Thinking of getting our first Mac but have questions

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Netsurfr, Nov 9, 2011.

  1. Netsurfr macrumors newbie

    Nov 9, 2011
    I'm seriously looking at getting my first Mac. Been a Windows user forever but after owning a couple of iPods, iPhones, and iPad I'm looking at the 27 iMac fully loaded. I've been doing some reading and have some questions that I hope some of you can help with.

    1- One of the key factors for me looking at Macs is the awesome IPS high res screen since I watch movies and do amateur video editing and photo editing as well as watch tv on my pc. Ive just found out that Macs don't play Blueray movies. Only option I learned of was a software called macgo but seems to have problems. Is there any other option?

    2- I have apps that only come in Windows so understand bootcamp and VMware can handle this but what's better of the 2? I'm imagining that rebooting in and out of windows via bootcamp is slow and a pain but also wonder if VMware is slow to run apps?

    3 - I was planning on getting a SSD drive for the Mac and Windows OS and a second HDD for data and plug an external drive or time capsule for backup but I came across a post that said Mac backup software won't work when u have 2 internal drives like I plan to do. So does that mean I should ditch the SSD idea and just run 1 drive? Hope not cause I read SSD is so much faster for OS and apps.

    4- Related to 3. If I use an external drive won't wifi (time capsule) or USB be too slow for backups?

    5- Lastly I always thought Macs were known for just working well but after reading some post about problems with even new 2011 iMacs and Lion and subpar service from apple support I'm getting second thoughts. I also went to a nearby apple store and the sales person was not impressive at all and as a matter of fact wasn't very upfront or knowledgeable about a couple questions I had about transitioning from Windows. Just looking for some feedback in this one. Would hate to drop $3k+ and end up with same experience as a Windows PC.

  2. Demosthenes X macrumors 68000

    Demosthenes X

    Oct 21, 2008
    Not sure which is better. I used Parallels for a bit and was underwhelmed, and I've heard VMWare is the better choice, but hopefully someone who has used both will chime in with some more relevant experience.

    In terms of performance, unless you're gaming, it will be fine. Just be sure you have plenty of RAM allotted to both operating systems. 8GB of RAM is cheap enough as an aftermarket upgrade (don't buy it from Apple), and that will make running a virtual machine a breeze.

    I haven't heard that about internal drives - there are plenty of Mac Pro users who use an internal drive for Time Machine. Unless something is different on the iMac, which is possible, but I'm not sure why that would be the case...

    The SSD is a worthwhile upgrade. It's incredible how fast they are compared to a conventional hard drive.

    Not really sure what you mean... backups might be slower than if you use an internal drive, but they'll still get done. It just might take longer the first time. After that, Time Machine just updates files you've changed, so it should be pretty speedy.

    Remember, on a forum like this you mostly only hear the negative. People don't often come to talk about their good experiences. So you're exposed to a disproportionally high number of negative stories. Apple has the highest customer satisfaction rating in the industry, so you're in good hands.

    That being said, they're also a company staffed by humans, and occasionally you will have a bad experience. That's inevitable. But I'd say that your average experience will be better than your average Windows PC experience.
  3. robgendreau macrumors 68040

    Jul 13, 2008
    Blu-ray: buy a PS3. Just kidding…kinda. You can buy blurry (oops…that's what Apple's spellcheck just turned bluray into. THAT should tell you something) external drives, and the software you described. Check out the reviews to see if it's for you. You can also rip blu-ray. But if this is a big priority then maybe the Mac isn't for you. Dealing with that format is a bit of a hassle, but it's mostly a playback thing and limited to those who want to use the Mac as a player. You can still manipulate some high def video, but you need lotsa RAM and speed. And you can use Toast to burn to blu-ray compatible discs.

    I really do prefer to use my PS3. Way less hassle, and it works well with my iMac for other media.

    I strongly recommend the virtual solutions over bootcamp unless you have to use a windows application full-time to the exclusion of your Mac stuff. It's surprisingly quick on both VMWare Fusion and Parallels, but again if you are video editing with your PC software you are going to notice slowdown. There's also Virtual Box, which is free, and worth a look see.

    SSD's are nice, and speedy. I can't say whether they'd speed up virtual machines, but they will speed up some stuff on your Mac. But you still could use as much RAM as you can afford. Virtual machines have another advantage here in that you don't have to dedicate a whole "real" partition to Windows. If you eventually find you aren't using the VM much you just move it to another drive, and free up some space. Or nuke it. No reformatting hassles, and easy to backup.

    And you can back up two internals; some folks have issues with doing Time Machine backups TO two externals, maybe that's what you saw. I'd strongly recommend externals for backup and NOT a Time Capule. First, you can't replace the drive in the TC easily. Second, with Thunderbolt and what not you can get more speed with externals. And that's important with video and media, especially since you are probably going to be archiving big, big files (which is a bit different than incremental versioning, which is speedier because it's moving smaller stuff).

    Finally, discount for the fact that there are a lot of people here just for problem solving, and also that there are many fanboys. The last time PC mag looked at laptops Macs did have a bit more problems than others, but still got the highest ratings, the implication being that even with problems they got satisfaction in getting them fixed. I guess. I'd stick to support from places like this; some of the folks in the stores are too cool for patiently explaining switcher issues cuz they've never deigned to own a MS product ;)

  4. derbothaus macrumors 601


    Jul 17, 2010
    You can backup a 2 disk SSD-HDD set just fine. Just not with Apples Time Machine. Which sucks anyway. No loss there. Use carbon copy cloner, superduper, "Extreme backup" whatever...
  5. Netsurfr thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 9, 2011
    Thanks for the answers...

    I guess watching Blueray disks on the iMac is not a deal breaker for me since my current PC doesn't have a BP player but would have bought one w/ my next PC. I do have a home entertainment center w/ 52" LED 3D & PS3 w/ blueray for real moving watching. But nice to know I can at least use a BR burner for saving & mailing pictures/videos that DVD format is just too small to handle.

    Glad to hear vmware works well because I would rather run Windows & the apps I need inside OSX. The iMac I would buy would be the i7 processor w/ 16M of RAM so sounds like doing photo & video editing, which is the most cpu intensive stuff I would do, should run nice & fast even inside Windows 64bit in vmware.

    Also glad to hear about being able to backup 2 internal drives because I do want to go w/ an SSD & a HDD and yes it was Time Machine backup that I read could not backup both my SSD & HD. Sounds like Time Machine is no good though...

    & yes I realize that when you come to forums like this you typically only see people posting issues/problems they have but good to get reassurance.

    So although I realize this is entirely subjective questions I'll ask anyhow... If I can't be 100% Mac only (meaning I still have to run Windows for apps that don't have Mac equivalents) is there a benefit to making the switch?

    I've been looking for equivalent "all in one" Windows alternatives to the 27 i7 iMac but there really are none & even traditional tower & monitor based systems don't have that awesome 27 IPS glossy screen & that clean form factor plus some of the gesture features you can use w/ the trackpad I've gotten to love from my iPad so are those things worth the change?

    Thanks again for the help!
  6. N0ddie macrumors 6502


    Oct 23, 2011
    Also take note than when upping the RAM on the iMac dont spec it when buying the iMac. Apple charge a squillion million pounds for 16Gb when you can buy 4 x 4Gb chips from Crucial for £75 and its the easiest job in the world to fit (Warranty isnt affected either).
  7. Netsurfr, Nov 10, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2011

    Netsurfr thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 9, 2011
    Good to know about the RAM prices. So if I get the iMac w/ just the standard 8GB I would just buy 2 more 4GB modules to make it 16 right? Also is this crucial memory good? I've heard of problems w/ cheap ram mfg!
  8. EricT43 macrumors regular

    Oct 5, 2011
    I would recommend checking out VirtualBox before spending money on VMware. I initially set up BootCamp on my machine and now will probably delete it. I created a Windows 7 VM with 4GB of RAM in VirtualBox, and it runs faster than my old PC.

    I'll probably delete my BootCamp partition. I heard everyone saying how games run better under BootCamp, but as far as Starcraft 2 is concerned, OS X is just fine.

    I have a 27" i7 w/ 12GB of RAM, 1GB graphics, and the 1TB drive, by the way. Yours will probably run even faster if you put it on the SSD.
  9. Demosthenes X macrumors 68000

    Demosthenes X

    Oct 21, 2008
    I would say yes. Windows 7 is a good operating system, but OSX is better. If you switch, you might have to use Windows occasionally, but occasionally is better than all the time. :D

    Now, if you were switching at work and your work involved a Windows-only application, and you ended up spending most of your time in Windows anyway, it might be different. But it sounds like you only need Windows occasionally, which means it's still worth switching.
  10. majordude macrumors 68020


    Apr 28, 2007
    A few months ago I bought a Dell i7. Last week I bought an iMac i7. No comparison, the Mac is faster. So you may not need a fully tricked out iMac.

    I use VMware with Win XP and it runs FAST. No choppiness. I would only recommend playing games in Boot Camp though.

    Buy Applecare. It will cover you for 3 years. Apple's service is stellar.
  11. Iamthinking Suspended

    Jul 31, 2010
    No comparison

    Everyone has heard of the apples to oranges metaphor that is tossed out. I prefer to compare a windows barf box to an iMac by saying that the iMac is like a BMW on the autobahn vs a john deer tractor on the backroads- both will get you there, but.....

    I have tried VMware and parallels on a newer iMac- both were un impressive with windows 7, but both worked pretty darn good with winxp, with a slight edge to VMware.

    As to service, yes get AppleCare. A buddy of mine just got a 24" iMac replaced with a 27" i7---AND the best part was, his AppleCare was expired by a month to boot! Try getting that service from dell.

    Bluray seems to be going the way of adobe the heck did Jobs know?

  12. NMF macrumors 6502a


    Oct 27, 2011
    Can't comment on VMWare or Parallels, but as far as boot camp is concerned it's exactly as if you built a Windows machine with the iMac's internal components. The actual process of setting up BootCamp was the fastest/easiest install of Windows I've ever done (and I've done a lot), which is pretty funny when you think about it. With an SSD you'll be able to restart the machine very quickly, so even if you had to use BootCamp it wouldn't be terrible.

    For me and my HDD, however, it was too much of a hassle. I decided that the games I wanted to play in Windows weren't worth the hassle. I deleted my BootCamp partition and now stick to OSX-only, and I'm much, much happier. If you don't game then one of the virtual options should be just fine for your needs.

    OSX really is amazing. After you adjust to the "rounder" fonts (takes about a week) you'll never want to go back.

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