Good setups for a graphic designer - Can u help?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by iToon, Apr 11, 2005.

  1. iToon macrumors newbie

    iToon

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2005
    Location:
    Lichfield, UK
    #1
    Hi folks.

    I'm just fresh to this forum today from the UK having defected from a PC alternative, so I hope you'll welcome me!

    Anyway, i'm looking at picking up some form of Mac shortly, but i'm struggling over the choices and so I was hoping that you guys might offer me some assistance. Here's the basics: I'm a graphic designer, so I need something with a reasonable amount of clout, a graphics card that's up to the job, plenty of HD space, and the ability to port my old files from the PC. I'm currently using a 19" Trinitron monitor, which I could reuse to keep costs down, but I am intrigued by the new generation of Mac widescreens - whether seperate or in-built.

    I can just about put up the cash for any of the models, but i'm loathe to waste it on something I don't really need. Initially, I was interested in the Powerbooks for portability, but I dunno if it'd be worth shelling out for a G4, when I can pick up a G5 iMac cheaper, or a PowerMac at a similar price. Furthermore, can anyone tell me what the quality is like on the displays - in particular, the differences between the iMac ones and the Powerbook ones? I certainly need something that's nice and sharp for work.

    Whatever I go for, it's likely to consist of a custom build and i'll be waiting for Tiger, but primarily I really need some inside advice on what I should be looking for and the pros and cons of the various Macs that might sway me.

    Help would be much appreciated - cheers. :)
     
  2. jscheiman macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2005
    Location:
    Phoenix, Arizona
    #2
    Hi iToon,

    I also am a fellow graphic designer. I purchased a 15" Ti PowerBook a little over three years ago. It was my first Mac and I have never looked back. I still use it today. Three years ago however, I wasn't doing anything in the way of freelance work and it was mainly for portability. It has been a phenominal machine for me. I maxed it out to 1GB RAM. Other than that, I have made no other additons or changes. Needless to say, I've also had no major problems with it.

    If you are looking for a portable machine, I would go with a PowerBook over the iBook as they are more of a performance machine than the iBook. If you are wanting raw power with maximum upgrade possibilities, definatley go with a PowerMac. At least a dual processor as well. In fact, I am purchasing a new dual 2.5 in the next 10 days, adding a new video card and RAM.

    I know PowerMac updates are iminent this year, but when you have a business, have jobs and money on the line with a 3 1/2 year old machine, I just can't hold out for the next best thing. For the kind of work I do, it is going to be thousands of times better than my current setup, so I know I'll be more than satisfied. I can be sure it will be money well spent that will last me equally as long, probably longer than my current PowerBook.

    Of course, I am hoping to hear of a release of Tiger before I decide to purchase, but unless you have the time to wait, why not enjoy everything a new Mac offers today? Have no worries as well with networking your new Mac with a PC, OS X makes this about as easy as it gets.
     
  3. allisonv7 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2004
    Location:
    Indy
    #3
    Heya, I'm a graphic designer too, in addition to being a recent switcher. I have a 17" iMac and it does great for me, thought it is not my primary machine I work on (I use a Powermac at work). I do use the iMac for freelance stuff and it performs great. I had a PC laptop before that I used throughout college and would recommend a desktop over the laptop any day. Unless of course you're willing to spend some extra dough on an external mouse/keyboard and display....or obviously if you need a portable machine.



    allison.
     
  4. Ringu macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2005
    #4
    I use a Ti Powerbook too. Has served me extremely well with graphic apps.

    Have any of you used the Mini for Illustrator, Freehand & Photoshop? How does it perform? My GF is thinking of buying one for illustration work. (she's using an old (5yrs?) imac DV at the moment)

    Edited to add - the portability of the powerbook has been a godsend with work. I don't think I could go back to ever exclusively using a desktop computer now.
     
  5. wrc fan macrumors 65816

    wrc fan

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2003
    Location:
    In a world where LPs are made like pancakes
    #5
    Since you already have a 19" monitor, I'd go with a G5, and then later on upgrade to a 23" Cinema display. The Dual G5s just fly, especially when you stick in 2GB of RAM. I'd stay away from the ones with built-in displays, as when that computer gets to slow (and since you're a designer it will happen quicker than the consumer it's targeted at), you'll have to shell out money for a new display. Anyway, that's my 2 cents.
     
  6. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2004
    #6
    Another designer with her 2 cents worth (will that bloody woman ever shut up)...

    I would never dream of using a laptop for work. G5 PM at work, G4 PM at home... 21" CRTs on both with dedicated scratch disks for Pshop.

    Laptops are OK if portability is the main concern but their lack of oomph, restricted display, limited upgradeability rules them out for me.

    If space isn't a concern, then get a CRT (I thoroughly recommend Mitsubishi Diamond Pro 2070 SB). The money you save over an LCD will enable you to bump up the RAM, add another internal HD for back-ups, and generally trick out your Mac... graphics cards for design are the least of your concerns unless you're doing a lot of 3D/animation work.

    Remember that you'll need to budget for software. Creative Suite 2 and/or QuarkXpress require activation so don't think about 'borrowing' them from a friend. ;)
     
  7. Balin64 macrumors 6502a

    Balin64

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2002
    Location:
    In a Mauve Dream
    #7
    I am a Designage Person as well

    However, I have different needs.

    I split my time at my Theatre company between a artistic job, stage management, and an err, artistic job: doing Graphics for the company. I also travel a lot, since we have satellite productions. The PB in my sig has been great at running the Adobe CS suite (Quark? no no no no) as well as anything I throw at it. Granted: it can always be faster, but nothing beats portability and being able to create/edit files from a hotel room and having them waiting at the printers the next morning. When I return to the office, I plug in to my BT keyboard and mouse, and happily use a 21" CRT.

    That is a good route to go.

    At home, I use an iMac G5 with intense PS work: see, I am also a photog on the side. The G5 handles all my slide scans quite well, and I have been very happy: it also came with a crisp 17" LCD. Also, remember that Tiger will offer you speed increases on either machine.

    If price is the issue: consider the iMac G5: soon due for a revision. I had towers for a long time, but just had to jump ship to the iMac when the 1.25 G4 was introduced, and then to the current iMac G5.

    While the towers will always offer more expandibility, think of the here and now: is that something you really need now? If you start getting a heavy freelance work load, then you may need a tower and all its power: but if you are at that point, price will be much less of an issue, I am sure.

    Oh yeah... not to be nosey or anything: do you have a tablet already? Is that part of your work? If you don't, I would budget for one. They are the best tools for designers using PS and Illustrator.
     
  8. Balin64 macrumors 6502a

    Balin64

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2002
    Location:
    In a Mauve Dream
    #8
    Hey, What's Going On?


    ... Your Avatar creeps me out. There. I said it. I will go hide now... or hop around a lá Bugs Bunny.
     
  9. chaosbunny macrumors 68000

    chaosbunny

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2005
    Location:
    down to earth, far away from any clouds
    #9
    Exactly my opinion! Being a freelance graphic designer/illustrator I often work at advertising agencies offices finishing projects. A friend of mine uses a G5 PM and an "old" 17" powerbook 1Ghz for going to clients. He said that 1-2 times a month he forgets fonts or the most recent version of a project at home on the PM. Being more confused than he is I imagine this would happen even more often to me. The PM can't be that much faster than a PB that it maches going home again from the client gathering forgotten data. But if it is not necessary for you to be mobile, well then the PM is certainly the better choice. I just think that going to clients with prints is strenuous, but to each their own. :)
     
  10. Black&Tan macrumors 6502a

    Black&Tan

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2004
    #10
    Whatever you finally decide to buy, portable or desktop, remember this rule of thumb. Find the Mac that best suits your needs, and buy the next version up. In the long term, you'll be happier. Less CPU envy as the newer machines get faster and faster. And the increased satisfaction will allow you to happily use the machine for years until you need the inevitable upgrade. I had a G3 350 which I bought new and I used it daily until last year when I upgraded to a G5 Dual 2Ghz. I'm still using the G3 now as a postscript print server!

    As far as upgradability, my only concern would be a video card. While the CPU upgrades are great for extending the life of an older machine, there comes a point where its not the CPU that's the bottleneck, but the rest of the machine. The newer software is always going to want the latest hardware to run optimally.

    If you get a portable, make sure you get AppleCare, as these machines get more wear and tear than desktop systems.

    Finally, don't forget the value of a portable firewire or flash hard drive. You can store all your work on a 5gig drive and still bring the job between home and work. Personally, I've got towers at work and home and I use a 1gig flash drive to bring work back and forth.

    Don't buy until after NAB. ThinkSecret speculates new towers may be released at the show.
     
  11. iToon thread starter macrumors newbie

    iToon

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2005
    Location:
    Lichfield, UK
    #11

    Thanks for the advice so far - makes some interesting reading. With rumours of line changes/updates coming up and with a trip coming up shortly, I might as well wait and see what unfolds towards the tail-end of the month before deciding.

    As for displays, what I should have maybe asked is how good are they (for say iMac and PB) in terms of detail (sorry if this is a noob Q!)? In the event of opting for a powerbook, should I wait on a high-def upgrade, if it's expected? I've kinda been brought up with a loathing of laptop screens because they seem 'bitty' and the fact that if you view them anything other than face on, they alter (I can imagine this really impeding on something like checking tones and colours on a piece of work). Is this something I should expect with the PB's and iMacs, or are they much better than my expectations? Oh, and how do they fair up with generating dead pixels? I imagine that's a potential problem that would have a massive effect on resell value later down the line. As much as i'd like one of those 20" seperates, I can't really stretch to the excess at present.

    My head is telling me PowerMac or iMac, but my heart is leaning towards PB's as I can take it round to LANs, or take it to my grandparents house and show them pics and work (they don't get out much!). Forgive me, but i'm just trying to address any bad points of portables that I might later regret if I coughed up 2k worth of your finest English groats for a 17" PB.
     
  12. iToon thread starter macrumors newbie

    iToon

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2005
    Location:
    Lichfield, UK
    #12

    Sorry for digressing, but yes, I do use a tablet, albeit an early Graphire 2. I can't imagine being without one and I really would like to upgrade to an Intuos as a more pro choice now. I'd certainly be interested in hearing about what the new ones are like and the benefits of one size over the other.
     
  13. benwa02 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2004
    #13
    I am currently a graphic design student and will be purchasing a PM as soon as the new ones come out. I want the expandability and do not want to get stuck with an all-in-one. Plus LCD screens are not as good as a CRT for color accuracy to the printer.

    Go for the PM unless you demand portability.

    Just my opinion.

    [edit] i have always wondered about the wacom tablets. what exactly do most of you use it for?
     
  14. tech4all macrumors 68040

    tech4all

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2004
    Location:
    NorCal
    #14
    I don't own one, but I know some artist use them for Painter or some editing tools in Photoshop as to have more a natural feel when doing work with some brush tools.
     
  15. iToon thread starter macrumors newbie

    iToon

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2005
    Location:
    Lichfield, UK
    #15
    Personally, I use mine extensively with Photoshop - once you get used to the feel of drawing on plastic, whilst looking at the screen, you'd never go back. It's so much more versatile. I find it good for brushes, but also for erasing. Sometimes I find it's better to manually cut away sections than if i'd used the pen tool - especially on tight detail. However, the stability you can get from a mouse is also a plus in some areas, so you should use them in tandem.
     
  16. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2004
    Location:
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    #16
    More opinions:
    Don't expect colour accuracy out of a laptop screen or an inexpensive LCD. The Trinitron 19" you already have is the benchmark standard for graphic monitors. (You can, of course, spend more for calibrated monitor systems)

    IMO the video card argument is a red herring for 2-D design work. You need enough VRAM to push the number of pixels that your screen has, but I have a Radeon 7000 32 MB that runs a 1680 x 1050 screen just fine. Correct me if I am wrong, but I don't believe high-powered GPU and excess VRAM are the determining performance factors for graphic apps. Middle of the road is probably fine, put the extra several 100 elsewhere.

    Certainly get as much RAM as practical, and a nice large fast hard drive -- and here you are better off with the G5 towers, rather than the Powerbook or iMac. More capacity, more options, lower cost. As BV mentioned, you can also set up a second, fast hard drive as a dedicated scratch disk. Or put your system and apps on one drive, the data on another physical drive.

    Whatever machine, get an external firewire hard drive for backups of all of your work. There's nothing so painful and expensive as redoing client work under deadline because it was lost in a crash. A decent UPS power supply wouldn't go wrong either, to minimize crashing.

    Insurance coverage on your home/renters policy that covers work at home. A good chair. A desk with the keyboard at the right height and ample mouse space. Non-glare lighting. A good two button scroll mouse. Graphic tablet if so inclined or if you are prone to RS injury from over-mousing (thanks Balin), some prefer trackballs, but personally I cannot abide a trackball for graphic work. Halfway decent speakers for audio inspiration.
     
  17. jscheiman macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2005
    Location:
    Phoenix, Arizona
    #17
    I have a 6x8 Wacom Intuos 3 tablet. I absolutely LOVE it! Just remember, the larger your drawing stroke, the larger tablet you will need. We have a 9x12 at work and for me it's too big. It takes too much to move my hand so far across it. Of course you can always go small and compact with the 4x5.

    The 6x8 fits perfectly for me. It has wonderful sensitivity when I use it in Photoshop and the touch scroll pads on the tablet come in very handy when you want to scroll or zoom windows.

    Pretty reasonably priced as well for being what I think is the best of the best in drawing tablets.

    http://www.wacom.com/productinfo/6x8.cfm
     

Share This Page