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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?" :)

New to forum. Seeking helpful advice regarding iMac purchase.


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roy batty

 
Member Since: Dec 18, 2010
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Hi all,

I'm new around here; I would greatly appreciate some input regarding my upcoming switch. I'll be purchasing a 27" iMac soon, probably within the month. Have some questions. Please feel free to answer as many (or as few!) as you like.

1) Right now I'm looking at the i5 w/ 4 gb RAM and no SSD. I'll be using it primarily for word processing, light photo editing, media center, email. But I would like to play some graphics-heavy games on it, too. It seems there are a few ways to boost system performance: a) buy additional RAM, b) updgrade to i7, c) add SSD. I can really afford only one of these three upgrade options. Which one would give me the best increase in system performance for my purposes?

2) VMware fusion or parallels?

3) If I install windows 7 using one of the above (from 2) ), can I use the same licensed copy of windows 7 with bootcamp? I ask because I've read that running windows 7 on VMware or parallels doesn't perform as well as booting with Windows 7 via Bootcamp. I'd like the option to do both.

4) Along the lines of 3), am I better off buying office for Mac or running Windows office virtually? Is the difference in performance noticeable (for typical Office applications)?

Thanks in advance for any advice. Look forward to hearing from you and happy holidays everyone.

Roy Batty
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s2odin

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roy batty View Post
Hi all,

I'm new around here; I would greatly appreciate some input regarding my upcoming switch. I'll be purchasing a 27" iMac soon, probably within the month. Have some questions. Please feel free to answer as many (or as few!) as you like.

1) Right now I'm looking at the i5 w/ 4 gb RAM and no SSD. I'll be using it primarily for word processing, light photo editing, media center, email. But I would like to play some graphics-heavy games on it, too. It seems there are a few ways to boost system performance: a) buy additional RAM, b) updgrade to i7, c) add SSD. I can really afford only one of these three upgrade options. Which one would give me the best increase in system performance for my purposes?
Gaming = GPU. Only RTS games use your CPU more. All others are primarily GPU.
Anything you plan to add, buy it aftermarket, Apple overcharges for all upgrades (except for non user replaceable components - GPU, CPU. I would recommend a small (60gb ish) SSD for your OS, and games (any games that have lots of loading screens, like RPGs like: Dragon Age Origins, The Witcher, etc.) Games that access the hard drive for loading will benefit majorly from a SSD. Only difference between i5 and i7 is slightly faster clock speeds on i7 and hyper threading available on the i7.


2) VMware fusion or parallels?

3) If I install windows 7 using one of the above (from 2) ), can I use the same licensed copy of windows 7 with bootcamp? I ask because I've read that running windows 7 on VMware or parallels doesn't perform as well as booting with Windows 7 via Bootcamp. I'd like the option to do both.

4) Along the lines of 3), am I better off buying office for Mac or running Windows office virtually? Is the difference in performance noticeable (for typical Office applications)?

Thanks in advance for any advice. Look forward to hearing from you and happy holidays everyone.

Roy Batty
#1 in red, the rest are more of personal preference imo.
VMware and Parallels both have their pros and cons. There is also VirtualBox . And as far as Office for mac, or running Microsoft Office, depends on what you need. Office for Mac is fine if you need what it provides. If you need Access or anything that is only on Windows, well then you would need to run Microsoft Office for PC.

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Upgrade your MBP HD
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chas_m

 
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Originally Posted by roy batty View Post
1) Right now I'm looking at the i5 w/ 4 gb RAM and no SSD. I'll be using it primarily for word processing, light photo editing, media center, email. But I would like to play some graphics-heavy games on it, too.
Buy an XBox or PS3 or Wii if you really want great performance from your games, and to save a metric ton of money over the years.

If you insist on doing heavy gaming on the Mac, try to get the Mac version of the games you prefer. Occasionally that means waiting a few months after the PC version comes out, but thanks to Steam and other such initiatives that wait is getting shorter all the time.

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Which one would give me the best increase in system performance for my purposes?
RAM.

Quote:
2) VMware fusion or parallels?
Neither. You bought a Mac; use the Mac. For your gaming, see above. If you insist on gaming on your production machine, use Boot Camp (best option) or Crossover Games.
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the8thark

 
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1. I would say games to use CPU as well as the GPU. But the GPU more though. And if you are not the hardest of hardcore gamers then there is a lot of games out there for the Mac that are really good. Google helps find them. As does Steam for Mac. And in January the App store for OS X will help you find more games.

Your i5 with the standard platter hard drive will be fine for 95% of the gaming on the Mac. And don't let anyone tell you you can't have fun gaming on the Mac. That's just lies. You can have a lot of fun gaming on the Mac. And for those windows only games there is Bootcamp, Crossover and Parallels so yes you can play those Windows only games on your Apple computer.

There is the XBox/PS3/Wii option as well if you are a hardcore gamer. But then you have to buy the Console first. And then the games. I'd look at the Mac gaming scene first. And it is better then most people would have to believe.

2. For gaming I would suggest Crossover or Bootcamp. Parallels/Fusion is best suited to light windows tasks and not heavy gaming.

3. Yes you can.

4. A cost issue I would think. Parallels is (US prices here) $80. And office for Mac is $150 for the home edition. But iwork on the other hand is $79. So yeah you have the choices to make. But if you choose the iwork option wait till January cause a new version of iwork is just around the corner according to the rumour mill.

**********************


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Originally Posted by chas_m View Post
Neither. You bought a Mac; use the Mac. For your gaming, see above. If you insist on gaming on your production machine, use Boot Camp (best option) or Crossover Games.
Bad advice there. You can game successfully on your Mac (OS X or bootcamp). And have fun doing so. And it might be a cheaper option if you're not a bleeding edge gamer who tweaks thing for the max fps. For the bleeding edge people you'll need a home made windows box. But for everyone else there is a lot of fun to be had in gaming on the Mac.

It's statements like this that really annoy me. You CAN game and game well on your Mac.
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roy batty

 
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Originally Posted by s2odin View Post
#1 in red, the rest are more of personal preference imo.
VMware and Parallels both have their pros and cons. There is also VirtualBox . And as far as Office for mac, or running Microsoft Office, depends on what you need. Office for Mac is fine if you need what it provides. If you need Access or anything that is only on Windows, well then you would need to run Microsoft Office for PC.
Thanks very much for your comments (red italics). So most games rely on GPU more than CPU; therefore which upgrade of the three (RAM, SSD, or i7) would be best?
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roy batty

 
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Originally Posted by chas_m View Post

Neither. You bought a Mac; use the Mac.
Thank you for this perspective. If only it were that simple. My wife needs a Windows 7 platform for her work (light spreadsheets, word processing), and I hope you would agree that for these purposes it's better to run the Windows platform on the iMac than to buy two separate computers. My original question remains important.
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s2odin

 
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Originally Posted by roy batty View Post
Thanks very much for your comments (red italics). So most games rely on GPU more than CPU; therefore which upgrade of the three (RAM, SSD, or i7) would be best?
What kind of games are you going to be playing?
If you play RPG's (The Witcher, Dragon Age, etc) or games that access the hard drive a lot to load, a SSD would be good. SSD's also lead to overall "snappiness" of a system (i.e: faster boot times, faster app opening, quicker saving / reading files, etc)

Honestly, RAM doesn't affect game performance. 4gb of RAM is fine for heavy gaming (my old laptop: C2Q Q9000 @ 2.0 ghz, 4 gb ddr2 800mhz RAM, nVidia GTX 260m. I could play Crysis with 32 fps at 1920x1080. I would game for hours on it). RAM will help in heavy PS usage, Maya, C4D, programs like that. And by heavy, I mean heavy. Lots of high res image (bigger than 2560 x 1920) and things like that. Editing standard point and shoot images is fine in PS with 4gb of RAM.

An i7 will also help with heavy app usage, and things like burning DVD's etc. But if you get an i5, you will be fine.

Imo, this is a time where a SSD would be the most beneficial. If you don't plan on doing any of these things or playing certain games, just save your money and buy a SSD later when they get a little cheaper.

USAF E-2. 1C6X1 - Space Systems Operations. 19 days until BMT.
Upgrade your MBP HD
Tritton AXPro FS
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DaFlake

 
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Load Windows 7 in Bootcamp and use VMware to mount it and boot it. This way you can do both.

Also, be aware that if you go this route you will have to activate it twice. So, install Windows 7 and activate it via BootCamp. Then use VMware and use the dial up activation method and you should be good to go.
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chas_m

 
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Originally Posted by the8thark View Post
Bad advice there.
It's the same advice YOU gave him!

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You can game successfully on your Mac (OS X or bootcamp).
I didn't say you couldn't -- in fact I recommended the same options YOU did. What I *did* say was that a production Mac really shouldn't be used for gaming, not that you couldn't do it successfully. You just misread my post.
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the8thark

 
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I didn't say you couldn't -- in fact I recommended the same options YOU did. What I *did* say was that a production Mac really shouldn't be used for ONLY gaming, not that you couldn't do it successfully. You just misread my post.

Just fixed up your post .
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chas_m

 
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Originally Posted by roy batty View Post
Thank you for this perspective. If only it were that simple. My wife needs a Windows 7 platform for her work (light spreadsheets, word processing)
Would you care to clarify why "light spreadsheets and word processing" requires Windows 7? It most certainly doesn't. As you probably know already, Microsoft Office was originally created on the Mac, and Excel in particular has been available on the Mac since three years before Windows 1.0 appeared. Ergo, Microsoft Office for Mac 2011 is more than adequate for those needs -- and is a lot cheaper than either setting up Windows needlessly on a Mac or buying two computers.
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roy batty

 
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Originally Posted by DaFlake View Post
Load Windows 7 in Bootcamp and use VMware to mount it and boot it. This way you can do both.

Also, be aware that if you go this route you will have to activate it twice. So, install Windows 7 and activate it via BootCamp. Then use VMware and use the dial up activation method and you should be good to go.
'Activate it twice'... does this mean that I have to pay for it twice?
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