Thinking about buying my first Mac - Questions galore

Discussion in 'iMac' started by kerunt, Dec 3, 2008.

  1. kerunt macrumors newbie

    Dec 3, 2008
    Hi All.

    I've been a life long Windows (and occasionally Linux) user, and desperately want to get myself a Mac. A 24" iMac that is.

    Now, I've always heard that Macs are hard to upgrade (hardware wise), but maybe things have changed, so I hope someone can give me some advice (assume that all questions are in regards to the latest generation 24" iMac):

    - Swapping out the CPU: possible? Can I replace the C2D CPU with a Quad? How about with just a faster C2D? Plug and play, or will the OS need to be reinstalled Windows-style?

    - Swapping memory: if I buy an iMac with 2GB DDR2, can I put in 2 sticks of 2GB DDR3?

    - Swapping hard drive: can I throw in a nice SATA2 drive in there?

    - Multiple monitors: my current PC has 2 19" LCDs hooked up, plus a 1080p TV. All three over DVI. Can I hook up all three of these to the iMac? What additional hardware do I need?

    - Audio output. I currently have optical SPDIF out going from my audio card to my receiver. This way I can play movies on the TV directly from the comp, and get proper 5.1 audio. Do the iMacs have SPDIF out? Can I get it somehow?

    - Audio output part 2: I also have another 5.1 set of speakers that's also hooked up to the same audio card. Possible to get the same setup on the iMac?

    Also, when is the best time to buy (I'm in Canada)? Does Apple Canada have boxing day sales online?

    Any help would be appreciated.

  2. Tallest Skil macrumors P6

    Tallest Skil

    Aug 13, 2006
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    First, you want to wait for the update at MacWorld in January. You really, really do.

    CPU: No.
    RAM: No. The update will use DDR3.
    HDD: It's difficult, but yes.
    Displays: Whoa... no. No way. Just one. Matrox' DualHead2Go lets you use two more external, but if you're doing anything graphical, don't expect beauty.
    Audio: Audiophiles, help him out here.
  3. kerunt thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 3, 2008
    Thanks for the feedback, Tallest Skil.

    A bit disappointing though :(. I just glanced at the MacPro and it looks like a beast. Pretty sure I could get everything I ever wanted there, but its got a price to match, and way out of my current pocket... Hoping to keep this under/around $2000 CAD before taxes...

    However another idea just crossed my mind - dump my PC case and get one of those horizontal-oriented media PC cases (what the heck are they called?) and hook that up to the TV. Use it as a media center.

    This would eliminate the need for SPDIF out from the iMac, as well as a third video output.

    I guess I can live with the 2.8 C2D and opt for the 4GB ram upgrade... Keep the storage on my media PC...

    OK, but there's still the problem of multiple monitors. I know I can connect ONE monitor to the iMac using mini-DVI. But, I really want to connect both my monitors to it, to get iMac's 24" screen and 2 more 19" ones around it... ideas?


    I was also hoping to get the iMac this calendar year so I could write it off as a business expense in the coming taxes, but if there's a good chance of serious upgrades and price drops in January, maybe I'll hold off...
  4. czachorski macrumors 6502a


    Sep 24, 2007
    What do you plan to do with this Mac? It is hard to look at your upgrade requirements and not suggest anything other than a Mac Pro. But depending on your use for the machine, you might just be fine with an iMac. What is it that drives all this need for upgrades?

    If this is your first Mac, you might be surprised to find that Macs seem to last longer and be useful much further into old age than Windows machines, which tends to reduce the need for upgrades. OS X has a way of running well on old Mac hardware.
  5. kerunt thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 3, 2008
    I'm a web developer, so that will be the primary use.

    Textmate + MAMP + photoshop + email + FireFox + chat + iTunes will be open pretty much 24/7. No gaming (anymore), I've got a PS3 for that.

    Currently my PC is as follows:
    - 1.8ghz C2D
    - 4GB (4x1GB) DDR2 OCZ Gold
    - 2x8600GT, 1x7600GT (first two run in SLI for one monitor, the 7600 powers the second monitor and TV)
    - Creative XFi Audio - one set of 5.1 speakers, plus optical out to receiver with another 5.1 set.
    - 2 Monitors + TV
    - 160GB WD 7200 8MB, 500GB WD 7200 16MB, 650GB WD 7200 32MB

    Right now the comp doubles as a workstation, and entertainment center (all audio + video goes straight to TV).

    I figure I'll build a dedicated server to handle storage of media, downloading, and web server tasks, which leaves day to day use and work.

    I would greatly prefer the option to hook up my current 2 monitors to the iMac (for a total of 3 screens), but I guess just going with the iMac + one additional monitor is a possibility. Although in this case I would need to pick up a 24" screen to replace my two 19 inchers.

    What I definitely need is at least a 2.8 C2D, 4GB of DDR2 (although DDR3 would be better), and a 24" display. Oh, and I would prefer to put my own RAM in there and not pay apple $150 for another 2GB (which is absolutely ridiculous, considering I can get 2GB of great RAM for $20 locally).
  6. OrganMusic macrumors 6502

    Sep 21, 2008
    I'm reasonably certain most current apple products have optical audio in and out. I had my MBP hooked up to my receiver the other day and it worked fine.

    i too wish they allowed easy access to at least the guts on the imac. (at least HD and processor)
  7. Bad Paper macrumors 6502

    Apr 20, 2007
    graphite clamshell
    hey kerunt, you might want to surf for older Mac Pros instead, maybe pick up a refurb from the apple store. maybe craigslist or ebay. set a budget and go surfing.

    even the slowest octocore will get crazy fast (hopefully) under Snow Leopard, so you should forget about searching for fast dual core machines, and look for more cores if speed is what you want.

    a mac pro will allow you to do whatever you want with your graphics and audio setups. and i think the case kicks ass, even if there are people around here who whine at the older design.

    also. before you buy anything wait for news from Macworld. T minus one month.

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