Designers, how often do you upgrade your main work machine?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by dornoforpyros, Sep 2, 2009.

  1. dornoforpyros macrumors 68040

    dornoforpyros

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2004
    Location:
    Calgary, AB
    #1
    Just wondering how many years most designers expect to get out of their main work machine between upgrades? 2 years? 3 years? 4 Years+?

    Basically my 2.33ghz MBP (3gb ram) is approaching the 3 year point in november here and it's starting to feel long in the tooth. I'm currently debating if it's worth while to upgrade the internal drive to a 7200rpm HD and hope the performance increase will tide me over for another year, or if I should pull the trigger on a new machine.

    Truth be told looking at apple's current crop of laptops there is nothing I would consider to be a "huge" upgrade from what I currently have. The only machine that's really appeals to me right now is a refurb 3.06GHz iMac. But given that I already have a 20" cinema display it seems redundant to buy an all in one mac at this point.

    So whatta say Macrumors?
     
  2. Unique Visuals macrumors regular

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    In the woods
    #2
    About 3 years average. I try to look ahead and keep an eye out when it seems to be getting slow compared to new machines. I look to see what will be out when and what may come out. I try to pick a machine that I can upgrade all but the mother board. Will it upgrade to faster graphics cards, hard drives, optical drives.Will it hold enough memory for future apps etc. I try not to rush and as you know it can take a while to get a machine all set up for your work flows and myself cant afford to lose time working on a comp. That is why I use a mac after all :)
     
  3. Scottsdale macrumors 601

    Scottsdale

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    #3
    If I were you, I would make your current MBP last until Q1 2010. Here's the thing, BluRay is a possibility given all the recent rumors about iTunes using it, and the licensing becoming cheaper. In addition, USB 3.0 will probably make its way into the Mac by then. Apple may also upgrade the dedicated graphics to ATI or a better Nvidia card by then. MOST IMPORTANTLY, Arrandale CPUs are expected to make it into the MBPs sometime between Q4 2009 and Q1 2010. For the same clock speed, it's maybe 20% faster or more...

    If you really want to improve your current MBP, and still have an asset for your upgrade when you choose to make it, buy an SSD. The thing is, it's the number one component you can upgrade that will make a huge difference for your MBP. I don't know for sure if your drive controller is SATA-II, but if it is you will get a serious boost. You may get a year or more out of your current MBP. When it's time to move on, you can replace the original back in your MBP and take the SSD to your new MBP.

    There is an Intel model SSD, which is the best, that people are buying for around $400 with discounts and etc. That would be an investment that would last you many years. Its read performance would probably be close to 10x faster than you're currently experiencing.

    That's my two cents.

    Good luck whatever you do.
     
  4. JoeG4 macrumors 68030

    JoeG4

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    #4
    I'm still using an MDD dual 867 G4 :)

    The G4 is only 2 years old. :D
     
  5. Buzz Bumble Guest

    Joined:
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    Location:
    New Zealand
    #5
    I'm still using my 266Mhz beige G3 PowerMac running Mac OS 9, so that's about 11 years and counting. :)

    There's little point in upgrading just for the sake of it. If the computer and software still does everything you need, then why waste the money upgrading?

    I upgraded from PageMaker to InDesign a few years ago, but really only because at that time I could buy a brand new, previous version of InDesign really really cheaply from an auction house selling off old stock.

    The only files I have problems with when people send them to me are Office ".docx" (which I only get very rarely) and the files from a newer version of InDesign that one of my customers has at their offices.
     
  6. chaosbunny macrumors 68000

    chaosbunny

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    #6
    I often read something like "I don't want an iMac, I already have a display" here and don't really understand it. Dual display = HUGE productivity boost. I have an 21" Eizo next to a 24" iMac and would never go back to a single screen for my main working machine.

    If you have the time to still work with OS 9 etc. why not. I hope you don't have many deadlines. :)
     
  7. mgridgaway macrumors 6502

    mgridgaway

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2006
    #7
    Do you have the 15" or the 17"? What OS?

    If you're still on Tiger, you should upgrade. Snow Leopard is a big improvement over Tiger, and you'll certainly notice the improvements. You may want to wait a month or so though, until they iron out all the problems.

    And yes, you really should upgrade your hdd. If your hdd has a capacity of 120GB or 160GB, it's a 5200rpm, but if it's a 200GB hdd, it's only 4200rpm, which is very very slow. In any case, upgrade to a 7200 rpm hdd and you'll immediately see the benefit.

    Personally I dont see any reason why that laptop shouldn't last you another year at least.
     
  8. itou macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2008
    #8
    Just wondering how many years most designers expect to get out of their main work machine between upgrades? 2 years? 3 years? 4 Years+?

    - 4+ years for me. depends what kind of design you do, but i'm in the advertising business and i had used my powerbook g4 for the longest time. it still runs photoshop cs3 like a dream. when cost is an issue, you make it work. :)
     
  9. dornoforpyros thread starter macrumors 68040

    dornoforpyros

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    Location:
    Calgary, AB
    #9
    Haha that'a actually an excellent point. About the only problem with that is the size of my current desk, no way I'm fitting a 24" iMac and a 20" cinema on it. It's cramped enough running my MBP and the 20".
     
  10. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2004
    #10

    In an ideal world about every four years, but times are tough, so like you with the exact same 17" 2.33 MBP 3Gbs RAM and stock drive, I've been thinking how to get another couple years of useful life out of the machine, before I turn it into a server of some sort, I guess.

    Like you, the current crop of MBPs doesn't seem to be a huge leap over ours, but that could be just wishful thinking and despite hanging around here and making a nuisance of myself on MR for a few years, I also have an unenviable track record in terms of buying just before an update, so take anything I have to offer with a barrel-full of salt. This is the person who bought one of the last Macs using USB 1.0. :rolleyes:

    Besides, this seems to be superb advice:


    I've been thinking of changing the internal hard-drive, possibly to a small and fast SSD for booting from and using as a scratch disk, and moving my home folder and backups to external 3.5" eSATA drives strung off the Expresscard/34 slot. I've always preferred desktops or laptops running my choice of external display, keyboard and mouse... my personal opinion about iMacs are probably better left unsaid. ;)
     
  11. Eric S. macrumors 68040

    Eric S.

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    Feb 1, 2008
    Location:
    Santa Cruz Mountains, California
    #11
    I may not be one to talk since I've had nine years with my PM G4, but I would be surprised that a 266MHz G3 running OS 9 is still doing everything you need. Like, what browser do you use? Aside from its other issues (e.g., cooperative multitasking), OS 9's biggest problem is that it supports zero sufficiently modern browsers, as far as I know.

    That machine would at least run 10.3.9, and you should still be able to run your older apps under Classic. I still have WordPerfect and even WriteNow docs on my Tiger systems.
     
  12. Buzz Bumble Guest

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2008
    Location:
    New Zealand
    #12
    At the moment I can't use the Internet at all via my Mac (thanks to a fault with Vodafone's servers which they refuse to fix). :(

    Before that problem and on the occasions when I have to use the long distance number to log-on (yes, via a dial-up connection), I use Microsoft 's Internet Explorer 5.1.7 and for the few websites that has problems with then iCab works. There is another web browser that is still being developed for "Classic" OS - I forget the name, but someone posted a link on these forums a while back. I took a quick look at the website, but it seemed like it would be too "beta" for me to bother with.

    My G3 Mac does everything I need for my work, including Illustrator, InDesign, a cheaper Photoshop-clone, DreamWeaver, MS Office, FileMaker Pro, etc. albeit older versions. I couldn't be bothered even trying to install Mac OS X, I doubt there are any drivers for my other equally as old equipment (printer, scanner, etc.) and with no USB ports I can't buy newer peripherals (unless I add a USB PCI card).

    Mac OS 9 multitasks. It may not be "co-operative", but works for everything I do ... it's not like I'm trying to render huge 3D images or make movies in the background while doing other work. The only time it even crashes is when using a Microsoft application or now-rarely-used PageMaker (because it uses Microsoft libraries), and usually it's only that application, not the entire OS. :)

    I still have a couple home users who I help who are still using Mac OS 9 or older on their iMac CRTs.


    My Mac running OS 9 and older versions of the main applications actually feels faster than the new G5 and aluminium iMacs running OS X and newer versions of applications which I use at one client's offices. :)

    I did have one silly woman who used to work at my main client's business (for all of six months) who rather nastily laughed at me being an "IT expert" with then 10 year old equipment ... but then a real IT expert should know how to get the best out of the equipment, rather than simply throwing money at unnecessary upgrades. :)
     
  13. chaosbunny macrumors 68000

    chaosbunny

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    #13
    If these upgrades are unnecessary or not depends on how you use them, and if you are willing to adopt new features.

    An example: I recently did a 60+ page catalogue with 2 different prices for each item for different uses. Thanks to InDesign CS4s "conditional text" feature I could simply activate one price or another by 1 mouse click. Without this feature I would have had to make 2 documents. Needless to say there were many changes, I would have had to make them 2 times instead of only once. Not only this was way faster, I earned more money per hour because we had agreed on a fixed price, I also had more spare time.

    All I'm trying to say is, don't condem all upgrades to your equipment as unnecessary, it might be well worth looking what newer stuff has to offer. :)

    Another word for the op: Like someone already mentioned, waiting for Q1/2 2001 is a good idea, with usb3, quad core mobile chips and maybe bluray on the horizon.
     
  14. Eric S. macrumors 68040

    Eric S.

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    Location:
    Santa Cruz Mountains, California
    #14
    2001? Get your head out of the past, man! :D

    (I know, it was a typo. But how time does fly!)
     
  15. chaosbunny macrumors 68000

    chaosbunny

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    #15
    Yes 2010 was what I meant... :eek:

    But then again these PowerBook G4 Titanium that are rumored for 2001 sure sound awsome. :)
     
  16. stainlessliquid macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2006
    #16
    Does that even support 32bit color?
     
  17. primalman macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
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    at the end of the hall
    #17
    I usually get 2.5-4 years out of my personal machines, and my work gives me a new laptop every 2 years no matter what, I have no say in it. My former jobs as a Uni lab manager I was able to ask for and get new Macs every 3 academic years [top iMac grade], and 20 mid-line MacBooks on the second year after the desktop upgrade. In the even previous job I spec'ed new towers [G4s at the time] every 24-30 months, whenever the major update was at that time.

    I think that if you buy now, or own a Mac made int he last 12 months, you should expect to be able to squeeze at least 30 months of productive use out of it. I am, I just bought a 2.8 MBP with 4 GB and 7200 rpm 500GB HD.

    My usual rule of thumb is I buy the notebook and the AppleCare, and when the APP runs out, I start shopping and make plans on when to upgrade, usually the next major refresh or mine goes up in smoke. For lab machines it was always buy the Macs and APP for each, and write the request to purchase new the summer they go out of warranty. Hard to wait for refresh, since I have to request very early in the process, like March and the purchase is not made until July. If there are new Macs in that time I always had to rewrite the proposal and hope the numbers did not change too much!
     
  18. Buzz Bumble Guest

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2008
    Location:
    New Zealand
    #18
    Maybe, maybe not. Even my old version of InDesign has the ability to do layers which could be used to achieve the same result ... no doubt with more work than you had to do, but still much less than doing two whole separate documents. :)


    I did not mean all upgrading was unnecessary. In some case it is course necessary.

    A real IT person knows when an upgrade is necessary and when it isn't - and that depends on many factors, with each case being unique.

    There is also the added problems of course that too many people confuse "need" with "want", and too many non-IT people (especially management types) don't actually know what they want. Again, a real IT person needs to work out what is and isn't needed, rather than just throwing money into new equipment that is not really needed.

    Of course, the best advice usually comes from someone who is not actually selling you the equiment (which is one of the few IT areas I don't work in). :)
     
  19. chaosbunny macrumors 68000

    chaosbunny

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    #19
    You got me, I forgot about the layers, but yes it's still way more complicated with constant "put item 73 on page 24 on page 27 and item 116 of page 36 on page 41 and we have a new item on page 16..." from the client. :)

    It was just an example of how for me, todays applications vs. applications form 5+ years ago always save some time here and there which makes them well worth their price if I use them for 1,5 - 2 years.
     
  20. Buzz Bumble Guest

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    #20
    Sounds familiar. One of the big jobs I do is an annual directory. I use a FileMaker database to store all the orgnaisations' details, short blurbs, etc., which makes it easier to make changes. Then once all the main changes have been done I can export from that to InDesign to do the layout work. :)
     
  21. tgurske macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2008
    #21
    I have an early 2007 MBP. Here is my experience:

    - Upgraded to 7200 RPM hard drive a year after purchase - made big difference and was inexpensive. I did it myself in a hour.
    - I upgraded the ram to it's max of 4 gigs. It technically will not use all of that ram but it was dirt cheap so I did it anyway. It made a moderate difference.

    I will buy a new laptop when I can afford one - here is why:
    - Battery. I am on my second battery and it's shot too. I get like five minutes out of it. Absolute junk. Apple should be ashamed of those old batteries.
    - Optical drive. I have had numerous problems with burning DVDs since I bought the machine. Snow leopard helped alot with the failures so I bet it was partially a software issue. It's amazing that my wifes crappy dell laptop burns dvds perfectly and my top of the line MBP always gives errors even with different media brands/types.

    So I am hoping that the new machines will have better batteries and better optical drives. Other than that I love it - it is fast and always works.

    TIP - use menu meters to see what you are waiting on - network, processor, ram or hard drive. You will probably see that you're waiting on the drive all the time. It is very telling.
     
  22. Buzz Bumble Guest

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    #22
    The hard drive is really the only physically moving part of the computer (ignoring things like cooling fans), so it's always going to be the second slowest part of the system. Changing to a solid state / Flash / RAM drive would speed that part up.

    The slowest part of the system is of course the user. Most of a computer's time is usually sitting around twiddling it's thumbs waiting for the user to do something ... it takes "eons" in computer time for the user to press each key even when typing at full speed. :)
     
  23. Shownarou macrumors regular

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    Sep 15, 2008
    Location:
    Newton, IA
    #23
    Yeah, unless you're using something crazy like a powermac g3. Then you might be twiddling your thumbs waiting for the computer to recognize you just typed a key. :)


    Yes, I read the thread. Just being a smart-ass.

    to the OP; I'd say that you could probably get by pretty easy with a ram and hard drive upgrade for another year, maybe two. But when it comes to buying a new system from Apple it's always a waiting game.
     
  24. soLoredd macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2007
    Location:
    California
    #24
    This is my method as well. Next spring we'll be upgrading my wife's 2006 MacBook when AppleCare is toward the end (still plan on keeping the MB). She needs a MBP for graphic design anyway. I'll be upgrading my '08 MBP in fall of '11.

    What works for me is putting away $100/month. By the time my buying period comes around I have more than enough and in the case of a great platform coming out sooner I have a head-start on that. But, I agree, if what you have does work for you then why upgrade for the sake of upgrading.
     
  25. AdeFowler macrumors 68020

    AdeFowler

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    Aug 27, 2004
    Location:
    England
    #25
    My G5 will be 5 years old in December. It runs Leopard and CS3 like a dream and I see no compelling reason to upgrade at the moment. The bulk of my work is corporate literature (training manuals, R&As etc) so I wouldn't call my needs high-end, but demanding enough to make my fans blow ;)
     

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