Help with first Mac purchase (iMac or mini)

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by devincco, Jun 11, 2009.

  1. devincco macrumors member

    devincco

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2006
    #1
    Hi everyone. I'm looking at buying my first Mac. I'm pretty certain that I'm going to get an iMac, but still tossing around the idea of a mini. Anyway, I'm trying to decide which model of iMac or mini to get. Since it is my Mac I'll be learning as I go. My main use for the machine will be typical home/office stuff, picture editing with Photoshop Elements, and video editing with iMovie or something similar. I also wanted to keep the price somewhat reasonable. So my choices are...

    Last year 24" iMac. Club Mac has it for $1199 ($1099/AR). I'll upgrade to 4GB of RAM afterwords.

    Present refrub 24" iMac for $1549.

    Or entry level current generation mini for $599 and upgrade to 4GB RAM after I get it.

    I'm leaning towards previous generation iMac because it seems to be a great value. But it's not using the newer video card, and the RAM expansion is limited to 4GB. I don't know if that will really be an issue since this will be my first Mac.

    I've also heard that the performance of the new mini is pretty impressive. Does anyone know how it compares with the previous generation iMac? I'd still need to buy a keyboard, mouse and monitor, or a KVM switch. This combo would still come in cheaper than the previous generation iMac.

    The only reason I'm, considering the current version of iMac is because it's using the newer technology.

    So any advice that people can give would be greatly appreciated. Thanks to everyone.
     
  2. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2008
    Location:
    Finland
    #2
    New iMacs doesn't really use newer technique... You'll be fine with previous gen iMac and it's GPU is much more powerful than 9400M in new models. 4GB RAM will be enough for you. I wouldn't buy Mini because you don't have monitor and other accessories.
     
  3. thatdarnfish macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2004
    Location:
    New York
    #3
    The older iMac's GPU, while more powerful, will not be compatible with OpenCL in Snow Leopard.
     
  4. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2008
    Location:
    Finland
    #4
    So what? I think OP won't get big perfermance boost from OpenCL and while 9400M supports it, but can't provide big performance boost either, there's no reason to buy this gen Macs for higher price
     
  5. thatdarnfish macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2004
    Location:
    New York
    #5
    I don't think we know yet just how much of a boost OpenCL will provide to the average user. However, if I were in the market for an iMac, I would take into consideration the fact that the 2.8 model will not take full advantage of an important new feature of Snow Leopard.
     
  6. spencecb macrumors 6502a

    spencecb

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2003
    #6
    Agreed. I would go for the newer iMac. Even though the GPU may not be quite as powerful, it will undoubtedly give you longer use out of the iMac because it will be taking advantage of an important new feature in the next version of OS X due out in September.

    OP did not say he'd be gaming, so maybe a discrete GPU will have no benefit to the user.
     
  7. mgridgaway macrumors 6502

    mgridgaway

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2006
    #7
    Usually these new features benefit the user very nominally by themselves. It's usually the compilation over years that leads to a true increase in speed and performance. I mean, just think about Core Image.. sure, it made a few things look pretty, but did it really add to anything? Not really, but you add that, plus Grand central, plus OpenCL, etc, well then you have a party going.

    Think about Safari 4 and it's latest improvement for Java. Will most end users really notice a difference? Probably not. But it's supposed to be faster so yay.

    Anyway, OP, if I had your choices, I would go for the refurb iMac, then the new Mac Mini. I would stay away from the current iMac because I don't see it as a good value. Sure, it can take advantage of Open CL, but the 9400 uses standard ram.. so you're basically just introducing a middle man. Same thing with the Mac Mini, but it costs far less and you can buy your own display which will be able to used with any computer, not just the iMac.

    But if I had my own choice? I'd pick up the last gen (but still very powerful) high end iMac as a refurb. It's in the store now for $1599, which is $600 off the price of new for a near top of the line computer. That way, I know I'd be getting the newest technology (since the 8800 GS is supposed to support Open CL) at a really fantastic deal. And yeah, it doesn't support 8GB of ram.... but do most users really need that? And have you priced 2x 4GB sticks? They're still at least another year or two before they're reasonable in price. I have 4GB and I always have tons of room left.
     
  8. devincco thread starter macrumors member

    devincco

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2006
    #8
    Hey guys, OP here. To answer a few questions and maybe clarify a thing or 2.

    1) No, I'm not into gaming so I won't be using the machine for that. Mostly office/home use, photo editing with Photoshop elements or iPhoto, and light home movie editing in iMove or something similar.

    2) The current gen refurb I'm referring to is the one with the nVidia GT 120 for $1549, not the refurb with the 9400 for $1299.

    3) The reason the mini is in the equation is that it is the cheapest way for me to get into a Mac. I'd use it for a 2-3 years, then pass it on down to the kids or move it into the living room as a media center pc or server. I don't mind buying a Monitor, keyboard and mouse.

    Being that this is my first Mac, I definitely want to try and get the best bang for the buck. The current gen refurbed iMac is pushing the budget to the limit. But I think it would definitely last much longer than the other 2. But the other 2 I could pass on down to the kids or re-purpose and then upgrade to something bigger and better at that time. :)
     
  9. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2008
    Location:
    Finland
    #9
    Current gen iMac with GT120 will give you the biggest bang for the buck, in my opinion. It has enough power for years.

    Also, Mini will handle your tasks well
     
  10. devincco thread starter macrumors member

    devincco

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2006
    #10
    OK. So I'm actually a little surprised that a lot of people are suggesting the mini. Can I ask why? Is it because it has the OpenCL capabilities? My understanding is that while OS X.6 has it, it won't really be utilized until software vendors are on board 100%, and that could take a couple of years. Or is it really that much better than the previous gen iMac? Or is it really the best bang for the buck? I'm just curious because some of the benchmarks I've seen show the previous gen iMac still performing better than the current mini.

    One thing I also forgot to mention that I'll be doing is running some VM's in Parallels or some other type of VM environment. Not sure if that would make a difference or not.

    Again, thanks to everyone for the input.
     

Share This Page