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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?" :)

Help me plan a new Mac-based home setup...


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jtree1000

 
Member Since: Aug 21, 2013
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My first post here - I'm looking for some advice as I consider a number of options for overhauling my current computer setup at home. I've pretty much decided (about 95% certain) that I'm going to switch from PC to Mac, but I have an odd arrangement. Here are the details of my current setup, and then what I'm thinking about going to next.

Current:
  • In a spare bedroom, I have my one & only Windows desktop PC (a Dell business unit that's about 5 years old). It has several external hard drives connected, as well as an older inkjet printer.
  • I then have a specialty Keyboard-Video-Mouse 'extender' box connected that allows me to run over Cat5 cable a duplicate set of controls and video from the bedroom into the living room.
  • This connects to the receiver box for the extender setup, which in turn plugs into a monitor and to USB-based wireless keyboard and mouse. This allows me to sit in the living room and see/control the main PC without having to setup & run a second PC (with the extra electricity and noise - most Windows boxes are quite loud). It also allows me to multitask - watching TV while surfing on the web, answering email, etc. I know that this is typically the area for laptops, but I generally don't like to use a laptop for extended periods.

I'd like to keep this general functionality (main computer with higher power - CPU, memory - in the back bedroom; full-sized monitor, keyboard and mouse [or magic trackpad?] in the living room in a semi-permanent configuration), with the living room setup possibly tweaked to include a second computer and also a connection into my home theater. So this is what I was thinking:

My thoughts:
  • Spare Bedroom: iMac - not sure about 21" or 27", upgrade to 16 GB RAM, possibly go with SSD or Fusion drive
  • Living Room: Either 21" iMac or a notebook connected to a Thunderbolt display (to allow for more options); possibly add an Apple TV to mirror desktop on TV
  • Network: I've been thinking about moving my data over to a NAS, like a Synology DS1512+, which would alleviate the issue of where I plug in an external hard drive

Some questions: in general, would you recommend even looking at a Mac Mini for the Living Room computer? It would mostly be for general internet usage and audio/video playback, but I could see myself possibly doing some light gaming. I would also look at doing something like VNC across the network to the 'main' computer, so I could access that machine's more powerful setup for quick tasks (like a fast video encode).

I'd appreciate any feedback - given that what I've seen online seems to be pointing towards some hardware refreshes potentially coming from Apple later this Fall, I do plan to wait to see what might happen before pulling the trigger. Thanks for any input.
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Stretch

 
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Member Since: Jan 13, 2007
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Mac Specs: 15in i7 MacBook Pro, 8GB RAM, 120GB SSD, 500GB HD

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I do something similar, just with a laptop. My main machine is a early 2011 MacBook Pro. Under my TV sits a 2009 Mac Mini, connected to a Drobo. My Mini acts as my media server and HTPC. For that purpose, the Mini is a perfect candidate.

What kind of gaming are we talking? A Mini will be able to handle some light gaming, but it doesn't have a dedicated graphics card.

Blog and Photo Gallery: http://philolin.me/

Currently running OS X 10.10
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jtree1000

 
Member Since: Aug 21, 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stretch View Post
I do something similar, just with a laptop. My main machine is a early 2011 MacBook Pro. Under my TV sits a 2009 Mac Mini, connected to a Drobo. My Mini acts as my media server and HTPC. For that purpose, the Mini is a perfect candidate.

What kind of gaming are we talking? A Mini will be able to handle some light gaming, but it doesn't have a dedicated graphics card.
I haven't gamed in a while (my current PC is kind of a dog), but I'm interested in getting back into some games that intrigue me - something like The Bureau: XCOM, Ducktales Remastered (I'm old), *maybe* Bioshock Infinite. All of this would depend on having a machine that is capable of playing these games, otherwise I wouldn't bother. I'd probably look around Steam and see what I could get there.

Do you think that for my main 'power' computer (in the setup I described earlier, in the back bedroom), I might go with a MacBook Pro instead of an iMac? Do you see any specific benefits to this?

When I did a side-by-side (or, tab-by-tab) comparison in terms of price and specs, it would be significantly more expensive to get an equivalently spec'd MBPro plus a display than an iMac. Even without the display it's still more expensive (which makes sense, since we're comparing a laptop to a fixed machine). In fact, the more I look at this, I'm starting to lean towards an iMac in both locations.
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Stretch

 
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Member Since: Jan 13, 2007
Location: Central New York
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Mac Specs: 15in i7 MacBook Pro, 8GB RAM, 120GB SSD, 500GB HD

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For your main computer an iMac is a good choice. I used to have one but needed to get a MBP for work for the portability.

Blog and Photo Gallery: http://philolin.me/

Currently running OS X 10.10
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