Best Mac to buy..

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by parrafin, Aug 23, 2012.

  1. parrafin macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2012
    #1
    Sorry about creating another thread about this sorta thing.

    I want to purchase a new Mac for use on the following programs:
    -Photoshop CS5.5/6
    -InDesign
    -Illustrator
    -After effects
    -Final Cut
    -Corel Paint, other graphic / video programs etc..

    I am in college (UK) or high school (US) and I would like the machine to either last the course of college AND university (4-6 Yrs) or just college (<2 Yrs) but the primary machine be considerably cheaper, but still adequate, and some of the remaining money be spent on external peripherals such as better displays or FW scratch disk or extra RAM and a decent capacity SSD possibly.

    I do like to game but have a PS3 so isn't a deal breaker. May also buy a cheapish custom Gaming-PC at some point..

    I would love to hear peoples suggestions as I'm sure there are better ones than mine.

    My budget is around <£1400 but would preferably like to pay as little as possible.

    1. MacBook Pro 15" 2.3GHz i7 Quad Ivy Bridge 4GB RAM 500GB 5400RPM nVidia GT 650M 512MB Hi-Res Antiglare - £1357
    or
    Macbook Pro 15" 2.3 i7 Quad Sandy Bridge 4GB RAM 500GB 5400RPM HDD AMD 6750 1GB Hi-Res Antiglare - £1389

    2. MacBook Pro 13" 2.5 i5 Dual Ivy 4GB RAM 500GB 5400RPM HDD Intel HD 4000 384MB - £859

    3. iMac 21.5" 2.5 i5 Quad Sandy Bridge 4GB RAM 500GB 7200RPM HDD AMD Radeon 6750 512MB - £879
    or
    iMac 27" 2.7GHz i5 Quad Sandy Bridge 4GB RAM 500GB HDD Radeon 6770 512MB - £1231

    4. Gaming PC Watercooled i7 4.3Ghz Quad, 8GB RAM, 64GB SSD + 1TB 7200RPM, 2x SLi nVidia GTX 570 1GB Superclocked - £1200

    5. Used Mac Pro. - Unknown

    I am upgrading from a Late '05 G5 so obviously anything more modern will easily out perform, however i have the 512MB 7800GTX which I guess speeds up rendering and editing so i don't know if I'd notice a slow down between HD 3/4000 under load? -So preferably something greater in graphical performance.

    I will consider any solution including buying used or whatever. I would prefer a notebook but not if it's going to sacrifice cost/performance.

    Thanks in advance! Please question anything I have written or if i have missed any personal details out.
     
  2. charlieegan3 macrumors 68020

    charlieegan3

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2012
    Location:
    U.K
    #2
    Most college students like laptops, but no apparent preferences there?

    I recommend a 15" minimum screen size.

    While a PC might do everything you need chances are it won't be fairly judged as this a a mac forum, just bear that in mind.

    I would say the PC/MAC decision should be the next one to make.
     
  3. talmy macrumors 601

    talmy

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2009
    Location:
    Oregon
    #3
    For what you want to run, the best choice is either the 15" MBP with high res antiglare display or the 27" iMac. If you can give up portability the iMac will be the easiest to use because of its massive display. But usually in school you would really want to have portability. You'll want the 15" over the 13" to get the quad core and GPU (very useful for Final Cut and potentially for Adobe if/when they make use if it). I don't game so can't offer any opinion about the gaming system instead of a Mac. At work I've use HP, Dell, and Sun workstations for the past couple of decades.
     
  4. parrafin thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2012
    #4
    Yes, a Laptop is preferred as it would make things easier, but I would still happily cope with a desktop if it was more powerful at the same or less cost.

    I prefer Macs and the software i use runs better on them, and as I'm still using a 2005 Mac i believe they have better build quality, so I'd prefer a Mac. The reason for the Gaming PC was more of a price point.

    I was more inclined towards the 15", would one easily last numerous years and still be fast enough?

    Cheers

    ----------

    Hi, would a 13" MBP + 30" ACD or 27" Thunderbolt display work as well?

    And would you go with the 1GB Radeon 6750 or GT 650M 512MB? The Radeon has more VRAM but the 650 is a faster card?

    Cheers ahead.
     
  5. talmy macrumors 601

    talmy

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2009
    Location:
    Oregon
    #5
    I considered a "docked" 15" MBP adding keyboard, mouse, and 27" thunderbolt display, but it turns out that the cost is almost identical to a 27" iMac plus a 13" MBP or MBA for portability. It just doesn't seem cost effective.

    With your proposed 13" MBP + large display you get a major performance hit as you are limited to a lower power processor and Intel graphics.

    I haven't seen any benchmarks about the different cards, but in general the larger memory becomes important for 3D rendering, so I'd go for more speed for the mix of apps you are talking about.
     
  6. parrafin thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2012
    #6
    I already have a Apple Keyboard, Mighty mouse and a Acer 22" 1080p monitor I was using with my old Mac so I guess I could just use those and upgrade the monitor at a later date?

    I also read that having more VRAM would improve FPS or real time rendering speeds on a larger monitor / resolution, would buying the 650M 512MB be a bottleneck if I were to upgrade to a 27/30" monitor?

    Cheers.
     
  7. talmy macrumors 601

    talmy

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2009
    Location:
    Oregon
    #7
    Usually when people talk about FPS and realtime rendering they are talking about games. I can't address gaming. It would also come up in 3D rendering which can come up in video effects, animation, and solids modeling. But keep in mind that the 27" display only requires 1.3 MB of RAM to buffer and 512 MB gives you about 400 frames.
     
  8. parrafin thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2012
    #8
    Thanks for the info! Seems the 2012 MBP should be fine. Do you think it would last a reasonable length of time?
     
  9. Bauer24, Aug 24, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2012

    Bauer24 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 18, 2009
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #9
    Option 1a by far. This:MacBook Pro 15" 2.3GHz i7 Quad Ivy Bridge 4GB RAM 500GB 5400RPM nVidia GT 650M 512MB Hi-Res Antiglare - £1357

    The GT 650M totally screams and is better than the 6750. With gaming there is no contest, the GT 650M will outperform even with lower video memory. Also, it will perform at least twice as fast, maybe even just under three times as fast as your current 7800 GTX.

    For your programs, you'll also see a massive increase in performance, but remember to install nVidia CUDA drivers/extensions for whatever software you run that supports it. You will get a massive performance boost over and above what the quad core i7 would be capable of doing. Check out CUDA and how it could possibly help your work here: http://www.nvidia.com/object/cuda_home_new.html

    Should last 4-5 years.
     
  10. talmy macrumors 601

    talmy

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2009
    Location:
    Oregon
    #10
    Every Mac I've purchased (first one in 2004) is still running somewhere except for one that I sold to a stranger. However at some point you will probably be blocked from upgrading if history is any indicator.
     
  11. parrafin thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2012
    #11
    Yep, I've had an eMac and a G5 tower which have both been fine, but technology seems to evolve so much faster nowadays and become obsolete much sooner also.

    Do you think, apart from the 13 Retina model, that there will be anything that will be sold alongside the retinas but in place of the cMBP models? As in, is it worth waiting/buying a used cheaper model in the meantime?

    Cheers.

    ----------

    Thanks for the reply! I was reading about CUDA for when buying a GPU for a PC, but it seemed that only CS6 is beginning to incorporate GPU functions and that CUDA standard cards don't really have much of an effect in any Industry standard programs yet.

    The reason why I included the older 6750M model MBP was as I was told that when gaming on a larger screen / at a higher res having an extra 512mb of VRAM would be more useful in producing higher frame rates. And also that the 650M was only picked on the fact it produces faster benchmarks, which it does, but isn't however actually a better card. Is this correct? -I don't really know anything about mobile GPUs..

    Thanks ahead
     
  12. talmy macrumors 601

    talmy

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2009
    Location:
    Oregon
    #12
    I don't like to predict what Apple will do, but the handwriting is on the wall for the current crop of "conventional" Macbooks. If you want an internal optical drive or Ethernet connector, you probably need to buy within the next year!
     
  13. Bauer24 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 18, 2009
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #13

    I'm not sure what you mean by your statement there. If a video card has higher gaming benchmarks, in general this includes frame rates for popular games. This is the definition they use to classify cards; so it would be a better card if it had better frame rates - unless you're referring to something specific about the card that's not tested in gaming bench's.

    You can go here: http://www.notebookcheck.net/NVIDIA-GeForce-GT-650M.71887.0.html

    To see 650M results for popular games, and then compare them to here: http://www.notebookcheck.net/AMD-Radeon-HD-6750M.43958.0.html

    To get a feel for the difference.

    In general though, when comparing GPU's, many many other factors come into play when deciding which is better. Things like pixel shaders, pipelines, vertex shaders, DX version support, support for programmable shader API's, memory clock speed, the architecture of the GPU itself of course, and many more things. VRAM is just one of many, and in this case any performance gain from 512 to 1 GB is dwarfed by the significant architectural changes between the Radeon and nVidia GPU's.

    Of course, if you're comparing the exact same cards but one is 512 and the other is 1GB it's another story - but you're not doing that here thankfully.
     
  14. parrafin thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2012
    #14
    I didn't understand it either - I read it on the forum of notebook check (think so, but can't find the post now.) and someone said that even though the 650m was better specced and benchmarked faster, that te AMD card still performed better at gaming due to the increased VRAM, faster shaders and better drivers amongst others.

    I would prefer a 1GB 650m but don't have the money :(
     
  15. Bauer24 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 18, 2009
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #15
    Don't worry about what someone on the forum said. Just go by the benchmarks for the games you are playing. Get the 650M. It's better than the 6750M.
     
  16. parrafin thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2012
    #16
    I will! Thanks for the advice!

    On a side note, would you opt for the Hi-Res, Hi-Res Antiglare, or just the normal 1440x900 Glossy?

    I just wonder whether the small number of extra pixels is worth it? Also, if I'm planning on buying a TB Display, is the Anti-Glare Hi-Res worth opting for?

    Thanks again.
     
  17. Bauer24 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 18, 2009
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #17
    I'd definitely get the hi-res, even if you're getting a TB display simply because it costs only ~$90 bucks more! That's a steal to get up to 1650x1050. The glossy would probably be better for you too since the TB display is glossy and you'd probably want similar colours across both (for your photos and stuff).

    You should also upgrade the memory at some point. Either through Apple or aftermarket. It's about ~$90 from Apple, ~$50 aftermarket.

    If you can only afford one, get the hi-res screen now and worry about the memory later.
     
  18. parrafin thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2012
    #18
    I was thinking that too, shame they can't scale it upto something over Full HD 1080p res, but we cant have everything can we!

    And I hadn't thought of that, for colour accuracy antiglare is much better right? Also, how bad is the Glossy really,- I've only ever used PCs with the glossy screens and found them bearable but then again they don't have the layer of glass too?

    I was buying off the basis of getting the things you can't upgrade now, processor, graphics, screen, and upgrading the RAM to 8 or 16GB and the HDD to a 256 or 512Gb SSD in a year or so.

    Have you any experience with OptiBays? Are they worth using , or is an external FW disk(s) better?

    Thanks again , your advice is very helpful.
     
  19. Bauer24 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 18, 2009
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #19
    The colour accuracy thing is a myth. When properly calibrated (which you will do anyway since you're a photographer), there is no difference in colour accuracy between the matte and glossy screens. The only difference is that the glossy screen will have a bit more reflections. Colours seem to pop on glossy, but the accuracy is the same.

    http://www.robgalbraith.com/bins/multi_page.asp?cid=7-10041-10146

    Again, since you're getting a TB display which is only avail. in glossy, I'd just grab a glossy MBP. But that's just me, if you have doubts you could go to a store to see the differences up close but I suspect the glossy would be just fine for you - as long as it's properly calibrated with software.

    As for optibay, I'm using one in my MBP because I don't need a DVD burner. If you think you won't need a DVD burner then it's a great way to add extra space. Usually people put an SSD into the normal hard drive spot and put the normal drive into the optibay for additional storage. Also, I would still get an external disk for time machine backup purposes. You always want to make sure you're backing up everything.
     
  20. parrafin thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2012
    #20
    Thanks, I've always believed that the glossy displays were altered to be more suited to consumers by making the blacks blacker and the whites whiter etc so that in most circumstances it would look nicer and bolder, but that they weren't particularly colour accurate. Evidently I was wrong. :O

    I went to both the local Apple stores three times in the last two months and each time they said 'we had one [antiglare] but last friday it disappeared..' hmm.

    Being a student, I've never looked into professional calibration much,- just used the OSX Calibration from System Prefs.. Wasn't on a great monitor so I wasn't too bothered.

    Yah, dunno if I'd need one. You can use them externally via USB or FW can't you? so not really an issue imo. That's the config I was thinking of too.

    Was thinking of getting 4 drives to use in RAID 10 striped config (scratch etc) so can use that for TM too.

    Few Q's about the OptiBay if that's OK.

    -Are the comments about greatly increased noise/heat true?
    -Does the issues with the mechanical HDD not powering down corectly annoy you?
    -Does it drastically effect the battery life?

    Also, just noticed that the iMac's are expected to be updated in september, apart from upgrading to i7's and nVIDIA GPUs similar to those in the MBPs, think there'll be anything worth considering? - prolly wont have the money for the 15" till nearer xmas, have the money for 21.5" iMac / 13 MBP now but its hard to come by round these parts for us kiddies nowadays. :(
     

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