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Old 12-03-2006, 12:57 PM   #1
ktinkel
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Default Thinking of a new Mac

I am getting antsy, and think it may be time to retire my four-year-old G4 (bought when G5s were standard — I skipped G5s altogether, the only Mac class I skipped).

Anyway, as a pretty much retired person I do not think I could justify a Mac Pro, but the new iMac core 2 duos look pretty good (I am particularly smitten by the 24-inch).

I see it has one ethernet port, two FireWire ports (one FW800 with the 24-inch model — is that of any use?), and three USB2 ports (plus two USB 1.1 ports). 250GB hard drive (upgradable to 500 or 750GB, but no room for two far as I can see). Writes DVDs and CDs. Bluetooth and Airport-ready.

Any comments from those who know this hardware? What might disappoint me?

   
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Old 12-04-2006, 01:12 AM   #2
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I'm talking second-hand reports, but the main thing seems to be: get as much RAM as you can. And that FW800 port is a great way to connect an extra hard drive or two.

But I've sold my soul for the portable life these days...

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Old 12-04-2006, 05:45 AM   #3
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I'm talking second-hand reports, but the main thing seems to be: get as much RAM as you can. And that FW800 port is a great way to connect an extra hard drive or two.

But I've sold my soul for the portable life these days...
And I hate my laptop! Even when it’s working. <g>

I wondered if the FW800 would also work with older devices. I like the idea of an external drive — hate to be stuck with only one, in case of trouble. One of the drawbacks of that clever design is limited interior space. Is heat an issue, I wonder?

Lots of RAM, huh? Apple usually charges dearly for that, but I assume third-party (RAMJet, say) would be fine?

Thanks. What portable do you have?

   
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Old 12-04-2006, 01:57 AM   #4
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I see it has one ethernet port, two FireWire ports (one FW800 with the 24-inch model — is that of any use?)
I think I've seen devices that are firewire only, and I think more often with Mac peripherals.

Quote:
250GB hard drive (upgradable to 500 or 750GB, but no room for two far as I can see).
250GB will probably adequate. And if you like to have a second drive (and no room in the case), you can always add one or more externals via the firewire or USB2.

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Any comments from those who know this hardware? What might disappoint me?
How much RAM? Which CPU.

BTW, I would not necessarily eliminate the Pro because of semi retirement. If the combination of your personal use, testing, and part time work justify the horsepower.
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Old 12-04-2006, 06:10 AM   #5
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I have 200GB storage now, but on two drives. I hate putting all my eggs in one basket, but I see that one use for that FW800 is for an external drive, so that is probably what I would do. (Yes, we do use a lot of Firewire, but I had never run into FW800 before.)

The Pro would cost a lot more. Among other things, it is based on a fancier chip, but I would also have to buy a separate monitor. My sense is that the iMac is 90% of the function at probably only 60% of the cost (since the model I am considering includes a 24-inch LCD). (But even the 20-inch looks pretty good, and that would be even cheaper.)

Of course, the Pro, with its tower construction, is inherently more flexible, and upgradeable. The Mac 2, the 7500, and the G4s are all of that sort of design, and I regretted them much less than the all-in-one SE and Quadra 700.

Intel Core 2 Duo processors (2.16, or as much as 2.33 GHz)
1GB (up to 3GB) RAM (2 slots)

   
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Old 12-04-2006, 07:37 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by ktinkel View Post
I have 200GB storage now, but on two drives. I hate putting all my eggs in one basket, but I see that one use for that FW800 is for an external drive, so that is probably what I would do. (Yes, we do use a lot of Firewire, but I had never run into FW800 before.)
Oh, I didn't pay attention. I don't know what FW800 is. Will that kind of firewire work with hard disks. If not, I guess you can use the USB2.

Anyway, I'm in a similar boat. I am using two 80gig drives now. Having two drives has come in handy. When one starts to go bad, I can quickly move files to another hard disk. Or, keep the software on one, files on the other. Then access time is faster because two sets of heads are at work.

Funny thing, though. At work my computer has one big drive, I don't notice a slow down because of this, and in some ways it make life easier. So I'm pondering one drive for everything. Plus an external for safety reasons and backups.

Quote:
Intel Core 2 Duo processors (2.16, or as much as 2.33 GHz)
1GB (up to 3GB) RAM (2 slots)
Those CPUs are not slow. My home computer is 2.4 GHz but not dual core. And it gets the job done. But it is lagging behind other CPUs that are up above 3GHz. I just don't know if this makes a real difference. Maybe someone else does.

As for RAM, I'm running on 1 gig at home with no problems. For my new computer I'm thinking of two gigs. I'm not sure why. I can't really justify it. Except that I have 2 gigs at work, and I've actually needed it there.
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Old 12-04-2006, 07:53 AM   #7
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I don't know what FW800 is. Will that kind of firewire work with hard disks. If not, I guess you can use the USB2.
Shane says that is what FW800 is good for. Not sure I would want to use USB2 (or any USB for a hard drive) — I have had too many adventures with USB to quite trust it for anything important.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew B.
For my new computer I'm thinking of two gigs. I'm not sure why. I can't really justify it. Except that I have 2 gigs at work, and I've actually needed it there.
My experience over the years is that more RAM is always better. I have eked out an extra year or so out of some old computers by maxing out the RAM. And, as such things go, it is relatively inexpensive (as compared to buying new hardware, adding accelerators, or other kludges).

Anyway, Shane says this iMac should have a lot of RAM, so I will go for that. Because of its design, though, right now that would be a max of 3 GB (in two slots). No certainty that would change in the future. That was the problem with my old Quadra — no more room for RAM even though I needed it desperately. But that was a long, long time ago.

But the Pro would have much more flexibility, that’s for sure. Sigh. Always things to think about. (Though it is fun to explore possibilities, before settling for something realistic.)

   
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Old 12-04-2006, 07:47 AM   #8
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KT: Is heat an issue, I wonder?
From what I've read, less so with this new design than with the iMac G5 I have. The reason for going over to Intel is said to be partly because they couldn't solve the heat issue with the chip they were using. The new models are faster but generate a lot less heat than the old. It's said that's why the Mac Pro is so quiet. It requires fewer fans, leaving more space for drives than the Mac G5 Towers had.

An iMac is pretty good for pretty much everything for about 3 years. I'm thinking MacPro because I normally don't like to outgrow a computer that quickly and I can combine 2 computers into one, but if you won't be keeping up with the latest and greatest software, being retired, then old and slow won't happen. You'll stay quick, just a few versions behind.

The 2 drawbacks, and only 2, that I've felt with the iMac G5 is lack of RAM and lack of an upgradeable video card. The fact that it's not super-expandable simply hasn't affected me. I burn DVDs and can attach external drives. The video is mediocre in an iMac, and RAM is the one factor I can't use to stretch out the life of this computer as my main computer. But if that isn't a factor for you, I'd say go for the iMac.

   
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Old 12-04-2006, 08:16 AM   #9
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. . . but if you won't be keeping up with the latest and greatest software, being retired, then old and slow won't happen. You'll stay quick, just a few versions behind.

The 2 drawbacks, and only 2, that I've felt with the iMac G5 is lack of RAM and lack of an upgradeable video card . . . . and RAM is the one factor I can't use to stretch out the life of this computer as my main computer. But if that isn't a factor for you, I'd say go for the iMac.
Unfortunately, I have this notion that anything worth doing is worth doing well. And as I ponder this thing, I do remember my frustration with those limited Macs in my past and my great satisfaction with the upgradeable models, which I could stretch on and on until some major change (OS X, say) made that untenable, or at least annoying.

If I bought a Mac Pro I could buy a stripper and build it up as I went along. The only real cost would be the monitor, since we now have more CPUs than monitors (and format incompatibilities, to boot), and need to clear out all those old drives and generally rationalize the mess before finding a way to recycle the older machines.

I want to end up with one up-to-date Mac (the new one) and one fairly useful Mac (this G4) plus the laptop. That would be instead of one virtually useless (with Jack’s beloved old Quicken and Word 4 on it), one hobbled by passing technology (the older G4), and this G4 (which is wearing me out with slowness with the Adobe CS apps, which will always be part of my computing life).

The new iMac-24 comes with NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT (128MB of GDDR3 SDRAM) or the better 7600 GT with 256MB SDRAM. Would this be better than what your old iMac has?

I concede that 3 years is a pathetic lifespan, and that aspect has me thinking further. Just about long enough to get things the way you want them, but no time to exploit them to the max!

   
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Old 12-04-2006, 01:12 PM   #10
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FireWire 800 is just a faster version of FireWire (800 v 400). Makes it more useful for disk drives. And USB 2 is pretty good with disk drives these days, although slower than FW800. The Intel Macs can boot from USB, something the older ones couldn't do.

The 3GB RAM limitation is related to the chips used, not the number of slots, and is common to lots of brands. I suspect it'll disappear in the next rev, whenever that is.

The need for lots of RAM is partly because of the Intel emulation business with older software, and should theoretically ease as more Intel-native stuff is released. But anyone seriously expecting that to happen should see me about a bridge.

As for lifespan, my experience is that it doesn't vary much whether you buy the fastest machine or something considerably more modest. I can't explain why this should be so.

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