends XP computer? He doesn't run a firewall, so thats his own fault, but even if I disable mine, i bet you he would be hacked faster and more than I would in the same situation.

law guy
Mar 2, 2003, 08:01 PM
Originally posted by AlphaTech
Law guy, I have to ask, do you REALLY need the huge display of the 17" PB?? I have the 15.2" PB (800MHz/DVI version) and have yet to need anything larger (screen size). I am more then able to display multiple windows on my screen as well as work in GoLive 6 and PS7.x without squinting. Considering how the 15" PB's are cheaper then the 17" model I'd suggest seriously considering that size. I'd also wait until after the WWDC to see if Apple updates the 15.2" PB to include DDR memory and changes the case to match the newer models.



AlphaTech -

Good observations regarding size - and you're right. No I don't actually need the 17" screen, the 17" is just the better option for me between the 12" and 17" and while the 15" is really the perfect size (and wouldn't draw so much attention on a conference table, although any glowing apple is bound to standout against an army of blackbacked thinkpads), I'd rather have the updated technology in a notebook. Well, it's still not at all clear whether the choice will be a dual G4 or a PB for the return to mac machine, but you'll all note that the discussion has moved away from the Dell workstation (there it was easier, a thin ultra-portable in the pc world runs a 1 Ghz PIII, has no dvd-r drive, and becomes a shadow of itself when unplugged) to discussion not IF apple is the way to go, but the pros and cons of a desktop vs. a notebook as my main computer for the next while. So that's progress!

AlphaTech
Mar 2, 2003, 08:20 PM
One, go with at least a 1.2GHz if you are going with a p3 chipset. Check out what Toshiba has to offer as well as MirconPC. They both have thin laptops (14.1" display and less).

IF you want a powerful laptop, that's not all that thick, and will [probably] behave for the most part, I'd have to recommend looking at IBM's T30 laptop. It's about 1-3/8" thick and is a p4 processor. You can get it built-to-order/customized with win2k (instead of xp). You should also check out IBM's X30 laptop, which is the 12.1" display model.

Although if you want to do some serious video editing (even as a hobby), a p3 processor is NOT what you want.

law guy
Mar 2, 2003, 08:45 PM
Originally posted by AlphaTech
One, go with at least a 1.2GHz if you are going with a p3 chipset. Check out what Toshiba has to offer as well as MirconPC. They both have thin laptops (14.1" display and less).

IF you want a powerful laptop, that's not all that thick, and will [probably] behave for the most part, I'd have to recommend looking at IBM's T30 laptop. It's about 1-3/8" thick and is a p4 processor. You can get it built-to-order/customized with win2k (instead of xp). You should also check out IBM's X30 laptop, which is the 12.1" display model.

Although if you want to do some serious video editing (even as a hobby), a p3 processor is NOT what you want.

You and I have the same tastes in the intel notebook world. I actually was considering a T30 for awhile. My wife has an X30 that her firm owns, but the docking station bit is just not for me. Thinkpads tend to be little workhorse tanks. I use the R-series a good deal at work. But what I meant to convey in all those run-on sentences in my last post was that an intel notebook was not in the running, and my conflict between desktop and notebook really started when I settled on a Macintosh again - both can work with (so it appears from what people have posted) programs like video editing well.

Back to what was said earlier re: the 12" above by Cubist - it really depends on the components of the rest of the set up. For example, if I were only to have one Mac now and it were a laptop, I'd want the 17" to be the all-in-one wonder, but if I were to go with a desktop G4, then the notebook really becomes like a little sattelite machine and because it doesn't have to do everything as well, a 12" might be just the thing.

KingArthur
Mar 3, 2003, 01:16 AM
Originally posted by crazzyeddie
I use OS 10.2 , and my friend uses XP Pro.

Ive reinstalled my system once, because I had too many third-party utilities installed; it was by choice.

My friend has HAD to reinstall his system 7 times because of viruses. He has a virus now that hes 'just going to live with' because hes sick of losing all of his data, since you cant backup after you get the virus.

Ive been using Macs for 10 going on 11 years and have NEVER had a virus, and I download anything i want and have no virus protection.

Security and stability: Mac is the clear winner.

What your friend needs to do is to get a partitioner program and partition the drive into two drives, one for data and one for the system/programs. When you reinstall the system that way, you still retain anything that was on the data partition.

As far as people have mentioned about getting a Duel AMD machine, if you are intending to pay a decent price and have a build-your-own computer, I would wait a little longer for Intel to release their P4 Prescott processor. It has improvement in its hyperthreading technology (which isn't even an option in the AMD chips) that decreases the problems with resource starvation. I don't support Intel, but it looks as though this chip is going to be the best PC chip on the market.

Also, just b/c we are mac fans doesn't mean that most of us don't use both Wintel and Apple machines on a regular basis. I use a P4 laptop on a daily basis and have my old mac just sitting there with my music and such. I honestly believe that I should give credit where credit is due, and therefore can't say that Apples don't have their shortcommings compared to Windows machines, but then again, Windows machines have shortcommings, too. I prefer the total Apple experiance myself, though.

law guy
Mar 3, 2003, 10:13 AM
I've just ordered a dual 1.42 GHz from iJon's family's shop. It should be here on Wednesday and I have high hopes.

A word about iJon's shop - They are going to take the machine out and boot it up, make sure everything appears to be working well - no strange fan or time/date glitches, that sort of thing. iJon's mother is a delightful person and I would recommend their shop for a pleasant and personalized buying experience that's out of the ordinary. Apple has a real asset there.

Many thanks for everyone's advice and observations over the past few days. It has been invaluable and is appreciated.