Purchasing my first Mac...

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by GoKyu, Feb 15, 2007.

  1. GoKyu macrumors 65816


    Feb 15, 2007
    New Orleans
    Hi all, I've pretty much been a PC user since the early 90's, and have only worked with Macs on and off since that time.

    I'd like some advice on which one I should consider. Let me tell you a few things I'm looking for/would like up front:

    * I'm not a gamer, but I do use Photoshop every day, therefore I'd like a machine that can upgrade the RAM to at minimum 4 gigs (able to upgrade later would of course be a plus :))

    * I'm a pretty serious hardware junkie, meaning that I like getting into the case and manually upgrading stuff as I need to. After looking at the iMac (20 and 24" versions), I don't think this is very feasible.

    * I'm not *really* looking for a MacBook...I don't travel enough to really make use of a laptop. Plus the limited expandability.....I want a good solid desktop system.

    * Since I don't work with Macs every day, I don't really know the performance equivalents. For example, here's my current setup:

    Intel core duo 3.2ghz
    3 gb RAM
    600+ gigs hard disk space (across 3 separate hard disks.)

    After looking at how expensive the 3ghz Mac Pros are, I know that's pretty well out of my budget. I think I could do the 2 ghz Mac Pro, however. Is the Mac faster/more efficient than a PC with WinXP/Vista? (I would think yes, but having such limited experience with them, I really don't know about approximate equivalents here.)

    In other words: Would a 2ghz Core2Duo Mac Pro be at least as fast as my current system? If so, that's a huge plus...

    * Apple's RAM seems incredibly pricey to me (but then I'm used to being able to buy 2 gigs for around $135-150, where Apple's is nearly double at $299.)

    Are there sources for cheaper memory? (I usually buy mid-range, like Crucial, Kingston, etc; I don't buy the generic stuff.)

    I know this is a lot of info to weed through, and I appreciate any and all replies. I think Vista's pricing just pushed me over the edge - That's $300-400 I could put towards a better computer rather than licensing an OS. And with Photoshop CS3 coming out soon with Mac Intel-optimized code, I think my next Photoshop purchase will be the Mac version...

    Thanks again for your help!

  2. polishmacuser macrumors 6502a


    Jan 17, 2007
    Los Angeles
    well you cant get the 3.2 ghz processor for any mobile laptop yet since its not yet out and your specs can only match the mac pro srry unless you are willing to settle with a 2.33 ghz processor and geting extra ram and hard drive space. Thats all i can say or just wait till june for the next mac line up.
  3. pip11 macrumors member

    Apr 29, 2005
    Remember that the Mac Pro is not a Core 2 Duo, but a Xeon. Not too many differences, but the Xeon FB-DIMM RAM is much more expensive than regular DDR2. Apple's RAM prices (at least on the MacBooks) has been pretty competitive lately, although that could be different for the Mac Pro.

    I'm not sure what you mean by a 3.2 GHz core duo, since the original core duo (Yonah) was laptop-only, and wasn't anywhere close to 3.2 GHz. If you have a Pentium D at 3.2, any Mac Pro should blow it out of the water (remember, the Pro has *4* cores, and Core is much faster than NetBurst clock-for-clock).

    It sounds like a Mac Pro is what you want--just make sure you think about the gfx card carefully, since those aren't as upgradable as PC ones are.
  4. GoKyu thread starter macrumors 65816


    Feb 15, 2007
    New Orleans
    pip: I'm sorry, you're right, I do have a Pentium D 3.2 core duo. So even a 2 ghz Mac Pro should be significantly faster...nice :)

    See, I also didn't know about the RAM - I'd never used FB-DIMMs before.

    The graphics card isn't super important to me, as I'm not really a gamer, but I do have a 256 mb GEForce FX-5200. (I like having enough video ram to not have to worry about it later. For what I do, 256 is just fine.)

    I really like the idea of those 24" iMacs, but it seems they just have a very limited upgrade path, and by the time I spend that much for one, I'm about $300-400 away from getting a better Mac Pro....

    I already have a 20" Samsung which I'm very happy with - it only has VGA / S-Video / RCA ports though (no DVI port.)

    Does the Mac Pro accept a VGA connection?

    Thanks again for the replies so far - hopefully I'll be able to purchase this in the next 3 or 4 months.

  5. emac82 macrumors 6502

    Feb 17, 2007
    NB, Canada
    The Mac Pro comes with a DVI-VGA adapters, so you will have no problem hooking up your Samsung monitor.

    Mac Pro sounds like what you need. You can have up to 3 Terabytes of hard drive space, and up to 16GB of ram, where with the iMac you can only have 3GB of ram, and 1 hard drive, before you have to use an external.

    It does use ECC-RAM, and it has to be matched up in pairs.
  6. dmw007 macrumors G4


    May 26, 2005
    Working for MI-6
    Sounds like a Mac Pro would be a great upgrade for you GoKyu. Even the low-end 2GHz Quad Xeons will cream your Pentium D. Although, I think that the 2.66Ghz Mac Pro gives you the best bang for the buck (you can get them refurbished for $2,199). :)
  7. GoKyu thread starter macrumors 65816


    Feb 15, 2007
    New Orleans
    This is sounding pretty good...I have read some rumors online that there could be an upgraded Mac Pro in the works - has anyone else heard anything about that?

    If it's true, maybe the prices on the current Mac Pro series will go down a bit, and I can afford to grab a 2.66 or 3ghz model anyway... :)

    Oh, I was also checking around online for possible hard drives....looks like one of my favorite brands, Western Digital, doesn't yet make SATA drives that work with the Mac (I checked their website to be sure.) Does LaCie make Mac-compatible internal hard disks?

    I think once I finally get this machine, I'm gonna turn this current PC into a Linux system running X (Window System) and use it as a fileserver :)

    Thanks for the replies!

  8. iMacZealot macrumors 68020

    Mar 11, 2005
    The new Clovertowns with 8 processors (yes, eight) should make their way into the Mac Pro. When? I'm guessing maybe April, but I don't know. It will definitely be upgraded by WWDC (mid-June). If you can wait for the next upgrade (and Leopard and iLife '07), I would, but if you need one now, then get one.

    Apple sells hard disks for the Mac Pro if you want to add another one later on. It's much easier to add another hard disk (they just snap into place.) They are expensive, though.

    Apple RAM isn't worth it. Even the people at Apple will tell you that. Everybody pretty much buys it from the same place, so there isn't that big of a difference. Which third party RAM seller should you buy from? Any decent seller like Crucial sells good and inexpensive RAM.

    Welcome to the Mac! :apple:
  9. Richard Flynn macrumors regular

    Sep 4, 2006
    All SATA disks are compatible with the Mac—certainly the Western Digital ones are. I’m not sure where you got this information from.

    Apple’s disks are quite over-priced: you can generally get a much better deal elsewhere; and, as iMacZealot says, they’re very easy to install (being a cable-less intallation).
  10. belovedmonster macrumors regular

    May 11, 2005
    As this guy points out, you can use any hard drive you like. Macs dont use alien technology, just a better OS.

    Remember also, PCs have ZERO second hand value, where as Macs have ridiculous second hand prices (just check out the prices an old G3 laptop with a steam powered processor will still go for); my point being, in the Mac world its much more common place for people to simply use a system until it doesn't meet their needs anymore and then sell it and get a completely new system... which is something else to bear in mind when you are considering your upgrade options in the following years. You could in 3 years time sell your entire Mac system for a (relatively speaking) large amount and then just by a complete new system.
  11. SavageLLama77 macrumors regular

    Jan 5, 2007
    For the price iMacs are truly the ultimate computer.
  12. Keebler macrumors 68030

    Jun 20, 2005
    hi G,

    sounds like the mid 2.66 mac pro is your destiny as someone else suggested.

    i would get 2 GBs of ram to start. given the increase in computing power, you may find 2 Gbs serves your needs w/o spending more upfront.

    i used crucial.com before, but their pricing can be sporadic. try owc.com as well. and search for ram discussions in this forum as it comes up quite often.

    i know you mentioned that you're not a gamer, but maybe someone can correct me if i'm wrong, but i think an upgraded video card should help you with your photoshop work? i thought i read that somewhere...

    the other thing you're getting in terms of efficiency and performance comparisons to xp/vista, is a stable OS. i know xp was fairly stable and i honestly don't know about vista....but i do know that mac os is extremely stable. i used photoshop quite a bit for photo scans and retouching. it works fantastic!

  13. tommywomble macrumors newbie

    Feb 12, 2007
    isn't it 8 cores,not 8 processors?
  14. GoKyu thread starter macrumors 65816


    Feb 15, 2007
    New Orleans
    Yeah, 8 cores sounds more reasonable...8 processors would have to fit on a pretty huge motherboard :)

  15. dllavaneras macrumors 68000


    Feb 12, 2005
    Caracas, Venezuela
    Although 8 processors with 4 cores each will appeal to many, even it it's the size of a closet ;)

    Anywhay, I also think the OP will like the 2.66 Mac Pro. It will most definitely beat the crap out of your PC :)

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