About this PC->Mac switch...

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by slug420, May 14, 2007.

  1. slug420 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 14, 2007
    #1
    So I am a lifelong PC user, I work in IT, with PCs only and have for years following years of education in the PC world following years of playing with PCs for fun. I do everything from photo/video editing, playing games, doing a bunch of computer security related stuff to just plain ole web surfing and chatting. Lately my interests have shifted away from the gaming a bit though....I might still stumble onto the latest hot game and get "into it" for a few weeks but as of right now I probably hvent fired up a game on my pc in 6 months.

    I built my last 2 PCs from scratch and, possibly a testament to the competence of their maker, they have both either crapped out on me entirely or sporadically as of late. It is some kind of problem like bad video card or bad memory or a bad motherboard (different problem in each PC) that I am really about done trying to troubleshoot or spend money trying to fix. About a year ago when PC1 was giving me problems I decided to build PC2 and as I built it I kept in mind that I really wanted to start doing more and more video editing now that i have a digital camcorder.

    So now im sick of the crap these PCs are giving me and ready to throw some money at the problem to get it resolved. For a few reasons I am thinking about getting a mac. I want a laptop (dont have one worth mentioning right now except for a work laptop) and due to these problems I need a desktop also...so i am thinking about maybe taking the plunge on the mac pro for my desktop and then getting some cheapo PC laptop.

    My main questoins/concerns that I am hoping you all can help me with is how dramatic this change from PC to Mac is going to be for me with regards to some of the following:
    I have 2 PCs now each with about 3 HDs in them (mostly SATA) that are filled with maybe a combined TB of data that I have accumulated over the years....Can I use these hard drives in a mac pro? Do I need "mac specific" hard drives? What disk formats will OSX be able to recognize and play with? FAT32? NTFS? None of the above?

    Right now I run dual Dell 21" widescreens....Will these be fine on the mac pro? Which video card should I go with?

    I have a few sets of peripherals (keyboards and mice) that I am pretty happy with, am I going to be able ot use all of this stuff (usb) on the mac pro or will I need ot buy all new mac stuff?

    I heard bootcamp is going to be installed by default with the new OSX in like september (jaguar or leopard or housecat or whatever its called)...but if I get my mac pro now and want to dual boot with windows, how easy is it gonna be for a max n00b like me to set that up? Are there any problems with running that setup?

    How about paralells? I was looking at a mac pro with the 2.66Gz processors, and 4 gigs of ram. The more recently built PC of mine had like a 2.4Gz dual core processor and 2 gigs of RAM...can I actually expect to run win XP in parallels (which as I understand it is like VMWare for the Mac) and get the same performance or very close to it out of it as I expected out of my PC? Can I expect flawless performance/gaming/application use in parallels or is it buggy and some stuff works and some stuff doesnt?

    Also, whats the deal with the apple world....should I buy this in an apple store at the mall? online from apple.com? online from somewhere else? from a local independent apple reseller (do they even exist?)? I was thinking of dropping by the apple store (never actually been inside one) to ask these same questions but online internet forum people not making commission from my purchase tend to give better answers in my experience.

    thanks in advance!
     
  2. fstop95 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2003
    Location:
    MN
    #2
    PC Mac thing

    Congratulations on this bold step to leave the darkside...seriously, I would highly recommend you start your journey at an Apple store. I may be wrong, but I don't think the store employees earn commissions. My experience has resulted often in 2, sometimes 3 store employees engaged in answering my questions/complex things I am trying to do.

    As far as where to buy, it it doesn't matter much. Pricing is pretty much the same everywhere with only slight discounts/bundles available online (MacMall, Maczone...) Macprices.com is a good resource.

    I have made a few purchases thru the apple.com refurbished store. The stuff is typically discounted 15%-40% and is typically the almost top of the line models. All come with full warranty.

    You will love whatever you end up with and you may find yourself "swearing by" your new Mac, versus "swearing at" your pcs...

    Good luck!
     
  3. markfc macrumors 6502a

    markfc

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2006
    Location:
    Prestatyn, Wales, UK
    #3
    Welcome to Mac!

    Hi!

    Okay any sata drive will work in the mac pro. FAT32 and NTFS will both be seen by OSX but the NTFS drive won't be writeable.

    Bootcamp can be downloaded from the Apple website for any of current Intel Mac's. It's basically a partition tool with a windows drivers CD. Should take all of 10mins to do plus time for the XP install.

    The Dell Screens will also work fine, even with the default graphics card.

    Don't expect to do any gaming through parallels as there is no 3D Support (yet)

    Gaming is bootcamp it prety damn good though.

    Good luck with the transistion!

    Mark
     
  4. polevault139 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2006
    Location:
    Illinois
    #4
    As for your peripherals question, you should be able just to plug them in and they should work. I have not run into a mouse or keyboard that has not worked. Good Luck.
     
  5. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604

    thejadedmonkey

    Joined:
    May 28, 2005
    Location:
    Pa
    #5
    You'll be fine. I don't see anything that you want to do that would be a problem.
     
  6. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2005
    Location:
    UK
    #6
    Mac's are great at this with Final Cut.

    I wouldn't get a cheap PC laptop, either get a decent business laptop from Dell or HP or just get a Macbook (non pro), with a RAM upgrade to 1-2GB the lowest end one should be fine.

    Yes
    No
    Macs read and write FAT32 and "read" NTFS, but sometimes have problems.
    Yes, FWIW lots of people on this forum use Dell monitors.
    For gaming the X1900, for high end scientific usage the Quadro and if you don't want to game the 7300 (though 2 may help with the monitors, ask Apple).

    No, any USB mouse and keyboard will "just work", but if they have advanced features beyond left and right click they may need software which may or may not have a Mac version, if they aren't "gaming mice" they are fairly likely to have Mac drivers.
    I would imagine you should be fine with Boot Camp, installing Leopard (due in October) will be about as difficult as installing MS Office on a PC (though it takes a bit longer).

    If the recent PC doesn't have a Xeon Dual Core that been bought since about June of last year, then the Mac Pro will be a lot quicker, otherwise the performance will be similar. Also you can get VMWare for the Mac too.

    I'd imagine it's like a VMWare PC.

    Apple store staff are generally pretty good, I went in looking for a MBP, and they "downsold" me a Macbook as it was more suitable for what I wanted to do with it, they don't have commission. They will try and sell you Applecare (which might be worthwhile) and .Mac (don't touch it with a bargepole) as well as Training and ProCare (depends if you like that kinda thing, I don't personally have either but I'm a student.)

    Thats cool, you have some interesting questions :)
     
  7. slug420 thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 14, 2007
    #7
    thanks for all the awesome advice!

    As I mentioned, I am eyeing the 2.66 mac pro with an upgrade to 4 gigs of ram and i dont know what video card. Does it make sense for me to keep an eye on the refurb bin or does that usually only have base models?

    Also, will I have to buy Leopard or are upgrades free?
     
  8. InlawBiker macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2007
    #8
    Well slug, we could have written the same bio. I've built many PCs myself, but I'm tired of supporting Windows and the hardware for me and my wife. I don't want to buy all new hardware just to run Vista, so we're switching. I already got my wife a Macbook and she loves it. Looking at a MB Pro for myself.

    What I intend to do is move all of my data to an external drive enclosure. I already have a USB 2.0 external drive for this. It is FAT32 and plugged directly into the Macbook no problem. There are a couple open-source NTFS projects going, but I don't know how reliable they are. With a TB of data I'm willing to bet that most of it is media. In your shoes I'd buy a big external drive, format it to whatever filesystem Mac uses and transfer it all, taking the opportunity to get rid of some stuff you may not need.

    I'm looking at laptops, not a desktop, but all you should need is the mini-dvi adapter to use those monitors. I would check their native resolution and make sure whatever video card you get supports it.


    I plugged my wife's Microsoft USB laser mouse into the Macbook and was surprised to find that it worked perfectly. Even the right-click works.

    I don't think you can expect flawless gaming experience in a virtual machine. I use VMware from Linux and it works, but if you want native performance you need to be in the native OS.

    You can order online and save a little but let's be honest - if you want an Apple you're going to have to drink the kool-ade. They cost more and there are no real discounts. The local Mac store is pretty helpful and always seems full of people, but is adequately staffed.

    You can buy used of course, and the Applecare is supposedly very good. A good strategy might be to buy a used one that's still under warranty then buy the extended care. I think a lot of used Macs will come on the market when the new Macs are announced, which should be real soon.
     
  9. fstop95 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2003
    Location:
    MN
    #9
    Refurb

    Yes, you'll have to buy Leopard (unless you wait of course to buy your Mac).

    Refurbs are usually fairly stock, but I would guess you could "upgrade" a refurb just like any new computer.

    Installing Ram is a breeze on Macs, so don't sweat it. I just added 2 gigs to my MacBook Pro with off the shelf ram from Best Buy (funny listening to their experts claim it wouldn't work in a Mac, funny guys they are.

    Keep in mind that all the installed iLife apps play REALLY nice together and you'll be delighted how fun and easy it is to enjoy your pictures, music, movies...

    I'll echo the fact that the Apple folk will try to sell you the Apple Care. May be worth it (I buy it with laptops).

    Good luck, be sure to post back after you've taken the plunge! I hope you enjoy the community of new friends you are making.
     
  10. MikeTheC Guest

    MikeTheC

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2004
    Location:
    Gallifrey -- Capitol City, Prydonian Sector
    #10
    I'd like to address the filesystem issue briefly.

    I have dealt with NTFS filesystems mounted in Mac OS X, and while they're perfectly "accessible", I have run into intermittent rights (not to be confused with "write") issues.

    Basically, your best bet would be to migrate your data from NTFS to FAT32 while still within Windows. This way you would be assured that NTFS will "play nice".

    There's three ways to get a large (that is, beyond 32GB) FAT32 partition, but the common theme among all of them is to create them under anything but Win2K/WinXP. If you've got access to a Win98/98SE box, a Linux box, or a Mac OS X box, any of these will let you create a FAT32 partition up to the maximum partition limit of FAT32 and not some arbitrary OS limitation (such as is the case with Win2K and WinXP -- and probably WinVista).

    FAT32, while proprietary to Microsoft, is universally supported. It's the single best option for storage when the goal is to move data among multiple different OSs. Of course, there are all the usual filename limitations, but since you're coming from a Windows environment where such filename limits are also part of the OS, this will not be an issue for you.

    Now, let's talk about SATA. Naturally, all the new Macs support SATA, and in the case of the Mac Pro there's some serious expansion room. However, you can also get a SATA/SATA2 -> FireWire, USB2, or FW+USB2 and/or +SATA2 enclosure. If you go this route, you'll then be able to move the HDD in question back and forth between your Mac desktop and Mac or PC laptop.

    In fact, turning an HDD into an external may be a very desirable option for you if you might need to maintain some amount of interoperability with PCs running Windows. And since FAT32 is so ubiquitous, if at some point you have to deal with a person running Linux, they'll be able to access the data, too.

    Good luck!
     
  11. balamw Moderator

    balamw

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2005
    Location:
    New England
    #11
    While I agree with the all external drive suggestions, one method that gets short shrift is to use the SMB/CIFS/Samba networking to access files between systems.

    You can share folders between a networked Windows PC and Macs/Linux using Samba and not know anything about the underlying file system. Thanks to tridge and gang!

    B
     
  12. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2005
    Location:
    UK
    #12
    Yes it will cost $129, btw the laptop only route may be worth some consideration, an MBP should be able to handle what you want to do just fine.
     
  13. balamw Moderator

    balamw

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2005
    Location:
    New England
    #13
    Apart from the three drives he wants to stuff in it, yeah.

    Seriously, why not put them in external enclosures hooked up to an Airport Extreme or other NAS? Sounds like it's mostly archival, read slow, files.

    B
     
  14. MikeTheC Guest

    MikeTheC

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2004
    Location:
    Gallifrey -- Capitol City, Prydonian Sector
    #14
    This is absolutely true. However, the reason I tend to not get into recommending this approach (unless, of course, it's implied or expected) is that a lot of people lack the knowledge and savvy, and as there are variables which don't always present themselves in an obvious or straight-forward manner, one tends to encounter "hiccups". I tend to try and keep people away from them, as moving your data between computers is enough of a hassle.
     
  15. balamw Moderator

    balamw

    Staff Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
    New England
    #15
    I agree that networking is not "out of the box" easy for the casual user, but I hope this isn't the case for someone who works in IT, like slug420. :p

    B
     
  16. slug420 thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 14, 2007
    #16
    yea, networking is not an issue....nor would external drives be. Generally speaking I hesitate to use external storage methods like that because of the speed and usually just use it for archiving, like keeping backups of the data on my internal drives. I kinda like to know what my options are so I can figure out how to proceed.

    One thing I might do is get the 250 gig drive as the primary, add a second 500GB from apple, then add in a couple of my 200-250s and copy the data over to the 500, either maintain the original 200s as a backup or reformat them now that the data is on my 500 and format them in a mac-friendly manner, probably fat32 so that a drive with lots of junk on it will be accessible if I bootcamp into XP from time to time. Sounds like I have tons of options.


    The main reason I have been shying away from a MBP is the dual screens. I was so stoked when I built my PC last year to finally have a dual head machine and I loved it for the 8 months that it worked like a charm. Normal day to day use I use the space for al the crap I have going on but its especially useful for me when I have 5 different ssh sessions open to various locations, or when working with photo/video/audio and I have a lot of things going on at once. Also while a MBP would probably be sufficient for what I hope to do I love the amount of overkill horsepower the mac pro offers... The fact that I could run XP in parallels and (I assume) give it the equivalent of a whole 2.66Gz dual core xeon CPU and 2 gigs of RAM, while the host OS (OSX) retains use of the same is just awesome. I really think the Mac Pro would be able to satisfy my needs for quite a while whereas the MBP is more reasonably suited ot my actual current needs and less likely to be meeting my needs in 2-3 years i think...
     
  17. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2005
    Location:
    UK
    #17
    My mistake, I thought the MBP could handle two "small" external displays in clamshell as it has "Dual Link DVI" to cope with the 30" Apple display though from the tech specs it seems I am wrong.
     
  18. slug420 thread starter macrumors regular

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    May 14, 2007
    #18
    heh, i only knew because i did one of those online chat things with someone from the apple.com store the other night.
     
  19. zero2dash macrumors 6502a

    zero2dash

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2006
    Location:
    Fenton, MO
    #19
    Take the stock 250 and buy a secondary 500 elsewhere; ie NewEgg. You'll save a lot of money over what Apple charges you. I'd recommend Seagate drives and add that you should avoid Maxtors like the plague. ;)
     
  20. bat0 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 14, 2007
    #20
    Just thought I add that Maxtor is actually now owned by Seagate. From my experience...all hard drives are the same as far as quality goes. You get a lemon every now and then.
     
  21. Eric5h5 macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2004
    #21
    Yep...there's nothing wrong with the Maxtor that came with my G5, nor the one I added a month or two later. No reason to avoid them.

    --Eric
     
  22. strydr macrumors 6502

    strydr

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2005
    Location:
    SoCal
    #22
    Save some $$ and buy the HDD's from someone else than Apple. Apply this same logic to RAM. Apple overprices these things like crazy.
     
  23. slug420 thread starter macrumors regular

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    May 14, 2007
    #23
    if I want to be able to play games such as battlefield2...whether in XP via bootcamp or similar games (I dont tihnk BF2 is available for osx) in OSX...which video card would I want to go with?
     
  24. plarusa macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2006
    #24
    NTFS drives are writable with a product called MacFuse.
     
  25. Eraserhead macrumors G4

    Eraserhead

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    Location:
    UK
    #25
    The issue is that because MS won't release how NTFS works, is that it could cause data corruption.
     

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