Looking to get a Mac, and I need some Advice

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Kimi, Oct 29, 2005.

  1. Kimi macrumors regular

    Oct 29, 2005
    Newcastle, England/ Stirling Scotland
    I'm going to university next year and I'm looking for a computer to take with me. Right now I'm looking to get one of the new iMacs (the smaller one because of costs). I'd like some insight on a few things because I'm (or will be) new to the Mac world.

    Do you guys think that is would last me the whole time there (four years, maybe five)? I don't want to go out and buy a new one, and as Macs seem non-upgradeable so I'm not sure.

    Is there a wireless Mighty Mouse in the pipeline? I'd be getting the wireless keyboard and mouse, but I noticed that the mouse is downgraded with that. I'm not going to be buying the thing until Easter at the earliest so I'm willing to wait.

    How much RAM do you think I should aim for? I'm already up-grading the hard disc to 250 Gb and on top of the wireless set up I'm almost pushing £1000, and I can't really go much further. Is there anyway I can upgrade the RAM later if I end up with some spare cash with out shipping the thing back off to Apple?

    Also, do you think there will be any problems connecting it to the university network? I don't think I could live with out the Internet!

    I've read about these virtual PC programs you can get, are these any good? I've asked a few people and they say they run slow, but I don't know how slow that is. Could any one give me an idea of the sort of specs it would be running like? I'm thinking of getting one so I can still use some programs that I use quite a bit on my machine I've got now; like MS office and Macromedia Fireworks. I don't think I'll be able to buy all the software I'll need straight off.

    Failing of the Virtual PC idea, is there any good open source or free ware stuff I could use to be a good replacement? I've already started to use a program called “OpenOffice” which seems good enough to replace MS office. Is there a good list of decent programs about some where on the web?

    And finally, can the iMac communicate with an iBook with out wires? I'll be getting an iBook some when along the line, and I'm just curious.

    Thanks for any help, it'll be most welcome!
  2. Rocky3478 macrumors regular

    Mar 7, 2005
    1. It should last you that long. :)
    2. Not that I know of....
    3. Depends on your usage. I do lots of photo editing, and I need all 1.5Gb of RAM that I have for that. You mentioned Fireworks, so I'd say at least 1Gb. And yes, you can upgrade that later yourself..... :)
    4. Unfortunatly, there could be problems. I'm not an expert in this area...
    5. Virtual PC is VERY slow, from what I've heard. Maybe ok for browsing, but I doubt that it would be good enough for Fireworks....
    6. I don't believe that there are other choices.
    7. Look around here on Macrumors. I can suggest several, if you'll name what exactly you're looking for....
    8. Easily, via Bluetooth or Airport.

    Hope that this helps.....
  3. DeSnousa macrumors 68000


    Jan 20, 2005
    Brisbane, Australia
    I had all these concerns when I first bought a mac, don't worry macs are very compatible despite what people say. You can easily connect to servers, thus thus the net. You think you need a PC emulator too, trust me you will be fine without it. Just buy one and use it, you will then realise that everything just works. All you need is to buy Microsoft Office for Mac and your set.

    My I suggest though that you consider an iBook. Laptops are lifesaver's in a university life. You might not think you need one, but they are really handy to have. Plus current lines of iBooks are cheap and packed with features. They will meet the power you require as a student :)
  4. Kimi thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 29, 2005
    Newcastle, England/ Stirling Scotland
    Thanks Rocky3478 :), it helps. For Share Ware and Free Ware I'd be looking for a graphics program (vector based preferred) and something to replace MS office (I've just started using OpenOffice, but it's a real memory eater). Some universities say that they'll give me office for a Mac, but other has no support. I'm going to need something if I go to one of them. I'll look about to see what's here later. :) For RAM, I think I'll just keep the 512 to start with, £70 seems steep to take it up to 1Gb. As I can upgrade my self, I'll wait until I have the cash.

    DeSnousa, I was thinking of getting an iBook, but I've already got an old Windows laptop somewhere I can use. It was expensive when my uncle was given it from his work a few years back, so it should still be useable. Also, there is little space on the hard disc of the iBooks; when I've got over 40 Gb of music, it's not big enough. Also, the size of the screen is a problem. I'll be using it to watch DVDs and stuff, and a laptop's screen is too small for my liking (I'd get a 12" as I'm not a fan of bulky thinks in my pack, I hate text books too :p).

    I'm looking for a Desktop; and as I want a Mac, it seems a good idea to go with the iMac. If I end up really liking Macs (I'm sure I will, I love using my friends iMac), I'll get an iBook to replace the laptop. That will be a basic iBook. I think I maybe able to get one the first X-Mas at university if I can get people to pool my presents into one and put some money in my self. I wait to see how things work out.

    The cost isn't a problem. I've got my finances worked out so that I'll have about £1000 to spend on a computer at Easter. I was going to build a kick ass gaming rig, but I killed that idea as it would suck my time away form studying. As there are few games for Macs I'll be safer (Also, I mainly play RTS games and a few of my favourites are out for Macs, and with any luck Age of Empires III will be out some time in the next year or so).

    I think I'll drop the emulator idea. I'll need to get Mac versions sometime anyway, and I'll have that laptop if I ever need to use a Widows machine.
  5. mduser63 macrumors 68040


    Nov 9, 2004
    Salt Lake City, UT
    I think you'll really like an iMac. I switched last year, and I'm also a college student. Even in a field where it's unusual to use a Mac (Electrical Engineering), I haven't had any trouble doing what I need to. For the very few apps for which there are no Mac replacements, Virtual PC works fine for me. (When I say very few, I really mean zero, its just that there are a couple programs for which the Mac version isn't quite as feature-filled as the Windows equivalent.)

    Fireworks probably won't work well in Virtual PC, but Fireworks is available for the Mac (I own it), and you'll probably be able to get it pretty cheaply when you start school. I was able to get Office Pro for Mac, which includes Virtual PC, for $61. Macromedia Studio 8 was $130.

    I've never had any trouble connecting to my University network, and I use the school network wirelessly every day with my PowerBook, and occasionally via a wired connection as well. In fact, having helped some friends get their PCs on the wireless network at school, I can tell you that it's much easier to get a Mac set up and connected than it is to get a PC on (the school uses 802.1x authentication).

    I'm not much of a gamer, but there are games available for OS X. The only one I have is Sim City 4. In general, I prefer consoles to computer games. I'll never understand the thinking behind spending thousands on the ultimate gaming rig when my $150 PS2 is just as much fun. Anyway, the popular games do come out for OS X, so as long as you're buying the Mac primarily as a computer, and only wanting to do games as an occasional diversion, you'll be fine.

    I think the iMac is the best deal on a computer available right now. $1299 ($1199 if you're a student) gets you a powerful computer with a beautiful monitor and the best OS in the world.
  6. Kimi thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 29, 2005
    Newcastle, England/ Stirling Scotland
    mduser63, those prices for Office and Macromedia seem cheep. I've seen Office for about £100 here in the UK, but I haven't been out looking for soft were in shops or on the net yet. Did you get them online? If so you got a link?

    I'm also more of a console gamer than a PC, but that's mainly because I've never had a machine that could run current games well. I've only just gone from a 0.8 GHz machine to a 2.6 GHz one this past week. I've always loved RTSs, but they don't work without mice and a keyboard so I've always been behind everyone else. I think I'll be taking PS2 to university. I can pick one up for about £50 in some places, I don't think the rest of my family would let me take the one I've got now with me.

    I'll be using my Mac as a computer, not as a games machine.
  7. russed macrumors 68000


    Jan 16, 2004
    there is no problem connecting to uni networks - im at york, when i was in college in the first year there was tonnes of support for mac users, so i would not worrk about that!

    i'm pretty sure it will last you 5 - 6 years. and it will probably even be worth something after that time also!

    i hope there is a wireless mighty mouse in the pipeline because as soon as one is available i will be ordering it!

    with ram, i would get as much as you can. i was on 512mg for quite a while but then a few months ago i took the plunge and upgraded to 1.25gb and os x is really nice with that much! i would say go for 1gb atleast, particuarly if you want to use virtual pc. but dont but it from apple, its far too expensive from them!
  8. devilot Moderator emeritus


    May 1, 2005
    I'll answer what I feel comfortable answering:
    You could do what I usually suggest-- try using the machine w/ the standard RAM, if you find that you need more, then buy a stick of RAM from a 3rd party vendor and pop it in. However, if you want it covered by AppleCare or prefer that an Apple certified technician install the RAM for you, I'm pretty sure many Apple retail stores will allow you to walk your iMac in and get the RAM installed right then and there.
    NO. There will be no problems connecting to the net. I love it; when we finally got wireless (at home) last year, my dad worked for over an hour to get his Windows box connected-- I turned on my PB and clicked to turn Airport on. :p
    Here on MR, I have read many complaints about how slow Virtual PC is-- I'm guessing especially w/ a larger app such as Macromedia. I mean, honestly, MS office on its own is already a large app and doesn't run the quickest I'd guess that trying to use it through Virtual PC would be painfully slow. :eek:
    You've already done your homework! That is one of the most popular MS office substitutes and if you like it, then fantastic, you won't need to purchase MS office. I tried OpenOffice and didn't really like it so I just shelled out the $ for MS suite. And you're right in your later post-- you should check w/ your uni to see what kind of deals they can offer you. Versiontracker.com as well as MacUpdate.com will become dear to you-- you can find a ton of apps there; freeware, shareware, etc.
    Yes, but if you actually want to transfer any data it is so much faster to have a cable to connect the two; that is the exact set up that I have, a 2.0GHz 20" iMac G5 and the most current 12" iBook-- just for kicks I tried transferring a playlist of songs wirelessly, it said it would take about 4-6 hours. :eek: So I just popped an ethernet cable between the two and did it in under 5 minutes. :cool:

    Congrats on deciding to get an iMac. They are gorgeous!
  9. PCMacUser macrumors 68000


    Jan 13, 2005
    Heheh yeah connecting Tiger to wireless is an absolute joy. MS is working hard to catch up with the ease of use, as it can connect with about 3 mouse clicks, but it's just not as nice... :)
  10. devilot Moderator emeritus


    May 1, 2005
    Okay I found the link to this one thread that some MR members put together. A little lengthy but stuffed w/ important and useful info, read it here.
  11. SteveMcQ macrumors member

    Sep 5, 2005
  12. Kimi thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 29, 2005
    Newcastle, England/ Stirling Scotland
    Thanks devilot, great post! I think my worries are put to rest now :). That link is perfect, and is now in my bookmarks. I can't wait until I've got my money to go shopping :D.
  13. iEdd macrumors 68000


    Aug 8, 2005
    VPC is quite slow, but not THAT bad.
    In my Dual 2.0Ghz PM G5, with 1.5GB ram it will emulate about a 533Mhz pc, then I allocate 512MB ram to it. Not bad. I'll remind you this is when I have about 4 or 5 apps open on the mac side.
    There's also a guide around here on how to speed it up.
  14. mduser63 macrumors 68040


    Nov 9, 2004
    Salt Lake City, UT
    Those prices were for software through my university's Office of Software licensing. They've got deals worked out with the software companies so that they can offer software to students at low prices. You don't get a box or a manuals, just disks, but for the price it's a great deal. I know from other members here that a lot of universities (at least in the US) have similar programs. Some even have software (esp. Microsoft) free for students.
  15. nsknike macrumors regular

    Nov 2, 2005
    If your worried about not being able to log into your schools network, don't. I am using a powerbook and am having no trouble logging on, while all the windows users are having a hell of a time, because of the schools network. They have to download every update for windows and the schools antivirus system.
    <p> It was really wierd because before we came they said that you had to download Norton Antiviruse, and then when we get here the made us uninstall it and install their own program. But if your running a mac you dont have to worry about that.

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