get my mac on?
September 25, 2006 6:12 PM   Subscribe

Apologies for yet another mac vs pc question, but...

I haven't really been able to find detailed and recent information about the current scene.

I'm an architecture and design student, so I use a lot of fairly intensive software -- the standard adobe stuff (photoshop, illustrator, indesign, a bit of premier), but also a lot of modelling programs (Rhino, 3dMax, autoCad) and a wee bit of Processing and other coding/visualization work.

Given that I tend to do a lot of graphics stuff, is going with one of the 17" iMacs a mistake? I know I'd have to use the modeling/CAD software in windows.

As far as I can tell, the iMac that I'd want (2Ghz processor, 1GB ram, Radeon X1600 card), at about $1400 + tax is a touch more expensive than a fairly equivalently spec'd out PC -- what kind of performance can I expect?

I'm less concerned about the Adobe products, as according to this
a universal versions of all those can reasonably be expected to appear sooner or later, but am I going to be taking a hit to my ability to do 3d modeling and CADing?
posted by slipperywhenwet to Technology (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Personally, I'd feel a little cramped on the 1440x900 screen of the 17-incher, especially doing 3d work.
posted by GeekAnimator at 6:37 PM on September 25, 2006

If you do go with the 17" make sure you go with the one with the ATI Radeon X1600. It has twice the memory (128 as opposed to 64mb) and thus, will be better for graphics applications.

Also, to address GeekAnimator's excellent concern, all iMacs come with a mini-DVI video out, which means you should be able to run a second monitor, something that could be very useful if your programs are screen real-estate hogs. (as many graphics programs are wont to be)
posted by quin at 7:05 PM on September 25, 2006

Oh, and where I said 'you should be able to run a second monitor' please read that as 'I would imagine it's likely you should...' I don't have an iMac so make sure you have someone at an Apple store (or here on AskMe) confirm that before you take my word for it.
posted by quin at 7:10 PM on September 25, 2006

I actually do most of my work on a 15.5" [!] laptop, or on the machines at school, which aren't that much bigger. So, I've not really been spoiled by big screen displays yet..
posted by slipperywhenwet at 7:32 PM on September 25, 2006

The Adobe stuff is going to be a bit slow until CS3 rolls around. Illustrator and InDesign should be acceptable, Photoshop could be sluggish, and you want to drop Premiere in Favor of FinalCut Express (or Pro, if you need the feature set and have the cash).

Budget to bring it up to 2GB of RAM aftermarket. DO NOT pay Apple prices for RAM.

If you have the cash, I'd jump to the 20" or even the 24".
posted by nathan_teske at 8:06 PM on September 25, 2006

You'll also need to budget in a windows license so you can run BootCamp to get at the windows-only software on your list.
posted by heresiarch at 9:01 PM on September 25, 2006

If you want to do CAD, 3D rending, you do NOT want a gaming 3D card, which is what is in all the iMacs.

For $1400, you're better off getting entry/mid level PC with a FireGL card (~$650) and a 24" widescreen monitor. (~$750)

If you really want a Mac, you might as well go cheap with a Mac mini and a large monitor. (The onboard is just as useful to you in CAD/3D as a gaming video card).
posted by mphuie at 9:03 PM on September 25, 2006 [1 favorite]

The software you need is going to run slowly or not at all under OS X, so I think this is one case where you're better off with a PC. Although Boot Camp and Parallels are great, it seems daft to buy a Mac then spend most of your time in Windows; the hardware isn't that nice.

Put a large chunk of your budget towards a really good, big monitor (or 2 if you prefer), then find/build the right PC for your needs.
posted by malevolent at 11:49 PM on September 25, 2006

As a side note- the Mac you describe is $1200. In addition, assuming you're a student at an accredited university, you can probably get an educational discount, which will bring it down further.
posted by mkultra at 7:09 AM on September 26, 2006

PC's rock, Mac's rock more ... but ... think ... everything else being equal ... what can you pirate software for? will you have to _pay_ for that copy of autocad for the mac as opposed to downloading it for free from piratebay for your PC?

I would love a mac ... but paying for software (because it is difficult to find cracked copies) rules it out entirely.
posted by jannw at 2:52 PM on September 26, 2006

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