Custom Machine vs Mac Mini/Second Hand Mac Pro

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by htg, Feb 16, 2012.

  1. htg macrumors regular

    May 2, 2009
    Following the announcement of Mountain Lion today, I realise that I won't be able to continue with my current Macbook for much longer if I want the new OS, as it only has an Intel GMA X3100 chip.

    I've already decided I want a desktop as will probably end up doing a lot of video editing and processing, so I need something that packs a punch, and I'll probably want to play a few games as well, so it has to be reasonably high end. Here are the options I've come up with so far:

    1) Custom Built Machine: This seems so far like the best one. I don't have huge amounts of money to spend and I know I can get a kickass machine with the latest processor, memory, SSD and graphics for within my budget (about $800). I've never built a computer before, but there are some great video guides around so I reckon I could manage it. I would then install Mountain Lion on it, but I have a question regarding this. If I were to clone my current HD onto an SSD, and put that into my custom machine, would it work as normal? When the time comes, would I just be able to upgrade to Mountain Lion through the Mac App Store or would it require some complex Hackintosh type manoeuvre? If so, I might opt for one of the next two options, even though have a custom PC is a very tempting option, especially as I might want to install Windows 8 on a separate HD when the time comes as it looks pretty impressive with the new UI.

    2)Mac Mini: The new ones have some pretty impressive specs, but I still know I would have to compromise in that regard compared to a custom machine or a second hand Mac Pro. The other problem would be getting the stuff on my current HD over to the Mini but I'm pretty sure Apple will have that problem covered when you set it up. It's a while since I've set up a Mac so I can't quite remember what happens regarding transferring all your files, applications and content.

    3) Second hand Mac Pro: I've checked on eBay and the cheapest ones sell for within my budget, and they would probably deliver the best performance. What's more I can upgrade almost everything about it, something which is very useful and something that I can't do with the Mini. And it's made by Apple so I wouldn't have any potential complications with regarding to installing Mountain Lion.

    I'm off to uni next year, and I probably won't actually buy anything until early summer, but I still want to hear what you guys have to say.
  2. throAU macrumors 601


    Feb 13, 2012
    Perth, Western Australia
    Any sandy bridge (onwards) core i7 with SSD and 16gb of ram.

    Save the money you'd spend on a 3d card, and buy a console for gaming?

    I suspect that a current sandy bridge/coming ivy bridge with 16gb ram and SSD will blow a secondhand mac pro out of the water performance wise for what you are doing, for the equivalent price.

    Transferring data is simple: if you use time machine, you simply point your new mac at your old time machine backup when running through the startup wizard and it will bring everything over (apps, data, the lot).
  3. htg thread starter macrumors regular

    May 2, 2009
    So if we're talking about a custom machine (after what you've said, I'm almost certain I'll go down that route), would it be easy enough to install Mountain Lion on it when the time comes? If I clone my current drive to an SSD then put it in the custom PC, will it work/be able to upgrade to 10.8 with no problems?
  4. velocityg4, Feb 17, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2012

    velocityg4 macrumors 601


    Dec 19, 2004
    For a reliable build I would use parts listed on Tonymacx86, "Building a Sandy Bridge CustoMac: Buyer's Guide". Be sure to follow the links in the guide.

    Edit: As for 10.8 whom knows. Everything should work but then again one of the parts may no longer work and have to be replaced. Video cards are the most finicky. Although from what I have read the Radeon HD 6870 has been very reliable in the hackintosh.

    I would certainly recommend it. Although if you use Windows for gaming you may find you rarely use OS X out of convenience. That's what happened to the computer in my sig before I upgraded the hard drives.
  5. snberk103, Feb 17, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2012

    snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    First, lets start with the obligatory "Installing OS X on non-Apple hardware is a contravention of the license, and you are not supposed to do it."

    By building your own system you are building a hackintosh, so yes... all updates could easily involve "...require some complex Hackintosh type manoeuvre?"

    I am not a hackintosh expert, but I would guess that it is way too early to know what kind of manoeuvres are going to needed to get a hackintosh to run Mountain Lion. Apple could conceivable make it very easy.... I've read one report that indicates it's become easier to flash some new GPU cards for Mac Pros - by the same token, Apple could be making it harder. Note the new Gatekeeper Security app.... Apple is extending slightly the control it has over what SW will install on your Mac.

    I guess what I am trying to say is this.... if you need your system to run 10.8, guaranteed, then perhaps a hackintosh is not for you. Until 10.8 has been officially released and the hackintosh community has had a chance to play with it, nobody knows what is involved with getting 10.8 to run.

    While it is fun and educational to build your own PC (Apple or non-Apple) - and I have done myself - just remember that installing OS X on non-Apple hardware is in contravention of the license. If you are thinking of getting into any field that involves the creation of intellectual property, please be aware of the slight hypocrisy of wanting to be paid, on your terms, for your work - but not having the respect to pay Apple on their terms for theirs.

    We all live with a little hypocrisy in our lives, so I'm not suggesting we ship hackintosh builders off to the penal colonies... just that you be aware that it is wrong, and work to rectify the lapse as soon as possible - and not try to justify the unlicensed usage. All my software (and music and movies) are totally legit because I am in the IP business.... but I sometimes speed when driving. I don't justify it, or rationalize it... I don't claim the limits are too slow or anything like that. It's wrong, I know it's wrong... but I still do it occasionally. But I'm not in law enforcement...

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