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  1. Member
    Join Date: Apr 2012
    Location: USA
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    Hello, I just asked about desktop-buying general on the computer board but I have a more specific question here, topic related. I like ubuntu for daily use myself but soon I'm going to need a desktop for After Effects, VJ programs, audio sequencers, and other CS programs. The basic question is Is it worth it to get a mac if it means I have to settle for a lower CPU and GPU? If I got one it would be a 21.5" iMac.

    Any advice is appreciated.
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  2. Member
    Join Date: Oct 2004
    Location: Freedonia
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    It's a good question. I'm an IT professional and I've got an iMac at home that I have on loan from work (I use it when I work from home). I make my living supporting Linux systems. Know what I run at home? Windows 7. The truth is that everything is harder on a Mac. Yes, there are SOME good programs to do things like you talked about, although I'm not sure what you mean by the term "other CS programs". But the reality for Mac is that if you want to do anything, usually you've got one or maybe two programs that can do it. If you don't like your choices you are out of luck. On Windows for example, if you don't like a particular audio sequencer you've probably got dozens of others to choose from. Macs are not really upgradable either and while you can possibly put more memory in or use a bigger disk drive (if you know how to replace the old one) everything else is pretty much going to require using USB. I've got a tower PC with plenty of empty PCI and PCI-e slots and I could add several more cards to mine, replace the video card, etc. Can't do that on Macs.
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  3. Pro/Cons for me:

    Mac:
    + Final Cut (if you work with people who also use it it's easier for compatibility)
    + if it's a mac tool it's normally easy to use without much hassle
    - if it's mac tool and it's not working you are lost
    - upgrading can be problematic
    - you are kind of force to upgrade to the newest Mac OS version
    - hardware tends to be expensive and rather restricted (upgrading is in most cases really limited)

    Linux:
    + stability
    - missing applications unless I use wine
    - more hardware compatibility issues than on windows

    Windows:
    - viruses&co -> need of a virus scanner
    + bunch of tools for everything
    + normally no real hardware problems
    + nice games

    ------------

    In the end I normally use the machine where the tools I need at the time run without a lot of hassle.

    Cu Selur
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  4. Member Cornucopia's Avatar
    Join Date: Oct 2001
    Location: Deep in the Heart of Texas
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    Good summaries - I agree with them all.

    But don't let "user interface" be one of the arguments. All 3 are "easy to use" now, for anyone who isn't a total computer newbie. I would amend the Mac UI argument to be more one of "consistency" because they (Apple) make developers toe the line, so that part does help people.

    Scott
    "When will the rhetorical questions end?!" - George Carlin
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  5. Member orsetto's Avatar
    Join Date: Oct 2007
    Location: NYC
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    Originally Posted by everywhere View Post
    soon I'm going to need a desktop for After Effects, VJ programs, audio sequencers, and other CS programs.
    None of these applications sees any particular benefit on Mac over Windows, in some cases there are drawbacks. Apple has had a contentious relationship with Adobe for some years now, unless you're a pro photographer and power PhotoShop user there's no point jumping to Mac to use Adobe products (and even then it would depend on your digital back and other issues). Highly customized VJ programs, sequencers, and the like will be far more plentiful on Windows. Anything involving video will be easier on Windows: Mac is so obstructive to video tasks these days its hard to believe it was the platform that started the whole video revolution. There are so many more video-related programs (free and paid) available on Windows it isn't even funny. If you had started on a Mac, it might be worth staying with it and dealing with the limitations just for familiarity sake. But if you're Windows proficient and indeed screwing around with Ubuntu, Mac will offer no advantage to you.

    The basic question is Is it worth it to get a mac if it means I have to settle for a lower CPU and GPU? If I got one it would be a 21.5" iMac.
    Anyone who even frames a question involving the words 'CPU and GPU" should run, not walk, from the Apple store. While its true Macs are perpetually unfairly slagged as being "underpowered" (its relative to what you actually want to do with your computer and how you want to do it), you will never see "cheap, cutting-edge, and Mac" used in a sentence. Anyone asking about GPU is a gamehead, and gameheads need Windows boxes- period. End of story.

    I say all that from the perspective of a LONG time Mac user, having started on Macs during the "golden age" when it was quite true they were the default platform for "creative work". Some younger or incredibly stubborn types here resist that fact, with all kinds of geeky attacks on how "terrible" the old MacOS was. But unless you worked with it professionally at the time, you didn't have a clue: despite "multitasking" lacks (which honestly no one gave a crap about at the time except Windows fanatics wanting ten spreadsheets open simultaneously), the "original" Mac was an amazing tool. It had its quirks, every tool does, but it was simple to master and a dream to use.

    Then the internet came and destroyed it all: both Windows and Mac lost their friggin marbles and all hell broke loose. Windows 95, 2000 and finally XP nailed most of the Mac interface advantages, then steadily all the incredible Mac programs migrated to Windows and became as usable as they were on Mac. Apple foundered, lost its way to a degree unimaginable to today's iPad/iPhone generation. After sinking millions of dollars into a half-dozen abortive "new OS" projects, they brought Steve Jobs back in a desperation move, hoping to turn his NextStep OS into a modern MacOS. And the Mac officially died to those of us who loved it: OSX was an unholy demented kludge that made Windows XP look positively inspired. And it has gotten progressively worse with each OSX revision. Throw in Apple's out-of-nowhere shift from being a computer company to a consumer electronics company, and the Mac was left to twist in the breeze. Today, anything you want to do on a Mac you can do on Windows 7 cheaper, easier, and with ten times as many alternatives.

    The tables have completely turned on some key points that were once crucial Mac advantages. Apple used to rely heavily on Macs being durable systems that would remain usable for years. But that all changed with OSX and its flavor-of-the-month specs. Every six months you get new Mac models with new revisions of OSX that render half your software utterly unusable, not to mention hardware you may have spent a fortune on that is irreplaceable. If MS ever pulls the incompatibility stunt that Apple pulled with the current LionOS, the Justice Dept would be on their ass in two seconds. But since Macs are now merely docking stations for iPads and iPhones, no one cares.

    I still manage a mostly-Mac office, but we use them primarily with Citrix to run a remote Windows desktop. At home and at work I have Macs connected to legacy scanners and other devices, and we drop back into OSX for web use, to avoid all the headaches of Windows virus crap. Here again, the geeks will insist there's no advantage over Windows in virus/trojan avoidance- to them I say, get real: being impervious to all the asinine Windows malware attacks is about the only advantage Mac still has left. The clocking is ticking on that one, too: Apple's slip-ups with security are getting more frequent and sloppy, and once Macs require Avast or AVG (in addition to iAntiVirus) they will literally have no advantage left aside from styling.
    Last edited by orsetto; 6th Apr 2012 at 13:04.
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  6. Member edDV's Avatar
    Join Date: Mar 2004
    Location: Northern California, USA
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    From my perspective, you use a Mac if you need to interface with workflow from other Mac users. Or, if you want to operate within the limited Mac workflow environment. It really comes down to who your customers and/or collaborators are and what formats they use. The issues are all I/O related. The Adobe CS apps user interface is near identical for both platforms.

    The Adobe "CS" package was designed first for the Windows PC, then adapted to OSX (Intel Mac platform only). If you want to optimize performance to cost, the choice is clearly Windows.
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  7. Member
    Join Date: Jun 2003
    Location: United States
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    While I hate to simply jump in to this Mac vs PC issue again (and again...), I'll simply opine that my experience has been that virtually everything I want to do is just easier on a Mac. Are there many more apps for a particular purpose on Windows? Absolutely; most are crappy although a few are well-designed and work as advertised. On the Mac, when a crappy app surfaces, the user community provides feedback immediately and, if the developer doesn't fix the issues, he/she is scorched and the app usually vanishes. Does this leave Mac user without adequate choices? Usually not.

    However, I do need to run some apps that are simply not available on Windows: MS Access is one. That's an app that will never be available on OSX because M$ knows that Windows users would abandon the platform if they could buy a Mac and still use Access. So I use VirtualBox with Windows (XP, Win7) to run Access.

    It's really what you're used to. If you've put up with garbage from Windows developers and expect to have to winnow out the chaff to get to the seed, you stick with Windows because this is what you expect. If you've been using OSX, you have very little patience for things not working properly so you're willing to spend more $$ to get things right...and know that if you absolutely need to run Windows for some off-beat app, you can do it.

    As for Apple's security slip-ups: The recent Java security issue was rectified one day after it was made public. The "600,000 Macs infected" story that hit the web yesterday is interesting; we'll see what the reality is when some real reporting gets done as the "story" came from an anti-virus vendor.

    Just my 2 cents. Frankly, in my 26 years of using a Mac (and providing tech support/consulting), I've only encountered one person who went back to their old PC because they couldn't get things done on the Mac; the reality, in that case, was that he refused to spend any add'l money to upgrade to new peripherals that he had purchased when he was running Win3.1 (and M$ was already up to XP at that time) so, in spite of my (paid) advice, he decided to sabotage his own setup and then complained when he got exactly what he paid for. Some people are just old farts. In El Paso, we call them "Yandells" (as Yandell is a one-way street).

    Anyway, not meaning to start/continue this old debate, you should buy whatever makes you happy and just don't be a cheap-a$$.
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  8. aBigMeanie aedipuss's Avatar
    Join Date: Oct 2005
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    jmo - i never bought into the mac was for artsy types crud, for me they are for folks who need their hand held all the time and get confused with choices. i play on the slower more expensive apple products but all my work is done on faster less expensive windows pcs. if i switched it up i would get far less accomplished.
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  9. Originally Posted by rumplestiltskin View Post
    MS Access is one. That's an app that will never be available on OSX because M$ knows that Windows users would abandon the platform if they could buy a Mac and still use Access.
    You're joking, right? Until this very minute I'd never even heard of it (had to look it up), have absolutely no use for it, and certainly wouldn't abandon Windows for Mac if Mac had it. For me there's not even any question about which to use; most of the programs I use simply aren't available for Mac. And people can't even build and customize their own Mac computer, can they?
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  10. Member orsetto's Avatar
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    Location: NYC
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    Originally Posted by rumplestiltskin View Post
    my experience has been that virtually everything I want to do is just easier on a Mac.
    Then you are very fortunate. This is technically true today for a very limited range of activities on OSX, mostly pro photo work, not so much video anymore, and G-d help you when Apple "upgrades" your workflow out of existence overnight (Lion, anyone? FCP?). I have been down that road too many times. I loved the old Mac, adapted to OSX and accept it has some advantages, but it bites me more often than it helps me.

    Are there many more apps for a particular purpose on Windows? Absolutely; most are crappy although a few are well-designed and work as advertised.
    This was once a very compelling argument for Mac, I made that case many times in the past, but today its utter BS. Ten-fifteen years ago, the one or two apps available on Mac for a given creative task were stunningly better than any of the hundreds of Windows equivalents. Today, not so much: Mac lags noticeably in video compatibility and video tools and the graphics/still stuff is really the same or no better than Windows counterparts. Major "allies" like Adobe don't even bother to give Mac priority anymore. For certain workflows involving certain hardware, if OSX is set up EXACTLY the right way, yeah it is better. But that applies within narrow specific categories: rarely is this the case for wanna-be VJs and creative hipsters with no specific, bread-on-the-table Mac-centric task. Windows remains the Swiss Army Knife solution for those who aren't yet grounded in any particular workflow.

    Does this leave Mac user without adequate choices? Usually not.
    Usually yes. Apps get stalled or abandoned while developers play the "catch up with this week's OSX updates" game. In some areas of video there's a hole in the Mac app selection you can drive a truck thru.

    However, I do need to run some apps that are simply not available on Windows: MS Access is one. That's an app that will never be available on OSX because M$ knows that Windows users would abandon the platform if they could buy a Mac and still use Access.
    Another old canard that was significant fifteen years ago but today not so much. Even among Windows diehards, Access is considered a horror. There are more migrations away from it than to it, precisely because firms don't like to be locked in. Big companies tolerate an MS Windows OS monopoly only because everything else is a free-for-all. They want vital data readable on multiple platforms far into the future. Access is popular mostly with small firms that think they can get away with it instead of something better. And you'd be surprised how many corporate networks now run Windows on Macs as a routine setup, to leverage both platforms.

    It's really what you're used to. If you've put up with garbage from Windows developers and expect to have to winnow out the chaff to get to the seed, you stick with Windows because this is what you expect.
    Outdated assumption. No one puts up with that nonsense anymore: its the internet age, for pity's sake. Anyone with two brain cells and a task they need help with hits forums like this one for recommendations, or they consult with others in their field. No one uses garbage apps on Windows unless they're too colossally incompetent to seek reviews and advice.

    If you've been using OSX, you have very little patience for things not working properly so you're willing to spend more $$ to get things right...
    If you've been using OSX long term, you have a love/hate relationship with it (very little patience). When things go wonky with OSX, you're often REALLY screwed (and not briefly) due to Apple's secretiveness about gaping defects in the code, lack of responsiveness from developers making far more money from Windows versions, and lack of alternative apps of equivalent quality if your primary tool goes down. And you ain't kidding about "spending more $$$ to get it right": swing a dead cat and you'll knock over 200 Mac users who got utterly effed by Lion's "improvements." When you've replaced tens of thousands of dollars of perfectly good pro-grade printers and scanners and software just to accommodate Snow Leopard and then Lion (with no benefit beyond compatibility), you tend to look a little askance at OSX boosterism. A lot of that hardware is no longer made, so no new "todays OSX" compatible version is available. That means running dedicated older Macs to run it, complicating your systems.

    Just my 2 cents. Frankly, in my 26 years of using a Mac (and providing tech support/consulting), I've only encountered one person who went back to their old PC because they couldn't get things done on the Mac;
    Then your clients are hard-core Mac converts and you must have done a fabulous job getting them hooked on a new Mac-centric solution. Two out of three switchers I've met run screaming back to Windows within days of an OSX "upgrade" cycle breaking everything they own.

    you should buy whatever makes you happy and just don't be a cheap-a$$.
    Cheap-a$$ cuts both ways. If Mac and OSX offers tangible benefits to your work or helps you work with others on Macs, you'll redeem the higher upfront costs very quickly. If it doesn't offer tangible benefits, and you're just buying Mac because it seems cool, you're an idiot. With Windows the temptation is to go too cheap, assuming you're getting some sort of great bargain. A Windows box or laptop can seem much cheaper than a similar Mac dollarwise, but examined closely will fall apart. Really cheap Wintel is really cheap for a reason. Given similar specs, if the Mac is $900 and the Dell (or whatever) is $500 you should not be looking at the $500 Windows PC, you should be looking at the $700. Use your head: the price advantage for Windows should be exploited to gain more performance, not crap performance on the cheap. An underpowered Mac has compensating factors, an underpowered PC is just stupid.

    I'm not fond of these Mac-Vs-Windows-Vs-Linux throwdowns, either, because they usually degenerate into outdated claims and fanboy heckling. They are all tools, they all have their advantages, and they will ALL screw you into a wall with no mercy when you can least afford it. The trick is to be honest about what you truly need, whats going on in your field, and keep aware of the platforms you're not currently using (because you may need them one day, short-term or long-term). All of these systems are "evolving" rapidly, and lately less in favor of creative professionals but more in favor of increasingly brain-dead consumers. Whats great for your work today may not be tomorrow, so try to keep some $$$ banked in case you need to switch among them.
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  11. Member orsetto's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by aedipuss View Post
    jmo - i never bought into the mac was for artsy types crud, for me they are for folks who need their hand held all the time and get confused with choices. i play on the slower more expensive apple products but all my work is done on faster less expensive windows pcs. if i switched it up i would get far less accomplished.
    This has to be the single biggest long-held bit of quackery thrown at Macs, and the most off base. A computer is a computer: they were never able to "hand-hold" or "spoon feed" anyone. You have to think to use a Mac as much as you have to think to use Windows, if not more so today because of the many psychotic blind alleys in OSX that will stab you in the head. C'mon, aedpuss: its time to put a sock in this one. There are many legit criticisms one can level at Mac, but "hand-holding" ain't one of them. You'd have to really stretch it to include only those people who only use Apple-supplied apps, and even then you'd have to include Windows users if they have an iPhone or i-anything that relies on iTunes.

    The phones and the pads and the pods are the gear that involves "spoon feeding" and "hand holding," not the Macs. For that matter, nobody bought "classic" Macs in the old days unless they needed them professionally or had been exposed to them otherwise and really preferred the way they worked. The Quadra wasn't "sexy" or "cool" and you didn't spend $4800 to buy one instead of a $1600 486 PC because it "held your hand:" you bought it to run Illustrator and Quark and be compatible with your industry. Nobody flocked to buy Macs as a style statement until the iMac and much later the MacBooks: they were too expensive unless you really had a use for them. The current trend of mindless college students buying shiny overpriced MacBooks to do nothing beyond websurfing and MS Word is relatively recent, and has nothing to do with "hand-holding."

    You want to rail against the sheep who need to be "hand-held," go after the phones, the pads, and Windows 8. There are other, germane drawbacks of current Macs one can debate: calling Mac users "sheeple too stupid to use a PC that doesn't hand-hold and spoon-feed them" is pointlessly insulting (given Windows 7 propensity for forcing users to work its way, or the highway: a regression from XP Pro). And you can't blame Granny for buying an iMac if the first thing she sees when she walks into the mall is a bright clean Apple store: she's succumbing to good marketing, not "hand-holding" (believe me, when she gets home she'll quickly discover no difference in "hand-holding" between her iMac and her grandsons' Toshiba laptop).
    Last edited by orsetto; 6th Apr 2012 at 16:36.
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  12. Member edDV's Avatar
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    Location: Northern California, USA
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    Another issue is ability for user to upgrade or self service the hardware. Desktop/tower Wintel PC's are easily maintained or repaired by the user with interchangeable part substitution. Most Macs (also Wintel notebooks) are not upgradable or repairable by the user and Apple's repair prices are very high. Currently I only have one working Mac out of three. One (a Mac Mini) failed in the second year. An iMac failed in year 4. Both were motherboard issues that would cost more to fix than buying a used replacement on Craigslist.

    My typical Wintel tower gets one or two motherboard/CPU/GPU upgrades before donation to charity.
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  13. Member
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    Originally Posted by orsetto View Post
    Anyone asking about GPU is a gamehead, and gameheads need Windows boxes- period. End of story.
    I don't want to play games, even casually, and I don't need a super GPU, but it's my understanding that a decent one will improve the performance of AE and 3D programs. But thank you for sharing your hefty experience; that really puts it all in perspective and helps confirm my decision.
    I'm not fond of these Mac-Vs-Windows-Vs-Linux throwdowns, either, because they usually degenerate into outdated claims and fanboy heckling. They are all tools, they all have their advantages, and they will ALL screw you into a wall with no mercy when you can least afford it.
    I knew there was a risk of that but sometimes it just needs to be asked to swap current opinions and get a better feel for what's up. And it was not in vain, at least for me.
    wanna-be VJs and creative hipsters


    Thanks all I think I'm getting a turnkey from portatech with a ~$1000 budget, the specs will blow away an imac that's almost twice the price.
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  14. Member yoda313's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by everywhere
    I don't want to play games, even casually, and I don't need a super GPU, but it's my understanding that a decent one will improve the performance of AE and 3D programs.
    I believe what you are referencing are cards with "cuda" support. However it is my understanding that cuda is only good for accelerating the encoding of video into h264 files. I may be underselling what cuda can do. I forget which user on this forum is a diehard cuda buff but there is at least one regular member here who could offer more detail on the benefits of cuda in the video world.

    I'm not sure it would help in special effects software. Perhaps DISPLAYING those graphics would help (smoother playback with taking the load off the cpu onto the graphics card) but as far as encoding goes I believe a faster cpu or more cores is a more efficient use of your budget.
    Donatello - The Shredder? Michelangelo - Maybe all that hardware is for making coleslaw?
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  15. aBigMeanie aedipuss's Avatar
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    with cs 5.5 most effects and editing is gpu enhanced -
    The Mercury Playback Engine uses NVIDIA GPU cards to provide a GPU-accelerated 32-bit color pipeline, and most popular effects have been rewritten to run on it — for example, effects like color correction, the Ultra keyer, and motion control all run in real time.
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