Besides computers, what will I need with a desktop and laptop?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by 3pointers, Apr 20, 2008.

  1. 3pointers macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2008
    I'm making a total switch from Windows PCs/laptops to Mac.

    I'll be purchasing either the Mac Book or Mac Book Pro soon and waiting to see what they do with the iMacs before purchasing one of those.

    So what other items will I need - Time Capsule? Airport Base? Keep my old wireless router?

    Anything else I might need to get?

    Also, would it be better to go with a faster CPU or faster hard drive as I don't think I can afford the higher priced ones?

  2. digitalnicotine macrumors 65816


    Jan 11, 2008
    First off, congrats on switching. :) What sort of things do you plan on using your Mac laptop for? Which Windows programs were you heavily reliant upon? What's your budget? Which router do you have presently? Are you a surf and emailer? Do you plan on doing heavy photo editing with raw files? Do you intend to use your chosen Mac laptop for gaming? If so, are they graphics intensive games? Are you a student eligible for an educational discount? Do you live near an Apple Store, or do you plan to purchase online? Are you planning to use the laptop on the go?

    Need to know these things before giving you decent advice. :)
  3. 3pointers thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2008
    On the laptop, I'll be using mainly Photoshop CS3 for digital scrapping and design.

    Other than that, no real major applications; just usual surfing and iTunes. I'm leaning toward the Mac Book Pro 15" (haven't decided whether I'll go 2.4 or 2.5 yet) and I'll get more memory from 3rd party.

    For the desktop, it's just used for surfing mainly, so I don't need anything special.

    I currently have a Linksys wireless router that's probably close to 5 years old.

    Not eligible for educational discount :(. I do live near an Apple store, but was thinking maybe of going refurbished to save a few dollars.

    Amazon won't save me tax money, as I live in Washington.

    I do need a back-up storage system, which is why I was wondering if Time Capsule would be good, but it looks like people area having problems with it?

    I'm not that computer savvy to understand about some of this stuff, which is why I'm asking what extra things I might need. So I don't know if I need both Airport Extreme and Time Capsule or just one.

    Budget is negotiable, but I'd like not to spend a ton if I can help it.
  4. digitalnicotine macrumors 65816


    Jan 11, 2008
    Thanks for answering my questions. The MBP will do everything you want, and then some. The difference between 2.4 and 2.5 isn't noticeable, unless they are different chips (processors). If one is the latest version Penryn chip, I'd get that over the Santa Rosa chip (previous model), as it runs cooler, and has longer battery life.

    Since you're interested in a refurb, it would be wise to wait until the next MBP refresh, so that you can get the current Penryn model for lower prices, and higher availability due to those who upgrade with every refresh, or purchase shortly before the refresh, and exchange for the newer version. If the multitouch trackpad is something you want, then I wouldn't go older than the current version MBP, as it's the first to have this option.

    However, if waiting (June?) isn't an option, virtually every MBP released so far will suit your needs. :) Meaning, you could purchase used if you find an older model, and a trusted seller. My thoughts on that though, are that you may want to get Apple Care, which can be purchased anytime within the first year, extends your year long warranty to 3 years (from purchase date), and is worth every penny, imo. Used models may not have any warranty, or less than the 3 years, so go with how long you plan on using the system.

    As far as backing up/router situation, you could go with the Time Capsule, which is both a router and a hard drive for backing up. You won't need both Airport Express/Extreme AND Time Capsule. Either or is fine, but I haven't tested Time Capsule, as I already had the Airport Extreme, and prefer to be able to swap out more than one external hard drive on my network, depending on usage. Or you could opt to get any of the following:

    Airport express: Allows you to wirelessly stream your iTunes to your stereo or a compatible speaker setup in another room. The range is not as good as some routers, and has other limitations, such as no option to attach an external hard drive to your network. It allows for wireless printing with a compatible printer, but be sure to check compatibility before purchasing if you need this feature. It can also be used to extend the range of your network, using it in addition to the Airport Extreme. Click here for more info.

    Airport Extreme: This option allows for a larger range, up to 50 people/devices can connect, it has wireless printing, as well as the option to attach an external hard drive to your network (using USB port on router). This external hard drive can be used with Time Machine now. I use the Airport Extreme, and am very pleased with it. I also have a MBP, and it's very rare that I have any issues with drop outs. I'd say once every few months at the most. It also works perfectly with my PC laptop, PSP, Wii, PS3, Touch, Tivo, and :apple:TV. The only thing I haven't managed to get working with it is my Nintendo DS, and I never contacted Nintendo's tech support (as advised) over it, so I'm sure it would work if I could be bothered. ;) More info.

    Both the Airport Express and the Airport Extreme are 802.11n, which means they will last a while, should you purchase them. As far as other routers, I went through a Belkin, Linksys, and Buffalo before getting the Extreme, and all 3 had issues with drop outs, hence my upgrading. The Airport Extreme was also a lot easier to set up than the other brands (for me), as I'm not network savvy by any stretch. It was nice to just follow simple instructions, and have it work on the first try. :)

    If you decide against the Time Capsule for backing up, here are some external hard drive recommendations.

    G-tech mini (3 year warranty)

    WD MyBook Studio (5 year warranty)

    Either offers various storage sizes, and allow for various hookups. With the MBP, you'll have Firewire 800, which is speedy for streaming video, etc. The MyBook has eSata, which is just speedy, period. You could purchase an expresscard for your MBP in order to have SATA ports, to utilize the drive in this way, if you wanted. Both work with Time Machine/Airport, via USB 2.0. Both also look good with the MBP/iMac. For your uses, the MyBook seems more suitable.

    Both the MBP and iMac will run Photoshop nicely. Since you don't plan on doing heavy print work/color accurate work, you might go with the 20" iMac, which has a screen that isn't as nice as the 24" (remembering you said you're not tech savvy). One way you can notice this, is the viewing angle. On the 20" model, you will need to stay pretty much directly in front of the iMac to get the best view. On the 24", you'll be able to view from a larger angle above, below, and to the sides. If you move around a lot like me, it will matter. :)

    The 24" iMac also has higher specs, so depending on how long you plan to use it, you may or may not opt for the higher spec'd model. Naturally, you should wait for the refresh, and compare the current and newer model before purchasing. The only change I'm pretty sure of is that the newer release will have the Penryn chip, and it runs cooler. The speed difference is likely to be minimal. But since heat reduces the life of electronics, I think that alone is a reason to wait.

    The 20" iMac's might get better screens with the refresh as well, but I'm not holding my breath on this. I have no idea what all they may do to improve the iMac line, though.

    As far as other items to consider, if you plan on taking your MBP out a lot, it would be good to invest in a case, or at least a sleeve. There are several threads on this, so you can do a search and see what others are recommending. I use the Brenthaven backpack for my MBP.

    Also, do yourself a favor, and get a keyboard protector for your MBP. Spills are common enough to make it worth the $20 or so, and your warranty won't cover accidental damage. It's a wise preventative measure, considering the cost. I use one, and it only took a few days to get used to it. They're washable with soap and warm water, so they last awhile as well. There are also wrist rest protectors out there, to prevent the oils in your hands from messing up the finish. The MBP cleans up pretty well, but if you plan on selling once you're done using it, it might be a good idea.

    Most programs have a Mac equivalent, but if you have a Windows program that doesn't, and you absolutely need to use it, you can use bootcamp or a 3rd party program such as VM ware Fusion to install a Windows partition on your hard drive. You'll need a copy/license for Windows XP or Vista for this as well. There's a thread about this here, including a guide on how to do this at the top.

    If you have any other questions, or if I missed something, feel free to ask. You're investing a lot of money into this, and this site is a great place to find out everything you need to know in advance, so your transition can be as smooth as possible. :)
  5. Thorbjorn macrumors regular

    Jan 14, 2008
    Personally, I'm loving Time Capsule. I've had it only a few weeks, but it's already saved my butt with Time Machine. I've used Macs for years (decades?) but I'm not a techie. This feels like nice and easy wireless integration with my iMac and iBook, and it has a range that's decent enough for me (although I read that others find it limited). Enjoy your new set-up!
  6. 3pointers thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2008
    Thank you very much for the detailed reply.

    I'm so looking forward to the switch, and I just realized I do have one program (darn it) that I absolutely need Windows for as they don't make it Mac compatible. It's machine embroidery software. So I'll need to put Windows on as well.

    You've given me a lot to mull over but I'm definitely switching this week. Stupid desktop started taking 5 minutes to open or close a program starting yesterday. But it's 4 years old, so I'm not going to worry about it. Husband won't like waiting until the refresh, but he can use this dying laptop until then! Or I'll go get my old blue iMac G3 hooked up for surfing until the refresh.:D

    Thank you again,


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