HELP! I'm so out of date I don't know what to buy!

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by OutOfDate, Jun 29, 2012.

  1. OutOfDate macrumors member

    Jun 29, 2012
    Hi, I need to new mac as my G4 isn't well. It was second hand when I got it a few years ago and the HD is about to go. It's so out of date that I'm thinking of just starting again.

    I was thinking of getting a laptop this time but haven't a clue what to get or where to even start. It's been years since I looked at this sort of thing (extended maternity leave) and am really out of date with the technology.

    I am a graphic designer so need it to run the relevant packages - Quark, I design whole books so it needs to be able to handle that. Photoshop - often quite large files, Indesign etc, at the same time without struggling but have a teeny weeny budget. Actually I have no budget at all so am going to have to find the money!

    The screen also needs to be a decent size so i can see what is going on.

    Sorry for being so crap! (I'm rather embarrassed about this)
  2. Winni macrumors 68030


    Oct 15, 2008

    I know a professional graphics designer who was very happy with her (first generation) Mac Mini and the 23" Apple Cinema Display. I think you might also be good to go with the cheapest Mini and some cheaper 23" to 27" display - it doesn't have to be an expensive Apple model. And it also does not have to be a maxed out Mini for your needs - you don't need the fastest CPU, but you should put as much RAM in it as you can get. Check Apple's refurbished store or buy a Mini on eBay. As long as it still has Apple Care, you can't do much wrong.

    The other option would be to hunt for a (used) iMac.
  3. paulsdenton macrumors 6502


    Oct 9, 2010
    Barton, Vermont USA
    Go for a Mac Mini

    I use Adobe CS6 all the programs you use but not Quark. I have a mid 2011 Mac Mini and a 30" display. I put 8GB of RAM in the unit (cost $55 from OWC) and it works just fine. I also do design and web development. I think you can't go wrong with the Mini; it's an astonishingly capable little unit. I'm on my second one now. I needed the extra horsepower for CS6. I haven't done any video work on it yet but my 2.4 GHz Macbook handled it OK so I'm betting my Mini will as well.
  4. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    Bear in mind that if your copies of Quark/Photoshop/Indesign are of the same vintage as your G4 its quite likely that they won't work on a new Mac and you'll need to upgrade or replace them. Adobe CS and Quark are eye-wateringly expensive, so you could end up spending as much on software as you do on the new Mac.

    If the software doesn't support Intel Macs, then it won't run at all on the current version of OS X (10.7) because the 'legacy' support for PPC (G4/G5) has now gone. It might run on Snow Leopard (10.6) but you'd still have to check for any specific compatibility issues with the versions of the software you have.

    ...otherwise, I like the combination of a 13" or 15" laptop for mobility + a large screen, mouse and keyboard for desktop use.
  5. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    Is your g4 an iMac, or is it a "G4 tower"?

    If it's a tower, you can just find another hard drive (doesn't even have to be a new one), and put it in, there's room for more than just one. Somebody might even have an old drive they'll give you for free. It will "keep you going" for now, and give you time to think about a newer Mac for the future.

    Also be aware that EVERY Mac sold now is sold with Lion, and your older apps probably aren't going to run without upgrades. More $$$, possibly a lot more.

    If you need a "decent size" screen for page layout and book design, a laptop is probably not for you. You'd have to spend a good amount of money to get a 15" model, and you might find even that larger (well, larger than 13") size "too small" for your needs.

    I'd recommend that you look at either a 27" iMac, or a Mac Mini with a good sized external display. The display DOES NOT have to be an Apple display (they are VERY expensive), you can use what you have now until you find something newer that suits your tastes and your budget.

    Apple looks like it's going to release an updated version of the Mac Mini very soon -- this is worth waiting for.
    A new iMac may also be coming, perhaps by the end of the summer. It may not be radically re-designed for now, but should offer decent internal improvements like a newer CPU chip and it will definitely have USB3.

    Only you can decide whether you MUST "buy now", or wait just a little longer. If you buy right now, you may find yourself having "buyer's remorse" in the near-future when the new models are introduced.

    Do you have a "brick-and-mortar" store anywhere nearby where you can go and get a hands-on, eyes-on on the most recent models?
  6. dmsmith macrumors newbie

    Jul 17, 2006
    Any thing you get new or even late model will run circles around what you have. See and look for your model. The newest quad cores are about 10 times faster than the fastest G4.

    Many of the models will take 16G ram though Apple says the limit is 8G. Just check w/ or to be sure how high it can go. It's cheaper to get a model with min ram and upgrade it yourself. Apple memory costs are too dear.

    When the rumored imminent new models of mini and imac come out, the current models will probably be heavily discounted.
  7. Batt macrumors 65816


    Dec 17, 2007
    Syracuse, NY
    I use Quark and P'shop on a 17" and a 13" MacBook Pro, no problems.
  8. aross99 macrumors 68000


    Dec 17, 2006
    East Lansing, MI
    This pretty much said what I was going to say. If you have budget issues, then getting the drive replaced is going to be WAY less expensive then anything else. Drives are cheap, but the cloning process if probably more than you want to handle on your own.

    As others have said, you are looking at not only a new computer, but new software for almost everything. You used to be able to upgrade Photoshop to the latest version for $199, but now they are very restrictive on what versions are eligible for upgrades. I suspect you are coming from a version that could be as old as PS 7. New versions of Photoshop start at $700, unless you qualify for the academic versions. There are new month-to-month options also, which might make it easier for you to afford if you want to look into that.

    I don't know about Quark's upgrade policy, but I suspect you are still looking at a minimum of $200...

    Depending on the screen resolution you are currently using, you may struggle with a laptop not only in the physical size of the screen, but the amount of information it can display. Apple is discontinuing the 17" MacBook Pro, so 15" is going to be all you can get pretty soon - although you can use an external monitor for more money.

    As others have said, the cheapest way to go is a Mac Mini and a non-Apple display. The Mac Mini will be significantly faster than what you have now, and the non-Apple display can be cheap, if you aren't doing color critical work.

    I'm guessing you would have at least $800 in the computer and monitor plus your software upgrades. if you can come up with a cheap version of Photoshop or an upgrade, maybe you can add that and still be around $1,000.

    You still need to come up with a Quark solution, as well as other things that may need to be updated...
  9. OutOfDate thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 29, 2012
    I didn't even know what a Mac Mini was! I had to look it up!:eek:


    Also meant to say that I would be worried about buying a computer on Ebay! Will check out the refurbished store.


    My husband will still have his screen, mouse and keyboars which we currently share so I would still have access to that if needed. Can you just plug it into the laptop? (stupid question alert!)


    It's a tower. The more I think about it the more I think I laptop would be a good idea as both myself and my husband work from home sometimes, so with a laptop we could both work at the same time.

    What's "Lion"? :eek:

    I'm not too bothered about having the latest models or anything.


    I'd like to pretend that I understood all of that . . .


    Is 17" the largest screen you can get on a mac laptop?


    So there won't be any laptops available with larger then 15" screens! Why! That seems daft.

    I wouldn't buy an Apple monitor, way too expensive.

    I have CS.
  10. OutOfDate thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 29, 2012
    Also, can you upgrade laptops? I seem to remember being told some years ago that you couldn't.
  11. wordsworth, Jul 1, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2012

    wordsworth macrumors regular

    Apr 7, 2011
    I think it's important that you realise there are two significant aspects to bear in mind if upgrading your Mac computing experience. Each is directly related to the other. Judging from your responses to earlier posts, you don't seem to have quite grasped the nature of how problematic moving from 'old' to 'new' can be (and how unexpectedly expensive).

    If you decide to buy a secondhand G5 tower (successor to the G4 tower range) or even a secondhand G5 iMac (though I recommend a tower), your existing software will almost certainly be able to run on those machines.

    However, if instead you buy a Mac built from circa 2006 onwards, these will be Intel-based Macs (vastly different from your own PowerPC G4, and different from the PowerPC G5s I recommended earlier).

    Your QuarkXPress software and other design programs will not run on new or recent Mac models (because these newer machines are Intel-based Macs and NOT PowerPC).

    I tend to agree with an earlier post – that you begin by getting an extra, new hard drive for your G4 tower and that you continue with your present set-up for now. That will be well within your budget and a lot simpler to deal with technically.

    You might then find that your best next step after getting that new hard drive in place is to budget for buying a secondhand Mac, though one that is still capable of running your current software. That would probably best be a G5 tower. These are quite old now but such a machine would nevertheless be a step up from what you have right now. (Again this would be way more affordable than buying a newer Mac – and thus, by necessity, loads of new replacement software to run on it.) You would then have two systems (G5 and G4) able to do the same work. In the event that one of these developed a fault, you would have a backup machine available to take the strain and keep the workflow going.

    Indeed, from your original posting, your options are somewhat limited right now. Remember, too, that it's best to keep things simple so that your productivity and ability to generate business is not impaired. The last thing you need is to have a new or newer computer that won't do what you want it to do. In that scenario you won't get the clients' work done and instead will spend all your time trying to figure out how to make it all work properly (with no easy solution).

    I imagine you do need to spruce up your current system and, of course, hard drives don't last forever – the sooner you get a new one in that G4 tower of yours (alongside the original) the better, if you plan to stick with it. You could maybe increase the amount of memory, too, if you haven't already maxed it out. Extra memory would be another affordable way to enhance your existing productivity (after or at the same time as purchasing the additional hard drive).

    Then I'd start saving up to join the more modern Mac world.
  12. aross99 macrumors 68000


    Dec 17, 2006
    East Lansing, MI
    This really is the key - if cost is an issue, then you really do need to remember that upgrading to a new Mac means buying all new software.

    If that is a problem for you, then you need to stay with the older G4/G5 machines, where you can keep your existing software.

    If cost really isn't an issue, then you can look at getting a new Mac AND new software.

    You need to get the cost issue out of the way before you can move forward...
  13. aross99 macrumors 68000


    Dec 17, 2006
    East Lansing, MI
    Yes, you can plug your keyboard, mouse and monitor into a laptop. The monitor may need a cable adapter, but in general this should all work - although switching cables would be a pain if you had to do it very often...

    The largest Apple laptop is the 17" MacBook Pro, and that has been discontinued with the latest round of upgrades. I'm sure they will be available for a bit longer, but anyone who wants one should be looking for them now. In the current lineup, the 15" MacBook Pro has the largest screen you can get.

    The MacBook Pro models (pre-retina display) can be upgraded with additional memory and larger/faster hard drives or SSD's.

    The new MacBook Pro with retina display and MacBook Air can not have their memory upgraded, and upgrading the SSD's, require a special type of drive from Mac specialists like Other World Computing.
  14. OutOfDate thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 29, 2012
    The software is newer than the machine. It runs CS, can't remember the version on Quark (on a different computer as I'm scared to turn mine on at the moment!) but it can't be that out of date as otherwise it wouldn't be compatible with my clients! Or would the newer software not work on my old machine?

    Will be getting a new HD for my existing computer for now.

    Thanks for all the help!
  15. caligomez macrumors regular


    Feb 8, 2011
    San Juan, PR
    Do you have an Apple store close by? I would recommend you get a full demo of the machines there. One will just feel right, you know?

    After all, any computer in the store will be a much improved upgrade from your tower. And it doesn't seem like you have very demanding tech needs, so pretty much anything will do, as long as it feels right.

    Have fun! :)
  16. murdock25 macrumors member

    Aug 5, 2006
    I would recommend the 27" iMac for best bang for your buck. For Graphic Design you can't beat that large screen. And pretty powerful computer. Later spend the $200 and upgrade your RAM yourself. Also I would just ditch Quark no one uses that anymore. You can get an InDesign plugin that will open old Quark files.
  17. quasinormal macrumors 6502a

    Oct 26, 2007
    Sydney, Australia.
    Creative suite 1 and 2 will not run on lion. I'd reckon a second hand 2.3ghz dual core Powermac g5 would be the cheapest option.
  18. Jethryn Freyman macrumors 68020

    Jethryn Freyman

    Aug 9, 2007
    I'd say to go for a secondhand Mac Pro, they go for $600-$900 for the 2006-7 quad core models on ebay.
  19. harrisonw1998 macrumors regular

    Jul 18, 2011
    A base rMBP is a good computer for your needs. It has a 15" screen and is very powerful.
  20. FrankHahn macrumors 6502a

    May 17, 2011
    I also think that a 27" iMac is a very good option for you, assuming that you have (or can get) a budget for it. With all necessary softwares installed, you can get your work done quickly and pleasantly. If you also get an AppleCare Protection Plan for it, you then have peace of mind for three years.
  21. OutOfDate thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 29, 2012
    I'm afraid that's no even romotely true. I work in this industry.
  22. OutOfDate thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 29, 2012
    Hi, hope that didn't come across as arsey! Realised after I had written it and logged off! :eek:

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