Graphic Design 1st year, looking for a Mac

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Missubaru, Jul 15, 2009.

  1. Missubaru macrumors newbie

    Jul 15, 2009
    So yes, it's my exciting first year in Graphic Design this coming fall and I'm looking around for the Mac for me. Because I'm a student, I don't have much money and I've been working my butt off to pay for my education. My parents are not supporting me financially.
    I have been scouting around on Kijiji, Craigslist as well as my school's classifieds where there seem to be no Mac's that meet my needs specifically.

    The problem is, I'm not sure what minimum requirements I'd need in order to support all the programs I'll be using without bogging down my computer. I am familiar with 2 of the 5 programs, illustrator and photoshop being the two I'm familiar with and the other 3 I'm not are, Indesign, Quark Xpress and Flash.
    I have settled on buying a Desktop, now all I need is help with all the complexities of ram, memory, video card, etc.
    Apple is selling refurbished desktops at resonable prices.
    I've scouted out this one, could anyone tell me if this is a good deal, and will it be able to support all my school work?

    Overview & Product Details (2008 model, $1,549.00)

    Model 24-inch iMac
    Processor 2.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
    L2 Cache 6MB Shared
    Frontside bus 1066MHz
    Memory 2GB (two 1GB SO-DIMM) of 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; supports up to 4GB
    Hard drive 320GB Serial ATA; 7200 rpm
    Optical drive Slot-loading 8x SuperDrive with 4x double-layer burning (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
    Display 24-inch (viewable) glossy widescreen TFT active-matrix LCD, 1920 by 1200 pixels, millions of colors
    Video Built-in iSight; mini-DVI output port with support for DVI, VGA, S-video, and composite video connections via adapter
    Graphics ATI Radeon HD 2600 PRO with 256MB of GDDR3 memory
    FireWire One FireWire 400 port and one FireWire 800 port; 7 watts each
    USB Three USB 2.0 ports on computer; two USB 2.0 ports on keyboard
    Audio Built-in stereo speakers with 24-watt digital amplifier, built-in microphone, optical digital audio output/headphone out, optical digital audio input/audio line in
    Ethernet Built-in 10/100/1000BASE-T (Gigabit)
    Wireless Built-in AirPort Extreme (802.11n); built-in Bluetooth 2.1+EDR (Enhanced Data Rate)
    Hardware accessories Apple Remote, Apple Keyboard, and Mighty Mouse
    Other Built-in IR receiver

    Thanks so much for your help guys.
  2. Designer Dale macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

    Mar 25, 2009
    Folding space

    I run everything you listed except Quark on a MacBookPro with a 2.5 gig processor and 4 gigs of ram. My HD is 5400 rpm with no major issues. It was built in '08 and has a slower bus and ram speed than what you are looking at. PhotoShop can run a little slow depending on the stress I put on the processor, but I've never really seen it tax the CPU more than 50%. Maybe 80% with big images and filters. At school I used an early model MacPro with dual Xeon chips at 2 gigs and 2 gigs of ram. The other lab had Mirror Door G4 systems with dual 1.2 gig chips and 1 gig of ram. They really had to labor to get some PS tasks done, but they worked. The app that will be most problematic (at least in my experience) will be Quark. We had 6.5 and it had a tendency to crash, even on the big machines. This is more of a Quark issue than a Mac issue.

    The short version of this is that anything from Apple with a 2.5 gig processor and at least 2 gigs of ram will handle most anything you throw at it. The OS has great memory management.

  3. pelicanflip macrumors 6502a

    Jun 24, 2009
    Shoot for a 2.5 processor and above, as well as 4 GB of RAM. I don't think you'll have any issues with Photoshop, In Design, or Illustrator.

    The computers at my school are sub-par, and they seem to manage all three of those computers fairly well. My laptop is still able to run all three of those as well, usually photoshop and in-design simultaneously
  4. hiptobesquare macrumors regular


    Apr 20, 2003
    Plan for later, before doing what looks good now.

    I run a laptop lease-purchase program at a state university design school. I support hundreds of Macs and PCs for college students. (and am a Subaru enthusiast, too, so kudos on the screen name.)

    I would suggest a two-segment approach.

    First year, you probably won't need much for gen-eds.

    Fourth year, you are going to want more than a 4-year old computer.

    I would suggest buying a MacBook, or something similar, maybe a 13" MacBook Aluminum (if there are any left/used before the 13" aluminum went "PRO")

    Maybe even a Mac Mini and a third party or used monitor for your room, and maybe a mobile like iPod Touch or iPhone, for mobile e-mail and web. if you really don't have much budget, and can use on-campus labs. If you are planning on iMac, I would seriously consider Mini first, with a much less expensive 3rd-party monitor.

    I would upgrade to at MINIMUM 2GB of RAM. 4GB is better, but more expensive. I would find someone besides Apple to buy the RAM from, as Apple is way overpriced on RAM. Get a decent size, but FAST hard drive. Photoshop and Illustrator use the drive as a scratch disk, so you will need to keep some of the drive-space free, or use free-space on an external drive, preferably Firewire, for that sort of use, rather than USB. A properly big external can also serve as a backup destination for your data.

    THEN, during or after your sophomore year, maybe a bit later... see about getting a current machine then. Budget for it, save, borrow if you must, to get a machine that will be current in the future, and carry you through graduation, with higher demands during the Junior and Senior years.

    When you upgrade, you can keep the earlier machine, or re-sell it, hand it down to someone else in the family... whatever.

    Keep in mind... Apple does not offer AppleCare warranty longer than 3 years. If you damage the machine, it is out of your pocket to fix it, Apple won't cover it. If you go past 3-years, any repair is out of your pocket. Maybe it won't be an issue, but I see a lot of issues come across my desk.

    First of all, KEEP BACKUPS, even of your current projects. Data loss is something most students don't plan for, and it is catastrophic if it ever happens. Murphys law says it will happen 6 hours before your big final review...

    Plan for what mobility you need, but also your budget. Plan to depend on it more later than you do now. A fancy new machine is always fun. But a fancy new machine isn't new forever.
  5. Missubaru thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 15, 2009
    I'm firmly looking for a desktop. I've had to think about first whether I wanted a laptop or a desktop and I've found that the headache of having to deal with trying to fix a laptop/ seeing my other friend's fiddle around with theirs has left a sour taste in my mouth. My school has many mac labs and I can just take my work with me on a memory stick. They're also cheaper than the macbooks.
    Hiptobesquared you are a wealth of information, thank you! (btw, perhaps you are also a proud owner of a Subaru?)
    My Program is actually 3 years, and slightly differs in the gen-ed area because I already took my english course and computers. As for the Murphy Law, I know it well, my pre-design course was a steep learning curve and gave me a taste of the GD life. I don't think I'll ever make the mistake of not backing up my work every hour.
    Thanks to everyone else as well for your help.
    Basically I need at least a 2.5 processor
    2 GB (4 is better)
    Get the 2GB RAM and then upgrade (not from Apple)
    I really appreciate how much information I'm getting back. This definitely helped a lot. I'll be back for more questions!
    Oh one last question, about the tablets, is having one a bonus, or something I don't really need?
  6. hiptobesquare macrumors regular


    Apr 20, 2003
    On a side note, I own two subarus. A 2005 Legacy GT turbo, and I just bought an older 1992 SVX coupe.


    Solid on the desktop, I would seriously look into a new Mac Mini, and third party 20-24" LCD monitor (eventually perhaps even two of them). Apple monitors are very nice, but $$$$.

    Not to denegrate the iMac at all, it is a fantastic system, but it isn't exactly inexpensive, and you mentioned budget, which I completely understand.

    A tablet is a nice thing to have, but I suppose it depends on the type of graphic design you plan on doing. For type-manipulation, and other manipulations of pre-generated content, and things that are not as intensive on generating original artwork by hand, it might get a bit less use, but the more original hand-generated content, the more you would probably benefit from a Wacom-style tablet.

    -A new Mini with an up-optioned hard drive, and 2GB RAM, with maybe an up-rated processor if you plan on keeping the computer for a long time. BUY the AppleCare protection for 3 years. Cheap insurance against failure, and Apple's tier service is $$$$ without warranty coverage.

    -a used, or 3rd party less expensive monitor. ViewSonic isn't bad. Samsung, and others are probably good, too, and not as expensive as Apple.

    -Adobe CS4 Design Premium (unless you absolutely NEED Master Collection) from an educational vendor on your campus. Educational discount is probably less than 300$ for an individual license of the Design Premium collection. Retail is much higher.

    -MS Office, or OpenOffice, and you should be good to start.
    -Maybe Google Sketchup (free, Pro costs a bit of money), or other course-dependent software.
    -Backup drives, which it sounds like you are familiar with.
    -A tablet if you want one...

    An iMac could also serve the same purpose, or even a used Intel-based Mac Pro tower, if you can find a smokin' deal on one. 6 months ago, I would not have recommended the old Mini, before the update. The update brought the Mini up to relatively current stats, and made it a viable, good value machine again.

    A colleague of mine who runs the design college computer labs where I work, just bought a new Mac Mini, a dell (hack, spit... but good deal) monitor, for her personal use, and she loves it.

Share This Page