To PC or not to PC

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by krunk, Jun 11, 2007.

  1. krunk macrumors regular

    Jan 29, 2004
    So, with the slim hope upgrades tomorrow...looks like were stuck with some outdated Mac Pro's for a while. I have a nice chunk of change sitting in my bank account and now I'm thinking that going to PC route might be an option worth considering again.

    I see a lot of folks who are just plain confused about why someone thinks mac pros are outdated or "not good enough", so I'm going to try to take the time to explain. If your still don't quite grasp it, just leave the response to others.

    So here's the skinny and what us ex-power user, current unix loving mac users mean when we get frustrated with apples stagnate upgrade model:

    Problem 1) The mac pro desktop is the only truly upgradeable mac option.
    Problem 2) It is still very un-upgradeable compared to a PC. For example, say a new form factor comes out and all the game card manufacturers update to it. A mac tower user is now forced with buying an entire new machine since you can't just slap a new mobo in there. But a pc user, though he has to shell out more, only has to buy a new mobo and new card usually able to reuse his cpu for the time being. End result: major PC adjustment tops out at 700. major mac adjustment tops out at 2500.

    I'm actually suffering form something similiar. Ignoring the entire new CPU architecture change, I can't upgrade my vid card since game card manufacturers moved on. I also can't reuse my tower, ram, cpu's, and internal peripherals etc since apple doesn't part out and only sells new systems.

    I hope this clarifies why power users are so hung up on riding the cusp of major upgrades and why they're so hesitant at purchasing year old equipment for current years prices. Apple is eratic and likes cutting edge when it upgrades. Who knows what the next major upgrade might bring that breaks backwards compatiblity? And in mac world, this means purchasing entirely new systems to take advantage of them.

    Ok, that being said. I love my Power Mac. It's a monster, no doubt. But it's obsolete. We're already seeing developers and new applications ceasing to cater to this dead technology.

    Bottom line, weigh in here:

    Should I just shell out the 1500 for a PC for the stuff that needs current tech and use my power mac for development, browsing, and desktop stuff that's less demanding or just hang tight a couple of more months or however long it takes apple to catch up with current tech?

    Money is not the issue here, rather it's the *convenience* of having my work and play on the same machine compared to the inconvenience of maintaining two computers, KVM's, and the extra space it takes up.

    ===You don't have to read below this unless your going to provide one of the canned negative responses that always seem to make an'll save you some typing===

    1) But they're workstations and they're lightening fast. True, but the dated hardware that I speak of is not raw CPU power. It's vid cards.

    2) Macs aren't for gaming, buy an xbox. I kinda like pc games. My work is more important, which is why I use a mac and not a PC. But nonetheless, I do enjoy gaming and it factors into my purchases (like the best-of-it's-kind-for-the-powermac ati 850XT in my machine that struggles with currrent games at max settings.)

    3) Lawls, the x1900 is 1337! What else could you possibly want? Cards that handle DX10, the x1900 is on the fast track to obsolescence and has been for a good while. Besides, nothing smarts like "settling" for last year's tech then having a surprise update to the latest tech.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. JNB macrumors 604


    Oct 7, 2004
    In a Hell predominately of my own making
    Exactly how often have new form factors come out? Besides, it's more the bus being used on an existing form factor. In either case, we've had two or three predominant, full-height desktop motherboard types in what, ten or more years years (AT, ATX, BTX)? And two or three graphics interfaces (PCI, AGP, PCIE) in the same time. Most of the older mb's and busses are still supported and available, too - so it's not like you're forced to upgrade on short notice. Not really that big of an issue, unless you feel the need to drop $300-$400 on every latest offering from NVidia or ATI every six months.

    From the time a new "standard" comes out, and is actually the predominant implementation typically takes anywhere from 2-5 years. That's well within the timeframe for a complete machine replacement anyway.
  3. krunk thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 29, 2004
    Ok, lets see. We have a couple of new standards on the horizon that I could foresee requiring modifications to the system mobo that will also potentially bring significant increases to performance.

    -) DDR3
    -) Core 3 Duo (and xeon equivelent)
    -) I'd like to note pcix in addition to pcie, pci, and agp
    -) full SLI support
    -) support for dual 16 channel cards

    Further, often times the advent of a development results in a cease of progress for the obsolete form factor. So say DDR3 comes out, it's bandwidth will continue to increase while DDR2 will stagnate. Same for C3D.

    Now, if it takes Apple a year and a 1/2 to "catch up" to these new developments on the low end they're obsolete 6mths after they hit market. At least if you wait till an update you get the maximum time.

    I'd also wager that only mac or avid OEM computer purchasers with no technical savvy think 2 years for a total system purchase is to be expected. You can reuse a good case, cd/dvd burner, power supply, hard drive, etc. for much much longer then 2 years.
  4. PCMacUser macrumors 68000


    Jan 13, 2005
    My advice is to have two machines. Your Power Mac, and a high performance PC.

    I've been going through a similar process myself. I love using my iBook for email and browsing, but I need something powerful for gaming and for encoding, etc.

    So I've pretty much scoped out the following:

    Intel P35 motherboard (DDR2 or DDR3, I haven't decided yet)
    nVidia 8800GTS 640Mb video card (the 320Mb version is great too if you don't need it running at too high a resolution)
    Core 2 Duo E6600 or Q6600 CPU. Boths models have come down significantly in price over the last couple of months. At the moment, the E6600 is plenty adequate, but if you want future proofing, go with the Q6600...

    Everything else is kinda obvious... S-ATA2 HDD, etc...
  5. PCMacUser macrumors 68000


    Jan 13, 2005
    Oh, as for the PSU, if you want it to last for a few years or more, then you can't skimp on price... a 600-750W unit from a reputable supplier would be essential.
  6. JNB macrumors 604


    Oct 7, 2004
    In a Hell predominately of my own making
    Just because a system does not use components introduced in the last six months does not begin to make it "obsolete." PCI graphics cards are out there, AT power supplies, you name it -- hell, I still have some in the box... Oh, sure, it's not fast as blue blazes, and may not run Far Cry, but it is still out there. (The game reference is not a dig, by the way - if it weren't for gaming, we'd still be on 286's)

    And as far as life-cycle, only every major industry and company (to say nothing of the IRS) give three years for desktop/laptop, and five for servers. That's with no upgrading - total replacement all the way.

    It's only gearheads that have to keep tossing boards for the latest whatever. I should know, I've only been doing that as a hobby and profession for over thirty years. We're in the extreme minority, you & I, we're too small of a market even for Apple. But, we are enough to keep places like Fry's in business! ;)
  7. krunk thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 29, 2004
    This might help you decide:

    If you want the summary one liner here it is:

    DDR3 in and of itself is not faster then DDR2, however DDR2 in the P35 mobo is faster then DDR2 in any other mobo. . . ;)

    This very well may change as DDR3 matures, timings get faster, etc. But for today, DDR2 all the way.
  8. krunk thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 29, 2004
    All very true and practical. I guess I'm just saying that macs miss out on a lot of incremental upgrading so you "feel" the lag more toward the end of that cycle...thus it's nice to hit it at the peak. ;)

    I also threw down for my first full on desktop mac right before we got hit with the Intel stick, so that's probably put a bit of a negative bent on my perspective of macs staying power. That's the main reason for my inquiry. I shelled out several grand for a mac, knew it couldn't play *all* the games....but its ability to play a lot of the games I liked to play was a big factor in me buying one. Then was notified "your obsolete and there's a much better kid on the block, sorry bout that".

    So part of this could be rephrased:

    If I buy a decent mac today, and then "upgrade" the whole mac every 1.5 to 2 years, selling the older model to recoup some costs will I be able to play the latest and greatest games? (given maybe not at oooooo ahhhh max settings, but playable)

    and can I do it for about 500 dollars a year all said and done (e.g. 2500 for the new, sell the old one for about 1500+)

    If the answer is 'yes', I can tolerate not having the absolute latest and greatest vid card, ram, whatever in exchange for the convenience of maintaining a single comp. If the answer is 'no', I'll just shell out for a PC and run this Power Mac for the next 8 years. lol
  9. PCMacUser macrumors 68000


    Jan 13, 2005
    Yep, the part of the article that makes me inclined to go for DDR2 is this:

    "At launch we are told DDR3 will be much more expensive than DDR2. Prices are expected to be about $480 for a 2GB DDR3 kit. At that lofty price it is difficult to recommend DDR3 over DDR2, when DDR2 performs just the same on the P35 chipset and decent 2GB kits can be had for under $150 now."
  10. JNB macrumors 604


    Oct 7, 2004
    In a Hell predominately of my own making
    What's funny is that for all the insane upgrading of the "Frankenputers" I've had, the ONLY thing I've ever done (or cared to do) with my macs (on #7 in 22 years now) is to add RAM. That's it. I have never felt the need or desire to go beyond that, really.

    Those peecees, though, that's another story altogether.. :p

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