Can’t decide which Mac would be best for me

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Steelkat, Sep 21, 2007.

  1. Steelkat macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2007
    #1
    I keep going back and forth on what would be the best route for me to take given my situation, so I would appreciate any advice from you nice folks. I am an audio engineer, musician, and record producer who operates a studio by day, and who also does web design at home at night for fun and frustration. The recording studio is three miles from my home. I carry one of my studio computers back and forth every day, and use it at home at night for my web design work . The computer I am currently using for this is a MDD G4 dual 1.25. It is getting a little long-in-the-tooth for my audio needs, but it is adequate as a web design computer, at least for me. It is something of a pain to carry back and forth as you can imagine, but I really like having everything on the one box (websites, audio drives, invoicing and business records, etc.).

    So I have naturally been thinking about a MacBook Pro, now that these laptops have become powerful enough to handle fairly demanding digital audio requirements. And I am sure I would appreciate the performance gains for web design work as well. But as I run through the various scenarios trying to evaluate how a Mac Book Pro would work for me, I keep running into stumbling blocks and “gotchas”. Some are software-related (upgrade costs for UB versions, etc.). But most of these roadblocks are related to the area of expandability that I have grown accustomed to with my various Power Macs over the years.

    I know there are Express Cards for the MBP that would allow me to run eSATA drives for my audio files and samples, thus keeping my Firewire bus open for other audio hardware. But given the fact that both the FW 800 and 400 share the same bus, this would present possible problems for me down the road in trying to interface various pieces of Firewire audio gear and having them run optimally. And I am not sure the maximum ram in a MBP will ultimately be enough, and I would really like to be able to run 2 displays (not including the laptop display), which apparently you can’t do.

    So that got me to thinking about biting the bullet and getting a mac pro. I know the same issue exists with the shared Firewire bus, but at least with the Mac Pro you can put in a PCI card to get another bus going. And I am really accustomed to having four internal drives in my machines.

    So I see my choices are as follows:

    1. Buy a MacBook Pro, enjoy the one-machine-portability factor, and hope to be able to work out whatever expandability issues that may come along on the audio side.

    2. Buy a Mac Pro and carry it back and forth like I have been doing. (Interestingly enough, according to the specs I have it weighs the same as my G4 Dual- 42 lbs.) So my back is already in shape... :)

    3. Buy the Mac Pro and dedicate it to audio use, leaving it to reside at the studio, while parking my G4 Dual at home to use for web design. The only thing that concerns me here is would I enjoy slogging away on the G4 after running the Mac Pro all day?

    4. Hit the lottery and buy the Mac Pro for the studio and an iMac for home, and don’t worry about audio and web design anymore since I’m rich now. :cool: Seriously, if I had the cash I would most likely do something like this and sync the relevant data between the two computers. But only one new computer is in the cards right now.

    The catalyst for this whole big bundle of angst is that I have tentatively made a deal on a clean MacBook Pro 2.16 Core 2 Duo for $1500.00, and I need to either fully commit to the seller or bow out gracefully….

    I might also add that I am not a huge laptop fan, and if I get one I would essentially be using it as a “brain”, with an external monitor, keyboard, and mouse. But web browsing in my Lazy Boy might be nice after all…..

    And to save some $$$, I haven't ruled out a used G5 Power Mac, although the performance increase may not be significant enough to justify the cost. They still seem to fetch pretty high prices, especially the later ones...

    So does anyone have any input here?

    Thanks in advance,

    TD
     
  2. Lovesong macrumors 65816

    Lovesong

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2006
    Location:
    Stuck beween a rock and a hard place
    #2
    Hmmm this is a tough situation you're in...

    First off, let's talk portables. The MBP is a beast of a machine. It runs circles around my G5, and CAN do 2-screen mode (one being the laptop screen and the other my 24" Dell). You're right about the issue of expandability, and even with my collection of externals running via FW800, I still wish I had more space on the actual machine.

    A G5 is not a bad option. I went from a suped up G4 (with a Dual 1.8GHz CPU, a SATA PCI card, a 9800Pro, with 2 Maxtor Drives RAIDED) to my current Dual 2.5 with 5gigs of RAM, and the performance boost is significant. One thing you should consider is that for the price of a G5, you can get a new, or slightly used iMac, which will once again do you better in terms of speed, but will lack in terms of expandability.

    Another option is to get both an iMac and a MB (not pro). This way you get the portability you want, with the bigger capacity of an iMac, and turn the G4 into a server. It will run you about as much as a Mac Pro.
     
  3. minton macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2004
    Location:
    California
    #3
    It sounds like you know what computer is the right fit (mac pro), but you're such a guy that wants to get his money's worth that you know you're going to want to transport it back and forth (even if you keep the old g4 at home). And therefore the macbook pro makes more sense - transporting a mac pro like that is quite a hassle.
    If you need to drive 2 independent displays in addition to the mbp display, you'll need something like a magma expansion chassis ($750) to house a pci-express graphics card which connects to your express card slot. But then there's no room for your esata adapter. They have a 4 card chassis coming, which would work out perfectly for you. But you'll have to tread water until it comes out.

    p.s.
    I would keep the G4 if you do end up getting a mbp - laptops are more prone to failure / theft and esp. as a professional you should have a backup. And unlike your G4 the new mac pro doesn't accept pci cards.
     

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