Thinking of making the switch…what should I do??

Discussion in 'iMac' started by g8orballboy, Mar 25, 2010.

  1. g8orballboy macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2010
    #1
    Hey all,

    I’m a long time lurker and this is my first time posting. I’ve been a PC guy all my life and the only apple product I own is the iphone (which I now can’t live without). My current PC is a $300 Acer laptop from 4 years ago (you can imagine how powerful it is :p ). I’ve decided it’s time to upgrade and now is the perfect time to finally make the switch over to the Mac. I’m just really unsure about what route I should go with given how I will use the machine and I’m humbly coming before you guys for your opinions! I’m under a budget but I’m willing to pay to meet my computing needs, short of springing for a power mac.

    Daily Uses:
    - Web surfing
    - Photo/video/music management and consumption
    - Word/Powerpoint/Excel (iwork or ms office)
    - Light (very occastional and non intensive) photo,video,music editing(iLife)
    - Video encoding (800+ divx files I want to convert to Mpeg4)

    If I was just using it for these uses, I could probably go with the cheapest Mac Mini and be done, but the computer I buy today will last me for at least 3 years and it has to be capable of playing Diablo 3 (I’m not a gamer but it’s the one game I need my computer to handle when it comes out). This does not mean I need it set to ultra high settings and running at the max native resolution… just playable at mid settings with decent frame rates.

    Based on all this info… what should I get?
    - 27” i5/i7 imac (for D3 despite risk of yellow screen/flicker/etc etc….)
    - 21.5” C2D imac (despite same risks?)
    - Last generation 24” maxed out (were there any issues with this machine like the current models?)
    - Wait until next revision of iMacs?
    - Mac Mini (what kind and can they game at all?)
    - Other???

    I know this ultimately comes down to preference and money, but I trust your opinions… you guys know a lot more than I do when it comes to apple products and what they’re capable of. What’s the cheapest Mac I can get that will let me handle all these tasks… especially being capable of playing a SC2 D3 type game at mid settings?

    Thanks a TON!!!
     
  2. TMRaven macrumors 68020

    TMRaven

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2009
    #2
    The i7 lynnfield tears through video encodes, I recommend it!

    With handbrake's default high profile x24 settings, you can encode a copy of lotr: return of the king in an hour. You also get the benefit of the mobility 4850, which is one of ati's most robust mobility cards at the moment, and I'm sure it'll handle diablo 3 really good.

    I've tested the mobility 4850 out, and here were my results:

    sc2 at max resolution and max graphical settings (no aa): 24-34 fps
    sc2 at 1920x1080 resolution and max graphical settings (no aa): 30-40fps
    sc2 at max resolution and max graphical settings, save shaders to high, instead of ultra or insane (no aa): 40-50 fps

    The sc2 beta doesn't allow for aa, but the game (if in native resolution) doesn't need aa, and looks spectacular. There also appears to be an efficiency problem with the shaders on sc2 beta that I'm sure blizzard will fix by its release.

    I've tested dirt2 out:

    dirt2 at max resolution and max graphical settings (no aa): 30-40 fps
    dirt2 at max resolution and max graphical settings (4 x aa): 24-34 fps

    I've also tested the original modern warfare out:

    mw1 at max resolution and graphical settings (4x aa): 40 fps


    EDIT: And no, I'm not aware of any display problems with the last generation iMac. The last generation iMac had no led backlit dispay, and this one does. I've also heard other members reporting yellowing problems on their macbookpros with led backlights. This seems to be a problem of apple's implementation of led backlighting moreso than anything else.
     
  3. g8orballboy thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2010
    #3
    Raven, thanks for the quick response!

    Since the last generation seems to not have any issues, I could probably find a decent deal on one and avoid the risk of the back and forth game from apple. The last generation is still a HUGE step up from what i currently have and could handle all of my tasks, the question is, can it handle a sc2 d3 type game on mid settings? or is that full hearty and i should just go with an imac from the current or next generation? Once again, i'm not looking for a great gaming machine, just one thats capable of running the game to where its playable and enjoyable... not 10fps.
     
  4. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2008
    Location:
    Finland
    #4
    I would consider a Mac Mini or low-end iMac for general use and then a PC for encoding and gaming. You can get a decent PC for ~600$, just get a fast CPU (AMD Phe II x4 965 BE) so encoding will be fast. Then throw in a mid-level GPU plus 4GB RAM and it'll run games like a dream.

    Mini 599$
    PC 600$
    Monitor, KB, mouse ~300$

    Total: 1500$

    Cheaper than 27" iMac but more powerful combination and when encoding, you still have the full speed of Mini :cool:
     
  5. TMRaven macrumors 68020

    TMRaven

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2009
    #5
    There's a couple last generation refurbs on apple's website for 1300-1400, though you could probably find some cheaper elsewhere. They have roughly the same resolution and the same graphics card as the new 21.5s. Although you have a physically bigger screen, you have lower pixel density-- but you do save a good 100usd or so over the current 21.5 with 4670 and don't have to worry about screen issues.

    I'm sure the 4670 can handle dialbo3/sc2 at 1920x1200 resolution-- especially at mid settings.

    The only huge thing you sacrifice is processor power for video encodes and such.
     
  6. g8orballboy thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2010
    #6
    Thats what I'm looking for! The video encoding won't be a daily thing and if it takes longer its not a deal breaker, still better than the days my current pc takes. The 24" seems like the perfect machine for the price range i'm looking for (~1500), but I've been so hesitent because I'd hate for it to be incapable of running SC2 and D3 at all. But if your confident it can run at mid settings, i think I've found my answer.

    As far as the PC+Mac suggestion hammer, I've definitely considered it and may still go that route, i was just trying to go Mac only. I work on a PC 9 hours a day at work, I don't want to come home to one :p

    Thanks for the suggestions, if anyone knows where i can find a good deal for a supped up 24", please let me know :D
     
  7. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2008
    Location:
    Finland
    #7
    Refurb store. No maxed out 24" available though. Buying used one is the only choice I can find.

    I know you're looking for a Mac but you would only use that PC for encoding and gaming, meaning that you don't actually use it because you're either gaming or it's crushing the bits on background when you're playing with your Mini. It's your choice, I'm not pushing you ;)
     
  8. TMRaven macrumors 68020

    TMRaven

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2009
    #8
    Yeah, sadly I said 4670, but that was on the 21.5" unit above the 24 inch in the refurb store :(

    I did find a 24 with 4850 on macmall, but for 1700, which might be a bit much.



    I really don't know. I'm tempted on saying to just buy the 21.5", but it seems like the probability of display problems is a big deal in this case.
     
  9. g8orballboy thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2010
    #9

    Yeh, I'd be all over a current gen imac if it weren't for this issue. Apple better get its act in gear. Here i am, a potential new customer looking to make the switch, and their substandard hardware is keeping me from taking the plunge. Their loss i guess. Hopefully i can find another solution or they fix the problem... assuming i'm willing to wait until fall potentionally for a new refresh of the imacs (which i'm only assuming will fix the display issues).
     
  10. pilot1226 macrumors 6502a

    pilot1226

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2010
    Location:
    USA
    #10
    I suggest you check out some benchmarking websites and compare (such as Geekbench). I found that the new Core i7 iMac is about 1300% better scoring than my current configuration, and about 800% better between the ATI Radeon HD 4850 vs. my current graphics card. Though, this is to be expected, after all, my desktop is 8 years old!

    On a more serious note, I made a switch as well in 2005. I needed more portability, so I got the top of the line iBook (now renamed to MacBook line). My iBook is a PowerPC chip, which means it can't run both Windows and OSX like today's Intel-based Macs. Now that I'm home from college and working full time with a place of my own, I find myself flipping back and forth between my desktop (which is running Windows XP) and my iBook depending on what I want to do.

    Unfortunately, I really can't game on my iBook. If I had the ability to dual-boot into Windows, I'm sure it could handle Diablo 2 and its expansion pack and other classic titles like that. Until the last expansion pack launched, I was able to play World of Warcraft on it as well (I will say that I can actually still play it, though it seems that anytime I'm in a highly populated area like a town, my frames per second will drop from 20 to 0-5, which is unplayable).

    I'm also eyeing the new iMacs with the Core i7 processor. I've been researching for the better part of a week, going to Apple stores, talking to other owners, and trolling forums.

    I suggest waiting for the new line to come out if you can hold off another few months. Why?
    1. Intel Core i5/i7 chips are a huge, gigundo, mammoth, gargantuan increase in efficiency and performance over the preceding chip (Core2Duo). Since you want this computer to last you years (my current desktop has lasted me 8 years and I'm hoping my next iMac lasts at least 5 - and it should as long as you're not crazy into gaming), you'll probably want to hold out for the better chip.

    2. When Apple launches the new line of iMacs, there tends to be a trickle effect. Right now you can only get the i5/i7 by getting the 27" iMac that starts at $1999. With the new line, it's very possible that the i5/i7 could be standard, rather than an upgrade, on the entry-model for 27" or even on the 21.5" iMac.

    3. You can run Windows (you will need to buy a copy of the software - you can get an OEM copy from Newegg.com if you're a system builder for around $100) using the new iMacs. This way, if you needed an application or game that only game in Windows, you have the option to boot into it to get your gaming fix in.

    4. This gives Apple more time to confirm that they got rid of the hiccups with the screen tinting issues that plagued the ones earlier this year. It's like buying a brand new redesigned car; there's a ton of little bugs and glitches. The last release was the very first time that a 27" iMac was available, so it's understandable that a few bugs slipped through the cracks.

    5. It also gives the GPU time to get stronger. Let's face it, the ATI Radeon HD 4850 isn't near close to today's bleeding edge of graphics. The ATI 5000 line features DirectX11 support for some more intuitive shading and impressive rendering. I'm hoping that with the next launch of the iMac, this will be available, even if it costs more money.

    Remember, if you get an iMac, you're very limited into upgrading parts. I've found through information on the forum that it is possible to swap out a hard drive in the event of a failure (it's a pain in the butt and you have to actually remove the glass of the monitor!), and apparently you can't upgrade the video card at all. You really can only upgrade the memory, is what I was told.

    And regarding your concern about coming home to another PC --

    Don't forget, the modern Macs (since fall of 2005 or early 2006?) all have intel-based processors, so as long as you own a copy of Windows OS, you can boot into it as well if you had to.
     
  11. g8orballboy thread starter macrumors regular

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    Mar 25, 2010
    #11
    Thanks for the info pilot.

    In all honesty, as much as i want to get a mac into my hands asap, and i'm trying to find a way to do so without risk... I am leaning towards just waiting until the next refresh. Hopefully its in a june/july time frame, though its much more likely to be a sep/oct time frame unfortunately.
     
  12. pilot1226 macrumors 6502a

    pilot1226

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2010
    Location:
    USA
    #12
    History says that it's about 220 days between "upgrades" - so that would put the timeframe around May. Click the Buyer's Guide tab near the top and keep an eye on the iMac section.
     
  13. g8orballboy thread starter macrumors regular

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    Mar 25, 2010
    #13
    I'd be THRILLED if it was May... Thats when I'd finally have enough money to by the darned thing :p
     
  14. zappster macrumors newbie

    zappster

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2010
    Location:
    Niverville, MB, Canada
    #14
    The Canadian refurb store has a fully spec'd 24 inch iMac. I'm pretty tempted to pull the trigger. My only hangup is that I want this machine to last and would be more comfortable with the Arrandale chips in the lower end models.

    Opinions?

    Refurbished iMac 24-inch 3.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo

    24-inch glossy widescreen display
    4GB memory
    1TB hard drive
    8x SuperDrive (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
    NVIDIA GeForce GT 130 with 512MB memory
    Built-in iSight camera
    $1449 CDN
     
  15. pilot1226 macrumors 6502a

    pilot1226

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2010
    Location:
    USA
    #15
    Seems a little pricey considering the i5 and i7 chips perform so much better. Also, the GeForce is pretty weak compared to the other GPUs available.
     
  16. g8orballboy thread starter macrumors regular

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    Mar 25, 2010
    #16
    this seams like the perfect machine for me. Perfect price, fairly powerful, but until someone can tell me it'll handle D3 and it's at least playable...I'm afraid to jump on it...:confused:
     
  17. Badger^2 macrumors 68000

    Badger^2

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2009
    Location:
    Sacramento
    #17
    Dont get a last generation 24" iMac.

    GT130 card is slower.

    Ram upgrades cost more.

    i5 has identical performance as the i7 when gaming if you are looking to save.
     
  18. g8orballboy thread starter macrumors regular

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    Mar 25, 2010
    #18
    I 100% agree with you as far as value and i would LOVE the i5 model, but i'm just SOOOO paranoid about the display issues with this current gen imac. I know i'd be loosing power stepping back to last gen, but its still a HUGE step up from me and i just want the one game to be playable! other than that i won't be gaming much and the mac will meet 100% of all my other needs.
     
  19. pilot1226 macrumors 6502a

    pilot1226

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2010
    Location:
    USA
    #19
    By the time the next generation of iMacs come around (later this year) Apple will most likely have corrected any screen display problems they have.
     
  20. X1Lightning macrumors 6502

    X1Lightning

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2007
    #20
    I would go with the current model, in fact i just got mine last Friday, and love it.
    I have been on this site for over 3 years, and when the last gen 24" came out there were people freaking out about issues with that screen, no matter what they build someone will come up with a test to make it look like there is something wrong when 99% of the time there is nothing wrong.
     
  21. Fishrrman macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #21
    "- Last generation 24” maxed out (were there any issues with this machine like the current models?)"

    If you want an iMac, this would be my recommendation.

    I'm sure you've been browsing the iMac forums and have noted all the complaints and issues re the 21.5" and 27" iMacs with the LED backlighting.

    If you decide to "go iMac", you can roll the dice with one of the new ones. It may be fine. Then again, it may have issues.

    But I think you can do much better by buying one of the refurbished 24" models from Apple's online store. The "maxed out" ones represent some of the best values there.

    For example, this one:
    http://store.apple.com/us/product/FB419LL/A?cid=AOS-US-AFF-FEED
    ... is quite well equipped and sells for $520 less than it did when new, 28% off the original price.

    This "gets you into" a decently-equipped iMac without too much pain for the wallet. Granted, it's considerably more than a Mac mini would be. But I promise you that you will like it a whole LOT more.
     
  22. g8orballboy thread starter macrumors regular

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    Mar 25, 2010
    #22
    Thats what I've been thinking, but the question is... will those machines be powerful enough to play games like starcraft 2 and diablo 3 at decent settings (not maxed out). I'm not looking for a gaming machine, just something that can meet the recomended specs of current gen games. Once someone can give me a definative YES, then I'll probably jump in and get a refurb 24".
     
  23. g8orballboy thread starter macrumors regular

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    Mar 25, 2010
    #23
    And if i were to pick up a refurb 24", i'd probably go with this one:

    http://store.apple.com/us/product/FB420LL/A?mco=MTEyMDAwMzk

    It has a faster processor, bigger hard drive and a slightly beefier graphics card, though its still nvidia...

    Refurbished iMac 24-inch 3.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo24-inch glossy widescreen display
    4GB memory
    1TB hard drive
    8x SuperDrive (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
    NVIDIA GeForce GT 130 with 512MB memory
    Built-in iSight camera


    Does anyone have this machine? and have they been able to play SC2 on it? and if not, does anyone think this machine absolutely won't be able to handle D3 when it comes out... even on mid settings? Like I said, I don't need it to be a beast, I just want the game to be playable!
     
  24. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

    Staff Member

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    Finland
    #24
    I have the same GPU, but slightly slower CPU (=unnoticeable). I haven't played much games but I've tried Battlefield 2142 under Bootcamp, all at high settings + 1920x1200, and it ran very smoothly. I also have Sims 3 and AoE3 for OS X, both run fine at high settings and native res
     
  25. Scarpad macrumors 68000

    Scarpad

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2005
    Location:
    Ma
    #25
    I just bought a 2.53ghz Mini and it can certainly do all those things pretty well including some gaming. Plus you probably already have the Keyboard , Mouse and Monitor, so $799 is a good price for entry level Mac'ing.
     

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