Taking the plunge. Buying a Mac this spring. So what should I get?

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So I primarily run Windows on my PC (if you hadn't already guessed), and it's a Core i7 870 (2.93GHz) 4GB RAM / 240GB SSD / Nvidia 9600GT which is starting to show it's age and I'm in need of a new one.

The debale of Windows 8 had me toying with the idea of switching to Mac, and so I dabbled into the Hackintosh scene for a bit and this was mainly to see if I could do what I do on Windows on OSX and get myself acclimated etc etc. And having done that I've decided to buy a Macintosh in May/June of the coming year.

I'm not much of a gamer these days and so my primary tasks are video editing, audio mixing, and 3D rendering using Sony Vegas*, Adobe Premiere, Adobe After Effects, Audacity, Adobe Audition, and Blender.

As you could imagine I'm looking for something with power at around $2,000

Basically, I'm looking for a current generation i7 with 16GB of RAM and at least 240GB of SSD storage with dual monitors. 2x 27" monitors would be nice, but I'd be happy to stick with my 2x 24" monitors for a little while longer.

I've done a little looking and I saw that the 27" iMac meets these specs quite nicely (with the exception of RAM). However the 15" Macbook Pros don't seem to bad either. Granted I would have to purchase 2x 27" monitors later (instead of just one), but I would have advantage of mobility which is something that would be nice because I'd be able to work on my projects while away from home.

So from a performance perspective; would a 15" quad core Macbook pro be that much different than a quad core iMac?

Also if someone could turn me to some reputable vendors that sell refurbed Macs at a nice discount, it would be appreciated. FWIW, I really don't care about warranties as I'm fully capable of fixing a variety of electronics from TVs, laptops, MP3 Players, etc.

FWIW: I can carry my 240GB SSD over to my new Mac if not equipped.

*I understand that Sony Vegas doesn't run on OSX, but there's always bootcamp and kdenlive
 
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pigoo3

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And having done that I've decided to buy a Macintosh in May/June of the coming year.

That's a longgggg time from now. ANYTHING can happen between now & then!;)

So from a performance perspective; would a 15" quad core Macbook pro be that much different than a quad core iMac?

Depends on the models you are thinking of/comparing. Biggest difference would be if the model(s) had dedicated graphics hardware or not.

Also if someone could turn me to some reputable vendors that sell refurbed Macs at a nice discount, it would be appreciated. FWIW…

Best place is the Apple refurbished section.

...I really don't care about warranties as I'm fully capable of fixing a variety of electronics from TVs, laptops, MP3 Players, etc.

Yes you do!;) In the "Mac World"…you don't fix/repair things…you replace bad parts with good parts (parts swap). And "good parts" are ALWAYS expensive.

AND…when logic boards are not repairable…and replacement logic boards can cost $500+…you'll be glad you have Applecare!:)

- Nick
 

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Nick covered it very well.

Unless you need portability, get the IMac. You can get better graphic hardware and the RAM can be upgraded to at least 32 GB in the future where the Retina MBP's have soldered in RAM.
 
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That's a longgggg time from now. ANYTHING can happen between now & then!;)
That's true but I'm basing this around a timeframe in regards to how soon I can pay down my CC for another large purchase.
That being said, my budget is modest and it doesn't account for overtime and bonuses so if all goes well I could be ready as early as March. If not than definitely May/June

Depends on the models you are thinking of/comparing. Biggest difference would be if the model(s) had dedicated graphics hardware or not.
Well I did a bit more research and it seems that the current line has the i7s delegated strictly to the Mac Pros. (which is dissapointing).

However I found this in the refurb section.
Refurbished 27-inch iMac 3.5GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 - Apple Store (U.S.)

And it's equipped with an i7-4770 which is no slouch and it seems to fit the criteria that I'm looking for.



Yes you do!;) In the "Mac World"…you don't fix/repair things…you replace bad parts with good parts (parts swap). And "good parts" are ALWAYS expensive.

AND…when logic boards are not repairable…and replacement logic boards can cost $500+…you'll be glad you have Applecare!:)

- Nick

Well when I say "fix" I generally am referring to "part replacement" which I'm quite good at. Though I have been burned a couple of times, I can still confidently say that I've saved far more money by attempting to fix my own problems than what I would have spent had I invested in extended warranties, certified techs, or replacements.
Though I get where you're coming from and the main reason I'm migrating to Mac is because I'm tired of all the hassle and I just want things to work. So that being said I'll consider your advice. :)
 

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That's true but I'm basing this around a timeframe in regards to how soon I can pay down my CC for another large purchase.
That being said, my budget is modest and it doesn't account for overtime and bonuses so if all goes well I could be ready as early as March. If not than definitely May/June

Ohh…I totally understand why it may take until May/June to gather the resources to make a large purchase such as a new Apple computer!:)

But…this purchase is 5-6 months in the future. Generally speaking…when folks ask what Apple computer to buy…they're ready to head to the Apple Store tomorrow…or within 1-2 weeks to make the purchase.

So a lot can happen in your life in 5-6 months that may change things (I could list MANY things that may impact this purchase). In fact…in 5-6 months…Apple could release a bunch of new models…which may completely change the direction you want to go.

The best thing to do is. When the May/June timeframe comes around...and you're ready to buy…let's "reopen" this conversation.:)

Well I did a bit more research and it seems that the current line has the i7s delegated strictly to the Mac Pros. (which is disappointing).

I'm not sure what you mean. i7 cpu's can be found in current:

- Upgraded 13" MacBook Pro's
- 15" MacBook Pro's
- Upgraded 21.5" iMac's
- Upgraded 27" iMac's
- Upgraded Mac-Mini's
- Mac Pro's (like you mentioned)

Well when I say "fix" I generally am referring to "part replacement" which I'm quite good at. Though I have been burned a couple of times, I can still confidently say that I've saved far more money by attempting to fix my own problems than what I would have spent had I invested in extended warranties, certified techs, or replacements.

Great…I totally understand where you are coming from.:) But if you've primarily been a Windows/Win-Tel computer user…I'm just trying to explain the way the "Apple World" works. It works differently than the "Windows World".

In the "Apple World" replacement parts are NOT cheap! Especially if the computer being worked on is newer. Even replacement logic boards on a 5-7 year-old Mac (in many cases) will cost more than buying the equivalent 100% working model. And on a newer computer…the costs are even higher.

The bottom line…no matter how good you are at replacing good parts for bad parts. It can still be expensive to repair a faulty Mac.

I'm not saying you NEED to buy Extended Applecare…just making you aware that don't expect repairing a Mac to be just like repairing a generic Windows box.

And (just so you know)…every new or refurbished computer purchased from Apple automatically comes with 12 months of Applecare.:)

- Nick
 

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I recently had this conversation with my son who also has his own monitors. He is a sound engineer and a long time Mac user. This is what he said, "I'm going with 2012 Mac Mini, one with a quad i7 (2.3 or 2.6), not to save money, but because the 2014 model is actually FAR slower, more expensive and the RAM and hard drive can't be user upgraded".
Just food for thought there, I know he has done his homework so you might want to check his observations. Could save you some money.;D
 
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Ohh…I totally understand why it may take until May/June to gather the resources to make a large purchase such as a new Apple computer!:)

But…this purchase is 5-6 months in the future. Generally speaking…when folks ask what Apple computer to buy…they're ready to head to the Apple Store tomorrow…or within 1-2 weeks to make the purchase.
I generally like to think ahead when it comes to this sorta thing. Especially considering that I don't keep up with the latest and greatest computer hardware like I used to so in that sense, I like to get and idea as to different CPUs/GPUs compare etc etc.

So a lot can happen in your life in 5-6 months that may change things (I could list MANY things that may impact this purchase). In fact…in 5-6 months…Apple could release a bunch of new models…which may completely change the direction you want to go.

The best thing to do is. When the May/June timeframe comes around...and you're ready to buy…let's "reopen" this conversation.:)

That is true. I can say with near certainty that I'll have the funds available by May/June. But I'm really not familiar with Apple's release cycles regarding macs and newer models could change my direction.


I'm not sure what you mean. i7 cpu's can be found in current:

- Upgraded 13" MacBook Pro's
- 15" MacBook Pro's
- Upgraded 21.5" iMac's
- Upgraded 27" iMac's
- Upgraded Mac-Mini's
- Mac Pro's (like you mentioned)

Well I looked around at the apple store online and I only saw Core i5 equipped iMacs. Perhaps that wasn't their full line.
But an i7 Mac Mini.... sounds interesting :)... so long as it's quad core


Great…I totally understand where you are coming from.:) But if you've primarily been a Windows/Win-Tel computer user…I'm just trying to explain the way the "Apple World" works. It works differently than the "Windows World".

In the "Apple World" replacement parts are NOT cheap! Especially if the computer being worked on is newer. Even replacement logic boards on a 5-7 year-old Mac (in many cases) will cost more than buying the equivalent 100% working model. And on a newer computer…the costs are even higher.

The bottom line…no matter how good you are at replacing good parts for bad parts. It can still be expensive to repair a faulty Mac.

I'm not saying you NEED to buy Extended Applecare…just making you aware that don't expect repairing a Mac to be just like repairing a generic Windows box.

And (just so you know)…every new or refurbished computer purchased from Apple automatically comes with 12 months of Applecare.:)

- Nick


No doubt that it is expensive but my skills go beyond just repairing generic PC parts. I've successfully replaced parts on many laptops, game consoles (replacing an optical drive on an XBOX360 is an absolute nightmare!), a couple of TVs and a smartphone which require proprietary components much like a Mac.

Although I did end up breaking a Galaxy S3 trying to replace a screen, but smartphones are EXTREMELY fragile when disassembled and I make no guarantees on my work when it comes to those.

But I'll bookmark this thread and I'll bump it when the time comes. Any other suggestions are appreciated.
 
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I recently had this conversation with my son who also has his own monitors. He is a sound engineer and a long time Mac user. This is what he said, "I'm going with 2012 Mac Mini, one with a quad i7 (2.3 or 2.6), not to save money, but because the 2014 model is actually FAR slower, more expensive and the RAM and hard drive can't be user upgraded".

Just so it's clear. The 2014 Mac-Mini's are "far slower" because Apple doesn't offer a quad-core 2014 Mac-Mini (just 2 cores unlike the 2012 mini's).

Geekbench cpu scores aren't out yet for 2014 Mac-Mini's...but I'm willing to bet that on a "per-core" basis...the 2014 Mac-Mini's will be faster. This is important since...if someone doesn't have software that takes advantage of all 4-cores...then the "per-core" performance can be very important.

If let's say we are comparing 2012 and 2014 Mini's...and each unit is doing "stuff" that only uses 2-cores...then the per-core performance is much more important. In other words (if the per core cpu performace is better with 2014 mini's)...then the 2-core performance on 2014 mini's will be better than the 2-core performance of 2012 Mini's.

Secondly. The Iris graphics hardware of 2014 mini's is supposed to be MUCH better than the graphics hardware of 2012 mini's. And with the way things have been going the past few years...graphics hardware improvements can be more important than cpu speed improvements.

But...if someone defintiely needs 4-cores...the 2012 mini's are probably a better choice.

Of course I do agree...the upgradeability of the 2012 Mini's is nice (if someone actually takes advantage of this feature while they own the mini...many people don't).

- Nick
 
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I recently had this conversation with my son who also has his own monitors. He is a sound engineer and a long time Mac user. This is what he said, "I'm going with 2012 Mac Mini, one with a quad i7 (2.3 or 2.6), not to save money, but because the 2014 model is actually FAR slower, more expensive and the RAM and hard drive can't be user upgraded".
Just food for thought there, I know he has done his homework so you might want to check his observations. Could save you some money.;D

Again which is why I like to start the search process earlier rather than later.

I've used Dell Latitude laptops for years and I've noticed that their "Latest and greatest" isn't always their "greatest" and so it's not surprising that Apple isn't much different from PC manufacturers in that sense. I may not the overclocking/gamer/techie that I used to be and I haven't payed close attention to CPU specs since I built my PC about 5 years ago but I know that I need to do my homework and look at benchmarks etc before I decide on what I want.

I guess to put things simply. I would look around and decide on something now and that decision would be pending whether something better comes along when I'm ready to make the purchase. This would make the decision making process easier in the end because instead of comparing a dozen different models, I'd just be looking at what I decided on vs. whatever Apple has in their new line up (if anything at all)
 

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But I'm really not familiar with Apple's release cycles regarding macs and newer models could change my direction.

It varies...so it's hard to predict what the models to choose from will be in the May/June timeframe.

Well I looked around at the apple store online and I only saw Core i5 equipped iMacs. Perhaps that wasn't their full line.

What you see are just the stock configurations. You need to click on the "Select" button for each model to see what upgrades can be configured at the time of purchase.

No doubt that it is expensive but my skills go beyond just repairing generic PC parts.

I'm sure your parts replacement skills are top-notch (I do as much repairing/parts replacing that is possible myself as well). But having these skills is only part of the equation. It's the price of the replacement parts which is the other part of the equation.

As an example. There's really no point in replacing the logic board in a 3-4 year old computer...if the replacement logic board costs $500 bucks...but the computer (if it was working 100%) is only worth $400 or $450. This (in some cases) is the way the "parts economy" in the "Apple World" works sometimes.

If something like the keyboard, optical drive (if it has one), maybe something to do with the display, various cables, the trackpad, etc. These things can be replaced...some of these parts will be pricey...and some not as much.

But the deal is...MANY problems with Apple computers are associated with the logic board. That's why I'm focusing on the logic board as the one main part (that if it goes bad, damaged, etc.)...in many cases...turns the computer into a:

- doorstop or paperweight
- an eBay parts computer

* Nick
 

pigoo3

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Also be aware. In the "Apple World"...replacement parts are NOT supplied by every "Tom, Dikk, and Harry" part supplier like it is in the "Windows World".

Pretty much the sources of parts are:

- NOT APPLE (cannot buy parts from Apple)
- eBay (used and NOS parts)
- only a select few "Mac" internet stores (which sell used or NOS parts).

The "parts economy" for Apple computers is VERY limited...which keeps prices high.

* Nick
 
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As an example. There's really no point in replacing the logic board in a 3-4 year old computer...if the replacement logic board costs $500 bucks...but the computer (if it was working 100%) is only worth $400 or $450. This (in some cases) is the way the "parts economy" in the "Apple World" works sometimes.
Nick, I've used this logic but recently have become less and less confident it makes sense. What matters is NOT what the value of the device would be, but whether or not the repair cost is worth it. One should not compare the repair cost to the value of the machine because that comparison assumes you plan to sell the repaired machine. In that one case, it does make sense to repair as the sale value would not recover the cost. But in the case of repairing or buying a new machine, one should compare the repair cost with the cost of replacement. If the repaired machine does everything one needs, then the proper path would be to repair, not replace. If, on the other hand, the repaired machine was going to be replaced anyway, then sinking money into an item to be disposed would not make sense, but if you can use the machine for all you want to do, then the repair makes sense.
 

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In that one case, it does make sense to repair as the sale value would not recover the cost.

If you are referring the the theoretical example I gave (and you quoted)…do you mean to say "does not makes sense"??…you said "makes sense".:)

But in the case of repairing or buying a new machine, one should compare the repair cost with the cost of replacement. If the repaired machine does everything one needs, then the proper path would be to repair, not replace.

Of course it makes sense to repair a computer (rather than replace) if the repair cost is reasonable:)…and the computer still meets the needs of it's current owner.:) In fact…I said this exact thing in a reply I posted to someone just yesterday!…who only needed a new battery & maybe a new HD (instead of buying a new computer).:)

You are "preaching to the choir". Ha Ha.;)

- Nick
 
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pigoo3

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Nick, I've used this logic but recently have become less and less confident it makes sense.

If you are less & less confident in this approach…please throw some theoretical (or real) examples my way and let's discuss.:)

You come up with the examples…have your opinion made (before posting)…and let's see if we agree.:)

- Nick

p.s. BELIEVE ME…I am almost always in favor of taking the least cost approach (if the computer still meets the needs of the owner).:)
 
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Yea, spell check deleted the "not" when it didn't have a space between the does and not. I was on my iPhone at the time. Thanks for catching that.
 

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