Some questions about purchasing first ever iMac...coming from PC

Discussion in 'iMac' started by bobright, Nov 3, 2011.

  1. bobright, Nov 3, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2011

    bobright macrumors 601

    Jun 29, 2010
    Hi guys I've got some questions hopefully some of you can answer. I am looking to purchase my first ever Mac coming from a PC and was looking at potentially buying the new iMac 21.5-inch entry level.

    I am coming over from a PC but with how darn sluggish and hell they've been with viruses and such a hassle to maintain them, on top of me just absolutely loving my iPad/iPhone etc hearing good things about them I think its time to make that switch. Also with my growing collection of music under iTunes I think its best to just get a Apple -- now that brings to me a couple questions before making a purchase:

    1.) Is there any pros/cons mainly I would think of going with the entry level unit? I basically want it for simple web browsing, running iTunes and maybe for some light usb mic recording but nothing to fancy.

    2.) I would be able to use a normal say WD external hard drive with it right or is it not compatible? I know if anything I'd want to eventually upgrade the hard drive from 500GB to something bigger but heres to hoping I could use a external for the time being.

    4.) How hard would it be to transfer music collection playlists/ratings on over from windows to the Mac? Is it not possible to retain those things my music library is HUGE this would be a pain renaming and organizing everything again.

    5.) For recording purposes and playing around on the mic (daughter singing) etc in garage band or whatever software would this machine suffice? I'm not looking for studio sound or anything.

    6.) Can this thing hook up to a Samsung LED set?
  2. Kendo, Nov 3, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 11, 2011

    Kendo macrumors 68000

    Apr 4, 2011
    1) No. Even the base model is a super beast when it comes to normal tasks such as those you listed above.

    2) It isn't easy replacing the internal hard drive but as far as the external goes, the iMac has 4 USB ports so you can have quite a number of peripherals attached.

    3) Yes the mic is perfect for casual use. Not sure about GarageBand but for FaceTime it is perfect.

    4) Not sure about this one.
  3. B.A.T macrumors 6502a

    Oct 16, 2009
    It sounds like the hard drive is already too small for your needs. If you can afford it buy a bigger model.

    I went the cheaper route on my iMac two years ago and for various reasons I sold it and upgraded. I'm very happy I did.
  4. greganpace macrumors regular

    Aug 9, 2011

    Trying to answer numbers 2, my wife's windows laptop died, and we had the hard drive copied to a small external hard drive. An external hard drive most likely will be formatted in NTFS, which your mac will read, but you will not be able to edit. So what I eventually had to do (after using drivers for my mac to access the info for about 6 months) is move the whole hard drive to a second mac-formatted hard drive, reformat the first hard drive, and then move it back. It is somewhat technical but not impossible as I'm no expert, so it depends on what how much you are willing to do, but your current hard drive most likely will not be compatible. Any hard drive you buy new can be compatible, but since you have been using it on your windows already, it will be formatted for windows.

    For number 5, I have used it to record music I mess around with and edit in garage band, and while it isn't professional quality, it is still enough for me to have fun with. Garage band will do what most people could want, and the upgrade apple sells is Logic, which is used by professionals. I have used both and I think you would be surprised what garageband can do.
  5. iSayuSay macrumors 68040


    Feb 6, 2011
    For your purpose, base 21.5" iMac is more than powerful enough.

    But there are some drawbacks about iMac, yes obviously it almost non upgradeable except for RAM.

    Plus there are some problems with display that developed overtime, google "iMac smudge display" and you might understand. Other than that the machine is fine, maybe too fine :D

    I had this problem too, while the computer itself is fast, flawless and fine, this display problem made me return my 4months old iMac for LCD replacement.

    And one more thing, 21.5" has 1 thunderbolt port, you can hook it to external display with Display Port, Apple Thunderbolt display is not mandatory, although it's preferable :p
  6. Spike88, Nov 3, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2011

    Spike88 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 25, 2010
    We have the 2010 i3 iMac with 4 GB RAM with 1 TB internal HDD and it runs great doing iTunes, Safari, Word Processing, U-Tube, e-mail, photos and other typical home user tasks. I often check its System - CPU usage and its often under 10% usage. I'm sure the new 2011 i5s would be under 5% CPU usage. Actually, it would be like having a V-8 vehicle engine and asking it to drive 20 mph in a school zone. re: No effort at all.

    My son has his iTunes library on our iMac. It took him some "struggling" to transfer his large library from W7 laptop to iMac but once moved over, it's done. The iMac OSX system runs iTunes much smoother than W7. My son loves the stability and ease of use within OSX - iTunes application much better then previous W7 location. Very, very stable.

    We have an external WD drive connected to our iMac. We use it for TimeMachine (which is free OSX backup software) automatic backups. Our OSX, Apps and DATA is stored within our iMacs internal 1 TB drive. For ease of access and backups, you may want to have the same configuration. re: Internal HDD for OS, Apps & Data files. External HDD for TimeMachine backups. As long as the external HDD is formated with native OSX format, one can use it on the iMac via USB, FW or Thunderbolt cable connection. re: and

    Note: Always best to have TimeMachine backup HDD drives 2+ times larger than its production internal drive. For example, my external HDD should be a 2 TB drive - for backing up my internal 1 TB drive. In the future, I'll upgrade my current external 1 TB HDD to 2 TBs (when 2 TBs selling prices are more affordable). Remember HDD sizing ratios for your Backup needs as well.

    For your usage, would I buy an entry level 2011 iMac with 4 GB ram? YES. If I had lots of data files, I'd get the next size up - which has the factory 1 TB drive. Or, perhaps in 1+ years, I'd buy/connect an external 2TB drive via FW port - for even more data storage. And, connect my seperate TimeMachine Backup HDD using a USB port. Especially if I don't change data file contents very often.

    Hope this helps...

  7. NMF macrumors 6502a


    Oct 27, 2011
    Also, I just wanted to point out that it's entirely possible to format large external drives to FAT32 (native OSX format) using Windows 7. Before I made the switch I formatted all of my external hard drives and then started backing up my data. I was able to copy everything over to the new Mac very quickly.
  8. majordude macrumors 68020


    Apr 28, 2007
    A word of warning. In my opinion (and most here) iOS is superior to Windows. BUT it takes a bit of getting used to especially if you have been using Windows all your life. At some time during your first week you may think you made a mistake. But within a month you will have seen the light. So just keep that in mind.
  9. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    1. Any iMac would work for you
    2. Connecting external HD is easy

    4. Apple store can help
    5. Yes Garageband would work with built in mic.
    6. Yes.

    Btw, Apple Stores provide free workshops to newbies.

    Not iOS, but Mac OS. Almost every single person that I know who switched to Mac had no problem or frustration.
  10. bobright thread starter macrumors 601

    Jun 29, 2010
    Thanks so much everybody....after doing lots of research all night and morning and reading your replies ive got a better understanding and feel for what I'm getting myself into.

    Now having said that the things holding me back like the poster above said is upgrading the Hard Drive, hear its a tough task and you are better served going through Apple. How much would they charge me to upgrade from 500gb to 1tb in the future? Would you guys recommend just saving up until I can afford the 1tb model?

    One other thing is Apple Care really needed? I know with all my PC's I have ever purchased over the years I've never purchased extended warranties just maintained them and they all lasted at least 3yrs or more well beyond their warranty. I'm hoping that to be the case with this machine - though I have read quite a bit horror stories about the iMac HD crapping out shortly are they known for this? Is this only on older models?

    Oh and would this entry model run the latest Logic if I wanted to go that route instead of Garage Band?

    will continue researching cheers
  11. EricT43 macrumors regular

    Oct 5, 2011
    I would not recommend buying an entry model iMac with the intention of upgrading later. The cost is pretty high to have Macs worked on, so I don't think it will save you any money in the long run.

    But let's compare alternatives:
    - you could buy the entry-level iMac and add an external FireWire drive (like for about $135.
    - Or, you could buy the higher-end 21.5" iMac which costs $300 more. For that you get an additional 500GB on the hard drive, a better graphics card, and a faster CPU. Probably better resale value as well. This seems like a better value to me.
    - since you've already gone up $300 from the base, you could think about adding another $200 on top of that and getting the base 27"! Again, that seems like a pretty good value, $200 for the bigger display. See how they lure you into spending more like that?

    I would recommend getting AppleCare. It adds about 10% to your cost, but covers you for 3 years. These things are expensive to get fixed. AppleCare is considered one of the best values in extended warranties anywhere, so I would probably bite the bullet and buy it. The other nice thing about it is you get tech support as well, not only repair service.

    I haven't used Logic Pro before, so I can't answer your last question, but I can't see an i5 processor with a decent amount of RAM having any problem with it. Any Mac would probably run it just fine.
  12. greganpace macrumors regular

    Aug 9, 2011
    My 2009 macbook with a 2.13 ghz processor and 4 gb of ram runs it just fine. Your iMac will be like twice as powerful as mine. But as I said, I have both Logic and Garage Band, and I use Garage Band more... play with Garage Band for a month or so and if you find yourself wanting more, get Logic. But it would be kind of pointless without professional quality mics and recording equipment.
  13. sandimacd macrumors regular


    Nov 17, 2010
    migrated from WIN XP

    I migrated from WIN after retirement and no need for employer compatible plus MACs became intel.

    1. I got a low end Mac Mini with upgraded RAM and storage. You will want this if you are establishing more than 2 user log in accounts. You also need an admin account so this quickly adds up. Each USER account must maintain their own music files, mail files, calendars, etc. For good performance, just average, get all the RAM you can on a low end MAC. Next consider basic HD. even if you keep all on an external drive, the HD under each user can add up.

    2. I concur with the previous post. The MAC may not be able to access the previously formatted WIN ext HD. I kept it connected to the WIN PC, networked over files (extremely slow), reformatted the ext HD to MAC and went OK. But my WIN PC cannot access it directly, only via the network which is and OK work around for me.

    4. You MIGHT NOT preserve your ratings but lots of workarounds. Really depends on how you set up your PC iTunes to manage your music. Just be prepared. I came over from WIN Media Monkey, iTunes is quite limited. Ended up dragging individual songs into folders I named 5 star, 4 star, 3 star etc and then reloading them into the MAC iTunes. It is a PAIN, I purchased some 3rd party MAC software to complement iTunes but reorganizing was a bear.

    5. Not much experience with GB but my grandson enjoys it so I suspect it will be OK for her.

    6. I own a Samsung 36" TV, a Staples 22" Monitor, a Bravio 54" TV and an old no name PC monitor. The MAC MINI connects to them all. Has a great AUTO DETECT DISPLAY feature so a no brainer to hook up with correct resolution and htz.

    NOTE: I found I invested $300 the first year in software. The Apple programs are extremely basic and in no way compare with mid level PC programs so be prepared. Things like Photoshop, Quicken, Media Monkey, Adobe Acrobat, etc on the PC will require you to purchase similar level software designed for MAC. For pdf, SMILE on my MAC is reasonable $$ and gives more options than Preview. Also consider your scanner. While printers are easily configured for MACs, a scanner is a bit more tricky. Again lots of Apple tech bulletins and forum help.
    Apple is in midst of transition from Mobile Me iDisk to Cloud so that brings its own set of changes. MACS also requires routine maintenance, like running Disk Utility, instead of PC Defrag. Running Permission Repairs after every update and software install, etc. MACs are not better or worse than a PC, just different. I loved it from DAY 1 of purchase. Went on to buy iMac and MACBOOK AIR. Have nano, classic and touch. Would not give it up. I strongly agree that they are much easier to maintain than PCs when it comes to virus software. You have less control than with you PC because of the required standardization of Apple approved software. For me that is a plus.
  14. sandimacd macrumors regular


    Nov 17, 2010
    re: apple care

    No, its not needed but I am very glad that I got it. Hard to fully recommend- just depends. Mine came with the Apple Protection Tooks disk that I used on more than one occasion to figure out or eliminate a problem. Made quite a few calls to tech support the first few mo but usually they could not assist or solve the problem. Most where how to use issues and MAC architecture. I orderd mine online and driving from MT to UT was not a great option for me so I turned to this forum.
    If you enjoyed or were comfortable digging into your PC, you should find it just as easy to solve the MAC software and user account problems that will present. I got a good MAC OS book and subscribed Mac magazines. Although glad I got it for peace of mind I am not sure it I would get it again- never got it for the other 2 MACs I eventually purchased.
  15. szolr macrumors 6502

    Jul 27, 2011
    London, UK
    1) Again, just to emphasise, the base entry iMac is pretty powerful by any standards-quad core, AMD graphics, 512 MB VRAM etc.

    2) I'd recommend you upgrade the hard drive to start with if you can through Apple's online customisation.

    4) Easy to transfer your whole iTunes library with personal settings between 2 computers-just copy the whole iTunes folder to a external drive and then copy onto the new iMac in the Music folder.

    5) Garageband should do nicely. If you want to upgrade later to Logic do, but I'd wait and see if Logic Pro X materialises as if it unifies the current Express and Pro versions like FCP X did with Final Cut it should be a slick piece of software and an easy step up from Garageband.

    Oh, and there's 1 more thing... Enjoy your experience with a new Mac. :cool: :D
  16. bwhinnen macrumors 6502

    Apr 15, 2010
    San Diego
    I just did this recently for my wife, although we went the next 21.5" model up from base, so started with the 1TB HDD, however the custom build option on the online store is fantastic for things like this, worth doing up front.

    External drives are easy to hook up. If you do not need to share the external drive with Windows based machines just reformat it as HFS+ (using Disk Utility under Utilities), if you need to share with Windows you can purchase something like Paragon NTFS which will allow read and write to NTFS drives and works well.

    With the migration I just transferred the iTunes folder as described above straight over from the PC to the iMac and it worked well, the only issue I had was having to re-find the songs as I store the music on a NAS, but that was still a no-brainer :)

    You can get a Mini DP to HDMI adapter that plugs into the Thunderbolt port on the back, this can then use a standard HDMI to HDMI cable to connect to the Samsung LED I do this with my MacBook Air.

    Above all enjoy your experience, I know my Wife is pretty smitten by her iMac and is now using it as well as she ever used Windows on her PC.
  17. Lankyman macrumors 68000

    May 14, 2011
    Whenever I see something similar to the above quote I worry and question whether a user will be any happier or more proficient whatever computer system they use.

    N.B. With the increasing popularity of Mac's comes the inevitable interest from the criminal fraternity - it's already happening. With that in mind I am now using Sophos Free AV for Mac. There's no such thing as a maintenance free computer.
  18. sandimacd, Nov 6, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2011

    sandimacd macrumors regular


    Nov 17, 2010
    Hard drive upgrade

    My 2008 MACs only had 300-500 GB internal upgraded HD. That was more than adequate for 3-4 user accounts. I set up one Test Admin account and a user account. After running for about 6 weeks I learned the MAC architecture and variances and how I had really wished to establish file organization. I am the the type of PC person that controlled File Management in detail with back up NAS. So after 6 weeks I backed up using Good Sync for Mac (didnt like giving control over to Time Machine) and I reinstalled MAC OS (did not archived, clean install). After 3 years still have 200-400 GB free.
    During the new install I then set my user account as an admin account. I then added my spouse as a user and set up a user account for our grandson who visits. And added a guest user account.
    I keep all MACs and PCs in sync using Good Sync. I back up w Good Sync to an EXT HD. Time Machine uses way to much GB and slows down processor. TM takes hours compared to minutes using GS. Since all my docs and files are not stored on the MAC (just apps) TM is something I don't need. My NAS docs are backed up off site.

    Macs are great for highly disorganized folks. They may benefit with larger TB of internal storage and leave everything up to MAC architecture to organize and backup. The Mac will find it for them. But I am the type of person that would go crazy if I did not know exactly where to find a certain photo or document.
  19. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    " Is there any pros/cons mainly I would think of going with the entry level unit? I basically want it for simple web browsing, running iTunes and maybe for some light usb mic recording but nothing to fancy."

    Spend just a little more money and get the 27" version. You will NEVER regret having done this. Alternative: shop the Apple refurb page for an Apple-refurbished 27". You can keep track of what's available at this web page:
    The vast majority of folks who have bought Apple refurb units are very satisfied with their purchases.

    "How hard would it be to transfer music collection playlists/ratings on over from windows to the Mac? Is it not possible to retain those things my music library is HUGE this would be a pain renaming and organizing everything again."

    Not sure about moving "playlists" and/or "ratings", but moving the actual audio files should be relatively easy via an external hard drive. If you don't already have an external hard drive, I'd suggest something called a "USB SATA dock" (paste that search string into, along with one or two "bare hard drives" of your choice. USB/SATA docks are cheap, easy to use, and a VERY handy device to have on the shelf or in the drawer.

    Also, you should probably consider that for, say, the first six months of ownership, you will keep both the Windows and Mac computers setup relatively close, with the Mac used in a period of transition and learning.

    "For recording purposes and playing around on the mic (daughter singing) etc in garage band or whatever software would this machine suffice? I'm not looking for studio sound or anything."

    There is a "digital audio" forum here on MacRumors that can help in that regard. You'll probably find the built-in mic severely lacking insofar as the results you wish to obtain. You may want to consider a standalone "audio interface" into which you can plug a _real_ mic. They aren't expensive (unless you want to go high-end). I'd suggest you look at Echo Audio's "AudioFire4" -- reasonably priced, good quality, well-equipped. It will work with GarageBand or most other software out there.
  20. vrDrew macrumors 65816

    Jan 31, 2010
    Midlife, Midwest
    I just returned to the Mac fold following a long, and painful, decade or so using exclusively Windows boxes, and I'd have to second this.

    Its taken me at least a week or so before I'm totally comfortable with all of the features I use on a daily basis. (Mastering Garageband and iPhoto may take a little while longer..) And I confess it took me a good twenty minutes figuring out how to eject a CD-ROM that was in the drive slot.

    For me the biggest thing has been learning the keyboard shortcuts again. Not so much the Command-Q and Command-X type of thing, but the more esoteric ones that start new browser tabs and the like.

    But as far as the OP is concerned: GO FOR IT. Even the base 21.5" iMac is simply a gorgeous joy to work with compared with virtually ANY Windows machine I've ever encountered.
  21. sandimacd macrumors regular


    Nov 17, 2010
    Easing Transition

    Another thing I did was replace the Apple Bluetooth keyboard and mouse with a logitech USB win/Mac keyboard and mouse. Better feel, less adjustments, full size, longer battery life and has all Mac command, function, hardware and software shortcut keys (even power down, volumne control & eject disk) built in.
  22. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    You don't need any 3rd party antivirus software to protect Mac OS X from malware. Macs are not immune to malware, but no true viruses exist in the wild that can run on Mac OS X, and there never have been any since it was released 10 years ago. The only malware in the wild that can affect Mac OS X is a handful of trojans, which can be easily avoided with some basic education, common sense and care in what software you install. Also, Mac OS X Snow Leopard and Lion have anti-malware protection built in, further reducing the need for 3rd party antivirus apps.
    If you insist on running 3rd party antivirus software:
    • ClamXav is a good choice, since it isn't a resource hog, detects both Mac and Windows malware and doesn't run with elevated privileges. You can run scans when you choose, rather than leaving it running all the time, slowing your system.
    • Sophos should be avoided, as it could actually increase your Mac's vulnerability, as described here and here... and here.
    • iAntiVirus has an inaccurate malware definitions list that includes many items that aren't even malware, so their detection accuracy is untrustworthy. This post will give details.
  23. Spike88 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 25, 2010
    For OP's current needs, buy "lower end" iMac.

    Use and learn the i5 iMac for the next 6+ months...

    If you like it and need more HDD, simply connect external HDD.

    If you like and it needs more memory, simply install more memory.

    If you don't like iMac (after giving it honest try for 6+ months), simply sell on e-bay (or ???) and recover majority of its purchase cost.

    If plan to keep and its under 11 months old, then decide if AppleCare is needed. IF wondering, no apple care on my low end iMac. I "play the odds" and haven't lost yet....

    The above is that simple..... Over studying the situation makes it more complex then it sounds...

  24. sandimacd macrumors regular


    Nov 17, 2010
    Re: HD size

    Your HD GB will go further is you dont configure OS mail. I made the move to strictly online mail about 3 years ago. It is one less thing to keep in sync, never adds attachments unless I elect to download them, never loses my email, is always accessible from any point of Internet access, offer more protection from malicious intents by never downloading, viewing or opening messages, etc.
    The down side is that you lose the integration of sending a doc via email under the print or file menus. I am always logged in but it requires me to attach any doc I need to email. But a small price to pay for never losing or misplacing email and recouping hundreds of GB over the years.

    Also suggest getting a MAC OS X bible or comprehensive manual if you are that type of person. Follow all guidelines to kept the system optimized and gunk free using 3rd party tools. MAC performance will become buggy and sluggish over time if you don't stay on top of things. I usually do a clean install every year, takes less then an hour and I am amazed how zippy my like new MAC performs afterward. It is amazing how fast I can reinstall and reload User Accounts compared to how long a Win install took me.
  25. derbothaus macrumors 601


    Jul 17, 2010
    Like you save 1-3GB? Mail is hardly the GB eater to worry about. Unless you are using Entourage 2008 or Outlook 2011. Those profiles are a waste.

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