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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?" :)

What Mac to get as a start?


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FurryPaws

 
Member Since: Oct 23, 2013
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Hey guys,

after ~15 years of Windows, I'd like to make a switch. I love the flexibility and all-around freedom of Windows, I never had any problems with it and I think Windows 7 is a treat, but

a) I'd like to expand my horizon,
b) Garageband looks sweet,
c) Though ludicrously overpriced, I hope a Mac can me save some time working,
d) my desk is a mess, hopin' to remedy that.

What do I use a computer for?

a) working with music, especially guitar tabulature, digital drums, guitar effects
b) playing with music, as in Rocksmith (guitar) and Synthesia (Piano)
c) doing uni stuff
d) watching a couple of pirated TV shows
e) playing the occasional Blizzard game (SC2, D3)

As I spend a lot of time at the uni and usually have a couple of free periods, I need a mobile device. However, that doesn't exactly scream Macbook, because I also use public transport a lot, where an iPad would rule supreme.

Here's what I considered so far:

a) Get a Macbook Air 13 inch, 8 GB Ram (1.126,93 )
b) Get a Macbook Pro Retina 13 inch, (1.314,95 )
c) Get an iMac 21 inch plus an iPad mini 2 (2.000,96 )

The MacMini isn't an option, because you can't get an i5 one with SSD.
The i7 one with Fusion Drive and 8gb RAM goes for 1050 (seriously?) and doesn't even have Haswell yet.

The last option is obviously the most expensive one, but it's definitely the most versatile choice.

Maybe it's irrational to steer away from a laptop as a desktop replacement, but because I have never used one, here are my caveats:

- if you lose it, all your data falls into a stranger's hand
- if you lose it, you're stuck in the digital stone age
- you can't play games for longer periods of time due to ventilation (at home, obviously)
- if one part of the thing is defective, it's impossible to fix by yourself
- it's much less mobile than a tablet
- the screen is tiny, annoying to use for longer periods of time
- constantly connecting and disconnecting cables HAS to be a
+ you have all your data with you at all time
+ you can be almost as productive in the uni as you can be at home
+ they look as nice as a new kitten-puppy-kitten-sandwich

Random rant: what is going on with the prices for minor upgrades? I don't mind paying through the nose for a premium product, but why do people let Apple get away with charging 100 for 4gb piece of RAM? Doesn't that seem absolutely insane? I don't mind that the iPad mini is twice as expensive as the Nexus 7, but why does each upgrade cost you an arm and a leg? 129 more for mobile data? 100 more for 16bg of storage?

Any suggestions as to what I should get?
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mesut

 
Member Since: Sep 09, 2013
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I'm a long time Windows user as well and I just switched to Mac (Got a 4 GB Macbook Air, mid-2013).
Moreover, I switched from desktop to laptop as well.

I am not an expert obviously, so I won't recommend you one of those, but I'll share some of my experiences with you.

I'm not a professional musician but I use Garageband and yes, it is f*** awesome. I love it. I created a backtrack song with the loops the app has and it sounded very professional. It was easy. The next thing I did was to play some solos using my guitar (Not recorded though, just played with it).

If you use tablature, you probably have Guitar Pro in Windows. I was looking for a way to run Guitar Pro for Windows on Mac, but they have it on Mac as well. I have it. GP 6. Pretty much the same with the Windows one.

I had 21" monitor with my desktop. So I thought it would be disappointing to watch movies on a laptop with 13" screen. But it isn't as bad as I thought. I sure miss my 21", but 13" isn't bad at all. But I suggest you get your hands on a 13" and try it for yourself.

If you get a 13" laptop, I don't think you would need a tablet. My Macbook Air is as mobile as any tablets. I mean, you can pull your computer and start doing stuff while waiting for the bus. I do that. But that's a personal thing. I can't use it while I'm on the bus. However, the conditions probably wouldn't let me use a tablet either. I mean, it might be less mobile, but not that much.

If you will have a SSD on the laptop, I guarantee you, you will need an external disk. That's the case with me. But of course you have the option to have the most important ones with you.

Other than these, I agree with your caveats
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FurryPaws

 
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How do you handle all the cable stuff?

You say you use an additional HDD (I think I would have to as well), so you'd have to hook up sound, electricity, the HDD, peripherals and maybe another monitor. Isn't that quite a bother?

Right now I use the desktop-version of Intel's HD 4000 and I reckon I don't want to go lower than that, graphics wise. MBA, MBP and iMac all use the mobile HD 5000, don't they? Can that one compete with the desktop HD 4000?
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mesut

 
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Well, right now I don't have any other peripherals with me other than my external hdd, and you know it's nothing to handle.

While I was playing guitar solo along the track I created, I plugged in a friend's 2.1 sound system.

I have some of the stuff I had with the desktop. I also have a desk for it. So, most of my stuff are kind of fixed on the desk. I mean, I don't move other things like sound and monitor.

But honestly, my whole point on going from desktop to laptop was getting more mobile computing power. Having too much peripherals with you is not mobile for me. I have an extension cable for the electricity which reaches to the desk that I keep my other hardware. So, if they need electricity, I plug them to the same electric outlet which I connect my MBA.

I don't think I helped you with managing cables, but that's my situation.

You know, Intel told that HD5000 would be more powerful than HD4000. But I don't know about that. I am not sure if they have any difference between desktop and mobile versions of the CPU and graphic cards. Because I had a powerful graphics card on my desktop. I cannot compare. But my Macbook Air, which is a 13" mid-2013 has HD5000 (1.3 GHz i5 - and 4 GB of RAM). I think they all do now.
But if I would have to give you an idea, I can run Tropico 4, Lord of The Rings Battle In The North and Cities XL Platinum (This is via Wineskin - normally it is for Windows, but you can play that using Wineskin). And I am content with the performance of those games.

They have this site for mac games: Mac Games | GameAgent.com You can see if your Mac can run it. Most of the games I cannot play, I can't play them because of my 1.3 GHz processor, which actually can go up to 2.6 if needed. So, I guess it looks promising.

I had Diablo III for Windows and loved it. But I didn't try to run it on Mac using CrossOver or Wineskin. And I think I'd have to buy it for Mac although I have Windows version. So, I did not buy it and didn't even tried.
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FurryPaws

 
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You can just download the Mac-version for free from Battle.net.
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pigoo3

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FurryPaws View Post
Maybe it's irrational to steer away from a laptop as a desktop replacement, but because I have never used one, here are my caveats:
I understand that you are new to Macintosh computers...so here's one thing to know. The only "true/traditional" desktop computer Apple currently sells is the Mac Pro. Mac-Mini's and iMac's are just basically laptop computers. The only difference is...a Mac-Mini has no display and iMac's are large. But inside...they are basically laptop computers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FurryPaws View Post
- if you lose it, all your data falls into a stranger's hand
Ok...then just treat it like a desktop...and never leave home with it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FurryPaws View Post
- if you lose it, you're stuck in the digital stone age
Ok...then just treat it like a desktop...and never leave home with it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FurryPaws View Post
- you can't play games for longer periods of time due to ventilation (at home, obviously)
Not correct.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FurryPaws View Post
- if one part of the thing is defective, it's impossible to fix by yourself
Mac-Mini's and iMac's are the same way.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FurryPaws View Post
- it's much less mobile than a tablet
Maybe so...but a laptop is still more mobile than a Mac-Mini or an iMac. And tablets are still not a 100% laptop replacement.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FurryPaws View Post
- the screen is tiny, annoying to use for longer periods of time
Then get a larger external monitor when a larger display is needed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FurryPaws View Post
- constantly connecting and disconnecting cables HAS to be a pain
Maybe so. What are you going to be plugging into a laptop?

Quote:
Originally Posted by FurryPaws View Post
+ you have all your data with you at all time
Is this a bad thing? If you have a backup...no problem. Plus like I mentioned above...just treat a laptop like a desktop...and don't take it away from home.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FurryPaws View Post
+ you can be almost as productive in the uni as you can be at home
Great!

Quote:
Originally Posted by FurryPaws View Post
Random rant: what is going on with the prices for minor upgrades?
Then upgrade it yourself.

- Nick

- Computer slow, too many "beachballs", read this: Beachballs
- Computer seems slower than it used to? Read this for some speedup tips: Speedup
- Almost full hard drive? Some solutions. Out of Space
- Apple Battery Info. Battery
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mesut

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FurryPaws View Post
You can just download the Mac-version for free from Battle.net.
Didn't know that! I'll free some space and will look to get it.
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MacInWin

 
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I wouldn't classify the iMac in the laptop category. It doesn't have a battery, is portable only in the sense that a cast-iron stove with handles is portable, and isn't designed to go anywhere but on a desktop. True, it's not a Mac Pro, but it's definitely not laptop.

I think the new MBPs are a better choice than the same size MBAs. And Nick is right, tablets, good as they are, are no substitute for a true laptop.

Now for my own solution I went with a BIG laptop, the MBP 17" size, because I wanted the screen real estate when on the road. My wife has a 13" MBP, and while it works fine as a small emergency backup laptop, I don't like the size of the screen for any long term serious work. On the road, all I have to carry is the laptop and power supply, along with an Ethernet cable for those hotels/motels stuck in the 90's who don't have WiFi. At home, I leave the power cable and Ethernet cable in the bag, plop the laptop on my desk and connect two things--the two ends of the cable that goes to my Thunderbolt display. One is the MagSafe power connector and the other is the Thunderbolt connector. All my local drives are connected to the display ports and the display is plugged into the mains and supplies the power through the aforementioned cable to the laptop.

So you may want to look at some solution that would avoid as many cables as you can. Even a USB hub, with your various peripherals that require connection, could be a solution to avoid the snake pit of wires on the desktop. Plug the peripherals into the hub, have one cable for laptop to hub and when you get home, you have two things to do--power and that one cable. Invest in a second power supply and put that one on the desk and you can leave the traveling one in your bag. All you have to move is the laptop!

- Jake
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pigoo3

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MacInWin View Post
I wouldn't classify the iMac in the laptop category. It doesn't have a battery, is portable only in the sense that a cast-iron stove with handles is portable, and isn't designed to go anywhere but on a desktop. True, it's not a Mac Pro, but it's definitely not laptop.
You're taking my classification of an iMac is like a laptop too literally. If you look at an iMac...from a hardware perspective it is just like a laptop in many ways:

- you cannot upgrade the cpu
- you cannot upgrade the graphics
- the graphics are of the "mobile" variety (just like laptops)
- iMac's no longer have an optical drive

And how an iMac is NOT like a "traditional desktop" or a "Windows desktop" computer:

- the cpu in an iMac is small & doesn't require a large heatsink (like "traditional" desktops)
- an iMac doesn't have PCI expansion slots
- some of the new iMac's cannot have the ram expanded

The OP was concerned about fixing or repairing the Macintosh computer that they may decide to purchase. And was concerned about the "lack of" repairability of a laptop. And my point is/was...when it comes to fixing or repairing a Macintosh computer...there really isn't much difference between an Apple laptop, a Mac-Mini, or an iMac.

Lastly. Remove the larger display from an iMac...shrink down the iMac case...and what do you have...basically a Mac-Mini. Add a display and a battery to a Mac-Mini...and what do you have...a laptop.

Yes...if a computer sits on a desktop...yes we can call it a desktop computer. But when you compare the:

- internal components
- the lack of upgradeablility
- and the lack of repairability

...of a Mac-Mini. an iMac, and Apple laptops. There isn't a whole lot of difference. And that's my main message to the OP.

- Nick

- Computer slow, too many "beachballs", read this: Beachballs
- Computer seems slower than it used to? Read this for some speedup tips: Speedup
- Almost full hard drive? Some solutions. Out of Space
- Apple Battery Info. Battery
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MacInWin

 
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I guess it's all in semantics. In the old days, when Osborn and Compaq first came out with "luggable" computers, the novelty was they could be lugged around at all. They still needed to be plugged in, so they weren't able to be used just anywhere. As luggables got smaller, they were called laptops because with internal batteries they could be used in your lap (although that got pretty warm very quickly). To me, the iMac is in the AIO (all in one) category because it's definitely NOT luggable or portable and requires external power. The innards are similar in power and upgradability to laptops, but that is a separate discussion.

What laptops struggle with is power consumption. That's why laptops lag behind desktops in size/power of the CPU. Intel is getting better a producing low power consumption chips very quickly after the release of the latest CPUs, probably as a result of increasing demand for laptops over desktops. One day they may shift to releasing the low power chips first, then the desktop versions.

But I'm going to stick to my definition of laptop as something more portable than an Aga with handles!

- Jake
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pigoo3

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MacInWin View Post
I guess it's all in semantics.
OP has 15 years of Windows computer experience...and I'm guessing little or no Macintosh computer experience.

My main point to the OP was to don't cross a Macintosh laptop off of the list as a possible purchase due repairability/fixability concerns.

This is why I was calling an iMac basically just like a laptop. When it comes to repairability/fixability...there's not much difference between a Mac-Mini, iMac, or MacBook Pro.

Especially compared to what the OP is familiar with in terms of Windows desktop computers.

- Nick

- Computer slow, too many "beachballs", read this: Beachballs
- Computer seems slower than it used to? Read this for some speedup tips: Speedup
- Almost full hard drive? Some solutions. Out of Space
- Apple Battery Info. Battery
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MacInWin

 
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Now THAT I can definitely agree about! iMacs are not repairable or configurable by the end user, particularly the low end ones. And if it came to a MBA vs MBP, I'd take MBP every day--more powerful CPU, just as portable. That is, to me, a no brainer.

- Jake
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Exodist

 
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@ OP, You say your not interested in a Mac Mini due to i5 version not having an SSD. You do realize that you can still upgrade the Mac Mini's HDD and RAM later on. Now while they are not Haswell yet. These were just refreshed in Fall 2012, about a year ago. So normal 18 month cycle puts these at about another 6 months before they get updated.

That said, if you are moving from a PC desktop. Your existing keyboard, mouse, display can all be used on your Mac Mini to help with the transistion.

Also to point out about the upgrade-it-later suggestion. You can buy a fairly cheap dual drive kit and a new SSD later on so you can put your System on the SSD and keep your movies and music on the older 1TB drive that comes with the system. And in regards to upgrading the RAM, you can get Mac certified RAM from other suppliers like Crucial for less then half the price then the package price from Apple Store.

In regards to software. If you buy any new Mac, to the best of my knowledge they all come with iLife (iMovie, Garage Band, iPhoto) and now even come with Pages and Numbers (productivity software). Not to mention all the other software that comes with OSX Mavericks that the other OS Company would only dream of giving away for free..


Just food for thought..


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FurryPaws

 
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Upgrading the MacMini brings it perilously close to the price range of an iMac (considering peripherals and screen). The entry-level one costs 600 € with education discount, add to that 200 € for an SSD, ~140 for peripherals, 50 € for RAM and another 200 € for a screen, which brings you to roughly 1200 €. I'd rather get an iMac for 100 € more, which then comes equipped with Haswell and looks a hell of a lot nicer.

The question still is: Macbook Air, Macbook Pro or iMac?
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pigoo3

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FurryPaws View Post
Upgrading the MacMini brings it perilously close to the price range of an iMac (considering peripherals and screen). The entry-level one costs 600 with education discount, add to that 200 for an SSD, ~140 for peripherals, 50 for RAM and another 200 for a screen, which brings you to roughly 1200 . I'd rather get an iMac for 100 more, which then comes equipped with Haswell and looks a hell of a lot nicer.
Yes...this is always the risk when upgrading a Mac-Mini. And I try to make folks aware of this as much as possible.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FurryPaws View Post
The question still is: Macbook Air, Macbook Pro or iMac?
And the question back to you is...do you need portability or not?

- If not...then the answer is easy...get an iMac.
- If yes...then we've narrowed things down to the MBP or MBA.

* Nick

- Computer slow, too many "beachballs", read this: Beachballs
- Computer seems slower than it used to? Read this for some speedup tips: Speedup
- Almost full hard drive? Some solutions. Out of Space
- Apple Battery Info. Battery
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