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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?" :)

Ready to switch... I think!


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Silverado

 
Member Since: Dec 18, 2010
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I decided several months ago (after my particularly frustrating experience upgrading to W7) that I want to switch back to Apple & Mac after over a decade of Windows and various hardware.

As a part of this switch, I'm purposefully planning to change the way I use my computer somewhat: the last desktop machine I owned was my last Mac (Performa something-or-other) almost 14 years ago. Since then I've strictly had a laptop of some ilk. While my computer has over the last several years served duty as my sole tool for information, video entertainment and all else, today I find I use my machine 80% for browsing etc., 20% for work related tasks.

Where I land will either be with an iMac + iPad, or iMac + MBA (I'm not sure I can completely give up the full keyboard on the portable, given that most of my web time is on forums like this and a blog, which demand a great deal of typing, and I touch-type well enough on a proper keyboard.)

My question regards the iMac: while what I do today wouldn't challenge even a base-model machine, in the next year I plan to expand my horizons somewhat into CAD-based architecture. I'm a home builder by profession, and feel I could add value to what I do and drastically simplify the design side of my workflow by sketching/editing our building plans, and possibly drawing/rendering them myself.

This will likely involve running one of the architecture-focused CAD programs in Boot Camp (at least for now, until more make their way to OS X natively.)

And so, my request for advice:

Is now the right time to pull the trigger on the iMac purchase? (Yes, I know "Apple will release it when they release it".) Given the recent update to the MBP line, and that the MBP and iMac share somewhat the same architecture, is the next iteration likely to be dramatically more capable of doing what I want to do, or not really? And further, is an update likely imminent?

Secondly, for my specific use above, is my money better spend on the i7 processor upgrade (as I'd buy the i5 in any case), or the i5 with SSD? It seems to me that the CAD rendering would be more processor intensive, rather than challenging the drive speed?

I do have the budget to order the full i7/SSD/HDD package should I choose, but I'm not one to spend a significant amount of money without a compelling intrinsic value proposition to back up the purchase.

Thanks in advance!
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cwa107

 
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Member Since: Dec 20, 2006
Location: Middletown, Pennsylvania
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Mac Specs: 15" MBP, Core i7/2GHz, 8GB RAM, 480GB Crucial M500 SSD

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silverado View Post

This will likely involve running one of the architecture-focused CAD programs in Boot Camp (at least for now, until more make their way to OS X natively.)
Is there one in particular you're looking for? There are a number of high-end CAD packages for the Mac. Most recently AutoCAD finally re-emerged on the Mac.

Quote:
And so, my request for advice:

Is now the right time to pull the trigger on the iMac purchase? (Yes, I know "Apple will release it when they release it".) Given the recent update to the MBP line, and that the MBP and iMac share somewhat the same architecture, is the next iteration likely to be dramatically more capable of doing what I want to do, or not really? And further, is an update likely imminent?
It's always a tough call with Apple, being that they are so secretive. My advice is to buy the machine that most closely fits your needs when you need it - and it will continue to fulfill those needs long after an updated model is released.

Quote:
Secondly, for my specific use above, is my money better spend on the i7 processor upgrade (as I'd buy the i5 in any case), or the i5 with SSD? It seems to me that the CAD rendering would be more processor intensive, rather than challenging the drive speed?
In my opinion, SSDs are still in their infancy, but rapidly evolving - today's drives will be rapidly superseded by faster, less expensive models in a year's time. I would hold off on one (this is something you can upgrade later if need be). I think you'd be better served by the i7, and the graphics card upgrade that typically comes along with the higher end machines.

Quote:
I do have the budget to order the full i7/SSD/HDD package should I choose, but I'm not one to spend a significant amount of money without a compelling intrinsic value proposition to back up the purchase.

Thanks in advance!
Good luck and welcome to the forums!

Liquid and computers don't mix. It might seem simple, but we see an incredible amount of people post here about spills. Keep drinks and other liquids away from your expensive electronics!
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GreggyTheMacGuy

 
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I am not sure about 14 years ago, but I do know that now the Mac has much better and easier to understand programs for designing most things in terms of graphics and physics. I am lightly looking into architecture on both my PC and my iMac and I had a better time using my iMac.
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chas_m

 
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When it comes to CAD, I don't think there is any compelling reason to stick to PC any more (unless you are using a VERY niche program and unwilling to change, and even then you could still run it on a Mac).

The current-model iMac has been out for a while, and I personally do expect a small refresh before June. But playing the "wait for the next model" game is a fool's errand IMO. I bought an iPad for xmas, but am I upset that I "missed" the new model? Heck no! I've been enjoying the heck out of this thing since December! I'll eventually get a new one, probably, but I'm in no rush -- the iPad is fast and slick and wonderful just as it is.

As for CAD rendering, my understanding is that they leverage the video card more than the processor, so I'm not sure the i7 vs i5 debate is where you should be focusing. Check with the CAD program maker you intend to you use, however.

As for SSDs, I'm with CWA on this one. 2011 may be the year that my reservations over SSDs are finally overcome, but at this particular moment in time (call me cheap) I don't feel the speed advantage is quite worth the premium price over a 7200rpm hard drive.
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Silverado

 
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The architecture program I have the most experience with is Chief Architect, which is a CAD package designed for the building industry entirely, and makes home building plans simply and beautifully, with a lot of built-in tools and details.

Chief also uses 'raytrace rendering' to generate awesome 3D and glass-house views of the design, which are tremendous for marketing.

Based on their recommendations, I think the i7 machine, plus a RAM upgrade from a 3rd party, is the way I'll go. The vendor's forums make mention that they designed the current version of the product based on the i7 processor.

That page leads me to another question: does running W7 in Boot Camp make full use of the 64 bit addressing?

Now, if I could only decide which way I want to go with a portable! I think I'll buy an iPad and test drive it for a week or so. If I really don't like it, I could sell it off with little money lost on the lesson.
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Silverado

 
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Just another question: is there any advantage to having 2X4GB ram modules vs. 4X2GB modules, other than leaving 2 free slots for future additions?

Further, does RAM still need to be installed in matched pairs (which was the case the last time I upgraded RAM... quite a few years ago)? Or could you have 2/2/4/4 for a total of 12GB?

Perhaps in a week when I have the machine in hand my questions won't be quite so incessant!
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cwa107

 
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Member Since: Dec 20, 2006
Location: Middletown, Pennsylvania
Posts: 26,493
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Mac Specs: 15" MBP, Core i7/2GHz, 8GB RAM, 480GB Crucial M500 SSD

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silverado View Post
That page leads me to another question: does running W7 in Boot Camp make full use of the 64 bit addressing?
Boot Camp is not a program that run Windows - rather, it simply preps your hard drive to dual-boot and then provides the needed drivers to interface the Mac-specific hardware features with Windows. There is no emulation or virtualization. Windows is running natively just like it would on any other PC.

So, yes, the simple answer is that it will take advantage of all of your hardware capabilities.

Liquid and computers don't mix. It might seem simple, but we see an incredible amount of people post here about spills. Keep drinks and other liquids away from your expensive electronics!
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cwa107

 
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Member Since: Dec 20, 2006
Location: Middletown, Pennsylvania
Posts: 26,493
cwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond reputecwa107 has a reputation beyond repute
Mac Specs: 15" MBP, Core i7/2GHz, 8GB RAM, 480GB Crucial M500 SSD

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silverado View Post
Just another question: is there any advantage to having 2X4GB ram modules vs. 4X2GB modules, other than leaving 2 free slots for future additions?
That's right - the only advantage is being able to expand more easily down the road.

Quote:
Further, does RAM still need to be installed in matched pairs (which was the case the last time I upgraded RAM... quite a few years ago)? Or could you have 2/2/4/4 for a total of 12GB?

Perhaps in a week when I have the machine in hand my questions won't be quite so incessant!
Best performance comes from matched pairs (this allows them to run in dual-channel mode), but it's not a requirement.

Liquid and computers don't mix. It might seem simple, but we see an incredible amount of people post here about spills. Keep drinks and other liquids away from your expensive electronics!
QUOTE Thanks

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