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Switcher Hangout The place for switchers to discuss their new machines, and how to work with OS X. General support can be had here for newbie stuff, like "How do I restart my new iMac?" :)

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Getting a Mac in a few months, is an iMac or Power Mac more suitable for my needs?


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.altan
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I am moving to the US in a few months for college (hopefully in March).

For various reasons I am abandoning Windows XP. I have used FreeBSD and Linux for the past few years as well, but I find that GUI applications lack quality, consistency, and stability. OS X seems perfect, combining the power of a BSD core and a strictly optional terminal with good and consistent GUI applications.

Right now I have a 3GHz Hyperthreading Pentium 4, 1GB of PC3200 RAM, two 80GB SATA drives, and a GeForce 3. I want an Apple machine that will match (if not beat) the speed and responsiveness of my current PC.

My eye is on the 20" iMac and the Dual 1.8GHz PowerMac. I suspect that I don't really need the PowerMac, and it's prohibitively expensive when combined with a good and large LCD screen.

What I'll be doing:

- Word processing

- Web browsing

- Listening to MP3 music, watching DivX, XViD and DVD movies. No encoding.

- Light Photoshop usage, few layers and resolutions seldom higher than 1280x960

- 3D modeling at polycounts lower than 100,000 and textures at max 512x512. I use 3ds max now, but I guess I'll go with Maya on OS X.

- Software development with Python, possibly moving up to C/Objective C once I feel a little more comfortable with Python

- No games, except maybe Civilization 3 (and 4 when it's released) and UT2004 from time to time. (I know the FX5200 in the iMac isn't that great, but it's playable - I used to play with a 9200SE and ONS was fine with the right settings)

I also want the operating system to be fast and responsive. Like I said earlier, as fast as my current 3GHz Hyperthreading P4.

Is the video card in the iMac upgradable? I know I can't use whatever I have right now, but can I buy a new one to make up for the 5200FX? Again, I'm not much of a gamer so it's not so important, but it would be nice to be able to have full detail in UT2004.

You guys probably know all of this by now, but here are the specs for the 20" iMac G5 and the Dual 1.8GHz Power Mac. I will be transferring the 1GB of PC3200 RAM to whichever one I decide to get, so the amount of RAM they have isn't important:

iMac 20": 20-inch widescreen LCD, 1.8GHz PowerPC G5, 512K L2 cache, 600MHz frontside bus, 256MB DDR400 SDRAM, NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 Ultra 64MB DDR video memory, 160GB Serial ATA hard drive, Slot-load SuperDrive.

That's $1,899 and a student discount of $100-$200, so ~$1650 is my guess.

The Dual 1.8GHz PowerMac has a 900MHz FSB, an 80GB SATA drive instead of 160GB, and an 8x Superdrive.

It has no monitor, and it retails for $1,999 (with a discount, around $1700 I guess). A 20" monitor costs $999 from Apple (if I'm getting a Mac I'd like to have aesthetic consistency), and I'll have to get speakers, so around $2500-$2700 is my guess. That is A LOT.

What do you guys think?
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James

 
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Member Since: Nov 26, 2004
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Quote:
Originally Posted by .altan
I am moving to the US in a few months for college (hopefully in March).

What do you guys think?
I think for college that the iMac G5 1.8 with 20" would be the perfect system for you. Doesn't take up much room yet it does everything you will need for college. Snag a copy of Open Office for your word processing, free, and you have word processing, graphic presentation, spreadsheets covered...did i mention for free....(G) iTunes will handle your music needs just fine. Great system at a reasonable price...

With a 512 to 1 gig of ram it will be quite responsive and smooth and if you get a wireless mouse and keyboard you have a nice clean work area to work with. A nice set of amped speakers will let you play all the tunes you want with good sound for music and games, though once you get into school, there probably won't be that much time for games...(G)
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.altan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by James
Snag a copy of Open Office for your word processing, free, and you have word processing, graphic presentation, spreadsheets covered...did i mention for free....
I use OpenOffice on Windows and FreeBSD when it's something AbiWord can't handle, but I'm not very fond of it as a whole. Another thing keeping me off:

"no MacOS X work has been done since 2003 and that there are no longer any plans for an Aqua version 'due to various licensing, political, and fundamental engineering difficulties'."

Also, I hear that there are various quirks with OO.o on OS X in general.

I think I'll go with iWork, since it's also designed to work with the rest of the operating system. Luckily I haven't used Microsoft's product since Office 97, and when I tried 2000 and XP they seem very, very messed up.

Quote:
if you get a wireless mouse and keyboard you have a nice clean work area to work with.
I still prefer wired KB & mice, and it's cheaper, so...

Quote:
A nice set of amped speakers will let you play all the tunes you want with good sound for music and games, though once you get into school, there probably won't be that much time for games...(G)
Yeah, I don't even play games right now and that's partly what made me start thinking about getting a Mac. Two years ago I used to play a lot and I couldn't think of leaving them, but I'm just not impressed with games anymore and they aren't as fun for me.


I'm still iffy on the Power Mac though!
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bassplayrr

 
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Member Since: Jan 14, 2005
Location: San Fransisco Bay Area, CA, USA
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Mac Specs: 20" G5 iMac; 14.1" G4 iBook; 60Gig iPod Video

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.altan, I'm pretty much in the same position as you. I currently run a self-built AMD 3200+ system with similar goodies as your current PC. I use my system for pretty much the same apps as you, and I chose the 20" iMac (which is in the mail; can't wiat to get it ). For most of the apps you and I run, the iMac seems to be MUCH faster (coupled with a way better OS) and more intuitive. The only time the iMacs I have checked out seem to be slower than my AMD set up is with gaming, which I think is more an issue of the lackluster video card. If you haven't already, I highly reccomend you head down to your local Apple store and check both out. Running the relatively simple apps you and I do, I think the combination of size and price will make the iMac a better match for you.

-Chris

also, the prices you list look to be for the entry level models. I would recommend adding at least some additional RAM, and since these things are difficult and exspensive to modify in the future, I would also recommend adding the bluetooth and airport and AppleCare if that sort of thing is your bag. All together my iMac was $2,320 including 512 RAM, AirPort, blootooth keyboard and mouse, AppleCare, CA sales tax minus student discount.
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.altan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bassplayrr
If you haven't already, I highly reccomend you head down to your local Apple store and check both out. Running the relatively simple apps you and I do, I think the combination of size and price will make the iMac a better match for you.
Yeah, that's what I'm thinking so far. It's just the psychological speed difference - I could theoretically downgrade to a 1GHz P3 and work fine, but things being that slightly less responsive could get on my nerves - especially if I'm going from an old system to a new system.

Quote:
also, the prices you list look to be for the entry level models. I would recommend adding at least some additional RAM, and since these things are difficult and exspensive to modify in the future, I would also recommend adding the bluetooth and airport and AppleCare if that sort of thing is your bag. All together my iMac was $2,320 including 512 RAM, AirPort, blootooth keyboard and mouse, AppleCare, CA sales tax minus student discount.
Well, I have the RAM anyway so I don't need to upgrade anything up front. I still prefer wires (and I don't have, nor do I plan to own devices that can only connect via Bluetooth or 802.11x) so I won't have to worry about Bluetooth/Airport any time soon. I'm pretty sure I'll go for the AppleCare too, since this isn't like a PC where I can just buy a new motherboard/CPU and expect it to work, should things go wrong.
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flonejek
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Nah, the rams easy to replace, if you have a current pc just get the min and bang the 256 in the pc and get 2x512 for the imac (may i suggest crucial memory ), though the graphics card is lacking a bit. Its perfect for modelling in your range as that would barely fill 64 megs while the card has full support for all the features tger will use t enhance image processing and modelling (thinking coreimage/video). I have a Ti4200 (128 meg) in my pc atm and it appears to perform just a tad worse than the 5200 Ultra, though I can play pretty much any game barring halflife 2 and doom 3 maxed out , including Farcry, which is incredibly fun, though I play world of warcraft mainly now...
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Wapa18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by .altan
Another thing keeping me off:

"no MacOS X work has been done since 2003 and that there are no longer any plans for an Aqua version 'due to various licensing, political, and fundamental engineering difficulties'."
where did you get this information from? Mac OS 10.4 is scheduled to come out in the first half of this year, not to mention the periodic updates that have been released to 10.3.
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meltbanana314
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wapa18
where did you get this information from? Mac OS 10.4 is scheduled to come out in the first half of this year, not to mention the periodic updates that have been released to 10.3.
No, he was referring to OpenOffice.org, which won't release a Aquafied version of OpenOffice (which, at this point needs X11 to run) because they're a bunch of stupid asstarts (and because they're jealous that the NeoOffice/J guys got it done first.)

EDIT: Yeah, I'm bitter about it. At least I'll have iWork to keep me company soon.
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.altan
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meltbanana is correct. Story here: http://porting.openoffice.org/mac/timeline.html

Their justifications seem pretty lame, and I don't agree with most of them.
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Wapa18
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oh, ok. haha. my bad. i read his whole post, but for some reason my brain just didn't keep that quote in context with the rest of the post.
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