Thinking about getting a Mac....

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by Evangelion, Sep 13, 2005.

  1. Evangelion macrumors 68040

    Jan 10, 2005
    The title is a bit misleading, since I already have a Mac Mini :). But allow me to contiunue.

    Like I said, I already have a Mac Mini that I have been toying around with. I also have a tower-PC (A64 3200+, 1GB RAM, 2x 160GB HD) that is a dual-boot Linux/W2K-computer. Linux is my main OS, and W2K is there for the games. But then I thought that I might as well move more to the Mac.

    My plan is as follows: I will replace the tower-PC with a Mac, and I will keep the Mac Mini, and put Linux in there (I wont be moving away from Linux if that's what you are thinking :)). Alternatively I might make the new Mac a Linux/Mac dualboot-machine. What does happen is that Windows get dropped.

    Now, I have been looking at Apple-hardware and I have narrowed my choices to Powermac. Reason being that while iMac is good, it has some shortcomings that can't be fixed (like the anemic vid-card). PowerMac would offer me the expandability I need (although iMac is not 100% out of the picture yet).

    As to actual hardware.... I would like to get a SMP-PowerMac. Something like 2x 2GHz. It has quite a bit of CPU-power, and it has "enough" RAM-slots. Uniprocessor Mac doesn't really appeal to me, I would like to move to SMP. Now, those machines are pretty expensive (yes, Macs are on the expensive side), so I might get an used machine instead of new.

    Now, like I said, I use Windows mostly for games, and I wouldn't like to give up on those :). So I would propably need some emulation. And that's where Virtual PC steps in. How fast is that thing? I don't really play graphics-intensive games that much anymore. But suppose that I did, how well would those run under Virtual PC? But I mostly play strategy-games (Civ3 etc.) and those should work just fine I think.

    How about vid-cards? Current PM has AGP-slot. And it obviously supports GeForce 6800 (since it's available as BTO). Does that mean that if I get a PM which doesn't have 6800, I could march to some local computer-retailer, buy one and plug it in, or do I need some special Mac-version? What about optical-drives? Could I replace the optical-drive with a better model, and it would just work, or does it have to be some kind of special Mac-model?

    EDIT: I checked, the vid-card in the iMac is not that anemic as I thought. PM is still my main machine though

    EDIT2: Well, 20" all-wireless (I absolutely hate cable-clutter) iMac would set me back by under 2.000 euros. brand-new SMP PM would be few hundred euros more. iMac would have a display, but PM would be more poweful and have more expandability (and I like the way PM looks :))....
  2. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    Why dump the PC tower at all if you're going to install Linux on the Mac Mini?? Just keep the PC running Linux and Windows, keep or sell the Mini, and buy a PowerMac.

    At the end of the day, you'll still have a Linux machine and an OSX machine. In your plan, you'll have an OSX machine that's very powerful, Linux running on a Mini, and no way to run Windows well. You'll have to buy a PowerMac in your plan, and that is all.

    With my suggestion, you just won't need an emulator to play games, as your Athlon PC can also run WinXP. You can still buy a PowerMac to run OSX, and a Linux machine, and you can run Windows well.
  3. Evangelion thread starter macrumors 68040

    Jan 10, 2005
    I currently have these surrounding my work-area:

    1 x TFT-screen
    1 x USB KVM-switch (for two computers)
    1x keyboard and mouse
    1x Mac Mini
    1x Tower-PC
    1x WLAN-AP/ADSL-modem/Switch

    There are cables everywhere. Adding yet another computer there would not be suitable :).

    Why Linux on the Mini? The Mini would make a great 24x7 server because it's so quiet. And it could be headless. I could sell my old tower-PC (which is a bit too loud for my taste, another reason to dumb it) to my in-laws for nominal price, and I could scavenge one 160GB HD from it to be used in the Mac (they don't need 320GB of HD-space :))

    But the problem there is that I would have THREE desktop-computers. I currently have two, and it's too many. With my solution I could eliminate quite a bit of cable-clutter (I could get wireless keyboard, and WLAN in the Mac and remove display-cable and USB-cable from the Mini. All in all, I would have 4 cables less).

    I don't really have a need for dedicated Windows-machine. I use Windows quite rarely these days. For the ocasional game or two, I would have the emulator. In my solution I would have OS X and Linux as my main OS'es, with emulated Windows as a backup. And my hardware would be all Apple.
  4. 840quadra Moderator


    Staff Member

    Feb 1, 2005
    Twin Cities Minnesota
    The possibility of having Windows on the new Powermacs with Intel processors sounds to be a possible reality.

    While I will miss the G5's and PowerPC, the possibility of having a Triple boot system would be tempting (provided I can keep my G5, or replace it with the last and FASTEST G5's before Apple phases them out.

    With that said, keeping what you have for a year ( or maybe a few months) may yield the chance to buy one of the first intel macintosh systems and take advantage of this possibility.
  5. Evangelion thread starter macrumors 68040

    Jan 10, 2005
    I have thought about that. But the problem there is that the Intel-PM's might be far off still. And they could be expensive. While new PM's today are on the expensive side (although not outrageously so), getting an used one is a distinct possibility. If I wanted an used Intel-PM, I would have to wait at least 18 months or so :).

    Besides, I like the idea of running G5, instead of Pentium :).
  6. 840quadra Moderator


    Staff Member

    Feb 1, 2005
    Twin Cities Minnesota
    Amen to that,

    I am not sure if the Mac Startup chime will make me smile like it does on a PowerPC or 68k machine when we go to intel.

    However, I do have faith that apple is going to do well, and I will support them.
  7. ahunter3 macrumors 6502

    Oct 15, 2003
    That's like saying "I've decided to give up ballet shoes and just go with track shoes and hiking boots. I mostly only use the ballet shoes for live performances as lead dancer for the Bolshoi Ballet, so I would probably need some inserts for the Nikes to make it easier to go en pointe. Are those Dr. Scholls things worth it, or should I just jam some Kleenex in before each performance?"

    Games are the things most likely to bring a real PC to its knees and drive the PC user to the computer store to buy something newer and faster. People don't ditch their 833 MHz Pentium boxes for 3 GHz Athlon towers in order to run Word faster, or even (as a general rule) for better Photoshop performance.

    Unless the games you want to play are along the lines of Bookworm, you aren't going to find Virtual PC a viable option for playing PC games. VPC is for when you need to run Windows Internet Explorer for evil sites that require ActiveX, or to run Access.
  8. Evangelion thread starter macrumors 68040

    Jan 10, 2005
    Games like Half-Life 2 do. I play mostly games like Europa Universalis, Civ3, Combat Mission, Flashpoint Germany etc. etc. Those are NOT so performance-intensive as Half-Life 2 and the like are. Hell, some of them have 2D graphics!

    Are there any tests online that show the performance-hit of VirtualPC?
  9. ahunter3 macrumors 6502

    Oct 15, 2003
    It varies according to the task. File copies and file deletes can actually be faster on VPC than on a real hardware PC; any app that does complex graphics rendering tends to do quite miserably on VPC. That's what shoots down so many PC games. (I'm not a gamer and don't know a spline from a plane but that's what I've heard). AutoCAD is another famous casualty of this weakness.

    As a loose general average, take the MHz of the PowerPC G4/G5 processor, chop it in half, and pretend you're running a Celeron of about that speed. If you have an old Mac that can actually boot in OS 9, (and have VPC for OS 9, of course), take the speed of your PowerPC chip, divide by 2, and pretend you've got an Athlon of about that speed.
  10. Evangelion thread starter macrumors 68040

    Jan 10, 2005
    I haven't yet heard any answers regarding video-card updates :). Since Macs do support GF6800, can I use any 6800 or do I need a Mac-specific version?
  11. admford macrumors member

    May 13, 2003
    I noticed that your router has the possibility to connect wirelessly a computer. I'd like to add that currently the AirPort Express card is 100% UNUSABLE in Linux (Custom hardware, no developer information on chipset available).

    Just to warn you. As for Virtual PC for games, two words... Forget it. It has absolutely NO 3D graphics support, so you'll be doing all the rendering via software. That means that the processor is going to be heavily used, and even if you're running on a G5, performance really takes a large hit. Basic applications that people use for work, but which are not CPU intesive or graphics intensive will run without any problems. But like I said, you're better off using a real PC to play those games rather than an emulated one on a Mac.

    As for video cards, the ROM on the card is Mac specific (128k in size, while PC roms are 64k usually). Other than that, the hardware ID numbers are different. It's possible to modify a PC card to make it run on a Mac, but you'd better be good at soldering, and willing to loose what ever you paid for the card if it doesn't work. So the best bet of having a better video card for the Mac is either ordering it from Apple with the fastest card they sell, or waiting for a retail release of the card (and be prepared to shell out quite alot).
  12. Evangelion thread starter macrumors 68040

    Jan 10, 2005
    I know :). Which is why the Mini (which would have Linux in it) would use regular wired ethernet

    Well, crap. Although many of the games I play are 2D-only :).

    Well, that's bad.

    I think that what I'll might do is that I'll max out the Mini I have (upgrade to Tiger, add 1GB of RAM), and wait untill Mactels arrive. Although I might get a Mac earlier if a really good deal comes across :).

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