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Discount/Budget/Cheap Mac -- PC User - Mac Oblivious

(9 posts)
  • Started 5 years ago by jmcguire
  • Latest reply from The Geek
  • Topic Viewed 3957 times

jmcguire
jmcguire
Posts: 552

You can get a PC cheaper than a Mac, obviously. Other than the Mac Mini, Apple does not exactly make a "budget" system and the Mac Mini is not budget when it comes to the parts included. While this is a good thing, because no Mac will seem like the hardware is not enough to run the OS, it puts a burden on the average consumer, especially those accustomed to paying PC prices.

*As a side question, does anyone know where to if Apple lists detailed specs or has a detailed configuration on their website?*

I know that PC companies do make expensive computers, but PC companies also make cheaper computers (by cheap I am referring to the $400.00-$600.00 price range). It is possible to get a good computer from a PC company for the cheaper prices.

The Mac Pro would be very nice to have, but it is understandably as expensive as it is, and somewhat of an overkill.

The Mac Mini is nice, but it doesn't seem appealing, although I am willing to hear input about the Mac Mini.

The iMac is appealing, but the only thing I do not like is everything is built into the iMac (preventing me from opening the case and upgrading anything if necessary).

The MacBook is also appealing, but the only thing I do not like is it has a single button trackpad (I know the command button and the ability to plug in a mouse, but I like having the actual right click when on the go).

I do want a Mac, but as a PC user the "Mac Universe" is "like Greek" to me. So I do need educated on the "Mac Universe". I would prefer to have a Mac at a PC price, so if there is a Mac wholesaler, or a used and reputable Mac store that would be helpful. This may be impossible, but I would prefer to Mac to be a Leopard series Mac as well.

If anyone needs me to further explain anything, just ask. If I am incorrect in anything about the Mac, please correct me.

Thanks in advance.

Posted 5 years ago
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thegeek
The Geek
Posts: 2059

The biggest question is, what do you want a Mac for, and have you used OS X at all?

I bought a Mac Mini only to find out that OS X irritates me to no end... I ended up loading Linux on it. The hardware itself is pretty good though, and for the form factor you can't beat it. Also note that you want at least 2GB of RAM... the people that claim OS X can optimize so much better than anything else so you don't need much memory are full of it, or just aren't using Firefox.

There should be a Mac rental service so you can try it out without buying.

As far as upgrading Macs, you should read this comic: http://howtogeek.com/ss/2008-09-08_0449.png =)

Posted 5 years ago
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jmcguire
jmcguire
Posts: 552

I have used OS X, but not Leopard. The rental service sounds like a good idea, except I live in a rural area, so that might not be possible. I will check though. Honestly, I want a Mac to play with and actually try to learn the operating system. I had only used Macs occasionally when I was in school, because 99% of the time, if I was on a computer, I was either using Windows or Linux. Referring to my previous Mac post:
http://www.howtogeek.com/forum.....replies=13
I would be the most happy being able to install OS X on a PC computer, but I don't want to get bricked by an update.

The comic was funny and just verified what I thought about Macs. I want to find some justification for Macs not being upgrade friendly, but I simply can't (except for the fact that Apple makes more money by doing so). The only justification I can see is this: When I was in school, we have a few HP or Dell's (I can't remember) that were the all-in-one model, in the library to save desk space. The all-in-one model is good for schools and businesses, but I think for personal use, a tower is convenient, for upgrading purposes. The Mac Pro is a tower, but overkill.

Back on topic though, I would like to learn OS X as it is one of the three major operating systems, and while I may never write a program in or for OS X, it is a personal goal to at least learn the OS.

From my brief experience, there are a few things that I do not like about Mac, but I understand these are biased opinions as they relate to a function which operates differently on Windows and Linux.
I do not like the default one button mouse, but am happy that the OS supports multi-button mice.
I do not like when clicking + in the title bar, the window does not FULLY maximize.
I do not like when clicking x in the title bar, the program does not close, the user must click the apple and click exit.
I do not like not having a quick list of all the installed programs (like the start menu in XP).

*Note* Some of my dislikes may have options to change, as I have never used OS X for extended periods of time.

Posted 5 years ago
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jack7h3r1pp3r
jack7h3r1pp3r
Posts: 2815

ya it is my goal too to understand all OSes right now i'm pretty good in linux and windows but i should be getting osx soon and will be playing around in it for awhile so i can get the feel of it and if i don't like it i can always go back to linux or even windows. also i think you will do yourself good at trying to learn the mac :)

Posted 5 years ago
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ross
Posts: 0

@jmcguire

Thanks for the tutorial idea. In Leopard (possibly Tiger as well, I honestly don't remember) you can set a Mouse preference to allow right-click by placing two fingers on the trackpad and then clicking. Once you get used to it (a couple of days), it just becomes natural.

You can pick up a used Mac on Craigslist pretty cheap. It'll likely be a G4 (if you want to get a really inexpensive one) and probably won't come w/ Leopard (or run it very quickly) but you'll at least be able to determine if OS X/Mac is something you're interested in.

Posted 5 years ago
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jmcguire
jmcguire
Posts: 552

@ross

Craiglist seems like a good idea. I checked, and the only one listed locally is the following ($400.00 USD)
G4 Mac Mini
CPU: 1.25Ghz G4
Ram: 1Gb DDR Ram
Hard Drive: 40gb
IO: 2 USB Ports, 1 Firewire Port, DVI with DVI to VGA Connector, Ethernet, Audio out and a Modem.

Software:
OS: Mac OS X 10.5
Software installed:
Microsoft Office
iLife
Adobe Creative Suite 2
Firefox
AppDelete <-- amazing little program!!!
-------------------------------------------------------------

Apparently it even has Leopard on it.

Is this a good deal for the computer? The reason I ask, is from a PC perspective, I would not even think about buying a PC with a processor two generations old, a 40GB hard drive, and 1GB of memory, even with Office for $400. If this were a PC, I would likely give $100.00 at the most, which may even be less than some of the PC guys here. When it comes to Mac though, I really have no idea. I am not familiar with the pre-Intel processors, the amount of RAM needed to run the OS efficiently, and what a significant amount of storage space would be (although, I would assume this would be the same on all platforms, as I don't see programs written for Mac being smaller in disk space than Windows or Linux, though I could be wrong).

If for some reason I am not able to buy this Mac (or the asking price is too high), what is the lowest version of OS X you would recommend buying to truly get the "Mac experience?"

By the way, could you give the me Intel/AMD equivalent of a 1.25Ghz G4?
------------------------------------------

@The Geek
If I understand you correctly, you were impressed with the Mac Mini as the piece of hardware, just not OS X? Out of curiosity, what about OS X irritated you? Out of curiosity as well, what are the specifications of your Mac Mini?

Posted 5 years ago
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thegeek
The Geek
Posts: 2059

I've got two Mac Minis, both are Intel core 2 duo, one is a 1.86 with 1GB ram and the other is a 2.0 with 2GB ram (although the hard drive died, I'm in the process of replacing it... future article topic)

As a serial system tweaker, it drives me crazy that so many things in OS X just can't be changed... you either do things Apple's way, or you install Linux on it.

1) I hate the top bar/dock configuration because I rarely use menus so it's a waste to have a whole bar for that, and the dock instead of a taskbar drives me crazy.
2) You absolutely cannot put Firefox into full-screen mode, which was very frustrating since I like to do that on my second monitor.
3) If you have dual monitors and your IM window has focus you can't just click on a link in Firefox... you have to click once to "select" Firefox as the foreground application, and then click again on the link. (more annoying than you might think)
4) You can't theme it (not that I'm a themer)
5) The fonts... this is less of a gripe for me, but it's nearly impossible to adjust system fonts across the board. My grandparents were very unhappy when they figured this out on their new Mac, which they have serious trouble using because of the tiny fonts.
6) Lack of AutoHotkey. This is what did it for me... I can't live without autohotkey (not that Linux has it either)
7) Once I decided that I was sick of OS X and wanted to install Vista on it, I found out that BootCamp had expired and I would have to upgrade to Leopard... in order to run Vista on it.
8) I was worried that I would start feeling I was better than everybody else by using OS X.

Edit: Just remembered another one. It's almost impossible to make a shortcut that runs an application with command-line arguments. Sure, you can make a shell script that does it, but then you have an open terminal window that you can't use.

Posted 5 years ago
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ross
Posts: 0

@jmcguire -

Ignore what the How-To Geek says, he doesn't know what he's talking about (joke!).

My problem w/ that particular Mac Mini for sale is that the person includes software as a part of the bundle. I doubt very, very much that they're including the actual, legitimate and legal original versions. Even though it comes with Leopard, it's probably his/her installed version - the version of OS X that actually came with that Mac (the disk that's hopefully included in that sale) is likely Tiger (10.4). So if the OS failed and you had to recover (which, btw, hasn't happened to me once in the 3 years and 2 Macs I've been using - and I abuse the hell out of these things) - you'd be recovering to Tiger, and all of that "included software" would be gone.

I'd suggest contacting the seller and asking for a lower price, unless they're going to provide the original discs for all that software (in which case the deal is totally worth it as Adobe Creative Suite 2 alone costs $700).

Before my current MacBook Pro (which is a 1st gen and considered "slow" as far as MacBook Pro's go), I had a PowerBook (G4 based). It had a 1GHz PPC chip, and a gig of RAM. It ran Tiger like a dream. I'm not sure how it would handle Leopard, because I had to give it back to my employer when I quit. I can't really compare a 1.25GHz PPC to an Intel or AMD CPU because I honestly have no idea how they'd compare. I just know that my old G4 PowerBook ran Tiger and all the apps I used (note: that didn't include PhotoShop, which is a pretty big resource pig) very quickly.

The Mac Mini's are, as I'm sure you've heard, a serious pain to upgrade. But, it can be done. There are dozens, probably hundreds, of tutorials online that show you how. A decent video one can be found here: http://eshop.macsales.com/tech.....i/med.html

If you really want a Mac just to experiment with and "learn", I'd suggest a very very cheap G3 running 10.3. There's a lot of software you won't be able to use on the G3, but certainly enough that you'll 1) get an idea if OS X is something you're interested in and 2) you should be able to get one for less than $100. But 10.3 really uhh is NOT as good as 10.4, let along Leopard. I guess it comes down to your personal budget. If you decide OS X isn't for you, less than $100 isn't too bad. If you decide OS X is for you (which you will), you'll start to save up for a brand spanking new MacBook/MacBook Pro/Mac Pro/iMac.

Now just for fun, I'm going to tease the How-To Geek.

1. Hide the dock you baby. The top menu bar takes up less screen real-estate than a single-row Task Bar in 2k/XP/Vista. And I know you have huge monitors, suck it up.
2. Use Safari for full screen.
3. Less annoying than you make it out to be. Just click twice. Girl.
4. You don't need to theme it because it's genuinely gorgeous out of the box. And even if you don't love it, you can theme a lot of it. Icons, scrollbars, the dock you hate, the menu bar you hate etc, are all customizable.
5. Yeah the font thing is annoying if you use non-Carbon apps. So you have to set font size on an app-by-app basis (for non-Carbon ones). Life goes on.
6. It's called Quicksilver. Learn it, live it, love it. And Gnome-Do, Launchy, whatever - none of them come anywhere close to the genius power that is Quicksilver.
7. Really? I didn't know that. That does kinda suck. Stop running Vista on a Mac.
8. That's not a negative. (Again, I'm joking).
9. Use Vistor, by the same group of brilliant basta#*$ that make Quicksilver. It's like Terminal as a Quake console. Oh and it has tabs. And can't you launch it w/ the & command anyway, so you can use that Terminal?

Before the forum regulars call me all sorts of names, I was totally just kidding around w/ HTG. None of my responses to his gripes were meant as anything other than jokes. I like Vista too, honest. Texas Hold 'Em is awesome (the one included in the Vista Ultimate pack).

Posted 5 years ago
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thegeek
The Geek
Posts: 2059

@ross

2) Use Safari? My mother was a saint!
4) I'm one of the few people that really just doesn't like the OS X theme very much.
6) I'll have to agree on Quicksilver... but it's still not Autohotkey.
7) Hey, you have Vista on yours!
9) That's not the point! I still can't remember that custom launcher software's name, btw.

I think it just comes down to Vista working much better for my personal workflow style. Also, that texas hold'em game is retarded. =)

I'm out of caffeine this morning. Very sad.

Posted 5 years ago
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