PC user 'downgrading' to a Mac

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by LMC91, Jan 30, 2015.

  1. LMC91 macrumors member

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    Jun 17, 2014
    #1
    Hey, I've had this PC for almost 5 years, and the fan is really noisy, so I was thinking about something new, I plan to try get this fixed though, so there's no rush for me in getting anything new right now, just checking out my options.

    So I've always been a Windows user, I have a PC with an i7, 6gb ram, and a 2TB hard drive, but I thought I would take a look at the Mac's, since I'm a big fan of the iPhone. But the thing is, looking at the specs of the Mac's, the prices are really expensive, and don't seem to even match the PC I got 5 years ago. My PC cost around £900 at the time, and these Mac's are well over that.

    What I'm wondering is, is it really a downgrade? I know there's new generations of the processors and stuff, so that could be a big difference, and SSD's instead of normal hard drives now too, but it'll be weird going from something with 2TB down to 512gb.

    I use my PC for many things, but I do like to edit video and images, and even learning a bit of programming for game development, which is probably the main reason the Mac interests me, you need one to publish an app to the App Store, but that will be quite a while yet. I don't do much gaming on my PC, but mainly because it's so noisy, that could change, but even then it would probably be mostly smaller games, since I own consoles anyway.

    Really this is just to hear some opinions, and in no rush to make a decision. Thanks :)
     
  2. boast macrumors 65816

    boast

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    #2
    Might be better if you tell us the kind of macs you are looking into.
     
  3. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604

    thejadedmonkey

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    #3
    So for video editing, you'll definitely be downgrading.

    For gaming, you'll be upgrading to a TV - don't even think of gaming on your mac. I think the new tomb raider game gets something like 14fps on OSX vs 68fps on a PC...

    OS X on an SSD really flies, but we run Linux at work on an SSD, and I have a Dell at home with an SSD, and the speed isn't related to OS X, but rather the SSD.

    Having said all that, the prices are actually pretty in-line. The low end Dell XPS costs about the same as the low end Macbook Air, and they have comparable specs, so Apple isn't really out of line, unless you're just looking for cheap, which Apple is not.

    If you're going to get a mac, you usually get it because of the synergy it offers, or the lack of having to worry about the OS... not so much for the price/performance ratio.
     
  4. LMC91 thread starter macrumors member

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    #4
    Boast, so far I've been mainly looking at the iMac's, since I've always used a desktop PC, specs I keep trying to go above what I have, because it always made sense to me to have something better than what you have, so I've been looking at 16gb of ram, and was hoping for another i7, but maybe the i5 is better than my current i7 since this is 5 years on?

    thejadedmonkey, well gaming wouldn't ever be the biggest priority, I do my main gaming on consoles and a TV anyway, it's mainly for games I can't get on consoles, games like Tomb Raider I'd play on console, but something silly like Goat Simulator or maybe The Sims I'd play on the computer, at the same time I think it would be fun to mod GTA V when that comes out and that's a big game, but I'm not too worried.

    I have a Dell myself, I've been looking at the new Dells, and around the £1000 mark I saw a PC that seemed more than enough for me, the Mac's are at least £500 - £1000 more for something I'm trying to last me at least 5 years. I will say I really don't care about specs on paper, if it does what I need and performs quick, I'm just trying to be careful with my choice. Whether I will make use of things like continuity and stuff, I think no, but I like the idea of it, but I guess it's something I haven't lived with yet.
     
  5. Renzatic Suspended

    Renzatic

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    #5
    From his list, any of the 27" iMacs would work well for him. If money isn't an object, the 5k iMac would have him set for the next 3-5 years at least.

    As far as raw specs go, I'm not gonna be one of those people who say they don't matter, because if you need the horsepower, nothing else but more horsepower will suffice. Thing is, most people tend to greatly overestimate what they need these days. You'll see people who say "I edit images in Photoshop as a hobby, so I absolutely require an octo-core i7 and 32Gb of ram". No, guy. You don't. A store bought i3 with 8GB ram will work just fine for the vast majority of PS work. You can get a higher end machine if you want, because having a little more power to fall back on never hurts when it comes to computers. But you don't need that high end machine.

    It's not about what's the fastest, but how well does the machine your looking at work for what you want to use it for. For everything he listed, any 27" iMac will do. They're even decent machines for games, provided you bootcamp to play them.
     
  6. LMC91 thread starter macrumors member

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    #6
    Renzatic, definitely having more power than you need is much better than having something with less power and being sorry about it. Even my current PC probably is way too powerful than I need. I forgot to say I am learning a bit of 3D modelling too, but it's all beginner level stuff, and even then a lot of computers these days are capable machines. I remember my class on 3D a few years ago in 2010, I used a laptop with a dual core processor I think, and 2gb of ram, had no problems. I tend to keep my PC for about 5 years.

    Bootcamp is something I'd like to do, I wouldn't want to do without Windows since it's what I've been using for years and familiar with. When it comes to the hard drives, I like the idea of an SSD, but how's the Fusion drives in comparison? I'd think the more space the better, especially with splitting the hard drive for bootcamp.

    When it comes to RAM, I've only ever had a problem with using 6gb of ram in After Effects, but since I'm not an expert on it, it could be my fault and there's probably ways of dealing with that.

    Appreciate the replies by everyone.
     
  7. theluggage macrumors 68030

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    #7
    What you've got to understand is that you're paying a premium for small-form-factor/all-in-one systems.

    If you're only worried about the spec of the CPU and graphics cards, the amount of RAM or the size of the HD, and don't mind a basic mini-tower or a thick-as-a-brick laptop then you'll always get more raw bangs-per-buck with a PC.

    If you compare like-with-like, things look rather closer: e.g. if you're looking at iMacs, a fairer price comparison is with the DELL XPS 27 Touch.

    SSDs are a huge, night-and-day difference, even for everyday work. If you fix the fan on your PC, you should definitely look at switching to a SSD as your C: drive.

    The iMacs offer the fusion drive as a half-way-house - a 128GB SSD acting as an automatic cache for a 1 or 3TB hard drive.

    Personally (since opening up an iMac is not for the faint hearted) I'd go for an all-SSD iMac with 256GB or 500GB (which I find fine for everyday use) and use multiple external drives for backups and stuff like video, which can easily fill up even a 2TB drive. In the past, that was a no-no because external drives were hamstrung with slow interfaces like USB2, but with USB3 and Thunderbolt that's no longer an issue.
     
  8. LMC91 thread starter macrumors member

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    #8
    theluggage, I suppose that makes sense that other All-in-ones are quite expensive too, especially compared to a tower that is cheaper with better specs. The way my current PC is setup, my C drive is 53gb, with my D drive being 2TB. That C drive is almost full up, even though I install everything on the D drive, it seems that some things still need to go into C, earlier in the year I was almost about to buy an SSD drive for this computer, but thought it was a smarter idea to see about this noise first (which i really think is the graphics card fan). But going all SSD in the future and storing everything else on a hard drive is something I'll definitely consider.
     
  9. Renzatic Suspended

    Renzatic

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    #9
    Movie editing isn't something I'm all that familiar with, but I do know enough to say that it's a very ram hungry process. You'd be far more comfortable with 16GB there.

    While I'm here, I'll give you an alternate suggestion. See, I'm getting a little tired of having a big honking tower sitting on my desk, and wanted to go with something a little more sleek and compact. The retina iMac had my eye for awhile, but its tendency to get really hot under high work loads worried me a bit. It's the most powerful all-in-one you can buy, but if I'm going to spend $3000+ on something, I'll want it to work perfectly, and last for awhile.

    But then I found something else, something totally unexpected. The Alienware Alpha. Yeah, it's mostly advertised as an HTPC, but if you get the i7, slap an SSD in there alongside another 8GB ram (out of a max 32GB), and you have a helluva nice little workstation that's only a slightly bit larger than a Nintendo Wii for about $1200.

    ...and even better, unlike most Alienware stuff, it doesn't look all that goofy!

    It'd be something worth considering if you decide to stay in the Windows PC scene.
     
  10. D.T. macrumors 603

    D.T.

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    Vilano Beach, FL
    #10
    I’m assuming you’ve got an existing display, one option (especially if it’s a nice display), is to do something like a Mac Mini, score a ’12 model, quad i7 for about $500-600. User upgradable to 16GB RAM, two bays, you could run a fast SSD as the system/boot drive, put in a big 1-2TB spinner for data storage (obviously you could also use external drives).

    Super compact, quiet, not a huge investment, and the quad Minis hold their value really well. With cost/value ratio being pretty good, that would be a decent way to test out the OSX waters. FYI, you probably would be able to use your existing keyboard (KBs aren’t a huge investment, but when you find one you like, it’s hard to part with, I’m using my Logitech K800 from a long gone PC).
     
  11. moogleii macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2010
    #11
    It sounds like you're dabbling in a lot, but at the same time at an amateur level (as in, it doesn't sound like your livelihood revolves around movie editing/3d modelling). I truly jumped ship from PC to Apple around 2011 with an iMac purchase (initially I started with a cheapo mac mini to get into iOS development like you, but it was a complement to my PC). I elected not to get an SSD for the iMac.

    So, based on my own experience, and likely similar budgets (and gaming profiles), I would say the 27" iMac Late-2013 non-retina would be a good choice. I went with the i5 and don't really feel hampered by CPU. I mean, if you're sitting there, rendering movies/3d scenes all the time, and you want it to finish 50% faster so you can move onto the next render, sure, get the i7. But for me, I don't do it enough. And I'll live if it takes longer. Fire up the console, play some games, let it run. For programming, it's more than sufficient. As for Retina, yeah it's awesome, but do you really need it? For your use-case and budget, I personally don't think so. It's a compromise that I think you can make.

    The disk IO is really the only place that I would have gone differently. I kind of wish I had splurged for at least the Fusion drive. Full SSD is even better of course. I've since gotten a Macbook Air, and the SSD does make a big difference. I don't fully regret getting a traditional 1 TB since the 2011s didn't have USB3, but as theluggage points out, your options for external drives are much quicker now.

    All the 27" Macs have serviceable ram slots, so I'd buy the lowest amount of RAM from Apple and buy your own. Just my 2 cents. Good luck!

    Edit: D.T.'s advice is sound, too.
     
  12. LMC91 thread starter macrumors member

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    Jun 17, 2014
    #12
    They can get hot? hearing things like that put me off, they're really too expensive to be worrying about things. The reason why I'd buy one is to not have to worry.

    I heard of the Alienware Alpha, something like that sounds great for a TV, and I'm not one for opening a new PC, but I'm gonna take a look at that, something like that could be a good option for me even if I upgraded at a later time, will check some reviews. Anybody know how Dell PC's (they make Alienware too, right?) are these days? My current and last computer was a Dell, but with the small hard drive they gave me this time, and the noise of this, I was gonna try something different, but if what they're making is good that's fine by me.
     
  13. moogleii macrumors newbie

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    #13
    Oh yeah, just to comment on the premium price tag, I will say you are paying for unbeatable customer service. The stories are real. I was pretty surprised. My coworker had an issue with his Macbook pro's touchpad, so they gave him a new one.

    And free OS upgrades. I've gone through 4 OSX versions and have paid $20 for them (Lion being the last not-free upgrade). Microsoft is kind of coming around to the idea. Windows 10 will be free for a year, so the rumor goes.
     
  14. LMC91 thread starter macrumors member

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    Jun 17, 2014
    #14
    D.T, the Mac Mini was something I had in mind too, I'll see what options are available when it comes to the '12 model, since I know I can't get them off Apple anymore. I have a 21.5" display, it suits me fine, but I don't think it's anything too crazy, just one of Dell's own screens.

    Moogleii, yep, not a professional that requires it for work, still like a capable machine, but I'm not rendering videos or anything everyday. I looked at a 27" Mac at a store, and it looked good to me, I thought it might of been the Retina but clicking at the top left of the screen I think it said it was a 2013 machine, so couldn't be the Retina. About upgrading the iMac's ram, as longs it's easy enough to do I'll consider it, but probably a good bit after I've had it, afraid to touch new machines lol.

    ----------

    About the customer service, one thing about where I live is that I don't have an Apple Store, so I don't have it as handy as others, we do have like an unofficial apple store, but that's most likely a different story when it comes to service
     
  15. imaccooper macrumors regular

    imaccooper

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    #15
    I agree. I love my iMac now, but the first mac I bought was the mac mini and I loved it. It would be a great machine for you and it would be around the prices you are talking about even for a high end model. As was suggested, a 2012 quad core would be a great buy if you can find one.
     
  16. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604

    thejadedmonkey

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    #16
    This is probably the most important part of this entire thread, and computer buying in general. Any new Core i5/7 computer can be used for emulating multiple OS's at once, while programming, and using photoshop, without breaking a sweat. In fact, unless you're gaming, rendering things, or working with large data sets that should use parallel computing, any current gen Core i5/7 should be "good enough".
     
  17. Renzatic, Jan 30, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2015

    Renzatic Suspended

    Renzatic

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    #17
    It's either a huge concern, or not that big of a deal depending on who you talk to. I might be guilty of judging it by oldschool standards, but 110C under load is high enough to give me pause.

    That said, it's a damn powerful computer in a very small package coupled with the highest resolution screen currently available on the market. As a pure video/photo editor, you don't get much better than it.

    Since you said you're not in any rush, I'd probably wait for the second generation just to make sure. If the heat problem turns out to be a proper issue, rather than much ado about nothing, Apple will have it hammered out by that point. Plus, it'll likely be a bit cheaper to boot.

    Of course you do have the option of going with the tried and true 2880x1800 iMac. They're considerably cheaper, and will easily work just as well for you.

    They've only been out for a few months now, so no one knows if they're going to blow up a day after the warranty expires yet or not. Though from what I've read, they seem to be well built machines. Cool, fairly quiet, and almost shockingly powerful for the size.

    If you're looking for a small PC vs. an all-in-one, I'd choose it over the Mac Mini, which I personally don't believe is worth the money.
     
  18. Amazing Iceman macrumors 68040

    Amazing Iceman

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    #18
    Just as a side question: do you regret buying your 27" iMac with Retina Display? If yes, what do you think you should have purchased instead?

    ----------

    I read yesterday that Apple quietly started to sell again the 2012 Mac Mini you are talking about. Check their online store to find it. :D
     
  19. wiredup72 macrumors regular

    wiredup72

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    #19
    Just my opinion, but this is another example to me of the mini refresh's utter failure.
     
  20. moogleii macrumors newbie

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    #20
    It's pretty easy, and it'll save you about $300 if you decide to get 32gb of RAM. Which may or may not be worth it to you. Sure, there's always a bit of a fear factor, especially after dropping so much coin. I've been building PCs for a long time, but I was still apprehensive about it (especially with scratching the screen, but just lay out some microfiber or something). Check out the steps here: http://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202637

    Basically, put the iMac face down, flip open the panel, exchange the ram, and you're done. If you do end up getting a mac, also consider Parallels vs Bootcamp. Bootcamp will give you the true speed of the machine, but you'll be surprised at how lazy one can become when it comes to needing to reboot into a different OS.

    And...I will say if you've never used OSX, the first month could be a bit painful as you adapt to the differences from Windows.
     
  21. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68020

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    #21
    This is kind of like walking into a car showroom and saying, "I want a car with a 350 hp engine, a trunk (or boot) capable of holding 3 large suitcases, and a gas tank with a range of 300 miles/500 km. Anything will do, so long as the price is right."

    Both automakers and computer makers are selling the experience of use/ownership alongside the raw specs. As rational and utilitarian as we believe we are, somewhere along the line our egos do get involved. All other things being equal, we'll go for the device that makes us feel the best about ourselves.

    The single biggest experiential difference between a PC and Mac is the operating system that runs atop those CPUs, DIMMs, and SSDs. From my prejudiced point of view, it's the difference between Microsoft's desperate, longstanding attempt to build a better Unix (fail), and the most successful Unix with a GUI. We have Apple's single-minded vision vs. Microsoft's need to please everyone.

    The second-largest experiential difference is the look. Yeah, looks don't matter, fashion is for those other, shallow people we didn't get along with in school. But every so often, I can't help but run my fingers over my iMac's expanse of brushed aluminum, and admire the way it looks standing on my desk. That's nothing I ever had with a Dell or IBM (yeah, I'm that old).

    And then, there are the "free" OS and software updates (yes, that is part of the price difference), the integration between iOS and OS X, the (relative) freedom from infection... all make for an easier ownership experience. That, not the CPU with the most cores and highest clock rate, is what ends up being the most important to me on an ongoing basis.
     
  22. boast macrumors 65816

    boast

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    #22
    I like the form factor but it was just too expensive and powerful for what I need. A top end used 2013 iMac at almost half the price would of been plenty for me. I had it dual screened next to a 1440p monitor and I couldn't really tell the different much unless I look for it.
     
  23. chrono1081 macrumors 604

    chrono1081

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    #23
    First, you can't compare specs across operating systems. A Mac will get so much more out of your hardware performance wise. My 4.5 years old Mac Pro outperforms my brand new higher spec'd Dell workstation.

    As for "is it a downgrade?", absolutely not. Processor bumps rarely make any meaningful difference. The SSD will be a huge speed boost too. You can grab an external drive for large files like video files or image catalogs if you find you use a lot of space.

    As for game development on Mac, its pretty sweet. I've done hobbyist game development on both Mac and Windows and developing for iOS is a joy.

    Xcode, your development environment (unless you use an engine like Unity) is amazing. I love it way more than Visual Studio (we use Visual Studio 2012 at work and I'm not fond of it. VS seems to be getting worse with each iteration). If you're planning on doing small games I'd highly highly recommend learning Swift (or Objective-C although its been replaced by Swift) and Sprite Kit, Apples 2D SDK for game development.

    Lynda.com has some great tutorials to get you up and running quickly with Objective-C, Swift, and SpriteKit.
     
  24. alvindarkness macrumors 6502

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    #24
    Agreed. I've always felt there should be another headless Mac line inbetween MacPro and MacMini, and with the new (downgraded) MacMini line up, now would be a great time. Although obviously I dont expect it to happen - but gotta admit it would cater for the OP and frankly, would be something I would buy.

    On a side note, another option for the OP would be a hackintosh setup. I've got 3 in the house and all are problem free (of course no telling it would be the case for the OP though). Ironically its my real Apple hardware, including the infamous 2011 15" MBP with its GPU overheating, that is giving me most grief right now.
     
  25. Dameatball, Feb 1, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2015

    Dameatball macrumors member

    Dameatball

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    #25
    PC user 'downgrading' to a Mac

    A 5 year old i7 chip. The scenario you mentioned is pretty unlikely (I'm assuming you didn't build this yourself). That said, you didn't give us any specifics.

    What's the specific processor?
    What is the specific PC or at least what are the specs under the hood? Mobo, ram, video card etc.

    If you can pass some specifics we can compare apples to apples. Without those its pretty unlikely as you're referring to a Mac today that costs $1,500+ vs a 5 year old windows machine. But send the specs and we can give you a straight answer.
     

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