To be or not to be.. In this case to buy or not

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by renodude18, Aug 15, 2012.

  1. renodude18 macrumors newbie


    Aug 15, 2012
    Lebanon, TN
    Hello everyone! I'm new to this forum but have been reading macrumors for years now following Apple since just before the iPhone.

    Anyway I'm considering buying a new Apple computer but don't know which might be good. I know about the buyers guide on here and have given it a look and know i'll hold off for a few months if its a new Mini that I decide upon. But first here is a few things I do on a computer day to day and what I will need it for.

    I do a lot of School work and a bit of casual gaming. I know all the new macs can run windows in boot camp or they can run programs in a virtual machine if needed which is great because I have a library of windows software still. The games I play are the Sims 2, the sims 3 which I know will work with Mac as it clearly states it on the box which is cool. If I were to go mac I'd prob have to replace my sims 2 games if I didn't want to use windows anymore. I also play some racing games like Dirt 3 and Need for speed the run on my current laptop. What my goal for this system is to have a computer that can run these games at decent settings with low load times. Like my current Dell can run them all on High settings using the Intel HD graphics but the load times on the sims 3 can be a bit annoying. So I think a dedicated graphics might be helpful.

    Budget.. Well for my first mac I don't want to spend a huge amount so the new retina mac is out and so is the Mac Pro of course. I was thinking of a macbook or a mac mini as I am a over the road truck driver while I'm in school. I already have a decent monitor I could use but I'm looking to upgrade to a monitor that I can have an XBOX 360/ PS3 on so if you have suggestions.

    Any help with getting started would be great. Like I've said I've used Mac's before in the G4 days and a couple intel macs here and there but not for myself.


    Also would buying a mac now be smart as I've been informed that a new generation of Mac OS will be coming. I think they said Mac OS XI? is this true?
  2. RedCroissant Suspended

    Aug 13, 2011
    The first clue to what you should be considering most is one of their machines with an actual GPU with its own dedicated RAM. And since you have already ruled out the MacPro and the rMBP, that would leave you with the iMac or the MBP. The Mac Mini has a GPU, but that shares memory with your system, and I don't think that's what you want.

    Since you're on the road and already have a external monitor, it sounds like a 15" MBP would be the perfect thing for you. They have dual GPUs, are capable of accepting more RAM, have larger capacities, and are more expandable. And if you want to save even more money, I would recommend this machine for you:

    $1,359.00(+taxes of course) but free shipping!
    Refurbished MacBook Pro 2.2GHz Quad-core Intel i7

    Eligible for OS X Mountain Lion Up-to-Date Program

    Originally released October 2011
    15.4-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit glossy widescreen display, 1440-by-900 resolution
    4GB (2 x 2GB) of 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM
    500GB Serial ATA @ 5400 rpm
    8x double-layer SuperDrive (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
    Intel HD Graphics 3000 and AMD Radeon HD 6750M

    And yes, buying one now with the "rumored" imminent release is fine. I think that buyer's guide is mostly for people that want the newest machine but also don't want to pay full price for something that will be replaced within a month or so of them purchasing.

    For example, I bought my20" 2009 iMac 2 months before a refresh but that didn't change how awesome the machine is and it still performs the way it did when I bought it. I also just upgraded it to 8GB of RAM and installed a 3TB HDD.

    And if you're cautious about buying a refurbished product, I bought my wife's iMac, my AppleTV2, and my iPhone 4S all refurbished and there have never been any problems with them. Good luck with your decision.
  3. renodude18 thread starter macrumors newbie


    Aug 15, 2012
    Lebanon, TN
    Thanks RedCroissant, I am indeed a little bit hesitant to buying a refurbished machine although the machine you mentioned sounds great and the price is nice. But I have one gripe about the MBP or all Apple laptops lately and that because I've become accustomed to my Dell's and my previous HP both having a Numeric key alongside the keyboard. Also would that Macbook Pro mentioned beat this Dell's Specs:
    Intel Core i5 2430M 2.40GHZ-3.00GHZ Turbo
    Intel HD Graphics 3000
    DVD+/-RW Drive
    640GB HDD (this doesnt matter because external Hard drives are always accessible and I think you can upgrade them anyhow)
    Windows 7 64Bit home premium
    6GB DDR3 Ram, Going from 6 to 4GB would be a bummer but like you said its upgrade-able and I'm sure its different with a graphics card not sharing memory.
    15.4" HD Glossy screen, I like it but sometimes its a bit small but a monitor will work.

    Also if you get the Mac Mini with the Dedicated graphics which says it has an "AMD Radeon HD 6630M graphics processor with 256MB of GDDR5 memory" doesnt that Imply that it has a dedicated 256 for graphics. Although I do think thats a bit low even for some of the games I play. I've used an app for my laptop to see what memory the sims 3 uses on my machine with intel graphics and it can get up to 455MB sometimes..
    Thanks for the fast response!
  4. RedCroissant Suspended

    Aug 13, 2011
    I know what you mean about the numeric keypad, but I've become accustomed to not using one and it's been fine for me on my 15".

    And whether or not the MacBook Pro would beat the Dell machine's specs is a difficult answer. Here's my reasoning as to why I would go with the MBP over a Dell:

    1.MBP has a quad-core i7 as opposed to a dual-core i5
    2. dual GPUs(where one has its own memory) as opposed to only one GPU that shares memory with the system.
    3. Superdrive is better than the DVD +/- RW drive and it's slot loading as opposed to a tray loading one. And Apple gives you the opportunity to change the region on it up to 5 times(in case you're a world traveler).
    4. HDD size like you said doesn't matter.
    5. MAC OS X is better in my opinion that Windows because it's not as bloated, does not rely on an outdated registry and does not require as many system resources to run.
    6. 6GB RAM is generally better than 4GB but another thing you have to consider is whether or not the hardware/software are optimized to work together or not. I can tell you from personal experience that 4GB of RAM on my 2009 20" iMac running OS X 10.5(Leopard) ran way better and was snappier than the 6GB of RAM that I was running Windows with on the Gateway tower that I customized to order.
    7. The glossy screen is only an issue every once in a while and not very often to me.

    And yes, the GPU on the higher-end Mac Mini does have its own separate GPU. I was only looking at the cheaper one based on price for your benefit. Plus, even though Apple only technically supports 8GB of RAM in that model, I think OWC sells a 16GB kit that the MBP accepted and recognizes.
  5. renodude18 thread starter macrumors newbie


    Aug 15, 2012
    Lebanon, TN
    That's true about the Keypad, I've not had one before in a Laptop and I can do it again.. I've just become accustomed to it in this and a previous HP laptop. But to trade for back lit keys instead of a Numeric keypad that is fine I guess!

    1. Now as for quad vs dual I understand that for the most part. I had a quad that was 1.8GHZ a few years back and it was fast. But windows slowed it down.
    2.Dual GPUS would be nice for saving power that is if that is how it is supposed to work.
    3.Slot loading would be nice as this tray drive has felt like I was going to break it every time I put a disc in which is becoming rare and if so its a blank disc. What is a difference between a super drive and a DVD burner in this laptop?
    5. I've always wondered why windows would slow down several months down the road even with cleanups to the reg and the hard drive.
    6. Lol my quad core I mentioned was a Gateway tower just from best buy. it also had 4GB Ram and I don't feel much of a difference in power with this 6GB.
    7. yes I've noticed its easier to see this screen when in the dark but I've had an issue with this laptop since I got it and that is the screen has some sort of auto dim or darkness or something that causes it to sometimes on some windows to fade or darken. Mostly when on Battery. its not often it does it on the plug unless its charging.

    Also I've seen on crucial and newegg that there is a kit for up to 16GB for this Mac Mini or maybe the prev Gen.

    But I've come to a standstill for the most part. I've looked at the laptop you shown me and I've looked at a higher end Mac Mini and the part I'm stuck on is whether I should get the extended warranty. I've see on the apple store since you've shown me the refurb store that I can get a Mac Mini with the same specs as a new 799 GPU based mini for 699, same specs but I'm not sure if a three year warranty would be needed?
  6. RedCroissant Suspended

    Aug 13, 2011
    The backlit keys do make a big difference and I don't have to have lights on at night to work. It's great.

    2. My MBP has the dual GPU setup and it switches automatically and I normally get at least 6 hours on my battery charge.

    3. I remember a news story about Dell and HP and their tray loading drives that ended up cracking because they used older components and sometimes even refurbished parts that need up breaking.

    I bought Apple Care with my first iMac back in 2009 and the HDD failed 7 months before Apple Care expired. I qualified for an in-home repair and a Apple Certified Tech came to my home with a new HDD and repairs my iMac at no extra charge for either the pats or the in-home service. It might not be worth it to everyone, but I certainly took advantage of it.
  7. renodude18 thread starter macrumors newbie


    Aug 15, 2012
    Lebanon, TN
    Its possible it might be useful I was just trying to justify the 349 price tag for one of the machines I looked at.

    Also I could believe that with Dell. Every Dell I've used since 2005 has been for the most part down on quality. Meaning I've used this Laptop as my primary machine for around 8 Months and it still works good aside from windows slowing down constantly. Also the quality of the parts they use for the case are really easily broken and loose or feel like it. recently the keyboard feels like someone has been smashing their fists on it and one key has an absolute weird feel when you press it. The DVD drive i've used a total of 8 times since i've had this laptop and each was to burn a CD and once was to install a game I bought and It feels like the drive is going to fall out. I was extremely disappointed in Dell when I was going to upgrade the Hard drive to an SSD..I can but I have to take the LCD off its hinges, pull the main board out then get to it because they didn't put a drive access door underneath the machine making it a unlikely upgrade for this unit. I do have to say the battery is the best performing thing and it can usually get about 5 hours charge with doing internet stuff. gaming it'll do some for about 2 hours while others like dirt 3 the computer has an issue playing without the charger.

    After reading this now you see why I want an Apple and with where Windows is going.. Its time for an upgrade LOL!
  8. RedCroissant, Aug 16, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2012

    RedCroissant Suspended

    Aug 13, 2011
    The only way I could ever se my self buying a Windows-based computer again would have to be when a manufacturer seriously considers the costs of optimizing the hardware with the OS requirements. And most companies do have higher end computers that they have decided to incorporate those ideas, but most of those same companies also build really cheap computers that ensure you stay in their ecosystem because for some people, it's better to buy a cheap computer every 2-3 years, than have a more initially expensive one that will last 5-6(minimum). I have a friend that is still rocking his mid 2007 MBP that started with OS X 10.4 and can run the current OS X 10.8(although it can't take advantage of all of its features: Airdrop, Airplay or booting into 64-bit mode aren't supported). I know that computer is only 5 years old, but how many Windows-based computers can you recall that have ever been able to run 5 version of Windows without having to modify or replace components?

    My iMac is still awesome and it's already past its 3-year mark, It's also able to upgraded to Mountain Lion; which means that it has seen 4 different MAC OS X operating systems when the majority of computers that run Windows will see 3…maybe.

    In January, I bought the 15" MBP 2.4GHz quad-core i7 4GB RAM and 750 GB HDD thinking that it would become my main computer. The problem is that none of my professors allowed computers or other distracting devices in class, so I have been using it almost exclusively at home and am now trying to sell it since I have had to sell my other electronics as well.

    The other issue I have with selling it is that I absolutely love this machine. Even though it only has 4GB of RAM, I have been able to virtualize Windows XP, 7, and "8" along with Linux Mint and Ubuntu. I haven't even used the superdrive yet for a DVD so the region hasn't been set. I've only used it once to install iWork '09.

    Anyway, this is kind of turning into a novel, but I can tell you that getting a Mac(laptop or other) while maybe not taking you completely away from Windows-based computing, will definitely show you the wisdom in finding a machine that has the right components along with the right software to make it a truly worthwhile machine. For me, that's Apple and if I do have to go back to Windows someday because of cost, I'll most likely build my own computer and make a dual-boot Windows and Linux machine.
  9. renodude18 thread starter macrumors newbie


    Aug 15, 2012
    Lebanon, TN
    That is true.. But I do have one exception to that and that is My nearly 10 year old Dell dimension 8300 desktop that has ran XP back when it was new as the machine I think came with windows 2000 or maybe even ME, it went to Vista for a few months till I went back to XP then its been running Windows 7 for the past couple years still running all stock parts but the graphics card I replaced 5 years ago due to a problem with the old ATI one it came with. I've tried windows 8 with it and although its still pre-release it didn't even install because it couldn't find the Hard drive to install on. anyway I believe that with Macs, I remember Steve Jobs saying that years ago that they had computers from 7 years ago still running beautifully and they do make great machines that both last and outperform windows machines and are well worth the price Initially. That is why I've been considering them. The Dell dimension is the only system from the wintel world I bought that has lasted and thats why I bought a Dell laptop over an Apple at the time with this laptop and So far its been fine but with it not even wanting to output video to the screen and only the HDMI port I don't think 8 will be for me. I don't like the metro or windows 8 style as their calling it now anyway. Also that's awesome, I love Mint and ubuntu just never found myself using it as a day to day system as like i've said most my programs I use are Windows and wouldn't work even with WINE installed. But it is still to play around with!

    I think I've gotten over the Numeric Keypad grudge and Since it'll be used in the truck with a monitor/TV primarily I may just buy a full sized bluetooth keyboard and mouse.

    Also say I was to go a older GEN laptop say from Powermax or another apple outlet in which i could find an slightly older Macbook with dedicated graphics how old can I go and still support 10.8, I've been told by a friend that's a genius at the local apple store that mostly 2009 and up macbook pros are supported.

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