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

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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.
 

kingssman

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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.
 

kingssman

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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.
 

mesarectifier

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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.
 

j88per

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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.


 

hermanshermit

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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.
 

Maxor127

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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.
 

Retrogame

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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.

 

WarraWarra

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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-Laptop-Video-Module_W0QQitemZ280148774839QQihZ018QQcategoryZ74957QQrdZ1QQssPageNameZWD1VQQcmdZViewItem
MXM Nvidia 6600GO
http://cgi.ebay.com/nVidia-6600GO-128M-MXM-2-Laptop-Video-Card-84-UH3003-10_W0QQitemZ230134421087QQihZ013QQcategoryZ42188QQrdZ1QQssPageNameZWD1VQQcmdZViewItem

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=SLA6Z
 

gochichi

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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>
 

kingssman

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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.
 

Joe_The_Dragon

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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.
 

mahonmeister

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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.
 

wild9

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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.
 

gochichi

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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
 

gochichi

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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.




 

macbones

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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.
 


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.
 

AARRGGHHH

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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.
 

Merlot_pv

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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.



 

froboz

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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.
 

thx1138

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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.
 

geoffs

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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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