Numbers aren't everything anymore.

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by queshy, Jun 22, 2008.

  1. queshy macrumors 68040


    Apr 2, 2005
    The purpose of this thread is to provide insight to the "consumers" out there who are contemplating buying a Mac (or any computer for that matter).

    People these days are impressed by numbers. Heck, even people today ask me how a 2.0 GHz Core 2 Duo can be faster than a Pentium 4 at 3.2 GHz. It's all about efficiency, and not numbers.

    "But isn't a 3.6 GHz Pentium 4 faster than a 2.0 GHz Core 2 Duo?" - you may ask - but the answer is no. Higher numbers are not always "better". This is called the Megahertz Myth (*thanks, richthomas!)

    Also, be warned that if you're like "most" people and are buying a computer to check your e-mail, listen to music via iTunes, browse the web, etc., whether you have a 2.0, 2.4, or even a 2.8 GHz processor (Core 2 Duo) you will probably not notice the difference.

    Example: I own a 24" White iMac with a 2.0 GHz Core 2 Duo chip, but at home we also have a 24" Aluminum iMac with a 2.4 Ghz Core 2 Duo processor and a 24" Alu iMac with a 2.8 GHz Core 2 Duo (Penryn) processor. And guess what - for my MS Office, Safari, iTunes, MSN, etc., I can't tell a difference between the 3 machines as hard as I try. They all have 2 GB ram.

    Of course if you are into higher end things like video editing, gaming, etc., processing speed may be important, but these days any of the Core 2 Duo CPUs are more than adequate for most users.

    That being said, I urge you to think twice about paying extra $ (as much as a few hundred) for a processor "upgrade" when customizing your new Mac. Chances are, you won't even notice the difference (depending on usage). Also, in a few years, whatever you have will be outdated anyways and way slower compared to what's out there, so you won't even care if you have the "upgraded" CPU you passed up on at the time of purchase.

    And another thing - when buying a computer - don't go for one model over another just because the spec sheet has more bulleted features - this is called "feature creep" - something manufacturers try to do to pad their spec sheets. Look at most laptops and you'll find that they all have more features than most Macs on paper. More USB ports, larger hard drivers, more media buttons, more slots, ports, jacks, etc. Ask yourself if you really need 6 USB ports on your desktop or if 3 will suffice. You'll notice that Apple's philosophy is definitely "less is more" and not "more is better". It's about the integration of these features.

    Go into Best Buy and you'll find that every single laptop has a webcam, yet when you try and use the webcam, you won't know how. Having worked at a Big Box store, most customers will ask "how do you turn on the webcam?". The software is poorly integrated.

    Moreover, manufactures will jam pack their machines with "free software" but truthfully most of these are trials and aren't very useful. Why does a laptop need to come with 3 different programs to burn CDs? Again, another example of "feature creep". I've seen so many customers go for one model over another because it had a 250 GB hard drive over a 160 GB hard drive yet all they wanted out of their computer was to be able to check their e-mail and browse the web.

    After selling computers at a Big Box store, something I've come to realize is that customers are attracted to higher numbers and long feature lists, whether they are necessary or not.

    Thank you for reading and good luck with your purchase!
  2. netdog macrumors 603


    Feb 6, 2006
    Actually, for most of the common tasks that you mentioned, these machines may not be outdated in a few years either. The OS is getting slimmer and faster. Surfing, writing and emailing should be safe on current machines for a long time to come.
  3. richard.mac macrumors 603


    Feb 2, 2007
    51.50024, -0.12662
    nice post! this is the Megahertz Myth. i wondered when i first got my 2.0 GHz MBP why the clock speed was so low compared to PCs with 3 GHz Pentiums. its all about the cores these days and multithreading.

    but what about differernt models of the Core 2 Duos? using the same amount of RAM couldnt you tell the difference between a Merom and a Penryn becuase of the architecture?
  4. queshy thread starter macrumors 68040


    Apr 2, 2005
    True, but think of it this way. Let's say a few years ago you bought a pentium 4 @ 2.8 GHz. In view of what is out today - wouldn't you be glad you didn't spring the extra $ for the 3.0 GHz version of the Pentium 4?

    That's the way I see it.

    Whatever is out there in the future will definitely be way faster than whatever I have now, so when I'm buying a machine in a few years, I won't care that I didn't take the 2.2 on my iMac instead of the 2.0.

    You're quite right - it's the Megahertz Myth. In fact, if you go on YouTube, there's a video of Jobs talking about this back in the day with G4 vs. Pentium at one of his keynotes.

    My iMac C2D at 2 GHz is miles an miles ahead of my old P4.

    All 3 iMacs have 2 GB ram, they differ only in clock speed (and Merom vs. Penryn) - 2 GHz , 2.4, and 2.8. As hard as I try, they all feel the same. To add to that, my white iMac has way less hard disk space available and is way more "used" i.e. has tons of stuff on it and hasn't been formatted in a very very long time (i.e. since October when Leopard came out).

    I posted this so that new users would understand just that - the megahertz myth. Don't get me wrong though - if you want to "future proof" your investment to a certain extent, and you're into digital video editing and gaming, by all means go for the upgraded processor, but like I said , for most people, the speed difference is only something that a benchmark shows and not based on user experience.

    Lots of PC manufacturers are doing the old "feature creep" - putting in as many features as possible because they're cheap and it makes the spec sheet look nicer. Why is it that all notebooks have SD card slots except Macs? Form over function? Perhaps, but the truth is that most customers don't need them. It's so simple and easy to plug in a USB cable and transfer to iPhoto. Why no 20 USB ports no the iMac? People don't need them. "Feature creep" is something too many companies are trying to do and all it does is con the user into thinking "more is better". Apple's philosophy of "less is more" works way better IMO.

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