GDesign Student needs help choosing

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by cbell86, Jul 8, 2007.

  1. cbell86 macrumors newbie

    Jul 8, 2007
    I was recently accepted into the upper level graphic design studio at my university and will need to upgrade to accommodate for the intense Fall workload. The semester begins the 4th week of August and therefore I will need to purchase a Mac relatively soon. First, though, I have some specific questions/needs that require help in choosing a specific model. Up to this point I've been a PC owner so excuse me if my Mac knowledge is a little shaky.

    First, I am not against purchasing a desktop, however it seems to me that MacPros often provide far more power than which they are used, and therefore don't warrant the expensive price tag for someone not constantly editing large video. It also seems to me that a Macbook Pro can outperform an iMac while also offering portability.
    Please be aware that video games are a serious passion of mine and I intend on going to grad school for a second degree in game design. However, the coming junior and senior years in graphic design will have me primarily using Adobe's CS3, Corel, etc so I feel as though a Mac will give me less headaches during my crunchtime schedule. Still...I like to teach myself modeling/programming (C++, Java, etc) on my own time. That is...when i actually GET my own time...:eek:

    My first inkling is to purchase a quality MacBook Pro (15"???) along with an ACDisplay as I'll need a larger monitor for working on digital artwork. I own an external 350gb HD with firewire so size doesn't scare me (I'll likely pick up a second in the future).

    1. Formidable machine for working primarily in CS3 (PS,Illustrator,Flash,DW,etc) and other graphic software
    2. Able to handle 3D modeling (ie Maya) and Video Editing
    3. Speed/Reliability
    4. Capable of playing upcoming games (ie Starcraft 2) through Bootcamp/Parallel

    Please explain necessary upgrades, ie memory, video, etc and the best way of purchasing.

    Thanks in advance (sorry for the long/dry post, i'm a funny guy i promise :D)
  2. NickD macrumors 6502a


    Mar 25, 2007
    A MacBook Pro seems right on the dot for what you want. There's always the constant 2.2 vs. 2.4 debate, but let's not get into that.

    I would say a 2.2 15" maxed out with 4GB of RAM (great for Maya and CS3), with a 7200RPM internal HD and a good and speedy FW 800 external for data.

    I'm not much of gamer, so I'll leave it to someone else to give advice on gaming capabilities.

    If you feel comfortable with buying something from the refurbished store on, then that might be your best option as it will knock a decent chunk of the price and you can do RAM upgrades yourself later. Otherwise, I'd order through, unless you happen to have an Apple store nearby.

  3. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    May 19, 2002
    Unless the iMac switches to a desktop chipset, the next generation iMac and MacBook Pro will essentially be the same Santa Rosa laptop chipset-based machine -- just a different case, LCD, and GPU.

    So performance wise they will be similar. So going iMac loses you portability, and right now is a generation behind.

    The Mac Pro offers the workstation/server chipsets -- and can have 32GB of memory -- a performance boon long term for Pro users.

    If the school has some Mac Pro machines, you can get a laptop and use these when the projects warrant it.

    As far as upgrades, the Mac Pro is the only machine with a real video card upgrade choice. So if this feature is important, it'll cost you.

    Everything else either lacks a driver for other cards (iMac 24) or has GPUs soldered to the motherboard (everything else).
  4. cbell86 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 8, 2007
    I'm definitely willing to purchase refurbished equipment. My TV is refurbished and one of the greatest deals I've ever seen.

    Couple things more.
    1. Where are some recommended places for getting RAM cheap?
    2. The pricetags on the apple displays are pretty nutty, any suggestions?

    (Unfortunately my TV has to stay where it is since its def too big for my studio desk), i need an escape
  5. cbell86 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 8, 2007
    I go to UF and yes, we have a couple studios with Mac Pros so that resource is there if need be. Upgradability is not a major concern since beyond the system NickD described, i see little problem getting work done in the future (ie 2-3years)
    PC gaming isn't a major fortay of mine ($/stability migrated me over to console though I would be interested in some upcoming titles, such as SC2/Crysis/etc and so that too keeps me disinterested with upgrades. However, will the 128mb graphics chip in the 2.2Ghz even be capable? Not to get into the 2.2 vs 2.4 debate, but is the .2ghz coupled with 256mb graphics of the 2.4 reason to make the jump in my case?:confused:
  6. kikobarbada macrumors regular

    Jun 28, 2007
    Since you are going to use and edit games and graphics a lot, I would advice you to buy the Macbook PRO 2.4ghz 256mb 4GB 160HD, which will suit you for another 3 years or so. If you don't need portability, go with the Mac Pro. It is easier to upgrade and faster, much much faster. I would get for now the dual 2.66ghz 4GB and 250GB or more if you need it.
  7. ktbubster macrumors 6502a


    Jan 20, 2007
    My macbook pro (on my sig) handles the whole CS3 suite just fine and some 3d rendering programs via parallels (i'm in product design) just dandily, so the current macbook pro lineup will suite you just fine :) in that area atleast. Games I've heard it seems are AOK on the macbook pro as well, but I don't have first hand experience with that.

    Refurb last gen 2.16c2d or 2.33 would probably be just fine for you as well considerin mine works so well for this stuff. So refurb may be a good way to save a bit of money. A LCD is a DEF must though like you said. I got a decently cheap brand Acer for just over 200 open box. I find it to be really really good for the price, but as graphic design calls for more color accuracy... reburb ACD or the equivilent Dell (not sure what the number is.. but whichever one uses the same panels as the ACD) are decent as well and are a bit cheaper...

    but look around, go to the stores and compare. I've seen some nice ones in HP too which are really nice as far as stands as well, but the contrast and color may be off for people in GD. So it's personal preference.

    You will find that a portable computer is really useful in a university, specifically in something in art. As not all your classes will be focused specifically on GD, but on theories and histories and such... and having a portable for those classes to take notes, and work on projects or create presentations on the fly etc... or just to show to other groups (or even on interviews sometimes later!) will be useful.

    A mac pro would ofcourse be great, if you have the cash, but portability is really good, so I'd o with the macbook pro (refurb or student discount or however to save a bit of cash for the extra display etc) and then in 3 years or so down the line, when you save up more money and are going for gaming.. see what's out there in the macpro type line when you need that sorta power.


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