Buying Advice For Mac?

Discussion in 'Desktop Computers' started by Doctor Varney, Mar 16, 2011.

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  1. Doctor Varney

    Doctor Varney New Member

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    I've been using PCs since 1991 and I'm completely fed up with the crap they constantly dish out. Problems upon problems - forever! A friend of mine bought a Mac and said it's brilliant and it can't even get a virus from the internet.

    My problem is, I wouldn't even know where to buy one! Of course, I'm sure I'm about to find out... but certainly Macs don't seem as popular in the average local high street.

    Ideally, I need to go second hand to allow enough for software, as all of the stuff I have is Windows based. Was wondering about checking Ebay for a machine.

    The thing is - being a PC user, I don't have much idea about the specs Mac offers. What would I expect to pay for one which is roughly equal to my Windows XP machine and have decent graphics and sound? It doesn't necessarily need to be brand new. I figured that with a slightly older machine I wouldn't notice it's shortfalls, if I am not used to the highest spec of today.

    With a PC it's easy to build one on the cheap and I can do that but I feel I need something more reliable and trouble-free and everywhere I go, I keep hearing good things about them while I hear people constantly complaining about the performance and errors on their PCs.

    I don't need something 'up to the minute' just something which works better than my Athlon Windows XP machine, which is totally rubbish.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2011
  2. plutoniumman

    plutoniumman New Member

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    It depends what you’re going to use it for.
    I usually say, PC is for games, mac is for everything else. If you plan-on gaming on it a lot, I suggest staying away from mac and sticking with PC. Or have a cheap PC around for your games and use the mac for everyting else. That’s what I do. Mainly because on all macintosh models (except the mac pro; not to be confused with mac book pro) the graphics card is soldered onto the main board; for the few models you can upgrade the graphics card, the selection is limited. And the game selection is quite poor, though it has been improving lately.

    Macs are considerably more expensive for its performance if you live outside the United States. Ie a mac can sell for €800 in the US but €1000 in Germany for the same exact thing, retail.

    As far as actually finding one to buy, a couple of computer stores sell them. I assume you live in the US. Bestbuy (sometimes) and Fry’s electronics tend to have a small selection. Your best bet would be to visit an actual Apple store or go to www.apple.com, though ebay has used (and new) ones for sale. I know compUSA usually had a nice selection, but I don’t think they’re around anymore. (I miss compUSA!!!)


    If you do decide to make the switch, I think you’ll find some of this software below useful:
    Perian. (http://perian.org/) Is a video codec package that makes quicktime not suck.

    VLC. (http://www.videolan.org/vlc/) Plays everything else Perian won’t.

    NTFS-3G (http://www.apple.com/downloads/macosx/system_disk_utilities/ntfs3g.html)
    Software allows you to write to NTFS (windows) based hard drives/flash drives. (Mac can read out of box, but not write)

    And a whole ton more apps you may or may not find usful:
    http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/100-free-useful-applications-for-mac-part-i/

    EDIT: Also, don’t download mac software on a Windows machine. It won’t work. Windows breaks mac software. You need to download it on mac in order for it to work on mac. I’m pretty sure linux doesn’t break mac software, but I’ve never tried it.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2011
  3. Doctor Varney

    Doctor Varney New Member

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    Thank you, Plutoniumman. I don't play games, it's going to be a tool for my work. The machine will be used in the field of graphics, music sequencing and internet surfing; collecting images for artwork purposes.

    Additionally, since I download a lot of softporn for figure reference, a PC is far more at risk from viruses. I'm aware it's probably only a matter of time before Macs can get infected but on the whole, there seems to be a whole lot less fuss involved with internet security on the Mac platform. There are also many issues surrounding compatibility and performance of internal hardware. I'm not necessarily as interested in 'fast' performance, as I am in reliable, smooth and consistent performance, at the level that it's meant to and expected to operate at. For instance, a PC can have any number of potentially conflicting bits and pieces inside and when conflicts and bugs occur, it's very hard to find out exactly what's wrong. Whereas, with the Mac, it only contains Mac hardware, which is all designed to work together. As for the OS, a PC can start off feeling quite smooth but it doesn't take long before it starts to slow down and feel quite clunky. There are a lot of superflous pieces of 'bloatware' supplied with Windows, which it seems the Mac doesn't seem to require, in order to do it's job. All of these factors are things I've considered, which cause me to arrive at this choice.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2011
  4. Okedokey

    Okedokey Well-Known Member

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    9,506
    You can install Windows on a Mac. THere is actually no difference between the hardware usually, however you are paying a premium for the apple logo. If you want the operating system (which is all you getting different), then fine.
     
  5. Doctor Varney

    Doctor Varney New Member

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    Okay, so then presumably, it would be possible to run the Mac OS on PC hardware? Is that correct?
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2011
  6. plutoniumman

    plutoniumman New Member

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    Just to clear things up, macs are a bit different than PCs. But they’re pretty much 90% the same. As far as running different operating systems on them, they’re pretty much identical.

    Viruses can exist for any system. It’s just that Apple has a better setup all-round than MS as far as security goes. Plus they typically get security fixes out pretty quickly.

    As far as “reliable and smooth”... Macs are reliable; and in my experience often have so many fewer errors than Windows. I can’t recall the last time my mac has given me an error message. To be honest, I’ve only experienced a GSOD (grey screen of doom) only once, out of all 3 of my macs since 2007. The last time, and pretty much only time I got an error, is when I take out my USB flash drives without ejecting, which technically isn’t even an error...

    As far as ‘smooth’, they stay smoother a lot longer than PCs (Windows). Windows sometimes gets so bad that once it starts running slow, that you might as well format the thing and get it over-with. Er, defragging would be better... However this is naturally occurring on any system running on a magnetic based storage device, regardless of its operating system. Though mac handles the HDD in such a way that it takes a lot longer for it to become slow, and when it does become slow, it handles it much much better. It’s actually bearable. To totally avoid this crap, you could go with a solid state drive. I’ve had my OS installed on my SSD for about 2 years now, and it’s about as fast as when I first installed the OS. Still. Plus all your apps load a lot faster; photoshop loads in 7 seconds, everything else is under 2 seconds. Computer loads from off to Safari in about 30 seconds. A lot of the newer mac laptops come standard with an SSD now.

    The bloatware isn’t the fault of Windows. It’s the manufacturer of the computer that supplies the bloatware. Windows comes with... Media Player, Windows Games, Calculator, Windows Movie Maker... And Internet Explorer? It’s not a whole lot.


    It is possible to get OS X to run on a PC, but it’s against the forum TOS, and I heard that it doesn’t run as well on a PC as it does mac. I suppose if one has the same CPU, similar motherboard and RAM specs as in a mac, that it should run about the same...
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2011
  7. Doctor Varney

    Doctor Varney New Member

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    Thanks Plutonium. That's a very informative answer. Actually, I had pretty good idea of the answer to my own question, posed to 'bigfella'. I found that post somewhat misleading. There has to be some difference, somewhere (most likely in terms of firmware at least) or you would simply build a *generic* computer and then decide if you wanted it to be a Mac or a PC, depending on what operating system you installed - and I don't think it's as simple as that. I might not be very knowledgable, but I'm not stupid. My question is - apart from firmware and the name (obviously)... what exactly is it that distinguishes a Mac from a PC?

    On Saturday, I discovered one of the fundamental differences between the Mac OS and Windows - the registry, on which Windows is based and without which it would not work. I was told the Mac doesn't use any such nonsense and if you want to remove a program, you drag it to the trash can - and it's gone. On Windows, many traces can be left after an uninstall and the registry just keeps getting bigger and bigger. I've since learned it's Windows biggest flaw. Now I come to look at it from this perspective, it seems absolutely ridiculous.

    Incidentally, the guy who told me this, did actually build his own Mac. He runs the local PC store in my area, so I'd expect him to know what he's doing. He has said that although it's actually less endowed than his PC system, it still out-performs it in some important areas. Obviously then, it is possible to 'build your own Mac'. I'd be interested to find out more about that. Is it worth it? I can just about throw a PC together - but I wouldn't want to get in a mess with building something I'm not so familiar with.

    I don't quite buy the idea that Macs simply cannot or ever will get a virus. Some people are saying it's only a matter of time - though by and large, I think it is probably a safer bet. You say they have better security but somewhere I read that Macs don't have or need security... which might make them vulnerable some day in the future. I don't know what to think about that.

    Anyway, thanks again. You've been very helpful to me.

    Dr. V
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2011
  8. Okedokey

    Okedokey Well-Known Member

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    9,506
    In terms of hardware, there is no difference. Just the OS. You can run either on either system if you are cluey. And to be honest, the criticism of Windows is faily mute these days especially with the stability of Win 7.
     
  9. Mishkin

    Mishkin New Member

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    I agree that the times are pretty good OS-wise right now for PCs, due to Windows 7.

    Due to the current solid OS situation, I would say the #1 reason why people have trouble with PCs IS because of hardware. But I put all of the blame on the OEM companies for selling systems with low quality parts. I don't know much concerning what typically comes standard on various Mac models, but I'm assuming they use better hardware components (like the mobo, psu) than some of the low-end budget OEM crap that many brand PCs are.

    Other than that, yeah the hardware should be basically the same. Macs ... "Intel Inside." :)

    Other than the OS, the only real difference between the two is that you pay considerably more for a Mac, and the logo. Quality, in regards to problems, would vary from worse than to better than when it comes to a PC compared to a Mac, depending on if you go OEM, which OEM, or build your own system.

    Personally, I am a PC guy all the way. In my mind, Macs are for sheep who were ensnared by Apple's marketing and pay way more than they should. (and 12 yr old girls) Then again, I can't rightly judge people who want a Mac because they like the OS better, or any other "legitimate" reason.
     
  10. Demilich

    Demilich New Member

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    I believe the main reason there are so many "issues" with Windows and PC's is as obvious as this: Microsoft: ~90% market share-Mac OS: ~5%. If the PC and Mac roles were reversed, Mac would be the company with the most issues, and PC would be the opposite. Simply put, Mac hasn't received the publicity that the PC has had to show the Mac's "flaws" (I can assure you Doctor Varney, if the Mac OS were as perfect as you believe, it would be the most popular OS; but it's not, and it isn't.)

    @Doctor Varney; it is unfortunate that you are no longer able to function with Microsoft Windows, and wish you happy days with the Mac OS. However smart you claim to be, you're mislead on many things. Mac's will slow down over time, as much as a PC does, if not properly maintained (which it seems you did a fairly good job with). Mac's get updates out fast and frequent, because, as I stated before, they are quite a small company compared to you-know-who. PC's and Mac's are built the same way in terms of hardware. Plain and simple. The operating system obviously being the difference. And lastly, not using a registry has it's flaws, and severe flaws at that.

    As for your soft porn delima, you will have just as many issues virus wise with Mac looking at pornographic sites, as you do with your PC.
    If you're having trouble comparing Mac's to PC's, go to a certified Mac and PC shop, ask the clerk what the average price on each brand of computer costs, and ask the average cost to maintain each brand. Use a search engine and compare prices to hardware. Call around. Ask owners. Buying an expensive computer should be done on your terms, not on the opinions of others. Use the computer you are currently sitting in front of, and look around. Here's a start: Newegg, TigerDirect, Mac's website, etc. Also, I wonder why you're having issues with your computer, hmm? Probably because it is outdated. I believe the main thing that attracts many PC users to Windows is the ability to swap out hardware whenever we want. I know what parts I'm using in my PC, and I know what parts I'm going to attach to my PC in the future. If you don't appreciate this, then go Mac. A Mac is probably perfect for someone such as yourself. Who just wants a computer.
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2011
  11. Rocko

    Rocko New Member

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    285
    agreed.
     
  12. C4Radon

    C4Radon Member

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    Best advice: Don't buy it
     
  13. Doctor Varney

    Doctor Varney New Member

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    Don't buy what? Windows 7 or a Mac? It would help if you qualify that advice with a reason. Thanks.

    Dr. V
     
  14. Doctor Varney

    Doctor Varney New Member

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    121
    @ Demilich. Thank you. That is possibly among the best posts I've read on the subject so far. It certainly answers a lot of my queries.

    No, I'm really not the sort of person who "just wants a computer". I went with PCs originally because they were cheaper - yes - but the reason I stuck with them was because I knew what was in them; I could build to my own specifications and budget. In many respects. you could say I really am a PC sort of guy - it's just that I have had many headaches with broken systems and am looking to the other side of the hill, to see if the grass is greener. I'm also very open minded.

    Now you mention Windows 7. Is 7 more stable and 'smooth' than XP? Could it be that by going with a Mac without trying Windows 7 first, could be foolish? My first question would be whether all the software I currently have for XP would run properly on Windows 7.

    Anyone be able to give a comparrison between Windows 7 and Mac OS please? You might say "Depends which Mac OS" but I'm not savvy with the different versions of Mac OS - so any insight into that dept. would be helpful.

    Of course, there will always be users' bias. They like to have a go at the other fraternity - calling them 'fools' or 'sheep' etc... I don't buy into the rivalry. I'm much more interested in the computer as a tool. I just want the best tool for the job. In a totally practical sense. I'm not interested in 'having an experience' or a 'relationship' with my computer. I'm just someone who has gotten to the end of his tether with Windows XP and is looking for better quality and reliability. The Mac adverts I see on the 'net bug the crap out of me - but I'm trying to look past the superficial issues.

    By and large, nearly all of the answers to this thread have been interesting and helpful and thank you all very much for taking the time.

    Cheers!

    Dr. V
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2011
  15. Doctor Varney

    Doctor Varney New Member

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    121
    These all seem like pretty good points. Except I've heard the part about 'sheep', 12 year old girls and Apple marketing all too often... If anything, it's rather the other way around. I don't actually get to see any Apple marketing, so I haven't been affected by it. In the UK, we don't see them advertised on TV until about 2 weeks before Xmas - yet Windows is constantly being marketed at us. Also, I personally think there are 'sheep' on either side of the fence. People tend to become comfortable with what they are used to.

    Other than that, I totally appreciate what you're saying...

    So, the bottom line is - do you think if I am looking for better reliability, I would be better off just getting Windows 7 and increasing the quality of some of my PC internals? Just HOW MUCH better is Windows 7 than XP? Is it better or equal to the Mac OS?

    A lot of people say get a PC for gaming and a Mac for creative stuff. I'm definitely in the latter group. Not interested in gaming at all. I use the computer solely for art, DTP and music making, not entertainment.

    Like I say, I'm totally open minded on this.

    Thanks again

    Dr. V
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2011
  16. C4Radon

    C4Radon Member

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    107
    Well, to justify my point you need to know about how I choose things. Every substantial purchase I make is simply based on specifications and price. I kinda do a price/benefit "analysis" in my head while choosing.

    If benefit = things such as RAM, HDD size, screen size, processor, graphics card, ect...

    And Price = the price

    PC's almost always end up being more bang for you buck. Here is an example I pulled off amazon
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Product: Apple MacBook MC516LL/A 13.3-Inch Laptop

    Price: $935.94

    Specs:


    2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor,
    NVIDIA Graphics
    250GB Hard Drive, 8x Double-layer SuperDrive
    10-hour Battery Life, Glass Multi-Touch Trackpad
    13.3-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit glossy widescreen display with support for millions of colors
    Processor, Memory, and Motherboard
    Hardware Platform: Mac
    Processor: 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
    Number of Processors: 1
    RAM: 2000 MB
    RAM Type: DDR SDRAM
    Hard Drive Size: 250 GB
    Type: Serial ATA
    LCD Native Resolution: 1280 x 800
    Weight: 8 pounds
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Product: Acer AS5253-BZ684 15.6-Inch Laptop (Mesh Black)

    Price: $437.69

    Specs:


    Processor, Memory, and Motherboard
    Hardware Platform: PC
    Processor: 3.2 GHz AMD E Series <- it says 2 1.6 GHz processors so...
    RAM: 3000 MB
    RAM Type: SODIMM
    Hard Drive
    Size: 320 GB
    Type: Serial ATA
    Cases and Expandability
    Weight: 5.74 pounds
    15.6" HD LED LCD Screen

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Ok so, I'm not going to search around to find all the specs for all these things. But's its clear you could potentially spend half as much on a PC which (in terms of specs) is clearly superior. To me, the three most important things are: (in order)

    Processor

    RAM

    Hard drive (size)

    Graphics card

    Screen

    In general everything else isn't too important. So lets so who has superior specs for each of these things. highlighted red means it "won" on the right is the Mac on the left is the PC. (remember this is all my opinion and not fact.)
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Processor: 3.2 GHz AMD E Series | | 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor

    RAM: 3GB | | 2 GB

    Hard drive (size): 320 GB | | 250 GB

    Graphics card: ATI Radeon HD 6310 graphics card | | NVIDIA Graphics

    Screen: 15.6' | | 13.3'

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Since the graphics card wasn't specified and I didn't want to bother and go check, I can't say which one could be considered "better"

    Now in general the only thing that could be debated here could be screen size and OS. For screen size, I use my laptop like a desktop so The bigger the screen the better. If you travel frequently a smaller screen could be more logical. And for OS, for me I don't like the Mac OS simply because there are too many moving parts and eyecandy. You move to one corner, and all of your windows pop up you click one way and this little thing happens. With windows xp, click this and there it is. But you may also think, pshhh those specs were close, but you have to realize, the laptop that "won" each "round" was half the price of the macbook! Also, I consider myself a "power user". Also...you cant run exe's!!! DUN DUN DUUUN
    Anyways You decide for yourself, as for security it's only a matter of time before macs are just as vulnerable as PC's if not more because the mac community wont be as "prepared" as the windows community considering they've been "battling" viruses for years now. My main point is numbers don't lie.
    I'm sure there will be much debate over the OS's quality and integration with the rest of the machine. In the end regardless of the OS, 3GB of RAM can handle 10 programs running better then 2 GB of RAM. 320 GB of hard drive space can hold 70 more GB than a 250 GB hard drive. A penny saved is a penny earned, same goes for $498. 498 dollars saved is 498 dollars earned.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Hope you make the correct decision
     
  17. Doctor Varney

    Doctor Varney New Member

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    121
    Thanks.

    In the time since I made my last post, at least a hundred new posts have been made, by people asking why their PCs are acting so stupid.

    I've just reinstalled Windows and I can't even type an 'at' symbol without getting a " mark. Yet it was fine yesterday. Same computer - same setup disc.

    Are Macs that hard to set up? My bro-in law says he did this: "Opened the box. Took computer out of box. Plugged computer in. Switched computer on. Everything worked.... PROPERLY!!!

    Now, the above scenario has never been part of my computing experience - ever. I've been using these things for all these years - and I still hate them.

    Perhaps it is time to simply stop banging my own stupid head against a brick wall.

    I think the next person who tells me a Mac is simply an expensive name and no different to a PC, is going to get a keyboard rammed up their arse - sideways!!!

    Don't take it to heart... It's just the way I'm feeling at the moment. However - is it right that an inanimate object, such as a computer, should cause this much frustration to millions of users? My trouble is that because of it's price - I WANT the PC to be better. Thing is... Oh, I've had enough... I just don't know what to think any more.

    Dr. V
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2011
  18. Doctor Varney

    Doctor Varney New Member

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    121
    Actually, you're right. Last time I looked at a Mac OS, I thought it was rather irritating.


    Question is... why would you want to? I want to run useful applications, like Photoshop. Last time I touched something with the .exe extension, my computer crashed.

    From what I've heard - this isn't always the case. It seems logical but someone who sells PCs for a living near me, owns a Mac which has less memory than his power-PC... yet he says it simply works faster and smoother and enables him to do more with the available RAM than with the PC.

    Obviously RAM is essential - and the more the better - but surely it makes sense, that it's not always what you do.... but the way you do it, that counts?

    Seems to be the case in this scenario... no?

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    I'm sure I will. In the end. I don't make hasty decisions (if you hadn't noticed - LOL!). I've read and taken on board all you've said and it is definitely helpful. As for the choosing... well, the chase is often as good as the kill. :)

    Dr. V
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2011
  19. C4Radon

    C4Radon Member

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    107
    Though you have to remember this is for a computer half the price, no doubt a computer priced the same would have roughly 6+ GB of RAM WILL run faster. I don't care how well macs are able to manage RAM, it will come to a point where sheer power will trump efficiency. Also, you have to understand I'm just looking at things from a financial point of view. If you are looking for something to use photoshop, premier ect. Go ahead get a Mac. Though you have to realize the transition to use it is completely different. Areas where things are stored is much different imo then how/where it is on Windows PC's. Or just get a PC and install...LINUX!
     
  20. Doctor Varney

    Doctor Varney New Member

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    121
    I started reading about Linux... Can't run Photoshop with it, so no-go.

    Hey - it's not so bad once you're in an application and using it. You probably can't tell if you're using Mac or Windows, I would imagine. What I find frustrating with Windows is the failure rate with transfering files, and all the difficulty in setting it up. Setting up my sound card was an absolute nightmare! Then applications for absolutely no reason say they've encountered an error and have to close. It's just crap. It's been like this since day one... 1992!

    Dr. V
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2011
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