What machine to buy for a gamer?

in Current Mac Hardware edited January 2014
Okay, just to get it out of the way early I know already that a hard core gamer buys a Windows machine or an X-Box. I will do neither, so don't even bother. I despise Windows and rather like Macs I game on my iMac rev. A, which was fine for the first year, but has now gotten to the point where even when a game does come out for Mac (still too rare and often too late), my video chipset isn't supported. Heck, recent games demand more processor and RAM than I've got too.

I mostly play RTS, although I'll be playing Neverwinter nights when it comes out on Mac. I don't play a lot of "shooters" and I don't really care what my FPS is, as long as I don't get chop or lag.

I need a desktop machine that will work fairly well. I'm conflicted between eMac, iMac and low-end G4. I'm not rich, so the more I spend this year, the longer I'll have to make this system last. By my financial estimates, I'd need to make an eMac last 2 years, an iMac last 2.5 years and a G4 last at least 4 years (even five if I got it loaded up). So is the cache and expandability of a G4 worth an extra 2 years of waiting for my next full system? Does the lack of a basic software bundle on the G4 hit the pocketbook more?

So ladies and Gentlemen, I'd appreciate your suggestions/advice on value for the dollar for a system that will see it's most intensive use gaming (I'm not a video editor, desktop publisher or anything like that).


  • Reply 1 of 35
    g4dudeg4dude Posts: 1,016member

    Oh, if you REALLY want to game on your Mac, wait till after Macworld and there should be new towers out. Don't get an i/eMac because they won't last you 2+ years since you can't upgrade the lousy GeForce 2MX. Go with a tower and you will be able to upgrade the video card and maybe the processor too. A new video card in a couple of years will be a lot cheaper than getting a new computer, plus the PowerMacs have a higher bus speed. A G4 tower is DEFINATELY the way to go.
  • Reply 2 of 35
    I would definetely go with the lowend tower. It comes with a better graphics card and faster bus right out of the box, and it is upgradable. Plus, after the G4s get upgraded (which should be sometime soon, if not at macworld), they will tool on and iMac or Emac. With a cheap 17" display ($250) you can get a tower that is not much more expensive than the iMac, but is more powerful and more expandable.
  • Reply 3 of 35
    emaneman Posts: 7,204member
    Definately go for the tower, especially since you're going to hold on to it for a while. But like others have said, wait til after MWNY.
  • Reply 4 of 35
    trevormtrevorm Posts: 841member
    Dual 1Ghz tower with one of 'em big 23" Displays!
  • Reply 5 of 35
    Wow. Consensus. That's pretty spooky. Well, I guess the low-end tower, with a basic CRT is is my price range (the dualie with plasma screen isn't even in my *dream* range). Here's hoping that Apple drops the bottom end cost on G4 towers in the next round (also hope pigs will fly <img src="graemlins/oyvey.gif" border="0" alt="[No]" /> ).

    Anyone prepared to argue for an eMac every 2 years, or is everyone on board that a low-end G4 tower is the way to go for the next 4?
  • Reply 6 of 35
    kecksykecksy Posts: 1,002member
    Defently go with the PowerMac if you're a gamer because eventually you'll want to upgrade your video card.

    Why spend $1000 to upgrade to a newer eMac, when a new $300 video card would give you much higher gains.

    And I don't want to mention how much better the current PowerMac's Radeon 7500 is compared to the eMac's GF2MX. eMac just isn't close enough to the cutting edge to satisfy a gamer.

    And by waiting for newer PowerMacs you're almost guaranteed a GF4MX on the low-end. Apple could even feel generous use a Radeon 8500 instead.

    Either way, the PowerMac is the way to go.

    On a more personal note, it's nice to see a gamer who still uses Macs exclusively. I'm afraid people like us are becoming a rare bread.

    I get the feeling that most of the people who post here are simply PC users who used to own a Mac and now enjoy sharing their bitterness with the rest of us while ranting on about Apple's looming demise.

    I guess it's their way of convincing themselves they made the right decision. Oh well...

    Still, there are a lot more real Mac users than in other places so called ?Mac? communities I've posted in. Atleast here, there are enough people like me.
  • Reply 7 of 35
    serranoserrano Posts: 1,806member
    ...the choice is obvious, tower... gamers like upgradeable gpu's...
  • Reply 8 of 35
    orionorion Posts: 10member
    This is easy, have him get a Playstation 2. Then upgrade it ala-cart to the Hard Drive, Ethernet port, Keyboard, and Mouse so that he will have a computer as well as a game station. Now that Virtual Game Station was nixed by Sony, the Mac doesn't have a decent Playstation emulator anymore. Besides everyone knows that the best games are for the Playstation 2 anyway, right?
  • Reply 9 of 35
    mcqmcq Posts: 1,543member
    Definitely get a low-end tower. Assuming the next revision brings around DDR and an L3 cache to the low-end tower, it should be a very good machine for playing games on. It'll proably still contain a Geforce4 MX, which should be sufficient for a while. In a couple years, you could just upgrade the video card and you should be set. Video cards are getting ridiculously powerful now, especially with manufacturers figuring out how to make them more programmable. Add that to a decent computer (something at/over 1 GHz), and it should last 4 years.
  • Reply 10 of 35
    wolfeye155wolfeye155 Posts: 425member
    This is a tiny bit more expensive than the lowend tower with a crt but might be worth looking into. The new 17" widescreen iMac. Let's compare:

    Power Mac G4 800Mhz

    +You can upgrade the video card

    +You can upgrade the processor

    +3 RAM slots

    +Ability to have multiple monitors

    -Radeon 7500 dual that comes installed only has 32 MB of RAM

    -<a href="http://www.sonystyle.com/home/item.jsp?itemid=9011&hierc=9683x76x9704&catid="; target="_blank">Sony Flat Screen 17" CRT</a> costs $300

    -Only comes with 256 MB of RAM

    -Comes with 40 GB Hard drive

    -Base model has CD-RW drive

    -Comes with no speakers (besides the p.o.s. built-in one)

    - Right now the Pro line of products is barely ahead of the consumer line

    iMac G4 800Mhz/17" Widescreen Flat Panel

    +Has a beautiful 17"

    widescreen flat panel LCD

    +Comes with GeForce 4MX w/ 64MB of RAM

    +Comes with 80 GB Hard drive

    +Comes with SuperDrive

    +Comes with Apple Pro Speakers

    -Only comes with 256 MB of RAM

    -Only 2 RAM slots

    -Can't upgrade video card (but the one it has should last you quite awhile)

    -Can only use the hard drive you order with it (no multiple hard drives)

    -Only can use 1 monitor (the one it comes with!)

    -$$$$ This thing is a little pricey but I think more than worth it.


    Let's upgrade the Power Mac to the level of the iMac:


    ? 800MHz PowerPC G4

    ? 256MB SDRAM - 1 DIMM

    ? 80GB Ultra ATA drive

    ? Apple SuperDrive

    ? NVIDIA GeForce4 MX dual

    ? Apple Studio Display (17" flat panel, NOT WIDESCREEN!)

    ? 56K internal modem

    ? Apple Pro Speakers

    ? Apple Pro Keyboard - U.S. English

    ? Mac OS - U.S. English



    I bought (in March) a 933 Mhz Tower with 17" display costing me over $3,000. When I see the new iMac which has a better display than mine and has a GeForce 4 MX (I wouldn't buy an iMac because the GeForce 2 MX is way outdated) for $1,000 less, I kick myself for not waiting. The tower might be more practical for you, but in my opinion, dollar wise, the iMac has a better value.
  • Reply 11 of 35
    agent302agent302 Posts: 974member
    [quote]Originally posted by wolfeye155:


    Power Mac G4 800Mhz

    -Radeon 7500 dual that comes installed only has 32 MB of RAM

    +L3 cache

    17" iMac G4

    +Comes with GeForce 4MX w/ 64MB of RAM


    Two things to nitpick here:

    1. The Lowend tower does not have L3 cache (in fact it has the exact same chip as the iMac). But, the tower should still be faster because of the 133 Mhz bus.

    2. The GF4 MX in the iMac only comes with 32 MB of RAM, not 64. And, while the GF4 MX is theoretically faster than the Radeon 7500, the fact that the Radeon 7500 is on a 4x AGP bus (versus the 2x bus of the iMac) makes that a moot point.

    That said, I concur with buy a lowend PowerMac in August. By then, you might even be able to get a Radeon 9000 in it, and there's a decent chance the prices of the LCDs might come down.
  • Reply 12 of 35
    wolfeye155wolfeye155 Posts: 425member
    Whoops my bad! I feel stupid. I knew that, I was just thinking about my computer. Forgot they hadn't made that a standard across the line.

    Oh man that SUCKS! When I saw it had a GeForce 4 MX, I automatically assumed it had 64 MB of RAM. Why would Apple do that? What's the point of having a 4 MX without the extra RAM. :confused: For $2,000 I'd expect a more modern card! <img src="graemlins/oyvey.gif" border="0" alt="[No]" /> Oh well. I'm going to agree with the tower then. I guess the only reason I would buy the iMac is if I really wanted a nice LCD for a good price and if I didn't care too much about games which this is not the case. Now I would wait though. If you buy a tower right now you WILL definitely be kicking yourself for it. I'm guessing that they'll have new towers out in a few months.
  • Reply 13 of 35
    macaddictmacaddict Posts: 1,055member
    [quote]iMac G4 800Mhz/17" Widescreen Flat Panel

    +Has a beautiful 17"

    widescreen flat panel LCD<hr></blockquote>

    moot point for a gamer. The LCD is a 1440 x 960 or something resolutions, which very few games will support. You're gonna be stuck with either black bars or stretched images.

    [quote]+Comes with GeForce 4MX w/ 64MB of RAM<hr></blockquote>

    Besides the fact that it doesn't, the GF4MX is a sucky video card in the first place. It is not a GeForce 4 by any means. It is merely a souped-up GeForce 2, and is not even as advanced as the low end GeForce 3. Granted though, it is better than the GeForce 2 MX by a longshot, and slightly better than the Radeon 7500.

    [quote]+Comes with 80 GB Hard drive<hr></blockquote>

    But can't have more than one.

    [quote]+Comes with SuperDrive<hr></blockquote>

    Superdrive: Jack of all trades, master of none.

    [quote]+Comes with Apple Pro Speakers<hr></blockquote>

    I think most gamers would upgrade the pro speakers anyway with a decent pair of headphones or a 4.1+ system, provided they have a sound card (has the SB Live! ever gotten decent drivers?).

    [quote]-Only comes with 256 MB of RAM<hr></blockquote>

    And PC100, at that.

    [quote]-Only 2 RAM slots<hr></blockquote>

    At least one of which only takes SODIMMs.

    [quote]-Can't upgrade video card (but the one it has should last you quite awhile)<hr></blockquote>

    The GF4MX is a generation behind the Radeon 8500, GeForce 3, and GeForce 4 Ti. It is two generations behind the new Radeon 9700. I would not recommend buying a GF4MX to anyone, unless it was their only option.

    [quote]-Can only use the hard drive you order with it (no multiple hard drives)<hr></blockquote>


    [quote]-Only can use 1 monitor (the one it comes with!)<hr></blockquote>

    Which is a pretty bad gaming monitor to start with. LCDs are not fun for gaming since you cannot change to a resolution lower (except at 0.5 ratios) without a substantial quality hit, an since a GF4MX cannot power games decently at a res like 1440 x 960, you're stuck with either a lousy framerate or muddy resolutions. The fact that the native screen res is widescreen only complicates this.

    [quote]-$$$$ This thing is a little pricey but I think more than worth it.


    All of the features of the iMac are nice for a home user, but terrible for a gamer.

    I'd STRONGLY recommend building a gaming PC, as you can get about 2X the gaming performance for around half the price plus the best possible upgrade path known to mankind, and it's fun to build computers.

    But since you are bonded to the Macintosh platform against your own will, I guess the PowerMac will have to do.

    Be sure you buy a nice 19" CRT to go with your computer. IMHO, 19" CRTs are the best for gaming. Good blend of price and quality, plus, the bigger you go, the less you can see on the screen at one time, which may be okay for normal users, but not for gamers.

    Good luck.
  • Reply 14 of 35
    Not to play devils advocate but somebody has got to say it.

    Buy a PC.

    Okay, I'll crawl back into my hole now.

    <img src="graemlins/lol.gif" border="0" alt="[Laughing]" />
  • Reply 15 of 35
    chweave1chweave1 Posts: 164member
    If you do decide to buy a PC, and of the following 1. you do not want to build it yourself (which would save you a lot of money), and 2. you have some extra money to burn, I would consider purchasing a PC made by Voodoo computers in Canada. My friend does their website(www.voodoopc.com) and they make some of the most beautiful PC's there are! Check it out, and if you still want a Mac, wait a few months until they atleast speed bump them.
  • Reply 16 of 35
    splinemodelsplinemodel Posts: 7,311member
    Just a word to the wise about video cards:

    Look at some reviews between ATi and nVidia models. Almost all of them show the nVidia's slightly eeking out the ATi's in terms of raw speed, but the ATi's producing much nicer, glitch free renders, as well as much finer DVD support.

    My verdict is to go with the ATi. You may have a few less frames per second, but the quality you'll get will far outshine that of the GeForce.
  • Reply 17 of 35
    That F-class from Voodoo Computers looks sweet..! Good link, chweave1
  • Reply 18 of 35
    macaddictmacaddict Posts: 1,055member
    If you want to achieve the same look as VoodooPCs with a PC you build yourself, their cases seem to be exclusively CoolerMaster with maybe slight tweaks.

    The voodooPC site is very nice, though.
  • Reply 19 of 35
    chweave1chweave1 Posts: 164member
    Radar... You're absolutely right. When i built my machine, i just bought a cheapo atx server case. But shortly after, i saw the voodoo cases and fell in love. It was pure luck that i found out that they were pretty much cooler master. So when i got the cash, i got myself a coolermaster case and god i love the way it looks.
  • Reply 20 of 35
    [quote]Originally posted by radar1503:


    I'd STRONGLY recommend building a gaming PC, as you can get about 2X the gaming performance for around half the price plus the best possible upgrade path known to mankind, and it's fun to build computers.

    But since you are bonded to the Macintosh platform against your own will, I guess the PowerMac will have to do.


    Well, I appreciate everyone's opinions, whether it was the caring Mac Evangelists trying to keep me in the fold, or the honest, straightforward PC gamers who were willling to tell me what I think I already knew deep down.

    Unfortunately, I suppose, I've decided to go with a PC for awhile, a choice I'm afraid a lot of Mac Users who are neither rich nor zealots are going to make this year if they feel they need a new system. The link below is part of a set of posts of what I think I need, and by extension many average users who sometimes game need to make MacOS their home for the next few years.

    <a href="http://forums.appleinsider.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=10;t=002050;p=2#000 076" target="_blank">http://forums.appleinsider.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=10;t=002050;p=2#000 076</a>

    For the PC savey who may be curious, I went with an Athlon 2100+, 512 MB 266Mhz DDR (1 chip, 2 slots still open), 80 GB 7200 rpm HD, CD-RW, DVD-Rom (two drives), and otherwise basic spec. Video will be an above-average quality 19" CRT (.25 dpi, 75 Hz 1600 X 1200 at 75 Hz) with a GF 2 MX 400 (64 MB) video card.

    I know the GF 2 card sucks, but I got it *very* cheap, and I'll be getting either the new high-end ATI beastie that will be released in August or I'll pick up a Ti 4600 as the price continues to drop.

    And for the record, I bought my new system including display for about 60% the price of a similarly equipped G4 800 (with no display included, 133 Mhz SDRAM and a slower processor by any standard).

    Still, I am really, really hoping that my next computer (probably spring 2004) will be a Mac. I really am willing to pay up to 20% more than PC for comparable hardware. Apple just has to get to work on the comparable hardware and the price-point (G4 systems are more like 100% more, especially at the higher end). I hope the move to PC is temporary. But for now Apple has lost my money for 2002.

    [ 07-23-2002: Message edited by: WilsonStark ]

    [ 07-23-2002: Message edited by: WilsonStark ]</p>
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