Considering Switching to Mac - HW Questions

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by mtschirret, Jan 13, 2007.

  1. mtschirret macrumors newbie

    Jan 13, 2007

    I'm considering switching to a Mac from a PC, and am considering the following 24" refurbished iMac:

    I have a few questions if anyone can help:

    - Can I upgrade the memory myself to 2GB? Is it as easy as a PC?
    - Can I upgrade the GeForce 7300GT to a 7600 myself? Will it void the warranty?

    After building my own PCs for a number of years, I'm ready to simplify...I will do some occasional gaming, but not too much. That being said, better than average graphics are important to me. I can't imagine running games at higher than 1600 x 1200 resolution, so I'm wondering if the 24" model might be overkill.

    - Should I be considering a 20" new model instead? And if so, just how much worse is the ATI Radeon X1600/256MB when it comes to gaming? Is it an equivalent comparison to rate the cards as if they were being used in a PC?

    - And finally, is the 3-year extended AppleCare warranty worth it? My experience is that if it's going to go, it'll be in the first year. How is the reliability on Macs?

    Apologies for all the questions, but I'm looking forwrad to making the right decision. Thank you in advance for any assistance!

    Best Regards,

    Michael Tschirret
  2. dpaanlka macrumors 601


    Nov 16, 2004
    Yes. That depends on how easy your PC is. I find it pretty easy, but I'm comfortable with the machine.

    Not at this time.

    It never hurts. All of my Macs (80+) have been excellent. Out of all I have acquired brand spanking new (7), one lost a hard drive in the first two months. Since you're considering a refurb, I would suggest you get the extended AppleCare. Sometimes those refurb machines are flaky.
  3. Postal macrumors regular

    Jun 22, 2002
    Ottawa, ON, Canada
    Upgrading the memory yourself is relatively easy - you have to unscrew a bottom panel, eject the old RAM and slip it in. The tricky bit is that you need to make sure you have notebook DDR2 memory (some people assume the iMac needs desktop-sized RAM) and that when you insert the memory, you apply enough force for the memory to really slot in.

    You can't upgrade the video chipset, however. It's technically on an MXM card (an NVIDIA-made expansion format for notebooks), but I don't believe it's designed to be removed... and of course, just finding faster hardware on MXM would be difficult, let alone getting it for a reasonable price! To put it bluntly, custom-order the iMac new if you want the 7600 option, or hope the right model shows up in refurb.

    The GeForce 7300 GT can be slightly faster than the X1600, but it's not a deciding factor in choosing your iMac. If you want truly fast gaming performance, benchmarks show that the 7600 GT is the best pick. You can actually run at least some recent games at the native 1920x1200 resolution and expect good frame rates at high detail.

    If you don't think you can justify getting a new 24-inch iMac with the 7600 GT, a 20-inch with the 256MB X1600 chipset might be a realistic option. How do they compare to a PC? Performance may be slower than in Windows, but the addition of multithreaded OpenGL (i.e. where it can actually balance the graphics' CPU work on both cores, instead of using only one as seen before in OS X and Windows) has changed the rules. Games that can use it, such as World of Warcraft, actually see hefty boosts. At the least, your Windows experience is valid enough that it'll tell you what class of performance to expect from a given card.

    Reliability depends on models, though generally Macs are better-behaved than, say, Dells. iMacs are built like tanks, so I'd be hesitant to get AppleCare unless you know you either couldn't justify paying a repair bill in the future (they can get expensive) or you absolutely needed the system fixed promptly if it does break down sometime in the next 3 years.

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