HELP!:Do I Need 2 GB of RAM and 256 MB Video???

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by rlnhrt, Nov 9, 2006.

  1. rlnhrt macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2006
    #1
    Hi, I'm going to buy a new Mac, but I need some advice…

    I need a computer for:
    - Graphic Design (intensive use of Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign, and sometimes ImageReady, Flash and Dreamweaver)
    - 3D modeling and rendering, and video editing (I'm just beginning, but I plan to do it professionally in the future)

    My options are (all Core2Duo):
    - refurbished iMac 20" (1 GB RAM, 128 MB Video)
    - customized iMac 20" (2 GB RAM, 256 MB Video)
    - MacBook Pro 15.4" (2 GB RAM, 256 MB Video)
    - MacBook Pro 17" (2 GB RAM, 256 MB Video)

    I dont' have the money for a MacPro and a Display.

    The refurbished iMac would be much cheaper than the other options (even if I wait for the refurbished MacBooks) but i fear that it might not have enough RAM and Video memory for what I need.

    I know I can upgrade the RAM later, the problem with the iMac is that it comes with 2x512 MB instead of 1x1 GB.

    So basically, I have 3 questions:
    1- How much difference does it make to have 256 MB of video instead of 128?
    2- Is 1 GB RAM and 128 MB Video enough for what I need to do, or not?
    3- What would you do?
     
  2. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2004
    Location:
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    #2
    1 Gb RAM is definitely not enough.
    256 Mb VRAM won't make any difference to DTP/Graphics programs.

    I'l let someone else speak to the VRAM and modelling/rendering.
     
  3. iBookG4user macrumors 604

    iBookG4user

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2006
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    #3
    Well, do you need portability? And there will be a few benifits to 256MB or VRAM like it being less underclocked, double the VRAM and things like that. It depends on your budget, since you have a 17" MBP in the options list, then you should probably go for the 256MB VRAM iMac. But whatever you do, make sure that you get 2GB or more of RAM.
     
  4. glib macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2006
    #4
    Graphics work set of an alarm in my head, as soon as I saw modelling/animation/rendering, it was deafening.

    I use machines with 2GB of ram with maya, softimage and 3dsmax and it's quite easy to push them over the edge. The video cards we have in them are decent, but nothing spectacular and we hit the wall with them too all the time.

    If you're going to be putting together a demo reel to show to industry with the hope of getting a job, and you plan to do it on your mac, I'd seriously consider a mac pro. You're going to hit the wall with a mbp, although it will work for a time.

    In any case, get the most ram and vram, the fastest processor, and the most HD space you can afford.
     
  5. rlnhrt thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2006
    #5
    Thanks

    Well, I guess now I can discard the default iMac option. So now it's up to me to decide how important is portability.

    Right now i think i'm going to buy the 17" MBP for portability, it has the same resolution than the 20" iMac (1680x1050), slightly better processor, and it's in the limit of what i can afford, but i'm still going to think it a little more.

    Thanks for your help, it was useful.
     
  6. fivetoadsloth macrumors 65816

    fivetoadsloth

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2006
    #6
    as you said id advice the mbp, it is really really nice to have a prtoable, i didnt NEED one but got one, and now i take it everywhere, except school, wish i could though. Good luck the the new computer.
     
  7. Umbongo macrumors 601

    Umbongo

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2006
    Location:
    England
    #7
    Have you considered a refurb mac pro? I mean you don't need to have a 20" Apple display to make use of such a machine, and with black friday comming up in 2 weeks you could get a good display (maybe even two) for it for a very good price. Dell even have 20" widescreens for $260. It is also something you could add to in the future, if the 7300GT isn't enough or you need more memory (I'd get 2GB from the start if budget allows).
     
  8. budugu macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2004
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    #8
    I would say wait a little and go with the refurb mac pro. 2GB is an absolute must (FBDIMMS avg price is at 100$ for 512MB). 256MB vRam is not necessary. but if you can get it in a 50$ upgrade then why not? But you need to understand that unless you buy a 17" macbook pro you would need an additional monitor (even for the 15" macbook). Check newegg there are 20" monitors from 200$. So if portability is not required you might go with a refurb imac/mac pro (more prefered) and those benq 20" WS monitors.
     
  9. FFTT macrumors 68030

    FFTT

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2004
    Location:
    A Stoned Throw From Ground Zero
    #9
    If you look at using the MBP as part of your system while you learn then having that portability may come in handy, but you'll also want a fast external drive for extra storage and back-up.

    A well equipped iMac 20" would give you more computer for your money overall,
    saving you enough to buy your extra RAM, applications, storage drive, cables, interfaces, connectors etc.

    You might want to check with your instructors to see exactly how much computer you'll need to get you through your classes.

    Once you're actually working, then you can go for a full Mac Pro workstation with what ever improvements they have at the time.
     
  10. SmurfBoxMasta macrumors 65816

    SmurfBoxMasta

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2005
    Location:
    I'm only really here at night.
    #10
    1. With 2D apps like PS & Ill, the extra video ram wont make a bit of difference. However, with 3D apps & video rendering, it WILL make all the difference in the world, as it will allow most or all of the heavy work to be offloaded to the GPU (WAY faster), freeing up your CPU's for other tasks........

    2. NO! Remember that most of the apps you listed will be running in Rosetta, which itself requires a LOT of ram, as do the apps themselves...ie: PS alone can use/address up to 2GB

    3. I would save up for a Mac Pro, start with 2GB ram minimum, preferably 4GB, the best Video card you can afford, and at least 2 large HDD's. Graphics & 3D apps work best when they have a seperate, dedicated, empty HD, other than the boot drive, to use as a scratch disk. And video rendering & storage eats HD space extremely fast.

    You can always add ram & HD space later as it becomes necessary, but if you dont have the minimums covered from the start, you will be killing your productivity by watching the spinning beachball almost constantly. And in your business, time IS money, no ifs, ands, or butts about it. :eek:

    Yes it will cost you some $$ up front, but you will get an enormous return on your investment very quickly, by being able to complete more work in less time and moving on to the next job faster = more $$$$ sooner.......

    ps: Do NOT buy your ram or HD's from Apple, they are way cheaper elsewhere :p
     
  11. rlnhrt thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2006
    #11
    correct me if I'm wrong… after i purchase them, I can't upgrade the video card from the MBP and iMac, BUT i can with the Mac Pro, right?

    I really didn't considered the Mac Pro because I thought that i would have to make all the upgrades in apple's online store, and it was very expensive, but you are right, there are other and much cheaper options for the RAM, video cards, displays and hard drives.

    So now i only need to confirm these things to decide to buy the refurbished Mac Pro:
    1-It comes with 6 empty slots for RAM, Is there a problem if i mix new RAM's of 1gb with the default RAM's of 512 mb? or is it better to use only 512's?
    2-It has three empty slots for video cards, right? son whenever i can, i could add others NVidia's GeForce 7300?

    Sorry if those questions are very obvious/stupid, it's just that i've always stayed with default configurations and i got used to the fact that i can't upgrade much of my 3 years-old iBook
     
  12. iBookG4user macrumors 604

    iBookG4user

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2006
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    #12
    Optimal performance will be with the bottom two RAM slots of each risor fill with 512MB/1GB/2GB RAM sticks without mixing them. But you can mix them all you want, you'd probably want about 4GB of RAM, but 2GB at the very least. The extra PCI-E slots can be used for video cards for more monitors or other expansion cards. The extra video cards would just gain you the ability to add monitors, as Mac OS X does not support SLI/Crossfire.
     
  13. FFTT macrumors 68030

    FFTT

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2004
    Location:
    A Stoned Throw From Ground Zero
    #13
    If you want to properly take advantage of the Mac Pro's architecture, you'll want to start out with at least 2 GB RAM in a matched set of 4 X 512 MB.
    It's very important to buy your RAM with the correct oversized heat spreaders.

    Later when the funds are available, you can add 4 X 1GB.

    Apple's price of the ATI X1900XT card is quite reasonable, but if you're buying a refurbished unit, you'll have to go with what ever the previous purchaser ordered.

    Much of your decision depends on how soon you must have your new system.

    If you can hold off until the Quad core machines are released, you'll save a small fortune buying the current model new on closeout.

    Holding off also gives you the opportunity to save up for everything you'll need.
     
  14. Umbongo macrumors 601

    Umbongo

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2006
    Location:
    England
    #14
    dual Quadcore won't replace the current line, it'll be just an addition.
     
  15. Cromulent macrumors 603

    Cromulent

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2006
    Location:
    The Land of Hope and Glory
    #15
    Just as a note I'm getting a Mac Pro soon myself and decided on what I wanted. I went to the Apple store and the configuration came to about £2300, when I shopped around I managed to get exactly the same configuration for £2000.

    Pretty big saving, do some searches on Google and you can save yourself a lot.
     
  16. FFTT macrumors 68030

    FFTT

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2004
    Location:
    A Stoned Throw From Ground Zero
    #16
    You may be right in that the current models may be bumped down a notch with a dual Quad taking the top, but that all remains to be seen.
     
  17. rlnhrt thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2006
    #17
    now I am changing plans once again.

    the thing is that i need a new computer by the end of this year, and i am not going to be able to save much money in this short time,

    I was thinking to buy the refurbished Mac Pro, but i searched a little more and found that the default Nvidia's GeForce GT 7300 is not that great, it would be better the Radeon X1900, but as I said, i am not going to have enough money this year for that (considering that i also have to buy a display and extra RAM).

    Besides, for the 3D and video edition, I have a very basic knowledge right now, in january i am going to study more formally, so my plan to work in that area is more a medium term goal, right now I need the computer more for Graphic Design, and start experimenting with 3D.

    So now my plan is to buy a refurbished MBP, and wait at least a year for the Mac Pro, when they will have better processor and (hopefully) better graphic cards. That way, I'll be able to save more money for a better computer and by that time I'll be ready to take full advantage of it.

    I think the refurbished Core2Duo MBP's are going to be more expensive than the upgraded iMac (with 2 GB RAM and 256 VRAM), however if I need to sell it by the end of next year i think i could get more money for the MBP than for the iMac.

    So, what do you think about this? is there something i forgot to consider, or is it a good plan?
     

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