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Author Topic: Which iMac  (Read 19334 times)

And-Rew

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Re: Which iMac
« Reply #30 on: January 28, 2013, 12:30:03 PM »
Felt a need to have an input. Why not - they asked...

I'm writing this on a 24" 3.06ghz iMac from Jan 2009. It has its max 4gb Ram and 512mb graphics card with 1Tb H/D.

Interestingly, it has spent its whole life processing 5D2 21mp RAW files using variations of LR (of which only V3 affected its performance). My trip to Vegas brought home some 1000+ images and the only issue i had was downloading onto the computer - took an hour or so  ;) Processing though, didn't even bat an eyelid  :)

Were i still in the upgrade market, i'd def go for the cheapest RAM option and swap it out myself after purchase. I'd also go for an SSD option - i tend to keep most of my files off system except for when being processed or kept in catalogue with LR. I'd definitely get the 2gb Graphics set but not overly fussed about getting an i7.

As for the cost benefits of Apple - yes it's expensive and without doubt 'too expensive', but every one i've shown mine to say the same thing - much simpler to work with, back up and recover than anything they've seen with Windows. These are Freelance Pros in the Music Industry & Marketing and they have saved so much time with the Apple OS that the cost has been recovered in time saved.

At the end of the day, it's a horses for courses. My wife and i just love the simplicity and integrating nature of the Apple OSX and IOS that allows seemless working between MacBook Pro, iMac, iPads and iPhones.

So, that's my two penneth worth  ;)

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Re: Which iMac
« Reply #30 on: January 28, 2013, 12:30:03 PM »

RustyTheGeek

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Re: Which iMac
« Reply #31 on: January 28, 2013, 12:33:16 PM »
Didn't read the whole thread- just the OP. Take that into account.

For what it's worth, I have a 2010 27" iMac, i7 quad-core 2.93 GHz. Upgraded to 12 GB RAM but contemplating getting more from OWC (www.macsales.com). It cost about $2k when I got it, but I'm sure you could now get one for substantially less. I thought about upgrading when I heard they were going to do a refresh, but I immediately decided I didn't want anything to do with the new one, for the following reasons:

1) Optical drive. If you're ever going to want to burn CDs or DVDs, I'd much rather have that built in than have to buy and deal with an external drive.

2) FW. Yeah, I know, you can get a TB-FW adapter. But I already have a FW800 RAID setup for data storage and backup, which is significantly cheaper than a comparable TB RAID device.

3) What I have, works great. I have CS6, so I'm using LR4, Photoshop Extended, and Premier Pro for video. And I can run them all at the same time, with no lag. If I do something really intensive I might have to free up a bit of RAM, but I've been amazed at how smoothly this system tackles hard work. I can't imagine that the performance upgrade would be particularly noticeable, for my usage, and therefore not worth the cost for me.

My recommendation? Keep an eye on the Refurb section of the Apple store, and save some money on the lastest version of the old generation. And regardless of the specs, get the 27" screen. Having that kind of real estate is awesome. :-)

If you MUST get an iMac, I would follow this advice.  Thanks bseitz234.  Save some money and maybe still have the ability to at least open and upgrade/repair the older version of the iMac.  The newer Thunderbolt drives and peripherals are either non-existent or outrageously expensive at this time.  Older tech FW800 stuff is super solid and proven.
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7enderbender

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Re: Which iMac
« Reply #32 on: January 28, 2013, 12:33:22 PM »
Hi Rusty,

Thanks for your insights on this topic. I'll also have to upgrade my computers in the upcoming months. I was already slated to get a new desktop and monitor but had to postpone this because of a few other things that were higher priority. But I'm still looking around and following this.

My observation has been that the even for non-geeks the whole computer experience is somewhat becoming more difficult and expensive if you do anything that is a little more demanding than what 99% of computer users do every day. And I think that's part of the reason why desktop and laptop sales are slowing down.

And I'm really frustrated with both the hardware and software choices we're getting at the moment - even in the higher price segment. My main computer for both general stuff and photo editing is my old IBM Thinkpad t60. Why? Because it has the best screen I have available right now. And I like the high resolution, decent color representation and relatively small form factor even at home. It's running XP and it will be dying at some point. I already replaced the screen once.

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find any modern Windows laptop that comes close. With that in mind I started looking at Apples. Benefits I see are the relatively decent hardware quality and a nice OS (compared to my experiences with Win7 and Win8). I'd wait for the next generation of "retina" screens though and hope that some of the current issues are getting better - not worse. So my though was to enter the Apple universe via a Mac Mini i7, trick that out a bit and get a really good screen that is suited for photo editing. There is a bunch of things that would not want me to get any of the new iMacs. One being the screen.
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Re: Which iMac
« Reply #33 on: January 28, 2013, 12:47:18 PM »
Oh, yeah- upgrading the RAM in the older iMacs is a breeze. Three external screws (#0 Philips, I believe) removes a plate on the bottom of the enclosure, and gives you direct access to all 4 slots. And aftermarket RAM is less than half the cost... $227 for 32GB from OWC, vs $540 to have it built in.
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RustyTheGeek

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Re: Which iMac
« Reply #34 on: January 28, 2013, 12:51:25 PM »
7enderbender - I totally sympathize and I agree.  It's a challenge to choose a good system now.  I think Apple has really taken the laptop display up a big step with Retina.  That is a game changer.  However, I hate glossy displays.  So as good as it is, Retina is out for me.  I can't stand the glare and reflection of a gloss display.  95% of high end professional desktop displays running into the thousands are matte finish for good reason.

Keep in mind that once you remove OSX and the aluminum case, all the internal hardware, chipsets, RAM, drives, etc are identical to a Windows PC.  All the extra money is going to Apple, not to the technology.  The Retina display on laptops is the only standout right now.  And it deserves praise.

However, the problem is that people compare Apple products to the cheap retail crap at Best Buy, not to the better enterprise level systems that all the major vendors make for business.  Lenovo, Toshiba, DELL. HP, Sony, Fujitsu, Panasonic, etc all have much better offerings in both PC and Laptop devices if you look at their website and venture into the other product lines.  Those lines are more expensive and I typically suggest folks look into the refurb items that have come off of lease (2+ years old) if they want a real steal of a bargain on those units.  For instance, there are a lot of nice refurb T series Lenovo units out now, some now with iSeries CPUs (like a T410) for less than $500-$700 and then you could simply upgrade the RAM and throw in an SSD for a screaming ThinkPad that's built like a tank and has a great display.  Here's an example (not necc what you need)... http://tinyurl.com/b8sve4b
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Halfrack

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Re: Which iMac
« Reply #35 on: January 28, 2013, 12:59:21 PM »
Didn't read the whole thread- just the OP. Take that into account.

For what it's worth, I have a 2010 27" iMac, i7 quad-core 2.93 GHz. Upgraded to 12 GB RAM but contemplating getting more from OWC (www.macsales.com). It cost about $2k when I got it, but I'm sure you could now get one for substantially less. I thought about upgrading when I heard they were going to do a refresh, but I immediately decided I didn't want anything to do with the new one, for the following reasons:

1) Optical drive. If you're ever going to want to burn CDs or DVDs, I'd much rather have that built in than have to buy and deal with an external drive.

2) FW. Yeah, I know, you can get a TB-FW adapter. But I already have a FW800 RAID setup for data storage and backup, which is significantly cheaper than a comparable TB RAID device.

3) What I have, works great. I have CS6, so I'm using LR4, Photoshop Extended, and Premier Pro for video. And I can run them all at the same time, with no lag. If I do something really intensive I might have to free up a bit of RAM, but I've been amazed at how smoothly this system tackles hard work. I can't imagine that the performance upgrade would be particularly noticeable, for my usage, and therefore not worth the cost for me.

My recommendation? Keep an eye on the Refurb section of the Apple store, and save some money on the lastest version of the old generation. And regardless of the specs, get the 27" screen. Having that kind of real estate is awesome. :-)

Need to bump this one more - the refurb section on the Apple store is going to give much fruit soon.  The previous gen iMac 27" is a great workhorse, and since it's a known quantity, getting the stock model or the upgraded video card is all you want.  Take it to a retailer that works on them - or use the iFixit tools to crack it open and upgrade the internal hard drive bays to SSDs and max out the ram.  FW800 is great, though the newer models have USB3.

The best part is using the 27" iMac as an LCD for another thunderbolt mac or mac laptop.
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RustyTheGeek

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Re: Which iMac
« Reply #36 on: January 28, 2013, 01:08:33 PM »
I goofed again!   :-[

The 21" iMac is the nightmare iMac.  Forget doing anything with this other than turning it on and off.   ;)  Okay, that was mean.  Forget doing any upgrades or repairs with the 21" iMac other than turning it on and off.

The 27" iMac (the OP says he wants) RAM is easy to upgrade.  (But not much else.)  There is an eject button in the power cord socket at the back of the iMac. Press it, and a cover pops open giving you easy access to the RAM slots.

I still think the older refurb iMac would be your best bet if you MUST get an iMac.
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Re: Which iMac
« Reply #36 on: January 28, 2013, 01:08:33 PM »

RustyTheGeek

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Re: Which iMac
« Reply #37 on: January 28, 2013, 01:39:53 PM »
i honestly wouldnt get an imac for gfx / video use.

the screen is glossy and a mess to work with compared to a dell u2711 or dell u2713h.

source: i own both, a 2012 imac and a dell u2713h.


had a look at mac mini / used mac pros??

My thoughts exactly with regard to the display and avoiding the iMac entirely.  I hate gloss displays.  Ditto on buying the refurb stuff.  And FWIW, I have a DELL U2410 that works great!
« Last Edit: January 28, 2013, 02:00:38 PM by RustyTheGeek »
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cayenne

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Re: Which iMac
« Reply #38 on: January 28, 2013, 03:41:37 PM »
OK, Whoops.  Sorry again for the long post.   :-[

Yeah, these things do tend to end up being Mac vs. the rest.  In this case however, I think that the iMac is a beautiful thing but very overpriced and somewhat ill suited for photo/video work.  Yes, it CAN be used for those functions but it's very expensive and inefficient to create a good environment for the task.  IMO, when working with thousands of important images or large video files, the important task (that shouldn't be overlooked) is not just CPU or RAM, it's file management.  The images should be on a RAID volume to offer protection from failure and then also stored on a large secondary volume for backup.  An iMac is essentially a laptop with a big screen and isn't designed to provide this type of multi-volume fault tolerant infrastructure.  (Without hanging a bunch of expensive Thunderbolt drives off the back, which is still very new technology.)  Yes, you can do fine with an i5 CPU and 8G of RAM (although OSX has always been very RAM hungry) but you can't do anything if your data or system is lost.

Whether the OP buys Apple or Wintel, the advice should point them to something that is powerful, configurable and upgradable.  I would suggest a Mac Pro, not an iMac.  I don't think the Mac Pro is a rip-off if that is what the job demands but it is still very expensive, just like all Apple products.  I didn't set the prices.  The Mac Pro disk structure, CPU and RAM can be much further expanded and is better designed for what the OP is doing.  (Esp if they venture into video!)  The iMac isn't very expandable.  It's primary purpose is to sit on a desk and look pretty and provide a nice device for desktop activities like web/email/iTunes and basic home duties.

Please remember that Apple products are built first and foremost to steer Apple users into the Apple stores to consume and purchase media/app content and other Apple products.  Getting other functionality from them is a secondary priority.  The iMac is a perfect example of this.  It is marketed to the affluent crowd that already owns iPads, iPhones and iTouch devices and want to venture into an Apple computer.  Most long time Apple owners that I know or read about purchase MacBook Pros with Retina and MacBook Airs these days.  Those are the most bang for the buck at this time.  The iMac is the least bang for the buck.  Production houses and graphics firms either use Mac Pros or they have started investing in comparable WinTel boxes.

Bottom Line is that if someone is looking to spend $1500 -$2000 on a device, I am going to help them spend that money wisely on the best choice, not just get what looks nice and be good enough for the time being.  Unfortunately, an ideal appropriate Apple device doesn't exist for photography/video work for less than over $2000.  That's just the way it is.  Again, I didn't set the prices.  Which is why I have an exceptional WinTel box (comparable to a Mac Pro) instead for literally thousands less.  I don't do my serious photo editing on a laptop (regardless of the make) and I'm not using a limited All-In-One Monitor+Laptop Hybrid machine either.  It doesn't matter whether it's Apple or not.  The tool should still be appropriate for the task.  If you've ever helped/consoled someone who lost everything due to a drive crash, you start to realize the value of fault tolerance and easy automated backups.  If you want a great WinTel laptop device for photo editing, check out the Lenovo ThinkPad W530.  It has features designed for photography work like built-in color calibration, an IPS matte display and a built-in RAID disk option.  For less than a comparable Apple laptop.  But it's not brushed aluminum so there's that to consider.

I would suggest either getting a MacBook Pro with SSD-Hybrid drive + big external disk for backup and then an external display or a Mac Pro with RAID and internal backup drive + external backup drive with external display.  The iMac would be my last choice for photography or video editing.  It's just too limited, crippled and expensive.  At least with a MacBook there would be the added convenience of portability, a better screen and an i7 CPU.
Trouble is...Aperture and Final Cut Pro X don't tend to work too terribly wall on that Wintel box you're talking about.

And, if someone is needing tools lessor than that for real amateur work or just getting to learn things, OSX which comes with a mac, has iPhoto and iMovie included with the purchase.

If you go the Windows route, sure you can spec a box that is a bit lower in price to the mac (mac really had no low end machines)...but you also have to spec in the cost to buy all of the software that Windows does not come with, and that adds price to the bill.

Me? I figure whatever tool for the job. I have linux boxes I like to play with and run as my servers at home. My current main work computer, is a loaded up macbook pro, late 2011 model. I loaded it with 16GB ram of my own, i7 cpu, largest disk they had..etc.

I use that as my basic work station. I run Win7 (I won't touch Win8 till I can't help it) in VMWare on it for my windows needs. I have VMs for different distros of Linux when I want to play with that...

I have it hooked to a Dell U2711 IPS monitor, I run keyboards and mice hanging off the monitor's USB...so, basically my macbook pro is a desktop at my desk, but I can travel with it too, just pick it up and go.

I'm about to finish up and get a freeNAS system on my network for massive storage, all using ZFS to basically supplant RAID...and it will allow everything on the network to access and back up to it.

So, anyway....any tool for the job.

I like things about the mac. I cut my teeth with iMovie and iPhoto...and for a very small price, have upgraded (only $30 for Apeture and only $300) for FCPX....MUCH less than what I'd have to pay to get the full Adobe Suite (although I am working a deal to try to get an educational discount for the suite which would only be about $450).....

So, if you add up all the software with comparable hardware on the Win vs Mac system....it gets much closer in absolute dollars spent.

Axilrod

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Re: Which iMac
« Reply #39 on: January 28, 2013, 03:44:19 PM »
I currently have:
2011 27" 3.1ghz i5/16GB RAM/1TB/1GB VRAM  (Geekbench score: 9500)
2011 15" MBP 2.3ghz i7/16GB/256GB SSD/1GB VRAM (Geekbench score: 11,500)

For comparison the Retina Macbook scored a little over 12,000. 

Both of these are fast enough to handle everything you mentioned and then some.  I do mostly video work, which is quite a bit more intensive than photo stuff. 

But, I'm waiting on my new iMac to come in:
27" 3.4ghz i7, 8GB RAM, 1TB Fusion, 2GB VRAM
This setup scored over 14,000 on geekbench, which is absolutely blazing fast.  I ordered 32GB RAM from a 3rd part and I think it'll score close to 15,000 after everything is said and done.  That's similar to what Mac Pros normally score. 

But honestly if you are on a budget, a 2011 iMac with an SSD would be a great option and would be screaming fast.  SSD's make the biggest difference out of any upgrade you can do, my MBP gained almost 3000 from it, that's massive.
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Axilrod

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Re: Which iMac
« Reply #40 on: January 28, 2013, 03:45:49 PM »
I got the 27" 3TB Fusion Drive Fastest chip and all the ram i could fit.... and I haven't looked back.  Finally a FAST computer! Quick- quick like the wind! :o

When did yours show up?  I ordered almost a month ago and mine still isn't here.
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cayenne

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Re: Which iMac
« Reply #41 on: January 28, 2013, 03:47:44 PM »
7enderbender - I totally sympathize and I agree.  It's a challenge to choose a good system now.  I think Apple has really taken the laptop display up a big step with Retina.  That is a game changer.  However, I hate glossy displays.  So as good as it is, Retina is out for me.  I can't stand the glare and reflection of a gloss display.  95% of high end professional desktop displays running into the thousands are matte finish for good reason.

Keep in mind that once you remove OSX and the aluminum case, all the internal hardware, chipsets, RAM, drives, etc are identical to a Windows PC.  All the extra money is going to Apple, not to the technology.  The Retina display on laptops is the only standout right now.  And it deserves praise.

However, the problem is that people compare Apple products to the cheap retail crap at Best Buy, not to the better enterprise level systems that all the major vendors make for business.  Lenovo, Toshiba, DELL. HP, Sony, Fujitsu, Panasonic, etc all have much better offerings in both PC and Laptop devices if you look at their website and venture into the other product lines.  Those lines are more expensive and I typically suggest folks look into the refurb items that have come off of lease (2+ years old) if they want a real steal of a bargain on those units.  For instance, there are a lot of nice refurb T series Lenovo units out now, some now with iSeries CPUs (like a T410) for less than $500-$700 and then you could simply upgrade the RAM and throw in an SSD for a screaming ThinkPad that's built like a tank and has a great display.  Here's an example (not necc what you need)... http://tinyurl.com/b8sve4b
I'd not get another lenovo.
I had a higher end, custom (to the hilt) ordered lenovo thinkpad recently. They are NOT made with the same quality as the old IBM thinkpads which were tanks. The new stuff, has lots of flimsy plastic on the case...and if you even bumped it on the docking station, it would lost monitor sync..etc.

I wasn't impressed with the lenovo product. This was one I bought last year.

I've not played with higher end Dells, but this higher end lenovo, reminded me of a cheapo lower end Dell with regard to plastic and flimsy feeling build quality.

RustyTheGeek

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Re: Which iMac
« Reply #42 on: January 28, 2013, 04:07:05 PM »
Sounds like cayenne is on his game.  Great info.  No need to nitpick details, I think we agree that the right tool for the job, etc.  My biggest problem with iMacs and any other All-In-One computers (besides the high price) is that they are an accident waiting to happen.  You're locked in to a fixed configuration and if anything goes wrong, esp the display or motherboard, it's essentially out the window.  Even under warranty it's a huge pain to send it off, etc.

So it will always be either a computer+monitor or laptop for me but in this case, a tower and a high end display that isn't glossy.

And in my experience, iPhoto and iMovie are great (or used to be, I've heard mixed reviews about the latest versions) but they have their limits so it's eventually off to buy Aperture or Lightroom.  Final Cut Pro doesn't come with the mac for free either, but if you need it, you need it.  Adobe has the advantage of being cross platform compatible.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2013, 04:19:28 PM by RustyTheGeek »
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Re: Which iMac
« Reply #42 on: January 28, 2013, 04:07:05 PM »

RMC33

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Re: Which iMac
« Reply #43 on: January 28, 2013, 04:17:10 PM »
7enderbender - I totally sympathize and I agree.  It's a challenge to choose a good system now.  I think Apple has really taken the laptop display up a big step with Retina.  That is a game changer.  However, I hate glossy displays.  So as good as it is, Retina is out for me.  I can't stand the glare and reflection of a gloss display.  95% of high end professional desktop displays running into the thousands are matte finish for good reason.

Keep in mind that once you remove OSX and the aluminum case, all the internal hardware, chipsets, RAM, drives, etc are identical to a Windows PC.  All the extra money is going to Apple, not to the technology.  The Retina display on laptops is the only standout right now.  And it deserves praise.

However, the problem is that people compare Apple products to the cheap retail crap at Best Buy, not to the better enterprise level systems that all the major vendors make for business.  Lenovo, Toshiba, DELL. HP, Sony, Fujitsu, Panasonic, etc all have much better offerings in both PC and Laptop devices if you look at their website and venture into the other product lines.  Those lines are more expensive and I typically suggest folks look into the refurb items that have come off of lease (2+ years old) if they want a real steal of a bargain on those units.  For instance, there are a lot of nice refurb T series Lenovo units out now, some now with iSeries CPUs (like a T410) for less than $500-$700 and then you could simply upgrade the RAM and throw in an SSD for a screaming ThinkPad that's built like a tank and has a great display.  Here's an example (not necc what you need)... http://tinyurl.com/b8sve4b

Every enterprise level machine I have used/come across was not very good when it came to laptops, but I had unique needs at that time. Workstations were the same for every vendor other then Dell who could make a solid CAD/tool-path/Gcode platform for my unique business, and AT budget as well (RS232 ports custom HDD controllers to talk to vert mills.. all sorts of fun stuff). I don't love them as I prefer to build my own machine and I hated the GPU's Dell used as they were overkill. I agree with the glossy screen it can be annoying but I have not run into many issues with it and frankly I love it.

7enderbender

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Re: Which iMac
« Reply #44 on: January 28, 2013, 04:27:26 PM »
7enderbender - I totally sympathize and I agree.  It's a challenge to choose a good system now.  I think Apple has really taken the laptop display up a big step with Retina.  That is a game changer.  However, I hate glossy displays.  So as good as it is, Retina is out for me.  I can't stand the glare and reflection of a gloss display.  95% of high end professional desktop displays running into the thousands are matte finish for good reason.

Keep in mind that once you remove OSX and the aluminum case, all the internal hardware, chipsets, RAM, drives, etc are identical to a Windows PC.  All the extra money is going to Apple, not to the technology.  The Retina display on laptops is the only standout right now.  And it deserves praise.

However, the problem is that people compare Apple products to the cheap retail crap at Best Buy, not to the better enterprise level systems that all the major vendors make for business.  Lenovo, Toshiba, DELL. HP, Sony, Fujitsu, Panasonic, etc all have much better offerings in both PC and Laptop devices if you look at their website and venture into the other product lines.  Those lines are more expensive and I typically suggest folks look into the refurb items that have come off of lease (2+ years old) if they want a real steal of a bargain on those units.  For instance, there are a lot of nice refurb T series Lenovo units out now, some now with iSeries CPUs (like a T410) for less than $500-$700 and then you could simply upgrade the RAM and throw in an SSD for a screaming ThinkPad that's built like a tank and has a great display.  Here's an example (not necc what you need)... http://tinyurl.com/b8sve4b
I'd not get another lenovo.
I had a higher end, custom (to the hilt) ordered lenovo thinkpad recently. They are NOT made with the same quality as the old IBM thinkpads which were tanks. The new stuff, has lots of flimsy plastic on the case...and if you even bumped it on the docking station, it would lost monitor sync..etc.

I wasn't impressed with the lenovo product. This was one I bought last year.

I've not played with higher end Dells, but this higher end lenovo, reminded me of a cheapo lower end Dell with regard to plastic and flimsy feeling build quality.

Exactly right and that's one aspect of my frustration. There is really NO replacement in the Windows world to the best of my knowledge. Lenovo is now worse than ever it seems. The Dells feel like toys. And I currently have a pretty expensive HP Elite Book from my work place. It's a hunk of junk to be honest. The screen would be completely useless for any creative work - and is even only borderline workable for my office applications thanks to the ridiculously low resolution. The keyboard is utter junk as well - even worse than the MacBook keyboard that it tries to mimic. And given that it is a Win7 with i5 and 4GB my old XP Thinkpad with Intel DualCore and 3GB of usable memory runs circles around that thing. Looks like Sony tried a few things that looked promising but then it turns out that their screens are all discolored.

So that and the even more hideous Win8 OS leaves me with some MacBook to replace my lovely Thinkpad at some point. Which means I'll have to get ready to change "eco systems" - because otherwise Adobe makes you buy everything twice. And I wouldn't want to deal with two types of system for the same tasks anyway.

I'll still need Windows for my work work and business stuff but that's ok. So for music recording and photography I'm willing to take the plunge and go Apple. But even that is a struggle I find since a lot of there stuff is not as useful for specialty applications than you'd expect. Which brings me back to the OP: The iMacs now more than ever are basically consumer grade computers that are only borderline workable for creative people with pro-level use in mind. As a photographer I want a better screen. As a musician I expect a designated Firewire port and a CD drive. So there's that.

The new Mac Mini on the other hand is a real improvement (if you don't need a high powered graphics card). I'm looking to get the i7 Mini, max it out with third party drives and memory and hook it up to a good NEC (or so) monitor and an external storage solution.

That should work for both my photo editing and as the center piece of an upgraded home recording studio.

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Re: Which iMac
« Reply #44 on: January 28, 2013, 04:27:26 PM »