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Should You Buy a New Mac Mini, iMac or Mac Pro?

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September 6, 2007 11:35:46 AM

http://www.geardigest.com/2007/09/06/should_you_buy_a_new_mac_mini_imac_or_mac_pro/index.html

I use both Windows and Macintosh computers. I'm ready to make an investment in a high-end machine this year, and what I see in the new Macs will be the single most-important factor in deciding what to buy.
September 6, 2007 12:43:45 PM

Whats up with the windows vista bash?

Whats wrong with vista's memory mangement? instead of having the ram just sitting around doing nothing, vista preloads applications you use, and when you run them they load nearly instantly. I see no problems with the way it manages memory
September 6, 2007 1:32:10 PM

This has got to be the best article on THG ever! Even besting out the classic mind-bogglers back in the day when THG's rocket scientists were the only upright non-commies on the net fighting for the truth about the superiority of the Pentium 4.

The author of this article is a true hero who belongs into that very same band of brothers.

I too hate 1x Gig RAM configurations. I want 2x 512 MB configs to make use of the raw power that is dual channel. No way am I gonna miss out on 3% performance just because Apple is cheap. And if you want to upgrade to 2 gig, just buy TWO new 1-Gig-sticks and make a fortune selling the 512-MB-sticks on ebay!!!

And what's up with the soldered on graphics in the iMac, not to speak of the Mini using integrated graphics. Given the abundant space in both these machines, I think Apple should just equip them with a standard PCI-Express slot and give the consumer the choice! If they used a standard ATX-board and cut the proprietary bull we could even use SLI!
But while they're using cheap-*** notebook technology, the least they could do is offer both ATI and nVidia! The easiest way to do this is have the robot solder on a Radeon and a GeForce chip alternatingly. This gives the tech savvy consumer back the power of choice he has come to love in his Macs.

The biggest insult of them all of course is the single optical drive in the Mac Pro. Only girls get by with one, everybody knows that. At a price of almost 2.000$, no-one should be forced to shell out another whopping 35$ for that inevitable second dvd-burner to achieve basic funtionality.

I'm not gonna buy a Mac either!

Tomorrow, I'm gonna take a long hard look at the product line-ups of Dell or Sony, and I'm gonna write a long hard essay about what's wrong with these companies, because that's what it's all about, isn't it? Being a monster bitch.
I don't wanna spoil anything beforehand, but it goes unsaid that I'm not pleased how Sony locks you in with these tiny 11.1"-screens in their 11.1"-laptops.
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September 6, 2007 2:02:55 PM

Remember that mac pro is over a year old and the 7300 did not look that bad back then and apple may be waiting for the next Intel chip set to update the mac pro.


Also the new imacs use MXM cards with a EFI bios.
September 6, 2007 2:34:45 PM

I just ordered a new computer on newegg for 2300, 2x2gigs ocz ddr800, q6600, 8800gtx + 2x320gig 7200rpm, 1x150 10000rpm. I'm going to install linux on one of the 320 gig drives before I even build the thing and just stick the drive in and boot all the way in to a working install. My performance will toast the mac that costs the same price. Heck it would probably compete with a mac system twice its price once I OC it....

Mac is failing bigtime. Sure, they are used mostly in schools, but even that is changing. Their window manager is pants and despite jobs apparent dislike for buttons his OS supports an extremely sloppy and cluttered work environment. They look sleek and stylish on the outside and that is what their owners want to look like too, but once you take the cover off you find a mess.
September 6, 2007 3:09:19 PM

From the article...
Quote:

Maybe Steve Jobs and the rest of Apple's business and technical leadership are so obsessed with the success of iPods, iPhones and iTunes that computers no longer are Apple's flagship product.
[/quotemsg]

Well yeah…. Ya think maybe that’s why they changed the company name from Apple Computer Inc. to Apple Inc.?
September 6, 2007 3:33:01 PM

The title of this article implies that a comparison in performance between the 3 different models of apple computers will be included. Which apple should you buy? Instead, it points out various flaws and strengths of each model and doesn't do an apples to apples comparison (for example: How quickly the Mac Mini, iMac or Mac Pro can render the same 20 minute video).

In the conclusion, the article states a PC should be purchased instead. This conclusion does not include any reference as to the ease of use of a Mac for various Sound or Video editing compared to a PC, or the cost of buying editing software for a PC compared to the included iLife software on the Mac. It only focuses on the cost of the rather outdated hardware on the Mac. Boo on this article! :non: 

The title should just read "Why Apple Computers Suck. Buy PC."
September 6, 2007 3:44:13 PM

teegro said:
The title of this article implies that a comparison in performance between the 3 different models of apple computers will be included. Which apple should you buy? Instead, it points out various flaws and strengths of each model and doesn't do an apples to apples comparison (for example: How quickly the Mac Mini, iMac or Mac Pro can render the same 20 minute video).

In the conclusion, the article states a PC should be purchased instead. This conclusion does not include any reference as to the ease of use of a Mac for various Sound or Video editing compared to a PC, or the cost of buying editing software for a PC compared to the included iLife software on the Mac. It only focuses on the cost of the rather outdated hardware on the Mac. Boo on this article! :non: 

The title should just read "Why Apple Computers Suck. Buy PC."


hmm... I just read it and it DOES reference the very nice mac OS. I thought he did very well saying that the software is worth something. I just felt his point was that for the price on the default configs that sweet software might just tank the system if you use it like a pro, as the "pro" in the name suggests you should. ;) 

also, with the HUGE premium on that old hardware, I could buy full versions of photoshop and other apps after my beefier PC purchase and STILL have cash leftover.

but maybe that was the point?



I thought it was a very well conceived and thought-out argument without getting too technical for the apple-ites that simply don't know or care about benchmarks as much as "hey, I have a mac".

oh, and I loved the object lesson on how far the have fallen. That chart is perfect. lol.
September 6, 2007 4:56:53 PM

sojrner said:
oh, and I loved the object lesson on how far the have fallen. That chart is perfect. lol.

I used to have some respect for Apple, however as has been stated, they've fallen very far from their primary technology base and instead focus mainly on IPod glitter . Their laptops are still very well built if they could just get the underlaying hardware up to speed. Their primary focus on IPod may be their death toll if they don't refocus their efforts back on Mac or some new platform technology.
September 6, 2007 5:26:10 PM

honestly, I don't think this is a funeral dirge at all. Apple will not die b/c of this, they just won't expand their computer market share at all... and may even shrink it... but they won't die.

There has always been a massive premium for inferior hardware with a mac. That is par for the course. In the past however, while the video card may be a gen behind it is still near the top. Or The subsystems are still solid even if a tick or two slower. Single channel ram and a sub-mainstream past-gen card is NOT just a tick or two slower.

but they are snooty and elitist enough to still believe that it is better no matter what the charts say...

...plus, that ipod will continue to make them boatloads of cash. They are not gonna die any time soon. ;) 

September 6, 2007 7:17:16 PM

Quote:
It's hard to tell exactly what's wrong at Apple. Maybe Steve Jobs and the rest of Apple's business and technical leadership are so obsessed with the success of iPods, iPhones and iTunes that computers no longer are Apple's flagship product.


I wonder if the author knows that Apple recently officially dropped the word "Computers" from their corporate name (ie going from Apple Computers to just Apple)

That says it all.
September 6, 2007 8:35:17 PM

funny thing that I'm planning to buy a Mac in the near future, then I saw this article. I played with a few Linux distros and my main machine is a PC (Windows Vista) because of gaming. I never used a Mac in my life except when poking around on apple stores. Im not gonna buy a Mac Pro because its too much money, I came down with the Mac Mini and the iMac what should I buy? and Should I wait for Leopard? thanks.
September 6, 2007 8:40:08 PM

I just can't believe that they charge $600 for a 20" monitor.
September 6, 2007 8:51:30 PM

a 20" monitor that has no adjustments w/o the proprietary mac controls no less. ;) 
September 6, 2007 9:42:25 PM

spongebob said:

Well yeah…. Ya think maybe that’s why they changed the company name from Apple Computer Inc. to Apple Inc.?


And YOU don't think that that had alot to do with their lawsuit with APPLE music (aka Apple Corps), and the agreement of what they could call themselves before they settled it once again with a ton of coin? They probably weren't allowed to call themselves Apple Inc, prior to the Feb 2007 agreement.

Who wants to be ABC widgets Inc, when they can just be the one and only ABC inc and not have to create divisions for each target market/segment/industry?

It just so happens that Apple is doing a little more outside the computer realm, but it's not like they're becoming IKEA or CVS pharmacy or something, in addition to their PC market, they are selling small portable computers to play music/videos, and a slightly larger computer with phone features, and then computer software to run all those and that acts as a storefront for other people's music.

When and if Apple produces it's own music/video or goes beyond the realms of electronics, then I would agree, but pretty much everything they produce right now either is, or requires/supports a computer.
September 6, 2007 10:05:35 PM

sojrner said:

also, with the HUGE premium on that old hardware, I could buy full versions of photoshop and other apps after my beefier PC purchase and STILL have cash leftover.

but maybe that was the point?


Exactly, and as for ease of use, ease of use for whom? the Luddites, I betcha they'd be happier with quick and easy LViewPro for 'ease of use', but then again it's limited compared to iphoto, which is limited compared to apperture, which is limited compared to photoshop. But those of us who grew up with both and used Adobe software on both know that 'ease of use' isn't the only focus for people here who may have been doing it for years.

Quote:
I thought it was a very well conceived and thought-out argument without getting too technical for the apple-ites that simply don't know or care about benchmarks as much as "hey, I have a mac".


Yes and as much as I agree with the article, and the reality-distortion field aspect of alot of its (the article)'s critics as you point out, though I also see a role for many of apple's products and recommend them to others, but not because their hardware is any good, but because their software (OSX or iTunes) is what really makes their hardware worth anything to the people who really see a PC as another appliance in their home like a VCR or Microwave, where matching the other stainless steel appliances or silver / black HIFI components matters as much as the utility. This is just a reality of their market and not a laudable aspect though.

I think Apples are perfect for all my friends at work who barely know enough about computers to do their daily job, but for most people here they aren't worth the additonal cost.
September 6, 2007 10:22:10 PM

teegro said:
In the conclusion, the article states a PC should be purchased instead. This conclusion does not include any reference as to the ease of use of a Mac for various Sound or Video editing compared to a PC, or the cost of buying editing software for a PC compared to the included iLife software on the Mac.



The cost falls out of the equation. While iLife is 'free' the basic hardware cost compared to an equivalent PC is higher, so you are still paying for that 'free' software. Add this - I don't know anyone who professionally edits video, sound, or pictures using the basic iLife apps - they get the professional grade tools. So you either have the cost of pro tools on top of an already over the top hardware cost, or you pay just over the top hardware prices for basic iLife functionality - useful consumer grade tools true, but ones not hard to acquire for a small cost on a Windows or Linux platform.

So what it boils down to is either you treat these as remarkably overpriced consumer grade systems or woefully inadequate professional systems.
September 6, 2007 10:27:27 PM

teegro said:

In the conclusion, the article states a PC should be purchased instead. This conclusion does not include any reference as to the ease of use of a Mac for various Sound or Video editing compared to a PC, or the cost of buying editing software for a PC compared to the included iLife software on the Mac.


So the iLife software is how expensive, and then compare it to the $99 copy of Phtoshop and Premier Elements you could've bought 1-2 years ago? Each time you buy the MAC that 'free' software is added, whereas I've had some software tools like Cool-edit (and it's free Audition replacement/upgrade) for about almost a decade. And if I buy another PC I don't need to pay the full price each time.

And that doesn't begin to compare the number of freeware and shareware apps/plugins which far outnumber those for MAC.
September 7, 2007 1:19:17 AM

See, the thing is. That's a 3DMark spec. The people who do only 2D work with a MacPro the 7300GT is just fine for. If they do 3D / CAD work they shell out the bucks for the Quadros.

I agree Apple has a hole in their lineup for a power user who wants to dual-boot and have a high-end gaming card in there. It sucks for that and they have no product that addresses that area nor any aftermarket.

The Mac Mini and iMac are great for mom and pop. The iMac is great for office use for webwork, etc.. and the MacPro if you really need some oomph. However, the Xeons and the "workstation" class motherboard don't make great gaming boards anyway. They focus on stability. If you price out a Dell Precision workstation it will be a very similar price to the Mac Pro.

OS X rocks. It is the best combination of usablity, stability and a power OS that is out there for basic to advanced users.

September 7, 2007 2:25:15 AM

Well, I agree with the factual content of this article by in large. It's a good analysis of the lineup and Apple would do well to listen. However, I disagree with your impractical conclusions.

You've answered: What should Apple do? But you intended to answer what should I do?

So far you'd byte your nose to spite your face. Not a good move.

Basically, the Mac Pro is outdated as could be, but it's the only way "in" to having a user configurable Mac. If you don't have a clear path to how you're going to be generating income with a Mac Pro, you have no business even considering this option. That's Apple's gift and downfall, to make regular people interested in elitist hardware. That thing wasn't made for you, if it had been, you would have bought it when it first came out, and you would have been glad you did without a second thought. It was actually a decent value back then. And people that needed it, didn't walk, they ran to it. So quit considering just because you like the shiny case. The people that configure an "I just won the lottery system", didn't just win the lottery, they made a ton of cash with that system.

Except for the Mac Mini, Apple gives you the option of making your own upgrades if you're geeky enough to know better. You know better, and yet you're still playing around with $1300.00 worth of outrageously overpriced upgrades, it makes no sense. At least Apple can justify it's silly lineup with a high profit margin, what's your justification for your silliness?

I don't see what's so "wrong" with Apple saving itself the money of buying a bunch of 512MB sticks for iMacs when 1GB is cheaper, and if you're knowledgeable enough to care about the 5% tops performance loss... then you should be knowledgeable enough to know that you only have to buy a single 1GB stick on Newegg instead of two b/c they saved this money and reduced waste.

In terms of "what should I do?" What's your budget? What are your goals? Apple would only be giving Nvidia or ATI much needed profit simply to place an underused graphics card in there. Shame on Apple for putting a $30.00 video card on a $2500.00 machine, but shame on you for even considering a Mac Pro as a gaming unit. Why would you ever, when a full featured gaming PC costs no more than $1000.00? That's just ridiculous on your part.

Again, should Apple update their lineup? Absolutely! Should they release a mid-priced real desktop? Yes! Should you shun a pleasant user experience from your life because you must have an all in one solution? It makes no sense, and it's this kind of ridiculous thinking that causes people to buy a $60,000.00 Lincoln pickup truck when really they should have gotten a used pickup truck and a 5-series BMW instead.

You want to haul the family to a camping trip once a year so you waste gas all year long on your SUV. But enough on these digressions.

Since the Mac Mini comes with the same exact software as the larger and more expensive Macs, it offers a better value. It's so tiny, you can place it on top of your gaming machine, what's the hold up? It only costs a little more than a high end graphics card, and unlike that, you'll be able to get recover at least a half of your money if you choose to sell the Mini within a couple of years. Most likely you have an external USB hard drive that you can use for that once in a while video editing, and unless you work with HD video(which I've never done, it may be fine, I just don't know), occasional video editing will work wonderfully on the Mac Mini even with only 1GB RAM. You can generate an .iso with it, and burn at 16x on your $35.00 PC DVD-BURNER and presto. If you'll be doing a lot of Mac-ing around, get the iMac, donate the 1GB stick to charity, and get 2 x 2GB sticks... and for under $1400.00 you have yourself a heck of a Mac Workstation. It is EXTREMELY unusual for a Mac workstation to require or even take advantage of more video power than the one supplied with the iMac.

I'm surprised that you can come here and rant about the video capabilities of a Mac, when the fact that Macs hurl-chunks at gaming is so obvious. It should certainly be obvious to you, Mr. expert.

I can say for if I were going to blow A LOT of money on a computer, I'd buy two. I have a Vista Ultimate PC that records TV throughout the day, and is pretty crazy nice for games. I trust NVIDIA or ATI will knock my socks off within 24 months with some must have video card upgrade, and so on. In the mean time, a Mac would be a great addition for the things that Macs are so unmatchable at. (Note that iMacs come with better graphics than other all in ones, and most desktops at BB or CC). Also, that is a really strong choice due to the video acceleration capabilities... capabilities that a few Mac users may actually notice.

So I guess what I'm saying is: If you "game", please tell me you know that Windows is the only way to go, with Linux a far FAR FAR second, and Mac an even more distant third. That's hardware aside! I have an 8600GT that I purchased for $100.00, it just so happens that the mid-end is cheap. It's NOT a low end video card. I love it. And I'll replace it with another card when they come out with the next generation without breaking a sweat.

If you video edit casually tell me you know that a little Mac Mini will be far cheaper than the software to even come close to the ease of use on a PC? In fact, money aside, you may never achieve the ease of use of a Mac in video editing on a PC. (that's a period there, it's a factual statement).

Perhaps you've come to some conclusions for yourself, but you didn't follow a logical path. You want a gaming computer. Though you like the shiny case of the Mac Pro.

Just because you can dual boot a Mac doesn't mean you should, just like buying a luxury vehicle that has pickup bed on it... it's best to forget that option. Buy a luxury vehicle for what a luxury vehicle is for: passenger comfort, aesthetics, design, the purr of the engine. Wouldn't it be awesome if a 5-series could tow 5 tons? Yeah... but the fact that it doesn't shouldn't necessarily keep you from owning one. Buy a Mac for Mac things, buy a PC for PC things. Life is much better than way.

One more thing... since laptops are already a closed format, not user upgradeable, and suck at gaming... going with a Mac laptop is always a good way to go Mac. Especially since the 15" MBP is the best laptop on this planet. (that's a period there).

You'd do well to start shopping for computers the way you shop for cars. I think you'll find in spite of how easily Apple could improve their lineup, it's not a bad lineup. Furthermore: it's always best to buy Apple products soon after they release them. They keep their price steady WHICH IS FABULOUS FOR RESALE VALUE, but it does make products at the end of the cycle ridiculously priced (e.g. the Mac Pro right now). The Mini and the iMac are really strong values right now. Appropriately priced b/c Apple's hold their value and are rock steady systems.

But if you want to "game": Your article should be titled "New PC, Xbox 360, PS3, or Wii?"
September 7, 2007 3:00:28 AM

As an aside, this post was written while using a Wii console's internet browser. I hope it works :) 

So, two comments:

1. I agree that a THG benchmark comparison for Macs would be very interesting to read. One could even have a part of the tests be games that run on the Mac OS and then the results of the same games run under Windows on that machine. To be really ambitious you could do that same test on a couple of prefab PCs (not DIY's) of about the same price.

2. I believe that what we can see is evidence that the culture at Apple is shifting towards a consumer electronics focus. The iPod, iPhone, and iMac continue to evolve and improve; while the Mac Pro/PowerPC concept topped out with their last G5 model and this iteration is almost the same computer but the mobo and CPU have changed.

I expect that they will drop the tower and keep trying to turn the iMac into the computer that the iPod fanatic buys. If they can give you a way to buy an add-in graphics card that's a powerful gaming card which allows the iMac to perform like an upper-midrange PC but with serious "fashion sense," that's the sweet spot they haven't quite found yet.

I think, though, that they would need a GPU that does not require as much active cooling as something like an 8800 "Mac Edition" might. They need another couple generations of GPU technology to come and go. Just look ay what the evolution of storage technology has done for their iPods: we now have portable media players with more data storage than most people's computers had 4-5 years ago. That to me is incredible.

So I won't buy a Mac yet (still) but maybe one day I might. It feels more like shopping for a car than a computer. Maybe that's the point. :whistle: 
September 7, 2007 3:16:08 AM

Wow, I read more comments, and I have to say that ignorance is alive and well.

Can we keep to the topic?

Now a 20" display is overpriced? Says who? It's between the company and the client what the price is. Macs are perfectly compatible with any and all monitors, so why is this even a point of discussion here? I know TONS of people that work in studios, that use Apple displays on PC workstations. Ready made PC workstations by the way, are usually pricier than Apples and also contain some older components. Yet they too kick so much *** for work and are rock solid. (In other words, they're also worth the money, heck yea).

Look at high end NEC displays, look at EIZO displays, just take a peak at EIZO displays. You overrate your knowledge. I sold my Apple display b/c I thought it was over priced, and I sold it for tons of money on eBay (again, the resale of Apple stuff is fantastic, do take that into account when you complain about the price... b/c the final cost is barely higher). I've been bouncing around from cheap display to cheap display. I ran my Apple display in SUSE LINUX, and Windows XP, it was quite nice, and it made my whole desk look like cash. I didn't like that it didn't have several inputs, but now I "get it", my desk is so messy and now that I've had the opportunity to hook up several things to my display I think I'd take a tidier desk instead. One cable, carries DVI, USB, Firewire and power... it was SO slick. Comparing an Apple display to a TN Hanns-G is like comparing a Bose Wave Radio to a $25 Clock Radio.

Go to Dell, and add an LED display to their laptops, then add everything else that comes on a MacBook Pro... you're left with a pricier unit. An ugly as sin, pricier unit.

You guys probably have concluded that I'm an Apple Zealot. The funny thing is: I'm not, I love my Vista Ultimate PC. I go through life with eyes wide open about it though. My PC is a money pit, but it's always up to date, and I like that. Seriously, it seems like I upgrade one part or another at least once a month. I also like Macs b/c I can't mess with them too much. I waste less time.

We need to stop thinking Mac versus PC. There is no such thing, there is no such thing as an Apple user and a PC user... that's not common. The fact that you use an iPod and I don't doesn't change who we are, I'm sorry it just doesn't. Stop reacting to the funny Mac ads with confrontation. The real zealotry is thinking that Microsoft is "magic" and that no alternatives exist.

Fact: You buy a Chevy Cavalier, and you spend less money than a BMW on the date of purchase. Fun fact no. 2: BMW owners have more sex. BMW's hold their value rather well... an extremely desirable BMW is still extremely desirable 5 years later. You also tend to get more promotions and are treated better by strangers... I wish I was making this stuff up!

I for one am really proud of Apple, they give USA a good name. Do I use Apple products exclusively? Hell no. But are their computers worth a premium? Absolutely, a premium you'll get back when you sell it down the road or when you don't have to waste your time fixing glitches and viruses all of the time.

Let me ask you this? Are you aware that aesthetics is trump card for almost anything we do or buy? Whether it's an office space, a car, a home, a computer, or even food (not trump but it's very important)? Become aware of that. More beautiful things and more beautiful people are worth more money everything else being equal. It's not wrong either, it's not news, it's a fact that is taking place whether you open your eyes to it or not.

Apple makes beautiful products, and beautiful interfaces, this is it's own good. It's hard to do, and expensive to do, otherwise more companies would do it. You know that some PC users pay $200 and up for Lian Li case right? And that looks like trash compared to a Mac.

So show me a display that has a more attractive cable layout and case than an Apple display, and if it costs less than an Apple display I'll kiss your feet.

Do you compare the price of eating out at a steak house to shopping for steak at Sam's club?

See, I eat at steak houses some time, and I buy steak at Sam's too... this is how you should be with Mac and PCs... partake of both, it's fun, don't be loyal to companies that aren't loyal to you! You'll just be missing out. And by the way, I think the default should be Mac. It takes more know how to cook for yourself, it takes far more knowledge to run a PC. So your parents, your grandparents, your kids are going to be so much happier with a Mac.

People that don't know how to cook go to restaurants! It's not a sin!

September 7, 2007 3:23:03 AM

I like some of gochichi's comments about computers and SUV's...

Here is a thought on that wavelength: Get the nicer 'lil mac' or the notebook mac, get the next-gen game console on sale for $500 and then run them on your new flat panel HDTV/monitor you got on sale too and you're ready for consumer feel-good karma. The price is good and now you have "total multimedia" and you didn't have to build it yourself, install Windows, patch it, fix it, or smash Bioshock with a hammer because it rootkitted your rig with retarded-class DRM. :lol:  :lol: 


Hmmmmmmmmmn........
September 7, 2007 4:43:09 AM

gochichi said:
In the mean time, a Mac would be a great addition for the things that Macs are so unmatchable at. (Note that iMacs come with better graphics than other all in ones,


Not all of them the DELL and HP equivalent, the M2010 and HDX both are superior to their MAC equivalent, as was the Eurocom VIIVA, and that's without checking for others.

Quote:
Also, that is a really strong choice due to the video acceleration capabilities... capabilities that a few Mac users may actually notice.


But that most are actually very ignorant about, the MAC forums do nothing but complain that they didn't get the GF8600 in the iMAC, when the HD2600 is perfectly suited, yeah it was meant for 'those' people. :sarcastic: 

Quote:
So I guess what I'm saying is: If you "game", please tell me you know that Windows is the only way to go, with Linux a far FAR FAR second, and Mac an even more distant third.


Personally I'd put the MAC gaming options above the Linux options, unless you're talking about hardware which is what you said was put to the side.

Quote:
If you video edit casually tell me you know that a little Mac Mini will be far cheaper than the software to even come close to the ease of use on a PC? In fact, money aside, you may never achieve the ease of use of a Mac in video editing on a PC. (that's a period there, it's a factual statement).


Based on what fact and what version of iMovie?
Have you used enough editing software? I've used both ends of the spectrum and there's alot of simple and effective tools out there. There's more than just Premiere or Windows movie maker out there, everything from the stuff that comes with Windows or Nero, to Pinnacle or Sony and a few others' mid range tools all the way to more serious apps like Premiere and beyond. Ease of use depends alot on what you're used to prior to using these tools, so I'd want to see the 'factual statement' supported by fact, because while I've used all of them and like different ones for different task (from quick capture/chop

Perhaps you've come to some conclusions for yourself, but you didn't follow a logical path. You want a gaming computer. Though you like the shiny case of the Mac Pro.

Just because you can dual boot a Mac doesn't mean you should, just like buying a luxury vehicle that has pickup bed on it... it's best to forget that option. Buy a luxury vehicle for what a luxury vehicle is for: passenger comfort, aesthetics, design, the purr of the engine. Wouldn't it be awesome if a 5-series could tow 5 tons? Yeah... but the fact that it doesn't shouldn't necessarily keep you from owning one. Buy a Mac for Mac things, buy a PC for PC things. Life is much better than way.

Quote:
One more thing... since laptops are already a closed format, not user upgradeable, and suck at gaming...


Not true. :non:  Guess you've never heard of the Alienware, Clevos, DELLs, Voodos with upgradeable components.

Quote:
Especially since the 15" MBP is the best laptop on this planet. (that's a period there).


Just plain Fanboish that one! :pfff: 
BTW, that's an exclamation point there.

Quote:
You guys probably have concluded that I'm an Apple Zealot...

Why would anyone get that impression? :sarcastic: 

Quote:
Stop reacting to the funny Mac ads with confrontation. The real zealotry is thinking that Microsoft is "magic" and that no alternatives exist.


Stop thinking a PC is limited to Windows, you already mentioned Linux so either you're obtuse or just blinded by those same MAC ads, and you know less about PC & MAC than those you criticise.

Quote:
So show me a display that has a more attractive cable layout and case than an Apple display,


And so goes the sales pitch for the average Apple product.... look we have the prettiest and coziest appliances out there. No focus on the quality, power or utility. My focus would be 'show me a display with a better pictue, quality, flexability, and price.

Quote:
Do you compare the price of eating out at a steak house to shopping for steak at Sam's club?


Actually usually I compare my steak by how they taste on my tongue and feel in my stomach, I don't care if they were prepared in a marble cathedral and served on a golden platter. Same goes for my computer, I need something that does the job well for the price, not something that looks nice on my desk and impresses the girlfriend. :sarcastic: 

You end well with the 'those who don't know how to cook' which parallels my recommendation for those who aren't computer savvy, but you use pretty lame arguments like cable management and falsehoods about the hardware to try and justify them. If you truely believed that there were room for both, you'd just tell the truth, that both have their benefits for different areas/reasons/people; but for most people here, and most THG readers, MACs aren't likely to be the first choice, but sometimes like in the case of the MacBookPro they mayy work well enough.
September 7, 2007 4:58:54 AM

Retrogame said:
The price is good and now you have "total multimedia" and you didn't have to build it yourself, install Windows, patch it, fix it, or smash Bioshock with a hammer because it rootkitted your rig with retarded-class DRM.


RrrriIight. :sarcastic: 

Sure, never patch it.... oh wait;
http://www.fudzilla.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2874&Itemid=1

Never fix it.... oh right, how could anyone forget;
http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/070706/microsoft_xbox_warranty.html?.v=6

Just hope it doesn't die now or you won't have it back before Halo3 comes out, good thing you can't repair/replace it yourself. :heink: 

As for Bioshock, let me know when it comes out for the OSX or PS3, guess you need two consoles and a MAC. :kaola: 

Of course if you get a quality MAC you run Windows on it and play Bioshock. The DRM issue would still be present on MAC too.

And if you can't afford a quality PC/MAC, you can't afford to game anyways, so stop gaming and go out and get another job to pay for the 2 consoles + MACmini or single good PC/MAC.
September 7, 2007 5:39:05 AM

The jist of this article makes macs sound like they are over priced and under powered. Really when you consider all the hardware features, the macs are only an extra 100-200 dollars more which contribute to unique and one of a kind case design.

MacMini- This thin is the size of my external hardrive. Of course it's not going to have a PCIe SLI geforce 8800 the case just doesnt have the cooling. Be thankfull the integrated graphics is DVI. There is a built in bluetooth and wifi. Its smaller than micro and shuttle PCs so its not like youu can compare the two. Plus its 599. Sure you can be happy with that plastic box emachine for the same price too.

Imac- I detest the idea of having a monitor built into the case. This thing is pretty much a laptop on a stand. Again with its low profie, its not like your going to have a dual PCIe SLI geforce 8800 the case just doesnt have the cooling. Its not that overpriced considering your getting a 1680x1050 monitor (which is a leading industry apple monitor which ranks in top 5 of all montitors in color quality), webcam, dvdburner (which btw is a laptop burner) and hardrive. There is built in bluetooth and wifi. Of course we could have that plastic e-machine with a wal-mart monitor.

then the MacPro. This is a desktop server. You have Xeon processors with ECC ram and 4 drive bays. This thing can hold 4 750 gig drives and 16 gigs of ram. You have as well 4 PCIe slots. Sure the initial card seems dated but at what point do you set the minimum? We could have 24 card options to choose from when building our macpro. I would blame Nvidia and ATI for not creating enough mac EFI capable cards and only having a select few models. The bulk of this computer comes from it's motherboard. It can support wifi+bluetooth cards (wont take up a pcie space). You have dual gigabit, firewire 800,400 and usb2.0. It's BTX formfactor and Toslink Audio in and out (so you can hook it up to areal surround system. I would say this is nearly a $600 motherboard on PC terms. The case is BTX and aluminum with a windtunnel design. The heatsink is massive, larger than any cpu cooler reviewed here. It also has 4 massive fans on the cpu forcing air quietly at a slow 500rpm. Then there's the drive fans and slot fans. Even running this machine at full speed the I've never seen the fans surpass 1500rpm. Yet if you manually crank this up (via terminal command) the fans will sound and move air like a jet engine. The case is very easy to work in, the power management is well organized no entanglements of cables. Of course the MacPro may be way overkill but then again some of us are fine with our plastic case with a led light in it.
September 7, 2007 5:53:32 AM

What I would like too see Toms do is compare a Machine with similar features and specs (Toslink, dual gigabit, internal wifi) with a Mac in a pure hardware performance and design comparison. To make it fair, have both machines run Windows. Review a macpro like you would review a dell or alienware in all perspectives and you'll find that it's a solid machine with great features internal and external. I'm a hardware fan and I've worked on dell computers and opened up HP cases so I know how nightmarish replacing a hardrive in these things can be. MacPro makes it easy.
September 7, 2007 8:28:31 AM

muk said:
http://www.geardigest.com/2007/09/06/should_you_buy_a_new_mac_mini_imac_or_mac_pro/index.html

I use both Windows and Macintosh computers. I'm ready to make an investment in a high-end machine this year, and what I see in the new Macs will be the single most-important factor in deciding what to buy.


A couple of points I'd like to address:

1) This year sees three or four major Apple product releases - iPhone, OS X 10.5 Leopard, the new iPods a couple of days ago and iLife '08 (as well as somewhat less major releases in the redesigned iMac, AppleTV, iWork '08 and the 8-core Mac Pro).

That's a great deal of stuff to release in one year and, while I see the author's point of view about the company having 'more to distract them than ever' what with the new iPods and, most notably, the iPhone cannibalizing OS X staff, I don't believe that the criticism of the iMac in particular was fair. If he'd like to suggest, aside from a faster SuperDrive and a choice of GPU, any more changes that they could have made to the system I'd love to hear them - they have the latest Intel chipset and CPUs (perhaps quad-core will come to the iMac when we see a refresh of the Mac Pro?) already, and as far as I can tell, bar the 2gb RAM as standard which I too would love to see, there aren't really that many more changes to make that they haven't already.

Also a note about the 1x1gb RAM choice - yes, you can't take advantage of dual channel, but the iMac's new design facilitates easy upgrades of the RAM by even the simplest of users. Now, as a power user, I like to upgrade my memory myself rather than specify it when I buy a system, but I find it more than a little annoying having to throw away two perfectly good sticks of RAM if I want to upgrade from 2x512 to 2x1gb. I could be wrong, but that's just the way it occurs to me.

2) The graphics in the Mac Pro:

Firstly, I really don't think anyone who reads this website really needed such a long collection of paragraphs (and a graph!) detailing how crap the 7300 is. Yes, it's a PoS card (that said, you provided SM2.0 benches from 3DMark06, so it's not really in keeping with the use most people are going to have for a system like this - as long as it can drive a big screen smoothly in OS X, do you really need better than a 7300 for audio or photo editing, perhaps the two industries in which Macs are most commonly found?). However if you look at the MacBook Pro right now, it's shipping with an 8600 - so Apple are in fact adopting newer and more powerful GPUs to their Pro-line of products, and so I'd say they're 'to be expected' with the next refresh. However, if we have to wait until MacWorld '08 for that or not remains to be seen.

3) You mention OS X as a feature for only 3 lines. Why? I'd say that software, particularly the OS, would be the primary reason for buying a Macintosh. Where else can you run Logic (gonna stick to what I know with an audio example)? Or indeed Final Cut? Apeture? (Yes, I do realise those are all Apple programs, but Logic is an industry standard, especially for home studios where ProTools is prohibitively expensive, also Final Cut is a vastly popular editing suite used by Hollywood studios, amateur filmmakers and even the BBC.)

I see OS X as being a main feature, and mainly because you can't run it on any other machine! Add $79 or whatever Parallels or VMWare Fusion costs and you have a smooth running Windows environment, or even BootCamp it. As a professional OS - and I don't mean professional as in 'I work in an office' professional - OS X is the leader. It's near-as-dammit crashproof and very secure indeed. Take issue with that if you like, but my PowerBook, which hasn't been switched off aside from software updates in near-enough 2 years, has never once had a Kernel Panic - and for a computer that requires zero maintenance aside from scheduled software updates and no scans of any kind ever I think that's quite impressive. Yes, you can run a Windows PC like that as well, but it takes at least a very decent AV & Firewall, and Spyware scanners as well as being 'a bit careful'.

Anyway, in conclusion to my first post in about 6 months (due to the general crap-ness of THG since the redesign) I'm glad that the Intel hardware gets the Macintosh an article on a PC website, but to compare PCs and Macs in such a linear fashion is to miss the point and, á mon avis, not great journalism, sorry.
September 7, 2007 8:56:59 AM

I find it interesting how anti Mac people are around here from the original article to the responses posted. I've been in technology for 20 years, I've used PC's with Dos and CPM. I've used and taught AIX, HPUX, and Solaris, even OS400. Never got into the mac world until 2 years ago. Thought much like everyone else. Its too much money, etc etc.

Then I found a deal on a used iMac. Started using it as I used my PC's with linux and win-bloz. The funny thing is that PC people just won't ever get why mac people like macs. Even the author doesn't get why people buy macs.

With winbloze you have to tweak and play with every dogged little thing, and dig deep for real control. For a while I enjoyed that, it wasn't a computer but a jigsaw puzzle I could take apart and put back together. Yet you still have to tweak every little damn thing on the pc constantly. ALL THE TIME! It gets old after 20 years.

Sometimes, I just want to turn on my computer, read some email, surf, and work. With the Mac I can do that and I don't have to fiddle with the damn thing all the time. The pc is always losing some setting or having registry entries stomped on by other applications. Using my PC gives me a headache some times its so frustrating.

As a professional photographer I've open up dozens of 8 and 10 megapixel images on a G4 iMac with 512MB of memory no problems. I multitask at the same time using photoshop CS2 and lightroom. Telling people not to or that they can't makes no sense to me in what is supposed to be an unbiased report. The editor should have removed that if the author couldn't.

99% of mac users and probably 60-70% or more of regular computer users just want to use the things and they don't care which video card is in it, how its soldered on or removable. The could care less about single or dual channel memory. Or which operating system is on it, so long as the applications they want are available. Also, Mac users aren't pining for the latest and greatest gadget to plug into their macs. They don't actually care about $800 video cards and $400 memory sticks. Those that buy a new mac this year will be upgrading from their last mac purchase from 3-5 years ago and new converts. PC people are constantly feeling pressure to buy or upgrade something every year. In many ways its a lifestyle choice. Not everyone feels the need to spend 50% of their income on computer gear or gadgetry and video games.

As the technologically capable we seem to forget that there is any other way to think about computers but our own. Mac's will sell this year and they will sell a lot of them. As people buy iPhone's and iPods they'll start buying Mac's too. Its a good thing, competition brings innovation to the market and MS hasn't innovated anything in 15 or more years.

The author could have done more research as well, claiming he's a mac and winbloze user he should know the iMacs are field upgradable. You can upgrade them yourself with parts from your favorite vendor. I added a 500GB drive and 2GB of memory to mine. Sure you can spend $800 from apple, or less from an online vendor. Its your choice.


September 7, 2007 1:48:49 PM

A good read only a few points:

The old-style wireless keyboard can be had for $60 not $100.

I wouldn't worry about 800Mbs firewire. It has advantages, but it's going the way of the dodo, a legacy for now becoming obselete mini-dv cameras. The speed was only an advantage for external drives which are going e-sata.

1GB for Vista is perfectly fine, it just uses the available memory better so you see less as "free". 2GB is nice, but far from essential.

The iLife applications are really only adequate, nothing more. iTunes is below par and quicktime plain awful.

The big problem with many of these Mac systems is actually very close on the horizon - HD video. Current CPUs will need the latest accelerated video cards for satifactory playback. I wouldn't recommend anything without at least an upgrade option. And I will never as long as I live be happy with integrated monitor solutions (upgrade, reuse).

In the end it's the same story as always. If you like the OS, they pay the premium. Otherwise there is little to recommend a Mac over an entry level PC. That's because take away the OS, most MAcs are entry level PCs.
September 7, 2007 6:41:11 PM

HERECY! BURN THE WITCHES! BURN THEM!
Well sort of, Toms Hardware and Mac? Pff
September 7, 2007 9:09:28 PM

The main reason I switched from Mac to PC around 4 years ago was because Macs were just too expensive and I didn't want to deal with the constant upgrading of OS X systems that came out every year or couple years. The last few years has been the only lull in OS releases, with Leopard supposedly on the horizon soon. Which is another reason to hold off buying a new Mac. I'd at least wait until Leopard was released and included with all new machines. Macs are still great machines, but aren't meant for gamers. I think Apple should take note of the criticisms and tweak their lineups accordingly.
September 7, 2007 9:13:40 PM

Hey Grape, I was being sarcastic and referencing one of the videos that just came out on the site talking about DRM issues with Bioshock and where one of the guys smashed his copy of the game with a hammer he named "Dupre". :sarcastic: 

My point was basically thus, since you apparently missed it:

Just as you need not limit yourself to a single platform in gaming--they are not mutually exclusive (i.e. it is OK to own a PS3 AND a 360 AND a Wii AND a gaming PC) perhaps it's OK to broaden your horizons and have a Mac AND a PC. Or maybe buy a Mac and have one or more game consoles if that works for you. Or maybe you buy just the Mac and you're not much of a gamer. Or maybe you build your own PC and you stay far far away from Windows and you do other stuff. Whatever works for that particular consumer. And since computers and game systems and so on are becoming more and more multimedia machines than ever before (e.g. you download TV shows with your Xbox and watch them on your HDTV; Sony used the PS3 as a way to spread its Blue Ray technology to as many households as possible) it's difficult to ignore the fact that we as consumers are "expected" to own an HDTV, own a surround sound speaker system, own a computer, own a portable digital media player, own a digital camera, and use them all together.

Ever consider the opportunity cost of your fancy computer? For what you spend in money on it and the time to maintain it, plus all of the time you've spent trying to get games that didn't work at first to work on it, and the time you spend tweaking it and upgrading it, what does that come to in dollars and cents? Most people justify that expense on the fact that they consider their PC to be a kind of a hobby.

But if you are a different kind of user, then perhaps your time and money are better spent on things built for you and that you use like you use like an appliance. There is also the eternal debate between PC gamers and console gamers, which creeps in everywhere, but one must admit that the price of just the gaming PC that you built yourself is the price of about 3 game consoles; or another way, the price of the game console plus all of the software you would ever purchase for it. The PC has the advantage of being more cutting edge and expandable; the disadvantage is buggy software (OS, games that need patches, etc. etc.) And so on and so forth; the debate ranges on because it can. To throw a Mac into the fray further complicates the issue because you could, as I pointed out, get the Mac Mini and one of the consoles and the HDTV and the price is about the same as just the gaming PC (assuming you're not looking for a 65" TV that is). There are plenty of options.

This topic was started with the simple question, "Should you buy a new Mac Mini, iMac or Mac Pro?"
The author's approach to the topic was essentially, "Let's look at the different options, and critique them." He didn't actually answer the question, although he said that he would not buy a Mac Pro, but instead build his own PC. Well, great, that works for him. If it was me, my conclusion would probably have been, "It's almost but not quite what I want. Maybe next year. But here are the reasons I can conceive of that YOU might want each of these models, and here are the caveats." And I would have laid it out.

I maintain my original stance: Apple is probably going to shift their focus to the iMac; it's their computer that's built along the same lines as the iPod. And with iPods, you don't customize them above and beyond the initial selection of functions and storage space (which model you bought). If they break, you buy a new one. You can't expand your iPod. Over time, new iPods gain new functionality, and spin off relatives (iPhone anyone?). And Appple sells a whole lot of them. Every year. They're a marketing success as well: Just as how tissues have become known in the vernacular as "Kleenex" media players are becoming known as and referred to as iPods by the general populace.

September 7, 2007 10:43:18 PM

Someone mentioned MXM video card if so then the alienware laptop video cards possibly HP / compaq uses the same MXM unlike Dell with the pci-e long slot and the MXM's from these laptops can be used to replace the embarasing video cards in the Apple's now. Might have to get a moded copy of OSX and or using the macvidia 1.0.8 drivers to get a nvidia working in this. To think I used to be only Apple freak 2 years ago.

MXM NVidia 7950gtx:
http://cgi.ebay.com/NVIDIA-GeForce-Go-7950-GTX-512MB-La...
MXM Nvidia 6600GO
http://cgi.ebay.com/nVidia-6600GO-128M-MXM-2-Laptop-Vid...

As author said a $280 q6600 G0 and a decent 8800gts + raid hd's + 22" lcd and your still have money for games and posibly a wall projector of $600 and 9feet big wall image.

Just need to get artic silver no.5 and reuse the heatsink from the Apple "pda video" card.
O and the Imac 24" uses the x7800 / x7900 laptop intel cpu's so no quad core was nuked on Apple forums for asking about q6600 in the Imac as upgrade. SLA6Z http://processorfinder.intel.com/details.aspx?sSpec=SLA...
September 7, 2007 11:04:14 PM

Nice discussion so far.

I'll agree that a great steak is a great steak. Thus, I go back to the fact that my desktop PC is a great computer, running the often bashed Vista Ultimate. It has been a difficult steak to prepare though! I'm a good cook! <Totally true, that if I didn't think of this as a hobby and actually took my time as time, I'd be approaching Mac Pro prices by now>
September 8, 2007 12:09:23 AM

Ok I went to the dell website and configured one of their systems to match the same exact specs as a bottom line Imac. With including monitor of the same resolution along with all the other minor components (1 gig of ram and 250g hardrive) the dell came to $864 vs imacs $1199. Thats $330 difference. However I am missing a few options from my dell. I am missing a gigabit ethernet, built in wifi and bluetooth, webcam, built in microphone, Optical audio in/out, firewire 800 and IR remote. So factoring lack of those components, I say the mac is only around $100 more than the dell. What people really moan about is the lack of a $300 product line from apple.
September 8, 2007 1:16:17 AM

With dell you better video card and just pay for that.

with the imac to go from the ATI Radeon HD 2400 XT with 128MB memory to the ATI Radeon HD 2600 PRO with 256MB memory you also have to buy a cpu and hd upgrade at $300 more.

Dell also has better video cards with more upgrades choices and systems at the same price have a better cpu, more ram, better hd, pci-e slots, pci slots, faster desktop DVDRW drive and so on.
September 8, 2007 4:40:13 AM

There is no '2007' Mac Pro. The machines you tested were released on August 7th, 2006: http://www.macrumors.com/2006/08/07/mac-pro-announced/

Apple did not update the machine at any point in 2007, they simply added the option of dual quad core 3.0GHz Intel processors on the exact same hardware. This happened on April 4th, 2007:http://www.macrumors.com/2007/04/04/apple-releases-8-core-mac-pro/

Only the Mac mini and iMac were updated this summer. An update to the Mac Pro is expected once the new Intel server processors come out. Right now, the Mac Pro is a pretty poor purchase.
September 8, 2007 12:57:14 PM

Poor 3D I can live with..as mentioned for DTP and business apps, it's not important.

But a 120 GB, 5400 rpm drive..I simply do not know what Apple is playing at here. We live in an age where the likes of WD can produce fast, reliable drives with large caches and yet Apple is sticking to hardware that is simply not good enough. A drive of this spec is going to bottleneck video projects.

It seems you're simply paying for the luxury of ownership, not the actual means with which you can easily create multimedia content. There is good Apple software but it's let down by the cost of and the specification of the hardware..will killer apps be enough to save it? That remains to be seen - especially if Apple is unwilling to allow full use of that software to anyone other than those with lots of cash to spare.
September 9, 2007 1:59:05 AM

The message to Apple is this: We will find alternatives because pure hardware is so inexpensive and rapidly advancing that we are lured into an open desktop, a "PC".

I am someone that didn't stand in line for a Wii, or a PS3, or an Xbox360. I've never stood in line for any product, but a sub $1000.00 Mac desktop in a standard format (meaning, it has 4 slots for RAM, fits 3+ harddrives, and you can swap out the chip if you wanted to). I'd get in line for that, I'd even pre-order that.

I'd like a 20X DVD burner, but if it's not on a Mac, it's just a $35.00 piece. I'd specifically like to have it on a Mac. I'd like 4GB or 8GB of RAM, but if it's not on a Mac, I have no use for it except for bragging rights to myself. It's true that Apple turns lesser hardware more desirable because of the platform. Just like I wouldn't want the chip in a Xbox 360 at any price, the 360 itself, as a platform gives that tiny chip pizzaz.

That's what an Apple is like to me, it's like a finished product, like a PS3, like a
September 9, 2007 2:57:04 AM

The message to Apple is this: We will find alternatives because pure hardware is so inexpensive and rapidly advancing that we are lured into an open desktop, a "PC".

I am someone that didn't stand in line for a Wii, or a PS3, or an Xbox360. I've never stood in line for any product, but a sub $1000.00 Mac desktop in a standard format (meaning, it has 4 standard slots for RAM, fits 3+ harddrives, and you can swap out the chip if you wanted to). I'd get in line for that, I'd even pre-order that.

I'd like a 20X DVD burner, but if it's not on a Mac, it's just a $35.00 piece. I'd specifically like to have it on a Mac. I'd like 4GB or 8GB of RAM, but if it's not on a Mac, I have no use for it except for bragging rights to myself. It's true that Apple turns lesser hardware more desirable because of the platform. Just like I wouldn't want the chip in a Xbox 360 at any price, the 360 itself, as a platform gives that tiny chip pizzaz.

That's what an Apple is like to me, it's like a finished product, like a PS3, like a car.

I do completely agree with many of you, including the author, that the lineup pigeon holes people like us. People that spend considerable money and time in computers. It's truly a shame, that Apple won't let us in exactly as we are. That to get in, we have to let go of all DYI DNA. That we have to choose between $100 for a 500GB hard drive, $80 for 2GB of RAM and a Mac. I'd really like both, and I'm pretty sure many of you would too.

I'd love it if Apple would wake up to us, instead of making the same mistake that caused them to be the little guys in the first place. As a computer company, they've always held that we need them more than they need us. Even if it's true (in the sense that many of us would be better off by just taking the higher price and moving on with our lives <I believe this to be the case for me anyhow>) it's a condescending attitude, and it forces me to continue to support Linux and Windows.

I feel like Apple is so great at doing impossible things, and yet with the most basic things it drops the ball. Sure the iMac is amazing, it is. It's such a slick all in one (who can argue with that?). The same can be said about the Mac Mini, it's the slickest, tiniest desktop ever. The Mac Pro, while outdated at this point, was clearly the workstation to beat when it was first released and it's still not clearly beat.

But when it comes down to that cheap, stable desktop, with plenty of pep that any of us could slap together, it drops the ball entirely. I think it's a loose-loose, I know for sure I loose and I think Apple looses too. Over price the thing a few hundred dollars, just give me some options.

I'd like to make a distinction between advice to Apple, and advice to fellow consumers. It's not like Microsoft has really earned our loyalty either. And Linux is in Beta at best, though I continue to be hopeful, there is a very real possibility that Linux could be truly competitive in the home space before Vista has a successor.

Apple, why do you spite us? There are those of us that want to buy into what seems to be the tidiest code base on an OS. We don't want to eat Microsoft's spaghetti code but you leave us no choice.

Microsoft is never "too good", if it's gaming's evolution that keeps the computer industry afloat, then so be it, they cater to it. Frankly, I do enjoy that about MS.

In terms of turning the Mac into a decent enough gaming platform, I would much prefer to see a pact between Apple and AMD and NVIDIA rather than a pact between Apple and the software vendors. If they could all commit to Mac compatible releases of standard cards, that would go a long way for me. It doesn't have to be every single chipset, just major releases. Give the Mac a $120 8600GT, a $200 8600GTS, a $300 8800GTS and NVIDIA can call it a day. Add $50.00 to those prices if absolutely necessary but no more.

I have the feeling that Apple has a standard desktop in the pipeline, that within a year, this will be a reality. If nothing else, a Mac Pro update will certainly bring about dual quad cores and so on.

Though I am as frustrated with Apple's lineup as the author (Frankly, I'm probably much more frustrated). I disagree that they've fallen behind anything, they are far ahead in key areas and Nazi-like in other areas.

Buying advice:
(If you're pinned into a large Windows environment in the work place then you'll have to weigh that in, but if you're "free as a bird" about your equipment... )

If I were going to do web-development, and was going to purchase Adobe CS 3, I'd invest in the Mac edition, 99 times out of 100. I would get the basic 20" iMac, buy up 4GB of RAM from Newegg, and get a nice Firewire 800 external hard drive. I would add a second 20" or 24" display (not an Apple branded display probably), and that should tide you over quite nicely.

For semi-pro video editing, same hard ware as above, just add more software, probably Apple branded software.

For more casual use, I think that the Mac Mini is alright. The main problem is the sluggish and small hard drive. But for casual use, it just makes sense.

If anyone is contemplating a Mini, and is also contemplating a laptop, a MacBook or MacBook Pro is a very nice alternative to the Mini, because the Mini is simply a laptop without a display.

In terms of the Mac Pro, now is not the time to buy it. But if your business needs are plenty and you'll be generating cash with it for 8 hours a day, it may make sense to take the Mac Pro leap. Even for these people though, if you need to buy something really soon, I'd still recommend a souped up iMac to tide you over to Mac Pro's refresh. You can always sell or reuse, or give away a used Mac (the demand is high for used Macs, especially when compared to PCs).

Again, Apple could do without their elitist attitude, and they sure as hell could use a geek friendly product in their lineup. However, Apple is a huge company, and at some point you have to come down to the little guy, "YOU the little guy", and Mac is an excellent platform, and I do recommend it.




September 9, 2007 3:32:48 PM

OWC http://www.macsales.com/ has good firewire cases with GOOD chipsets and they have good prices on ram for mac systems with buy back of the apple ram.
September 20, 2007 11:08:06 PM

I'm having a hard time justifying upgrading my powermac G4. I edit raw photos w/ CS2, and have a huge media collection. This machine has been easy to upgrade, it takes about 10 minutes to swap a drive. I bumped the graphics card, and currently run 5 hard drives (the extra optical bay takes one) for 1.4 TB storage. This machine rocks for my needs. I don't know anyone with a 7 year old PC, much less a 7 year old PC that does what my mac does as well. . . So I would say it was worth the extra few hundred I paid in 2001. I would say the current Macs can more than cover the needs of 99% of the users out there, and 99.9% if you're talking about a Macpro w/ the midlevel graphics card. Can you tell me, just what activity, including todays games would choke that machine? Are game framerates of 100 really functionally different than 50? I guess I'm just not a sophisticated gamer to notice.
a b D Laptop
September 20, 2007 11:14:17 PM

macbones said:
Are game framerates of 100 really functionally different than 50? I guess I'm just not a sophisticated gamer to notice.


It depends on the game. In FPS games, frame rate is everything. The higher your frame rate, the smoother your character and the more precise your shots are. In RTS games it's not as important. RTS' remain playable at rates that would frustrate an FPS player.
September 28, 2007 12:44:35 AM

macbones said:
I'm having a hard time justifying upgrading my powermac G4. ...


With Apple's apparent betrayal of the midrange user (no more 17" iMac, no tower at all except for the high priced (overpriced ?) Mac Pro) a lot of people feel the same way you do.

My next Mac will be a used one, I can't justify spending what Steve Jobs wants for a new one. Why he's going to let my $1000 to $1200 go to an eBay seller or other 3rd party seller, instead of Apple, is way beyond anything I understand as good business sense.
October 9, 2007 9:44:27 AM

The substandard specs on base macs are no real surprise. Economics & Marketing 101. Apple gets punters through the door with the base pricing but like Starbucks, Macdonalds etc gets you with the upsell for the 'extras'. Pretty much why Apple has one of the best margins in the business.

For me the OS IS the selling point. A properly specced Mac is nicely engineered but nothing to get excited about performance wise. Bottom line - if I could run OSX on a custom built box, I would. I'd never used OSX until last year, but quite frankly I won't be going back to Windows, though I still administer Windows for a living and use VMWare Fusion for some Windows apps, and Bootcamp for the odd game.



October 17, 2007 8:00:34 PM

I'm glad someone is finally standing up publicly to point out what a poor value the Apple computer line is, particularly the Mac Pro. What I don't understand is why they call it the 2007 Mac Pro. This box hasn't changed in any meaningful way since it was introduced in August 2006. Sure, they added an 8-core config and a RAID card, which very few consumers cared about. They even provide faster processors in the base config than a 2006 model did, but this is still the same old hardware. Apple can call it a 2007 model if they want. They aren't fooling anyone.

The real tragedy (for me anyway) is that, regardless of the poor value, I really wanted to buy one. What held me back is the lack of a high end graphics card for gaming. I've been waiting all year for Apple to come out with an 8800 GTX class GPU, but to no avail. You can't even add your own 8800 GTX (or any other non-Apple GPU) to the box and expect it to boot OS X since they don't use the EFI BIOS. The best solution that anyone has come up with so far is to configure the box to dual boot OS X and Windows and to SWAP OUT THE VIDEO CARD each time you change which OS you're booting. Gimme a break. I finally got tired of waiting for Apple to deliver and spent my money on a high end Windows rig.

P.S. I'm also really p*ssed about the iPhone's 33% price drop recently. That's no way to treat customers. I bought two iPhones when they first came out. Sure, I got $100 back from Apple for each phone and that took a bit of the sting out of it. But I still feel betrayed by Apple and will not be spending nearly as much on Apple gear this Christmas as I had originally planned.
October 18, 2007 2:05:02 AM

Apple's CPU and graphics performance is beyond lame. Apple will never put a Q6600 in the iMac because it would cannibalize their Mac Pro sales. But the real problem is they haven't even put in an e6600. The unvarnished truth is that the iMac is just a glorified notebook. Their clever marketing literature simply says "Core 2 Duo"... Translation: you're getting a notebook CPU. The iMac is in reality an immobile notebook dressed up as a desktop. Apple in fact sells no real desktop computer.

Meanwhile, over on my linux-based man's desktop, I've been powering along on a 2.4Ghz e6600 overclocked to 3Ghz for over a year. Actually for $270 I recently upgraded it to a 2.4Ghz quad core Q6600 overclocked to 3.2 Ghz.

I almost bought a Mac Pro a year ago; at that time it had some decent bang for the buck, perhaps unprecedented in Apple's history. But I didn't, and now my $1000 hand-built server with its Q6600 overclocked to 3.2 Ghz outstrips Apple's $2500 Mac Pro. Some related benchmarks can be found here http://xtreview.com/review172.htm

Why is the mac mini firewire only 400Mhz instead of 800? Apple deliberately cripples it, otherwise you could put on an external disk and get some decent performance out of it.

As much as I'd like the turnkey OS-X, Apples charges a lot of money for very little horsepower, and this has always put me off.
October 24, 2007 5:59:43 PM

The author takes Apple to task for a number of things, many of which are valid issues/complaints, however, I think he missed on a few.

1. The new Aluminum iMacs don't support dual-channel memory, so Apple shipping them with one DIMM rather than a pair of smaller ones is a benefit, not a drawback. In order to upgrade the RAM, you just add rather than replace. As demonstrated in many benchmark tests on tomshardware.com, dual channel memory makes very little difference in real-world performance anyway, even with integrated graphics (which these iMacs don't use). The CPU cache, pipeline, prefetch buffers, and write buffers almost completely hide any delays.

2. Apple doesn't offer the top performing video card such as the Nvidia 8800 or ATi HD2900 with any of their machines including the Mac Pro. True, but those cards are really only useful for extreme gaming and there are few, if any Mac games that require such power. They do offer the ATi X1900 XT which isn't that far down the list and the new iMacs use the HD2400 XT and HD2600 XT, which aren't too far behind the HD2900. The cards they offer provide plenty of power for the games and productivity applications (page layout, photo editing, etc.) that are available on Macs. It's a bit of a chicken and egg problem right now, Apple doesn't see the need to offer/support/charge for those video cards when there aren't any games that need the power and the game developers don't want to develop extreme games for a platform that doesn't have the hardware/software support their games require. If you're into extreme gaming, don't use a Mac (for now), but don't claim that the standard video cards aren't suitable for the tasks most Macs will be used to perform. In fact, don't expect ANY mainstream PC to support extreme gaming.

3. The standard RAM is only 1GB and Apple's RAM is expensive. That's not a disadvantage for Apple vs. HP/Dell/IBM/etc. Nearly every other large computer maker charges too much for their RAM, that's why there is a huge market for RAM upgrades. Be glad that they don't include a lot of highly marked up RAM in the base configurations and buy your RAM upgrade from a third party such as Crucial.com. Apple makes it easy to install RAM in most of their machines.

4. The Mac Pro is only available with drives up to 750GB. That's all Apple offers, but you can buy your own 1GB drives and install them for less than Apple would charge if they did offer them.

5. They don't offer a quad-core iMac. True, but almost no one who uses an iMac would see any benefit from quad-core. You've seen the benchmarks, very few applications can take advantage of even dual core CPUs, much less quad-core. The mainstream (where the iMac is targeted) isn't ready for more than 2 CPU cores. iTunes and iMovie might benefit, but iTunes is already faster than the fastest optical drive can extract the data, so iMovie encoding is the only thing that might benefit a typical iMac user. It would be nice to have a quad core as a build-to-order option, but Apple understandably wants users needing that much CPU to move up to a Mac Pro. Both the iMac and Mac Mini would likely have thermal issues with a quad core unless they went with the lower clock speed "low power" versions, and that would result in a machine that is slower for everyday tasks.

6. The superdrive in the iMacs is only 8x capable vs. "the standard PC speed of 18x". 18x isn't "standard" on PCs, it's nearly the fastest available, and few machines ship with a drive that fast. Yes, you can build your own machine with an 18x or 20x drive, but the major vendors aren't including them in their mainstream machines. Even with drives and media that can handle those speeds, the real performance is often lower. Finally, you can't get media rated above 16x (-R/+R) or 8x (-RW/+RW/-R-DL/+R-DL), so the real speed difference is lower.

7. The lack of an Airport card in the Mac Pro makes perfect sense. Why would you want to cripple the network performance of a desktop computer with Wi-Fi (even 802.11n)? You wouldn't, that's why most desktops (PCs and Macs) don't include Wi-Fi cards and you have to add one if you need it. The case for Bluetooth is not as clear, but given that it's mostly used for wireless keyboards, mice, and phone syncing, and that most desktop users don't use those things (yet), it makes sense for it to be an option.

If what he really wanted was an extreme gaming machine, why would he even look at a Mac, given that few if any of the current extreme games are available for a Mac? He should have started the article with something such as "Are any of the current Macs a suitable machine for an extreme gamer?" or titled it "Should I Buy a New Mac Mini, iMac, or Mac Pro?", since it's clear that the review is slanted to his personal requirements, not those of typical users. Then many of the criticisms would have made sense, but he doesn't ask that question. He sort of alludes to that in the conclusion, even though that appears to be one of his primary criteria in evaluating the machines.

Are at least some of the Macs overpriced? Yes.

Could Apple do a better job or be more flexible on some configurations? Yes.

Would I like to see a 17" iMac priced below $1000? Yes.

Is there a low-end or mid-range Mac that is expandable? Not really (you do have FireWire and USB 2.0, but no real expansion slots). On the other hand, other than a high-end video card, what would you want to add that you can't do using USB2.0 or FireWire?

Sincerely,
Geoff Strickler
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