Optimal setup for $5000; must include a desktop and a laptop

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by quidire, Feb 15, 2005.

  1. quidire macrumors 6502


    Aug 11, 2004
    Washington DC (in Kalorama Triangle)
    Hi there,

    As you can see from my signature, I have a PB12. I and my girlfriend switched with its purchase in Oct, and now want to expand our setup at home. (We are quite happily converted; we're on the verge of getting one of her brothers to try a Mac as well!)

    We often go to a nearby coffee shop that offers free wifi, so a second laptop is of very high value. In addition, whenever those of our friends who own Macs come over or if we go over to their places, we bring our respective laptops; in all these circumstances its been hard having one or the other of us "go without".

    So a laptop must be bought.

    My GF is really into digital photography, and is eager to get cracking on Photoshop; thus she'd like to have a computer somewhere with a big screen. We're also pathologically incapable of scheduling around the TV, and therefore want to buy an Elgato product (eyeTV200 or one of the new ones, a thread for another day).

    So a desktop must be bought.

    We are looking to buy in March or at latest early april; we are not waiting until WWDC, and so expect no major changes to any of the product lines. Waiting for tiger is unimportant; we'll go in with some other mac friends on a tiger family pack when it comes out and that's fine with us.

    So go wild, what would you get?

    (one last consideration: the "better" laptop will go to me (ie a new iB would go to her, a new PB and the old PB would go to her), by her suggestion. So be fair to her and nice to me ;) )

    Again budget is $5000; and we qualify for educational pricing

  2. SurfAddict macrumors member


    Feb 7, 2005
    iMac and any of the Mac laptops

    Personally I would by a 20" iMac and up the ram to the max possible great prices out outpost.com and then pick up a 15" powerbook but its really up to you which laptop you wanna go with seeing as with that budget you should be able to afford all that and then some. I love my brand new 17" PB and I still play with my dad's 20" iMac G4 every once in a while. I would recommend the dual 2ghz powermac but then you have to spend at least another grand for the 20" ACD :eek:
  3. zelmo macrumors 603


    Jul 3, 2004
    Mac since 7.5
    I think I'd go with a stock 15" 1.5GHz PowerBook, and up the RAM to 1GB ($1,934.00). Then I'd add the stock dual 1.8GHz PowerMac with the 250GB drive ($1,979.00) and a 20" Apple Cinema Display for $899.00, bring the total to $4,812.00. You'll need to add RAM to the PowerMac, but you're better off going 3rd party there. I only went with Apple Ram in the laptop 'coz it was only $135 to go from 512 to 1GB.

    You could save $300 by going with the 12" PB, and use that cash to do more with the desktop, but the 15" screen is so awesome...

    Question, did you buy your currrent 12" PB in the past year via EDU? I think you're only allowed 1 laptop and 1 desktop per school year.
  4. jsw Moderator emeritus


    Mar 16, 2004
    Andover, MA
    Even if you stay entirely within the Apple Store and don't buy RAM elsewhere:

    20" iMac, 250GB HD, AirPort, Bluetooth/Wireless KB & mouse bundle, 1GB RAM (1 stick, leaving room for expansion): $2341.

    15"PB, 100GB HD, 1GB RAM (1 stick), 128MB VRAM: $2594.

    Total: $4935. Downgrade the PB HD, buy the RAM elsewhere, and you're under $5K even including taxes.
  5. jsw Moderator emeritus


    Mar 16, 2004
    Andover, MA
    I believe they both qualify, so they're OK regardless (2 desktops, 2 laptops total per year).
  6. nerdykarim macrumors member

    Feb 14, 2005
    atlanta, ga
    you might consider getting the desktop on the student developer purchase program. costs $99 for a one-year membership and you get a once-per-lifetime hardware discount.

    to check out the prices under the discount, go here (http://developer.apple.com/membership/usa.html) and click the "ADC Hardware Purchase Program Store" link. keep in mind the savings don't include the $99 fee you'd have to pay, but they're still pretty outstanding, especially if you're going to get a desktop (you could consider getting a pretty sweet powermac, if you were willing to get a samsung or (gasp!) dell display)

    get the applecare plans (if you're going to get them) on the normal edu discount and the ram from www.outpost.com.

    -my .02
  7. ibookin' macrumors 65816


    Jul 7, 2002
    Los Angeles, CA
    I have a decent setup for half that:

    PowerBook G4 15"- $1799
    Mac mini 1.25GHz- $479
    512MB RAM for Mac mini- $60
    17" LCD Monitor- ~$300

    However, since you want to use Photoshop, a G5 might be nice:

    PowerBook G4 15"- $1799
    PowerMac G5 Dual 2.0GHz- $2299
    20" Apple Cinema Display- $899

    If you don't want to spring for the tower:

    PowerBook G4 15"- $1799
    iMac G5 20"- $1799
    512MB RAM for iMac- $60
  8. mrgreen4242 macrumors 601


    Feb 10, 2004
    Well, from the sounds of it, th second laptop will just be a portable web machine, and as there is already a powerbook for any portable power needs, and a soon to be desktop for at home power needs, battery life, wireless performance, and portability should be the main factors... so I would go with a 12" iBook:

    (All EDU Pricing, with RAM from Apple)
    12" 1.2ghz G4 iBook
    768mb RAM
    80gb HD

    The desktop yo mention digital photography, which often leads to some digital video work, and will also, I suspect become the central machine for both of you, with music and other files serving as well. If there will be any games played, it'll be on this one. So, as the money is in the budget, go with a PowerMac...

    Dual 1.8ghz PM
    2gb RAM
    250gb HD
    ATI 9600XT GPU
    BT module
    20" ACD

    OR, if getting an Apple display isn't important to you,

    Dual 2ghz PM
    2gb RAM
    250gb HD
    ATI 9600XT
    BT Module
    Dell 2005FPW 20" Widescren LCD (most people say this is as good or better than the 20" ACD)

    So that puts you at $4681 or $4800 plus applicable taxes (note: there's no tax on the Dell display), which will land you either right under $5000 or right over, depending on which option you choose and what your state tax rate is. If you get your memory from crucial.com or newegg.com you can save several hundred dollars, and can get AppleCare or some software.

    Good luck,
  9. jsw Moderator emeritus


    Mar 16, 2004
    Andover, MA
    You'll get more power with a PowerMac as compared to an iMac, but the iMac will do everything you want it to do plus is smaller, quieter, lighter and more aesthetic.

    And, of course, nothing says you have to spend the entire $5000. Or you could get a cheaper PB or iBook and get a nice mini with AirPort/BT to attach to your TV via a $20 DVI->S-video adapter. Then you could easily watch your recorded programs on your TV. Just an option....
  10. BoardCertified macrumors newbie

    Jan 20, 2005
    Orlando, FL USA
    I suggest eating your PC user friends for lunch with a Dual G5 PowerMac - saw one (dual 1.8gig) in the Orlando Millenia Mall Store on return for $1599.00. However, sport the dual G5 2.5gig for 2,999.99 - edu. discount and then buy a new iBook.

    $5000.00 gives you quite some versatility.
  11. quidire thread starter macrumors 6502


    Aug 11, 2004
    Washington DC (in Kalorama Triangle)
    My gut reaction had been
    15" 1.67 PB w/ 128 VRAM $2000
    + 1GB stick $250
    23" ACD $1500
    mac mini w/ 1GB RAM $850
    and a Gefen KVM $400

    I thought to myself that the ease-of-use advantages of using our PBs w/ the monitor would outweigh performance advantages, and the mac mini could act as a back-end server. It would connect to the elgato, act as a fileserver for the iTunes library, hook up to an Ovolab Phlink. While the PBs aren't using the display, it would be driving the ACD.

    an iB and iM or PM has occurred to me... but I figured that with the PB/ACD/mm, I could add a PM later without having "wasted" money on a machine I'd have to have to resell at a "loss". It could swap in for the mm, and the mac mini can always be used around the place.

  12. solvs macrumors 603


    Jun 25, 2002
    LaLaLand, CA
    I'd say go with an iBook or low-end P'Book (maybe even a refurb). It sounds like what you'll be wanting to do on the go won't take much horsepower, but a desktop can never be fast enough. Especially for Photoshop.

    What I really like about the G5 Towers is that you can upgrade the video card. You can span to a TV without having to use the hack. The DVI-TV adapter is only about $20. I'd say Dual 2GHz with a Radeon 9600 or better and upgrade it with third party RAM (at least 1GB, or more) and secondary hard drive (as a scratch disk and for imported movie files). Newegg is great for those. Plus, you can get a PCI TV-in card by Miglia, cheaper than the El Gato. eCost has them for a good price, but Old World Computing has better service and it's only a few dollars more. Make sure to get the G5 version with TiVo-like capability. I like Apple's monitors, but you can get similar monitors elsewhere cheaper. Hate to say it, but I would agree on the Dell widescreen.

    Don't forget to add tax, and I'd suggest AppleCare just in case. Good luck.
  13. JRM macrumors member

    Aug 13, 2004
    Melbourne, Australia
    FOR $5100

    You can have:

    Dual 2.5GHZ Powermac
    1GB RAM

    20" Apple Display

    12" Powerbook
    Combo Standard

    Just what i would do
  14. brap macrumors 68000

    May 10, 2004
    The world is thy oyster, especially if you're into installing aftermarket parts.

    You could afford the latest and greatest of both lines, it's just up to you which is more important. Personally I'd spring for a dual 2.0 or 2.5, with as few 'extras' as possible. Then fill it with a couple of 74GB Raptors, a 400GB SATA and a decent DL DVDRW drive, some cheapy RAM from Newegg or Frys or something... ebay the parts you chuck out to save some money.

    For the laptop, you don't need a superdrive so lose that. Buy aftermarket RAM, and go for as fast as you like. I personally like the 1.67 15", because the 17" is enormous!
  15. quidire thread starter macrumors 6502


    Aug 11, 2004
    Washington DC (in Kalorama Triangle)
    Well thank you all for your thoughts!

    I'll probably revisit the issue just before we're ready to buy; after all who knows what the field will look like 5-6 Tuesdays from now ;)

    Now I need to find out if the 23" ACD is really such a bad product, but there are 50 threads on the topic; I'll go search for one.

    Thanks again!

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