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IMac or custom PC?

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January 12, 2012 2:15:50 AM

I'm buying a new desktop mainly for software like blender, VC++, photoshop, and vegas but also for occasional gaming. I can spend $2k, give or take $500. I haven't owned a Mac, so this might be a good time to get one. But there are obvious pros to a Mac and Windows PC at this price range. It's pretty hard to decide on my own. Help is appreciated.

iMac

Configuration: Core i7 Quad 3.4Ghz, 4GB RAM, 1TB SATA HDD, Radeon HD 6970M 2GB(can switch to 8GB RAM w/ 6970M 1GB)

Pros:
-Takes little space and has few peripherals that clutter the desk.
-It'd help with my game dev major to learn to use OS X down the road.

Windows PC

Configuration: idk, I'll need help with choosing should I go with PC, but I want a dual or 3 monitor setup.

Pros:
-Better performance
-Better software compatibility

More about : imac custom

January 12, 2012 2:19:06 AM

I would go for the Windows computer because they have a larger variety of games, but then it also depends if the games that you want to play can be played on a mac. The mac that you have listed there with the 6970 can max out any game you throw at it.
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January 12, 2012 2:28:36 AM

The iMac will deliver great performance from what it seems.
However, you are better off with a Windows PC.
It's really the convenience in a Windows PC when it comes to software and hardware.
This includes compatibility and variety in options when it comes to these factors.
You'd probably be happy with either one, but for the price and what you are getting, I think a Windows PC will be fine for you.
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January 12, 2012 2:46:09 AM

@Cam_Durack

The Mac has a 6970m so it is going to perform like a desktop 6770 in games and therefore won't max out any game you throw at it, only some.
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January 12, 2012 3:37:20 AM

Most of the people here will all lean towards PCs. I will give you my opinion on the matter that will cover aspects that need to have some light shed on them.

Software compatibility will not be an issue with the Mac because of boot camp. OS X comes with a free utility to help you install Windows on your Mac so you can dual boot and provides you with all of the Windows 7 drivers for your hardware, this is called Boot Camp. This means that you can play any game that is out on the market, whether it be for OS X or Windows. However, you will need to buy a copy of Windows much like you would need to buy a copy if you were to build your own system. Also, if you want to upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 8, it will cost at least $100, maybe even up to $200. However, upgrading from Leopard to Snow Leopard was only $30, as was Snow Leopard to Lion. So if you plan on upgrading your OS in the future, take that into account.

If you are going to be doing a lot of 3D work, you should consider a Quadro card. A $200 Quadro GPU will outperform nearly any consumer grade GPU. This is because Quadro cards are professional GPUs that are optimized for professional applications whereas consumer grade cards are not really optimized for anything and instead just focus on raw power for video games. In this sense, Windows will be the way to go because NVIDIA and AMD both make professional cards for the platform.

From my years of experience working with Adobe products on both platforms, they run much better on OS X, even with the same hardware. Photoshop will run so much smoother on my 12-core Mac Pro under OS X than under Windows 7.

Pyree is right in that the iMac has a mobility version GPU. In this sense, you will get a higher spec'd system for the same amount of money if you build your own. But this is essentially the same with buying any pre-build Windows based machine.

The iMac comes with a quality IPS panel display that provides superior color accuracy and viewing angles over other monitors, such as TN panel monitors. If you were to get the 27" model, that is a 27" LED backlight IPS panel display, although it is glossy which some people do not like. These types of monitors are not cheap. A similar monitor can easily cost $800-$1000. For example, the Dell u2711 is a 27" monitor with an IPS panel and is $980. Try and include that into a 2K build budget and it will be difficult.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Another thing to take into account is resale value. If you were to go on craigslist and look at people selling their used macs, it will be easy to find them. I suggest you look at what 2 and 3 year old iMacs are selling for on craigslist at the moment, that can give you a good estimate of what yours will be with in that amount of time. However, if you build your own computer, it is nearly impossible to sell it. However, the good thing about building your own is you can reuse parts like the case.

The iMac will have more flexibility in terms of software. The reason is because you can run any operating system on it without any problems, such as Ubuntu, Windows 7, and OS X. If you were to build your own system, you would have to carefully select each part to make a system that will run OS X. In which case you will then have to go through the process of turning it into a hackintosh. And whenever you use OS X, it will not be as stable as if it were a real Mac.

The iMac will also include Thunderbolt (10 Gbps), which is twice as fast as USB 3.0 (5 Gbps). So if you are worried about not being able to fit enough hard drives inside the iMac, Thunderbolt is your answer. You can easily get an external enclosure for hard drives and daisy chain them with Thunderbolt without any loss of performance.

With your own custom build, you will need to continually look for updates for all of your components, such as the GPU, motherboard, etc. However, with the iMac you will not have to because all of that is in your software update so you will not have to worry about updating your BIOS or anything like that.

Another benefit of the iMac is a full warranty. Although you will have individual warranties for every component of a custom build, with an iMac you can always take it to an Apple store if anything goes wrong. And you can always extend your warranty to 3 years so you are guaranteed a perfectly working system for 3 years, provided you do not accidentally drop it of course.

If you are looking to do a lot of 3D work, I would suggest building your own system for the sole reason of being able to get a professional graphics card. Personally, my next desktop will be a custom build strictly for being able to use a Quadro 5000. Also, if you want to get into water cooling and overclocking, a custom build will be best for you. Also, if you strictly want to spend less money for a good system, a custom build will be for you. Another thing to mention is the satisfaction of building your own computer.

If you will not be doing anything too crazy 3D-wise and want a more stable system backed with a solid warranty, more flexible software-wise, resale value, and comes with a professional quality display, then I would suggest the iMac.

With a budget of $2,000, you can build a very powerful desktop, no doubt. But there is more to it than just numbers on a piece of paper, or in this case on a screen.
In a way, it is hard to compare an all-in-one computer to a custom built tower, whether it be an iMac or any Windows based all-in-one. They are not in the same categories, but either one would do well for you.
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January 12, 2012 3:43:01 AM

Pyree said:
@Cam_Durack

The Mac has a 6970m so it is going to perform like a desktop 6770 in games and therefore won't max out any game you throw at it, only some.


Ok Sorry I thought it was a 6970 desktop.

Thanks for the correction.
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July 22, 2012 3:19:42 AM

Yes lets buy a Mac that is gonna be 3 x more and then pay $150 to add windows? From what you say you need pc all the way! Does Apple make 8 core computers? can you add extra drives or ram easily? can you have up to 3 video cards, liquid cooling and ability to update PC cheaply and have it work well over 12 years? No. And there are all-in-one pcs but go for a tower. Go to Cyberpower.com One can get a 8 core, liquid cooled super powered PC for under $1000, and for $2000 it would be sick! I personally have always had custom PCs and they last at least 10 years (until they can't keep up with modern games) and then they work well for general use, photos, older games etc.
In short a Mac will be $2500 only 4 core, not able to be upgrade (and Apple will charge your arm for what it does offer) and then in 5 years you'll have to get a new one. Plus Macs suck at gaming, and for graphics, PCs will always have much more power capabilities (triple video cards, up to 64gb ram). Parts for PCs can be purchase through Newegg much more cheaply than Apple. Heck Apple will charge $180 for a 500gb usb 2.0 external hdd while I got my 1 tb for $120 and it is usb 3.0 (10x transfer speed), Saw that while I was in an Apple store.
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July 22, 2012 3:45:57 AM

If your looking for pure value, PC's are the way to go. Every time I look at the Mac Pro configuration page I wonder how they can sell a 2GB stick of 1333Mhz RAM for $90 (not even kidding, http://store.apple.com/au/configure/MD770X/A?). So for price vs performance, a PC will win just because of Apple ludicrous pricing, and many will testify that a PC will perform better anyway.

If you'v only got $2000 to spend, you cant even get the lowest spec Mac-Pro, but you can build a great PC optimized for video rendering, with much better performance than the Mac-Pro would get you.

Or go down to an iMac, where they will charge you even more unfairly. To upgrade from an i5 to an i7, they add $240 on top of what your already paying. 8GB of RAM vs 4GB is $120. Another GB of VRAM to power the large resolution screen cost $120.

Lets just say your better off with a PC.

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July 22, 2012 3:58:57 AM

manofchalk said:
If your looking for pure value, PC's are the way to go. Every time I look at the Mac Pro configuration page I wonder how they can sell people a 2GB stick of 1333Mhz RAM for $90 (not even kidding, http://store.apple.com/au/configure/MD770X/A?). So for price vs performance, a PC will win just because of Apple ludicrous pricing, and many will testify that a PC will perform better anyway.

If you'v only got $2000 to spend, you cant even get the lowest spec Mac-Pro, but you can build a great PC optimized for video rendering, with much better performance than the Mac-Pro would get you.

Or go down to an iMac, where they will charge you even more unfairly. to upgrade from an i5 to an i7, they add $240 on top of what your already paying. 8GB of RAM vs 4GB is $120. Another GB of VRAM to power the large resolution screen cost $120.

Lets just say your better off with a PC.


How is it even legal to charge that much for stuff!!
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September 8, 2012 3:34:54 PM

Value, the pc wins....but cost is only ONE consideration. Usability is another. (I am competent with both mac and pc)

I recommend a small test. Go to your nearest best buy and try out the all in one pc's or even the tower models. Then, go play on a mac. You will be astounded at how much better the mac functions.

I've had and used both. I've built my own systems. Both have pros and cons, but I like to enjoy my time spent on the computer and the mac is just a nicer experience. The pc's stutter and lag and finding and fixing problems is ALWAYS a pain. Not to mention they become obsolete quickly, so building a tower is a mixed experience for me. New drives come out, new mobo's, new pinsets, new graphics cards...etc. So, so even though I built the thing with the intention of upgrading, it just never quite works out that way. I could easily buy a new system with new upgrades for the cost of upgrading said components.

Just my 2 cents.

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September 8, 2012 3:40:33 PM

I agree with most of your points, but who the heck can afford a $1500 graphics card (nvidia quadro), and if you can.....can I borrow some money?....:p 

Most people I know can only spend that for the entire system, much less one component of it.

Not practical.
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May 7, 2014 11:17:26 AM

Listen man, a PC and a MAC can't be compared, at least so easily.
PC provides you a option to expand to change or remove your hardware but that is not possible with MAC, where else the quality of hardware present in MAC can not be given a challenge.

That's true that there are many softwares that you may use, like Photoshop that work much smoother on OS X than on windows7, 8 or even 8.1, i suggest you to thing about your own needs and then go for a decision
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