Animation and Visual Effects Forum

General => Hardware => Mac => Topic started by: bernsul on December 15, 2010, 08:50:17 AM

Title: New Mac options
Post by: bernsul on December 15, 2010, 08:50:17 AM
Yesterday my faithful laptop fell. About two and a half years old, this macbook pro has been going more or less 24 hours a day for a long time now so it is no surprise. Not sure if it is dead or just wounded. This is a kind of eulogy. It is my seventh mac. It is the first time I have ever had a major crash like this, really.

Hopefully I will be able to recover the script for my planned third year animation project which is about the only thing I hadn't backed up.

I pushed it beyond the call of duty and it just kept going, lots of video and rendering and so on.

So, whether the laptop recovers or not, I think the time has come to get some kind of desktop. I am planning on a mac, but I am open to suggestions. My thought so far is a souped up Imac with an i7, lots of ram and maybe the solid state drive. The solid state drive has the additional advantage of giving an extra hard drive for an imac, which is the only option for it as I understand it. Cost is an issue of course, and the extra drive may not make the cut.

I made some comparisons with the bottom of the range macpro, and I figure, to get a monitor and ram and so on it will be an extra couple of thousand compared to the imac, and that is just the bottom of the range. Not sure whether the extra industrial strength is worth it, particularly if I get apple's three year warranty for the imac.

I don't really know where to start for mac PC comparisons. I am looking for a solid reliable machine that will make it through the ordeal I intend for it over the next three or so years.







Title: Re: New Mac options
Post by: bernsul on December 15, 2010, 01:05:32 PM
After initial panic/ withdrawal /cold turkey I decided I don't need to do anything just yet. I will see what best options emerge over the next few months. Feels good not being grafted to a machine for awhile and while there is nobody using the labs over summer it should be fine to have access there anyway.
Title: Re: New Mac options
Post by: rowan on December 15, 2010, 03:20:07 PM
I am in exactly the same boat Bernard, and I too came to the conclusion, top of the range imac should probably be better then bottom mac pro. That solid state drive does look nice, I'm choosing to save the $1000 though, it's money I don't have, I'm in the process of harassing the bank for money. Sorry to hear about your laptop, but seeing you as a seasoned mac owner it encourages me to know you're going back for more, good luck, let me know how you get on.

PS as a side note. My local mac dealer quoted to do the RAM in house, 16GB for $500, that's $900 less then the Apple price, and it does not affect the warranty. Might want to look into doing the same. Apple ram is notoriously, ludricously, expensive.

<3 Rowan
Title: Re: New Mac options
Post by: Ben Wotton on December 15, 2010, 04:32:41 PM
Apple ram is notoriously, ludricously, expensive.

<3 Rowan

Like all of their products and parts, lol.  :P
Title: Re: New Mac options
Post by: Patrick M on December 15, 2010, 05:40:25 PM
On a side note, if you paid the extra for the 3 year apple protection plan, this fault on the current Mac Pro would be covered by warranty.


Warranty and insurance, you're damned if you do and damned if you don't.
Title: Re: New Mac options
Post by: Diminuendo on December 15, 2010, 06:16:40 PM
SSDs are different to regular hard drives, you should disable indexing and defragmenting with them, there is literally no benefit and it wears the limited write cycles.

The cheaper option would be to put in two hard-drives, and keep you media on a conventional HDD and your OS and program files on the SSD, this way, you'll get the 10-second boot, and Photoshop opening in nearly a second flat without sending the SSD into an early grave by re-writing data to it too much. Scroll down this page (http://www.lifehacker.com.au/2010/05/how-to-install-a-solid-state-drive-in-your-macbook/) to the "Transfer your OS X to the SSD" subtitle for instructions on how to do this.

Also, an SSD only really has 80% of the capacity advertised, after it fills up that much, it begins to slow.

Now, the biggest problem with an SSD is that there is no TRIM command in OSX, (http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TRIM) (scroll down to the "Operating system and SSD support" headding) so while your SSD will be awesome when you first install it, it will degrade to a crawl. It needs TRIM for upkeep due to how SSDs write and delete files. Intel has released a toolbox for Windows (http://www.lifehacker.com.au/2010/09/intel-solid-state-drive-toolbox-optimises-your-pc-for-ssd-usage/), which automates this, but it doesn't exist for Macs.

I'm not sure if this, but I think you could get around this by dual-booting windows 7 and Hackintosh (http://www.lifehacker.com.au/2010/10/how-to-build-a-hackintosh-mac-and-install-os-x-in-eight-easy-steps/), and use the Intel toolbox to run the TRIM command for your Mac drive. Again, I'm not sure of this, and it maybe Windows 7 wont be able to even read the Mac drives format. This does have the benefit though of having a fully customisable Mac that doesn't come with the "Mac-Tax"
Title: Re: New Mac options
Post by: rowan on December 17, 2010, 08:53:30 AM
Apple is expensive, some aspects more then others, this usually isn't just a matter of tax, but quality, like all things in life. But as Bernard pointed out this isn't the space for PC vs. Mac wars, the arguement can just go on too long, and I beleive Bernard also stated he wasn't interested in even hearing about the Mac vs. PC debate.

The extended warranty is a real ball buster. It's $270 I believe for 2 more years on an imac, more like $480 or something for the mac pro. I really wonder what kind of world we're living when you have to pay extra to guarantee what you buy will actually work, for the relatively short period of 3 years. That being said I am close to choosing to take it out, it can be taken out any time in the first 12 months, and reliability is the real issue here. How do we feel about extended warranties, Bernard? Especially seeing as you're expensive mac just died prematurely.

<3 Rowan
Title: Re: New Mac options
Post by: Diminuendo on December 17, 2010, 11:53:32 AM
I wasn't trying to make it a Mac vs PC debate. The fact it that OSX does not have TRIM support and that SSDs need that to keep their speed up. Putting an SSD in a Mac will be a waste of money till they do. The Hackintosh idea was me just spit balling how to have TRIM support on a Mac.
Title: Re: New Mac options
Post by: bernsul on December 18, 2010, 09:25:17 AM
Thanks for the info and commisserations.

I am not going near the pc vs apple stuff. I am pretty sure Apple is right for me personally and professionally, and I really have been weighing it up.

Definitely a new machine on the way in a couple of months with a holiday from computer use at home for a while. Unlikely that Santa will bring me one. I am going out this morning to buy some paint and paper...

Thanks for the info on the SSDs Sam, I will just wait and see with it I think, those sort of bugs will be ironed out within six months I guess.

Rowan, good thinking on the ram. On the last imac I had a few years ago I bought and installed ram I bought myself and it was very straightforward. Also legit for warranty I think. I just bought the ram from a mac dealer, but I imagine it would be possible to shop around and get a very good deal. Good luck with finding a new machine.

Cheers




Title: Re: New Mac options
Post by: Atcote on December 19, 2010, 11:51:06 AM
I'm in a similar situation, really.

My Macbook Pro is still keeping up with the times and ways, but I do fear that one day it may drop out, and then, well, I'm left with little. I've been swindled and disappointed by PCs before, so I'm also wondering if I would buy a new laptop or go the way of the desktop in the Apple way.

Personally, it's been about functionality. For a while I did volunteer work where moving my laptop was very useful, but now, it basically functions as a desktop. As I'm going back into uni, it's hard to tell which would be more suitable for the lifestyle.

But that is also a lifestyle that does not have that much money, especially for something like an Apple computer. While with animation I sometimes used the laptop as its own station to work on in the labs while the labs were busy with rendering or somesuch, I feel it may be time to button down and confine myself to home (I'm studying teaching, a much less computer-heavy subject as well). While this is a bit of a limitation on the computer, like you judging by the prices it is much, much more sensible to buy an iMac for the comparative price and power (also, you can have a 27-inch screen, which, well... I suppose sometimes I worry that I see too much of the real world around the sides of the screen).

Ultimately, I think it's whether you need the portability. It's a great thing, but when I've spent all this time confined to my desk as it is, I wonder if it was worth the extra $500+ it may have cost me.

But waiting on it's also a smart idea - We may be seeing the next range of iMacs come March-April-May, as long as Apple doesn't switch on its normal updating times.

PS. Also, when you say 'fell', do you mean in the medieval warrior meaning of the word, or it was dropped/fell off a surface?
I only ask because I have a laptop in the same age range, and, well, I'd like to brace myself I could be expecting the same thing. :D
Title: Re: New Mac options
Post by: bernsul on December 19, 2010, 03:06:42 PM
I believe that the only reason my mac book pro crashed is that I kept it running rendering and doing lots of other crap with video etc often 24 hours a day for most of the year. I have never pushed a computer so hard. It was probably twice "normal" use for the two and a half years I had it. The logic board failed. I was quoted 1000 to replace it. - so i would rather put it to a new computer. It was a tough machine. I took it all over the world, with minimal protection in my old padded backpack with lots of climatic extremes. I dropped it several times, it got wet, and so on...

Atcote yours could go for years.

I agree portability is useful, because it is possible to carry and use a laptop at uni, which I did a fair bit this last year. The Imac's 27" screen, and a bit extra power will probably be the way I go this time - maybe I just carry the imac on the bus. Cheers.
Title: Re: New Mac options
Post by: Diminuendo on December 19, 2010, 07:28:27 PM
Hold onto your macbook, I just checked out doing the repair yourself online and it doesn't look too complicated.  (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8G0PfNvSMo) If you were going to throw it out anyway it might be worth checking out, what's to lose?

I dont know what model your lappy is (I think it's a 13.3 inch?) but I've found logic boards for macbooks on ebay for as little as $100 (again, they may not be your model) your little friend might live again!
Title: Re: New Mac options
Post by: bernsul on December 20, 2010, 05:29:20 AM
Thanks Sam,

Great thinking. I was also pondering this as as a possibility, but wasn't too sure where to look. I will check it out. I have a 15" macbook pro, pre unibody, around july 2008.

I think the lesson for me this year has been - use the lab computers for the heavy lifting - and the computer at home to complement it.

However in the coming year I am getting a fair bit more professional work of various sorts and given the licences at uni I will need a good computer at home for that I think.

If I can get the laptop going again, and have a good desktop, and access to the computers at uni. It will be a beautiful year ahead... cheers
Title: Re: New Mac options
Post by: bernsul on December 20, 2010, 06:07:55 AM
There are detailed utube videos on how to do it and some possibiliities of where to get a reasonable price on a logic board on ebay. I will think about it over Christmas dinner. Thanks Sam.
Title: Re: New Mac options
Post by: bernsul on January 04, 2011, 06:56:14 AM
I decided to go with 27" imac with an i7 chip. I will buy and install the ram separately. Thought about a pc as a cheaper option, but it didn't seem to be too much cheaper when I added up the same specs. I also added up the pc replacement cost on my legit mac software and it made the equation a fair bit in the mac favour. I won't go for the solid state drive, too expensive, but I will get at least one large external firewire drive.
Title: Re: New Mac options
Post by: rowan on January 04, 2011, 09:58:56 AM
I did exaclty the same  :D great minds think alike. The SSDs are still a tad too much. Maybe next time. 16gb ram should suffice though... Mine comes in a few days, i hope mac lives up to its reputation, for both our sakes yes?

<3 Rowan


Title: Re: New Mac options
Post by: bernsul on January 04, 2011, 10:33:50 AM
Congratulations Rowan. It's reassuring that we both came to the same solution. I think the imac will be great for most things I can see myself doing in this next year or two. If you are still looking around for ram, the best price I found for 16 gig of ram is $345 from this place. I need to double check the ram hasn't changed in the current model, and I haven't had anything to do with these guys before so can't give any guarantees.

http://www.macram.com.au/imac-imac-28ghz-30ghz-36-ghz-215-27-mid-2010-c-105_45_126.html

Cheers
Title: Re: New Mac options
Post by: Patrick M on January 04, 2011, 12:29:59 PM
If you haven't already purchased anything, hold off your mac purchases until after march or so as Apple will release a refresh of the range, and with intel just lifting the NDA on the new Intel CPU ranges (Sandy Bridge), its hightly possible Apple will start using these around then.  The new CPU are meant to be kick ass and pretty much everything you'd expect of the Second Generation i3,i5, i7 range.

Nothing is confirmed from Apple as per ususal.
Title: Re: New Mac options
Post by: bernsul on January 04, 2011, 12:58:31 PM
Hmmm. Thanks Pat. I will think about it seriously, but it is worth a lot to me to have this time to practice over the next couple of months as well.
Title: Re: New Mac options
Post by: Patrick M on January 04, 2011, 08:41:02 PM
There is a upside.  The closer to March, current line of stock get discounted a little bit, or things like get a free iPod when purchasing for Uni (This is currently running now via the apple edu website)
Title: Re: New Mac options
Post by: Atcote on January 04, 2011, 09:09:34 PM
Personally, I'd hold off for the more recent computer, around March/April, purely for the lasting power (and it may be a big update - can't remember when their last redesign was). It sounds like you're in the labs in the meantime, and hey, it's not like you'd be unfamiliar with the mac layout (and as you'd know, Maya between Mac and Windows is pretty much consistent).
Title: Re: New Mac options
Post by: bernsul on January 05, 2011, 07:29:50 AM
I have been dwelling on the possibility of a free ipod. Thanks for the heads up Pat.

I can't find any reference to the update soon for the imacs, other than a possible new low end model. Where did you find the reference? If I was buying a laptop I definitely would wait.

And If I was buying final cut pro software I would wait a couple of months as well.

One reality is that there will always be a new model coming.
Title: Re: New Mac options
Post by: Patrick M on January 05, 2011, 08:59:43 AM
No references, just heaps of information from the main CPU used in apple products just being released into second generation and with Apple normally refreshing their iMac range around the start of the year, it makes sense that they would include this new product in their refresh.  It might not be a whole new 'design' more of a change over of the internal hardware for a bit of a power boost and better heat management.

They'll announce the iPad 2 before this anyway - I think thats coming in Feb at one of the Apple conferences or trade shows.

Apple never pre announce any updates, they think its cool and trendy to screw with people and force businesses to budget on rumour and prediction on what they might do - Not exactly a fan of this method, especially if you trying to purchase around $150,000 worth of iMacs and they are updated 3-6 months later to a new version, that will be current for the next 3 years and the ones you bought are now only current for about 2 years. So not good for managed lifecycles.
Title: Re: New Mac options
Post by: bernsul on January 05, 2011, 09:15:20 AM
Well I just ordered it. I want to make the most of the next 3 to 6 months. If I had a working computer at home it would be a little different. Thanks for the advice Pat.
Title: Re: New Mac options
Post by: rowan on January 07, 2011, 07:40:46 AM
Im afraid the way of the technology world is that what is wonderful today will be superseded in some irrationally short time span. You just have to accept that, particularly with apples secretive and frequent updates - no doubt frustrating for administrators. The imac were purchasing was updated  mid last year to include the new i7 processor and an SSD option. And an internal redesign, it adressed thermal management issues of the high end imac (basically they overheated on high load). This is documented on the apple forums. Im on my phone so i cant be bothered fishing for the link but its only a google search away.

Apple are hesitent to adopt cutting edge stuff into their range for fear of gimmicks and passing fads (blu ray please?). This, in theory, future proofs their machines and ensures reliability and forward compatibility. Agree or disagree i wouldnt assume apple to jump out and get the new awesomeness from intel just yet. There is also rumour apple are trying to break old habbits of product release dates to stop people assuming updates and holding off. Apparently january used to be the big apple update month. Then, anyone can say pretty much anything on the internet. My point is - you can hold off forever. As fun as relying on your mobile for internet is, i need a computer now!

Let us hope we are not superseded too soon, but the same is true of the pc world, where every component is updated oestensibly weekly.

<3 Rowan
Title: Re: New Mac options
Post by: Atcote on January 07, 2011, 05:29:42 PM
It should be noted that, while Apple doesn't announce its updates until a few days before, they usually take place at the same time, announced during the same event, each year.

And the blu-ray problem is unfortunately not due to any fear of over future proofing against future purchases - it's because Steve Jobs believes or has been told to believe that it's a problem riddled system (not any more so than when the DVD first came out), but mostly it's his problem that it's essentially a developing medium monopoly held by Sony. You know, like Apple with iPods and iTunes, but TOTALLY DIFFERENT - as Apple is not making the profit from it.
Title: Re: New Mac options
Post by: Diminuendo on May 20, 2011, 12:01:35 AM
hey, if your still thinking about the SSDs, Macs now have TRIM:
http://www.lifehacker.com.au/2011/05/how-to-enable-trim-on-your-macs-solid-state-drive/ (http://www.lifehacker.com.au/2011/05/how-to-enable-trim-on-your-macs-solid-state-drive/)