Looking for a solution to my Workstation/Gaming dilemma

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Saurheledion, Jul 14, 2010.

  1. Saurheledion macrumors newbie

    Jul 14, 2010
    Howdy, I'll try to keep the backstory to a minimum and just give you the essentials of my problem. I'm a PC user. I work in media arts, and the fact is that the entire media arts community has been courted well by Apple, and it's now become impossible for me to bring work back and forth between my workplace and home, because we use macs there an I have a PC at home.

    I'm also a moderate to high level gamer.

    This is where my frustration is born. In PC build land turning a decent workstation rig into a moderate level gaming machine is a fairly simple matter and a few hundred dollars. But I simply need a Mac in order to bring work home, so matter what I'll be getting one. Honestly though I'm trying to make the best of my newfound identity as a soon-to-be mac user and embrace it. Unfortunately my Mac knowledge is strictly limited to the specific applications I use at work.

    Now to the chase. Out of my Mac I'm needing the ability to comfortably run Final Cut Studio and essentially the full range of the adobe suite (mostly photoshop, illustrator, and after effects). Now, I am also due for a new gaming machine. I wouldn't claim to be a hard core gamer, but I do plan on playing Star Wars: The Old Republic (as WoW-inspired as the game is appearing to be, I'm sure it won't be resource heavy). If and when a lush game like the hypothetical Half-life 3 comes along, I do want to be able to play it comfortably (or more than comfortably).

    Now as I understand it, gaming in the Mac community is a mixed-bag. Bootcamp sounds like it solved some, but not all issues. I was hoping for some build ideas and advice. Would I be better off meeting my needs with a Mac, and then building a separate gaming machine? Or should I get something like a Mac Pro, and then spend a little extra beefing the graphics card and such? I have a tentative budget of about $3000, which just pains me in my gut because when I was initially shopping, it was to build my own PC and the budget was much, much lower. But there you have it.

    Anyway, I appreciate any help at all. Thanks a bunch!
  2. redscull macrumors 6502a


    Jul 1, 2010
    Buy the cheapest Mac that will solve your work-related needs, probably a Mac Mini, or a MacBook Pro 13" if you want it portable. Then buy the parts to build a gaming rig running Windows.

    If you want to dump all of the money into one computer (which must be a Mac because of your work needs), you'll still want to bootcamp to an actual Windows installation. Macs just don't perform as well as Windows for serious gaming (although, they generally perform well enough, so that's your call). In this scenario, I'd recommend at least a MacBook Pro 15" for the dedicated video card. This is also the option I'd recommend if your Mac needs cannot be met by a Mac Mini or a MBP 13". You could deck out a MacBook Pro for $3000.

    Do not get a Mac Pro for gaming; its "powerfulness" is not gaming-related. You could build a Windows gaming tower that would outright embarass it for $1000 less. If your Mac needs require a machine like this, and you want it for gaming too, sit patiently and hope they release a new version of these soon (with better video cards).

    I also wouldn't recommend an iMac for serious gaming. They run laptop video cards. They're basically just MacBook Pros, except that for the same cost, you get a nice monitor instead of the portability of a laptop.

    You can build a Windows gaming machine that would crush anything Mac currently sells for about $1000-1500 (without monitor). Or spends $2000 for a very state-of-the-art gaming machine. That still leaves $1000 for a Mac Mini on your budget.

    I guess it comes down to how powerful your Mac needs to be for your work. If it doesn't need to be a powerhouse, the Mac Mini is your best bet, basically meaning you'll spend $700 on top of whatever your original gaming rig budget was. Maybe you can right it off as a business expense.

    Edit: I guess the 27" iMac does have a real video card, but it, like the Pro tower, is old generation. There is no sense paying that much money for something outdated.
  3. OpenLaszlo macrumors member


    Jan 3, 2009
    For 3000 I would easily recommend a Mac Pro. 8 Cores and tons of RAM will make that thing a monster. I'd say just go for the base video card and purchase a Radeon HD5870 yourself and just throw it into the system once its in your hands. But, I doubt that with an HD4870 and >4GB RAM you will have problems running any games that are going to be coming out in the future. Even so, if you still want to have a top of the line machine, I don't see any harm in doing a manual video card upgrade.
  4. gescom macrumors regular


    Dec 31, 2007
    Westerville, OH.
    3K will get you a decent Mac and you have options with many games beginning to go Mac, there is always Bootcamp and don't forget about Steam for Mac.

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