What is the best overall buy on a mac?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by chris7777, Jan 20, 2009.

  1. chris7777 macrumors 6502

    Nov 27, 2008
    the short of this post is: What is the best overall deal currently (or in the near future on a mac? Dollar for dollar

    the longer more involved version follows

    I originally wanted to switch to a mac 4 years ago, unfortunately I became disabled at that time, and "couldn't justify the price" (only to realize afterward that I spent nearly as much on my compaq laptop I am still currently using)

    I am probably going to have to break down and borrow money to pay for several things, and I am toying with the idea of finally getting a mac.

    I am heavily leaning toward a laptop, though I am not absolutely set on it. (the 24' imac is extremely tempting)

    I am in the position of feeling that some sort of art may be my only potential way of ever getting off of disability unless my condition profoundly improves.

    But here's my question I keep looking at the base macbook thinking that 1300 is not that far removed from 1600; and 1600 is not that far from a pro, at 2000; and the upper pro is only 500 more; and then of course is the sweet looking 17 incher. Then I started looking at Imacs and thinking more and more the 24 inch screen would be really nice to do artwork on.

    I paint (watercolor), draw, take photos etc. (also have been toying around with the idea of stop motion as well) I had wanted to do comic book illustration for a while but I was slow before I got sick, and now I am a snail driving through salt. So while speed would be awesome, It won't be a dealbreaker either.

    I just can wrap my head around what dollar for dollar would be the best overall buy for me. I have a friend who is my busness partner, though currently it is more of me being a consultant for him, but he is planning of converting his basement into a studio, hence my leaning toward a laptop, but again unless an imac is fragile or extremely heavy, I could probably swing it if it overall is a better deal.

    I can still do things in short burst but my rest breaks are as long and sometimes longer than my working burst. Which is like 1-2 hours, and then I crash (I was fired from my call center job before I got on disability)

    I currently use a built in sd card reader for photos and transfering things back and fourth to my palm. As well as a wacom tablet addiction.

    obviouslly I use the internet more than anything else, and realistically given my speed or rather lack of it, I am not going to pretend that this has to be a workhorse or anything like that. But obviouslly if I am going to spend the money I want to get the best I can afford and hope it last a long long time, especially as it seems used are for the most part like cars and overpriced.

    I am not opposed to used, but I am seriouslly thinking like half or not much more is the most I should spend, compared to the dramatic improvements of the current lineup. I mean I just cant justify 8 or 900 on a used black(preferably) or white macbook, when a new one is 1000, and I am very tempted to just get the base aluminum, but again if I borrow that much I might as well get the pro, like everyone in the art world seems to be telling me to (plus I could put a card reader into the expansion slot)

    I would be using photoshop cs2 (in windows until I can scrounge up enough to switch to a maccentric version) and illustrator. corelpaint, and mangastudio, oh and probably Flash as well.
    games would be nice but I think I overheated my current laptop playing them a while back and it has been running hot ever since.

    My current laptop has a 14.1 inch screen so I could switch to a 13 and it not be that big a deal, especially since I could potentially get a larger monitor later as one of the best buy reps suggested, but again my thinking currently is if I am going to do this I might as well do it and get the best bang for the buck available.

    Also given that I have waited this long I can probably hold out till snow leopard as well, especially if it is as good as they hint at. And if that means scouring craigslist to finally score a good deal on a used one that is also an option.And I should be able to at least add my own ram if it would really save me as well.

  2. Tallest Skil macrumors P6

    Tallest Skil

    Aug 13, 2006
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    The laptops are the best deal for the money right now.

    The iMac is next, then the Mac Pro, then the Mac Mini.
  3. mlblacy macrumors 6502

    Sep 23, 2006
    the REAL Jersey Shore
    No question... get the 24" iMac...

    Hi Chris, the best deal in my opinion are the rev A Macbook Airs that can be found for a mere $999, however that computer will NOT be best suited for your needs...

    As money is an object, head here:

    There you will find the deals on Apple refurbs, which are generally a very good buy. I recently purchased two macbooks there, and they were as pristine as new. The only discernible difference was the generic brown Apple box (as opposed to the usual packaging). Warranties & coverage are the same as a "new" one.

    I would strongly say choose the 24" iMac, the extra real estate the 24" offers will be greatly appreciated for graphics and images. While the Pros are nice machines, and hugely expandable as well... the end cost will be far, far greater than the iMac. Nothing you will be doing should demand that much horsepower that would require a Pro (like professional video editing, etc). $1,549.00 will get you a 2.8Ghz 24" iMac. Laptops are nice, but not really suited for work, especially graphic stuff (I know horsepower wise they can handle it, but from a ergonomic standpoint a desktop makes more sense). Have you picked up a 17" laptop?? Yikes, lol...

    WAIT, at least for a bit longer... chances are there will be a refresh coming in the next month or so on the iMacs. Check the macrumors buyers guide (http://buyersguide.macrumors.com/#iMac) which will tell you we are overdue, and recent rumors are starting to point to a refresh soon. Even if you don't buy the latest rev, you might score a better deal on a previous gen model.

    Max out the ram to 4gb. Buy it third party if you are trying to save some bucks. $46 dollars will buy it from Crucial, and the installation is very easy and takes around 5 mins (not bad for saving around $100).

    Buy AppleCare, $249 will extend the coverage for 3 years (including parts & labor). I generally NEVER buy any extended warranties, but this is the exception, and I always get it, and recommend it to others as well. You can find it a bit cheaper on Amazon, and also from resellers on Ebay. There are some Live.com ponzi schemes that are often discussed in the "buying tips" forum here. Haven't tried it, but some say it works (and they saved some bucks as well).

    Speaking of Craig's List or Ebay... I would be leery of buying used equipment that way (personally). Apple Refurbs are the exception, as they are reconditioned to the point of being essentially new.

    Don't worry about the "lack" of expandability with the iMacs, it isn't as much of a deal as lots of folks claim. Need extra hard drives? Buy external firewire drives (which can be daisy chained together). Twenty bucks or less will buy you a USB card reader (external). Expandability is way overrated... chances are in 4 years you will WANT a new computer, as the new models will be so much faster/cheaper/more powerful than what you had. Also, as models age they start to get phased out of support from the operating systems (my old 17" lamp-arm iMac can only run Tiger). If you get 5 years out of your computer, you should be happy enough to move on to the new models that can convert into a jet-pack, make ice-cream... and mow your lawn.

    I run a publishing company and use the 24" iMac as one of my workstations. It is one of the best macs I have ever had, and I have had quite a few...

  4. Scottsdale macrumors 601


    Sep 19, 2008
    In my opinion the best value for your needs/wants is a refurbished unibody aluminum MacBook. They have the same warranty as new. They can be purchased on apple.com/store/refurbished mac section.

    In addition, buy Apple care off eBay for around $100.

    It is an incredibly powerful machine. The design is amazing. The new graphics by Nvidia blow away old MBs. The unibody aluminum construction is durable.

    Best wishes.
  5. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    You can always buy refurb.

    Same warranty as new, looks like new.
  6. Santabean2000 macrumors 68000


    Nov 20, 2007
    (24") iMac all the way. I have the 2.8GHz alu model and use the 20" 2.4 at work.

    I find it hard to do any sort of work on a notebook sized screen these days, (internet, iTunes etc ok though).

    Best bang for $$ - iMac;)
  7. chris7777 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Nov 27, 2008
    I do know If I go with an imac unless I did get a steal on a 20" I am really only interested in the 24" (unless they offer an additional size in the coming update)

    20 just doesnt seem that much bigger than a laptop, and I definitely would rather go for the portability if it were that small.

    I have chronic pain that was one reason I was possibly leaning toward a laptop
    so I could "work" from a couch, recliner, or some other comfortable chair.

    back when I was still able to really work, I had an ergonomic chair, but I still had problems with sitting in it for any length of time, and while I have sat in some pretty comfortable ones at the office stores I still am not convinced they would be a viable alternative.
    I did however get a cheap one from a thrift store that seems pretty close in quality to the one my employer provided. I used it some when I was typing up papers for my English class. I has started out trying to go back to school full time, and that was not going to work, so I dropped half my classes, and barely scraped my way through the 2 classes I kept. I am pondering going back which is another reason I am thinking of a laptop, but considering I would likely only be able to handle part time at best, I may just forgo school altogether and do my own thing since my time is also an issue.

    Thanks for bringing up applecare, I forgot to ask about it.
    Can you actually buy it from a third party like ebay and use it on your own computer?

    unless I run across a steal on a mac, I am going to at least check out the new imacs. I still have to borrow the money, and I am still trying to decide how much (or little) I plan on getting, I know that unless I get a steal, the airs lack of a disc drive is a deal breaker unless it were "scammer cheap" same with the 20"imac. the mac mini is the same way, I figure by the time I bought a monitor and the rest of the stuff I could have a macbook, or imac.

    How "portable" is the 24" imac . I suppose I could sit in a recliner and use my wacom and still be able to sit back and use it the screen is so huge. But if it is something that is pretty fragile and all that, I might be better off getting a laptop to begin with given that while I want to "work" the reality is that for the foreseeable future this will more than likely be more of a hobby than a living.

    another issue that has had me wondering , is the differences between models liek the 2.8 and 3.06 imac ,and the 2.4, and 2.53 macbook pro (and for that matter the macbook)
    is "bigger" the better deal, or more specifically should I get the base model and add my own ram, or it the vram ,and hard drive differences between them actually worth the price premium?
  8. chris7777 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Nov 27, 2008
    another question

    If I get one of the current macs, will I be able to run snow leopard on it?
    and typically how much will they charge for me to get it?

    I assume If I get used or an older model Iwill not be able to do this.
  9. svndmvn Guest

    Nov 6, 2007
    Many suggest any of the intel Macs, made since 2006 that is, would do for Snow Leopard, it would perform better if it had better graphics and at least 2 cores.
    Refurbs are as good as new and often of the current generation.
    It is possible for Snow Leopard to be $129.
  10. Migsy macrumors newbie

    Jan 19, 2009
    London, UK
    The very fact that you have the need to use the mac from different locations (even in your home etc) excludes the iMac.

    By the sound if it, my recommendation would be a 15" MBP (for the portability) and a 24" Cinema Display (for the colour accuracy and screen real-estate), if your money stretches that far.
  11. chris7777 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Nov 27, 2008
    I have been leaning toward the macbook pro, I just keep wondering if I can justify the price considering I am basically wanting one to piddle around on.

    Thats why I started this thread. I know its what I want , but I could still probably do everything I need on a base aluminum macbook. (photoshop ,illustrator, corelpainter, and manga studio) I would love to find a used older macbook for around 500 or so but If I have to pay much more for that on used I would rather go the full bit and get a 1300 at least, . I just can't decide if the pro is really worht spending the extra cash on. I know its probably the best in the long run, But being disabled, I am having a difficult time justifying it, given It may not make a difference on me doing anything constructive.
    Though I know the screen would be more useful, and all the performance is what has me really wondering if its worth the extra 700. I just keep snowballing it and end up wanting more and more when I need to be looking at getting less and less, and then if I can do something that might benefit me, upgrading after I can afford it.

    Arggg I just can't decide. And I am not having any luck on used at least in the range I am willing to pay on one, they are either all scams, or they want nearly new price.

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