10 Replies Latest reply on Dec 13, 2008 7:26 PM by Andrew Yoole

    using AE - should i really buy a mac?

    Level 1
      I'm a graphic designer needing to buy a new computer. My main concerns are the life span of the computer, right now I've been using a Toshiba Satellite that I've had for 3 1/2 years that has reached its end. I'd like to go a longer time, at least four years or so.

      My second main concern is stability. As I'm sure many of you can feel my pain I'm very tired of "Illegal operations" and "Not Responding" notices in the middle of projects. I understand these types of things are unavoidable but I'd to minimize them as much as possible. OSX, XP, Vista??

      Third concern is performance. I'm looking to get Adobe Master Collection and run a least a few of these programs at a time. Specifically I'd like to be able to run Affect Effects and Photoshop without having to wait forever to for a ram preview in AE. I would really like something that moves fast and does what I want it to, when I want it to.

      I've looked a lot into the MacBook Pro, its seems like a suped up version of that (2.53GHz, Intel Core 2 Duo, 4GB memory, 320GB HD) could definitely do the job, but that runs upwards of $3000. Is that really the best way to go? I hear that it is but it's hard for me to believe that when I see a PC with3GB ram and 350GB HD for $500. Even if I had to buy a new PC every two years that would still be a better way to go.

      Is there a PC brand (Sony, Toshiba, etc) that's better than another? Mac the way to go?? Mac Pro refirb??

      Thoughts? Advise? Let me have it!

      Thanks!
        • 1. Re: using AE - should i really buy a mac?
          (Steve_Patterson) Level 1
          Nick, you may have inadvertently opened Pandora's Box.
          :)

          Many will have varying opinions. I love Macs. Love 'em. Many don't.
          I also love how customizable PC Hardware is. I've used XP (and XP 64) for years, and as long as you have reliable hardware components, and don't mind keeping track of OS/driver/etc... updates manually (and are fairly decent at it to begin with), then they are great too.

          In my experience, with a Windows setup, you need to be a bit more of an IT minded individual to keep everything on the up and up.

          The great thing about a new Mac is that you can use Boot Camp to run windows XP, and have the best of both worlds.

          The price point is high, but generally speaking, you get what you pay for (plus some unexplained mark-up...perhaps for such spiffy packaging?) As for refurbished, I don't know. I've never purchased refurbished before. If you go new, you should probably drop the extra $250 for the AppleCare. Not sure what the safety net on a refurbished machine is. Likewise if you go with a Dell, get a good support package. Gold support is pretty darn sweet with Dell, but not cheap.

          IF you go the Mac route, get a great base/core machine, and then add the additional RAM (buy through a vendor such as: http://www.crucial.com ), and HD storage on your own. That's where Apple really jacks the price up.

          Also, if you were to try to spec out a comparable high-end workstation from Dell, Alienware, or HP, the price wouldn't be all that different (I haven't spec'd laptops, but I'd guess the same would hold true).

          As far as performance is concerned, the more RAM, and better/more cores that you can afford to have, the better. Ideally, you should have at least 2GB/core. If you plan on doing lots of HD work, you may want to invest in some RAID drives, SAS or SATA, or at least some 10k rpm SATAs.
          • 2. Re: using AE - should i really buy a mac?
            Todd_Kopriva Level 8
            Thank you, Steve, for a very civil and useful response to a Pandora's Box question.
            • 4. Re: using AE - should i really buy a mac?
              Mylenium Most Valuable Participant
              Nick, some of your points are somewhat diametrical in nature, so it's not exactly easy to give any advise (apart from the politics involved ;-) ). If absolute performance is a concern, PCs with a 64bit operating system beat Macs every time. From the maximum usable RAM per program instance (4GB vs. 3GB) to the wider selection of graphics cards there is several things that speak in favor of such a PC.

              On such systems, stability is also no big deal, as they treat each process as entirely separate and thus another program cannot interfere in AE's operation (which more than anything else is the cause of crashes on 32bit operating systems). What is annoying with PCs, is of course the amount of attention they require to get system updates or protect them against external evils.

              However, the more Macs are used, the more will this become an issue for them as well and studies already have revealed, that on an abstract technical level they are more vulnerable and Apple's patching policy is worse than Microsoft's. Macs are nice, though and in generally feel a lot snappier, whether it's better startup times, quicker searching or a better resilience to user errors.

              The question of long-term investment is similarly ambiguous. No matter what machine you buy, there will always be a faster/ better one in half a year in terms of hardware and it will be 20% cheaper. ;-) I'm using my machines at work about 3 years, at home up to 6 years. However, my prime focus is getting a good setup and a reliable vendor. I don't mind spending a few bucks more on the initial setup (within the bounds of what I can afford), if only I can be reasonably sure it will not explode in the next 2 years. Likewise, to me it is important to have service contracts and protection plans, even if they cost extra money. In the crunch, it is much more important to have a replacement machine or spare components within 24 hours than spending perhaps days argueing for repairs on some expensive hotline.

              As for which PC brand is better than another, is almost impossible to answer. As Steve pointed out, even good PCs don't come cheap and once you consider purchasing a professional workstation, your choices are limited anyways. Personally I've used HP, Dell and our local Fujitsu-Siemens machines, but I also know people who speak highly of Alienware machines (now absorbed into Dell). Funnily, Toshiba, Sony, Acer and others don't offer this kind of "serious" PCs, so you'd only be buying home machines from them. If you will, they produce nice notebooks, but not necessarily the same quality desktop machines.

              Mylenium
              • 5. Re: using AE - should i really buy a mac?
                Andrew Yoole MVP & Adobe Community Professional
                I will profess my preference for Mac as well, but I use Windows and Mac OS pretty much daily. Over years of use I simply find Macs a little less troublesome, which no doubt is at least in part due to less hardware variables. I have colleagues who will swear the opposite, however!

                Yes, Macs certainly cost more, and I also strongly recommend Applecare extended warranty, because Apple repairs ain't cheap either. But you get what you pay for. Except for their lower-end models (which are just as rubbishy as everybody else's) Apple's build quality is excellent - the current MacPro cases are the best I've ever used on any machine for ease of drive/RAM replacement etc.

                Despite having a newer machines, I still have a 5 year old G4 dual 1.25, and 4.5 year old G4 Powerbook, and both have never skipped a beat.

                Don't believe the out-moded hype about Macs not having any peripheral hardware. The MacPro I'm typing this on has 4 x Seagate hard drives, generic RAM, 2 x Dell LCD monitors, a Wacom tablet, Canon printer, Epson scanner, LaCie external RAID, Digidesign 002 ProTools audio box and Blackmagic Decklink card connected to a broadcast monitor.

                All that aside, I also have a P4 PC nearby that is at least 6 years old and still works fine (when I turn it on!) You will undoubtedly get more bang for your buck hardware-wise with a Windows-only machine, so if cost is an important factor I would certainly consider it. I have a personal formula - if I can pay for a new machine with one month's work, I am happy to buy it as a 2-3 year investment.

                An important consideration is your client base and their requirements. If you deal with clients (or providers) who, for example, use Final Cut Pro and will expect you to revise their edits during the compositing process, then the answer for you is obvious. The capability of running Mac OS AND Windows on Mac hardware is a big selling point for many people.
                • 6. Re: using AE - should i really buy a mac?
                  Jonas Hummelstrand Level 2
                  Windows or Mac? With Adobe apps it doesn't really matter...

                  Mac OS X:
                  + Can run Windows natively as well
                  + Support for more than 4 GB of RAM
                  - Slower Adobe performance than in Windows
                  - More expensive hardware, that is harder to upgrade

                  Windows XP / Windows Vista (32-bit):
                  + Faster performance in Adobe programs than in OS X
                  + Cheap hardware, easy to upgrade just some components
                  - No OS X support
                  - Limited to max. 4 GB of RAM and 2 GB per application

                  Windows Vista 64:
                  + Faster performance in Adobe programs than in OS X
                  + Cheap hardware, easy to upgrade just some components
                  + Support for more than 4 GB of RAM (only Photoshop Extended can use more than 4 GB, though)
                  - Lower-end hardware can sometime lack 64-bit drivers.

                  Please note that Adobe's licenses are bound to what OS you get, so you must buy two licenses if you want to run under both OS X and Windows.

                  - Jonas Hummelstrand
                  http://generalspecialist.com/
                  • 7. Re: using AE - should i really buy a mac?
                    Level 1
                    Nick_Dantonio@adobeforums.com wrote:
                    > I'm a graphic designer needing to buy a new computer. My main
                    > concerns are the life span of the computer, right now I've been using
                    > a Toshiba Satellite that I've had for 3 1/2 years that has reached
                    > its end. I'd like to go a longer time, at least four years or so.

                    I used PC's exclusively until recently. I would shop for good deals and
                    the machine would typically last about three years and then stuff would
                    start to go wrong. I cannot say for sure, but I suspect it was a case of
                    you get that you pay for. Buying low cost goods got me lower quality.
                    Since video work often runs the components at a high output, its likely
                    I just burned them out. After the last time, I spec'd a Mac Pro Octo
                    against some of the built for video and or server and workstation class
                    PC's and found that the price was not that much higher. So I tried the
                    Mac. I like it. Not a quantum leap over Windows like it, but its a
                    really nice machine. But then for three grand, it better be eh?


                    > My second main concern is stability. As I'm sure many of you can feel
                    > my pain I'm very tired of "Illegal operations" and "Not Responding"
                    > notices in the middle of projects. I understand these types of things
                    > are unavoidable but I'd to minimize them as much as possible. OSX,
                    > XP, Vista??

                    I was usually free of these in Windows, only having them crop up when
                    the machine was telling me it was getting ready to go south.




                    > Third concern is performance. I'm looking to get Adobe Master
                    > Collection and run a least a few of these programs at a time.
                    > Specifically I'd like to be able to run Affect Effects and Photoshop
                    > without having to wait forever to for a ram preview in AE. I would
                    > really like something that moves fast and does what I want it to,
                    > when I want it to.

                    eight core machine with 6 gig beats the hell out of any prior Winbox. AE
                    PS, Bridge all together with no noticeable lapse. But then again, no
                    Winbox I had even lived in the same zip code hardware wise.



                    > I've looked a lot into the MacBook Pro, its seems like a suped up
                    > version of that (2.53GHz, Intel Core 2 Duo, 4GB memory, 320GB HD)
                    > could definitely do the job, but that runs upwards of $3000. Is that
                    > really the best way to go? I hear that it is but it's hard for me to
                    > believe that when I see a PC with3GB ram and 350GB HD for $500. Even
                    > if I had to buy a new PC every two years that would still be a better
                    > way to go.
                    >
                    > Is there a PC brand (Sony, Toshiba, etc) that's better than another?
                    > Mac the way to go?? Mac Pro refirb??
                    >
                    > Thoughts? Advise? Let me have it!
                    >

                    Having looked ahead at other responses, I will agree very much with Mr.
                    Patterson. Choosing strictly for price will not necessarily provide
                    quality you can rely on. And at the end of the day, in the real world,
                    both PC's and Mac's are providing real production for lots of people,
                    and since dollars vote better than internet posts, its clear both
                    platforms are worth their salt. The main difference must be the quality
                    of the components used to run the software.
                    • 8. Re: using AE - should i really buy a mac?
                      Level 1
                      I also have used and use both platforms almost daily. I can say that without a doubt I spend much less time fussing with the OS on a Mac than I do on a PC. Only once in my life have I ever had to wipe out a Mac hard drive and start over by re-installing the OS from scratch to solve a problem. In that case it was my own stupidity that caused the problem. If I knew as much about the deep underbelly of OSX as I have had to learn about Window I probably could have solved the problem without a complete OS rebuild.

                      I can't say that for any of my Windows systems. At least once a year, more often twice a year, I revert the Windows machine back to a clean well working known good state using a Ghost backup of the boot drive.

                      As far as performance goes there's not much difference if you are comparing machines with the same specs. Dollar for dollar your investment buys about the same productivity on a Mac or a PC if the OS and hardware configuration is clean. You do leave yourself open to a wider array of potential problems from malware, spyware, viruses and hardware conflicts on a PC because there's so many more possible hardware configurations and so many more attacks on the Windows OS.
                      • 9. Re: using AE - should i really buy a mac?
                        Jonas Hummelstrand Level 2
                        i As far as performance goes there's not much difference if you are comparing machines with the same specs.

                        Well, here's a benchmark that says there's a big difference. It may be done on a MacBook, but the difference is pretty big:
                        i http://creativemac.digitalmedianet.com/articles/viewarticle.jsp?id=589477

                        Not that I'm saying "use Windows, it's faster" I'm just pointing out that my initial pro's / con's list is accurate. :)

                        - Jonas Hummelstrand
                        http://generalspecialist.com/
                        • 10. Re: using AE - should i really buy a mac?
                          Andrew Yoole MVP & Adobe Community Professional
                          ^Interesting stuff! Thanks for the link, Jonas.