The right Mac for a musician and graphic designer

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Morpheu5, Jul 22, 2007.

  1. Morpheu5 macrumors newbie

    Jul 22, 2007
    Hello, I'm a PC. :)

    I'm a musician, a graphic designer and a CS student too. I worked with PCs since I was 5 or 6 but now I'm at the turnaround: my old PC broke for unknown reasons and I definitely decided that I will not waste my time and money fixing it again. The point is that I really need a computer for my job (multimedia, music, graphics, videos and so on).

    So I decided to switch to Mac but I have some questions for you. I firstly considered buying an iMac but a friend of mine - who already owns one - said that it wouldn't be enough for my usual projects (they're pretty big). So I started looking at Pros while my wallet had a heart attack.

    What I'm wondering is if I buy a relatively cheap Mac Pro (say the smallest one or such) will I be able to upgrade it later? I'm not just talking about RAM but also processor, video card... is that as simple as buy and replace, do I have to take the Mac to an Apple tech lab or is that impossible? Is it possible to go from a dual core to an 8 core?

    I'm very confused about this since I'm quite experienced with PCs but I'm relatively new to Macs and I really don't know an expert to ask.

    Many thanks and greets :D
  2. CanadaRAM macrumors G5


    Oct 11, 2004
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada

    RAM - Easy
    Hard Drive - Easy
    Video card - Easy but expensive as most standard PC cards don't work
    CPU - Difficult to impossible. Not recommended except for the obsessed and highly risk tolerant.
  3. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004
    Hi there... I'm also a print designer and buy all the Macs (PowerMacs and MacPros) for our workplace as well. They're expected to have a four year life on the frontline for the designers, then another four as servers.

    The simple rule of thumb for someone like yourself is to buy the best Mac you can possibly afford. Top-line Mac Pros will give you 5-6, possibly more, years of useful life... if you see the cost in that context, then they're excellent value, especially when you consider the other productivity gains.

    Also, comparisons with PCs are often deceptive. Average PCs often won't have many of the ports (e.g. FW800) and expandability options you seem to be looking for.
  4. MacinDoc macrumors 68020


    Mar 22, 2004
    The Great White North
    You can replace the processors (all current models have at least 2 physical processors and a total of at least 4 cores) with ones that use the same socket (Anandtech successfully put quad core chips in a Mac Pro even before Apple came out with its octo-core model). Of course, doing so will void your Apple warranty. You can upgrade the video card or have multiple video cards. RAM, HDs and optical drives are easy to upgrade.

    In general, upgrading a processor is not a cost-effective solution. By the time you need a processor upgrade, many other components can also benefit from an update, and the cost of updating all components is often more than buying a new machine. Furthermore, Intel's coming chips will not be socket-compatible with the current ones. This will limit processor swapping for both Macs and Windows machines.

    You might also wait to see what the new iMac coming in the next few weeks has to offer. Its current processor has not been updated for almost a year, so the new model should be significantly more powerful than the current one. If Apple uses a chipset that recognizes more than 3 GB of RAM, it may also be helpful for those large files. One nice thing about the iMac is that compared to the Mac Pro, it is very quiet, which may be beneficial if you are doing audio recording in the same room.
  5. Morpheu5 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 22, 2007
    Well, I don't think I have an average PC, in fact I've kept upgrading and adding all the expansions I needed through time. :D Anyway.

    Thank you all for the suggestions: I've nearly never thought of processor swapping that way though I had some similar problems also on the PC side (trying to replace an Athlon XP with a more recent one when the only available option now are Semprons which are not as powerful). Moreover I think I'm not going to need a processor replacement within 2 or 3 years so anyway my warranty would have be expired. :)

    I was considering the Pro also for the long lasting question, I've learned through experience how to choose PCs that can last as long as 5 or 6 years before having to be dumped but as I'm quite unexperienced with the whole Apple world, I'm trying to find my way out.

    Since I'm very probably waiting for Leopard before deciding which Mac to choose, I think I'll take a look at the new iMac that's to be released.

    Uh, by the way. Are there some kind of discounts or upgrade packs for those who just can't wait and buy a Mac now and later wants to upgrade to Leopard? :D
  6. kikobarbada macrumors regular

    Jun 28, 2007
    I would definetely advise you to buy a Mac Pro, great computer and easy-to-upgrade. Get the 2.66ghz or 3.0 quad core for now and wait for the eight-core chips to become less expensive (on July 22nd - today - Intel prices are dropping 50% so Apple is likely to update their Mac Pros). Get the usual 1gb ram and buy yourself cheaper ram from local stores - I would get probably 4 1gb sticks or so. Choose the 512mb ATI video card because that is quite difficult to upgrade and expensive. For the screen, get a 22in (not from Apple if your budget is tight) which comes to about 300 dollars in the US.

    That's all.
  7. Morpheu5 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 22, 2007
    Are they fully compatible? Socket, bus, RAM...

    I'm quite undecided about the video card since I'm such a fan of ATI (and AMD too). My problem concerns the behavior of ATI regarding Linux users (I'm planning to install the three beasts: OSX, Linux and XP). I was actually considering the Quadro but it's too expensive for me and I think I can always buy it in the future as an upgrade. Also, what's the point in installing 2 or more video cards like the 7300? I mean... does this significantly improve performances, and how, or does it just adds independent video outputs for, to speak, previewing videos on a number of different devices? As a CS student I'm working on 3D graphics and simulations (I usually work on some old SGI workstations), OpenGL and so on, so I'm pretty concerned with this aspect. Anyway I think I'm choosing the x1900 beast due to things I've seen regarding OpenGL. :)

    For the monitor, I'm keeping my old but still good CRT because I really don't like LCDs. Anyway I've heard of this Dell 30" widescreen, is it really that good? I'm pretty suspicious.

    Thank you all, you're really helping me out and I've been able to configure a Mac Pro which is not so expensive as I feared. :D
  8. kikobarbada macrumors regular

    Jun 28, 2007
    Installing the 512mb card is way better than 2x256mb, trust me on that.

    And about compability, you will have to wait for the new technology to see. You will probably be able to upgrade to the best technology available today (3.0 eight-core), but if you want better than that in the future, you have to buy a new computer.
  9. Morpheu5 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 22, 2007
    Thank you everybody. I've spent some time on various reviews and sites about the Mac Pro and I've been able to configure a relatively cheap one (about 3700 €). I'm starting right now to save money (and accept donations) and I'm planning to buy it this Fall.

    Can anybody clarify the point on upgrades or special conditions for buying Leopard in case I decide to switch before the release?
  10. MacinDoc macrumors 68020


    Mar 22, 2004
    The Great White North
    Leopard will run on any current or recent Mac without any hardware upgrades. The only thing you will have to buy is Leopard itself.
  11. Morpheu5 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 22, 2007
    Maybe I couldn't explain myself clearly: I meant to ask if there are such things for buying Leopard itself as an upgrade or full package, not for upgrading the hardware. It would be pretty weird if I had to upgrade my hardware in order to install Leopard, since my gf came through three different versions of OSX with her iMac LCD ;)

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