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Old Jan 30, 2013, 11:39 AM   #1
ncrypt
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What to do for uni?

Hi everyone!

In September, I'll be doing Product Design in uni which entails a fair bit of CAD/design work. I currently have the Mid-2011 21.5" iMac with the 2.7GHz i5 processor and 8GBs of RAM but realise that at uni I will need a certain degree of portability.

Which of the following combinations would you go for since there are pros and cons to each? Or can you think of an even better solution?

1) Keep my iMac (which I absolutely love) and use it as my main machine seeing that is beastly in terms of performance Get a decent spec Windows laptop/ultrabook <600 for when I'm around the uni campus/away (budget doesn't allow for a MPB in this situation unfortunately).

2) Sell my iMac and buy a Macbook Pro which would then be my primary machine. I was thinking of going for the 13" cMBP since I can then add an SSD and boost the RAM up then also connect it to a monitor when I'm in my room so that I get the same screen 'real estate' as the iMac but still retain the portability of a laptop. The biggest catch is that it isn't as powerful as the iMac.

What do you guys think?
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Old Jan 30, 2013, 12:20 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ncrypt View Post
Hi everyone!

In September, I'll be doing Product Design in uni which entails a fair bit of CAD/design work. I currently have the Mid-2011 21.5" iMac with the 2.7GHz i5 processor and 8GBs of RAM but realise that at uni I will need a certain degree of portability.

Which of the following combinations would you go for since there are pros and cons to each? Or can you think of an even better solution?

1) Keep my iMac (which I absolutely love) and use it as my main machine seeing that is beastly in terms of performance Get a decent spec Windows laptop/ultrabook <600 for when I'm around the uni campus/away (budget doesn't allow for a MPB in this situation unfortunately).

2) Sell my iMac and buy a Macbook Pro which would then be my primary machine. I was thinking of going for the 13" cMBP since I can then add an SSD and boost the RAM up then also connect it to a monitor when I'm in my room so that I get the same screen 'real estate' as the iMac but still retain the portability of a laptop. The biggest catch is that it isn't as powerful as the iMac.

What do you guys think?
I would definitely start with KEEPING the iMac. Going from that screen to a 13" screen would be something that you would regret in the future.

If you're going to be doing CAD/design work, would the Windows version be compatible with the Mac version? I don't know the answer to that but whatever the answer is should help make your decision for you.

If the two versions are compatible, then yes, find a Windows machine running Windows 7.

If not, then find a MBP with a 15" screen either refurbished or through CL to save money. You might be surprised to know that very decent Macbook and MBPs are going for some incredible prices these days.

I still own and use my 2009 iMac and would probably buy another one if anything happened to this one. And lucky for me, Mac2Sell quotes my machine being worth about $570.
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Old Jan 30, 2013, 12:56 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by RedCroissant View Post
I still own and use my 2009 iMac and would probably buy another one if anything happened to this one. And lucky for me, Mac2Sell quotes my machine being worth about $570.
I've never been to Mac2Sell before, but it is valuing my 2007 iMac 20" 2.4 Core 2 Duo as $540. I'm not sure I believe that. If it's true, HOORAY!!!

Edit: Is there a way to cash in that value on the Mac2Sell website?
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Old Jan 30, 2013, 01:16 PM   #4
RedCroissant
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I've never been to Mac2Sell before, but it is valuing my 2007 iMac 20" 2.4 Core 2 Duo as $540. I'm not sure I believe that. If it's true, HOORAY!!!

Edit: Is there a way to cash in that value on the Mac2Sell website?
I don't know if I believe it either, but it's nice to think of getting that much anyway. No, I don't think there is since it seems to be only a way to get a quote as opposed to listing it there.
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Old Jan 30, 2013, 01:56 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ncrypt View Post
Hi everyone!

In September, I'll be doing Product Design in uni which entails a fair bit of CAD/design work. I currently have the Mid-2011 21.5" iMac with the 2.7GHz i5 processor and 8GBs of RAM but realise that at uni I will need a certain degree of portability.

Which of the following combinations would you go for since there are pros and cons to each? Or can you think of an even better solution?

1) Keep my iMac (which I absolutely love) and use it as my main machine seeing that is beastly in terms of performance Get a decent spec Windows laptop/ultrabook <600 for when I'm around the uni campus/away (budget doesn't allow for a MPB in this situation unfortunately).

2) Sell my iMac and buy a Macbook Pro which would then be my primary machine. I was thinking of going for the 13" cMBP since I can then add an SSD and boost the RAM up then also connect it to a monitor when I'm in my room so that I get the same screen 'real estate' as the iMac but still retain the portability of a laptop. The biggest catch is that it isn't as powerful as the iMac.

What do you guys think?
I will say get the MBP but not now.

Does the design program provide a computer lab where they conduct classes or do they expect you to provide your own machine? If so, keep the iMac until you absolutely need a laptop or you find that the fixed 8GB of RAM will not get the job done.

When that time comes, sell the iMac to subsidize a high-end MBP but remember you will also have the cost of a decent monitor -- which is why I say wait and start saving.
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Old Jan 30, 2013, 02:04 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by RedCroissant View Post
I would definitely start with KEEPING the iMac. Going from that screen to a 13" screen would be something that you would regret in the future.
See that's what I originally thought but then if I have an external monitor as well in my room, it shouldn't make any difference right? That way, I get a full desktop experience in my room + portability whenever I disconnect the monitor.

As for CAD work, I'm already doing that on my Mac through Parallels so that isn't a problem

Quote:
Originally Posted by RedCroissant View Post
If not, then find a MBP with a 15" screen either refurbished or through CL to save money. You might be surprised to know that very decent Macbook and MBPs are going for some incredible prices these days.
I would.. however its quite out of my budget -even on refurb and I'm not so keen on 15" as a size -find it a little to large.

I think that my main questions are:
  • Is the 13" cMPB powerful enough to replace my iMac and for my needs as my main machine?
  • Would using a Windows laptop in tandem with my iMac be a better option than the first?


----------

Quote:
Originally Posted by designs216 View Post
I will say get the MBP but not now.

Does the design program provide a computer lab where they conduct classes or do they expect you to provide your own machine? If so, keep the iMac until you absolutely need a laptop or you find that the fixed 8GB of RAM will not get the job done.

When that time comes, sell the iMac to subsidize a high-end MBP but remember you will also have the cost of a decent monitor -- which is why I say wait and start saving.
Yeah they do provide a computer lab which is okay for proper CAD work however a lot of the time, its down in the workshop when making or around the campus when working in a team that the laptop would be useful (its not expected but certainly is advantageous and in most other students' opinion, necessary).

I figured that's what would do if I sold my iMac, would you say that a 13" cMBP with an SSD would be good enough, or should I really be looking at something with a quadcore like the 15" that RedCroissant suggested?
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Old Jan 30, 2013, 03:21 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by ncrypt View Post
See that's what I originally thought but then if I have an external monitor as well in my room, it shouldn't make any difference right? That way, I get a full desktop experience in my room + portability whenever I disconnect the monitor.

As for CAD work, I'm already doing that on my Mac through Parallels so that isn't a problem


I would.. however its quite out of my budget -even on refurb and I'm not so keen on 15" as a size -find it a little to large.

I think that my main questions are:
  • Is the 13" cMPB powerful enough to replace my iMac and for my needs as my main machine?
  • Would using a Windows laptop in tandem with my iMac be a better option than the first?


----------



Yeah they do provide a computer lab which is okay for proper CAD work however a lot of the time, its down in the workshop when making or around the campus when working in a team that the laptop would be useful (its not expected but certainly is advantageous and in most other students' opinion, necessary).

I figured that's what would do if I sold my iMac, would you say that a 13" cMBP with an SSD would be good enough, or should I really be looking at something with a quadcore like the 15" that RedCroissant suggested?
True that having the external monitor might not make that much of a difference, but finding the right external monitor that would be comparable to the iMac screen might be more expensive than you think. In that case, I would almost recommend a smaller HDTV with the right inputs to serve as a TV and a monitor.

Well, that's good as far as your CAD work is concerned.

I think the 13" should be powerful enough, but you won't have a separate GPU anymore and I don't know what kind of impact that will have on your system when rendering your CAD work. That's why I recommended the 15" because they have separate GPUs. One way to make sure that the 13" would be able to handle it would be to max out the RAM to 16GB. I know Apple says the MBP only supports up to 8GB, but according to everymac.com, two 8GB modules will cause the machine to recognize the full 16GB.

I don't think using a Windows laptop in tandem with your iMac would make sense unless you intend to keep everything separate. With a Mac laptop, at least your app store purchases would be transferable to both machines and you could even clone the OS if the laptop HDD is large enough to keep both machines in sync.
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Old Jan 30, 2013, 03:29 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RedCroissant View Post
True that having the external monitor might not make that much of a difference, but finding the right external monitor that would be comparable to the iMac screen might be more expensive than you think. In that case, I would almost recommend a smaller HDTV with the right inputs to serve as a TV and a monitor.

Well, that's good as far as your CAD work is concerned.

I think the 13" should be powerful enough, but you won't have a separate GPU anymore and I don't know what kind of impact that will have on your system when rendering your CAD work. That's why I recommended the 15" because they have separate GPUs. One way to make sure that the 13" would be able to handle it would be to max out the RAM to 16GB. I know Apple says the MBP only supports up to 8GB, but according to everymac.com, two 8GB modules will cause the machine to recognize the full 16GB.

I don't think using a Windows laptop in tandem with your iMac would make sense unless you intend to keep everything separate. With a Mac laptop, at least your app store purchases would be transferable to both machines and you could even clone the OS if the laptop HDD is large enough to keep both machines in sync.
That's true. I was thinking along the lines of this: http://amzn.to/Xk31I6

That's great to hear and I think I would certainly max it out! I get your point about the 15" though and if my budget can stretch that far, I'd love to go for that

Hmm, I was thinking Dropbox to keep files in sync if I did run in tandem (works really well for me right now) but I agree it certainly won't be as fluid between the two machines.

Do you guys think that Apple will update the cMBPs this year or will they be discontinued? If they had the Haswell chips in them, they'd be awesome and I'd switch from my iMac without needing to think twice
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Old Jan 30, 2013, 03:32 PM   #9
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2) Sell my iMac and buy a Macbook Pro which would then be my primary machine. I was thinking of going for the 13" cMBP since I can then add an SSD and boost the RAM up then also connect it to a monitor when I'm in my room so that I get the same screen 'real estate' as the iMac but still retain the portability of a laptop. The biggest catch is that it isn't as powerful as the iMac.
I'm literally doing this right now (2013 non-Retina MBP hooked up to an HDTV in my uni accommodation) and it's awesome. I highly recommend it as a setup.
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Old Jan 30, 2013, 03:34 PM   #10
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I'm literally doing this right now (2013 non-Retina MBP hooked up to an HDTV in my uni accommodation) and it's awesome. I highly recommend it as a setup.
Great to hear! What course are you doing and are you finding the MPB powerful enough?
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Old Jan 30, 2013, 03:35 PM   #11
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That's true. I was thinking along the lines of this: http://amzn.to/Xk31I6

That's great to hear and I think I would certainly max it out! I get your point about the 15" though and if my budget can stretch that far, I'd love to go for that

Hmm, I was thinking Dropbox to keep files in sync if I did run in tandem (works really well for me right now) but I agree it certainly won't be as fluid between the two machines.

Do you guys think that Apple will update the cMBPs this year or will they be discontinued? If they had the Haswell chips in them, they'd be awesome and I'd switch from my iMac without needing to think twice
That monitor looks nice and it might be a good fit for the machine. I don't know for sure though. Dropbox would work and as long as you are using an application that recognizes all formats on both platforms(LibreOffice, OpenOffice) then that might not be that bad. I have no idea if Apple will update their machines but I can tell you that whichever one you buy, you should be more than happy with it. For example, I bought my early 2009 iMac less than three months before they updated the line to the 21.5"(which I bought for my wife less than 3 months again before they introduced the i3/5 chips). Having said that though, my and my wife's iMacs are still awesome and perform the way that they should.

I have to head out now, so I won't be responding nearly as quickly for the rest of the day, but good luck on making a decision and I am curious to know what you decide to do.
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Old Jan 30, 2013, 03:38 PM   #12
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Great to hear! What course are you doing and are you finding the MPB powerful enough?
I'm doing English Lit myself. Yes I find the MBP powerful enough but then writing essays in Google Docs is obviously going to be a lot less intensive on the CPU than using 3D design programs. It is a very fast computer though, the i5 is no slouch. I really don't think you'll lose much real world performance on the MBP vs. the iMac.
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Old Jan 31, 2013, 01:55 AM   #13
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Thank you guys for opinions. Based upon that and some other reading around, the 13" MBP does indeed seem powerful enough, and its just as well as someone has offered to buy my iMac!

I might hang around until after WWDC to see if they do update the cMBPs then I'll buy whichever one's available as this year's Haswell chips do seem worth waiting for and I don't exactly *need* the MBP right now.

I think setting it up with a monitor in my room should leave a pretty satisfying experience which would be quite similar to my iMac

Thanks guys!
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Old Jan 31, 2013, 04:38 AM   #14
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You'll want to spend 300+ (new) on a decent external monitor. Anything less and you'll hate it. Make sure it's IPS. Look up reviews at say http://www.tftcentral.co.uk/ - You don't have to read the whole thing, just check the conclusions at the bottom.

If you get something with a mini displayport or thunderbolt it'll likely be of higher quality.
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Old Jan 31, 2013, 06:19 AM   #15
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You'll want to spend 300+ (new) on a decent external monitor. Anything less and you'll hate it. Make sure it's IPS. Look up reviews at say http://www.tftcentral.co.uk/ - You don't have to read the whole thing, just check the conclusions at the bottom.

If you get something with a mini displayport or thunderbolt it'll likely be of higher quality.
Nonsense, I got a brand new 150 HDTV and it works fine as an external monitor. I had to use an adapter from Thunderbolt to HDMI and I had to adjust the display settings on the TV a bit at first but other than that there were no real complications and the quality is brilliant.
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Old Feb 1, 2013, 01:03 AM   #16
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Nonsense, I got a brand new 150 HDTV and it works fine as an external monitor. I had to use an adapter from Thunderbolt to HDMI and I had to adjust the display settings on the TV a bit at first but other than that there were no real complications and the quality is brilliant.
This isn't your area of expertise, so I would refrain from calling that post nonsense.

In many design fields having a good IPS display is ideal (color reproduction, viewing angles etc). Doing design on a mediocre 1080p TV is not a typical solution for design.
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Old Feb 1, 2013, 08:22 AM   #17
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This isn't your area of expertise, so I would refrain from calling that post nonsense.

In many design fields having a good IPS display is ideal (color reproduction, viewing angles etc). Doing design on a mediocre 1080p TV is not a typical solution for design.
I guess I'll just have to take your word for that but I just don't want to see OP waste 300. My TV has a full HD LED display and it's from a proper manufacturer (Samsung) and I don't have any issues with viewing angles etc.
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Old Feb 1, 2013, 09:24 AM   #18
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I guess I'll just have to take your word for that but I just don't want to see OP waste 300. My TV has a full HD LED display and it's from a proper manufacturer (Samsung) and I don't have any issues with viewing angles etc.
I get it, it suits you.
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