It is worth buying a new iMac?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by netexplorer, May 13, 2012.

  1. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 10, 2012
    #1
    Hey everyone, my question is anything but new...still, after reading a lot of threads in this forum I couldn't make up my mind.

    The point is that I'm searching for a new computer, which I'm gonna use primarily for statistical modelling, intensive spreadsheet compiling and processing in MS Excel (with more than 500,000 rows) as well as occasional running of MS Access for database management.

    Would I be better off with a new iMac i7 or a standard i7 PC (let's say Vostro 470 from Dell)? I fully realize that I can run Windows on a Mac to utilize MS Office, which is (as far as I understood from this forum) much more efficient when being run on Windows rather than OSX. But what is the point of buying an iMac if I have to start Windows every time?

    Of couse, with an iMac I'll get a brilliant screen with keyboard and mouse included, but still, I can order an IPS monitor from Dell + keyboard + mouse + PC itself for the price, which is twice as cheap as Apple's iMac.

    Nonetheless, something, which still makes me hesitant, is the outstanding design of iMac...it's simply amazing, although one has to sacrifice the ability to change any hardware after the purchase (except for RAM, of course), which is not the case with a standard PC.

    So, I would be really greatful if anybody can help me out of this terrible dilemma.
     
  2. macrumors Core

    miles01110

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2006
    Location:
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    #2
    I'd just buy a PC (well, I would build my own but maybe you aren't comfortable with that).
     
  3. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 10, 2012
    #3
    Thanks for the reply! It could also be an option but requires more time.

    Anyway it's gonna be quite hard to convince my wife that a standard PC might be as good as an iMac. Design is still a major issue for her... And I probably agree with that.
     
  4. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2011
    #4
    I have used a PC for 20 years and just bought a Mac 8 months ago when my PC died.

    Hardware wise its much nicer then PC's. If you want to build a similar quality PC then it would cost about the same.
    I bought a refurb 27" i5. If I were to buy an i5 Dell and 27" IPS, and all the same specs and components (bluetooth keyboard, mouse, etc..) the cost difference would be ~$150 so I took the jump.
    So far I am very happy with the hardware. I find it attractive, very solid, beautiful screen, silent, and in general looks like its "worth" the price.

    I am a power user and MacOS vs Windows is another story. Sometimes its better sometimes its worse... depends what you want to do.
     
  5. macrumors 6502a

    FlatlinerG

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2011
    Location:
    Prince Edward Island, Canada
    #5
    By the sounds of things you have already decided that you want an iMac. The one question you really need to ask is if you were to buy a Windows machine, would you be happy with it?

    I say go with the iMac. As you said in your original post, they are beautiful.
     
  6. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2003
    Location:
    Hong Kong
    #6
    Buy a refurbished model in 4 weeks time

    The iMac has a refresh sometime in June, so my advice, wait until the new iMac's are launched and then purchased a 2011 i7 refurbished model from Apple Store - benefit of this move, you may actually get a new machine, or slightly used BTO model with upgraded RAM and VRAM.

    The refurbished 27in i7 represents good value, but after the refresh price will drop - basically, with the saving you make you can invest in AppleCare and have a full three year warranty from date of purchase.

    Current i7 iMac's run hot and have know LCD screen issues caused by heat from CPU, so a three year warranty in my opinion is a must.

    Hope this helps, but cost wise best to leave it for approx. 4 weeks from today.
     
  7. macrumors Core

    miles01110

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2006
    Location:
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    #7
    Personally I think it's stupid to pay the premium to get an iMac when it looks like you'll be doing all of your work in Windows via Parallels or Bootcamp.
     
  8. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 10, 2012
    #8
    That's what I'm thinking of as well. On top of that, I personally don't need a 27 inch screen - could live with a 24 one easily. Unfortunately, there is no such option with an iMac.

    Apple make really beautiful products, but still it's a Windows world out there, so I definitely don't want to buy any computer that is just pretty from outside, but provide little scope for adjustments after the purchase, which I like to do sometimes...install Ubuntu, for example, play around with the local WiFi networks to test their security and so on and so forth. Although I'm not a professional technician, I like to do some stuff with my current PC that needs above average technical skills and don't need a computer that just works (it's a bit boring for me perhaps), but my wife does...so that is a dilemma!
     
  9. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 9, 2012
    Location:
    Belgium
    #9
    Your line of thinking is faulty, though it is understandable if you're new to Macs:

    The Mac is a full fledged computer that can do anything you throw at it. It's not a trimmed, simplified computer. It's not at all easier to use either, as it requires getting used to OS X. Thy are tons of advanced user features, and more keyboard shortcuts than you can ever remember, far better looking Terminal with Bash / Unix commands, with programming languages like Perl and Python already installed and working...

    Could go on and on.

    You know nothing at all about OS X; judging by the "computer that just works" comment.

    OS X is just more intuitive. If you haven't been punching the walls and cursing at Windows every day for the past ten years, frankly, OS X isn't for you.

    As for me, it's the best computer I've ever owned. I stuck to Windows XP for 8+ years and when I started using Git in the ****** command line on Windows, I decided I had enough of it.

    The iMac is two complete full fledged extremely advanced OSes with hundreds of features you probably never heard about. I still have so much to learn about OS X myself, like I just found out I could make things easier with Automator isntead of relying only on the Terminal...

    Screen size? Do you need lots of columns in your spreadsheet?

    If you care at all about making an informed purchase decision, borrow a Macbook for a few weeks and see if you can get used to OS X. Do some research. Find the software that does all the things you did on Windows. It's there. Even when it sees it's not htere, you can still probably download a package and compile directly under Terminal, try to do that in Windows!

    Switching is not a no-brainer. As a web developer, I switched back and forth twice before I finally realized that OS X is not "a computer that just works". It's the best developer / programmer computer you can own. Seeing as it's got some of the most user friendly and rock solid Windows emulation (when you don't want to reboot!) you'd have to make a very uninformed decision by buying a Windows only PC.
     
  10. DeF46, May 13, 2012
    Last edited: May 13, 2012

    macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 9, 2012
    Location:
    Belgium
    #10
    The question here is whether you can find comfortable tools under OS X thant can do all the things you did. The answer is certainly yes, however it's most likely going to be very different. Workflow may change. Software user interface may change.

    In research it's not uncommon that software is compiled only for Windows. If you use such software, that is not mainstream, and hence does not always have equivalents on Mac, you'd have to run them through emulation in order to realistically benefit from the OS X experience in everything else.

    So then you have to look at the speed. Are you already really pushing your CPU? If you are not really pushing the CPU (ie. use all four cores for compiling stuff for minutes or hours), then emulation will probably not make much difference performance wise. If you go that route I'd recommend to add 8GB or more; And buy the RAM yourself of course, it's easy to install from a hatch under the monitor.

    One thing is for sure you won't handle 500000 rows in Numbers. Numbers is very slow, I used OpenOffice instead. And OpenOffice is buggy as hell.

    Btw, Microsoft makes Office for Mac if that's what you use:
    http://www.microsoft.com/mac/products

    If you really only boot in windows for your work, then I agree, other than the exterior design, you'd be better off with a PC.

    I work in OS X and game in Windows. When I need to test a website, I run a WIndows image in Parallels. It's actually nice than Windows, since I can run different versions, and it remembers the state so it doesn't need to boot either!

    TLDR: If you are not really interested in learning a new OS that may prove in the long term to make your life better, your work more comfortable, and your time investment more productive, there's really nothing for you in the iMac. Switching is not a painless operation. So if you're really curious about learning OS X you really should test it out first by borrowing a laptop or a Mac mini with external keyboard and mouse. You can test both emulation and the bootcamp workflow on those.
     
  11. macrumors 6502a

    djrod

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2008
    Location:
    Madrid - Spain
    #11
    I still remember my old PHP teacher telling me that Macs weren't good for coding, ha! And I, as You do, find the Mac the best system for programmers
     
  12. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2011
    #12
    So you are basically telling the OP, who is currently running Windows, and has specified that he will be using Microsoft Excel, along with Microsoft Access (which isn't available on the Mac), to buy a Mac to emulate a Microsoft operating system using Microsoft products? :rolleyes: Also, you might want to make your mind up whether or not you are recommending a Mac, because your post seems to suggest both.

    If the OP is asking about whether to switch to Mac or not, it is quite clear that he is currently using a Windows system.

    As Miles said, no point in purchasing a Mac when it is quite clear that the work you're doing right now is in a Windows environment, and there is an application in there that is Windows only. You'll have to spend more cash in both purchasing the Mac, as well as the virtualisation software and a copy of Windows. Even if you want to switch, you still need to replace Access with something else, as well as spend money on buying the Mac equivalents. You're already all set for Windows, you might as well stick with it :)
     
  13. macrumors 68030

    forty2j

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2008
    Location:
    NJ
    #13
    On waiting for the pending refresh: everything you're doing is CPU-intensive and not graphical at all. Given the low level of this year's CPU improvements, there's not a good reason to wait for a refresh. But there's a pretty strong feeling that if it's not out by 5/23 it won't be until at least mid-June, so it's hard not to justify at least waiting 10 days.

    On software: MS Office for Mac works very well. No reason to go into Windows (via bootcamp or parallels) to use Excel. Unfortunately, Microsoft has not chosen to release MS Access on Mac, so you would need to use alternative database software (e.g. "Base" in the OpenOffice suite) or spend a lot of time in Windows. Agree with others that getting a Mac is a tough sell if you're spending > 75% of your time in Windows; people do it, but because the industrial design and build quality appeal to them enough. OpenOffice and other MS Access alternatives are also available on Windows, so you could spend some time trying them out before making your computer purchase decision.
     
  14. macrumors 68030

    forty2j

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2008
    Location:
    NJ
    #14
    At the time he made that statement (or, at least, formed his opinion), it might have been true. Personally I couldn't stand to do anything at all on Macs prior to OS X.
     
  15. macrumors 601

    talmy

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2009
    Location:
    Oregon
    #15
    I've got a house full of Macs (seven of them) but would say that for running nothing but Microsoft Office (and especially Access, which is Windows only) it really doesn't make sense to buy a Mac.

    Buy the hardware to run the applications, not the other way around.
     
  16. macrumors 68030

    forty2j

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    Location:
    NJ
    #16
     
  17. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 10, 2012
    #17
    Actually, I've already tried OS X playing around with my wife's Macbook Air, although when I tried to open some spreadsheets with 100+ Mb size on it (in MS Excel, not Numbers) it takes ages to process it in any way.

    I feel myself pretty comfortable when it comes to switching from Windows to OS X, but am suspicious whether a premium I would have to give away for an iMac really pays off as far as intensive usage of MS Office applications and statistical software (Stata, SPSS etc.) are concerned.
     
  18. macrumors 68030

    forty2j

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2008
    Location:
    NJ
    #18
    That's not OS X. That's the MBA, which is built for portability over power.
     
  19. macrumors 65816

    jvmxtra

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2010
    #19
    After buying 27 imac for the first time last year, I LOVE the machine. HOWEVER, I don't think buying 27 imac is good idea anymore.

    If you are in need of big monitor, get 27 monitor separately and then build a pc.

    Unless thunderbolt graphic card becomes everyday graphic card price for pc, I think this is bad investment for now(unless 2012 imac has separate MD for target display mode)
     
  20. philipma1957, May 13, 2012
    Last edited: May 13, 2012

    macrumors 603

    philipma1957

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2010
    #20
    it is an easy choice. you should be able to have both windows and lion for os. why you use your machine for work and your wife likes mac. As much as making money is important keeping the wife pleased is worthwhile. Get the 27 inch run windows in vmFusion. you can have 2 screens side by side on the 27 inch one in mac one in windows.
     
  21. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2011
    #21
    No offence to you guys but some of these recommendations are plain silly. Moving to Mac is uneconomical in this situation, that's clear to see.
     
  22. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 9, 2012
    Location:
    Belgium
    #22
    That's a good point.

    So as I said, you've got yourself two computers in one, no-brainer really. You boot into bootcamp with your preferred Windows and install everything you want to make it "yours". (NO EMULATION)

    And when you're not busy working your wife and otherp eople can boot in the default mode (they might not even know the secret.. pshhhh... pressing alt during boot.. shhhh ;) ) and they'ell enjoy OS X.

    You said yourself you're not into this for gaming, so where are the hardwre limitations? CPU shoud more than handle your needs for years to come. The only exception would be if your software also uses specific GPU for computing, or expansion cards... but if that was the case you wouldn't be posting here.

    Also correct me if I'm wrong, but you can connect the MBA to the iMac screen.


    PS: If your software is going to crunch data on 4 cores at 100% usage, do keep in mind that the fan will run, and it is much more noisy than a well built PC tower (or a Mac Pro). I hear the fan when I convert videos. Not a big deal if you go make yourself a drink while it's crunching, but something to consider if you keep a lot of CPU heavy threads in the background WHILE working at the computer.
     
  23. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 9, 2012
    Location:
    Belgium
    #23
    Yes, you can do that but I think it's a bad idea.

    The emulation is awesome and it blew my mind to have a fullscreen Windows on one screen and just move the mouse pointer like that between two OS'es so seamlessly.

    However for his purposes, I think the realistic option WITH the iMac, would be to run Windows natively.

    The only thing you need to get your mind around is the belief that somehow windows is crippled onto a Mac. It isn't at all: when you boot with Bootcamp, you've got a PC. It's a real PC with the anti virus, Windows updates and all. Not saying that to diss it, but to emphasize that it's not emulation. You need to protect its filesystem. It won't be able to write to the OS X partition but OS X can write to BOOTCAMP.

    And over time you still get the option of learning OS X, while doing so, you can read data from BOOTCAMP.
     
  24. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 10, 2012
    #24
    I didn't know about the fan...this is definitely something to consider as I hate when I start hearing its noise suddenly - as if I'm working on a laptop which has very little space inside to cool everything down properly, but then I can live with it somehow, because it's a laptop. For a desktop computer though I think it's simply unacceptable and can't be tolerated.
     
  25. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 10, 2012
    #25
    The fan noise only happens when you are carrying out processor intensive tasks such as video editing. I don't think spreadsheets will cause this to happen. If I was you I would simply buy the iMac install windows 7 through bootcamp and then you have a great osx device and can run windows if you want.

    The only limitation of the current iMac hardware you may face in the next 2-3 years would be the graphics card but the rest will be ok.
     

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