iMac buying questions

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by keaide, Nov 14, 2010.

  1. keaide macrumors regular

    Nov 13, 2010
    After having lured me with iPods and iPhones, Apple now got me into getting my first Mac, and it's gonna be an iMac. I hope you guys can help me with making some tough choices regarding the details.

    • Processor: Is there any significant benefit from getting a Quad-Core processor? The iMac is intended for home use only, so I will only use it for all these "usual suspects", such as web, casual picture and video editing, e-mail etc. From what I understand about prcessors (which is not much) I'd guess that currently, there's no need for a Quad-Core... but will the game change significantly with Lion?
      If going for the Dual-Core, is the extra money for the i5 worth it? It would be in my budget, but I also don't want to waste money on things that I don't need.

    • Screen size: I went to my neighborhood Apple shop the other day to take a look at the iMacs. Playing around with the 27 inch model, I have to say that I felt a bit... lost. There's just so much space and it is hard to fill with a browser window, the e-mail client or a Pages window. The Pages window seems to be so small. I also noticed that the menu bar at the top is far far away from the action in the actual application window... So I did not like the 27 inch model so much, until I tried out iPhoto... on such a screen, the slide shows are just stunning. I guess my 50k pictures would look awesome on that, much better than on the 14 inch notebook screen that I'm looking at right now. On the other hand... that's the only thing I might need such a big screen for. For movies, I prefer to turn on my HDTV... But then Lion got me thinking again. Watching the recent sneak peak, I looks like that "full-screen app" topic will be one of the big things in Lion. And maybe, just maybe "full-screen" and "27 inch" do match better than "full-screen" and "21 inch"? What do you guys think?
      Or how about going for the 21 inch iMac model and getting an Apple TV box to enjoy the picture slide shows on the HDTV? Would that be the better choice?

    • Graphics processor: If going for a 27 inch model, does the upgrade of the graphics card from the 5670 to the 5750 sense? Bigger screen equals more pixels, so does that need more graphics power?

    • Software: Any reason why to choose iWork over Office 2011 except for the price? Another software is Aperture. It seems to me that this is quite similar to iPhoto... just with more features. Is it possible to start with iPhoto and then switch to Aperture later without losing anything (such as faces, albums or events, which I guess is meta data in the iPhoto library rather than the included in the picture itself)? I am currently using Picasa and feel a bit upset about losing all my meta data once when switching to the Mac, but I don't wanna re-build all that again later... .

    I hope that you guys can help me with that.

  2. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    Aperture is something completely different. Quote: "If you think taking 500 photos a day is a lot, then Aperture isn't for you". It's for a professional who kept shooting and shooting during a football game and has to pick the three photos that he is going to sell to the newspapers.
  3. keaide thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 13, 2010
    Thanks, gnasher729. With my 300-500 pics per month, I then think that I'm more in the iPhoto category. Then I can tick that off already...
  4. mike457 macrumors 6502

    Sep 10, 2010
    The big issue always is use. A friend of mine recently bought a 27" iMac, and I advised her to buy the base model, as she only uses it to do documents, email, and to watch an occasional video. She didn't need a lot of horsepower for that. For myself, I bought the i5. I do a lot of video work, particularly converting videos from one format to another through Handbrake as well as editing my own stuff. There is a significant improvement in rendering speed when you go for the i5 or the i7. I couldn't afford the i7 at the time. You'll find the chart here handy.

    When I started using the 27" screen, I felt a little overwhelmed too. However, I now have the document I'm editing open on the left side of the screen, my email open on the top right, and a web page open at the bottom right. It's great to be able to see them all and access them all while I work. For videos and photos, the quality of the screen and the size of the image are terrific. You can see every detail clearly.

    A number of apps, especially games, have started using the video card as additional processing power.

    In photography, I would rate myself as casual rather than serious. For me, iPhoto with an occasional visit to Photoshop meets my needs.

    The choice of iWork vs. Office depends on a couple of things. To what extent do you need to share documents with other people? I'm a teacher, for example, and my students send me their work in Word. If I used Pages, I would have to remember to convert their documents back to Word before I could return them. On the other hand, Pages is effective as a simple page layout programme: when I have to do a brochure or a flier, I use Pages.

    In general, spending more money now should add to the life expectancy of your iMac. The top of the line options should give satisfactory performance for five to ten years to come. Should add, it will also hold resale value better when the day comes that you want to upgrade.
  5. keaide thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 13, 2010
    Thanks for the link! I've also checked Machworlds' Dual Core i5 (BTO) test here and they wrote:
    Just don't know which one I should get... if I cannot decide, should I stay with a Windows machine? :p

    Regarding Office, I'll probably go for 2011. I currently can't find any compelling reason or killer feature in iWork that would stand out.
  6. eawmp1 macrumors 601


    Feb 19, 2008
    1) You are a home user with what sounds like few demands on a system.
    2) As of 2010 (an for the foreseeable future) few programs take advantace of multiple cores, so in general faster clock speed is better in your situation.
    3) Lion will run on any machine on sale in 2010...there does not seem to be a marked architectural shift that would render the Core Duo machines obsolete (and the howls from those who bought said machines would be deafening).
    4) 27" is a huge monitor. If you've got a nice TV the Apple TV option you mentioned would be ideal.
    5) If you alredy have a good monitor, have you considered a Mini? As this seems to be your first experience with Mac OS, it would be a less-expensive way to dip your toes in the water.
    6) iWork vs. Office - preference. Fives can be interconverted without too much problem.
  7. keaide thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 13, 2010
    Hey eawmp1, you sound so reasonable... but I think I could agree to what you wrote anyway... maybe a 46 inch HDTV plus a media box would make a good substitute for getting the smaller iMac screen... and I'm indeed a home user, which means that I'm not much in contact with high-end graphics or video editing tools... The mac mini option would not work for me, because I only have a notebook now...

    ... anyway, probably the 21 inch i5 would do...
  8. Winni macrumors 68030


    Oct 15, 2008
    The 27" iMac is an awesome Windows machine. So even if you don't want to use OS X, buying an iMac would be a great choice.

    And let's face it: Windows 7 is the best operating system that Microsoft has released since Windows NT 4. Unlike everything that the stupid Mac commercials want to make you believe, Windows 7 is rock solid, fast, SECURE, compatible with industry standards and any corporate network of your choice and it is also very user friendly.

    Technologically, the NT-based family of Microsoft Windows has always been technologically superior to anything that Apple has ever sold. For example, NT already had pre-emptive multitasking and full 32-Bit technology more than half a decade before Mac OS X saw the light of day. NT also already had a real networking stack when Apple still thought that AppleTalk was good enough.

    Apple has the superior graphics(!) design and some good ideas in the usability department that make OS X slightly more comfortable to use - QuickLook, for example.

    But Time Machine is a great example for a minimalistic feature with a bombastic graphical user interface. Back in 1993, when NT 3.1 was released, NTBackup was already more powerful than Time Machine is today and NTBackup even had support for real backup devices - not just external hard disks. In comparison, Time Machine just looks awesome, but the beauty only is skin deep -- as it is with most of Apple's "cool" features.

    Apple also has a lot of counter-productive ideas in their products. One menu bar for all running applications, for example. Especially when you use two large screens this is going to be VERY annoying and it will also slow you down significantly. The dock also is not even remotely as useful as Microsoft's start menu and task bar.

    Also, what most people here will not be honest about, OS X is a much more costly platform than Windows on the long run. You need to defrag your hard disk because the Boot Camp assistant will abort with a "cannot move files" error message? Guess what: You'll have to BUY a third party disk defrag utility for that because OS X does not have one on board! You want to zip files? There comes your next shareware expense, because 7zip for OS X isn't really there yet and you'll be more or less forced to buy something like StuffIt. Free hard disk cloning tools? Forget it. Buy SuperDuper. That list goes on. It's a bit better today than it was a couple of years ago, but for most of the freeware that you would find for Windows, there is only Shareware available for Mac OS X.

    Now people will try to tell you that for Windows you would need a virus-scanner subscription. Which isn't true. You -should- have an anti-virus software on your system (and even if it is a Mac!), but Microsoft gives away their Security Essentials for free and there are also several other FREE anti-virus software packages. Mac users usually brag about the great PDF support in OS X. Big deal. How many free PDF creators do you want for Windows that even have more features than the PDF printer driver in OS X? Try CutePDF or FreePDF - the latter can even concatenate multiple PDF print jobs.

    But the biggest deal probably is that you basically purchase a new Mac OS X release every 18 months or so, and Snow Leopard was the only update so far that did cost less than 129 bucks. And basically that was only because Snow Leopard was an Intel-only "Service Pack" for Leopard that didn't even really bring any new features. We actually paid 29 bucks for having the PowerPC support removed from our systems - and to have Photoshop and other expensive "Pro" software crash more often than before. That only became acceptable after the first point release of Snow Leopard.

    Now in Windows land, you could safely live until 2014 with the operating system that you already bought back in the year 2001 -- that's how long Microsoft is going to support Windows XP. They getting support for Mac OS X Cheetah or Puma from Apple, which are about the same age. Or try getting support for Tiger from Apple, which is just as old as Vista.

    Apple is also very quick at dropping software support for what they call obsolete hardware. And obsolete hardware in Apple land is usually everything that's older than a year or two. Yes, a Mac might live for ten or more years. But that doesn't mean that you will be able to upgrade the software on it beyond a certain point. Or that the new software will even be remotely usable. Try running Leopard on a 1 GHz 17" iMac G4 with 1 GB RAM, for example. That's a machine that surpasses Leopard's system requirements by quite a margin -- and Leopard CRAWLS on that machine. It's painful, even if it's a clean installation on a freshly formatted hard disk. If you don't believe it, give me a visit and I'll show you.

    Tiger was the last OS that worked rather well on that iMac, but even Tiger hat its own caveats: The iSub subwoofer, for example, no longer worked properly on Tiger because it was an "obsolete" product. Now isn't that nice? Apple just removed the necessary hardware driver from that OS. Why? The only explanation can be that they wanted to force their customers to buy new hardware. Or why else do you remove already developed drivers from your operating system? It' not like it would cost them anything to keep them on the DVD. And Apple's portfolio of supported hardware really isn't that big.

    In PC land, you'll get road maps and EARLY press releases about future developments that are supposed to help you plan your investment in the platform. In Apple land, you'll never know anything until Zeus (Steve Jobs) himself throws some lightning from Mount Olympos (Cupertino).

    You have to answer yourself if those beautifully packaged Apple products and their shiny little logo are worth it for you. You can get more bang for your buck elsewhere, you just don't get that "cool" and "hip" image.
  9. applepearpp macrumors regular

    Oct 19, 2010
    @Winni, are you kidding me? every windows laptop/desktop you buy requires a complete reinstallation before you use it -- it's full of crapwares. you call that a friendly, ready-to-go computer? furthermore, your claim of Win 7 being secure and what not really made me laugh. I have Windows installed on my MBP but only for the purpose of gaming. anything that involves searching and openning a website, i turn it to mac because mac is virtually indestructible for casual users and even if it's down, time machine is fast and simple.

    and mind you, apple's design is not counter-productive nor costly. you're sounding like someone who really adores Mac yet can't get a whole on one -- the grape is sour if i can't have it. just think about it this way: we see people converting from Windows (including 7) to Mac, but not otherwise.
  10. kyzen macrumors regular

    Feb 8, 2010
    Stop buying $400 Compaq laptops then.

    The $800 ASUS laptop I bought a year ago didn't come with a single bit of bloatware, and was ready to rock out of the box.

    Of course, now it's sitting in my closet collecting dust because I prefer my Macbook, but the point remains that not all Windows machines are laden with crapware.

    The cheap ones are because that's how the companies make money. You think HP would see any profit on a $400 laptop with stock Windows? They make their money by putting all sorts of "free" trial software on the machine. Yes, that sucks, but it can be avoided by buying a better brand.

    Additionally, Windows 7 is the most secure OS Microsoft has ever produced. Not saying it's perfect, but I haven't had to take a drive to fix my families computers since I upgraded them to 7, gave them Chrome, and put some minimal free anti virus on the machines. With XP and Vista I was out fixing their machines once every few months.

    Lastly, read the forums more. There are several posts about people converting from Mac to PC. It's not the end of the world. It goes both ways. And you know what? The manufacturers love it.

    A person like me upgrading from a MB to a MBP is just going to buy the new machine, at the steepest discount possible. I already have all the accessories I want, so right now I just need a new machine. Meanwhile, somebody switching from PC to Mac is going to buy the new machine, extra software, perhaps an ACD, Time Capsule, etc. There's much more money to be made from somebody switching entirely than from an existing customer doing periodic upgrades.

    All said and done, both OS X and W7 are solid platforms. They both have their benefits and drawbacks. Almost everything that Winni said is true. Hopefully a more knowledgeable Apple user than myself can throw out a comparably informative post about OS X.

    keaide - pick whichever OS suits you best. Either way, you're not going to be disappointed.

    Personally, my vote would be an iMac & bootcamp :)
  11. keaide, Nov 15, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2010

    keaide thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 13, 2010
    I did not intend to start another OS fighting thread... I was a happy Windows user, then a happy Linux user, then a happy Windows user again and now I hope to become a happy OS X user... I never changed because of problems with the OS but because my lifestyle and situation had changed...

    .. and right now, I'm concerned with finding the hardware that suits my needs best in order to run OS X...
  12. eawmp1 macrumors 601


    Feb 19, 2008
    You sound much more reasonable than some here. Hopefully this forum can help you with any questions you have. With an open mind I am sure you will be a very happy Mac OS user. You'll love the 21". Buy the fastest processor you can afford, price out aftermarket RAM (try OWC, they've always done right by me) and get as much as you can afford.

    Good luck. Ignore the above.
  13. bri1212 macrumors 6502

    Feb 1, 2008
    I don't understand how you could be buying apple products. All you do is talk (post) bad about them. Even your signature, says you don't support apple. Yet, you own several of their products. Now when I don't like a companies philosophy, I don't shop there. When I think the products that the company makes are bad, I don't buy them. I also don't go on to their fan websites and talk bad about them. I don't waste my time with that kind of stuff. You mockingly refer to Steve Jobs as Zeus, and yet you hang on every word that he utters.
    You talk about "PC land" like it is a fairy tale theme park where everything is hunky dory all of the time. That is of course, until you remember the spectre of Vista. Or should I call it "He who must not be named". You may continue to speak of windows in these glowing terms and forget about the poor unfortunate Vista, which crippled 90 % of the PC population on what seemed like a daily basis. Not to mention the virus' floating around and infecting the Windows world.
    Now understand this, I have two windows 7 PC's. 7 is not bad as an operating system. I prefer OSX, mostly because I am used to it, but also because it works.
    To the OP:
    I am going to buy after christmas a new 27" I5 Imac. The I5 is more power then I will need, but I tend to keep Imacs for a while, I have one running at work that is 2005, and one at home ( that I will replace ) from 2006. I think you will be happy with either model of 21" Imac. But my suggestion is get the one with a bit more power
  14. keaide thread starter macrumors regular

    Nov 13, 2010
    Well, thanks. After I bought the iMac (after my Christmas holiday), I'm sure that I will have many more questions... :eek:

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