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Old Jan 31, 2013, 11:42 AM   #1
ipedro
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Help me pick my next Mac

I'm a photographer but I've been dabbling in video. I need a more efficient workstation.

I'm starting to browse the market for a new Mac and have always wanted an iMac. I had been waiting quite some time for a full new model which we just saw. However, since I plan to use this computer for the next 3 to 4 years, I don't think a first version is a good idea. However, I've waited for so long that I'm about to just pull the trigger.

I'm currently running a 2009 17" MacBookPro. I've upgraded it numerous times extending its life to today, where it's pretty much maxed out. My latest upgrade was a 200GB SSD and replacing the Super Drive with a 1TB HDD.

It's beginning to have issues such as unresponsive keys and uneven back lighting. I can keep it sputtering along for another year if I wanted to but should I?

I don't follow chip technologies much these days so perhaps somebody can offer me advice. Where are we in chip cycles? I got the impression that the new iMac uses existing chips. When are the next gen Intel chips due?

What are the odds of a retina iMac this year? Touch screen? My gut tells me to wait until OSX's 10.9 is released to developers and that the code could give us a hint at what Apple is planning for its desktops into the future. By then we should likely also know what the new Mac Pro is like. Is it a Mac Mini on steroids? A maxed out iMac?

Please help me pick my next Mac.
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Old Jan 31, 2013, 11:46 AM   #2
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maxed out iMac 27" should keep you going for the next 3/4 years
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Old Jan 31, 2013, 12:00 PM   #3
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I have $3K on hand to max out the iMac but I'm weary to spend it on a first generation version. I bought the very first Intel MacBookPro and then was screwed because it had a Core Duo chip and soon after (just months later) the Core 2 Duos became the standard for most new features in updates to OSX.

Where are we in the chip cycle? Is a new Intel chip due this year?
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Old Jan 31, 2013, 12:03 PM   #4
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This very site is well known for its buyers guide. Suggest you give it the once over!

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Old Jan 31, 2013, 12:04 PM   #5
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Next intel chips (haswell) are claimed (by intel) to be out around June. Given that the 2012 iMac just came out, September is a more realistic guess for the earliest we might see the the 2013 iMac. For desktops, the chip difference will hardly be noticeable.
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Old Jan 31, 2013, 12:08 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by ipedro View Post
I'm starting to browse the market for a new Mac and have always wanted an iMac. I had been waiting quite some time for a full new model which we just saw. However, since I plan to use this computer for the next 3 to 4 years, I don't think a first version is a good idea. However, I've waited for so long that I'm about to just pull the trigger.
I hear what you're saying about the new iMac. Wait on feedback from the early adopters. For now, though you've waited long, hold out a few more months so you'll have more options. There's a new Mac Pro on the way and also an updated Thunderbolt display.

Once these products are released, and we have feedback from those that already purchased, you can weigh the pros and cons of the iMac, the MP and MBP and not feel like you HAVE to choose the one you've always had a crush on.
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Old Jan 31, 2013, 12:18 PM   #7
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Next intel chips (haswell) are claimed (by intel) to be out around June. Given that the 2012 iMac just came out, September is a more realistic guess for the earliest we might see the the 2013 iMac. For desktops, the chip difference will hardly be noticeable.
Thanks. I looked up Haswell. Doesn't that mean that this iMac will be the last Ivy Bridge Mac? That's a red flag right there. I don't want to be buying a last generation of anything that I want to keep for 3 to 4 years.

Any chance of a refresh around WWDC?
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Old Jan 31, 2013, 12:22 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by ipedro View Post
Thanks. I looked up Haswell. Doesn't that mean that this iMac will be the last Ivy Bridge Mac? That's a red flag right there. I don't want to be buying a last generation of anything that I want to keep for 3 to 4 years.

Any chance of a refresh around WWDC?
Well, of course it will. Previous chip gen was Sandy Bridge and next lot will be Haswell. If you wait until Haswell then the same problem applies because Intel will have announced the successor to Haswell. It's known as Moore's Law and it's been going strong for 30 years. With your approach, you may never end up buying a computer at all ;-)

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Old Jan 31, 2013, 12:28 PM   #9
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Well, of course it will. Previous chip gen was Sandy Bridge and next lot will be Haswell. If you wait until Haswell then the same problem applies because Intel will have announced the successor to Haswell. It's known as Moore's Law and it's been going strong for 30 years. With your approach, you may never end up buying a computer at all ;-)

Nikko
I thought a technology lasted for a few generations. Like the Core tech went on for several generations. So the Haswell is just an iteration forward with yet another coming out the following year?

I guess what I mean is: will Haswell be branded as i8 or something else entirely? Is it part of the Core brand of chips?
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Old Jan 31, 2013, 12:37 PM   #10
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Check out http://ark.intel.com

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Old Jan 31, 2013, 12:42 PM   #11
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Ok the Haswell chips are the 4th generation Core chips. I can live with that. Probably not expecting an entirely new architecture for at least a couple of years from now.

That gives me a little more confidence in buying a new Mac based on the i7. I'm comparing the iMac against a Mac mini also. The possibility of getting the new Cinema Display with a maxed out MacMini that I can swap every couple of years sounds like a good idea. But can a MacMini compete with an iMac?
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Old Jan 31, 2013, 12:53 PM   #12
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Ok the Haswell chips are the 4th generation Core chips. I can live with that. Probably not expecting an entirely new architecture for at least a couple of years from now.

That gives me a little more confidence in buying a new Mac based on the i7. I'm comparing the iMac against a Mac mini also. The possibility of getting the new Cinema Display with a maxed out MacMini that I can swap every couple of years sounds like a good idea. But can a MacMini compete with an iMac?
A lot of people think coupling a Thunderbolt display (but wait for the new one ) with a Mac Mini is sensible for a couple of reasons:

- Easier upgrade path (access to the innards, lower capital expenditure applied to the processing bits)
- More $$$-effective SSD upgrade (although you may still need external storage)
- probably more besides but I can't think of them right now

You mention that you've started video dabbling. You might appreciate the GPU options in the iMac, especially the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680MX option. This will run rings around the integrated Intel graphics on the Mac Mini. Plus access to more powerful versions of the i7 chipset.

Horses for courses but I have a similar usage profile to you at first glance and I went for the iMac route.

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Old Jan 31, 2013, 01:00 PM   #13
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A lot of people think coupling a Thunderbolt display (but wait for the new one ) with a Mac Mini is sensible for a couple of reasons:

- Easier upgrade path (access to the innards, lower capital expenditure applied to the processing bits)
- More $$$-effective SSD upgrade (although you may still need external storage)
- probably more besides but I can't think of them right now

You mention that you've started video dabbling. You might appreciate the GPU options in the iMac, especially the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680MX option. This will run rings around the integrated Intel graphics on the Mac Mini. Plus access to more powerful versions of the i7 chipset.

Horses for courses but I have a similar usage profile to you at first glance and I went for the iMac route.

Nikko
Thanks you've been really helpful.

I was considering waiting for what Apple has in store for the Mac Pro but I don't really require that kind of power. A maxed out iMac would run Aperture without any problem whatsoever for the foreseeable future and my 3 year old MacBookPro already runs Fnal Cut X acceptably well so a new iMac would be a major improvement.

I think I'm gonna go with the maxed out 27" iMac. I wonder if they sell them like that in store. I have cash on hand, I'd rather walk into a store and come home an hour later with my new iMac.
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Old Jan 31, 2013, 01:00 PM   #14
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iPedreo, you are having build paranoia. Its something common when choosing PC hardware, you always want to get the latest tech, and somehow make the magical purchase right when techonlogy stops evolving and your hardware is the TOP for the next 5 years when there was no advance in PC hardware...

Thats never gonna happen. Whatever you buy in whatever 365 days of the year it gonna be old hardware someday eventually.

I can assure you that whatever Macs you purchase today is gonna be the right Mac. Haswell chip is due in June, and Intel usually falls a little behind schedule. Besides, that is chip production, and once this happens, you have to wait several more months for Apple to build the Macs and ship them. You can expect new Macs with Haswell chips will only be available in late september/october. And they will bring nothing new except being faster a little bit. Ivy Bridge is already insanelly fast. Its a great chip.

On the side note, a new OS may only be available in 2014. Mountain Lion was only released to fix the several bugs in Lion. Every other OS X release is on a 2-year hiatus. And even when that happens, upgrade is only $19

To conclude, you should get the Mac that looks the best. They all are gonna perform great. I assume you need tons of storage, having metioned a 1TB HDD, so the Retina is out. If you go MacMini, get the quad-core 1TB and add yourself a SSD for fusion drive. If you go iMac, get a 3TB fusion. Afterwads, max the memory and enjoy the computer for the next 5 years.
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Old Jan 31, 2013, 01:12 PM   #15
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iPedreo, you are having build paranoia. Its something common when choosing PC hardware, you always want to get the latest tech, and somehow make the magical purchase right when techonlogy stops evolving and your hardware is the TOP for the next 5 years when there was no advance in PC hardware...

Thats never gonna happen. Whatever you buy in whatever 365 days of the year it gonna be old hardware someday eventually.

I can assure you that whatever Macs you purchase today is gonna be the right Mac. Haswell chip is due in June, and Intel usually falls a little behind schedule. Besides, that is chip production, and once this happens, you have to wait several more months for Apple to build the Macs and ship them. You can expect new Macs with Haswell chips will only be available in late september/october. And they will bring nothing new except being faster a little bit. Ivy Bridge is already insanelly fast. Its a great chip.

On the side note, a new OS may only be available in 2014. Mountain Lion was only released to fix the several bugs in Lion. Every other OS X release is on a 2-year hiatus. And even when that happens, upgrade is only $19

To conclude, you should get the Mac that looks the best. They all are gonna perform great. I assume you need tons of storage, having metioned a 1TB HDD, so the Retina is out. If you go MacMini, get the quad-core 1TB and add yourself a SSD for fusion drive. If you go iMac, get a 3TB fusion. Afterwads, max the memory and enjoy the computer for the next 5 years.
Wise words.

iPedreo - you should check out your local Apple Store & see what they have. I found the exact model I have on BTO in the SF store a couple of weeks ago. Too bad I live in the UK.

Unlike LeandrodaFL's advice, I went for the 1TB Fusion, which I will partition into a boot drive (SSD portion) and Slow Media Drive (Disk-only portion) for my ~150gig Apple Lossless iTunes library. The ~175gig Aperture library will reside on a 1TB Lacie SSD RAID0 Thunderbolt array (in fact, I plan to migrate all my user home folders there). I've also bought a WD 1TB My Passport USB3 which I've partitioned into boot (cloned from the Fusion drive system libraries) and Backup (for Aperture Vault and TimeMachine for everything). As the user data grows, I can daisy chain more LaCie Thunderbolt arrays and buy a bigger My Passport.

My biggest remaining problem is what to do with the Mac Mini that this new iMac will replace. Am toying with the idea of turning it into a media server for the TV but I already have a TIVO box, so WTF?

Nikko

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Old Jan 31, 2013, 01:16 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by ipedro View Post
I have $3K on hand to max out the iMac but I'm weary to spend it on a first generation version. I bought the very first Intel MacBookPro and then was screwed because it had a Core Duo chip and soon after (just months later) the Core 2 Duos became the standard for most new features in updates to OSX.

Where are we in the chip cycle? Is a new Intel chip due this year?
3k will not get you a maxed out 27" iMac. You can easily get more HD space though for that amount. Yeah, new Intel chips are due out later, but like others have mentioned already, its an endless cycle and you'll never have the newest unless you get a new computer every 6 months or so.
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Old Jan 31, 2013, 02:07 PM   #17
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3k will not get you a maxed out 27" iMac. You can easily get more HD space though for that amount. Yeah, new Intel chips are due out later, but like others have mentioned already, its an endless cycle and you'll never have the newest unless you get a new computer every 6 months or so.
My spec machine, if ordered in the US, costs $2,768.

- 3.4GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7
- 8GB 1600MHz DDR3 SDRAM-2X4GB
- 1TB Fusion Drive
- NVIDIAGeFrc GTX 680MX 2G GDDR5
- MAGIC TRACKPAD-Z
- Apple WL Kybd+User's Guide-B
- COUNTRY KIT-B

You can set aside another $180 for a 32GB RAM upgrade, as I did. Total cost still within $3k.

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Old Jan 31, 2013, 02:17 PM   #18
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Good idea about the external storage. I might want to get a DROBO or something like that with redundant storage that I can hot swap a drive and keep a copy off site. I've been taking too many risks with my library.
I might get the 1TB with lower RAM and buy the 32GB elsewhere.
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Old Jan 31, 2013, 02:20 PM   #19
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Good idea about the external storage. I might want to get a DROBO or something like that with redundant storage that I can hot swap a drive and keep a copy off site. I've been taking too many risks with my library.
I might get the 1TB with lower RAM and buy the 32GB elsewhere.
Please *never* buy Apple RAM for a machine where you can upgrade it yourself (21.5" models, rMBPs are the exception). Apple charge a fortune for a commodity item that you can source from Amazon for $00s less.

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Old Jan 31, 2013, 02:26 PM   #20
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If you think that waiting for the next incremental improvement in the iMac is going to net you huge gains, I think you will be in for disappointment. Haswell may or may not release in the iMac this year, and even if it does you're looking at potentially a 10-15% CPU speed bump which doesn't translate into much when you look at hanging onto a machine for the long haul.

If you waited until summer of 2014 then you might get a better GPU, Fusion drive could potentially become standard or ship in larger capacities, etc.

Really at the end of the day, if you have use of the Mac now then just get it.... this is a complete redesign and there won't be much other than incremental improvements for the next 12-18 months.

If something unexpected happens and there is a major revamp in a short period of time, you don't have much to worry about, Macs hold their value extremely well, so you will be able to sell your 1-2 year old Mac for probably 60% or more of what you paid for it.
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Old Jan 31, 2013, 03:08 PM   #21
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Thanks guys. I think that makes up my mind. The Mac Mini is off the table due to the lackluster graphics and I think that a Mac Pro is overkill for my needs and probably a very niche product (Apple seems to think so).

I'll pick up a 27" iMac with 3.4ghz, 8GB RAM, 2GB graphics, and either a 1GB or 3GB fusion drive depending on the backup solution I find. I'll add at least 16GB or 32GB RAM right away depending on prices.
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Old Jan 31, 2013, 03:18 PM   #22
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Probably you want to know that the 27 has got a small door on the back to upgrade easily the memory your self which will save you quite a lot of $$$$$
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Old Jan 31, 2013, 04:53 PM   #23
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Any chance of a refresh around WWDC?
None. Too soon. In the absence of extraneous factors (like manufacturing issues on an aggressive new design), the shelf time of an iMac model is roughly 9 months.

WWDC is when you can probably expect the new Pro machine though.
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Old Jan 31, 2013, 05:44 PM   #24
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iPedreo, you are having build paranoia. Its something common when choosing PC hardware, you always want to get the latest tech, and somehow make the magical purchase right when techonlogy stops evolving and your hardware is the TOP for the next 5 years when there was no advance in PC hardware...

Thats never gonna happen. Whatever you buy in whatever 365 days of the year it gonna be old hardware someday eventually.

I can assure you that whatever Macs you purchase today is gonna be the right Mac. Haswell chip is due in June, and Intel usually falls a little behind schedule. Besides, that is chip production, and once this happens, you have to wait several more months for Apple to build the Macs and ship them. You can expect new Macs with Haswell chips will only be available in late september/october. And they will bring nothing new except being faster a little bit. Ivy Bridge is already insanelly fast. Its a great chip.

On the side note, a new OS may only be available in 2014. Mountain Lion was only released to fix the several bugs in Lion. Every other OS X release is on a 2-year hiatus. And even when that happens, upgrade is only $19

To conclude, you should get the Mac that looks the best. They all are gonna perform great. I assume you need tons of storage, having metioned a 1TB HDD, so the Retina is out. If you go MacMini, get the quad-core 1TB and add yourself a SSD for fusion drive. If you go iMac, get a 3TB fusion. Afterwads, max the memory and enjoy the computer for the next 5 years.
Well said, I couldn't agree more. When it comes to technology there is always a newer, better, faster model coming. Unless you know that a new model is right around the corner, you could always be waiting. I've enjoyed my current iMac for the past five years. My new one is scheduled to arrive on Tuesday!!
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Old Jan 31, 2013, 10:11 PM   #25
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I'll pick up a 27" iMac with 3.4ghz, 8GB RAM, 2GB graphics, and either a 1GB or 3GB fusion drive depending on the backup solution I find.
I strongly recomend 3TB. Remember that HDD on the iMac are not upgradable. The case is near to impossible to open and the HDD itself has a identifier chip, so its not replacable. If you swap, the iMac doesnst boot.

On a $3000 machine, the diference for HDD is minimal, and you really gonna regreat not having more storage once that 1TB gets full.

Memory on the other hand is perfectly easy to upgrade, you can do it yourself without any issues
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