Am I overbuying?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by lisharts, Aug 6, 2010.

  1. lisharts macrumors member

    Aug 3, 2010
    I'm struggling to decide what computer is going to best suit my needs. Could I ask some advice as to what people here would buy in my situation?

    I currently have a mid 2006 mac pro (basic). It's graphics card is on it's last legs, there's something wrong with the sound and I think perhaps I fancy a new computer too (don't we all!). I have around £2000 to spend comfortably but could stretch to £2500 if something jumped out at me.

    It's primarily a work machine. I use photoshop, indesign, illustrator and flash. I would also like to pick up a copy of final cut express as I have small video projects handed to me now and again. Sometime in the future I'd like to pick up After Effects too, but that's down the road as I can't afford that and a computer. But it needs to be a consideration.

    On the evenings I do some gaming (or did until my graphics card started playing up). Mainly World of Warcraft, TF2 and I'm looking at possibly SC2 once I have a new machine. I'd like these to run well, particuarly Warcraft as I play that the most.

    I bought the mac pro on a splurge last time, without much research. I'm not the kind of person to upgrade it or add to it, and I've long thought that perhaps I bought more than I needed. The problems I've had with it I haven't been able to fix myself as my understanding of the inner workings of it are limited. I stupidly didn't pick up apple care (I know better now). So in summary, I love my mac pro, it's beautiful and it used to be fast but I see it struggle more now, time for an upgrade.

    So I've been looking at the imacs. My plan was to pick up the i7, 8GB ram and I'm toying with the idea of a SSD (although it seems very expensive). Am I overbuying for my needs? Would I be just as well with the 21.5 i5 model?

    Or on the other hand should I buy the new mac pro? As I have a monitor already, and aside from a few hiccups (which would have been fixed had I bought apple care) it's been a fantastic machine. There's also a little bit of me that likes to have the best I can afford. I don't want to buy something that feels behind the times on the day I get it home (crazy but hey).

    Can I ask if you guys were in my situation with that budget what would you do?
  2. blinkin182 macrumors regular


    May 3, 2010
    Most people buy a Mac Pro because it is quite easy to upgrade and is a powerful machine. However, judging from what you say, you're not too interested in upgrading the innards yourself. The new iMacs are also quite powerful so it may be sufficient for your needs.

    You could also still use your screen with the iMac by buying one of the different adapter that Apple sells (MiniDisplay port to VGA or DVI or whatever you use with your monitor). In that way, you'd have a dual monitor setup which is very agreeable!

    As for SSD, I'm not sure it's worth the money. From what I heard it does speed up things but folks on Macrumors are saying that the SSD sold by Apple is not very fast compared to other models.
  3. Thermonuclear macrumors 6502

    May 23, 2009
    Consider fixing your 2006 Mac Pro.

    There are several video cards available, and although not all claim compatibility with the 2006 Mac Pro (BTW, I have one), most are and the exact data can be found with a little searching.

    I haven't heard of the sound on a Mac Pro going bad. Perhaps this is a software issue? Have you tried a fresh OS/X install?

    A while back I had some annoying slowness creep in on occasion with my Mac Pro, particularly at boot time. It turned out that the boot drive, then several years old, was going sour. Replacing the drive made everything run much better.
  4. lisharts thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 3, 2010
    I think down the road I might look at fixing it, but for now I really want something newer. The sound could be software, I'd never considered it. Basically one day playing through speakers the sounds just dropped, then dropped again until it was gone. It still comes out of the internal speakers and headphone jack but it won't come through speakers.

    The graphics card I took it to be fixed for (because I wouldn't know the first thing about doing that myself). He ordered a newer card in which he read was compatable but it wouldn't work for whatever reason. In the end he put an old one in but it was used and it's in pretty bad shape. Other shops I've been too won't touch it as they say they can't order new cards for it. :(

    So with that I can just see that fixing it will be expensive. It's not like it's a year old either so I think I'll just pick up something new. I might come back to this but right now I'd like something more zippy for work.

    Would you agree with the idea of me buying the i7 imac or am I buying more than I need considering the work I do? I do wish I understood more about computers, as I'm sure more expensive doesn't always mean better.
  5. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    The high end iMac is just as fast if not faster then the base Mac Pro model. What you get with the MacPro, is drive bays and the ability to change the GPU.

    Personally, I think the iMac is a better choice at this stage.
  6. AlexisV macrumors 68000


    Mar 12, 2007
    Manchester, UK
    The i5 version would suffice in my opinion. You probably wouldn't notice much of a difference with the i7.

    It's really Final Cut that would work a bit better with the i7, but I think it would only be worth the extra if you were working mostly in that program.
  7. Thermonuclear macrumors 6502

    May 23, 2009
    The Radeon 4870 works in the 2006 Mac Pro according to several users.


    And I believe that there are less expensive although less capable replacements.

    If the headphone output and the internal speaker output work, then most likely there's a software or configuration problem. Maybe even a dirty contact or a bad cable on the Line Out connector.
  8. TheBritishBloke macrumors 68030


    Jul 21, 2009
    United Kingdom
    Future proof yourself and get the i7 iMac, even if you're not gonna push it to the limit now. I wouldn't get an SSD if it's really gonna push your budget.

    Then just fix up your mac pro down the line and use it as a storage server or secondary machine etc.
  9. Spike88 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 25, 2010
    I agree. Since OP is a power user / gammer, I'd go for the i7 now. Yes. Might be slight over power for this year's programs (games) but in 2+ years, it will be good size. For me, I try to buy for my usage in 3-4 years (not for today's current usage). Thus, perfect fit specs in the future (compared to its expected 5-6-7 year life span).

    For physicial size (re: 21.5 or 27"), do consider existing desk size and what feels best on your eyes. Perhaps you might want to visit your local Future Shop / Best Buy stor, "pull up a chair" and try each for a while. If 27" is ok on your eyes (re: menus and iis cons aren't too small), then "go for it". At this point in time, the 21.5" doesn't offer the i7. Going down to lower specs i5 might make your future games suffer....

    Hope this helps as well...
  10. lisharts thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 3, 2010
    Thanks for all the input.

    It's a shame they don't do a 24" i7, that would be the perfect imac for me. :)

    Sadly we don't have Best Buy here (I stand corrected actually as someone posted the other day that Best Buy is now in the UK, although disappointingly nowhere close to me). I have however been and seen the 27" in other stores. I actually think it's too big, but I'm not sure I want to downgrade the entire machine just to get the smaller screen size. I'll actually gain some desk space as I will be saying goodbye to the massive tower I currently have but I think I'll have to position myself slightly further away. But on the other hand I can imagine how much fun it is doing some illustration with my wacom tablet on that kind of screen. So I guess it's just swings and roundabouts.

    Someone mentioned using my old monitor for a duel-screen setup. Might seem like a silly question (so apologies now :)) but does running a duel screen setup put more strain on the machine? I don't want to shorten it's life but I do like the idea of 2 screens. ;)

    Thanks for the advice with the old pro, I'll take a look at those graphic cards, would be nice to inject some life back into it.
  11. 27inchimacomfg macrumors newbie

    Aug 8, 2010
    27", i7 2.93 ghz, 8gb (4x2gb) = £1,968.99

    To me, problem solved. If I were doing the kind of work you describe with that budget, that's what I'd get. And with £500 to spare in your 'extra' budget.
  12. lisharts thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 3, 2010
    Thanks. I think it's what I've settled on. It just seems like the best fit. I'm thinking the money I have left over I might start putting into savings for a macbook pro.

    Does anyone know if getting the 2tb drive will reduce my risk of getting a noisy one? I just don't think I can justify the expense for the SSD right now.
  13. AlexisV macrumors 68000


    Mar 12, 2007
    Manchester, UK
    None of the hard drives should be noisy if they are healthy.
  14. 314631 macrumors 6502a

    May 12, 2009
    iDeaded myself
    The drives are silent in all our iMacs. We have both 21.5" and 27" mostly with 1tb drives. The fan is the only thing that makes all the noise when you start doing CPU intensive stuff.

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