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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Desktops > Potential Switcher: Processor Question

Potential Switcher: Processor Question
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LittleBastad
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Nov 28, 2006, 06:27 PM
 
I am one of those unfortunate folks who is itching to switch but is nowhere near having the money to buy a new computer. I've been reading up on Apple and Macs obsessively for the past year or two, and I'm convinced that a switch is in my future, but I've just noticed that the processor specs for all but the high-end Mac Pros are, at least superficially, lower than what I have now.

My current setup is a three year old HP Media Center PC with:
2.80 Ghz P4
1 GB memory
128 MB NVidia graphics card
160 GB hard drive

et cetera, et cetera...

The point is, am I going to notice a major decrease in speed if I go with an 20 or 24 inch iMac with a 2.16 Ghz processor?

I mean, it might not even be an issue by the time I can actually afford one, but I am wondering.
     
harrisjamieh
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Nov 28, 2006, 06:32 PM
 
You can no longer judge speed by Ghz numbers. The Core2Duo processors found in the new iMacs are far superior to any pentium based processor. A 2.16 Ghz C2D will be significantly faster than a 2.80Ghz P4. Firstly, it is dual core, and there are other features of the C2D too, larger cache size etc etc etc
iMac Core Duo 1.83 Ghz | 1.25GB RAM | 160HD, MacBook Core Duo 1.83 Ghz | 13.3" | 60HD | 1.0GB RAM
     
LittleBastad  (op)
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Nov 28, 2006, 06:35 PM
 
Thanks, harrisjamieh. That's what I was thinking, but it's good to hear someone else confirm it.
     
LittleBastad  (op)
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Nov 28, 2006, 06:36 PM
 
Now, if only a Mac or a winning lotto ticket would fall out of the sky and into my lap...
     
webb3201
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Nov 28, 2006, 06:42 PM
 
One suggestion for the switcher on a budget...don't forget to look for good deals in the G4/G5 family. the prices are falling and a top of the line Powerbook G4 1.67 will be a great user experience. The G5 imacs are nice as well.
Read my MacWebb column and other great Mac articles at Lowendmac.com

Owner of a MacBook Pro and various other Macs.
     
LittleBastad  (op)
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Nov 28, 2006, 06:47 PM
 
Unfortunately, my budget is literally $0. We have an 8 month old baby, a mountain of debt, and we're lucky to be squeezing by right now.

I know I should be happy with the computer I've got, but I see all these new Macs and I positively drool with envy... I'm kicking myself for not going with a Mac back in 2003 when I bought the machine that I have now. I know I was considering it back then, but I can't remember why I didn't consider it further. Probably because our old machine had just died, we needed something quick, and we went the safe route and got what we were used to.

Sorry for venting...
     
ibook_steve
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Nov 28, 2006, 06:54 PM
 
Apple does have a credit program so you wouldn't have to pay so much per month, but if you already have a lot of debt, it probably wouldn't be the best option.

Steve
     
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Nov 28, 2006, 06:55 PM
 
Originally Posted by LittleBastad View Post
Unfortunately, my budget is literally $0. We have an 8 month old baby, a mountain of debt, and we're lucky to be squeezing by right now.

I know I should be happy with the computer I've got, but I see all these new Macs and I positively drool with envy... I'm kicking myself for not going with a Mac back in 2003 when I bought the machine that I have now. I know I was considering it back then, but I can't remember why I didn't consider it further. Probably because our old machine had just died, we needed something quick, and we went the safe route and got what we were used to.

Sorry for venting...
I feel your pain. I think a lot of Mac users do. Being a Mac user isn't easy on the wallet. But the payoff is worth it. I hope you find a way to get a Mac soon. I can't tell you how many people I've consulted about buying their first Mac, and telling them that I know the initial pain of spending all that money on a computer may hurt at first, but after they use it for a week or so they totally forget about ever worrying about the money.

But having a new baby is about the biggest money drain a person can have. Good luck in savin up some cash. If you feel like getting more into debt, check out Apple's loan offers. They have decent interest rates.
     
LittleBastad  (op)
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Nov 28, 2006, 07:00 PM
 
Yeah, the debt is what's killing us. We had trouble getting pregnant, had to use IVF to finally do so, and the medical bills mounted when my wife lost her job in the middle of the pregnancy. Lots of charging gas and groceries added up. Thankfully our credit is still strong and we pay all of our bills on time, so it should stay that way.

And greatest of all, we ended up with a baby after all of that.

Now all I need is the Mac to make great home movies and things... Because, I tell ya, putting together a DVD in Windows takes years off my life every time I do it.
     
ghporter
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Nov 28, 2006, 08:19 PM
 
You would NOT see any reduction in performance. In fact, you would probably see an improvement-a BIG one.

But speaking of big ones, that "bundle of joy" will give you plenty of opportunity to say "let's buy this for the baby...we can get the new hard drive/monitor/etc./ later." PLENTY of opportunity!

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
demograph68
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Nov 29, 2006, 04:04 PM
 
Originally Posted by LittleBastad View Post
Now all I need is the Mac to make great home movies and things... Because, I tell ya, putting together a DVD in Windows takes years off my life every time I do it.
Vista will offer a software suite that will make that task a lot more manageable. (not iLife but it's a start)

Windows Movie Maker
Windows DVD Maker
Windows Photo Gallery

As for a computer, for $1,059

Dell Dimension E520 (omg DELL lol)

Intel ® Core™2 Duo Processor E6400 (2.13GHz, 1066 FSB)
1GB Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 533MHz- 2DIMMs
250GB Serial ATA Hard Drive (7200RPM) w/DataBurst Cache™
16x DVD+/-RW Drive
19 inch Ultrasharp™ 1907FP Digital Flat Panel (not required if you prefer what you have now)
256MB ATI Radeon X1300 Pro

Then again, if you're really desperate for that taste of OS X nirvana, you could get the Mac Mini, but I wouldn't recommend it.
( Last edited by demograph68; Nov 29, 2006 at 04:14 PM. )
     
Gossamer
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Nov 29, 2006, 06:20 PM
 
I'll verify that a Core Duo 2.0 iMac utilizing only 103% of available processor power (out of 200% total) will stomp a 2.6GHz Pentium 4, both running OS X.
     
chris v
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Nov 29, 2006, 11:08 PM
 
Originally Posted by LittleBastad View Post
And greatest of all, we ended up with a baby after all of that.
Cute kid. Check on refurb. deals on Apple's site, if you want to save a little cash. You can usually save 15-20%, depending on the model, & whether it's a previous gen. My last 3 macs have been refurbs, and I haven't regretted it.

When a true genius appears in the world you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him. -- Jonathan Swift.
     
Chinasaur
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Dec 2, 2006, 04:30 PM
 
2nd refurb when you can. My last four imacs were refurb'd and not a problem with the lot of them.

Best of luck and best wishes for you and your wife and baby.
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ValVashon
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Dec 3, 2006, 12:13 PM
 
Something the other posters didn't mention is the longevity you can get out of a Mac. This is probably a bit excessive, but we are still using a Bondi Blue iMac (400 Mhz processor upgrade, 10.2.8), although it's replacement (1.83 Ghz intel refurb, $949 at Apple.com) was ordered just last night.

The Bondi is approximately seven years old and is running fine, except for the stock hard drive crash early on, and my use of Norton Systemworks (what do I know?) It was also a refurb. If I had ever upgraded to 10.3 I might still not replace it, but I'm finding more and more that streaming video just doesn't work properly (think Youtube) on anything older than 10.3.

So get the Mac. You'll save money in the long run.

Val
     
LittleBastad  (op)
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Dec 3, 2006, 06:45 PM
 
Thanks for all the advice. Refurb might be what we look at when there's finally some money to play with (which, hopefully, will be sometime later next year). For now, I guess I'll just have to be content with the fact that my PC is still running and that I haven't been forced into a situation where I have to buy the cheapest machine available just to replace it on my meager budget.
     
foo2
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Dec 4, 2006, 05:46 PM
 
Originally Posted by LittleBastad View Post
Thanks for all the advice. Refurb might be what we look at when there's finally some money to play with (which, hopefully, will be sometime later next year). For now, I guess I'll just have to be content with the fact that my PC is still running and that I haven't been forced into a situation where I have to buy the cheapest machine available just to replace it on my meager budget.
When I compare referb with Amazon and Amazon's rebates (and Apple.com referb tax) usually Amazon wins.

Are people seeing situations where this isn't the case?
     
macintologist
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Dec 4, 2006, 06:03 PM
 
Originally Posted by ValVashon View Post
Something the other posters didn't mention is the longevity you can get out of a Mac. This is probably a bit excessive, but we are still using a Bondi Blue iMac (400 Mhz processor upgrade, 10.2.8), although it's replacement (1.83 Ghz intel refurb, $949 at Apple.com) was ordered just last night.

The Bondi is approximately seven years old and is running fine, except for the stock hard drive crash early on, and my use of Norton Systemworks (what do I know?) It was also a refurb. If I had ever upgraded to 10.3 I might still not replace it, but I'm finding more and more that streaming video just doesn't work properly (think Youtube) on anything older than 10.3.

So get the Mac. You'll save money in the long run.

Val
My Bondi blue iMac still works beautifully after 8 years. Same processor (233mhz), same hard drive (4GB) upgraded ram to 192MB, running OS 9. Works great.

Same thing with my g4 iMac, after 4 and a half years and it's running Tiger beautifully. I bought an intel iMac last Feburary 2006. I plan on using it for another 4 years MINIMUM.
     
LittleBastad  (op)
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Dec 4, 2006, 10:03 PM
 
I'm looking forward to that longevity. The blessing/curse of my situation right now is that my PC is proving to have decent longevity itself. Sure, both of its DVD drives are failing nowadays, and sure, the TV tuner card that came with it is no longer functional, but I can still do all the essentials. Until this thing fails, or until the money situation sorts itself out (whichever happens first), it looks like I'm stuck with a PC.

Unless, of course, there's a market for partially beaten-up Windows Media Center-enabled HP machines... If I could sell this one, I suppose I could use the money for something new. But I'm willing to bet that the sale of this machine would probably garner me enough money for a couple of DVDs and not a new computer.
     
foo2
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Dec 5, 2006, 06:03 AM
 
I bet you could easily get good $ for the MCE2005 PC -- have you put it on Craigslist?

The broken tuner can be replaced with a Hauppauge PVR150 for $60.
The DVD drive can be replaced with a 16X DVDRW for $30.

Repairing the HP isn't an issue. Both repairs are simple and might take 15 minutes each.
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houstonmacbro
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Dec 5, 2006, 09:02 AM
 
Originally Posted by LittleBastad View Post
Now, if only a Mac or a winning lotto ticket would fall out of the sky and into my lap...
i've been wishing for that too.
     
LittleBastad  (op)
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Dec 5, 2006, 12:34 PM
 
Well, it's a MCE2002 PC (upgraded to MCE2004 via XP SP2), so it's already a bit outdated. I don't know if that would make a difference.
     
foo2
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Dec 9, 2006, 01:14 PM
 
Originally Posted by LittleBastad View Post
Well, it's a MCE2002 PC (upgraded to MCE2004 via XP SP2), so it's already a bit outdated. I don't know if that would make a difference.
Not really; the functionality is essentially similar if you only have one tuner. (MCE2005 allows 4 tuners - 2 analog, 2 digital, and with a bit of registry hacking, there's no limit to the number of tuners it permits, period; I have 3 analog and 1 digital in my MCE2005 box.)
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LittleBastad  (op)
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Dec 9, 2006, 10:47 PM
 
Originally Posted by foo2 View Post
Not really; the functionality is essentially similar if you only have one tuner. (MCE2005 allows 4 tuners - 2 analog, 2 digital, and with a bit of registry hacking, there's no limit to the number of tuners it permits, period; I have 3 analog and 1 digital in my MCE2005 box.)
So, what do you think I could get for the PC then? Any ideas? I live in NH and work in Boston, so those are the markets I'd probably advertising to on craigslist.
     
foo2
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Dec 9, 2006, 10:51 PM
 
Anywhere from $200 to $500, depending on who you find and if you fix the issues you've listed. What you have is essentially a fully functional, top-notch TIVO replacement, with vastly more flexibility, and if you can sell it as such and find someone who wants same, you can easily get a lot of money.

I'd put MCE2005 on it, put 2 more tuners in it, and a 500GB har drive, and never miss a prime-time show again, but that's me.
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LittleBastad  (op)
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Dec 11, 2006, 05:03 PM
 
Originally Posted by foo2 View Post
Anywhere from $200 to $500, depending on who you find and if you fix the issues you've listed. What you have is essentially a fully functional, top-notch TIVO replacement, with vastly more flexibility, and if you can sell it as such and find someone who wants same, you can easily get a lot of money.

I'd put MCE2005 on it, put 2 more tuners in it, and a 500GB har drive, and never miss a prime-time show again, but that's me.

Well, I'd love to put MCE2005 on it, but HP isn't sending out upgrade CDs anymore and I can't find one online. So it seems I'm stuck with MCE2004.

I actually prefer downloading things from the iTunes store anyway (when I have money). I just wish they had the shows that I'm always missing because I'm watching something else (My Name is Earl) and the shows that I'm always too tired to stay up and watch (Nip/Tuck).
     
polendo
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Dec 11, 2006, 07:36 PM
 
hey congrats on the Baby!
     
foo2
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Dec 11, 2006, 09:39 PM
 
Originally Posted by LittleBastad View Post
Well, I'd love to put MCE2005 on it, but HP isn't sending out upgrade CDs anymore and I can't find one online. So it seems I'm stuck with MCE2004.

I actually prefer downloading things from the iTunes store anyway (when I have money). I just wish they had the shows that I'm always missing because I'm watching something else (My Name is Earl) and the shows that I'm always too tired to stay up and watch (Nip/Tuck).
You can buy it (MCE2005) for about $80 to $100 if you google for a few minutes.

A $39 tuner (Compusa, this week, PVR150 from Hauppauge, $39), in addition to your current tuner, will fix your 'missing shows' problem completely.

Honestly, the MCE2005 box is the _greatest_ TIVO ever. With 3 analog tuners (I rarely use digital) I never miss anything.
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LittleBastad  (op)
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Dec 12, 2006, 10:52 AM
 
Originally Posted by foo2 View Post
You can buy it (MCE2005) for about $80 to $100 if you google for a few minutes.
Well, call me crazy, but I don't think I should have to pay for something I should have gotten for free. I'm not going to pay $80 to $100 to upgrade my present computer when I could be saving that money toward my new Mac.

Of course, I also don't have $80 to $100 to play with, so it's not really an issue. I just wish HP and Microsoft weren't a bunch of nincumpoops and that they hadn't stopped shipping the upgrade disc. It's a real pain the @$$.

As is the fact that there used to be people who were willing to burn and ship copies of the HP upgrade disc, but who are now unwilling to do so because it "became too much of a hassle."
     
foo2
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Dec 12, 2006, 11:53 AM
 
Originally Posted by LittleBastad View Post
Well, call me crazy, but I don't think I should have to pay for something I should have gotten for free. I'm not going to pay $80 to $100 to upgrade my present computer when I could be saving that money toward my new Mac.

Of course, I also don't have $80 to $100 to play with, so it's not really an issue. I just wish HP and Microsoft weren't a bunch of nincumpoops and that they hadn't stopped shipping the upgrade disc. It's a real pain the @$$.

As is the fact that there used to be people who were willing to burn and ship copies of the HP upgrade disc, but who are now unwilling to do so because it "became too much of a hassle."

I guess I don't understand the "free" bit - it gives you significant additional functionality; why would HP or MS give it out for free? I think MS left it up to the vendor, and some did and some did not, but I don't see why one would get upset about it - it's quite a bit more complex, complicated, and far-reaching than, say, a BIOS upgrade.

I haven't heard anything about HP and "a hassle", but if you want an awesome TIVO box with multiple tuner functionality, MCE2005 and a couple of cheap PVR150s ($40 each with full MPEG2 in hardware rocks!) this is the way to do it.
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LittleBastad  (op)
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Dec 12, 2006, 12:58 PM
 
Originally Posted by foo2 View Post
I guess I don't understand the "free" bit - it gives you significant additional functionality; why would HP or MS give it out for free? I think MS left it up to the vendor, and some did and some did not, but I don't see why one would get upset about it - it's quite a bit more complex, complicated, and far-reaching than, say, a BIOS upgrade.

I haven't heard anything about HP and "a hassle", but if you want an awesome TIVO box with multiple tuner functionality, MCE2005 and a couple of cheap PVR150s ($40 each with full MPEG2 in hardware rocks!) this is the way to do it.
I apologize if my last message came off harsh. HP was giving away the MCE 2005 upgrade at one point when it first came out. You only had to pay shipping and handling. Unfortunately, I wasn't paying attention to HP's site at the time, and missed out on the opportunity. They discontinued the program after a short while, and now they do not offer the upgrade disc anymore.

I had found a person online who was selling copies of the HP upgrade disc for about $10 a piece, but apparently he stopped selling it because it was too much of a hassle. He didn't really elaborate on that.
     
foo2
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Dec 12, 2006, 01:38 PM
 
Originally Posted by LittleBastad View Post
I had found a person online who was selling copies of the HP upgrade disc for about $10 a piece, but apparently he stopped selling it because it was too much of a hassle. He didn't really elaborate on that.
Interesting how someone could do that, since I believe the license keys are different.

Regardless, if you do want to make your box into a great Tivo, this is a simple way to do it. You should already have the remote control (I use the MCE2004 remote, not the MCE2005 remote, but both are excellent and fast), and your CPU is easily fast enough (and then some), so you just need the (working) tuners, some hard drive space, and MCE2005 (if and only if you need multiple tuners; if not, MCE2004 is fine.)
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