What mac should I buy?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by nazedayo, Feb 9, 2014.

  1. nazedayo macrumors member

    Jan 18, 2012
    Hello, I'm currently using a refurbished 15" 2011 Macbook Pro + 23.5" ASUS monitor. I used to code with Ubuntu, but ever since I've moved to the Mac I have fallen in love with the rock-solid OS X operating system. But the computer is starting to feel dated (GPU struggling with basic things like rendering Illustrator files, OpenGL animations; no SSD so things feel slow).

    I want to do the following things, preferably under $2000 in the most elegant solution possible:

    -Play recent games (e.g. Tomb Raider, Borderlands 2, Civilization V); i.e. use the boot camp module to partition a Win7 drive, or in native OS X environment where possible
    -Code in OS X
    -My work computer is a Macbook Air, so I prefer to plug into an external monitor when I work from home for a larger screen real estate. (not sure if this will work with an iMac's screen?)
    -May leave for a PhD program in 1.5 years, so I may no longer have a work computer and may require a portable.

    I think an iMac 27" would solve the problem... but not sure if the graphics will cut it. Perhaps a hackintosh and a macbook air 11"??

    Thanks in advance.
  2. kelon111 macrumors 6502

    Mar 16, 2013
    The high end iMac 27" has a GTX 775m which is ~ a high end mobile GPU.
    If you want to downgrade to a portable , the high end MacBook Pro Retina 15.4" model has a GT 750m (with GDDR5 RAM as well) which is ~ a mid end mobile GPU.

    A hackintosh takes quite a bit of work and choosing certain parts to work properly. I wouldn't recommend it for someone who isn't used to solving their own computer problems and/or someone that doesn't have the time to do that.
  3. Saltymac macrumors member

    Aug 19, 2013
    Rocky Mt State
    You did not indicate how much ram in mbp - need at last 4 gb. A new drive could also do a lot to speed up your apps.
  4. kelon111 macrumors 6502

    Mar 16, 2013
    He wants a better GPU as well.

    The Radeon HD 6750M or 6770M on the MacBook Pro is soldered on the board so it's not user replaceable.
  5. JoeRito macrumors 6502a


    Apr 12, 2012
    New England, USA
    The fact is the greatest device in the history of mankind is a new 15" rMBP. Make us proud and pick one up friend!
  6. blanka macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    No way your GPU is struggling with Illustrator or OpenGL animations. Guess it is all caused by a slow HD

    You should really give it a shot with an SSD first.
    Don't bother about gaming on the mac, any 500$ PC or PS4 will beat the crap out of any Mac solution.
  7. nazedayo thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 18, 2012
    Definitely considered that. But for sure my MBP cannot handle anything beyond low settings on most current games.


    Thanks for the reply. Definitely considering both options, either way it seems I'd have to shell out close to $2600... sigh for non-downgradable options on the rMBP...
  8. Mugwumper macrumors regular

    Jan 19, 2008
    Temecula, CA
    Try a refurb rMBP?

    Just picked up a refurbed high-end 15" rMBP for $2200 - 16GB RAM, dual graphics processors, and 512GB SSD. Admittedly, anything is an improvement over my 2008 MacBook and 2010 27" iMac - but my plan is to sell both soon, and get a 27" display. I now can run VMWare Fusion (Win7) and several other big Adobe things things simultaneously with no problems. And I impress my friends with off-to-fully-functional in 8-10 seconds. ;^)
  9. r0k macrumors 68040


    Mar 3, 2008
    I went from a 2008 Macbook to a late 2011 hires antiglare MBP and I love it. There are times I've considered popping in an SSD and perhaps I will get around to it this spring. I use an Acer external 23" 1080p monitor and I'm quite happy with my setup. Going from a 2008 machine to a late 2011 machine was a huge improvement. While I know SSD will be another improvement, SSD seems to help a disk-thrashing OS like Windows more dramatically than it helps OSX. I've got 8GB of RAM installed with 16GB sitting on the desk that I've been too busy to install.

    If I run Windows 7 or XP, it's in Virtualbox. I normally only use Xcode, LibreOffice, Chrome with 40+ tabs open, Pixelmator, iMovie and iPhoto (sparingly). I don't have any adobe apps these days.

    My boot times are not as good as they were on my 2008 MBP with a "hybrid" SSD but I boot so seldom I just don't care enough to part with the money for an SSD... yet.
  10. PicnicTutorials macrumors 6502a


    Dec 29, 2013
    imac. I'd make love to mine if I could. I like it that much.
  11. Cubytus macrumors 65816

    Mar 2, 2007

    Hum no, a $500 PC will never beat a Mac in games. You lack at least $500. However I do agree on the SSD. Given the budget, a 512GB SSD may be a reasonable purchase.
  12. Nunyabinez macrumors 68000


    Apr 27, 2010
    Provo, UT
    Actually, you can get pretty close. I bought a Core 2 Quad system from my university surplus for $40. I added 4GB of RAM, a 500Gb HD and found a used GTX 465 for about $100. All I use if for is gaming.

    Granted if you had to buy everything new it would be more, but I'm well under $500 for a solid gaming machine. My iMac is probably about the same for gaming, but I don't have to boot into bootcamp.


    Actually, hackintoshs are much easier today than they used to be. And if you go to Tonymacx86 you can find a list of the components that will work with almost no tweaking, but I agree that some level of geekery is probably advantageous.
  13. Cubytus macrumors 65816

    Mar 2, 2007
    Sure, but that's not a mainstream source. My university keeps everything, even decade-old machines, but wouldn't sell them. Or do they return it to the manufacturer? Anyway they're definitely not built with upgrades in mind as I suspect they have a lease contract with HP.
  14. eyeino macrumors newbie

    Feb 11, 2014
    Philadelphia, PA
    Your MBP is still very capable, but it needs an upgrade. I would not replace it. I have an early-2011 MBP and put in a 256GB Samsung 840 Pro SSD (~$200); it kicks ass like never before. You can get a caddy (~$10) to replace the optical drive with your normal mechanical HD, but of course, it depends on your use of optical media. Definitely worth it.

    If it's feasible, build a tower PC for gaming. There is no comparison, anything else will be a compromise: a top end iMac with a GTX 775M ($1799+) has 1.3 teraflops which is about the same as an Xbox One ($499). I built my PC in 2009 for $900 and it's still going strong with its 1.1 teraflops. In contrast, my MBP can't run anything recent. Windows has an edge when it comes to gaming, too. Go for something $700+ if buying new parts, otherwise consider a PS4, Xbox One, or old university computer as previously suggested.

    I'd be very surprised if your university really doesn't offer surplus computers, so ask around. You can pick up a desktop graphics card equivalent to the iMac's for about $100 and pop it in a retired university PC as long as it has a PCI Express slot.

    As a cheapskate, I'd go SSD in MBP and university computer with at least an R7 260X-class graphics card at 2.0 teraflops (~$150). Total expenses would be north of $400, which is far more palatable than $1799+ for an iMac.

    TL;DR: If you want to spend $2000, your idea of a PC and MBA is perfect. If you want to save money, read my post.
  15. Tmelon macrumors 65816

    Feb 26, 2011
    If you want to save money I'd recommend installing an SSD and possibly upgrading the RAM. SSDs make a huge difference.

    If you aren't concerned about money and want to hold on to the portability then go with the Retina MacBook Pro. Won't have quite the power of a desktop, but still more than sufficient for what you described.

    If portability is no big deal and you want power go with the iMac (or Mac Pro if you have deep pockets).

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