Potential Convert to a Mac

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by cheddarman, Feb 5, 2009.

  1. cheddarman macrumors newbie

    Feb 5, 2009
    After 25 years with Dell,Gateway/HP, I am very seriously considering the switch over to an Mac desktop. Any input would greatly be appreciated:

    (1) Work Use: Microsoft Office Applications with a heavy emphasis on Outlook/Powerpoint presentations/Word/Project. Please note that I do presentations at conferences so my Powerpoint slides must be 100% compatibile with whatever the conference is running.

    (2) Personal Use
    -- I am unusual in that I do 95% tv watching at my computer through the use of a tv tuner (dual tuner on 1 card) hooked up to my cable provider. I automatically cut all commercials before watching any programming and anything I want to archive is either stored on my hard drive or burned to a dvd with the usual authoring software. Basically TIVO on steroids.
    -- I am a part time day trader and I currently have 2 monitors hooked up. I am thinking of going to 4 monitors in the future.
    -- when I am not busy, I play music on my Yahama synthesizer and created songs/compose music on my computer so software notation and semi-professional music studio hookup is important to me
    -- basic web browsing, word processing, financial calculations, music playing (mp3 only, no i-tunes), video watching/editing/music composition
    -- home network is important since I have a HP tablet that I use as well as a secondary system in the bedroom
    -- No games (no time).

    (3) Current Dell Config: Pentium 4 with 2GB of RAM and 2TB (and growing) hard drive space (combination of internal/external hard drives). Current system is sometimes strained and is crashing more than I would like (hence the reason for the possible switch to a Mac--getting too old to play around with the fussiness of Windows. I want something that just works with minimal hassles).

    Help: What Mac do I need and any spec recommendations (as well as software suggestions) would be appreciated? I'm patient so I am willing to wait to the new stuff comes out if necessary.

    Thanks to all in advance!!

  2. illegallydead macrumors 6502a


    Oct 22, 2007
    For the best expandability (and ability to plug in that card, if it is a PCI card), and the chance to get up to 4 displays, you are pretty much limited to the Mac Pro. The Pro is VERY expensive, and probably overkill for what you want. All other current Macs are NOT expandable (other than a new HDD and RAM).

    As for the Office stuff: here you will want to get Parallels, VMWare Fusion, Crossover, or Bootcamp to run Windows and Office. Office on the Mac is crippled compared to the PC, and doesn't always play nice with PC's in terms of running without worries. iWork is good, but only if the conference is running iWork, too. Open Office is a possibility, but again, it may not work without worries, either. Plus, Office:Mac ONLY has word, powerpoint, and excel, nothing else (i.e. project)

    Also, that TV card may not work on the Mac (most don't, you usually need one specifically made for OSX)

    So, my personal recommendation is you stay with PC's. You will get the hardware you want/need, and it will be much cheaper. For a lot of the things you do, you will have to spend a good amount of time in Windows anyway to do the office stuff.
    Which version of Windows are you running, by the way? IMO Vista is a pretty solid operating system, and Win7 is looking even better. Maybe a reinstall of Windows on your Dell is in order? That might fix some of the crashing / slowness...
  3. MooneyFlyer macrumors 65816


    Nov 18, 2007
    This is not at all my experience. I switched in October and there are a handful of us using Mac's in a PC/Linux dominated environment. Mac Office 2008 is fully compatible with the Windows versions. Entourage works with Exchange though I don't think it is as good as Outlook. Also, it doesn't deal with your Outlook archive files which is a major PITA.

    I spend most of my time in PowerPoint and Excel and they are fine. They are more like using the 2003 versions on the PC though -- they don't use the new "Ribbon" style so it does take some getting used to. You have to watch out for how Excel calculates dates (different than the PC -- but there's a setting for compatibility).
    I actually have the VMWare Fusion and Office setup mentioned above but have never had to use it for compatibility (or any other reason for that matter).

    No idea on your other requirements...
  4. alexlovesmacs macrumors 6502a

    Apr 23, 2008
    Since you want all those screens I'd suggst the iMac 24".
  5. illegallydead macrumors 6502a


    Oct 22, 2007
    The iMac can only support one extra screen via the Mini-DVI port on back. Unless I am missing something entirely. So yes, he could go up to 2 screens, but not the 4 he had mentioned. Like I said, for cheap expandability and compatibility with his TV card, it looks like a PC might be the better option.
  6. alexlovesmacs macrumors 6502a

    Apr 23, 2008
    I'm saying since he can't have all those screens he should buy a 24" iMac.
  7. i7.920 macrumors newbie


    Jan 31, 2009
    Tieri, QLD, Australia
    Given how the economy is tracking, this could be bad news for your proposed exodus from PC land. Especially given the price premium on Apple computers.

    With that in mind. If you really need 4 monitors, and to be honest who doesn't, then you're kind of limited to a PC running Nvidia SLI or Ati Crossfire unless you want to fork out bulk coin for a MacPro running 2 of last seasons graphics cards. If you don't need anything too outrageous for playing Crysis at Very high on a 1900x1200 screen, you could probably get away for less than $1000 (including SLi or Xfire) building your own system, not including screens.

    Happy hunting
  8. EdbBob macrumors member

    Oct 25, 2008
    Don't know much about MS Office (who needs that?), but:

    I used to be a hardcore PC user starting out with a PC XT 4.77 mHz back in those days :rolleyes: A little over a year ago, I went ballistic over Vista, and bought a 24" iMac. That's the best computer i ever had, and not very expensive. I switched to Mac Pro last week, because I need the extra cores. It's a very fast computer but a major overkill for your needs.

    Go for a Mac. OSX is light years ahead of even Win7 and once you get used to using Exposé you wont need extra screens. I still run XP x64 through VMware for certain apps, but I love my :apple: :)

    PS! If you purcase an iMac, be aware that changing the harddrive is pretty complicated, so buy the drive you need...
  9. nastebu macrumors 6502

    May 5, 2008
    Office compatibility

    I work on Word and Excel files on both Windows and OS X all the time, and very very rarely run into incompatibilities.

    The one place I've run into hiccups is converting Keynote files to Powerpoint, but that's to be expected.

    And I like Office on the Mac better than Office 2007, but that really is personal preference.
  10. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    Any Mac can support MULTIPLE monitors, as there are USB solutions for adding additional displays.

    1. MS documents are compatible between Mac and windows.

    - Macs can record TV shows with the right product.
    - Multiple display are possible on all models, see above.
    - Macs are used more in professional audio. Certain products such as Apogee Duet are Mac only.
    - Basic browsing, etc are faster on the Mac, as OSX defrags itself.
  11. edgew8 macrumors regular


    Dec 8, 2008
  12. Sorkvild macrumors 6502

    Feb 23, 2007
    What's wrong with iTunes? iTunes is designed to play mp3s..... unless you have very few music files
  13. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007

    iTunes is the most popular music playing software, used by many DJs due to its fast search speed and smart play list.

    Playing music by folders worked 10 years ago, but technology has advanced since then.
  14. cheddarman thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 5, 2009
    Thanks to all that have responded. Everyone has provided ample solutions and feedback for me to do proper due diligence. A few random thoughts after reading the posts:

    -- I had heard going the Mac route would require more cash but I was suprise at the price premium. Depending on whether I choose the iMac or Pro (plus all the equivalent software), the replacement cost would be anywhere from 70 to 100% more than the pc replacement route. Ouch!!

    -- Many thanks for the posters that mentioned potential compatibility problems with MS Office files. The more I thought about it, I forgot I sometimes have to use Visio, OneNote, and other MS products in the Ultimate Suite at work. I'd be in big trouble if I was the cause of project delay during deadlines with our presentations/documents.

    --- The good news for me is that I will soon be introduced to a few diehard Mac users in the next few weeks that are willing to let me play around with their system. That will allow for a great opportunity for me to try some of the various files I have used throught the years and to see first hand if there are any compatibility issues.

    --- I have about 16 GB of mp3 music files. Not sure if the person I talked to yesterday at a party really knew what he was talking about but he said he had problems playing some of his mp3 files with iTunes. That doesn't sound (no pun intended) right...he must be doing something wrong (corrupt files perhaps)?.

    --- The multiple monitor comments were extremely helpful. Given the cost and the fact I am using 2 monitors currently, maybe I'll stick with the same configuration if I go Mac. As someone pointed out, a Mac Pro would appear to be overkill for my needs and anywhere I can cut costs, I'll take it.

    --- In the end, the decision will primarily be about productivity (and of course reasonable costs) with the minimal need to always fix/tweek things. My current system (with XP Pro NOT Vista) allows me to do alot of things but I spend more time than I would like fixing potential problems with every software upgrade. I hear when you get a Mac and buy software, it just works. No fuss, no tweeks, no crashes. That's quite appealing to me as I get older.

    Again, thanks for the input and feel free to continue to comment if other ideas/suggestions come up.
  15. mattyb240 macrumors 6502a

    May 11, 2008
    Well your friend regarding iTunes is a bit silly, and that is something specific to him and his files. I imported all music when I converted in September and have had no issues with iTunes.

    I spent a large amount of time sorting out problems with my XP machine even with a fresh install, there would always be something a month later. It does sound cheesy but I have no problems and it has just worked to be honest, I am very satisfied. I thought I had a time machine issue making large backups over 5GB a time, turns out it was a torrent I had downloading (legal linux distribution) meaning it would back up the entirety of the file.

    A few months down the line my mac stays on 90% of the time, and when I do reboot it takes under 45 seconds to start up with firefox. Is you just get Microsoft Office 08 then there should be no compatibility issues. I have never had a system crash only a couple of random application crashes but they are few and far between. Combination of Expose and space make multi tasking and efficient productivity without any issues or slow downs.

    What ever your decision I hope some of this info has helped.

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