Help! Making the switch but can't decide

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by Wolf, Jan 10, 2004.

  1. Wolf macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2004
    Location:
    CA
    #1
    Howdy. I am about to make the switch, but am really having trouble deciding which Mac to buy. I am a Tech Writer, and will be using the computer for email, surfing, word processing (FrameMaker, PageMaker, maybe some Illustrator), light gaming (Myst, UT, Halo), research and some light video/DVD burning. I also want to go back to school (online) and finish my degree.

    I live alone in a one-bedroom apartment and am concentrating on getting out of debt (30 months!). After that I may move out of state; possibly buy a house; we'll see. I don't really have a need for portability.

    Coming from the PC world, longevity is important to me and I don't know how to judge the Macs (G4 vs. G5). I would like to spend as little as possible (of course), but would be willing to go as high as $3500 for the right reasons. The systems I have been considering:

    iMac (20" LCD)
    PowerMac G4 (dual bus?)
    PowerMac G5 (1.8; dual bus?)

    I noticed Smalldog.com has some outrageous pricing on refurbs, and so was considering a SB G5 1.8 with a 23" Apple LCD. Is a dual bus something I should be even considering?

    Any help is appreciated -- thanks in advance!

    Jim
     
  2. latergator116 macrumors 68000

    latergator116

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2003
    Location:
    Providence, RI
    #2
    Id say a Powermac G5 would do just fine. Since you are on a budget, you can buy a refurbished powermac and lcd from the apple store. (http://store.apple.com/1-800-MY-APP...KsME/0.0.7.1.0.5.13.0.3.0.0.0.0.3.1.1.0?62,78). The only problem with the 20" iMac is that it is not very upgrdable, so you won't be able to do anything with it in the future. If the refurb powermac is too expensive for you, you can always go with the G4 for around $1300.;)
     
  3. Wolf thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jan 10, 2004
    Location:
    CA
    #3
    Placing pricing aside for the moment -- with regards to functionally and longevity, what are the differences between the G4 and G5?

    I understand that the G5 is the top-of-the-line -- but do I really need it; how long will the G4 remain usuable? I have read some threads where a few people are just now getting around to upgrading from a G3!

    I first fell in love with Mac seeing the "cute" IMac. If this computer will do the job for the next, say three years. Then I wouldn't mind saving $1600; buying the IMac and paying it off in two years; then buying a new Mac in three-four years.

    On the other hand, buying a Mac now that I won't have to upgrade (and can keep the monitor -- though Apple built its reputation on an attached monitor) for five or six years does have its appeal.

    This is the difficulty I have found for the last couple of months -- and at this point I don't have a computer and I have been to the Apple Store twice, though the sales people have been of little help. That's why I have turned to y'all -- real Mac users.

    Thanks again,
    Jim
     
  4. latergator116 macrumors 68000

    latergator116

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2003
    Location:
    Providence, RI
    #4
    What you have to do is weigh your options. You can get a brand new powermac G4 and a refurbished display for less or around the same as the top of the line iMac. I would personally want the powermac. The only real disadvantage of the powermac is that it can't burn DVD's, but I don't know if that will be of any use to you. Good luck and post any more questions.

    BTW, here is the link to the powermac... http://store.apple.com/1-800-MY-APP...X9tM212TiSKsME/0.0.7.1.0.5.21.1.8.1.0.0.0.1.0
     
  5. Dont Hurt Me macrumors 603

    Dont Hurt Me

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2002
    Location:
    Yahooville S.C.
    #5
    G4 is on the way out the door, need i say more? UT and Halo are hardcore games and there is only going to be more stuff coming. UT2004, Doom3. Plus the OS isnt yet written to take advantage of what G5 is going to do. Think of all those apps that are coming. Dont even think G4 unless you want to be unhappy in the near future. Go get a G5 that fits your budget and go get a monitor at a better price elswhere if you have to. G4 is a old cpu that Apple has had to make do with if you will. Now with IBM this is changing( about time)
    you may want to wait and see if Apple comes out with a new machine or a G5 imac but my advice is to go G5. Ive been using macs for over 10 years and wouldnt steer you wrong. Im waiting to see what they do and i like you like the imac but its bus,ram,cpu are all old. This is going to be the year of the G5. Good luck and enjoy your mac.
     
  6. Wolf thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2004
    Location:
    CA
    #6
    Thanks for all the replys so far!

    Am I correct to assume that the G4 is more akin to Pent3 and the G5 a Pent4?

    I am not trying to be thick or pick a fight, but $2k for an Imac vs. $3.6k for the refurbished G5 SB 1.8 and 23" LCD (it is more than I need but I really like the Apple monitors and $1695 at Smalldog is a good price -- I would like my system to be totally Apple:D) is quite a difference in price.

    Is the G4 that much on the way out, with what I have read about the continued support of the G3, that it would be a bad investment for the next couple of years? I do want to burn DVDs.

    I am not a hard-core gamer (anymore:() but I do enjoy a FPS shooter from time-to-time to blow of steam.

    Sorry for being so thick, but this is all new to me and I don't want too little or too much computer (if there is such a thing). Again, I don't see myself doing any type of "professional" work with graphics, just some home movies and pics.

    Jim
     
  7. kenkooler macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2002
    Location:
    Mexico City
    #7
    You should buy a DP 1.8 G5, it is the best value right now. It is upgradable and will last much longer than the PM G4 or the iMac. You could consider getting a non Apple display (Formacs are nice and much cheaper than Apple's) or buying a 20 inch instead of the 23.

    There is really no comparison between G3/4/5 and Pentiums since they are a completely different arquitecture, specially now that the G5 is 64 bit (Pentium 3/4 are 32 bit).
     
  8. beatle888 macrumors 68000

    beatle888

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2002
    #8
    can you wait till the iMac gets upgraded to a G5? We all know it's coming, we just don't know when. It sounds like you would really like an iMac. Keep an eye out for iMac rumors and the G5 processor. But to be honest, the current iMac should last you about four years even though it has a G4.
     
  9. Wolf thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2004
    Location:
    CA
    #9
    Wish I could wait for a G5 Imac, though it is probably more of its styling that is attracting me than anything else. But I don't have a computer right now and need one. I am at my office writing this!

    Four years with the Imac sounds pretty good considering what I (think I) would be using it for. But I understand what everyone is saying about the G5, especally the DB.

    With that, I can say I have narrowed it down to the Imac or the G5 1.8 (single or dual?).

    Funny how months ago I was balking at a $1500 PC! :rolleyes:

    Keep the advice flowing, it is really helping!

    Jim
     
  10. Westside guy macrumors 601

    Westside guy

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2003
    Location:
    The soggy side of the Pacific NW
    #10
    Just one old fart's opinion...

    Wolf, I have a Powerbook with a 1.25GHz G4, and it runs the apps and games you mention quite nicely. I'm not trying to talk you into buying a laptop - I'm just trying to point out that you pay a premium for the latest and greatest processor, and it's usually not necessary. I expect to be able to use this laptop quite comfortably for the next three or four years or so. Nothing you mentioned really needs the latest kick-*ss processor.

    Before I bought the Powerbook I was using a P3 600MHz Dell laptop (purchased 3 and a half years ago), and it still ran all the stuff I wanted at useable speed (even WinXP) - except the video card sucked. :) Really as far as games go, it's not the CPU that is the determining factor; it's the video hardware.

    You say you're going to complete your degree. Once you've done that you'll likely be in better shape financially. I say get what makes sense for you now, and let the future take care of itself. Macs tend to have a longer useable lifetime than PCs - just look at all the old Macs that are happily running Panther.
     
  11. Wolf thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2004
    Location:
    CA
    #11
    Does anyone think that waiting until the 20th will make that big a difference for me, considering that if I buy a G5, I would be buying a refurb? Right now I can get the G5 for $1695.

    DHM, thanks for the advice. I have noticed in your posts that you despise the G4 -- why?

    It seems for every person touting the G5, there is one touting the G4 as good enough for the next few years...

    Westside Guy, you make a good point -- thanks! BTW, what video card are you running in your PB?

    Totaling everything up there would be an $1100 difference in the price of a 20" Imac and the 23" w/G5 1.8 SB. Damn, this just gets harder and harder. One I could pay off in two years and possibly have for another two years; the other would take me 3 years, but I could keep it another 3 years...

    When does the hurting stop...:confused:

    Thanks again everyone, this really is helping. Especally when I am still at work at 2222 on a Saturday.:cool:
     
  12. beatle888 macrumors 68000

    beatle888

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2002
    #12
    you'll have a new system soon enough. it always seems you need it worse than you actually do. i wouldnt make any apple purchase until the waters settle a bit. that means after january.
     
  13. James Craner macrumors 68000

    James Craner

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2002
    Location:
    Bristol, UK
    #13
    Wolf,

    As far as you current requirements are concerned a top on the line G4 would be fine. The only item in your requirements that would push the Mac is your games.

    I would advise you to hang on to the end of the month though. Most people are anticipating updates to both iMacs and PowerMacs. I would expect that Apple update the Powermacs in the next couple of weeks, with the iMac updated about the time of the superbowl, as this year is the 20th Anniversary of the Mac and was originally announced at the superbowl.

    The Apple displays have also long been due for an update, and the many people expect this to tie in with the anticipated PowerMac update.

    I don't normally advocate waiting for an update, as any of the present PowerMac G5's and the high end G4's would meet your requirements. The G5 would certainly exceed your requirements and would keep you going for the next three years (and beyond). However you may get more bang for your buck by waiting a few weeks.
     
  14. matthew24 macrumors 6502

    matthew24

    Joined:
    May 30, 2002
    Location:
    Netherlands
    #14
    I got 2 G4's (PMac and PB), and if they don't break down, I could use them forever. The G5 is only interesting for heavy Video rendering, if you are on a budget the G4 is all you need. But indeed it would be wise to see what may be released during this month.
     
  15. Dont Hurt Me macrumors 603

    Dont Hurt Me

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2002
    Location:
    Yahooville S.C.
    #15
    clubmac has G5's 1.8 single cpu for $1749. this is a brandnew machine. a great deal. this machine is so far ahead of any g4 i wont even go there. my advice to wolf is buy this new machine and shop around for a monitor. you should be able to have the latest greatest and decent monitor for 2,000. True if you are only interested in your work,not interested in games, not concerned about performance much then a Emac would be a great budget choice. Imac is a great design and that would work. G5 is the future and will have the muscle to handle anything you throw at it for years. the 1.8 was selling for 2300 and now 1749. this and Emac are the best values in the Mac world today. i would go with one or the other unless you just love that floating screen imac has. anyways they all have the best software in the world and no one can argue that.:cool:
     
  16. Horrortaxi macrumors 68020

    Horrortaxi

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2003
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #16
    Right now anything in the Apple lineup will meet your needs. To use it today and for the next year, just decide how big a display you need and buy anything. The unknown factor is the future. You still want to have good results with this computer in several years. If you aren't likely to add to your list of computing demands then you don't really need to overbuy.

    For perspective, here's a rundown of all the Macs I use and what they can do.
    My own is a dual 1gig G4 PowerMac. It can do everything and run everything. It's almost a year old and I expect to get at least 4 more out of it.

    I also have a 700mhz G3 iBook--very capable little computer. If it died today I'd get another one.

    My wife has a 400mhz G4 PowerMac, which is 3 years old. It still runs all the Adobe and Macromedia software she uses. It also runs iMovie well. She says that if she didn't have my computer to compare it to she wouldn't complain about speed. This machine is starting to fall below spec for a lot of games.

    My mom has a 333mhz G3 iMac. 5 years old, runs Panther, does all the email, browsing, word processing, misc daily tasks.

    At work I have 2 233 G3 PowerMacs. They operate much the same as mom's iMac except they're on Jaguar.

    Finally, kicking around and refusing to die is an 8 year old PowerMac 7600. This is old school. 120mhz 604 processor. It will only run up to OS 9.1 but it runs it well. I's still a good word processing, email, web type computer. The odd hardware (SCSI drive, no USB, ADP) keep it from being very usable these days. Upgrades are available so a determined person could make it a G3 with USB/Firewire/OS X.

    My point in all this is to show how long you can expect from a Mac--4-3 years old will still run like new and even an elderly Mac can limp along.

    My own personal suggestion would be to get a dual processor G4 PowerMac. It'll have enough power to last you a long time and the expandability to add whatever cool stuff comes along in the next 5 years.
     
  17. Wolf thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2004
    Location:
    CA
    #17
    Thanks for all the advice!

    I guess I will be waiting till the end of the month to make a decision, and see what changes come after the 24th.

    While I hate to miss out on the great prices for refurbs at Smalldog.com right now, I would hate it more to find out I still paid too much if there is a price reduction coming on the Imacs, displays or G5s.

    Thanks for all the help!

    Wolf
     
  18. vitrector macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2002
    #18
    power versus style

    Wolf,
    you have a difficult decision to make. (Without wanting to sound too stupid): you get what you pay for. That's obvious though: More money = more power.
    Then there is the iMac. It has a non-reusable screen, a "hello I am not a G5 " G4 processor, limited expandability, etc.
    BUT, the iMac, esp. the 20-inch, is a thing of beauty and functionality. What useful life is concerned for what you do (except games) you WILL have all the power you need for the at least next 3 years (in my opinion).

    I speak from experience in maximizing Mac life. FYI: I had a 7100/80 Powermac that I bought in spring 1995 (near end of the product cycle) and retired it in the fall of 2002 when I got my 17 inch iMac. I did upgrade the Powermac with a processor upgrade (to a g3) in about 1998 (it was becoming painfully slow - relatively speaking).
    There are and will be more iMac upgrades - Apple has sold enough of those units for it to be a profitable business and there will be many owners that want to extend the use of their iMac, esp. because of the screen.

    My bottom line: Go with the iMac 20 inch, you will not likely regret it.
    Colin
     
  19. durvivor macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2003
    #19
    I'm throwing cold water on you.

    Hey Wolf,

    Slow down a minute. In your original post you say your trying to pay down debt, but are willing to spend up to $3,500 for an Apple.

    Then later you say that one machine will take two years to pay, and the other will take three years to pay.

    I'm going to say it to you liquor commercial style. Get your finances together first! Apple will wait for your business.

    Ok, lets say you spend $2,000 on an iMac and take two years to pay. And lets assume you get a nice 5% interest rate. Your payment will be around $90 a month ($87) and over two years your going to pay $105 in interest. So, unless you forgot the part that went. "I'm living in a one bedroom apartment trying to pay down debt that should be easy thanks to my new $100,000 a year salary!" You should re-consider!

    Nobody here will think less of you if you don't get a big powerful apple. Honest!

    If you are in debt & trying to get out this computer purchase will not help you. Honest!

    Take a day to separate your "needs" from your "wants" in your head. If you get the computer for $2,000 @ 5% interest and pay $90 bucks a month to pay it off, are you going to then convice yourself that you need DSL for another $50 a month? And all that software? That just adds to the pile. So, suddenly this computer is costing you $140 a month? Are you sure that money wouldn't be better put to use paying off your debt.

    It's very easy to convice yourself that you need a computer when you really might just want one.

    Do yourself a favor, be frugal today. Maybe in a few years you won't need to be.
     
  20. Wolf thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2004
    Location:
    CA
    #20
    Thanks again -- for worrying

    VITRECTOR -- thanks for the input; I was wondering if anyone else thought well of the Imac!

    DURVIVOR -- thanks for the concern, but the new mac is well within my budget, and my 30-month payoff of debt. I have a vehicle payment ending and as that money is already allocated within my budget... Buying a computer doesn't put any extra money in my pocket, but it doesn't change the budget already in place either.

    Besides, I am getting tired of staying at work 12-15 hours in order to take care of personal concerns on the web!:eek:

    Thanks again; everyone has been very helpful and thoughtful. I will post again when I make a purchase -- which at this point might be a couple of months. I have waited this long; now I am curious as to what's behind the bend.

    I will check this thread from time to time in case anyone has anything further to pass on.

    Wolf
     

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