To Mac or Not To Mac?

Discussion in 'General Hardware' started by melon, Dec 1, 2007.

  1. melon

    melon MS-DOS 2.0 Political User

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    That is the question. I debated whether to ask this here or in the Mac forum, but I decided that I wanted the informed opinion of fellow PC users/builders here, as every computer I've had since 1993 has been built. Yet, I now find myself wondering if my next computer should be a Mac Pro (it would be the long-awaited 45nm Penryn update, not the current hardware) or if I should continue to build?

    On one hand, it should be mentioned that I work in media, and I do a lot of work in 3D modeling/animation, motion graphics (i.e., After Effects), and video editing. As such, the kind of computer I'm attracted to is rather high-end, and this is where the Mac Pro is attractive to me. It is competitively priced for this market, I would finally have access to the Final Cut Studio (I currently edit in "Avid Media Composer Adrenaline HD" at work, but I get the sense that the writing is on the wall for them, as their product is increasingly uncompetitive in terms of cost; and so I have been thinking that working knowledge of Final Cut Pro, the other de facto editing standard, might be advantageous), and I would never really even have to give up Windows, if I really needed to use it.

    On the other hand, the lack of real control over my hardware is difficult to fathom. As a builder, I'm used to picking "the best" hardware for my needs, since I know which brands are reputable and reliable. Apple's track record on video cards is also downright awful; high prices for obsolete hardware, and no ability to choose anything better. I am also not terribly impressed with Mac OS X as an operating system (blasphemous, I know), but the Mac Pro that our art director uses at work crashes on Adobe CS3 and when I'm asked for help, I find that nothing short of turning it off ever fixes anything. The OS X equivalent to the Windows "Task Manager" (sorry...I forget the name) never seems to actually close anything. And, no, this computer isn't running Leopard; it's Tiger. Plus, I completely hate the fact that OS X hides a good chunk of your folder structure from you, and that you have to access it through the Terminal, if at all. In other words, an intentionally crippled OS to protect its users from themselves is probably a good thing, considering most of their users, but as a "Power User," it tends to bother me.

    But on yet another hand (with this number of hands, we must be dealing with the Hindu deities, Lakshmi or Vishnu ;) ), I am getting increasingly nervous about building PCs, inasmuch as the kind of CPUs I'd be interested in buying for my line of work are expensive, and a huge fear of mine would be that I, inadvertently, do something wrong in installing a CPU, fry it, and not be able to return it/replace it. I just cannot afford such a proposition. And looking at the world of built PCs, I tend to find computers that either have what I would consider to be poor hardware for the price or something like Alienware, which is very much out of my price range.

    Basically, what would you all suggest I do? Are the above assumptions correct, or am I mistaken, in part--i.e., for one, is my fear about accidentally frying a CPU and not being able to return/replace it warranted?

    Your advice is appreciated. :)
     
  2. Xie

    Xie - geek - Subscribed User Folding Team

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    Sorry I can't resist, but both the Mac and your Windows box are a "PC" [Personal Computer]. I can't help it, bothers me almost as much as people using "CPU" for the whole case. :(

    I myself find Mac OS sexier and more functional then Windows, but it's really all your chose at the end of the day. Your real delemia seems to be to build or not build though. You seem to already have your mind made up about OS. ;)
     
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  3. melon

    melon MS-DOS 2.0 Political User

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    It's okay. I meant to keep them different mostly as a differentiation between traditional IBM PC clones versus the controlled Apple Mac platform, even though, hardware-wise, they are virtually identical now. And, just to note, when I say "CPU," I most certainly only refer to the processor itself, and nothing more. ;)

    I could probably get used to Mac OS X. The fact that I can run Windows simultaneously makes it attractive. The fact that I could theoretically run Linux on it too makes it triple attractive. But I still have some misgivings about Apple, as listed above.

    Thanks for your perspective!
     
  4. Erbmaster

    Erbmaster Moderator Folding Team

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    I agree with Xie.
    It's a choice only you can make, there is no definitive objective answer.

    Having used both over the years, I will say I personally preferred designing behind a Mac..maybe this is from years of doing exactly that when IBM machines were still utilising command line interfaces...Kinda tricky with DTP :D
    It feels more intuitive, but again it may be because I used a Mac for design 1st? Who knows? *shrug*

    It seems you need to ascertain what you really want most from your new rig.
    If it's for work primarily, then forget about the tweaking.
    You need a machine to work with, not at.
    If however you really enjoy the building side of things,well..you can see where i'm going with this ;)
     
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  5. melon

    melon MS-DOS 2.0 Political User

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    Decisions, decisions... I believe that the Mac rumor mill is leaning towards a Penryn-based Mac Pro refresh in January, so whatever decision I make, I, at least, want to see what the new Mac Pros are like. In addition to better CPUs, I'm hoping that the default RAM goes up too to, at least, 2 GB. The current Mac Pro's default RAM is embarrassingly low.

    But it is true. This is going to be a work machine. I have to remember that, no matter what I decide.
     
  6. Erbmaster

    Erbmaster Moderator Folding Team

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    Maybe better to keep building on what you have for now if funds permit?
    At least until the New Year and see what Apple's new offering gives.

    Worse case scenario, you then have a play/gaming/tweaking/whatever rig, and a shiny new Apple one for work projects :)
     
  7. melon

    melon MS-DOS 2.0 Political User

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    My computer is five years old now (!), but it still holds up really well (the ATI FireGL card I threw in it has aged very gracefully for 3D work), and if I need to do something really intensive, I'll do it at work. So I feel that I can do a little bit of waiting for now. :)
     
  8. X-Istence

    X-Istence * Political User

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    My stance is a Mac with Mac OS X. I have a friend who owns a web design company, and he uses Dreamweaver and Adobe CS3 suite of tools, and I asked him if he has EVER had any of them crash and his answer was a resounding no.

    As for Activity Monitor not killing anything, if the program is still responsive, it will try to send it a standard quit signal. Which won't do much if the program is really not responsive or won't actually quit, that is when you pull up force quit (option + apple + esc, or from the Apple menu), from there you can quit any program with force, which will instantly kill it.

    Most of the problems you describe with the OS itself can be fixed through other means, as well as through some tweaking. You sound opposed to the OS based on how it presents itself. Give it a try first though, you might be pleasantly surprised. I am a geek, and find myself more crippled on a Windows machine where I can see the entire folder structure.
     
  9. melon

    melon MS-DOS 2.0 Political User

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    I do feel as if "opposed" is too strong of a word. It's more like a bad first impression. I should mention that it was "force quit" (Option+Apple+Esc is one of the few OS X key combinations that I know) that I used that didn't seem to work on the aforementioned Mac Pro. Admittedly, I know that there's probably a lot more that I can learn about OS X, and I'm happy that if I do take the plunge that I'll be able to run Windows too. It would take some time for me to transition my software anyway.
     
  10. LordOfLA

    LordOfLA Godlike!

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    PC's are all around more versatile and unless your needs are very specific, Apples are not worth the money, your Windows PC can do everyting you'd ever want your Apple to do and more.

    Whether it is cheaper or not depends on where on the performance scale you want your PC to be.

    Too many people these days are looking at Apples side of the river with rose tinted glasses. Including many of the Apple users on this forum.
     
  11. Geffy

    Geffy Moderator Folding Team

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    except run Final Cut Pro ;)

    Recent gadget show review of some HD camcorders found that an fairly basic MacBook was far better at working with HD Video than a highly spec'd Sony laptop. Again not the target area we are talking about but interesting none the less.

    Considering the MacBook Pro's now come with default 2GB of RAM it would surprise me if the next revision of the Mac Pro's didn't come with at least that much to start with.

    As far as graphics cards I think provided there are drivers for them you can open up the Mac Pro and change out the graphics cards. Am pretty sure the PowerMac's were capable of this.
     
  12. LordOfLA

    LordOfLA Godlike!

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    Sony latops are business oriented, macbooks are not.

    Macbooks are PC's with an Intel TPM chip on the mainboard and a flashy new bios :)

    Adobe premier will let you do your final cut stuff. However thats a specific need.

    If you want a great all round machine Apple is not on your shopping list. If you want a high end gaming machine come worstation, Apple is not on your list.

    Apple should not be on your list unless you have a specific need for the one or two things your windows PC will not do (specific applications, etc)
     
  13. muzikool

    muzikool Act your wage. Political User

    I started to agree with part of this, then thought about it a bit and I changed my mind. Stability and maintenance issues also make the Mac more appealing. There's a lot of disagreement on this, but I'm speaking from experience and so it's more than just an opinion coming from me. Also, why would a Mac not be a great all-around machine?

    melon, I think you're headed in the right direction with a Mac Pro because of the type of work you'll be doing. Lower-end Macs are priced high for the hardware they contain, but you're right that the high-end Mac Pros are competitively priced.

    One other consideration is what your familiarity with the Mac and its creative apps will do for your resume. If the trend in your industry is Final Cut, then knowing the app will obviously benefit you in the case that you look for a new position or want freelance for projects. Just a thought. :)
     
  14. LordOfLA

    LordOfLA Godlike!

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    Stability issues are down to the end user 99% of the time. This is not the fault of the hardware manufactures, or the OS vendors, irrespective of which you use.

    A Mac is not a great all-around mache because it's a niche product. The vast majority of the planet revolves around Windows based PC's. This means that in most cases going against the grain serves you no purpose.

    If you have a highly specialised need where Apple hardware and Software products meet those needs where a windows pc doesn't then I see no reason to buy a windows PC. If however you don't, I see no reason to buy a Mac.

    The only reason a Mac user will encourage a Mac purchase is to justify them buying one in the first place where there wasn't a clear cut need to go Apple over Windows. Which most of the Mac users on OSNN and other sites did.
     
  15. X-Istence

    X-Istence * Political User

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    To justify buying one in the first place? I don't need to justify to other people why I buy a certain computer. I bought the computer for me.

    That being said, I am suggesting a Mac because my experience with Apple in terms of customer service, and the OS itself has been a more positive experience than using a generic computer with Windows running on it.

    The same logic that you are using to say that we are pushing to justify our own purchase of a Mac, can be used against you. You are trying to push a Windows based system to justify the fact that you run Windows and are unhappy with it, and do not want someone to be happy and have the pleasure of running an OS that does not have as many problems as Windows.
     
  16. Erbmaster

    Erbmaster Moderator Folding Team

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    Ill-founded information based on personal bias. I'm surprised dude.
    This ain't gonna help melon decide one way or the other now is it? objectively speaking of course :(
     
  17. muzikool

    muzikool Act your wage. Political User

    Doesn't matter. The same end-user can cause stability issues much easier on a PC than they can on a Mac. It's almost impossible to infect a Mac with spyware or a virus, while software companies and individuals feed on PC users who have rendered their PC useless simply because they are ignorant of how to maintain them. Maintenance isn't even much of an afterthought with OS X, and you can be ignorant when it comes to computer maintenance and still have a perfectly operating Mac.

    And a Mac can now serve double-duty with both OS X and Windows installed. So the argument could be made that you get more for your money with a Mac than a PC. The new Mac ad isn't a lie, PC World did name a Mac as the fastest Vista-running machine of the year.

    Several years ago I would have agreed with you on this. It's simply not the case anymore though for reasons above and others.

    This is where I take it personally because I do not take the "fanboy" approach to my recommendations. You guys may not believe me, but it was very difficult for me to switch to a Mac after nearly 15 years as a Windows user, with a degree in M.I.S to top it all off. I used to bash Macs with the best of them, but as things changed in recent years my bashing was a result of ignorance. I simply didn't know what I was talking about because I had not spent any quality time with a Mac using OS X.

    Since that's my story, I have the authority to give a solid recommendation one way or another -- something a majority of people can't do because they don't have the necessary experience with both Windows and OS X. If a user hasn't spent at least 6 months with either product and voices an opinion then it's basically worthless and screams personal bias. That goes for anything -- computer-related or not.
     
  18. Geffy

    Geffy Moderator Folding Team

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    I too used to despise and loathe Macs with the best of them. Then at university I was introduced to Mac OS X on a slightly aging iBook G3. Granted the shiny interface helped but also the presence of all the UNIX underpinnings really won me over. With Windows trying to get all the SSH stuff with keys and configs and all that was just a pain, with Mac it just worked. Now with Leopard SSH Keys are even easier, if you have keys then an ssh-agent is automatically setup for you.

    Finally there is apps like TextMate for which despite 'e' there really is no comparison on any other OS. And of course you can dual boot or virtualise Windows and use any Windows app for "all those needs a windows pc can fulfill". The Mac is simply a better choice because of the choice it provides you.
     
  19. X-Istence

    X-Istence * Political User

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    So I am not the only one that used to bash Mac with the best of em.
     
  20. failurbydesign

    failurbydesign music MUSIC music Political User

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