entry level advice please

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by fuzzynavo, May 28, 2005.

  1. fuzzynavo macrumors regular

    Joined:
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    CA
    #1
    Alright guys, I need a little bit of advice. I recently got the dell 2005fpw to go w/ my rev b 12" powerbook. Except now, with the display attached, my pb is running quite hot and the fans are on full blast even when idle. It seems like a common occurrence since the measly 32mb gpu is probably overworked.

    This lead to me to decide that it's time for an entry level desktop. Since I have this display around, an iMac wouldn't be a good solution, so I was thinking about the Mac mini. Does anyone have experience w/ the mini and a 20" display and if there are any heat/performance issues with the pair (since the mini's gpu isnt better than my pb's, but maybe the cooling is better?)?

    IMO the 1.8 ghz powermac is way overpriced, and though the dual 2.0 looks real nice, its so expensive and seems like overkill for my needs (office, internet, music, movies, light gaming and 3d apps, photo editing).

    Mac bias aside, there are pretty good PC alternatives, but I don't want to go that route unless as a last resort. =(

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. dmw007 macrumors G4

    dmw007

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    #2
    I dont have a mini personally, but I have read that they remain cool and quiet even after hours of use (read this in PC World of all places :p ).
     
  3. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #3
    If you're buying a Mac Mini because your video card isn't good enough, that's pretty sad. :p

    Don't buy the Mini. It comes with an ATI 9200 with 32MB of RAM, which isn't even as good as the one in your rev B Powerbook, which comes with an Nvidia 5200 with 32MB of RAM. And even if it were better, its still not worth spending $500+ on it just for a card that's slightly better, or just equivalent.

    Wait until a graphics card improvement (next revision, maybe?) comes along.
     
  4. deebster macrumors 6502

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    Oct 21, 2004
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    Olde Englande
    #4
    There was a post a few months back where someone showed calculations for how much VRAM was required to run displays at different resolutions.

    I haven't been able to find it, but if I remember right it came down to roughly 4 MB for a 1024 x 768 display.

    So on that basis, even if your Dell LCD used double that you would only be up to 12 MB used. OK, if you are gaming or using graphic card intensive apps then maybe these figures are less meaningful, but I wouldn't expect your PB to be so overworked simply running this second monitor in normal use.

    Early PB's did run hotter than current ones, but for the fans to be on almost constantly sounds odd to me.

    I use an iBook with 8 MB of VRAM (in a hot environment) and if I connect it up to the TV and play a movie the fans still do not turn on.

    Have you experimented with raising the level of your PB a little? Cut off four pieces of plastic piping and rest it on them. It might aid in the airflow under and around your Mac a little.

    If it doesn't then you have my sympathies mate. It would be a shame to have to buy something just to be able to use a monitor that your PB is supposed to be able to drive.
     
  5. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #5
    Deebster, I just wanted to note that while a lot of what you say is spot on, the raw calculation of how much memory a graphic adaptor needs based on the number of pixels and bit depth of the display doesn't really work.... Even in the absence of compute intensive graphics apps or games, because of Quartz Extreme and the other things like it, your computer is caching a lot of video information in the video card. I'm not 100% sure how it works, but I think an example is that if you have four windows up on a 1024x768 screen, and each of them is, say, 800x600, you essentially are using (if its available) additional memory to store representations of each of the four windows in the video card, as well as a representation of the full screen. This is why you can change windows very quickly -- because they're still being buffered in the video card, even if they are partially obscured. Someone correct me, though, if this is wrong.

    But nonetheless, a number of people have posted favorable results running that monitor in native resolution on both the Mini and on the PB12" here. So it can be done.

    Anyway, for your powerbook, you might also give the following a try: get an iCurve or other stand that lifts the PB off the desktop when you're running on a monitor. This will help it cool substantially. And then also play around with seeing if the reduced performance hit from running only one monitor in clamshell mode makes up for the lost heat dissipation ability through the keyboard surface, and if running the PB closed (with external mouse and kb) is an improvement.

    Hope that helps?
     
  6. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

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    #6
    My Mini has absolutely no problems with my 2005FPW at 1680 x 1050. For 2-D office and graphics programs, limitation of 32 Mb VRAM is not an issue.
     
  7. deebster macrumors 6502

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    #7
    I see your point mkrishnan.

    So if there is a lot of caching going on and your (read: my) GPU isn't up to it, does this caching get transferred to normal RAM, meaning that upping the RAM might mean an improvement in graphics and display-running performance?

    Not that I can do anything about it, but I'm interested now in just how this works.

    Although for you fuzzynavo, I doubt this is the case since you already have 1.25 GB of the stuff.

    Ugh, now I'm even more confused :)
     
  8. fuzzynavo thread starter macrumors regular

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    Oct 13, 2004
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    CA
    #8
    Thanks for the replies.
    I didn't know the radeon 9200 was even worse than the geforce i have :p.

    I guess though, that the idea now is to sell my powerbook (since I don't seem to need its portability that much anymore), and purchase some sort of entry level desktop. I guess I'll look into that some more.

    About my pb, I've tried running it both with and without the display attached and measured the cpu and gpu temperature. Though the cpu temp remains pretty much constant when I'm surfing the web, there is as much as a 8C increase in gpu temp when I attach the monitor. I'm using a coolpad also. I guess this is just one of those little tradeoffs... :eek:
     
  9. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #9
    Too bad.

    I have a rev B 12" Powerbook with a 32MB Nvidia 5200 as well, and I'm saddened by the fact that I can't run this external monitor with it. Oh well.
     
  10. fuzzynavo thread starter macrumors regular

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    Oct 13, 2004
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    #10
    Well, aside from the fan always on issue I'm experiencing, the pb drives the display pretty well. Everything is pretty snappy, except for expose. Expose is ok if you just have finder or safari windows open, etc. But if you have more than 4 good sized images opened in preview for example, things start stuttering a bit.

    So to sum it up, it all works pretty well, but it's obvious that it pushes the pb pretty hard. :(
     
  11. solvs macrumors 603

    solvs

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    Jun 25, 2002
    Location:
    LaLaLand, CA
    #11
    Well, you could always buy a refurb G5 or a nice used G4 or something. The mini wouldn't be much better than what you have, but maybe use mirroring instead of dual display. That way you still have all 32MB instead of 16 each. Or buy a new PowerBook because they have 64MB. If you're like me, you'll just wait a bit for an upgraded single G5. Preferably around $1300 for a 2GHz with the ability to up the video card. Any day now.

    I thought about the iMac too, but it doesn't suit my needs as well as I'd hoped.
     
  12. After G macrumors 68000

    After G

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    Aug 27, 2003
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    #12
    I'll just say that mirroring splits your video memory just like dual display. At least that's what it says according to the ATI Displays preference pane I installed to see if there was a difference between mirroring and dual display.
     
  13. solvs macrumors 603

    solvs

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    #13
    Really? Well, that kinda sucks. So much for that idea.

    But I guess try it anyway. Couldn't hurt.
     

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