I need a new rig help!!!
July 27, 2007 9:43 AM   Subscribe

I am looking around for a new computer, and I can't seem to settle on what I want or need.

I want to do video, but I don't know if a mac will be better. I have a dual-xeon 3.2ghz with 3gb of ram at work, but it seems to lack speed. I don't know if I have this thing set-up incorrectly or what. Would a Mac be any better? I guess I could set up parallels desktop for mac and winxp is supposed to work better but I have no confirmation

I am also not afraid to put one together myself, as I have taken apart my pc laptop numerous times to clean it, but I don't know where to start in designing my own rig.

Main uses are: video, flash, after effects, general multimedia development. Oh and yeah games too.

Max Price: $1000 or less, minus monitors.

posted by Botunda to Computers & Internet (15 answers total)
what do you mean by "lack speed"? in video games? what kind of video card do you have? how many hard drives (and how are they connected)? what video apps? I'd wager you probably do have it set up wrong, or that it's been awhile since your last nuke and pave.

you won't get a Mac that'll be much faster than the Xeon for under $1000 (new at any rate). in that price range, you're looking at Mac Minis with integrated graphics and laptop hard drives. at $1K even you can do a 17" iMac but that'll also have the integrated graphics and will therefore be pretty useless for games. and, if you don't put XP on it, you'll have to spend the money again on software.
posted by mrg at 10:17 AM on July 27, 2007

You're not going to buy a Mac that you'd be happy with for $1000. You could get a maxed-out mini or a baseline Macbook. The mini would be pretty nice except for the small, slow disk and the 2GB RAM limit. Oh, and poor video for gaming.

In terms of raw processor performance, I'm not sure but I think that a shiny new Core 2 Duo (which most Macs run on now) will be faster than what you've got. But there's more to overall performance than that, and "seems to lack speed" is pretty vague. You might be better off doing a brain transplant on your current box.

[Note: I'm a Mac-head, but I don't see any way to make one fit you]
posted by adamrice at 10:19 AM on July 27, 2007

I'm a long-time PC guy who has become a recent Mac convert. These days, it's totally reasonable to do video on a Mac or a PC, but, for me, Mac wins because of Parallels and Bootcamp. These applications allow you to run Windows on an Intel Mac. In fact, my Intel Mac is the best (fastest) Windows machine I've ever owned. I'm also running a couple of brands of Linux on my machine, so if there's software out there for any popular platform, I can run it.

As for video, the three big suites are Avid, Final Cut and Premiere Pro. Avid and Premiere Pro are cross platform (as of the latest version of Premiere, which is CS3) and Final Cut runs only on Macs. So, again, with a Mac, you get all choices.

Depending on what sort of video work you do, I strongly urge you to check out Adobe's CS3 Production Premium package. I'm a big fan of Final Cut, but for me, Adobe wins with the combo of After Effects, Premiere Pro and Photoshop (and Encore, if you make DVDs). If you learn the ways these programs work together, you'll never want to work with anything else.
posted by grumblebee at 10:21 AM on July 27, 2007

Oh, I forgot about the $1000 thing. That would kill my recommendation.
posted by grumblebee at 10:22 AM on July 27, 2007

It's strange times we live in when someone can suggest running a Windows app on a Mac via Parallels as an optimal video production solution.

Your problem, IMO, is that your laptop probably has a shitty video card. All consumer laptops do- they're just not suited to doing video. Apple's Macbook probably won't do video much better, if at all; to get video production from a laptop, you'd need to pony up for the Macbook Pro.

I can't offer you specs, but I can tell you that Apple hardware at that price point is limited to the Mini and the lowest-end iMac, neither of which are suited to video production.
posted by mkultra at 10:28 AM on July 27, 2007

It's strange times we live in when someone can suggest running a Windows app on a Mac via Parallels as an optimal video production solution.

I should have been clearer. I wasn't suggesting this.

All the major video suites are available as native Mac applications. (This is only recently true as-far-as Premiere Pro is concerned). If you get a Mac, you should run Mac versions of the software. My point was that for various tasks, it's helped me to be able to run a Windows application if I need to. Sometimes I find a really useful tool that's Windows only.
posted by grumblebee at 10:35 AM on July 27, 2007

Have you read the Ars Technica System Guide?
posted by demiurge at 10:47 AM on July 27, 2007

(was referring to OP)
posted by mkultra at 10:49 AM on July 27, 2007

You would do much better spending the money on upgrades if all you can spend is $1000. Get a RAID setup for you hard drive, and a better video card.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:13 AM on July 27, 2007

Go here. scroll down to the Dimension that's on sale. That's a $8000 dollar computer for $450 dollars. Spend the rest of your money on a nice display and move up to 3 or 4gigs of ram. Dell will also factory install a geforce 8xxx card for $150 or so.
posted by damn dirty ape at 12:19 PM on July 27, 2007

That's a $8000 dollar

Err, 800 dollar.
posted by damn dirty ape at 12:21 PM on July 27, 2007

A new video card will probably only help with games, maybe after effects if you have the latest version and are doing operations that can be accelerated by GPU.
posted by Good Brain at 12:25 PM on July 27, 2007

Awww, shame, damn dirty ape, I thought they were selling a POWERHOUSE. It sounds like you don't want a notebook for the work you're doing, especially at the price you're gunning for.
posted by craven_morhead at 12:56 PM on July 27, 2007

You can do a whole lot if you build a desktop PC for $1000 these days. A ton.

Your video card will not matter too much if you are only trying to "do video." If you are only doing video, the CPU speed and the RAM are what matters, period. The GPU will begin to matter a whole lot if you are also using the system to play video games.

My recommendation would be to purchase a nice C2D machine with a bare minimum of 2GB of RAM. Buy a 500GB hard drive or two of them if you are doing HD video. Spend the rest on your video card. Anyone who suggests buying a mac at this pricepoint for video/ video games is drinking the cool-aid. If you can afford the MacBook Pro at nearly double the price, I would buy that in a heartbeat.
posted by |n$eCur3 at 1:46 PM on July 27, 2007

At $1000, I think you're best off just buying some upgrades for your existing rig.

Core 2 Duo E6850 - $300
Core 2 Duo motherboard - $150-200
4GB DDR-2 800 RAM (4 x 1GB) - $200

Spend the rest on $300-350 on 7200rpm SATA-2 hard drive(s) and/or upgraded video card depending on what your system has now.
posted by junesix at 1:56 PM on July 27, 2007

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