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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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reverendmedia

 
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Long time lurker, first time poster.

I'm sure that if I looked hard enough I could find my answer to this, but I felt that ultimately, a directly tailored response would be more time-efficient.

So I hope it's ok if this question is going over old and tired ground.

(Mods, sorry if this is in the wrong section!)

Basically, my G5 has finally given up the ghost. After about a year or so of freezes, kernel panics and no restart except through fsck in single user, the workhorse has finally got to go to the knacker's yard. (7 years hard service is pretty good though I think.)

What should I get next?

My G5 was a dual 2.3ghz powerpc with 4.5gb RAM - when it worked well, it worked very well.

Basically, I work with large volumes of raw files and tiffs, approx 20mb and 144mb (16bit) respectively.

(I will eventually come to use HD footage, but not seriously for few years yet.)

My G5 was ok with .dng files, but, towards the end of it's life, I found it crashed when I opened too many at one (say 3-5 in one go).

I'd like a Mac with spec enough to cope with Canon .cr2 files without any discernable slowdown. I want to have my browser, vlc, dreamweaver, indesign and photoshop all open at the same time and I don't want any lag.

Like I said, my G5, at it's best, just fell short of this ideal. I'd like to have this plus a little extra speed.

What should I get? (I don't need a monitor.)

Money is an issue. Basically, I need to acheive the above ideal,but at the cheapest. (I'm not concerned with getting the best for the cash, I just need enough for the longest for the cash.)

Will a new Mac Mini stuffed full of ram be enough for me? What kind of life span can I expect from it?

Or should I hold out for a 2008 Mac Pro on ebay? If so what spec am I likely to need? (I'm sure I don't need a 12-Core, but will a xeon dual core be sufficiently superior to my old powerpc processor such that I'll see a big difference?)

Are they likely to have, like the G5, a life span of 7 years? Would it be more prudent to invest in a newer machine?

(I suppose that not everyone believes in planned obsolescence, but from what I've read, the people that say "I've had my Mac for a decade and it still runs like a dream" are the exception rather than the rule.)

Any/all opinions welcomed. Thanks in advance,

Jimmy
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jjq224

 
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Well, the first question is this - are you looking for a desktop or a laptop?

I work in a tech support call center that has roll-around carts with equipment on them for the techs to have hands on access to. There are 20 carts - each with a regular PC and a Mac-mini - along with the regular hardware necessary (scanners, printers, MultiFunctions, etc). There are 200 people using these carts from 10am to 10pm five days a week and they are constantly plugged in (they also are plugged into a UPS). They have been this way for over a year and not one Mac-mini has needed to be replaced. I doubt you are going to beat on one as much as we do. The Mac-mini is a great little machine.

As for laptops, the 13" Macbook pro has received AWESOME write-ups in both Macworld and MacLife. I just bought one two weeks ago and LOVE it (three weeks after I bought my first Apple computer - the iMac).

As I bought the iMac in March and have never been happier. Like you, money was the issue, so I stuck with the base, low-end model. Luckily, I have over 10 terabytes in external storage so that wasn't an issue.

Oh, BTW, the call center I work for is Canon - we have no issues running .cr2 files on any of the Mac-minis.

In a world without walls and fences - who needs windows and gates?!
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reverendmedia

 
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Thanks jjq224. I want a desktop. (I have a monitor, so don't think I'll need an iMac.)

So that's a +1 for the Mac Mini then!

Looks like older models are going cheap: APPLE MAC MINI 2.53Ghz CORE 2 DUO 4GB RAM 1TB DRIVE | eBay UK

What do you think? Will this trump my G5 in terms of processing power and speed?
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baggss

 
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The Mini would be better than your G5 but frankly the C2D line is past it's prime. If you want something that will continue to meet your needs for the next 5 to 7 years you probably want to invest in a MacPro of an iMac. I know you already have a monitor but an i5 or i7 iMac will run circles around the G5 and will be viable for years to come. Pretty much any MacPro will do the same, but the price is a bit higher.


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jjq224

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reverendmedia View Post
Thanks jjq224. I want a desktop. (I have a monitor, so don't think I'll need an iMac.)

So that's a +1 for the Mac Mini then!

Looks like older models are going cheap: APPLE MAC MINI 2.53Ghz CORE 2 DUO 4GB RAM 1TB DRIVE | eBay UK

What do you think? Will this trump my G5 in terms of processing power and speed?
Honestly, it'll probably be about the same. While the general architecture of all hardware has changed in the last 7 years, the two are basically the same (ie: dual core processor - going from 2.3 to 2.53; not exactly a huge jump).

I was going to buy a Mac mini when my PC crashed, but my monitor is over 10 years old and wouldn't work. So we went with the iMac. But if you don't need the monitor, I would say the Mac mini is the way to go . Many of the "Mac" techs here highly recommended it when I was looking (before my PC died).

I assume by your link that you are in the UK. Head to an Apple store and talk to a genius. They'll be more than happy to compare the two for you.

In a world without walls and fences - who needs windows and gates?!
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TattooedMac

 
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Check out the Apple UK Refurb Store. They have only MacMini Server running SL atm.

Cheers

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bentharbour

 
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Let me offer an observation, the iMAc 27" display is blisteringly beautiful. It is by far the best display I have EVER seen.

If you decide to go down the iMac route, the display makes it an incredibly sound purchase.

 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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reverendmedia

 
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Thank you all. All of this is really useful.

Tbh, I may avoid the Mac Store - both stores are a bit like zoos on the weekends!

One way of doing things might be to go for the cheapest Mini possible as a short term stop-gap measure.

My G5 performed relatively satisfactorily for my needs. So theoretically, if I max the RAM out on a mini, I might get some of the performance improvement I want? (And I'll have the added bonus of having a machine with DIMM ports and a logic board that won't crap out for a couple of years......)

(Just researched a bit - are Mac Minis 'RAM upgradeable' in the same way as Mac Pros? (i.e. open it up and plug it in?) Saw a page that seemedto suggest the only way to upgrade an existing machine is to open it up with a putty knife??)

Re: iMacs - is the i3 worth it as a significant step up from my G5? Decent price here: Refurbished iMac 21.5-inch 3.06GHz Intel Core i3 processor - Apple Store (UK)
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TattooedMac

 
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If you used the iFixIt for the MacMini teardown, then they are the people to watch do it. Yes a putty knife or similar would be sufficient
That iMac from the refurb store is a good bargain. If you can get a few more $ together then the iMac is the way to go. Im in the process in getting a MacMini to use as my media Server . . . Cant wait to hook it up to my 46"

Cheers

CogFrog Studio's ~ Photography, Apps and Web Development
Dont forget to use the Reputation System if someone has helped you out !!!
Arguing with a zealot is only slightly easier than tunneling through a mountain with your forehead!!!!!
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baggss

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reverendmedia;1233639Re: iMacs - is the i3 worth it as a significant step up from my G5? Decent price here: [url=http://tinyurl.com/6268knp
Refurbished iMac 21.5-inch 3.06GHz Intel Core i3 processor - Apple Store (UK)[/url]

YES! I just recently moved to an i3 iMac (see my mac spec to the left) and it was a significant step up from my 2.5Ghz Quad G5 PowerMac.


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The iMacs have JUST been upgraded with all the latest tech, and represent an improvement of over *70 PERCENT* over the last Core2Duo models, and that's just measuring processor speed (they also use faster RAM, a better video card and so on and so on).

A Mac mini is a solid choice for a low-budget option, but not a sound choice for a long-term investment (at least not at the present time). The iMac is a FAR superior choice at the present time in every possible respect except size, and represents a FAR better value for money spent at this particular moment.

The Mac Pros are due for an upgrade this year, but nothing you've described remotely approaches the need for one. When you see that LED-backlit 27" screen your eyes will bug out of your head and your pulse will quicken.

Seriously, go visit a store and ask for a RAW file demo. Or just take a thumb drive with some RAW images and have them show you around.
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reverendmedia

 
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@chas_m - thanks for the precise answer.

Thanks all for your input. I hadn't really paid any attention to mac technological advances, and I've had to take a crash catch-up course when the G5 died - all of your replies have been a massive help (and short-cut!). Many thanks!

I'm almost decided on the iMac now I suppose. If it is a better futureproofing option as well as an improvement in speed/power, then it sounds like a no-brainer at 200 (approx) more than the Mac Mini.

I can see lots of advantages, not least the backlit LED screen. I doubt I'll be able to stretch to the 27", but the 21" for around 800 it seems achievable.

A couple of questions - will I be able to upgrade the hard drive at a later date (500gb to 1tb)? Are iMacs generally easily upgradable? (I understand that RAM is easily installed.)

The i3s don't seem to feature on the mac shop site, are they being phased out?

Cheers,

Jimmy
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chas_m

 
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1. Will you be able to upgrade the (internal) HD at a later date? Yes, if you're willing to do a bit of labour (and are out of warranty), but you'd really be smarter to put the 1TB in at the time of ordering, and use external storage for expandability. Thunderbolt will -- in time -- make the need to replace the internal for anything other than mechanical reasons a non-issue. In fact, FW800 makes this kind of a moot point as well. The only reason one would have to upgrade the internal really is to either replace it with an SSD or to replace it because it failed.

2. Are iMacs easily upgradable (beyond RAM)? Internally, no they aren't. You're "stuck" with the processor, the graphics card etc. About the only thing you can upgrade internally is the hard and optical drives, and it's a little bit of a job (compared to, say, doing the same thing on a G5 tower). But again, you're making an erroneous assumption that you'll need to upgrade during the life cycle of this machine. You won't.

3. i3s are gone. It's all QUAD-CORE i5 and i7s now. This means the only way to get an i3 from Apple is to buy a refurb.
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If you really want Mac, I can give you http link to get your Mac with a student discount.
In the UK including students free Apple Care it would be smth. around 27% less of regular price.
Just prompt me privately.

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reverendmedia

 
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Sorry for the necromancy! (I dislike unfinished threads.....!)

Basically, I bought a new i5 27".

The money issue ended up being outweighed by futureproofing considerations. In terms of longevity and eventual resale, I ultimately decided that, on balance, the 'best' option was to buy a new machine.

I was able to sell my dead G5 + monitor for 250, which, according to a small amount of research, was a relatively decent price. Most (if not all) companies I spoke to didn't even want the G5 for parts. The price went towards the cost of the i5. This, coupled with a discount from a connection within the local businesses, offset against the regular price of the i5 brought the final outlay to just over 900. Which was nice!

I've had a chance to try various workflows on it.

Handling RAW cr2 files - excellent. The speed is unprecedented! It's nice to know that I'll have to up my keyboard shortcut/photoshop action game to keep pace! Being able to open 1/2gb's worth of cr2 files with preview in an instant is delicious - no longer will I need to save raw+jpeg on my flash cards! (New operating software helps too! I was running 10.4.11....)

Where I have noticed a slight 'lack' is in scanning (epson scan) and opening and saving files in preview:

I'll have photoshop running a filter on a 300mb file, chrome open, vlc playing some music, epson scan saving a file of 300mb (max res) and preview saving a file of 300mb.

In this instance (possibly the heaviest workload I could throw at it) the machine clogged up a little; multiple spinning wheels, beach balls etc. I'm not sure if Preview is the weak link or not? (I haven't checked it in activity monitor, but from experience, it has typically produced slow-down problems on my previous machines.) I suppose I spent 45-60 seconds or so waiting for everything to finish saving/running etc before I had control back. Don't get me wrong - I'm not complaining! It's a huge improvement on what I was used to.

I suppose extra RAM will speed this up (I'm on the default 4gb). Maybe next year!

The 27" LED screen is, as said by many, many people, amazing! 1080p movies look and run flawlessly. Photos are very crisp. I'm thinking my retouching workflow will have to be focussed considerably: it's almost as if there is more information in the file!

Suffice to say that this is a huge step up and hopefully will increase my work efficiency substantially. All I need to do now is upgrade the actual work load itself to go with the new machine! (Easier said than done.....!)

Many, many thanks to all the friendly and professional advice from the posters on this thread. Your help was instrumental in helping me choose my next machine - the results have more than justified your expertise!

All the best,

Jimmy
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