Need advice on buying my first MAC.

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by Wolffpack, Aug 5, 2003.

  1. Wolffpack macrumors newbie

    Aug 5, 2003
    I'be been working with PCs (Unix/Linux/Windows) since the mid 80's and I'm looking to do some "playing" with a MAC. I'm thinking of going with a used modle of some type as opposed to buying new ($$$), but I would like to make sure I at least get hardware and OS that isn't too obsolete. Here are some questions.

    1) If I were to purchase a used MAC, what should a consider bare minimum? G3, G4, PowerMac....?

    2) What OS should I consider as a minimum?

    3) Are typical Dell and NEC VGA monitors compatable with some/none/all MACs or do I need some type of conversion cable? I have quite a few used 15 and 17 monitors sitting around.

    4) What sites are there that experienced MAC users cannot live without.

    As you can see, I'm looking to do this playing with as little $$$ outlay as possible but still keep somewhat current on hardware/software.

    Thanks for any help you can provide.
  2. strider42 macrumors 65816


    Feb 1, 2002
    Re: Need advice on buying my first MAC.

    1. Personally, I think the minimum should be a G4.

    2. Might as well try to find one with at least 10.2 on it. 10.1 is a bare minimum (mostly because it was a big improvement over 10.0 and its no longer available)

    3. Apple towers for some time have used an ADC connector, which is a variation on DVI that includes USB and power. a converter or new grahpics card would be needed for other kinds of monitors. I guess it depends on what model you get. maybe want to check out and see various models specs. of course, you coudl also consider something like an eMac (new or used) that includes the monitor and is pretty cheap. Nice little machines.

    4. sites I wouldn't do without include this one and the apple discussion forums. is great to have bookmarked too.
  3. PixelFactory macrumors regular

    Jun 6, 2003
    I would get at least a 400mhz G3 Powermac. It's not the newest or greatest but it is enough to run OSX. But I would try to get a G4 if you can afford it.

    OSX 10.2.6! If you are going to start playing with the mac you should at least have the most up to date system.

    Yes they will work fine. I use a dell 19 inch at home.
  4. mwpeters8182 macrumors 6502

    Apr 16, 2003
    Boston, MA
    1) Depends what kind of computer -- I have an iBook, I find the 800 MHz G3 more than enough for daily use. If you are looking for video editing and hardcore photoshop, maybe a G4 would be better for you

    2) I agree, go for Jaguar (10.2)

    3) As long as the used Mac you are getting is newer than one of the Beige G3s, a VGA monitor should be fine.

    4) I like this site, as well as, both good forums to discuss, and I find the people very helpful.

    If you want to keep the price down, I would try to get a G3 B&W 400 or above... I have one of these, got it for around 300, it had 512 Megs of RAM, and a 32 meg video card. It's not the fastest machine ever, but it does run OS X, office and everything else I need. It also has firewire, and I just couldn't live without my iPod. i've also recently thrown a G4 400 chip in it, and noticed a decent speed increase.

  5. zarathustra macrumors 6502a


    Jul 16, 2002
    Philadelphia, PA
    First things first: it's Mac, not MAC. ;)

    I would definitely go for a used tower (g4 PowerMac). since you did not mention a price range, I am going to assume that you want the most bang for the buck, but not over $900.

    go to eBay, I found this one: Link-click me.

    If it doesn't have OSX 10.2, buy it, it's worth every penny. You can also do that on eBay, or just go to Apple and buy it there for $129. You can use any VGA monitor with your shiny new Mac. Most come either with a VGA, DVI or ADC port. The DVI and ADC ports can be easily converted to VGA with the included adapter.

    Good luck!
  6. Mudbug Administrator emeritus


    Jun 28, 2002
    North Central Colorado
    If I were looking for a used machine these days (and your timing is pretty good, actually) then I'd look for one of the following:

    a dual processor 500 mhz G4 Sawtooth (graphite case) from an upgrading company (like an ad agency or the like) or a Quicksilver G4 (the smooth metallic faced curvy box). Both are really good machines, are in relatively large supply (especially with the recent unveiling of the G5) and can be found for a good deal, since folks want new machines. Both will comfortably run OSX to Panther's specs, and can be upgraded very easily, i.e. hard drives, RAM, cards, etc. Many of the Sawtooth models even have internal Zip drives that may save you getting an external drive and outdated SCSI cards.

    both will also support your standard VGA and DVI video interfaces, so you can add pretty much any monitor you feel like, and the video cards can also be upgraded if in time you want to make it run that much better. As for video, tho, try and get a machine with a card with at least 32 megs of VRAM so you can take advantage of QuartzExtreme - it really does make quite a difference to your enjoyment.

    My other suggestion would be to find a flat panel iMac G4 used, but there are some problems with that:

    a) much more difficult to add an external monitor, which you asked about, and
    b) good luck finding someone willing to part with one for less than the price of a new one.

    and last but not least:
    a Pismo Powerbook G3 - argueably the best laptop they've made, as far as upgradeability and expandability. As long as it's fast enough, and has enough RAM on board, it can be a great little workhorse for someone wanting the fun of OSX without the pricetag of a new machine.

    If you do go with a G3 model, try and stay above 600 Mhz. You'll be much happier.
  7. DakotaGuy macrumors 68040


    Jan 14, 2002
    South Dakota, USA
    The only way to get a G3 model with 600Mhz or more is to go with a later model iBook. You have then recommended a Pismo, which correct me if I am wrong never made it above 500Mhz.
  8. Mudbug Administrator emeritus


    Jun 28, 2002
    North Central Colorado
    but there are plenty of upgraded models available, which would be of interest...
  9. Wolffpack thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 5, 2003
    Thanks everyone for your input. Good stuff to consider. Been watching ebay a bit and it looks like a used eMac 700Mhz G4 may be the option. Going for between $600-$700 right now.

    Thanks again.
  10. bwawn macrumors member

    Jul 24, 2002
    I would personally recommend against buying a used eMac on eBay. Go to and click on the special deals down in the lower left hand corner. They have plenty of refurbished eMacs there, and they are Apple-certified with a year warranty. Buying from someone on eBay will provide you with little to no warranty and a great possibility of the machine being damaged. A refurbished machine direct from Apple is often in better shape than a brand new machine.

    Trust me on this. I've run into too many people that bought used Macs on eBay only to run into heaps of trouble hardware-wise, and especially with a machine like the eMac, a hardware problem means you have basically no way of fixing it yourself.
  11. Wolffpack thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 5, 2003
    Thanks much, something to consider.

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