Difficult decision: PowerMac or iMac for a college student?

milky23

macrumors regular
Original poster
Oct 23, 2005
161
0
I am a soon to be college student (next fall) looking for an Apple. I am by no means a professional (yet) but I do not consider myself to be on the average consumer level. I worked all year in Photoshop and Illustrator, doing things ranging from constructing an entire yearbook (100mb PSDs) by myself in Photoshop to making a picture book in Illustrator. I see myself involved in computer science and computer graphics in college.

Would it be wiser to get a PowerMac G5 2.0ghz dual-core or an iMac G5 20" for college?

With a PowerMac G5, I would get 1gb of ram and the GeForce 6600 256mb card, and I would have to pair it with a budget 17" LCD. With an iMac, I would pair it with 1gb of ram, making it 1.5gb. An iMac would be nice with FrontRow, the iSight, and the small footprint. However, do you guys think it would last 4 years of college? There's a chance I could upgrade after 2 or 3 years of college, but it'd be nice if I could go through college with whatever I buy. A 20" monitor would sure be nice to photoshop in.

The PowerMac package I've set up would total $2,564.00, whereas the iMac package would cost me $1,957.00 (and that's with iWork and a wireless keyboard thrown in :) )

I would also like to be able to do some 3D work, but I doubt it would be very heavy work at all.

I would REALLY appreciate any help you can provide, as this question is really giving me a lot of grief :).
 

Eluon

macrumors regular
Apr 14, 2005
216
0
Spring, Texas
I have an iMac G5 17inch - the previous revision. It is perfect for college. I do video and photoshop as well. I have a gig of ram. You should be fine, but since you want to upgrade, I'd say go with the power mac.
 

SummerBreeze

macrumors 6502a
Sep 11, 2005
593
0
Chicago, IL
I'd go for the iMac instead of the PowerMac. You'll save a ton of money, and you can use it for entertainment in your room. Plus, it'll be much less of a pain to move in and out of dorms and apartments.
 

MacFan25863

macrumors 6502a
Jun 20, 2004
558
0
I have a Rev. B iMac G5 with a 20in screen, and its perfect for Photoshop and Final Cut..and thats with the stock 512 MB of RAM (plan on upgrading to 1.5 GB soon though). Buy the iMac and use the money you save to buy a eyeTV for it. Perfect media center!
 

TDM21

macrumors 6502a
Jul 7, 2004
789
0
I say go with the iMac. I've been in college for over a year and really haven't ran into many issues of not having enough power (see my sig and laugh what I am using). The iMac will perform great at the Photoshop tasks. EX: The Mac labs at my school are maxed out 1 GHz iMac G4s. While dated, they get the job done very well.

Being able to hook your computer up to a larger tv and watch videos is great and having a remote to control that will be awesome.

Also if you go back and look at pricing and options, you can probably save a few few dollars. For instance: I chose to get the Combo Drive PB and put the $200 the better hard drive and later buy a faster firewire dvd burner. Don't forget to get your educational discount; that will save even more money.
 

dukebound85

macrumors P6
Jul 17, 2005
18,059
1,186
5045 feet above sea level
I'd say get the imac. I have been in college for 3 years in mechanical engineering and I am still using my 1ghz emac 512ram etc from my freshman year. All I can say is that I have had no problems performance wise other than using vpc on pc only apps. Best of luck with making a decision.

Jonathan
 

p0intblank

macrumors 68030
Sep 20, 2005
2,557
2
New Jersey
I'm going to disagree with the majority of the thread and say go for the Power Mac, that way you can easily upgrade your system if you ever have to. And you mentioned you work with 100 MB PSD files... that's by no means small in terms of Photoshop. Sure 1.5 GB of RAM can handle that fine in the iMac, but I still say go the Power Mac. It's one hell of a nice system and worth the extra cash, especially in the long run. If it was me, I'd definitely go for the Power Mac. Ask yourself this: how much would you really use the iMac's extras (Photo Booth, Front Row, built-in iSight)? You can always buy an iSight later on when you really need one and get Photo Booth from "somewhere else." Then there's Front Row... but I see Apple releasing it for other Macs in the future.
 

Zman5225

macrumors 6502a
May 15, 2005
589
1
Tacoma WA
I'd jump on the new iMac. Not only do you save cash, but you save desk space! Plus it'll go good as a great media center. When you graduate then you can buy the machine of your dreams, until then, go with a great computer (iMac) to hold you over. I plan on ordering the 20" very soon!

)Z
 

Demon Hunter

macrumors 68020
Mar 30, 2004
2,245
38
I'm also going to say PowerMac. If you decide to go into one of those areas professionally, you'll be able to bring your PowerMac with you (with some upgrades). For $500 it's a very good investment, especially considering that $500 doesn't even cover a meal plan these days.

Even a "little" 3D work will require massive power. If you can't afford one of the new dual-cores, I would jump for one of the refurbished or AGP models.
 

Chrispy

macrumors 68020
Dec 27, 2004
2,126
1
Indiana
If you seriously think you are going to be moving into the professional field during or after college, you may want to consider the PowerMac simply for its upgradability. However, the current iMacs give you amazing bang for the buck and will more that meet your current needs. Just be realistic with yourself and what you see yourself doing down the and you should be able to make an educated decision.

If you see yourself being a professional in the field of graphics design then go for the PowerMac

Otherwise, go for the iMac :)
 

rockandrule

macrumors 6502
Aug 3, 2004
448
0
Jacksonville, FL
I would agree with the other two lone PowerMac promoters. I have a PowerBook (see sig for details) and compared to my girlfriend's PowerMac dual 2.0GHz in Photoshop, it's pretty funny. We both have a gig of ram (hers in 4x256 and mine in single DIMM) but the processors really make a difference. If you're just doing light work in any app, go with the iMac, but if you plan on doing some extensive work, even only as a maybe, go with the PowerMac. You won't see much lag at all on the iMac, I'd assume, but once you get into some power hungry filters and such, the Power in PowerMac will stand out. For example: my girlfriend and I tried out a previous Photoshop test that was posted on here and it took her about 46 seconds to run the test and me about 2 minutes.
 

Macky-Mac

macrumors 68030
May 18, 2004
2,589
1,142
milky23 said:
...However, do you guys think it would last 4 years of college?....
IMO, four years down the the road both will seem about equally out of date compared to whatever is on the market then.....spend your money on more RAM and the bigger screen of the imac and you'll be happier
 

Chrispy

macrumors 68020
Dec 27, 2004
2,126
1
Indiana
rockandrule said:
For example: my girlfriend and I tried out a previous Photoshop test that was posted on here and it took her about 46 seconds to run the test and me about 2 minutes.
Ouch haha ;) Very good way to really show the difference between the two machines for pro level work. You make a very good point in your post and one that definitely backs up my statement that a PowerMac is the only way to go for real professional level work.
 

p0intblank

macrumors 68030
Sep 20, 2005
2,557
2
New Jersey
rockandrule said:
my girlfriend and I tried out a previous Photoshop test that was posted on here and it took her about 46 seconds to run the test and me about 2 minutes.
Damn, talk about a difference! :eek: I can't wait to get my Power Mac.
 

ChrisBrightwell

macrumors 68020
Apr 5, 2004
2,294
0
Huntsville, AL
Go with the iMac and spend the difference on a TV tuner w/ DVR functionality, so you make make the most of Front Row. :) May want to add an external HDD, just for recorded TV shows and what-not.

Don't forget some decent speakers and a good pair of headphones. Roommates are notorious for cramping your love of loud music.
 

devilot

Moderator emeritus
May 1, 2005
15,532
2
Macky-Mac said:
IMO, four years down the the road both will seem about equally out of date compared to whatever is on the market then.....spend your money on more RAM and the bigger screen of the imac and you'll be happier
I definitely agree w/ that comment... 4 years down the road, the new pro-level desktop must be amazing what w/ a whole new processor and whatnot. :p

Plus, if you do end up either living in a dorm or apartment as opposed to a house; every little available space is precious and the iMac is a space saver.

Okay, I admit it, I'm just an iMac G5 lover. :eek:
 

QCassidy352

macrumors G4
Mar 20, 2003
10,572
2,670
Bay Area
well, when I started college, powermacs were like 400 or so mhz G4s. A month after I graduated, the powermacs were rev. A G5s.

My point? To echo what other posters said... whatever you get now will seem antiquated in four years. Get the imac... it will serve you very well.
 

NewbieNerd

macrumors 6502a
Sep 22, 2005
512
0
Chicago, IL
Here's another for the iMac. As others said, you will certainly be looking for an upgrade at least by the end of school. I'm a senior in college now and have been using the same dell since then, and even though I'm only gradually becoming a computer nerd, I am sure ready for an upgrade. In 4 years we will be well into the Mactel era and you will be ready to move on.

IMHO the iMac is such a good deal right now that you shouldn't pass it up. The prices are fantastic for what is being offered, particularly the 20''.

I think I want an iMac. :rolleyes:
 

p0intblank

macrumors 68030
Sep 20, 2005
2,557
2
New Jersey
QCassidy352 said:
well, when I started college, powermacs were like 400 or so mhz G4s. A month after I graduated, the powermacs were rev. A G5s.

My point? To echo what other posters said... whatever you get now will seem antiquated in four years. Get the imac... it will serve you very well.
Not to put you on the spot or anything, but... technology has come so far it's amazing. A dual-core Power Mac G5 will last him very well for four years. Today's Macs differ greatly from previous Macs. I mean, it's dual-core technology. It's powerful stuff. The iMac may just not cut it for what he wants to do. And who's to say he won't advance onto more processor-dependent production? My Photoshop work has come a long way. I started with making the usual sigs for forums use, but now I actually have clients who depend on me to make them grade A quality work. The iMac G5 can do that, but for how long? With the Power Mac you have great expandability.

This post may have seemd unorganized... if so, sorry about that. I'm getting tired. :p
 

neocell

macrumors 65816
May 23, 2005
1,074
2
Great White North
Definitely the iMac.
- cheaper
- more compact
- more fun (front row, isight etc.)
as Macky-Mac and devilot76 have indicated that in four years it doesn't matter which computer you buy it will be out of date and not supported, so buy the more appropriate computer for today, which I believe is the iMac and if top-of-the-line performance is a necessity use your extra cash to max out the ram and hard drive.
 

BurtonCCC

macrumors 65816
May 2, 2005
1,005
0
Wheaton/Normal, IL
I just want to add that most people I know who have desktops at college are pretty unhappy. I use a PowerBook to take all my notes and such and it's fantastic and I can take it home whenever I go so I'm not worried about people messing with it. Just a thought.

Daniel
 

p0intblank

macrumors 68030
Sep 20, 2005
2,557
2
New Jersey
Burton has a good point. Have you considered a PowerBook? I know it doesn't compare to the power of the iMac and Power Mac, but it's always an option. I too wouldn't want to leave my Mac in a dorm room while I wasn't there. But the Power Mac is such an awesome computer. Ah, just decide already! :p
 

javiercr

macrumors 6502
Apr 12, 2005
419
0
London
If you are doing graphics you need a good monitor, a budget 17 would be crap. If you get the powermac get a dell 20 or 24 if you can't afford the apple.

Also, iWork is not worth it and the wireless keyboard although nice is not as dependable as a USB one, what if you can't find batteries at 4am when you are trying to complete the course work :) so key a USB one around just in case.
 

javiercr

macrumors 6502
Apr 12, 2005
419
0
London
BurtonCCC said:
I just want to add that most people I know who have desktops at college are pretty unhappy. I use a PowerBook to take all my notes and such and it's fantastic and I can take it home whenever I go so I'm not worried about people messing with it. Just a thought.

Daniel
Depends what you study, I studied engineering, all we had were equations, you can't write down equations fast enough in any computer, one guy tried using LaTex and although he was a LaTex super geek after a couple of weeks get got fed up.
 

p0intblank

macrumors 68030
Sep 20, 2005
2,557
2
New Jersey
javiercr said:
If you are doing graphics you need a good monitor, a budget 17 would be crap. If you get the powermac get a dell 20 or 24 if you can't afford the apple.

Also, iWork is not worth it and the wireless keyboard although nice is not as dependable as a USB one, what if you can't find batteries at 4am when you are trying to complete the course work :) so key a USB one around just in case.
Not to mention the corded keyboard has a 2-USB hub. :)