Satellite computing?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Wingsley, Nov 13, 2017.

  1. Wingsley macrumors member

    Mar 20, 2014
    I currently own an Core i5 iMac, with others in the family using a 13-inch Core i5 MacBook Pro. Both machines run MacOS Sierra, but they are getting "old". Eventually, they may need to be replaced. We have a small family business that is not very active right now. That could change in the future.

    I was thinking about replacing the iMac with either a new iMac (top-of-the-line) or a spec'd-out modified refurb Mac Mini and a new aftermarket 4K monitor. I run MS Office, iPhoto, and some Adobe Creative Cloud apps (mostly Photoshop, InDesign, Acrobat Pro, a little Illustrator). I also occasionally do video editing, even though I haven't had any projects for some time (Final Cut Pro 7; considering migration to either FCP X or Premiere CC). I want to get a GoPro and other newer video equipment so I can do more amateur (prosumer) videography. I am also about to install Windows 10 on the iMac, to give me (occasional) access to Windows-only apps.

    Was also bouncing around a weird idea in my head. I bought the iMac as a refurb because my old 15-inch MacBook Pro suddenly died on me and I was tight for money. I was considering the possibility of either replacing the aging iMac with a refurb MacBook Pro 15 (very expensive) or getting a newer refurb iMac (or Mac Mini) and supplementing it with a MacBook Air as a satellite computer for added mobility.

    As for the existing 13-inch MacBook Pro used by other family members, competition for time on that machine has been a problem. It is used for occasional productivity use (mostly MS Word, filling out web forms, and for slideshows with iPhoto and PowerPoint; very little Excel). The 13-incher is used mostly for news media reading (that's how we get the newspaper) web browsing and e-mail. Lots of social media for personal and civic use. I was thinking about supplementing the 13-inch MBP with a full-size iPad.

    So we currently have the following:

    • 2003-vintage iMac G4 (MacOS 10.4.11 and 9.2.2 "Classic mode"), used as a file server; runs very little
    • late-2013 iMac Core i5 8 GB RAM, 1 TB HDD (MacOS 10.12 Sierra, so to add Windows 10 via BootCamp)
    • late-2013 MacBook Pro 13-inch Core i5, 8 GB RAM, 256 SSD (MacOS 10.12 Sierra)
    • iPad Mini 32 GB SSD (iOS 11.01)
    • my cell: Motorola G4 Play 2 GB RAM, 16 GB SSD (Android 6)
    • other cell: LG L39C 1 GB RAM, 8 GB SSD (Android 4; very old and on its way out)
    • La Cie Rugged portable HDD contains shared iPhoto library of over 65,000 images
    • La Cie 4 TB USB 3 backup drive, for TimeMachine and SilverKeeper backups of all data
    • DSL landline phone/internet connection, connected to late-model AirPort Extreme base station for WiFi
    • Canon Vixia HV40 camcorder (HDV; tape-based and FireWire-connected)
    • Epson V39 flatbed scanner (USB-connected)
    • older FireWire 800 / USB 2 hard drives
    • Canon EOS Digital Rebel T3, 18-55 "kit lens", 75-300 "telephoto" lens
    • Canon PowerShot point-and-shoot

    The Core i5 iMac is the main workhorse of the house, but the Core i5 MacBook Pro also sends and receives business e-mail, often with attachments (Word, Excel, photos). That laptop's users have very low computer literacy and don't understand all the trackpad gestures.

    We already have a kind of "satellite computing" in the house, with the two iMacs serving as file server or primary workhorse. I want to set up a kind of internal LAN-based satellite computing to help deal with issues of shared files/projects and local backup. Cloud computing helps, and Microsoft's OneDrive is offered with our Office 365 subscription, but we occasionally take the laptop and/or iPad places where cellular and internet service are not available, so we can't rely on the Cloud too heavily. We still use The little La Cie rugged for photos (with lots of detailed metadata, including captions for many photos).

    We are gradually shifting reliance for our personal, business and civic e-mail traffic to Gmail addresses (IMAP).

    A full-size iPad would help ease the competition for web-browsing on the 13-inch MBP, but the iPad would have to be a regular iPad, not an iPad Pro. I'm just wondering if there's an Apple keyboard that can be used with it; I take it that the "smart" keyboard/cover doesn't work with a regular iPad...

    As for my Core i5 iMac, there are plenty of options, but I'm just not sure how to make it work. I thought about getting a refurb Mac Mini as a kind of central file server/workhorse, and buy a newer refurb 13-inch MacBook Pro as a daily portable go-to machine. I don't know about what capability I would have, but I would want to connect a newer MBP to at least one 4K monitor so I have some video real estate to work with. Not sure how to spec a 13-inch so it could drive at least one 4K monitor, and I would want to make sure I got monitors or other accessories that could split the USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 connection so I could attach plenty of peripherals, including a scanner, hard drives, and USB-A thumb drives. I still have a few FireWire peripherals. If I get back into (tapeless) video editing, I'm going to have to get new hard drives and a new way to connect them for video use.

    As previously mentioned, the other option for replacing the current iMac is to get a refurb late-model iMac or Mac Mini as both my primary desktop machine and as a workhorse/file server. If I do this, I will sacrifice mobility (unless I supplement the desktop machine with something like a MacBook Air).

    The bottom line is that both Core i5 computers currently work together on projects, even if only one at a time. To avoid problems, including duplication of data, and to implement a meaningful plan that doesn't rely too heavily on cloud-based solutions, I'm not sure what the long-term plan should be...
  2. Glmnet1 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 21, 2017
    Woah that's a lot of information! o_O

    You could share one of those drives on your AirPort and maybe the other through the iMac. That way you could access those files from the MBP and other devices.

    As for upgrading, I would say maybe start with a new iMac to replace the 2013 if you need to and wait for the MBP. Hopefully they release one with a more reliable keyboard next year. Same thing if you plan on getting a Mini, wait for a new one. The current ones are almost as old as your iMac.
  3. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    "...or a spec'd-out modified refurb Mac Mini"

    DON'T BUY a Mini now.
    The current design is over 3 years old and way WAY overdue for replacement.
    A new one -may- be coming next year, or perhaps not at all.
    (And I write this as an owner of a late-2012 Mini that I like very much)

    iMac would be a better way to go.

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