Buying situation with many options/questions (LONG!)

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Jigsawjammer, Jul 1, 2009.

  1. Jigsawjammer macrumors regular

    Apr 29, 2009
    OK, this will probably be long but I would love some long time users input.

    So, I recently got the 13"MBP 2.26 standard config. I have a older Pentium 4 Dell XPS desktop with a 500GB WD drive sitting in my tiny office. My girlfriend uses an old PowerBook as her daily and the Dell really never gets used anymore.

    She is a textile designer and uses Illustrator as her main program of choice. I am not a power user and mainly use Office/Keynote. At work she uses a Dual 2Ghz PowerPC G5 with 1 GB of RAM. She finds its speed to be OK.

    Now the questions:
    She might work more from home and she was thinking about a 24" iMac entry level. With my discount thats 1400.00.

    I was thinking of buying a base mini and upgrading it myself with a 500GB drive and at least 2 GB Ram or buying Ram for my MBP and putting the 2 in the mini (I guess I should give the mini more- right?)

    I was then thinking of this monitor: the HP w2558hc 25.5-inch Vivid Color Full HD Widescreen Flat Panel Monitor: The price is 449 and I like the fact that if I want more screen real estate, I can hook my Macbook up to it. I was also thinking a Dell Ultrasharp but I like the look of that monitor to fit the look of Apples current lineup (Lame- I know).

    1) Do you think a base mini with the upgrades will be powerful enough for Illustrator? She won't be using it daily.

    2) Is that monitor OK? We don't need the top of the line color matching because she mainly uses horrible monitors at work and works around it but something that is decent.

    3) Should I just suck it up and get the iMac because in the end- cost won't be too far different but I won't be able to hook up my computer to a larger monitor but not really needed I guess if I have an iMac.

    4) Can I use the mini or an iMac as a place to have my laptop backup using time capsule?

    5) Can I take out that 500GB drive that is in a PC on windows, put it in an enclosure, and use that as a backup drive for time capsule and save my files from there?

    6) Take the HDD, reformat it to Leopard, use it as a external on my network and keep the stock drive in the mini?

    I can't decide- what do you guys think?
    Thanks and please no negative comments.
  2. Airforcekid macrumors 65816


    Sep 29, 2008
    United States of America
    I would get the iMac if you need another monitor you can add it on then take the 500GB hard drive and use it for time capsule. The Mini would work but the iMac is worth it!
  3. ian.maffett macrumors 6502


    Aug 1, 2008
    Well... IMHO:

    1. The Mini should run Illustrator at least as well as the G5 - the CPU numbers aren't staggeringly different but the entire architecture is.

    2. Monitor should be perfectly fine if you're not a color correction nut like some whom I know - I use a Dell HD 22" wide and it's got hot spots since it's not OLED but it certainly does the job.

    3. With the iMac you do get the display - and it's a nice one. I feel that the iMac is just a mini with a display anyway, mostly - unless you configure the hell out of the iMac.

    4. Time Machine will use any available share you designate for it - as long as it's formatted appropriately - it can only use an HFS+ file system but if you use a share on any other Mac you'll be fine.

    5. Absolutely - highly recommended.

    6. This will work as well. Believe me - I have 4 external drives and can play full quality video off an external (USB) over a WiFi connection quite seamlessly. That being said, music, video, pix - whatever you put there should be quite readily available for use at any time.

    Hope this helped even if just a little.
  4. Jigsawjammer thread starter macrumors regular

    Apr 29, 2009
    Seriously, thanks for the replies. It feels like I would be happy with either setup but just need a bit of guidance. I'm still a bit undecided but I feel a bit better at least getting it off my chest and getting some other opinions.

    Thanks again
  5. J&JPolangin macrumors 68030

    Jul 5, 2008
    Thule GL @ the TOW
    ...the main difference is the CPU between the two (mini and iMac)... GPU is the same...

    Would you benefit from the higher RAM threshold on the iMac?

    I was in a similar situation but our base PX didn't have the low mini in stock so I got a prev gen 20" iMac instead of the "loaded" mini they did have as my existing LED monitor was only 17" 4:3 aspect ratio.

    Pricewise, you'd save $$ on the mini and monitor setup so it seems to boil down to the CPU speed differences between the two = your choice.
  6. Dreamail macrumors 6502

    Jun 17, 2003

    I think it boils down to the question how much you want/like to tinker with your setup. Whether you want to continue to upgrade components or not.

    As was said before the iMac is basically a mini with a display, so both are pretty identical.

    The iMac is the easy route. All in one, no cable mess, just works. A neat package if you don't want to tinker.
    But it also is less expandable than the mini.

    The mini allows you to hook up even a 30" monitor (2560x1600 res) if you so chose.
    And once no longer needed as a main computer it can easily be used as a small server using external drives, tucked away somewhere. Not so easy with the iMac.

    Neither iMac nor Mac mini have their HD user-serviceable, so you will void your warranty if you do.
    Yet if you are the tinkerer and don't mind the warranty issue, changing HDs is much easier with the Mac mini than the iMac.

    If you just want an easy life with a machine that serves you 'as is' for a few years I'd say get the iMac.

    If you want to play around and eek out every last use of a machine by upgrading later, then get the mini plus external monitor.

    In either case I would recommend at least 2GB of RAM. 1GB is a bit anemic when running Adobe products on an Intel Mac with Leopard.
    The PowerPCs were a bit better with older Mac OS versions and 1GB RAM.
    No later than when you get Snow Leopard, 2GB would seem like the minimum.
    And RAM is cheap, not much point saving $50 here...

    But the more RAM the better, the 4GB start level on the iMac is certainly a plus.
  7. Zdob macrumors newbie

    Nov 18, 2008
    Sorry for late response but if you are still looking for an optimal setup, I recommend to buy an enclosure for that HDD with both firewire400 and firewire800 ports!
    As for display look here, there are some alternatives to 24" with reviews.

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