Mac lover needs buying advice

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by earthwriter, May 7, 2017.

  1. earthwriter macrumors newbie


    May 7, 2017
    Hello from Mac lover,
    I've been a Mac lover for many years and I need some advice.

    I need to replace my very old 6yo Mac Mini Macmini1,1
    Processor Name: Intel Core Duo
    Processor Speed: 1.83 GHz

    with a newer Mac computer that has everything I need, including a browser that I can
    rely on, apps, etc. The Mac does not have to be brand new and from what I understand,
    brand new may not suit my needs. I need MS Word so I can be creative and publish and
    do research and connect communicate on social media. My Mac Mini is a dinosaur and
    is very frustrating. It cannot be upgraded to 1 of the latest systems. My husband and I
    already tried and Firefox is the last frontier and it's barely functional.

    I constantly get the spinning rainbow of death because the system cannot handle any of
    the processes I need it to do and I can only have 3 tabs open and I have to reboot my
    computer everyday. I need a newer computer that will enable me to do the
    work I need to do. I say this with no harm intended. My plate is very full taking care of
    my special needs son and if you don't have anything productive to add to this thread,
    please refrain from commenting.

    I need to know specifically what kind of Mac would best suit my needs and I only want
    Mac. I do need bootcamp because I use Mac apps and software, but I also use
    Windows. I do need a discreet graphics card, but not the dreaded Nvidia 8600m GT that
    my husband's desktop replacement has and I am very familiar with how bad they are. I
    realize that this is like looking for a needle in a haystack but it's very important for my
    health and my family's health that if the computer is used, that it must be from a chemical
    scent free home or office, including artificial scented products, including detergent,
    deodorizers, scented candles, and no cigarette smoke. Originally, I wanted a
    MacBookPro, but I'm not sure that will suit my needs, especially since the older
    MacBookPros have that Nvidia card. I'm a wellness coach and I will be doing
    webinars and podcasts and I need my computer to suit my work needs. I don't go out
    much so a laptop is not necessary, but I do need a computer that is ergonomic and
    doesn't take up too much space. All hardware - hard drive, CPU, GPU, memory all must
    be either upgradable or replaceable.

    I also need the hard drive to have plenty of space for all my books, audio recordings,
    photos, and art projects, and graphics design, and occasional mid-range gaming.
    I've narrowed it down to MacBookPro with the AMD Radeon GPU or the MacPro with
    AMD Radeon GPU.

    The current MacPro, the cylinder 1 is way out of my budget. My budget is $1000-$1200
    tops. That being said, please tell me which Mac will work for me and fulfill my needs and
    requirements. Thank you in advance.

    I've done a little research and the ever popular EBay - I will probably never buy
    another computer that way again, at least used because the little notebook stank horribly
    of cigarette smoke and perfume and sellers lie and I've been there, done that, not doing
    it again, and I was very sick. I tried really hard to remove the stink, but it was embedded
    in the motherboard and it was a lost cause and it wasn't a Mac, lol. So there is and it appears that the majority of their models are refurbished. So, I
    would have to ask them, unless someone knows, are these previously owned? And of
    course, there is no way of knowing if the unit was exposed to any kind of smoke or
    artificial fragrances.

    Mac mini "Core Duo" 1.83
    1.83 GHz Core Duo (T2400)

    September 6, 2006
    August 7, 2007
    A1176 (EMC 2108)
    Late 2006
    512 MB
    64 MB
    80 GB HDD
    2.4X "SuperDrive"
    Complete Mac mini "Core Duo" 1.83 Specs
  2. kschendel macrumors 6502a

    Dec 9, 2014
    One option would certainly be a tower Mac Pro, either the 2009 (4,1) or 2010-2012 (5,1). The (4,1) can be firmware upgraded to (5,1) status. A single CPU version would probably suffice for your needs, and even 6 Gb would be OK for starters. These machines can be upgraded in various ways: CPUs up to 6 core (12 thread) 3.46 Ghz Westmere, 64 Gb RAM (56 max for some of the single CPU variants), solid state disk in any of the 4 SATA drive bays, uprated graphics card. I suspect that even the lowly GT120 which was the original 2009 stock card would blow away what you have now, and there are newer AMD or NVidia cards such as the GT680 that you can drop in. I'm not sure of current pricing, but I bet you could get a single CPU unit and add 512 Gb or 1 Tb of relatively inexpensive drive bay (SATA) SSD, plus 24 Gb memory, for well under your upper limit. (In fact I see that OWC has some units that already have a CPU upgrade to the 3.33 Ghz model, which is a very nice upgrade, at decent prices.) The Mac Pro will take any random SATA SSD, no thermal sensors or cables, unlike some iMacs. And, I suspect you'll have better luck getting a non-stinky unit because they didn't normally sit on home desktops, many of them are being resold out of office settings.

    While the Mac Pro won't have the raw CPU power of a newer Macbook Pro, you can run it flat out all day long without worrying about overheating, thermal throttling, etc.

    One note, I'd avoid the 2009 (4,1) dual CPU model unless it already has upgraded CPU's. That particular model is harder to do a CPU upgrade on because it uses special de-lidded CPU's. Not impossible, just tricker and potentially more expensive.

    Edited to add: I make my living doing development on a 2009 (4,1) firmware upgraded to (5,1), W3680 3.3Ghz CPU, 24 Gb memory, 1 Tb / 128 Gb SSD's in the drive bay and a couple of WD Black 1 Tb HDD's, and an el cheapo USB 3.0 PCIe card for USB 3 for backing up to an external disk drive. This machine is plenty fast and will serve me for at least another 2-3 years. I don't game on it but if I did I could upgrade the GPU easily enough.
  3. 960design macrumors 68030

    Apr 17, 2012
    Destin, FL
    How about something like this:

    Or, if you have a few more dollars:

    Both would run everything you need for many years to come.

    No need to upgrade anything. Either one of the above computers will run with the best for many years to come.

    And if I may, please drop MS Word and start using Pages by Apple. It should do everything you need and it was built specifically to run well on Apple products.
  4. kohlson macrumors 68000

    Apr 23, 2010
    >>>The current MacPro, the cylinder 1 is way out of my budget. My budget is $1000-$1200
    tops. That being said, please tell me which Mac will work for me and fulfill my needs and
    requirements. Thank you in advance.

    From where you are now, nearly anything you get will be better. That is, if you're actually using your 1,1 Mini, any new mini (with 8GB RAM) will be fine. I'm not sure I understand the need for a GPU from you're write-up -- maybe I missed it - but the integrated GPU capabilities of modern systems will be fine for normal uses. If you're using Final Cut or Premiere or gaming that may be required, but otherwise you're fine.

    Finally, upgradeability. Modern Macs are decreasingly upgradeable. It does seem you managed without upgrading for 10+ years without upgrading the mini, and 10 years is a pretty good run for a system.

    In any event, compared with what you have I think you'd be pretty happy with any iMac, Mini or MacBook Air that fits your budget.
  5. UL2RA Suspended

    May 7, 2017
    Any Mac within the last several years should be more than enough for most of your needs. However, with a budget of only $1200, you're most likely not going to find anything since you want discrete graphics, which only comes with the more expensive 15" model. They haven't had "discrete" graphics on a 13" in many years.
  6. earthwriter thread starter macrumors newbie


    May 7, 2017
    Thank you for the helpful replies. I appreciate it.
  7. UL2RA Suspended

    May 7, 2017
    An older iMac with discrete graphics might be a good idea. Your chance of finding a laptop with a discrete GPU that isn't awful is pretty slim ... unless you happen across someone very generous. Macs, unfortunately, have very high resale value, oftentimes way more than they're worth. That's good for sellers, but bad for buyers. A 2012 Mac Pro might be a good bet as well since you can upgrade the GPU and whatnot. I've seen those go for around a grand or so. Then there's the Hackintosh route, but that'll be more trouble than it's worth if you're not into building computers as a hobby.
  8. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
  9. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
  10. kschendel macrumors 6502a

    Dec 9, 2014
    Main problem with the 21 inch iMacs is that RAM isn't expandable. I assume you already had a monitor and keyboard since you're using a mini. However if the monitor is also marginal then maybe a used / refurb iMac would be the right choice since you'd be getting a monitor upgrade as well.

    Normally the advice is to stay away from iMac's with 1 Tb HDD or 1 Tb Fusion drive, since those HDD's are pretty slow. In your case, though, the upgrade route via external USB3 (or Thunderbolt) SSD might be a workable choice, and again almost anything is going to look like lightning compared to what you're running today.
  11. earthwriter thread starter macrumors newbie


    May 7, 2017
    Hello everyone and thank you for your kind helpful responses. I appreciate them very much. I now have another dilemma that I need help with. I've been reading in a few online places about horrors people endured when buying a new mac and newer but not brand new...chemically sensitive people like me with a very keen strong sense of smell were horrified when they smelled that toxic nasty china plastic smell that stinks like an oil refinery and it's become very prevalent in this era, including packaging, but my main concern is the computer, itself. Some have said their MacbookPro emitted a horrible caustic petroleum stink that gave them headaches and made them feel very sick...I was thinking of starting a new thread, but I'll see how this 1 goes since it's the same subject. I need to know is it only certain years? I read that 2010 models were toxic and then there were 2008 models that were also toxic and other years were, too. This is a very serious concern and I cannot be exposed to it...I've smelled the nasty china plastic ick and omg it's a nightmare...I prefer to buy 1 locally in NW Oregon from someone who is organic aware and chemically sensitive like me and can tell me if I have a concern or not and then if it's local I can go smell it and decide if it's safe. I'm not sure which year to buy, but I do want to buy 1 and I need to buy from someone who understands what I'm going through. Please let me know if you can help, thank you. Here is an informative article about the toxic China plastic.
  12. UL2RA Suspended

    May 7, 2017
    I have never had a smelly Mac in the 2+ decades that I've been using them.
  13. earthwriter thread starter macrumors newbie


    May 7, 2017
  14. UL2RA Suspended

    May 7, 2017
    None of my Macs have ever been smelly (or the packaging) and I've owned them for over two decades. Maybe it depends on where they ship from, but I've never had that problem and I'm hypersensitive to smells. That would drive me absolutely insane.

    My current Mac is from 2014. But my family with brand new Macs don't have that issue either.

    I think it'd be best to get a used one from the Apple refurb store, that way if it ends up not being the way you like, you can return it relatively easily.
  15. 960design macrumors 68030

    Apr 17, 2012
    Destin, FL
    Completely understand your concerns. I have opened over 5000 new iPads and several hundred macs in the last couple of years and have not once smelled anything. I am definitely not sensitive to awful smells; I work with IT people, so that may not be much help.

    I have opened a package with several glass suction holder and on another occasion, iPad cases from China ( not through Apple ) and they arrived with the very strong oily smell you mention.
  16. kschendel macrumors 6502a

    Dec 9, 2014
    I can't think of anything specific in the construction that would emit odors, particularly not from just a specific model year. I think I would be very suspicious of a claim that year X is any worse than any other year, unless backed up by some reason. PC board material doesn't change that much and unless there was an adhesive of some sort used by one specific model it's hard to suggest where an odor might be coming from.

    I've never smelled much of anything from any of my various mac's (going back to 1998). The oldest ("bronze keyboard" Powerbook G3) had a touch of an "electronic" smell if you opened it up, probably from the glazing on a couple non-surface-mount carbon-composition resistors, but that was about it, and that style of resistor is out of fashion these days anyway; metal film in surface mount is more typical now. I will second the suggestion that whatever you do, make sure you have a return arrangement, because it sounds like you'll be sensitive to odors that the seller may honestly have no idea exist.

    A tightly packed and semi sealed laptop might retain odors longer than a more open computer like a mac pro, but since I've not had odor issues that is mostly a guess on my part.

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