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Buying iMac: any advice?


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#1 of 49 DaveF

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Posted June 23 2009 - 03:48 PM

My wife gets a new Mac; probably buy it next weekend. It is used for Photoshoppery and email and web. Maybe finances if I can find a Mac finance app.

I'll get her the 24" iMac, 2.93 GHz model. Probably base configuration. I'm still uncertain about the video card. I think going 2.93GHz for the discrete card is good. But I don't know if upgrading from GT120 to GT130 or even the 4250 makes sense? She can afford the upgrades, but I'd rather not spend money on useless features.

Shopping Apple is quite simple with the limited product line -- I've been pricing Dell laptops for work and it's like being in a twisty maze with passages all alike -- but any suggestions or comments are welcome. Posted Image

#2 of 49 Ronald Epstein

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Posted June 23 2009 - 09:01 PM

First of all, congrats. Your wife is going to love you and the Mac.

Secondly, buy from MacMall. You will save close to $100 over the
Apple Store and pending on where you live, additional sales tax.

A month or so ago MACMALL an incredible deal on last generation's
24" iMac for about $1100. I did a little surfing this morning and
could not find that deal anymore.

That's the bad news. The good news is that I went to MACCONNECTION
and found THIS DEAL.

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#3 of 49 DaveF

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Posted June 24 2009 - 12:42 AM

You know, suggesting a completely different configuration was not one of the options for this thread.... Posted Image

Ok, I've got to look at the discounted prev gen kits. I hadn't thought about that. And see how my wife feels about it: it's her "work" computer for her freelance business.

#4 of 49 Shane D

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Posted June 24 2009 - 01:27 AM

i ordered my last machine from amazon. it was a little cheaper and free shipping.

i've not looked at imacs lately, but be careful on older gen ones, a co worker has one of the first intel ones and he got the line of yellow pixels down the screen thats plagued a lot of them. I"d also make sure i got applecare because all in one machines scare me. if one thing goes out then the whole computer is dead. (i had one of the first imacs that were in the gumdrop looking shell's although i had the grey one so it wasn't so bad)

#5 of 49 Carlo Medina

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Posted June 24 2009 - 05:13 AM

Dave, it really depends on what kind of Photoshop use you're talking about. For any real PS use, the discrete card (any card) is absolutely a necessity. So looking at the 2.93GHz build is the right way to start.

But we all don't use PS the same way. For me, a light photo editor for shots I took, the base GT120 is enough. But I have friends who are hardcore PS users, and they need at least the GT130, if not the 4850, because they apply many processes and filters to many large images sequentially, and as such need as much horsepower (both CPU and GPU) as possible. So for that kind of use I'd recommend getting the 4850 add-on as that seems to be far superior to the GT120/130 cards according to all the benchmarks I've seen.

If you're like me, and a light PS user, the GT120 will likely suffice. There isn't much of a CPU difference from 2.93 to 3.06. In fact if you need more GPU power but not the extra HD space or .13GHz CPU bump, you could do a CTO of the 2.93 with the 4850 option to save some cash.

#6 of 49 DaveF

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Posted June 24 2009 - 05:48 AM

She does graphic design with Photoshop and InDesign. She's not a power-user, not using filters upon filters. Her work goes adequately on 5-yr old dual G5. A speed boost is needed, but crazy power is worth the money.

Right now it's all prognosticating: Snow Leopard and Adobe promise a new world of GPU processing. But one can say what that will be or how much it matters. So I take comments like yours and try and aggregate the overall expectation Posted Image

****
Is there any particular chipset difference between the '08 2.8 GHz and the '09 2.93 GHz models? The price differential doesn't quite compute, even for Apple.

#7 of 49 Carlo Medina

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Posted June 24 2009 - 10:01 AM

Dave,

Judging from these two spec pages:
iMac (Early 2008) - Technical Specifications
iMac (Early 2009) - Technical Specifications

The differences seem to be:
  • 0.13GHz CPU speed
  • 2GB of RAM that comes with the machine (2 vs 4 standard)
  • 4GB of maximum RAM allowed (4 vs. 8)
  • ATI Radeon HD 2600 PRO with 256MB of GDDR3 memory vs NVIDIA GeForce GT 120 with 256MB of GDDR3 memory
  • FW 400 and 800 on old vs. FW 800 only on new
  • Three USB vs Four USB
  • Minidisplay port on new version


#8 of 49 DaveF

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Posted June 24 2009 - 01:10 PM

Thanks. I didn't know Apple had tech sheets in their support system.

While I lean towards new hardware, this is intriguing. I still can figure out why the 2008 h'ware is discontinued and selling for 40% less. The price seems unusually cheap compared to the current stuff.

#9 of 49 Christian Behrens

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Posted June 24 2009 - 04:35 PM

Refurbished models are typically an excellent deal, if you can get the configuration you want. I would also rather take a faster graphics card, if possible. Using the GPU for general processing will become mainstream with OpenCL in Snow Leopard, plus on the iMac you cannot upgrade the graphics card and are stuck with it for the lifetime of the machine.

When I got my 24" iMac (the very first model available in white), I upgraded both the CPU to 2.33 GHz and the GPU to the nVidia 7600. Did not regret it one bit, and it is still going strong. Supposedly OpenCL will not be supported on my graphics card, but then again I don't do Photoshop, so I'm not really bothered by it. It still does anything I want it to.

If I were to buy one again, I would probably do the same thing, find the basic model I want and upgrade at least the graphics card (memory generally from third parties, not Apple).

-Christian
"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." (Benjamin Franklin)

#10 of 49 sestamuch

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Posted June 24 2009 - 06:04 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Carlo Medina
Dave,

Judging from these two spec pages:
iMac (Early 2008) - Technical Specifications
iMac (Early 2009) - Technical Specifications

The differences seem to be:
  • 0.13GHz CPU speed
  • 2GB of RAM that comes with the machine (2 vs 4 standard)
  • 4GB of maximum RAM allowed (4 vs. 8)
  • ATI Radeon HD 2600 PRO with 256MB of GDDR3 memory vs NVIDIA GeForce GT 120 with 256MB of GDDR3 memory
  • FW 400 and 800 on old vs. FW 800 only on new
  • Three USB vs Four USB
  • Minidisplay port on new version

Thanks for the comparison, the differences seem to be significant enough.

#11 of 49 Christian Behrens

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Posted June 25 2009 - 01:01 AM

Also, there is a nice little program called MacTracker that contains the tech specs for all released Macs. It's really handy for comparisons.

-Christian
"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." (Benjamin Franklin)

#12 of 49 Shane D

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Posted June 25 2009 - 01:25 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Christian Behrens
Also, there is a nice little program called MacTracker that contains the tech specs for all released Macs. It's really handy for comparisons.

-Christian

mactracker is even available for iphone and touches now too

#13 of 49 DaveF

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Posted June 25 2009 - 01:55 AM

A coworker and recent Mac convert sent me this. Is this problem a rarity, or enough to postpone the purchase?

DailyTech - No End in Sight for MacBook Display Issues
Quote:
And apparently, even with the update, many users still report problems, indicating that more problems are afoot. In the past Apple has blamed NVIDIA for making flawed drivers. Fixes by NVIDIA failed to resolve the issues. Issues have also been reported in iMac desktops, which incidentally have AMD Radeon graphics.

(look forward to playing with MacTracker Posted Image)

#14 of 49 DaveF

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Posted July 02 2009 - 12:17 PM

Countdown to new iMac...
Bought 1.5 TB external drive this evening for bigger TimeMachine backup and also SuperDuper! backup. And I get current 500GB drive :)

My wife explained to me that she gets new, current hardware. No refurb. No clearance from 2008. I could push it, but then for my next Mac I'd be getting clearance refurb and that's unacceptable.... :D

So brand spankin' new iMac this weekend.


#15 of 49 DaveF

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Posted July 03 2009 - 11:19 AM

iMac upgrade postponed for a few days due to a dud  AppleStore Employee. I wanted a 24" with upgraded video card; I called the Apple Store Thursday and asked if they stocked it; the woman--who seemed not fully connected with my question--checked and said yes they do. I went to the store tonight to buy the iMac and was informed that, no, they don't stock non-standard models. I explained that I was told clearly they would have the model I wanted and the sales clerk apologized and explained that I was given bad information; and she would raise this issue at their next staff meeting.

All was not lost -- I got a Starbucks cappuccino while at the Mall :)  And I got a couple lingering questions answered about iLife, iWork, and MobileMe.

iLife: No family pack upgrade discount when purchased with a new Mac.
iWork: full install provided. I can buy it discounted with my wife's iMac, uninstall from her Mac and install on mine
MobileMe: can buy discounted sub with iMac and apply to my wife's existing sub.
Keyboard: silly kiddy one is default option. Must specifically upgrade to the adult keyboard with number pad.
AppleStore: only stocks base models of each configuration; can upgrade RAM

OK, off to apple.com to order the new kit. Had hoped to do big upgrade this weekend, but it must wait until next week.


#16 of 49 JohnRice

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Posted July 04 2009 - 01:16 AM

You know Dave, I was recently buying a new Mac and a bit to my surprise I went for the Mini.  The new Mini comes with discrete video.  The memory is shared, but that appears to be no problem.  Maybe if you did hard-core gaming, but that doesn't sound like the case.  I had the RAM filled to 4GB, which gives me 256MB of video RAM.  I am running (2) 23" HP monitors at 1920x1080 each, and doing Photoshop and it really flies.  I did NOT upgrade the HD, as it doesn't make sense to me.  I use the internal drive for OS and apps only, and put all files on externals.  Got a 1GB MiniMax from Amazon for $130, but you need to get a firewire 800>400 cable.  The current Minis are more up to date than the iMacs, and they are quite an improvement over the previous models.

About $700 for the Mini loaded with RAM.  Yes, the iMac can take 8 GB but at a cost of about $1K.  Not worth it.  Another $400 for 2 HP w2338h monitors on sale, and I have a GREAT setup for quite a good price.

The Hybrid System

The Music Part: Emotiva XSP-1, Thiel CS 3.6, Emotiva XPA-2, Marantz SA8004, Emotiva ERC-3, SVS PB-12 Plus 2

The Surround Part: Sherbourn PT-7030, Thiel SCS3, Emotiva XPA-5, Polk & Emotiva Surrounds.


#17 of 49 DaveF

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Posted July 04 2009 - 02:06 AM

How does the mini drive dual monitors? Does it have two video outputs, or use a splitter cable? I never really considered the mini for my wife's computer.

But...I ordered the iMac last night along with iLife and iWork 09 for me :) Hopefully we'll get it this week.


#18 of 49 Christian Behrens

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Posted July 04 2009 - 04:56 AM


Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveF View Post

How does the mini drive dual monitors? Does it have two video outputs, or use a splitter cable? I never really considered the mini for my wife's computer.

But...I ordered the iMac last night along with iLife and iWork 09 for me :) Hopefully we'll get it this week.
 
Yes, the Mac Mini has both a mini-DVI and a mini-DisplayPort connector, to feed two monitors.

But it does NOT have discrete video. While the graphics are much improved over the previous generation, it's still integrated into the chipset, only now it's an Nvidia chipset, not an Intel one. Which is the same as in the entry-level iMacs.

-Christian
"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." (Benjamin Franklin)

#19 of 49 JohnRice

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Posted July 05 2009 - 02:24 PM

Christian probably caught me on a technicality.  I guess my real point was that the video on the new Mini is significantly improved from the previous models.  While I like the coolness of the iMacs, I'm not a fan of all-in-ones, so the Mini (which is basically the exact same computer as the 20" iMac, without the monitor, but half the price) made a lot of sense.

The Hybrid System

The Music Part: Emotiva XSP-1, Thiel CS 3.6, Emotiva XPA-2, Marantz SA8004, Emotiva ERC-3, SVS PB-12 Plus 2

The Surround Part: Sherbourn PT-7030, Thiel SCS3, Emotiva XPA-5, Polk & Emotiva Surrounds.


#20 of 49 DaveF

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Posted July 06 2009 - 12:50 AM

I like the all-in-ones, because I''l get my wife's current 20" Cinema Display ;)





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