What Mac to get...

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by Devie, Oct 3, 2004.

  1. Devie macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2004
    Location:
    Adelaide, Australia
    #1
    Heya. I've been thinking of making the move to Mac for about... one and a half years, but I've been having a lot of trouble with funds recently :(.

    But now it looks like I"ll be able to buy a new one by about January or so. So I want reccomendations for what to get...

    I mainly use a computer currently for gaming, surfing and some photoshop work (nothing really heavy), but in the near future hope to get into 3D modeling and animation, and programming.
    I also want a computer that's upgradable.

    I don't need a laptop and don't really like them.

    Thanks in advance for your help :).
     
  2. FredAkbar macrumors 6502a

    FredAkbar

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2003
    Location:
    Santa Barbara, CA
    #3
    I was thinking iMac G5 until you mentioned upgradability...you can add RAM, Airport Extreme card, and maybe Bluetooth to an iMac, but that's about it. Really I think the towers (PowerMacs) are the only things that are close to PCs in terms of upgrading (hard drive, optical drives, probably graphics card, etc.).

    What's your budget (or what will it be in January)? PowerMac + Apple display is pretty darn expensive, but maybe you can use your current PC's monitor, or buy a cheap monitor from somewhere else, I'm not sure how that works exactly.

    I'd say if you can afford it ($2000-3000) go for a PowerMac (preferably dual processor), for the upgradability, and since you said you want to get into 3D animation and stuff (do you know how processor-intensive this 3D stuff will be?). Otherwise ($1500-2000) get an iMac. Unless you need the extra screen space, I recommend the high-end 17" iMac model. I bought one recently (upgraded to a gig of RAM and a 160 GB hard drive), and I'm very happy with it. Of course, if they update the iMac line on January 11th (the Macworld SF Keynote), then that advice won't matter.

    Now if I've been assuming badly and your budget will be in the low $1000s or less, then you'd have to either save some more, or settle for an eMac. I'm guessing eMacs will remain with G4s after January, and over the next couple of years, the G4 will be phased out of Apple's desktop lines. If possible, go for an iMac, or a PowerMac if you're a heavy spender.

    As far as customizable stuff, get a gig of RAM at least. Good luck with your upcoming purchase.
     
  3. ec1_mac macrumors newbie

    ec1_mac

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2004
    Location:
    London, UK
    #4
    im completely new to the mac scene, i bought the new imac g5. upgraded the ram to 768 and stuck in an airport. seems to be running nice. kinda miss my old PB g4
     
  4. Zaty macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2004
    Location:
    Switzerland
    #5
    I guess it comes to down to PowerMac vs. iMac, depending on what you want to upgrade. In that respect, the iMac has a few limitations: you can't upgrade the graphics card and the amount of RAM is limited to 2 GB. If you can live with those limitations, go for the iMac. If you need a better graphics chip (I'm not sure if the iMacs' GeForce 5200 Ultra is suitable for 3D modelling) and/ or more Memory, you have to go with the PowerMac. The PowerMac is the only Mac that is truely upgradeable. Hope this helps.
     
  5. Devie thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2004
    Location:
    Adelaide, Australia
    #6
    Thanks for the help guys... my budget is about... $5000 AUD , because my dad is doubling my dollar, so $2500 AUD of my money.
    I was looking at the PowerMac Dual 2GHz (1GB, 9600XT) with 20" ACD, and it comes up to $6,000+ AUD which is a bit over what I was aiming at.
    Also went and had a look at the Dual 1.8, the CPU is fine, but the mother board has been bottlenecked quite a lot compared to the other two systems.
    I guess it pretty much looks like it will be between a PM 2GHz or an iMac 20"... gaming isn't a huge issue because I have my GameCube, Xbox and PS2 to handle that. But I do love my Blizzard games... since its like the only computer games I play now...

    One thing scares me a bit about the iMac, not only the 3D card, but the fact that it's all in one. If the optical drive or HDD goes and it's out of warrenty, it seems that it will be useless... but with the PM I can just chuck a new on in, so that's a huge added bonus...

    Are there any other brand Widescreen LCD's available (in Australia) that's like equal to the ACD? (and look good next to the PM :) )

    Thanks again
     
  6. Zaty macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2004
    Location:
    Switzerland
    #7
    According to Apple's marketing, it should be easy to exchange optical and hard drives in an iMac. You just have to remove the back of the iMac. That being said, if you can afford a PM + LCD go for it as it is more future proof than the iMac.
     
  7. Sol macrumors 68000

    Sol

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2003
    Location:
    Australia
    #9
    Dual 1.8 GHz is the sweet spot

    The only bottleneck that the 1.8 GHz PowerMacs have compared to the other two systems is the PCI slots which are slower. It does not sound like you intend to install anything like SCSI or HD video capture cards so that model would be ideal for you. The Front Side Bus speed of the motherboard is still faster than either of the two iMacs.

    To make the most of the AUD $5000 install a second drive or increase the RAM. If you have a large desk, get a 21" CRT monitor for that 3D and Photoshop work you mentioned; a second monitor would also be supported by the graphics card (this has been a standard feature of PowerMacs since the 'Quicksilver' models).

    You should also know that if you are a student then you are entitled to an educational discount on all these items. Check with your local Apple dealer about pricing.

    For most games this system will be great and you will find that the most likely bottleneck will not be the motherboard or the graphics card but your internet connection.
     
  8. ec1_mac macrumors newbie

    ec1_mac

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2004
    Location:
    London, UK
    #10
    i opened mine up to put in the airport and another dimm of ram. looks pretty straight forward.
     
  9. Devie thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2004
    Location:
    Adelaide, Australia
    #11

    Alright, I got this one in mind then:
    • Dual 1.8GHz PowerPC G5
    • 512MB DDR400 SDRAM (PC3200) - 2x256
    • 160GB Serial ATA - 7200rpm
    • 8x SuperDrive (CD-RW/DVD-R)
    • ATI Radeon 9600 XT
    • Apple Keyboard + Apple Mouse
    • Mac OS X [default]
    • Apple Cinema Display (20" flat panel) - AU
    Amount ex GST A$ 5,671.82
    GST A$ 567.18
    Subtotal A$ 6,239.0

    Which is a bit to much, but if I can get Edu discount (I'm in High School, and I dont think I am able to get the Edu discount, but I do have a cousin thats in Uni), it will be $5,489.00 . I think that there is the sweet spot :). Or if I take away the ACD, it's only $3,466.10 (which looks like a damn nice price :) )
    Are there any widescreen CRT monitors available? Or other brand LCD's?
     
  10. Sol macrumors 68000

    Sol

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2003
    Location:
    Australia
    #12
    Less HD, more RAM

    512 MB of RAM is not a lot for Photoshop and 3D modelling. I would recommend that you get a smaller HD and 1 GB of RAM. On PowerMacs you must install RAM in identical quantities so get two 512 MB sticks.

    A CRT monitor would give you higher resolutions than an LCD and better refresh rates (better for your eyes). They are also cheaper but they do need a desk that can handle the weight.

    I am sure that high school students qualify for educational discounts. Check with your local Apple dealer or the Apple Australia site.
     
  11. Devie thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2004
    Location:
    Adelaide, Australia
    #13
    Yeah I was concidering going for the 1GB (2x 512), but thought I should get it from somewhere else... so maybe I should just go with the standard 256 and order 2 512's from somewhere else (where? :p).

    I know about the differences between CRT and LCD, and to me, the only real differnce is the price, LCD is just a hell of a lot more. So, is there any wide screen CRT monitors available?

    I had a look at the apple website, and it only says you can get the edu discount if your a teacher or a higher than Yr12 student... http://www.apple.com.au/education/store/homepage.html
    I might go down to the Apple store and find out...
     
  12. VAmin macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2004
    #14
    I've already mentioned in another post (I swear I'm not affiliated) but best source of CAS2.0 matched pair ram is www.hardcorecooling.us. Comes with cool heat spreaders and everything :) . For the quality of ram, it's very decently priced.
     
  13. ravenvii macrumors 604

    ravenvii

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2004
    Location:
    Melenkurion Skyweir
    #15
    Ignore that fool who said CRT's are better on the eyes than LCDs.

    I agree on the HD though; think about what you'll really use. In my iBook, I have 40 GB, and I never, ever gotten even close to filling that up. I never even think about it in fact. Getting the base RAM, and getting RAM elsewhere (such as Crucial) is a good idea.

    As for the LCD, decide if you really want the Apple one (I don't blame you; I want one too!). It's probably worth the money, but if you can't afford it, then looking elsewhere is probably adviseable. Look at Samsung screens - I have the 172T, and it's great.

    Finally, you're a senior? Are you going to college soon? May want to wait a bit until you get accepted to a college at least, then you can take advantage of the discount. And maybe you'll change your mind and decide to opt for the iMac or a laptop for travel/dorm room size reasons.

    Whatever you decide, good luck. :)
     
  14. crazzyeddie macrumors 68030

    crazzyeddie

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2002
    Location:
    Florida, USA
    #16
    Im going against what most people are going to say here. Get the fastest CPU you can. Period. Everything else can be upgraded later, but there are no processor upgrades for the G5.
     
  15. FredAkbar macrumors 6502a

    FredAkbar

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2003
    Location:
    Santa Barbara, CA
    #17
    Perhaps crazyeddie's onto something. With edu. discount, a Dual 2.5 PowerMac with default specs (basically the same as the Dual 1.8 specs you posted earlier, Devie) is around $4600 with GST. So if you can find a cheap monitor (maybe go over the $5000 limit if possible), you're set. However, finding a good widescreen LCD for $500-1000 will be more difficult (I could be wrong, I'm not at all familiar with how much things cost in $Australian, just estimating).
     
  16. Xenious macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2004
    Location:
    Texas, USA
    #18
    While the new LCDs are very nice (note: I do have one), I'd say if you already have a decent monitor save some money there and put it into the Powermac. Especially if you are going to be doing 3d graphics and processor intensive stuff. Drop in a 9800 or Geforce 6800 for some higher end 3d power if you need it. You can always get the ACD later, but if you end up skimping on both display and powermac in order to have both you may be kicking yourself later.

    Also even if you don't think you want it ever go ahead and get the BTO bluetooth module. Much better (IMHO) to have one built into the computer and save a USB port for something else.
    -jim
     
  17. mms macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2003
    Location:
    CA
    #19
    You're right, they don't give edu discounts to K-12 students, only faculty. I'd agree with the other post that you should go for the best processor that you can afford, especially if you're really going to be getting into graphics intensive operations. However, if you're not going to be so serious that you need the top end machine, the last G4 PowerMac may be a great money-saver. A 2x 1.42 G4 is still a relatively powerful machine, and with third-party processor upgrades that will most likely be appearing soon, it might be worth considering.
     
  18. Devie thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2004
    Location:
    Adelaide, Australia
    #20
    I am currently in Year11, so one more year left to go. Our Uni's are different from yours, we don't live on the campus, so I wont need portability as of yet. In reality I'll be living with my parents till I'm about 19-21, then probably rent a house near the Uni with some mates. I do plan on buying a cheap second hand iBook when I start uni though.

    As for monitors, I think I have decided on just buying a cheap 17" LCD, then save up for the ACD and have dual monitors. I can't use my current monitor because it aint mine :).

    With the Dual 2.5, it comes to $4,623.30 with the same specs as above with Edu discount, Dual 2 is $3,996.30 and as I already mentioned the Dual 1.8 is $3,466.10... so an extra $1200.00 to go for the 2.5... I'll try to go for the Dual 2.5 and hope that my plans with money all come...

    As for the RAM, VAmin, that site doesn't seem to ship to Australia...

    Thanks heaps for all your help everyone :), greatly appreciated.
     
  19. QCassidy352 macrumors G3

    QCassidy352

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2003
    Location:
    Bay Area
    #21
    I'd do that. Get a cheaper 17". That'll certainly hold you for a while. Better to get the more powerful computer now and worry about the high-end screen when you can get the money together later.
     
  20. Devie thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2004
    Location:
    Adelaide, Australia
    #22
    Alright... I've had a more deeper, more realistic look at my funds, and something as gone arise :( :rolleyes: .

    So now it looks like I'll go for a 20" iMac/1GB/BT Mouse and KB... people with a 1GB 20"/17" 1.8 GHz, can you tell me just how well the iMac runs under real life situations? ie basic photoshop work, basic 3D modeling, and WarCraft 3 :p, and general use of iApps...

    I really don't think I currently have the need for a workstation computer, the current computer I use (in my sig) runs all of that stuff fine, and that's all I care about really... it's just all of the spyware on the damn thing has slowed it down recently and we cant be stuffed formatting again...

    Thanks HEAPS again, I know it must suck when people change their mind :p.
     
  21. Cohiba macrumors member

    Cohiba

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2004
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    #23
    I also recently switched from PC to Mac - and very happy I did!!

    My "usage" profile is nearly identical to yours. I purchased a G5 dual 1.8, and upgraded to 1.25 gig's of RAM. I also purchased a sony 17" flat screen, which was about $200 less than the comprable Mac screen.

    Upgradability was also important for me as well. The stock card (nvidia geoforce 5200 ultra) works great! I figure I'll updgrade it as needed, probably in a yr or so.

    Let me know if you want more details.
     

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