Any suggestion for a poor design student to get a Mac?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by GENTOSHA, Oct 17, 2011.

  1. GENTOSHA macrumors newbie

    Oct 17, 2011
    Any suggestion for a poor design student to get a Mac?
    I just paid the tuition which costs 95% my savings...
    I need to buy my own first mac and yet computer to do my works,
    I browsed around but I didn't get any Macbook I want....Most of them are in "parts not working" category...

    refurbished ones on apple are still expensive to me, so, can you help me sort out this? thx.

    PS: I can only pay 400 for this...based on my situation.
  2. kbfr08 macrumors 6502

    Mar 16, 2007
    The white polycarbonate 13" macbooks will cost you $ 200-$350 at the most ($200 being a core duo 2006, and $350 being a more recent core 2 duo). The newest white unibody 13" should cost you $500-$560 depending on condition and warranty.

    That's pretty much all that's in your price range, unless you know how to fix a mac ;)
  3. GENTOSHA thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 17, 2011
    no, i am not a tech guy, i dont know how to fix mac...I want core 2 duo because I need to do some 3d works...
  4. DeadPixel217 macrumors member

    Jul 22, 2011
    Have you considered a hackint0sh? You could get a pretty high spec pc for that price. Likely an i5 or i7. You'd obviously lose the build quality and apple care but you'd have OS X :)
  5. AcesHigh87 macrumors 6502a


    Jan 11, 2009
    New Brunswick, Canada
    A hackintosh is probably your best bet but without some knowledge of computer building it could be tricky.

    Frankly, if you're aiming for heavy 3D work you need either a new macbook pro or iMac, at least to do it well. I have an early 2008 macbook white that can do it but not well. I hate to seem pessimistic but for $400 I doubt you can get a mac that can effectively run 3D rendering programs.
  6. ctyhntr macrumors 6502


    Jul 21, 2010
    If you can't afford a new MacBook Pro, then look at $600 mac mini. It has Dual Code i5, and specs that blow the water off any macbook pro older than 2 years. There are plenty of cheap $99 monitors, $20 keyboard/mice combos around.

    If you're comfortable with building a PC from parts and installing an OS from scratch, then the hackintosh route is viable solution. Last year I needed an second mac, but couldn't afford more than $400. I googled, and followed online guides to building a hackintosh from a Dell Mini 10v netbook. Its a lightweight mac, but was sufficient for XCode.
  7. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    Sounds like the best solution is a PC. I'm not aiming to troll so let me explain.

    1. $400 will get you a very, very old MacBook. Like suggested above, you might be able to get an old C2D MacBook. The problem with that one is that it is no longer under warranty. You spend $400 on something now but what would you do if it failed after a few months? That's lost $400. You need to buy a new computer since fixing would likely cost more.

    2. Hackintosh may sound appealing but it has its cons. Especially with a laptop, you must be extremely careful. With a desktop, you can choose every component, so making sure it's compatible is easier. With a laptop, you cannot, meaning that there are fewer models which work, and they may be more expensive too.

    Other than that, there are possible stability issues too. What if something screws up the night before your paper is due? There is no official support. A Hack is a nice thing to play with but IMO it's way too risky to be used as a sole computer, especially if you are not very familiar with computers.

    A new PC will get you full warranty, at least 1 year.
  8. Kissaragi macrumors 68020

    Nov 16, 2006
    Id go for a pc too unless theres some important reason why you had to have a mac.
  9. TyrellDirt macrumors newbie

    Oct 1, 2011
    I used to be in your shoes...trying to get into pro 3d (difficult), with a mac (more difficult), and all on a students budget (OMFG type of hard).
    I will give you some hard learned lessons.

    1) Memory and Vid card are more important than processor.
    The processor only controls the render speed. A used computer with a C2D (Core 2 Duo) will be slow, but it's OK to learn on.
    Unless you have AT LEAST 4gb of RAM, the screen will bog down/freeze when you are working with too many characters.
    8GB seems to be a good zone. It's also the max that any mac in your price range can accept (unless you have an unlimited budget). 8gb of memory goes for about $60 these days. But hurry, last year they were $120.
    Unfortunately even a used mac mini goes for $400 these days.
    Last winter I sold my 2 yr old C2D mini for $400 on criaigslist.
    Judging by the 12 e-mails I got within 30 minutes, I guess that even $400 was on the cheap side.

    2) The new (base) mac mini isn't good enough. I would have said that the $599 base mac mini would be OK, since I have used earlier C2D mac minis' and C2D MBPs' with C4D (and 8gb of RAM...hint hint). But now I see that the new integrated graphics is actually much SLOWER than the old integrated board. So I cannot, hand on heart, recommend the new (base) mini for anything other than learning on. Especially not if getting to that price point is going to be a sacrifice. If you can get together (read: beg parents) $799 for the upgraded mini with the Radeon graphics chip (plus $60 for more RAM + sales tax), then you will be good.

    3) Otherwise, it'll have to be a hackintosh. For $500 you should be able to build yourself a decent little system.
    But note that it will basically be the same as the $799 mini...but bigger and louder. MUCH louder. Macs are basically silent, towers are NOT.
    But you can overclock it. :)
    You might get a 3.5 on the cinebench CPU test.:rolleyes: (A standard 12 core MacPro tower will get a score of 15-16 straight out the box.) has parts lists with prices and links. They also have vids with step by step instructions on how to put it all together.
    It's actually not that bad, it's kinda fun planning your perfect system to maximize your budget.
    I would suggest that you take a few weeks looking at youtube vids of custom computer builds and hackintosh tuts. Go to tigerdirect and look at all the cheap prices for computer parts and start dreaming/scheaming.
    But might be lured into thinking that " maybe Windows isn't so bad after all" maybe they "finally got it right with Windows 7".
    Don't believe their lies.

    4) The biggest problem is figuring out your program pipeline.
    Cinema 4D is the best 3D program which has always been loyal to mac users. Any update that they make goes to macs first.
    Maya 2011 has just started porting their program for macs a few years ago, but a lot of the third party plugins still don't work for mac users.
    But Maya is the Gorilla in the room, it will always be an asset to learn it. Plus Mudbox is seamlessly integrated with it.
    Modo is a great modeller, but so is Silo, and Silo is cheap.
    If your really poor :) I'd say buy Cheetah3D and start from there. The interface is a LOT like a baby C4D, so what you learn with Cheetah can be used when you move up to the big boys.
  10. velocityg4 macrumors 601


    Dec 19, 2004
    Besides buying and using an old Macbook. You could also save up for a new model. Your college should have computer labs in the design department with all the software needed to do your course work.

    Also a used Macbook should be powerful enough. It's not like in your first two years you're going to be doing intensive work requiring a Mac Pro, RAID array and a Radeon 5870. My buddy got a degree in cinematography at San Francisco State two or three years ago with an original PowerMac G5.

    Also you need to keep in mind that you are going to need to be buying software, Wacom tablet and other accessories. So I would use the labs first just to get an idea of all the other expenses. Another benefit of using the lab is that you can sit down and work without the distractions of home or dorm.

    When I went to college I scheduled my classes for the morning and evening. That way I had a four to eight hour break to be in the labs or library and get all my work done plus study thoroughly. I also had time to walk around campus for exercise and read books and attend group tutoring sessions for German. Yet have three or four days a week to goof off and know I'd ace my courses.
  11. Young Spade macrumors 68020

    Mar 31, 2011
    Tallahassee, Florida
    I don't think you fully understand what is going to be required of you, based on your classes.

    What programs do you have to use?

    Are they Mac only? If not, then you aren't going to get anything worth owning, to be honest, with 400 dollars.
  12. GENTOSHA thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 17, 2011
    Thanks TyrellDirt, I once thought about Mini Mac, now I will cross it.


    I am learning animation, 3D program is definitely a must have. We have Macs in our classroom but it's crowded and noisy all day, 24/7. I want to do works on my own, I am sick of sharing and fighting for another hour on the public Mac...

    I always lost my bids on ebay. Currently I am living in Asia, I gotta wake up and pay 100 percent attention on ebay bids at midnight. But it is definitely clear that those American bidders are very smart and richer than me...I have lost 4 bids in my watching list...Is 400 too low for a used C2D Macbook? Not PRO.
  13. Samw1se macrumors newbie

    Sep 24, 2011
    Sheffield, UK
    2006 Dual Core Mac Pro? or Powermac G5?

    Will use a lot of power but may be suitable if you don't need portability, and hasn't been mentioned yet...
  14. chrismacguy macrumors 68000

    Feb 13, 2009
    United Kingdom
    A G5 would be the worst option possible. Hardly any modern 3D Software is supported on the G5s anymore, and this situation is just going to get worse. A 2006 Mac Pro might be the answer if the OP is prepared to trawl eBay for a long time to try and find one thats been mis-advertised and will thus sell for less. (Depending on the market, its possible for them to still cost a fortune - even the Single CPU Dual Core Models. And the RAM for those is also ridiculously expensive.)
  15. Samw1se macrumors newbie

    Sep 24, 2011
    Sheffield, UK
    As for 2006 Mac Pros, I've seen Quads go around the £300-400 mark in the UK, and AFAIK used Macs are cheaper in the US.
  16. weckart macrumors 601

    Nov 7, 2004
    If it is in poor condition, maybe not, but it will almost certainly have a GMA950 or an X3100 at best. You don't want either for modelling.

    As for eBay, use an online sniper service. There are a few that are free. Just put your absolute maximum in and let the sniper deal with it. If you are outbid, then there is nothing you can do about it. At least it stops you getting carried away and paying too much.

    US $400 or the equivalent, even in Asia, will not get you far with Apple. Save up another $200-300 or stick with a PC.
  17. chrismacguy macrumors 68000

    Feb 13, 2009
    United Kingdom
    The bigger issue is that the RAM for the early Mac Pros costs a small fortune, and 3D work ideally, needs a lot.
  18. Young Spade macrumors 68020

    Mar 31, 2011
    Tallahassee, Florida
    Honestly I think he should just get a PC and be done with it. With Apple hardware, you're going to be paying a lot for something that's underspeccd when compared to a windows machine.

    In your case where you don't have the money, it would be foolish to get an old MacBook when you could get a legitimate PC that could actually do what you want for the same price.

    You won't be able to do any work on the GMX3000 (or whatever the number was); I had an old black book with it and doing simple touch ups in Aperature was terrible.

    Terrible. Now imagine 3D or video work. You'll hate it.
  19. shyam09 macrumors 68020


    Oct 31, 2010

    i agree 100%. why would you even think about wasting your money for an underspeced mac? Sure macs are awesome, but if you can't afford it,you're outta luck.
    Your primary purpose is to find a suitable computer with all the right specs that will give you the best performance for your buck.
    You can very well get a mac 2-4 years old, but you may not be 100% satisfied.

    There will be a huge number of deals in the upcoming two-three months.
    we have thanksgiving, black friday, cyber monday, christmas, new years... and i know you are in Asia, thus i suggest you take advantage of online sellers... like look for PC sites in Asia [idk how that makes sense, but you know what i am saying]

    You can get a new model for about 400 bucks [PC] but the specs will be a "meh" with a celeron processor or pentium... so be on the lookout

    now just curious, but do you have a relative in USA? If yeah, then ask them to be on the lookout nad request them if they could go and buy it and sent it over to you or something. What i mean is, if the site you find a amazing deal is HP and they have an "asia" site [they should i believe] then you could sent it over to the person you know AND TRUST!! and they could send it over to you :)
    It's just an alternative though..

    Good Luck on your Computer Hunting, I hope you find the best PC or Mac.
  20. Paulywauly macrumors 6502a


    Sep 26, 2009
    Durham, UK
    We all love our Macs here, it is an Apple forum after all, but realistically the only Macs you're going to be able to afford on that budget are old second hand jobbies, most likely out of warranty or with unsupported architecture.

    I agree completely with others that a Windows machine may be the better option for you while at college on a budget.

    Good luck!
  21. BobbyCat macrumors regular


    Jul 22, 2002
    I think you should forget about getting a decent 3D-Mac for 400$.
    As Hellhammer mentioned, the Hackintosh way is extremely risky if you're not an expert.
    And with a second hand machine, you never know. If it drops you after 3 weeks, what do you do then? Or even worst, you may start having to fix it by buying parts and components. In the end, it can be painful and more expensive than buying a new one.

    A Mini, refurb or new, will most probably get you frustrated. And compared to an iMac, it's still an expensive machine.

    And if mobility's not your main concern, I'd say your best bet is to get an iMac of the current or previous generation. It will make you happy for years, and you'll be able to sell it in 3-4 years, in order to buy a newer model.

    So, beg, steal, borrow, save harder, but get the cash needed for a new iMac (or refurb). Your money will be safe for at least one year, and most likely for many years to come.
  22. GENTOSHA thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 17, 2011
    You mean physical stores?


    I already gave up ebay hunting...
  23. mwhities macrumors 6502a

    Jul 13, 2011
    If 400.00 is all you have in your budget, I too would have to suggest that you get a parts list together for a Hackintosh, if you REQUIRE a Mac OS. Even if you could find a deal on a decent Macbook(pro/*) at 400.00; it's NOT going to have AC. If ANYTHING was to break on it, you couldn't afford to get it fixed. At least with buying the parts, it will all have a year or more warrant on them.

    Good luck.

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