Total Mac newbie seeks buying advice

in General Discussion edited January 2014
Greetings all.

I'm moving out in early August, so I'm looking at getting a new computer. I would go PC based on my financial situation if the University I will attend eventually didn't strongly advise getting a mac for the lab. (The Graphic Design lab asks you to leave your computer in their lab ) So, I'm a moderately cashless student looking at what/where the best deal is. I work in Painter, Photoshop, Flash, and Illustrator mainly.

I'm currently looking at getting an eMac because it seems the most affordable. I'd definitely want to add RAM to it.(I don't know if eMacs are harder to upgrade.)

Is it smarter to buy from or a reseller? (Which reseller is best if so)

Are the current batch of eMacs a good purchase?

Will I notice an appreciable difference between the 800 Mhz and 1 Ghz? (M9150LL/A and M8950LL/A)

Are there any forthcoming "bumps" in models or technology that I should wait for in the next few months (2-4)?

Thank you for any and all help. I hope none of these questions sound lame. \


  • Reply 1 of 11
    cyclecycle Posts: 187member
    the emac is a great deal...get the ghz model

    but i would recommend a 12" or 14" ibook with combo drive 900mhz

    and maybe ask in july again
  • Reply 2 of 11
    mcqmcq Posts: 1,543member
    Since it sounds like you won't need a new computer for a couple months, wait for a month or two and see what Apple brings out... if Apple does bring out PPC 970 Powermacs, then price drops will occur in the current line which may allow the current PM to be an option. I don't think that technology bumps of any great magnitude will trickle into the iMac/eMac lines during your timeframe, but if you're willing to spend around $1300 then see if you can get a refurb 1GHz PM... I see one right now around $1269 at Powermax.
  • Reply 3 of 11
    gabidgabid Posts: 477member
    Is it smarter to buy from or a reseller? (Which reseller is best if so)

    Buy from your campus computer store (or the Apple On-line Store for Higher Education, though the former still tends to be cheaper). You'll be able to find better deals then anywhere else. If you've accepted your uni already you probably already have a student number so you should be able to order from the campus store before school starts.
  • Reply 4 of 11
    curiousuburbcuriousuburb Posts: 3,325member

    Originally posted by quixar

    (The Graphic Design lab asks you to leave your computer in their lab )

    what kind of program expects you to supply their labs? sounds bad.

    they might offer to load up common drivers or s/w initially (and remove before you leave),

    but the lab should be pre-equipped with gear.

    if you can check it out, that may give you an idea of what your gear may require.

    (for example, if the lab has fast G4 machines to compress and optimize video for Flash streaming, your personal machine may not need to carry all the heavy lifting, and you could choose gear with other strengths)

    Illustrator, PhotoShop, Painter, and Flash all prefer endless RAM, faster CPU will matter, but Altivec effects in PS and codecs in Flash will require G4 for decent speed (current G3 iBooks can do this work, but slowly)

    screen real estate and multiple-monitor spanning support might be bigger factors (room for palettes on spiffy external display)

    the design students i see daily have a lab of gumdrop iMacs and a few G4 PM towers for the heavy work. personal machines are often iBooks, some leave eMacs or FP iMacs or PeeCee at home and bring a USB keydrive of files to/fro, but the few with 15inch TiPBs all love that portable's extra pixels and spanning above the minor speed difference with a home unit

    as for bumps coming before fall, oh yeah...

    read the 970 threads, and many a pessimistic prediction bets september

    if the lab offers Airport wireless access, consider a used 15" PB with ATI Radeon 16Mb VRAM or better, and you'll get Quartz Extreme on external monitor as well as a dual-page-width portable screen. the Airport range/strength on a Ti book isn't as robust as iBook or the new AlBooks, but there's likely to be a new 15inch AlBook before September which addresses this issue (and sparks some resale of current PBs)
  • Reply 5 of 11
    pesipesi Posts: 424member
    okay, i think it's weird that that want you to leave your cpu in the lab, but that said...

    an AIO like the eMac will then be your best bet if you're concerned about the security of your system. just load the thing up with 1 Gig of RAM and you'll be set. go with the 1 GHz model. you get a lot more (combo drive or superdrive, larger hard drive, etc.) for not much more money.
  • Reply 6 of 11
    burningwheelburningwheel Posts: 1,827member

    Originally posted by quixar

    (The Graphic Design lab asks you to leave your computer in their lab ) So, I'm a moderately cashless student looking at what/where the best deal is. I work in Painter, Photoshop, Flash, and Illustrator mainly.

    that's bs and probably illegal or should be

    this world.....
  • Reply 7 of 11
    I'd recommend the eMac, because when it comes to PS rendering, G4 is the only way to go (as curiousuburb mentioned earlier) ... trust me (PS can take advantage of G4's altivec engine).

    EDIT: The eMac also isn't the only G4 (obviously). As someone mentioned earlier, you can get a refurbished PowerMac for pretty cheap... and that would be upgradable etc. CON: you would also need a screen... Over all, I wouldn't get a G3.
  • Reply 8 of 11
    chinneychinney Posts: 1,019member

    Who pays if the computer is stolen from the lab?:
    • Your insurance (if you have it)?

      Their insurance (if they have it)?

    And do you have confidence about security in the lab during off hours?

    Annoying questions, but I'd want to know.

    As for which computer - I think that you'd want a G4 with plenty of RAM if you are doing graphic design work.
  • Reply 9 of 11
    lucaluca Posts: 3,833member
    Refuse to leave the computer in the lab. If they insist on you providing a computer (which is stupid), bring a laptop in every day. For graphic design work I'd recommend one of the 1 GHz PowerBooks with at least 768 MB of RAM, preferably 1 GB. Superdrive probably won't be necessary though unless you personally want it, so you could save $200 by getting a 1 GHz 15" PowerBook with a Combo drive instead.
  • Reply 10 of 11
    hobbeshobbes Posts: 1,252member
    You will definitely want a G4 with as much RAM as you can stuff into it.

    Check to see if your school offers deals -- often computers bought through the school can be a really good deal, as they purchase at an institution discount.

    RAM from Apple is way overpriced, so check out deals at

    eMac is a good choice if your budget is tight. (Personally, I'd also go with the 1GHz/60HB/Combo drive model if you can afford it.) They were just updated, and the price just got lower.

    If you plan on stretching out your loan (and paying twice the price), I agree with Luca, the screen real estate and portability of the 15" PowerBook will make you very happy. Supposedly the new 15" model will be announced in the next month or so.

    Good luck!
  • Reply 11 of 11
    quixarquixar Posts: 2member

    Working together in the studio, not alone at home, is at times inconvenient but critically important in order to build a vibrant community of learners. Thereby, we are asking each student to install their systems in our student graphic design studio (Room 316 FAC). The studio facilities include a safe and secure workspace, reliable electrical system, and direct high-speed Internet access. The first seven years of the plan have proven to be a remarkable success and perhaps a national model. Our graphic design students now have a superior level of access to technology combined with a strong community spirit ? a formula for excellence.

    Since so many of you are interested in this setup, there is a quote from the University of Florida's website about the program. Also, they say they've never had a problem, but suggest you put the computer on your parent's or renter's insurance. They do say I can get help with Financial Aid, but I'm almost positive I won't actually be eligible right away. (Yes, I will check regardless)
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