Contemplating the Switch - Excuse My Enthusiasm

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by Al Quitos, Apr 20, 2005.

  1. Al Quitos macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2005
    I am contemplating making the switch. Yeah, from the Windows world to the Mac world. I'll briefly explain my reasons, and some considerations - and then if you have any input or suggestions, I welcome them.

    Unlike some who probably make the switch, I have never really had problems with security or viruses. In fact, I can't really recall ever having a problem related to that; I think I may have had one virus a bit over five years ago, but it wasn't bad. I've never had major problems with the Windows Operating System, though I've had my share of difficulties (often with hardware or networking).

    I've never really had issues because I take reasonable preventive measure, am reasonably aware of the dangers, and reasonably intelligent. However, a lot of time and effort has gone into ensuring my system runs (relatively) reliably and precisely the way I want it. And sometimes Windows is just too frustrating when you want it to do something. And that's the primary reason I'm considering a Mac - I want to spend less time fiddling with the computer and more time doing stuff with the computer (setting up a network is a different in Windows than a Mac, for instance).

    The switch might be a tad difficult. The last Mac I've really used was the Mac SE. I am what I would consider a power-user...I'm very familiar with Windows (and to a lesser extent, Linux); many things, from keyboard shortcuts to networking, do not really require conscious thought - they are muscle memory. lol But I expect, after a fair amount of research, I will have no trouble with the switch...I even sort-of look forward to it.

    So, real quick I'm going to tell you what I intend to use my Mac for, what I am considering buying, and then hopefully you guys will weigh-in with your experience and recommendations.

    My needs are fairly simple. I intend to use the computer for digital imaging. I am contemplating video editing and music editing down the line, depending on several factors. Additionally, I intend to tie-in the computer to a home entertainment center, wirelessly. I like wireless, so I intend on making as much as possible wireless...printers, scanners, etc. Also, I do a moderate amount of web design, and a great deal of productivity work - some for myself, some for the Army - as well as a lot of anti-productivity work - such as e-mail, IM, and blogging.

    I won't be getting rid of my PC, so the switch won't be 100%...that's just a matter of practicality (though I would like to find a way to allow my PC to access the Internet through a Mac without the cable company noticing a second computer and charging an arm-and-a-limb for a computer that will just have to access it for work and web design testing). Also, at an undetermined point in the future, I would like to take a Mac Mini and turn it into a car-puter, with a touch-screen monitor for audio, video, navigation, and vehicle diagnostics (but that's way down the road).

    Anyway, I like cutting-edge, but the Army doesn't pay enough for that, so I have to use moderation in purchasing a computer. I can get a discount for being a federal employee, or as a student...both discounts seem small to me (not even $300 for the student discount; can one combine discounts?). So, after looking around a bit, here is what I was contemplating, as well as some points I would like input on...

    +PowerMac. Keeping things cheap, I thought about the single processor model. Is there any real advantage to having a dual processor for what I wish to use it for? (all my software will be the most current...just don't ask where it came from lol)

    +500GB HD...I'm a little disappointed Apple tops-out at 500 GB of internal storage. Prior to considering Apple, I was contemplating a setup with 1.2TB of internal storage. Maybe this will be enough...or more than I realize.

    +1GB RAM. I must say, Apple RAM is expensive. I realize aftermarket RAM can be bought a little cheaper, and some brands are reasonably reliable (Crucial, maybe). I would love 4GB of RAM, but would that be wasting money? I realize many feel there's no such thing as too much RAM, but from a practical stand-point, there has to be a point at which there's no added benefit.

    +Monitor. The price for a Cinema Display is ridiculous. I'll use what I have on hand. lol

    +AE/BT - A given. biggest curiousities are RAM and processors. Help??
  2. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus


    Jan 9, 2004
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    Well, if you get a powermac, there is space in the box for more hard drives, if 500 GB isn't enough... just add them. With respect to RAM, there is a point where adding more is not beneficial. For your uses, I would hazard to guess it would be somewhere between 1GB and 2GB. If you actually end up doing the things that are on your "maybe" list. For streaming multimedia to your entertainment center, and for moderate digital image editing, I don't think you will see a huge improvement out past 1GB....

    Were I you, I would get 1GB now in a configuration that allows you to upgrade, and would buy the RAM from a third party and install it myself.

    With respect to processors, no advice to offer, except that I believe there are some other subtle differences between the low-end single processor PM and the dualies -- they use very different motherboards, with the former being more like the iMac G5 motherboard. I could be wrong about that, though.

    Anyway, that's all based on how you describe yourself. I personally prefer notebooks, prefer getting a setup that's more or less what I want from the beginning, and never upgrading hardware.... :rolleyes:
  3. Al Quitos thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2005
    Good input, thank you.

    I contemplated getting a Powerbook. The Army's had me in the Middle East for 17 months now, so my computer is sitting in storage collecting dust (I only had 10 days between the time I was told I was coming and when I arrived here, so I couldn't make many arrangements). I know more deployments are in the future, and being able to easily bring my computer and all my work next time would be nice.

    But I don't really like working with laptops, honestly...I'd rather have a full desktop system (for all the uses I mentioned above) than working off a laptop. Though I could get an external monitor and probably a seperate keyboard...I'm not really sure it'd be the same.

    Think the Powerbook's could take care of all that?
    (I'd also prefer a G5 PB over the G4's they currently offer)
  4. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus


    Jan 9, 2004
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    An adequately spec'd powerbook will do fine at video editing, digital images, audio, etc. It probably will not be a great storage house for your digital media are not going to get 1.2TB in a notebook any time soon. :rolleyes:

    Naw, if I wanted to do what you want, I would definitely get something in a tower case that had expandability....maybe a simple refurb iBook or PB to complement it? Or even a cheap Windows notebook....
  5. alywa macrumors 6502

    May 6, 2004
    My take

    I'm contemplating getting a new machine myself. I've been going through these same discussions, and have changed my mind a few times.

    Right now, I'm leaning towards a 20" iMac, with 1GB RAM.

    However, your needs sound like they are potentially much more than mine, especially with the video editing (a chore which I find tedious)... If I was you, I would strongly consider either a refurb 2.0 Dual Powermac, or a used previous gen Dual 1.8 or 2.0. Plus, with powermac updates expected in the next few weeks, I'd imagine they will come down in price.

    I think this setup will be much more future-proof, will allow expansion (RAM, HD, etc), and allow choice of monitors, etc. The single G5 Powermac, to me, is just too much of a compromise (less RAM slots, no ability ro upgrade to Dual G5, etc)... it's basically an iMac with the ability to have a better graphics card, without the nice monitor.

    Either way you look at it, they are going to be nice computers... I just think the extra few hundred bucks is well worth the second CPU.

  6. strider42 macrumors 65816


    Feb 1, 2002
    You mentioned you'd be getting airport extreme preinstalled, in which case, all you need is a wireless router for this aprt of the equation. Cable company can't tell the difference between the router and a computer. It doesn't have to be an airport extreme base station either. airport express, or any third party 802.11b or 802.11g router should work fine. most have ethernet ports too if you need to hardwire the PC or the Mac.

    You could set up internet sharing (i think), but then the mac would ahve to be on to access through the PC. Much easier to get a router and third party routers are really, really cheap nowadays.
  7. Al Quitos thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2005
    I've seen the spec charts for the dual processors, but lab tests don't always give you a good idea of what you need. I'd hate to shell-out the extra money for a processor unless I know it offers some sort of savings, long-term.

    Do you think 1 GB of RAM will be sufficient for your needs? I had 512 MB on my PC, but I'm not entirely sure if there are difference in the way Macs and PCs utilize RAM (rather, OS X and WinXP).

    I thought about the iMac G5, but that seemed like it might be limiting for the future. I've had my current PC for 5 years, though, and not done much more than upgrade RAM. So I wonder where the PowerMac will be in five years...will it still suit my needs, can I upgrade it or will it be obsolete as far as upgrades. I think in five years I'll just get another, though. I rather think my system will be OK

    How many HD slots are in a PowerMac; 2x250GB (RAID 0) takes up two slots, so how many would that leave available? Do Macs support RAID arrangements besides 0 and 1? Is there an upper limit to HD space that Macs can handle? Everyone tells me I won't need 1.2TB+ of HD space...that's probably true, but call me curious.

    As far as the suggestion for getting a laptop to compliment the tower...could be a possibility, in the future. I think this PMG5 is gonna put a substantial hit in my savings. Are there options for synchronizing data beside .Mac? (sorry, but that pay-for service rubs me the wrong way, for some reason)
  8. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004
    Two SATA bays in total. A cursory glance at some UK suppliers puts the max Seagates at 400gb each... there could be larger but they're bound to be spendy.

    2.5gb RAM seems OK to me. 512 stock Apple (2 x 256) + 4 x 512 3rd-party.
  9. Al Quitos thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2005
    I was thinking I'd get the AE base station to use as a router. Seemed the best bet.

    I just don't want the cable company to even catch a whiff of a second MAC address...they charge $30 per MAC address. I guess I can give it a whirl.

    Incidentally, I do hope wireless networking with Macs is as easy as everyone says it is, because it can really be a PITA with Windows. I was interested in the PowerMacs for a couple reasons, but I think the (seeming) ease of wireless networking was the thing that tipped the balance.
  10. Al Quitos thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2005
    #10 many RAM slots do they have? I guess I skimmed the insides a bit, because I was thinking 4 slots.

    I think I'll also just start with 500 GB and see how things go from there.
  11. strider42 macrumors 65816


    Feb 1, 2002
    I've never had any problems with wireless networking. Since apple controls the OS, the hardware and the drivers, it should be a lot smoother than windows.

    Unless you really need the extra features of an airport extreme base station, I'd just get a third party base station. Apple's is way, way expensive. Setup may not be quite as easy, but most use a web based setup screen for their routers and they work great.

    And many can do MAC address cloning too, so no issues there. but even without that, the router isolates your computers from the cable company. They can't see whats behind it.
  12. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004
    Check your basic specs at

    We run 3 x 2.5ghz G5s at work and they have 8 slots for RAM. Two banks of four -- RAM goes in matched symmetrical pairs outwards from the centre.

    Like this:
  13. Al Quitos thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2005
    Yeah, now I feel stupid. PowerMacs support up to 8GB of RAM, which come in 1GB sticks...simple math should tell me 8x1=8. :eek:
  14. macbaseball macrumors 6502a


    Feb 27, 2005
    Northern California
    You talked about doing a little video editing, and if you have a dual processor the compression times will be significantly better. According to the Macworld benchmark (Click here, I didn't read it - just looked at the benchmark table about half way down) the single 1.8 G5 got 10:18 for MPEG-2 Compression, whereas the Dual 1.8 G5 got 5:03. That's pretty significant your planning on some video editing. if it just going to be occasional, then I would just get the single G5.
  15. Al Quitos thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2005
    Good. Because I hate wires. :rolleyes:

    Apple is expensive, I noticed. I won't be back in the States for another month, so I probably won't be ordering it for at least another month; that should give me time to seek out third-party products to compare. Airport Extremem didn't seem too fancy to me, feature-wise, so I'm not entirely sure what you're referring to. :eek:
  16. Al Quitos thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2005
  17. Al Quitos thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2005
    Video-editing will be occassional (and, yes, that is a big time difference, though). Audio-editing/mixing (electronic DJ-ing) will be a bit more frequent. Digital-image editing will be near-constant. lol

    I'm thinking the low-end dual, with the 2.5 GB RAM setup suggested above and 500GB to start should be sufficient. And keeps the price relatively reasonable. Then I'll just bide my time until PB G5's come-out to add to my collection (for

    You guys are quite helpful in helping me figure out what I need (which is probably better than what I want lol)! :D
  18. wide macrumors 6502a

    May 17, 2004
    since you won't be back for another month, you'll be able to order either a refurbished model (but i don't think you can use discounts on that) or one of the new models that will be released soon. who knows, there may not be a single processor powermac when the revisions are released. thinksecret says that dual 2.0 ghz G5s will replace the current single processor 1.8 GHz. that is probably enough power for every power user's needs. anyway, i wouldn't worry about getting single or dual processors, since you probably won't have the choice of SP anyway :p
  19. Al Quitos thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2005
    Well, I hope if they intend on making that change they do it before I buy it. And hopefully not raise the prices or anything; I'm on a tight budget when I return (new apartment, new furnishings, new computer is a barely-affordable).
  20. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus


    Jan 9, 2004
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    The "unusual" things the Apple routers can do are:

    1) Function as a USB print server (both)
    2) Wear external antennas (Extreme)
    3) Passthrough audio (Express)
    4) Handle both WPA Personal and WPA Pro (? - the one that uses a Radius server)
    5) Fit in the palm of your hand :) (Express)
    6) Let you access your LAN via a modem dialing in from elsewhere (Extreme)

    The things Apple routers don't, but others typically do:

    1) Have four wired ports
    2) Cost $20 after rebates
    3) One newer thing is that there are a couple of routers out now that have built in controllers for makinga USB hd into an NAS. Mmmm... :D

    The Apple features *are* available on non-Apple routers, but few have as many of them as the Apples do. Personally, were I doing it over today, I'd get either an Express or a third-party, and if the latter, I'd buy a laser printer with ethernet.
  21. strider42 macrumors 65816


    Feb 1, 2002
    I just meant like you can get it with a modem and I believe (not positive on this) that it can do printer sharing and thigns like that that some cheap third party base stations can't do.
  22. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus


    Jan 9, 2004
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    Thanks for correcting me on that, BV. :) Is this a limitation of the adapter, or can you canibalize one of the 5.25" bays with a 5.25->3.5 tray, and add more 3.5" hds?
  23. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004
    Not sure... haven't opened them up for a while. I guess if you can find somewhere to mount and cool the disk then installing another SATA controller could be an option.

    Actually, now I've found a pic it seems pretty tight for space. HDs are in the top right -- the one optical drive is in the top left bay. RAM in the lower left corner...
  24. Al Quitos thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2005
    I need that function. Well, want, anyway...

    Though a wireless printer (on the network) should suit my needs.

    Probably don't need it. I want a spacious apartment, but I don't think I'll find one that spacious that I need to extend range. Plus, I don't want neighbors mooching off my 'Net access.

    Though I wouldn't mind a clueless neighbor to mooch off of... >.>

    Need it. No "want" about it.


    Cool, but useless. I'd rather the Express fit into my wall-socket. :p

    Cool, but not useful. I have no intentions on having a landline; wireless phone service is more convenient.

    Not particularly useful, I don't think. I'm trying to get away from wires.

    Of course, I say I don't need it now, but in the future I'll probably have a sudden need for one. That's how those things work. lol

    Very appealing!

    Potentially useful.

    Well, Express and Extreme are both appealing...I wish either the Express had a jack for the cable connection or the Extreme had passthrough audio. I need something that has some of the above features, and specifically those two. I'd hate to have to buy both.
  25. lefty111 macrumors newbie

    Jun 11, 2004

    I can speak of your Apple wireless options. I have an airport express base station, and I have a G4 powerbook and (my roomies) Dell desktop connecting to the internet through it. In short, the express base station is awesome. The cable company doesn't know I have two computers connected. It has been a rock solid wireless connection for both computers. The PC has a Linksys 802.11G wireless PCI card installed, it recognized the airport express right away without Linksys drivers being installed (used WinXP built in drivers?). I also bought the airport express stereo connection kit, and use the Monster digital audio cable to connect to my A/V receiver. Awesome for streaming iTunes. I got the "Airfoil" shareware, which streams RealAudio feeds to the stereo. I have an HP 1012 printer hooked up to the Airport Express base station. The PC can also share the printer and stream iTunes music, although I don't currently have the PC set up to do this. All in all, I highly recommend the Airport Express base station for your wireless needs. I can surf the web, print wirelessly, and stream iTunes music at the same time without a hiccup.

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