Advice on my setup?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Dark Void, Jul 13, 2011.

  1. Dark Void macrumors 68030

    Dark Void

    Jun 1, 2011

    I was hoping I could get some opinions on the options that I was considering for my setup, and any input would be appreciated. I am currently just using my 13'' MacBook Pro, and have a budget of a few hundred dollars (around $450, although I would like to go as low as possible) to work some versatility into my computing lifestyle. I game casually and basically just do Photoshop work and the like, and originally I was considering a gaming rig to have a desktop PC and my portable Mac. However, my desire for high-end gaming has sort of declined, and my Mac can handle all of my gaming needs, given that I dual-boot it. However, mainly what I am after is a backup computer if my Mac has problems, as it's not necessarily comforting to just have one computer. Here are my considerations.

    • $100-150 refurbished/off-lease system (Windows XP; comes with a disc, mouse, keyboard, and a 1yr warranty; I have a monitor and printer) for a backup and office work/printing computer. The specs will be about a 2.3 GHz dual-core, 1 GB DDR2, and a 7200 RPM drive on a system in this price range. I would then purchase a consumer copy of Windows 7 Home Premium for about $190 to dual-boot my Mac for my casual/moderate gaming.

    • $300-$450 new PC system (desktop or laptop) for the same usage as above (office work & backup computer) plus the light gaming, and forget about dual-booting the Mac. This option is basically using the money that goes towards the Windows 7 disc in the first option and putting it towards the cost of getting a new system with better specs than the refurb/off-lease. The more modern system should handle my moderate gaming, thus not requiring me to dual-boot. This option will most likely be a little more expensive than the first.

    I am really leaning towards the first option. Having a dual-booted Mac and an XP system with good specs for my usage seems like the better choice. The secondary desktop will be off most of the time if my Mac is handling the light gaming. It will mainly be there for when I need to type something up or if my Mac is having problems and I need to look for a solution. The peace of mind that comes with having another system that has it's own disc and peripherals is nice, plus if I go that route I'll have XP, Mac OS X, and Windows 7.


    What do you guys think is the best option to go along with my Mac? A capable refurbished/off-lease XP system and a Windows 7 disc for dual-booting, or a new, more modern Windows 7 desktop/laptop?
  2. palpatine macrumors 68040

    May 3, 2011
    you've obviously put a lot of thought into this, but i don't really get why you want a backup, and why you would want to deal with all of those operating systems. i'd just get an ipad and be done with it.
  3. Dark Void thread starter macrumors 68030

    Dark Void

    Jun 1, 2011
    Well, I only have one computer currently and it would be nice to have another in case something goes wrong with my Mac so I am not cut off from things like browsing, sending e-mails, document printing, and most importantly, diagnosing what could be wrong with my Mac. I realize there are other ways to find fixes to a computer and it doesn't have to be surfing the web for a solution, but I find that to be the easiest and most practical way.

    Whether this backup in in the fashion or an older used PC, a new modern PC, or other means is the purpose of this thread. I thank you for your suggestion of an iPad, but I really don't want a tablet. I mainly am looking for a desktop system, but would consider a PC laptop, although it would have to be a steal in order for me to go for it.
  4. sumone macrumors regular

    Mar 23, 2011
    Sometimes I swear people must be getting paid here to plug Apple products when ever someone asks for buying advice because instead of trying to actually address the posters questions they make suggestions like "get an iPad" or "buy a Macbook Air".

    To the OP:
    Honestly I'm not all that familiar with the concept of a "just in case computer" however if I were to throw out an opinion I would say that if you really just plan to use the computer just in the event something happens to your macbook and not as a "full time computer" than option one may be good and you can save some money. However, personally I might would go for option two because if you buy brand new you'll have some sort of manufacturers warranty available to you and in the event your macbook did break and you couldn't afford to fix/upgrade right away the newer PC should be able to handle those similar tasks with more ease than the older PC, imo.
  5. Dark Void thread starter macrumors 68030

    Dark Void

    Jun 1, 2011
    The refurb/off-lease I will be going for will have a 1yr limited warranty. I can get a dual core system with a mouse, keyboard, and operating system disc for around $150 shipped, or even less.

    It's primarily going to be a backup computer, but it will be used. I plan on using it for things that I don't use my Mac for, mainly office type work and things of that nature. It's not going to be off 100% of the time and only used if my Mac is down, but it's certainly not going to be on a lot. If I can pay $150 to have another computer, it sounds like a great option and gives me peace of mind at the same time. A new computer would give the same peace of mind, but if I went with that then I cannot dual-boot the Mac with my budget.

    Your suggestion is something I didn't think about - having a more modern system in case something does happen to my Mac that renders it unusable for a period of time. I mainly use Photoshop which I have for an OS X platform, and if it is dual-booted and has troubles eventually, then I can do without playing games for that period of time. A lesser system (in terms of specs) will be able to handle the things that I am concerned with during the possible downtime of the Mac (or "main computer") - internet, e-mails, etc.
  6. Dark Void thread starter macrumors 68030

    Dark Void

    Jun 1, 2011
  7. MusicEnthusiast macrumors 6502


    Jun 23, 2010
    Los Angeles
  8. talmy macrumors 601


    Oct 26, 2009
    For me, a backup computer has to run the same software. If I only needed a backup to check my mail and browse (maybe to make an Apple Genius Bar appointment!) a netbook or even an ipod Touch would do.

    So a Windows computer as fully functional backup for a Mac just doesn't do it for me. I've got two Macs (others listed in my sig are shared or used by my wife).
  9. Dark Void thread starter macrumors 68030

    Dark Void

    Jun 1, 2011
    That's fair enough and a good point, but I can live without Photoshop or video games if my Mac is having problems. I am much more concerned with keeping up with things on the internet or writing up a paper/printing something. It doesn't have to be the same operating system with stellar hardware or anything.

    @MusicEnthusiast: I have considered a NetBook, but they are kind of costly considering I can get a dual-core tower system for basically half of the price. A new netbook would have more longevity than a used tower but I just don't feel like the cost is worth it because it's for portability. I have a monitor and printer so all I need to purchase is a tower, and I can get a new tower for about the same price or even cheaper than a NetBook because with the NetBook I would be paying for things that I wouldn't need - a display, form factor, etc.

    Thanks for the suggestions/replies.
  10. Dark Void thread starter macrumors 68030

    Dark Void

    Jun 1, 2011
    Hi again,

    My budget now allows for a new system plus the Windows 7 installation disk for dual-booting, and I have come to sort of a half decision. I know that I want a Laptop or NetBook. Previously it seemed like a waste of money as I had most of the components for a desktop setup except for a tower, but after rethinking it I have had a change of heart. I wouldn't mind the form factor of a Laptop or NetBook (don't have too much room) plus I just have come to prefer them over desktops after purchasing my MacBook Pro. It was my first Laptop and I honestly prefer them over Desktops now, it's just easier for me and has much more appeal. With that in mind...

    I'm looking for a cheap windows laptop ($350 and under) and have come across quite a few deals. It seems that once again Best Buy has the best deals on Laptops in this price range, and NewEgg has some appealing NetBook deals as well.

    Honest opinions - is it stupid to buy a NetBook and have it sit on a desk most of the time? It certainly seems so to me, but a few of them seem to have good specs for the price for what I want to do, and while portability is most likely a NetBook's main selling point, it seems like it would get the job done for me a cheaper price, whether it's sitting on a desk or not.

    Just looking for a nice entry Laptop or NetBook for office type use for under $350. If anyone could give me any suggestions that would be great. If not, thanks for all of the other suggestions so far before this "update," it has helped me come to this semi-conclusion, and all that is left is finding a gem to fit the bill.

    Thanks everyone.
  11. chrismacguy macrumors 68000

    Feb 13, 2009
    United Kingdom
    Personally I would be more tempted to bargain hunt for a clean older Intel MacBook for $350 (Ive seen several go for less than that), and get that with the Windows 7 Disk - It will be more powerful than a NetBook and run Mac OS X Programs (Although not Games). Just for compatibility reasons (My personal Spare Laptop is a 2005 PowerBook for my MacBook Air just as I need OS X to get work done).

    But if your going to go for a PC netbook/laptop, I would make sure to get one thats Dual Core and has 2-4GB RAM, anything less will feel like a dreadful speed reduction coming from a MacBook Pro.
  12. Dark Void, Jul 16, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 16, 2011

    Dark Void thread starter macrumors 68030

    Dark Void

    Jun 1, 2011
    I've looked at older Mac Laptops and such and while they do look tempting I would rather just have a new unit.

    A lot of the PCs that I have been looking at are either dual core or decent clock speed single cores. I'm really considering an AMD Fusion model (1.6 GHz dual-core with HD 6310 APU) as there are a lot of those at my price range. I've also been eyeing that Hanspree NetBook on Newegg for $289.99 - it's got a 12.1'' display, a nice dual-core processor for a NetBook with 2GB of memory and Windows 7 Home Premium as opposed to Starter. Seems like a great value but it has sort of mixed reviews, although in the positive direction. I would want to get an external optical drive with it though so that would bring the price over some AMD Fusion/Pentium models, but still under quite a few.

    If anyone has any suggestions for a solid budget PC Laptop/NetBook (less than $350), I would appreciate it. It seems like I have the right idea looking at Best Buy (as ridiculous as that statement is) as well as that deal on Newegg.

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