Occasional Windows Gamer contemplates making the jump to Apple

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by jmpage2, Mar 6, 2009.

  1. jmpage2 macrumors 68040


    Sep 14, 2007
    I've been building and using Windows computers for over a decade but lately find myself contemplating the move to a Mac in order to have a smoother computing experience. Most of what I use my PC for over the last few years are tasks like photo editing, web surfing, movie viewing, etc.

    I have been increasingly irritated with the amount of time I have to spend every year wrenching on my Windows machines. To make matters worse I also support all of the Windows machines at my wife's office, damn!!!!

    For years I refused to make this move because I was an avid PC Gamer. For the last couple of years I have found myself playing games less and less frequently, the last PC game I played was Fallout 3 (which, incidentally is a great game that unfortunately wasn't produced for the Mac).

    What are my prospects if I want to make the move to Apple but might occasionally want to play Windows games via boot camp to XP? Does this leave me firmly in the realm of the Mac Pro with a video card upgrade? Can the newer iMacs handle some medium level PC gaming?

    Should I just hold off till the release of Snow Leopard? Is that when we are likely to see the next hardware performance bump? A friend of mine indicated that the Apple rumor mill is starting to buzz about the possible release of a new Mac tower that will be between the iMac and Mac Pro.

    Other concerns right now are the lack of Blu-Ray support in the Mac OS (I'm a huge fan of Blu-Ray movies and would want to watch my Blu-Ray discs on any computer I have) and the inability of doing Time Machine backups from a Mac onto my Windows Home Server (although maybe that one will eventually be possible via a hack).

    Any and all advice would be helpful... thanks!
  2. Eidorian macrumors Penryn


    Mar 23, 2005
    Wait for Snow Leopard if you must and get a Mac mini is your Mac. You don't need to spend more then that.
  3. jmpage2 thread starter macrumors 68040


    Sep 14, 2007
    The Mac Mini is good enough for heavy photo editing, etc? It's good for gaming?

    I'm really not interested in having multiple machines with KVM switch, I would prefer just one machine.
  4. Eidorian macrumors Penryn


    Mar 23, 2005
    We don't see a reason for you to heavily invest in Apple hardware to be honest. It's rather expensive to break out of the 9400M G lockdown on Apple hardware to something dedicated.
  5. striatedglutes macrumors 6502

    Feb 22, 2009
    I (and most other staff photogs at my old school paper) did half of my (our) editing on 1.5Ghz core solos for the '07-'08 year. I've since graduated, but I bet those minis are still there holding it down.
  6. irishgrizzly macrumors 65816


    May 15, 2006
    You could get a mini and a PS3 for gaming (and the ability to play Blueray). Could be the best of both worlds.
  7. redsteven macrumors 6502a


    Aug 22, 2006
    The new NVIDIA integrated graphics that the mini has are supposedly pretty good.... for an integrated graphics card.

    I recall reading (though don't quote me on this) that they perform on par with the old Radeon X1600's (dedicated cards) that the first intel iMacs shipped with... such as the one I'm typing on right now.

    The Radeon x1600 isn't a bad card, but... it's really not great for most new games. I played fallout 3 on it... but I had most of the graphics settings turned down and I'm also willing to tolerate lower frame-rates than many other people are.
    Source-based games like half life 2 and team fortress 2 still DO play well on it though.

    But if you're getting a mac mini, you're going to be getting graphics performance similar (or possibly slightly better) than the cards sold with the iMacs released in January, 2006.

    I recently got a new Macbook Pro (with the 512 meg NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GT), and THAT card kicks ass. It's great, and I don't think I'd want anything less than that if I were purchasing a new computer.

    Sure, the mini's cheaper, but honestly, I think you'd be happier with an iMac. It's only worth going the iMac route (over a mini) though if you're willing to spring for one with a dedicated graphics card... meaning you're spending $1800 (more if you really want to splurge on the graphics).

    So if you can spend the money, I vote for the iMac. It should serve you for many years.
  8. relativist macrumors regular

    Jan 13, 2009
    I'd suggest holding off for the next hardware update and SL.
  9. jmpage2 thread starter macrumors 68040


    Sep 14, 2007
    I have a PS3, X360 and Wii. I have all of these but still don't have time to do much gaming.

    I really prefer gaming on a PC for FPS and Strat games because I like the whole keyboard/mouse thing.

    I know there's a lot of love for the Mac Mini, but cost is not a huge obstacle for me. Also, I get a pretty good discount on Mac hardware through my work.

    I was just contemplating the practicality of getting a Mac as my "do everything" machine and still being able to play the occasional game via boot camp.

    I can tell there's a lot of Mac Mini love here, but I am a bit skeptical that it would be powerful enough for my uses (photo and video editing, etc).

    I realize a Mac Pro is total overkill for most home users, but I could afford one and it seems like it's one of the few options that would run OSX and still be powerful enough to be reasonably good at running PC games for a few years.

    It would be nice if Apple would introduce something between the iMac and the Pro that would suit users like me. A $1500 tower that had a quad core cpu and upgradable video.
  10. striatedglutes macrumors 6502

    Feb 22, 2009
    Have you thought about one of the new iMacs with a (mobile?) radeon 4850 in it? It's not a desktop 4850x2 or anything, but I think it'd "be reasonably good at running PC games for a few years."

    I mean hell, I'm using a PC with a radeon x1900xt (3 years old) and used to play warhammer online (6 months old) at 1680x1050 on the "all details half way" setting just great.
  11. Tesselator macrumors 601


    Jan 9, 2008
    Yes it is. And I would say "good" is just about the right term to use on the scale:

    Awesome, Excellent, Good, Mediocre, Poor, Bad, Total *^%$#!

    Yes it is. And again "good" is the correct term to use!

    KVM... Why would you want multiple machines if you're not running a business or building a rendering-farm? The new Mini already has support for multiple monitors - I don't see needing multiple Mimi's. If you do the good news is that you can do so and still be at way less than 1/2 the cost of the weakest pro. Or you could sell it and get something else.

    Bring a DVD or two with the games & apps or demos of the games & apps, you want to play & use to the Apple Store and install them. Try each one. Don't forget to being a DVD full of your heaviest photographs. It'll take you 3 or 4 hours in all but then you'll know for sure.
  12. Tesselator macrumors 601


    Jan 9, 2008
    Oh, now you're adding video editing to it? You didn't say so at first. The Mini is OK for casual video editing but if you're going to be regularly editing multiple streams of uncompressed 1080 then it's probably not enough.

    It sounds to me like you're trying to convince yourself that a Mini isn't enough. That's OK I guess. Sure, get a bigger system. I like big. :D
  13. Tymmz macrumors 65816


    Jan 6, 2005
    A MacBook Pro might be a good choice for you. I'm pretty sure they will handle the occasional need for gaming and are powerful enough when it comes to any type of editing.

    If you are concerned about upgradeability I'm afraid the Mac Pro is the only choice.

    A top of the line iMac will cost you almost as much as a MacBook Pro, but I don't know how much better the iMac will be when it comes to gaming.

    I'd rather go for the portable option.

    decisions, decisions...

    Good luck!
  14. Sesshi macrumors G3


    Jun 3, 2006
    One Nation Under Gordon
    First of all, bear in mind that coming here and asking for relative merits of the Apple platform is rather like asking 'So should I join?' at a Moonie convention. In fact, given my experience I'd say the two experiences are extremely similar. I stick around for OS X advice and other amusements, but a balanced series of opinions about the merits of switching is the last thing you'll see here.

    Waiting for the next performance bump isn't necessary or useful - Apple hardware will always be behind the curve relatively speaking due to their approach, which works great for them. If you want OS X, my advice for purchasing would be to buy about a quarter after any new machine is released, because Apple have quite honestly some horrendous QC issues - although it's very effectively disguised by their marketing and design - which means they effectively beta-test hardware on their captive and acquiescent audience before getting it kind of right. Many times I can't avoid it as I buy according to needs but wherever possible I stick to this practice - and while I still have plenty of issues with Apple hardware, it's probably fair to say I potentially have less when I buy this way.

    By 'gaming' it depends on what you mean. A lot of the comments here about current or recent games running well on Apple hardware, I try myself on the hardware involved and can only surmise that these people often have no idea how it should actually run. Which is one of the reasons I keep my OS X machines primarily OS X - with perhaps the addition of virtualised XP for infrequent use - and keep my entertainment machines (not just for gaming, but for media - Windows frequently has superior solutions for those consuming media) separate.

    Blu-ray? Don't look for it anytime soon. Content Apple can't profit from is something probably on a very back burner.

    The HP MediaSmart is one of the WHS servers which can do TM backups, and others are dribbling onto the scene. While your OEM-based machine may not be capable of it, if you're thinking about investing in Apples perhaps it's worth springing for one of these systems or as you say, waiting for a hack to become available. Either that or of course like me, you can operate a separate Time Crapsule (It's crap in several manner of ways, but hands-free in a way many Windows-based solutions aren't).
  15. Tesselator macrumors 601


    Jan 9, 2008
    Uh-huh, suuure. Nice orange toga BTW. :D
  16. Winni macrumors 68040


    Oct 15, 2008
    I understand you completely and went through this a few years ago. I began to hate Windows and Microsoft and wanted to leave it all behind. So I switched to the Mac -- and discovered that I only exchanged the Roman Emperor Bill Gates against the French King Steve Jobs.

    So do yourself a favor and stay in Windows-land.

    Your "happiness" in the Mac world will only be short lived. You will get bored quickly and what's even worse, you will find your computing experience to be very restricted. Windows is the much more versatile -- and OPEN(!) -- platform.

    Furthermore, Windows is where the business is. Macs are consumer computers and unless you write software for that target audience, there are not many arguments why you should move to the Mac from a business perspective.

    If you mostly want a tool for a specific purpose - e.g. writing screenplays, composing music, editing videos - rather than a "real" computer, the Mac is a great choice. Especially when you don't have to keep a watchful eye on your budget. But when you're a real geek, a PC with Windows or Linux or FreeBSD on it will be a better choice for you. And everything that can be done with a Mac can as easily be done with a PC.
  17. EmperorDarius macrumors 6502a

    Jan 2, 2009
    I don't agree at all. Macs can do everything that PCs does but they're much more stable and overall better.

    The only reason why someone should use Windows is either if he/she wants to play a lot of games frequently. From the business side, Windows is only worth if he/she wants to study malware, or a tech support guy (although you can become an Apple Genius).

    Otherwise, Macs are suitable for any other kind of business. Unless you want to do the things above, using Windows is just not worth the hassle.
  18. Tesselator macrumors 601


    Jan 9, 2008
    I agree. But careful with the subjective terms. "Better"? Better at what?

    Macs are better because:
    They are more stable as you say,
    They're just as sophisticated as Windows but without the extra complexity,
    The OS X design is by far more elegant!
    The company and the men directly behind the company are not Nazi eugenicists (Bill Gates is! No question! - No, I mean really! He is. Actually.)
    The Product is priced more appropriately and not crippled like Windows.
    OS X is faster. Vista and Windows7 are fast too but they do NOT stay that way for long if you use the OS much. (W7 untested)
    Apple is innovative and willing to step up with it's hardware designs and machine specs.

    Macs currently suck because:
    Apple was too daft to incorporate the Corei7 processor in a system like the Mac Mini or top iMac
    Because the top of the line Mac Pro isn't a multi-processor 6 core x7460 xeon machine even though it's priced like one. :D
    The new single proc Mac Pro machines benchmark and spec like a Core17 system but cost as much as THREE TIMES MORE!!
    They purposely design their machines as to dissuade end users from upgrading them. :mad:
    And because there's only one Steven Jobs! We need 3 or 4 more of him!
    Lastly, because game developers too often do not develop for mac as their primary target platform. :(

  19. EmperorDarius macrumors 6502a

    Jan 2, 2009
    Well apart from money, there's not much left to complain about. If you have enough money you can buy a Mac Pro which will work without sweating for 5+ years. For instance, with 5.500 EUR you can buy a Mac pro with 2x2.9 Xeon processors, 6 GB RAM, ATI Radeon 4870 and a 640 GB HDD. Then add some cheaper RAM and HDDs to it, and you got a system which will be still standing after 5+ years. I know, you can get a cheaper PC for that price, however you get OS X with a Mac.
    Yes, it's true, we need more Steve Jobs-s. The one we have is already dying :D
    If it is for games, I think that the Mac Pro stated above would probably play most of if not all of the recent games (by installing Windows under a VM or Boot Camp). Otherwise you can get a gaming console.
  20. Bentov macrumors regular

    Jul 22, 2007
    ...And here we are once again asking a question which has come up time and time again, to switch or not to switch. It never works asking for advice on a forum like this or any other forum for that matter. As someone else mentioned, you will mostly get zealots, and not as likely to get a balanced, informed answer. Switching from one OS to another is always a trade off, and if you can logically(not emotionally) analyze those trade offs, you will make the best decision, or you ebay it, and go back to wince you came.

    I think that it boils to usability, compatibility, maintenance, and fun. Pull up your spread sheet and make a chart, fill it out, both pluses and minus for both platforms, hell, include linux as well for ***** and giggles. Then when you have specific questions, come back and ask for details about those questions. Then you will get much better answers; instead of osx is king, macs are to expensive, windows has all the software, blah, blah blah. Speaking of which, I didn't include cost since I gave myself a budget of $2K USD and that will cover me either way.

    I think for me:

    Usability tips towards osx. Compatibility is definitely a big huge plus for windows. Maintenance is a big plus for osx and the fun factor is really dependent on what you use your machine for, and how much time you spend tuning it vs. using it.

    I actually don't have a mac yet(well I have a msi wind that I loaded osx on, but I don't count that.), but I am going to buy one of the new 24" with the ati card. I take a fair about of pictures(about 15k in 4 years) and while I do play games, I bought a ps3 about a month ago.(currently playing fallout 3, love it :D) So I'm in kind of the same boat as you. But I also do some programming and I think that a mac is the best development platform out there given parallels and bootcamp. I did a lot of research and while I will freely admit and a quad core i7 is nice and can be bought for cheaper, if that speed comes with aggravation, it's not worth it. Most of all, it's my time that is the most precious to me, and I think that having a mac will give me more time to use and enjoy my computer over windows. Good luck with your decision, whichever way you go.
  21. Tesselator macrumors 601


    Jan 9, 2008
    Yup, totally agree.

    This is actually a misnomer (depending on how you meant that). Even still with the current fiasco, pricing out the SAME parts for a DIY system and comparing it against Mac - the Mac still comes out as cheap or cheaper! It's only when you consider alternative design decisions (like building with a Corei7 instead of the x3500 series) that the Apple price (and design I might add) looks insane. They could have solved this of course by offering an i7 based system. They didn't and so I and others are awarded the legitimate right to complain about it. :D

    Yes, ALL. And yeah, that's true. If you have a Mac but wanna game in a serious way then BootCamp is your saviour. :p
  22. MattZani macrumors 68030


    Apr 20, 2008
    24" iMac with the 4850.

    That is the best for your needs.
  23. bigdaddyp macrumors regular

    Aug 19, 2008
    My switching experience.

    In late 2006 I purchased a white imac 2.16 ghz proc. and upgraded 256 meg video card and I also upgraded the ram to three gigs. I had quit my job to stay home with my four kids and wanted/needed a powerful computer and bought the mac as a treat for myself.
    At the time I was a power user and did have a bit of a hard time switching to the mac. First thing I installed was msn messenger and couldn't figure out why every time I launched the program it showed up on the desktop as a white icon and said it was a drive? :confused: And trying to move my itunes library over to the mac I was digging deep into the file structure and getting really torqued because I couldn't find where to put the folder. :mad: Turns out most programs don't use a installer you just drag the program to the application folder and the itunes song folder just needed to be dragged and dropped into the music folder. Once I learned to stop trying to do things the hard (windows) way then I got along much better with the mac. :)
    Something else I discovered about the mac is that it may not have as many software titles as the Windows world but many times the available software is far superior and often times the free shareware is better then paid programs on the windows side. I still use one windows machine and boot camp when I have to, usually when the wife wont get off my imac, but I have zero interest in ever leaving mac to go back to windows.
    I used to love playing games but just don't have much time to do that anymore. When I need to play a game we have the Wiitarded which has some fun games but when I want to play something dark and twisted I use bootcamp and fire up windows. Latest game I have is bioshock (yes I know its not the latest and greatest game) and my imac plays it well with all settings maxed. I have never tried crysis but from what I hear it will probably bring my imac to its knee's as its a killer even on newer systems.
    I really like the media capabilities of the mac and am amazed at how easy (a bit time consuming though) to rip my dvd collection to the hard drive to save the disks from the ravages of my children. I photo is a nice piece of software but I have not really used the rest of iLife but most people seem to love it.
    There are some downsides to the mac though. After two years of use I consider myself a rabid apple fan but there are fan boys and then there are fanbois. I once said on a forum that I did not like the mighty mouse and people went nuts. Some folks will not tolerate any kind of criticism of apple at all. Even if its just honest constructive criticism. When someone new pops onto a board and thinks they have a briliant idea that for apple to succeed they need to do license the mac osx instead of pointing them to articles and posts that would explain why this is a very bad idea the typical response seems to be shut up you idiot troll.
    Another sometimes problem is that the folks that used and supported macs through the dark times feel that they are the true mac users and all new comers have no right to voice their opinion. To be honest I can't blame them for feeling that way because they did indeed help keep apple afloat. The problem comes in when newer users ask for new features or a new model. The old guard is very resistant to change. Often times their opinion is that apple makes the mac mini, imac and macbook for consumers only and that the macbook pro and mac pro are for pros. Want an upgradeable machine get a macpro want a 15" screen get a macbook pro. Don't like it then leave. For examples of this just search xmac and be amazed at the hatred that can be generated just from wanting something new from apple.
    The only real problem I have with the hardware is that apple is very stubborn and does not want you to ever be inside your computer. I recently upgraded the hard drive on my white intel imac and was a bit disappointed in the internal build quality and layout of this machine. I understand that apple does want the consumer to upgrade their machine but they make it difficult even for technicians to replace a failed hard drive. More difficult then it needs to be anyways. Looking around inside I feel they could have done a better job on the layout and believe they could have even fit two hard drives inside it but then that might be a pro feature.
    I think you can be very happy on the mac if you can live within its limitations. I would definitely go for the discreet video card. And if you can tame any stray impulses about dyi upgrades you should do fine. Sorry about the long winded post but have been giving some of these topics a bit thought lately.
    Good luck and let us know what you decide.
  24. jmpage2 thread starter macrumors 68040


    Sep 14, 2007
    I thank everyone for all of the opinions. Really when it comes down to it I'm just looking for a more stable, smoother computing experience. Maybe I can get by until Windows 7 comes out and hope that they will win my trust back. I'm really getting tired of having to troubleshoot driver/bios issues on my machine every few months, dealing with spyware/adware/viruses, etc. The feeling that you must completely wipe a machine and reload it every 6-12 months just to get back into a stable place is depressing.

    One option I guess is to buy a Mac Mini just to get my feet wet. I actually have a friend who is going to buy a Mini, so perhaps I could buy it and use it for a month or two which would give me more hands on time with Mac before I spend "real" money on one. Then I could just sell it to him at a bit of a discount.

    This same friend is also insisting that there is a new rumor mill chugging about a machine priced and specc'd between the iMac and Pro. Guess time will tell on that one.

    Macbook doesn't really work for me. I already have a laptop that I'm required to use for my work and the idea of spending on a laptop that will sit home 95% of the time doesn't appeal to me much, I could just get a faster spec machine for the same money.

    The 24" iMac with the faster graphics card is an option. With my discount pricing from Apple the 24" iMac with upgraded Radeon 4850 graphics card would cost me $1879 shipped. That's expensive but at this point I'm willing to suffer some limitations in the gaming area to get off of Winblowz.
  25. EmperorDarius macrumors 6502a

    Jan 2, 2009
    Windows 7 is not gonna do a damn against malware for sure. And if you'll want to use more than 3 GB of RAM you'll have to buy the 64-bit version, and there are still a lot of drivers which have problems or are incompatible at all with that version.

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