Which specs should I focus on? (2D graphics + web server)

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by splitpea, Oct 21, 2009.

  1. splitpea macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2009
    Location:
    Among the starlings
    #1
    Hi folks --

    Looking for a bit of advice on what areas to spend my money on, replacing my old computer. I'm a web developer who spends a lot of time in Photoshop, Flash, and Illustrator, and I also run a local Apache instance that I use to test PHP/MySQL web applications. I don't game, don't do 3D design, and almost never edit video.

    With that in mind, I'm looking for some help with a couple questions:

    1) Will I get a greater speed boost out of more cores or a higher clock speed?
    2) How much video memory should I be looking for?

    Some additional background:

    My old computer (a dual 2.0 PowerMac G5 with 4GB RAM and some ATI graphics card from 2005 with 256MB memory) is adequate if not great for this work.

    The Photoshop files I use typically are around 1-2M pixels, but have tons of layers and effects (50 layers is common, 100 not unheard of). Photoshop is usable with all but the largest and most complex files, but Illustrator and Flash tend to get very slow with more than a couple dozen layers, and I often end up with palette redraw problems in all the Adobe apps.

    Display is dual 20" monitors at 1680x1050 (if I get an iMac, it'll be the 27-incher, plus one of the 20-inchers as an external).

    The machine is responsive for most web development, but absolutely crawls running Drupal with a few modules enabled, which makes it useless (20-second page loads are not cool).

    I'd like the new computer to last at least 4 years. I don't need it to be able to run the latest and greatest at the end of its life, but would appreciate if it were still as useful as this one is now.

    (Ironically, I could easily get by designing and developing on the PowerMac for another year or two, but it's web browsing that's inducing me to upgrade. Flash and Javascript run so slowly in any PPC browser (other than Safari, which crashes any time I us a context menu) that I can barely use half of the web.)

    Thanks for your help!
     
  2. splitpea thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #2
    Bumping because I think this got lost in the rush after the new hardware announcements. Can anyone please help me?
     
  3. Umbongo macrumors 601

    Umbongo

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2006
    Location:
    England
    #3
    Mac Pro 2.66GHz, upgrade to 6GB of memory, the standard GT 120 graphics card will be fine, you will need a mini DisplayPort to DVI connector for two displays.

    You can save money buy trying to get a refurb (check daily, but it might be tuesdays whent hey go on), or using websites other than Apple. If you want wifi you may have to pay full retail or install it yourself. You can get your memory else where for the same sort of price Apple charge and still have your old stuff to sell off. Get the video cable from monoprice.
     
  4. splitpea thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #4
    Heh, thank you for the very specific recommendation. Not sure I'm buying immediately, though, and portables are still in the mix. More trying to figure out *how* to make a decision, if that makes sense. These issues will affect the timing of my purchase as well as which specific machine I choose.
     
  5. Umbongo macrumors 601

    Umbongo

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2006
    Location:
    England
    #5
    Mac Pros won't be updated for another 4-6 months and other desktops probably will be at least 8 months

    I gave you the specfic system rather than the theory I normally give out as your use and current setup seem ripe for an upgrade to a Mac Pro rather than something else. Any of the systems may be fine for you but the Mac Pro offers you the expandability, upgradability and horsepower to last 4 years. The difference between a quad core iMac and a Mac Pro are minimal in terms of your required needs so weigh the Mac Pro's benefits vs. the cost and display of the iMac. I'd also check the iMac's screen in person before going from two 20"s in a development enviroment to a 27" glossy and 20".
     
  6. splitpea thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Oct 21, 2009
    Location:
    Among the starlings
    #6
    That's one of the main reasons I'd hold off on buying right now, since I'm at least getting by with the current machine.

    The current Mac Pros are looking seriously overpriced for the hardware (I spent under $2K for my PowerMac, and that was with an upgrade to the top graphics card available at the time, so $2500 for the base model makes me wince).

    I'm also holding out hope for significant spring updates to the MBPs that would make them more useful as a primary computer (right now they're barely more capable than my 4-year-old desktop) -- some mobility would be nice.

    On the other hand, that 27" iMac is looking very drool-worthy, and the price is right, although I'm skeptical about the graphics card in particular supporting my usage in the long term.

    Good point. I'll make sure to do that.
     

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