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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?" :)

Loaded question: low-end Mac...or high-end PC?


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Phacade

 
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So lemme explain. I recently joined the Mac Forums under the anticipation of getting a kick-**** tax refund and getting the Mac of my dreams. I was sooooo excited, and then last night the wind went out of my sails. You see, my tax guy got back with me and said that we evidently didn't dot some "i" or cross some "t". End result was my big chunky tax refund becoming a kinda limp and whimpy.

I swear thats never happened to me before.

Naturally this leaves me with a choice. I absoultely need to get my dying computer replaced, but with about a $1300 budget, I'm left with a choice; low-end iMac 21.5" i3 ($1309 from the Apple store, iWork installed, -w- AppleCare), or a somewhat beefy PC with the following hand-picked parts off NewEgg ($1279):

Intel Core i7-950 Bloomfield 3.06GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor
ASUS Rampage III Formula LGA 1366 Intel X58 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
XIGMATEK Intel Core i7 compatible Dark Knight-S1283V REV.W with ACK-I5361 120mm Long Life
XIGMATEK ACK-I5363 Intel Core i7 compatible Bracket Set
(2) HITACHI Deskstar 7K1000.C HDS721010CLA332 (0F10383) 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5"
(2) G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Memory
ASUS ENGTS450 DC OC/DI/1GD5 GeForce GTS 450 (Fermi) 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0
Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders - OEM


Obviously I can rebuild using the existing supplies from my dying PC...but which is better. I realized asking on a Mac forum is a bit like loading the deck, but I absolutely know I won't get a straight answer anywhere else. As I see it:

PC Pros: PC with above componets would likely be more powerful. Could last a bit longer. Good use of existing case. My PC friends won't disown me.

Mac Pros: Mac has a warranty. No need to build, and I've wanted a Mac for a bit. A little less powerful in comparison. Obviously less memory, but less likelihood of virus too.

Its a tough call given my budget. What would you do?

21" 3.6GHz Core i5 iMac "Sputnik" ■ 12GB Crucial RAM ■ Monsoon flat-panel speakers ■ HP P1006 LaserJet printer ■ Full Keyboard ■ Canoscan 9000F flatbed scanner ■ ...and then of course me (being a narcissist, I consider this to be the most important mod).
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MYmacROX

 
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Depends what you're using it for. What OS do you prefer? How long do you expect your computer to last?

If you really want an iMac, you can always get a refurbished one from the online refurb store on apple.com for a bit cheaper.

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Reminder: Please include your Mac's specs. This will make it much easier for the other members to assist you.
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Raz0rEdge

 
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I've been building PC's for a long time and for a long time have used Windows and then gave it up to completely run Linux and then about 2 years ago I got the iPhone and wanted to play around with a Mac so got a Mac Mini and then eventually was hooked enough to sell the Mac Mini and switch over to a 27" i7 iMac..

Now the choice of going with a PC or Mac first and foremost depends on what you are going to be doing with it. If you are going to be doing major photo/graphics processing, music processing or other things, than a beefer i7 based computer is going to be better suited, but if you are going to do some serious web surfing, emailing and listening to music, then the i3 iMac is going to be a champ at it..

Now the other part of the equation is indeed if you'll be running Windows on your PC or something else. If Windows, then the Mac is going to be better protected from Virus and so on and is generally more reliable over longer periods of time.

Third, Mac's generally tend to hold their value fairly well, so if you did somehow come across a larger chunk of money and want to upgrade to a new Mac, your existing Mac would still sell for a decent price and defray the cost of the new Mac a bit..a PC will definitely do that and will lose a large portion of it's value on day one.

Now you can always run Windows on a Mac, so if you wanted to run games or something, thats also a possibility..

So bottom line, tell us a bit about your computing habits and with what I've said, perhaps you can make up your mind to go PC or Mac..

Regards
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RavingMac

 
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On a specs per $ basis I think you are always going to be able to beat Mac with a Windows machine. But specs are ultimately only one part of the equation.
My MBP is four years old and running strong. I am fighting upgrade lust, but if I am honest I have to admit that my machine is more than capable of meeting my current requirements and (but please don't tell my wife) will probably continue to do so for some years to come.
I have never been able to do this with a windows machine without continuous upgrades in soft and hardware.

My reccomendation would be to go with the most Mac you can afford (I guarantee it will smoke your current system) and then upgrade when/if you want to by trade up as has been suggested.

My opinion FWIW

I've always wanted to be smart, handsome and modest. But, I guess I'll have to be satisfied with two out of three . . .
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Phacade

 
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My current system (quite literally) smokes now. No seriously, it produces a visable amount of smoke. I built it in 2002 and I'm frankly amazed it still runs. It coughs, squeaks, and coughs up blood, but continues somehow to run. AMD 2700+ with a full 1G of memory and 160GB of HDD. I promise anything will outperform it.

As for what I'd be using either for. Surfing, email, photoshop-type graphic design, (some) video editing, cataloging, and probably not a lot of gaming...thats what the Xbox360 is for. It did occur to me I could pay another $70 and upgrade the RAM on that 21.5" iMac to 8GB, and that'd give it some additional zip. But being an i3, I wonder how much zip?

21" 3.6GHz Core i5 iMac "Sputnik" ■ 12GB Crucial RAM ■ Monsoon flat-panel speakers ■ HP P1006 LaserJet printer ■ Full Keyboard ■ Canoscan 9000F flatbed scanner ■ ...and then of course me (being a narcissist, I consider this to be the most important mod).
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RavingMac

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phacade View Post
My current system (quite literally) smokes now. No seriously, it produces a visable amount of smoke. I built it in 2002 and I'm frankly amazed it still runs. It coughs, squeaks, and coughs up blood, but continues somehow to run. AMD 2700+ with a full 1G of memory and 160GB of HDD. I promise anything will outperform it.

As for what I'd be using either for. Surfing, email, photoshop-type graphic design, (some) video editing, cataloging, and probably not a lot of gaming...thats what the Xbox360 is for. It did occur to me I could pay another $70 and upgrade the RAM on that 21.5" iMac to 8GB, and that'd give it some additional zip. But being an i3, I wonder how much zip?
Your usage sounds a lot like mine. Other than the usual I run Aperture and Adobe PSE plus iMovie for photo and video processing/editting. My MBP has plenty of muscle for the job (I have 4GB RAM currently).

The Geekbench score for my system is ~2800. By comparison, the iMac you are looking at will run ~6000 on Geekbench (or more than twice as fast).

I've always wanted to be smart, handsome and modest. But, I guess I'll have to be satisfied with two out of three . . .
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bentharbour

 
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I have an iMac 27" with an i3, When it was run at 4 GB I could still handle surfing, email, final cut, adobe cs3 and illustrator really well.

I know you are looking at the 21", but it is the same processor, and I can assure you, that my processor can handle "some video editing" as well as the rest of the stuff that you listed.

Also, upgrading ram from a place like OWC was super easy in the mac, literally only have to take out 3 screws and pop it in. I paid 105 (if I remember correctly) to upgrade to 12 GB of ram, and now it runs those applications even better; especially final cut and illustrator.

To answer your original question with my personal opinion: Mac's are more than just specs; its about the whole package:

- Customer support
- warranty and applecare
- great design (one of the most important factors to me personally)
- seamless integration of other Mac products (iPhone, iPad, ATV, iPod, etc.),
- simplicity and effectiveness of the OS,
- PC's have been big and bulky (Tower, Monitor, and tons of wires).

In the end every person/situation is different, and you may decide you want different things than other people in your hardware and software, but this is just my opinion and some of the reasons I made the switch so I hope it helps.

 15" MBPr (2012): 2.3Ghz i7, 8GB RAM, 256 GB SSD  24" Apple Cinema Display  iPhone 5 16GB Black  iPad 2 16GB White
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Sawday

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bentharbour View Post
I have an iMac 27" with an i3, When it was run at 4 GB I could still handle surfing, email, final cut, adobe cs3 and illustrator really well.

I know you are looking at the 21", but it is the same processor, and I can assure you, that my processor can handle "some video editing" as well as the rest of the stuff that you listed.

Also, upgrading ram from a place like OWC was super easy in the mac, literally only have to take out 3 screws and pop it in. I paid 105 (if I remember correctly) to upgrade to 12 GB of ram, and now it runs those applications even better; especially final cut and illustrator.

To answer your original question with my personal opinion: Mac's are more than just specs; its about the whole package:

- Customer support
- warranty and applecare
- great design (one of the most important factors to me personally)
- seamless integration of other Mac products (iPhone, iPad, ATV, iPod, etc.),
- simplicity and effectiveness of the OS,
- PC's have been big and bulky (Tower, Monitor, and tons of wires).

In the end every person/situation is different, and you may decide you want different things than other people in your hardware and software, but this is just my opinion and some of the reasons I made the switch so I hope it helps.
Plus - you'll very probably LOVE your mac. Will you love your PC as much?

Happiness is not getting what you want, but wanting what you get.
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robduckyworth

 
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with that iMac, you are effectively getting a cinema display for free.

If you find a post helpful, don't forget to use the reputation system (top right of post.)
Join us in the IRC! How? Add me on Steam, Origin or PSN (Vita): robduckyworth
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ZachUSAman

 
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I would build. your PC doesnt have a warranty all together, but each part has its own warranty.
or better yet, build something on the lower end but on a great motherboard (amd3+ socket one or sandybridge) that way you can upgrade if you want. get 4gb of ram, and a basic graphics card, I suggest the amd 965.
grab a small SSD (next gens are coming out in april so prices will drop) for your OS.
instead of the XIGMATEK Intel Core i7 compatible Dark Knight-S1283V get the
Coolermaster Hyper212+ its only 29.99 I got it for my computer (using amd 3.4ghz quadcore and temps went from 60 at pretty much full load to never going above 42 on an hour long 100% load test.
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thekilierdonut

 
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That's a tough question. Lot of intelligent folks making a lot of good points! Something about building your own PC always just sounds more fun, but from the information you've provided the Mac (to me) seems to be the better option. The i3 will have more than enough processing power for your needs and you can always upgrade the RAM yourself. Your mac will easily last for several years and you can always build yourself a new PC on down the line just for funsies.
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Phacade

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robduckyworth View Post
with that iMac, you are effectively getting a cinema display for free.
Another wrinkle. I have one of the absolute best Samsung 23" 1920x1080 flatpanel monitors available already. You can see my internal conflict.

21" 3.6GHz Core i5 iMac "Sputnik" ■ 12GB Crucial RAM ■ Monsoon flat-panel speakers ■ HP P1006 LaserJet printer ■ Full Keyboard ■ Canoscan 9000F flatbed scanner ■ ...and then of course me (being a narcissist, I consider this to be the most important mod).
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MYmacROX

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phacade View Post
Another wrinkle. I have one of the absolute best Samsung 23" 1920x1080 flatpanel monitors available already. You can see my internal conflict.
But then you would have dual displays and would be able to increase your productivity.

Orrrr... you can sell the Samsung and help defray cost of your iMac.

Either way, you WIN!

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bentharbour

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phacade View Post
Another wrinkle. I have one of the absolute best Samsung 23" 1920x1080 flatpanel monitors available already. You can see my internal conflict.
...you could get the 27" with 2560 x 1440 haha

 15" MBPr (2012): 2.3Ghz i7, 8GB RAM, 256 GB SSD  24" Apple Cinema Display  iPhone 5 16GB Black  iPad 2 16GB White
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Phacade

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bentharbour View Post
...you could get the 27" with 2560 x 1440 haha
I would. Seriously I would...but thirteen hundred frogbacks simply won't cover it.

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