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#309225 - 17/04/2008 12:17 Which Apple computer should i buy?
burdell1
old hand

Registered: 14/01/2002
Posts: 930
Loc: Minnetonka, MN
After I get my taxes back, I am thinking about buying a Mac Mini. However, I've heard for video editing and dvd authoring it can be kind of doggy. However, I have seen some refurbished G5s on ebay that are not much more than the mac mini. Would a refurb be a pretty safe bet?

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#309228 - 17/04/2008 12:51 Re: Which Apple computer should i buy? [Re: burdell1]
RandallFarr
new poster

Registered: 12/03/2002
Posts: 33
I'd strongly recommend taking a look at Apple's refurbished gear. My last 7 or 8 Macs have been refurbs, and I only had one minor problem with one of them, which was fixed and returned inside of three days. For video editing, I'd lean towards a 20" iMac, which can be had for $999 at the moment. The MacMini could work for editing I guess, but I'd strongly suggest running an external FireWire drive, possibly even RAID, for your media. Also, dropping a 2GB stick of RAM in it wouldn't be a bad idea.

I have a MacMini hooked up to my home theatre projector, which does a great job as a HTPC, serving up iTunes to everyone in the house, serving TV/Movies to an Apple TV and my roommates PC's, and running bit torrent. It never hiccups, but the internal drive is on the slow side. I keep all my media files on an external FW drive.

I'd stay away from the G5's, just because they're several generations old now. I have a CoreDuo iMac 20" that's just 2 years old now that I use as my primary machine, for GuitarRig, and have even used it for Final Cut Pro. For the first time ever I haven't been able to come up with any good reasons why I would like to upgrade to a newer machine now that I've hit the two year mark.

Cheers

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#309229 - 17/04/2008 12:54 Re: Which Apple computer should i buy? [Re: burdell1]
wfaulk
carpal tunnel

Registered: 25/12/2000
Posts: 16706
Loc: Raleigh, NC US
The Intel processors are way faster than the PowerPC processors. (Unfortunately; I really like(d) the PowerPC architecture.)

I would venture that any Intel-based Mac is going to be faster than any PowerPC-based Mac for most things. Given that the cheap G5s you're looking at are likely to be single-CPU and the new Mini has a Core Duo (effectively two CPUs), I can't imagine that the raw processing power would be more with the G5.

That said, the video processing on the G5 is likely to be a little better. But you're not exactly running Quake doing video editing, so I'm not sure how relevant that is.

I'd still probably choose the Mini, unless the G5 is multi-CPU and has significantly more memory.
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Bitt Faulk

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#309231 - 17/04/2008 13:19 Re: Which Apple computer should i buy? [Re: wfaulk]
DWallach
carpal tunnel

Registered: 30/04/2000
Posts: 3728
I've got a Core Duo Mac Mini at home and a Core 2 Duo Mac Mini at work. They're really excellent machines. The home machine spends a lot of its time running Adobe Lightroom, which is fairly IO and CPU intensive, and performance is quite acceptable. (There are moments when the disks get quiet and nothing is happening on the screen, despite the incomplete task at hand. I blame these on bad software engineering rather than on insufficient hardware performance.)

My home Mac Mini replaced a dual G4 tower. It's cheaper, quieter, faster, and smaller.

For disks, I thought about going the NAS route, but decided to do Firewire instead. I bought two LaCie 1.5TB drives (each has 2x750GB striped), with one as my main media drive and the other as a Time Machine backup. It's not as efficient as a ZFS filesystem with snapshots, but it was painless to set up and performance is excellent.

If (and only if) you also need a new monitor, then I'd consider an iMac. For around the same cost as a Mac Mini plus a comparable monitor, you get a slightly faster computer with a much faster graphics engine and a bigger disk. Also, if you want dual monitors, you can do that with an iMac, but you're out of luck with a Mac Mini. If you can find the previous generation (white) iMac, I'd take that in preference to the current metal version. You get a significantly better matte screen, versus the current glossy thing.

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#309233 - 17/04/2008 15:33 Re: Which Apple computer should i buy? [Re: DWallach]
drakino
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/06/1999
Posts: 7868
Loc: Seattle, WA
Avoid the G5s at this point. Even if they are dual processor ones, it's a platform that was end of life nearly 2 years ago now. Even if the machine has Apple Care, it's only going to be under warranty for another year at most, and then it will become very expensive to service if a problem occurs with the mainboard or processors. Also, most used ones would come with an older OS and iLife tools, meaning $129 added cost for Leopard and $79 for iLife 08.

Depending on what programs you want to run for video editing, a Mini might not be the best bet. Tools like Apple's Motion are GPU accelerated, and require a non chipset integrated video solution. Also, the Mini will be limited to one monitor, and you may want two screens worth of work area for editing. An iMac would be a good first step as others have suggested, and it can have a second monitor connected to it. Just be careful when looking at refurb units though, some iMacs also have integrated Intel graphics.
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Tom

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#309236 - 17/04/2008 15:46 Re: Which Apple computer should i buy? [Re: DWallach]
tfabris
carpal tunnel

Registered: 20/12/1999
Posts: 31256
Loc: Seattle, WA
Quote:
(There are moments when the disks get quiet and nothing is happening on the screen, despite the incomplete task at hand. I blame these on bad software engineering rather than on insufficient hardware performance.)


I would worry about the disks going into self-preservation mode because they got too hot. The mini isn't exactly the most well ventilated of computers.
_________________________
Tony Fabris

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#309238 - 17/04/2008 16:58 Re: Which Apple computer should i buy? [Re: tfabris]
DWallach
carpal tunnel

Registered: 30/04/2000
Posts: 3728
This is my external disk going quiet. I'm storing all my photos on the big Firewire drive and I reserve the internal drive for applications and such.

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#309241 - 17/04/2008 20:47 Re: Which Apple computer should i buy? [Re: DWallach]
hybrid8
carpal tunnel

Registered: 12/11/2001
Posts: 7738
Loc: Toronto, CANADA
The number one reason not to get a PowerPC-based machine right now is that the architecture has been a second class citizen at Apple since the Intel processors were released. There are more bugs in Leopard for the PPC machines for instance. Optimizing is probably no longer being done the same way it is for the Intel architecture either. When you see people reporting about speed increases in the 10.5 Leopard OS versus 10.4 Tiger, they're talking about Intel machines. On a PPC it's either the same or slower.

10.5 Leopard is also likely the last OS we will ever see for the PPC machines. Apple hasn't officially announced this, but I have it on good authority this is the end of the line. 10.6 was designated Intel-only and that isn't likely to change (could happen but I won't bet on it).

_________________________
Bruno
Twisted Melon : Fine Mac OS Software

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#309250 - 18/04/2008 14:39 Re: Which Apple computer should i buy? [Re: hybrid8]
andym
carpal tunnel

Registered: 17/01/2002
Posts: 3979
Loc: Manchester UK
We run Final Cut Pro on Core Duo (not Core 2) Mini's just fine. Even though it's officially not supported due to the Intel graphics chip.

In my opinion, if you want something cheap buy a mini, if you want something unobtrusive buy an iMac. If you're doing a lot, and I mean a lot, of video/picture editing and want some kind of upgrade path, buy a Mac Pro.
_________________________
Cheers,

Andy M

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#309269 - 19/04/2008 23:58 Re: Which Apple computer should i buy? [Re: andym]
burdell1
old hand

Registered: 14/01/2002
Posts: 930
Loc: Minnetonka, MN
For the Mac Mini, is there any way to have a faster hard drive?

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#309270 - 20/04/2008 01:13 Re: Which Apple computer should i buy? [Re: burdell1]
tman
carpal tunnel

Registered: 24/12/2001
Posts: 5528
You can open it and replace it if you want. Otherwise you're stuck with whatever Apple give you. I can't remember if the larger HD you can specify is actually any faster.

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#309272 - 20/04/2008 01:19 Re: Which Apple computer should i buy? [Re: tman]
DWallach
carpal tunnel

Registered: 30/04/2000
Posts: 3728
Firewire hard drives can be pretty fast.

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#309686 - 02/05/2008 00:42 Re: Which Apple computer should i buy? [Re: DWallach]
burdell1
old hand

Registered: 14/01/2002
Posts: 930
Loc: Minnetonka, MN
Does iChat work well with the Mac Mini since it wouldn't be using the integrated iSight camera? also, since i am thinking about the possibility of buying a Macbook instead of the Mac Mini, are those better for video editing and dvd authoring than the mac mini?

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#309689 - 02/05/2008 02:11 Re: Which Apple computer should i buy? [Re: burdell1]
drakino
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/06/1999
Posts: 7868
Loc: Seattle, WA
iChat will work with any Firewire camera, or any USB video device class webcam. Keep in mind the USB one is a recent standard, and many older webcams do not support it, instead relying on proprietary drivers that rarely are coded to work on OS X. The XBox 360 camera works with iChat, though you will also need a microphone too. No Mac comes with a mic input onboard, only a line level input.

A MacBook (non pro) is going to be about the same as the Mini. They do offer slightly faster processors, and a slightly faster integrated graphics solution, but the difference will be minimal. The Mac Minis are long overdue now for an update, while the MacBooks were recently upgraded (see the buyers guide here.)
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Tom

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#309996 - 09/05/2008 13:03 Re: Which Apple computer should i buy? [Re: drakino]
burdell1
old hand

Registered: 14/01/2002
Posts: 930
Loc: Minnetonka, MN
has anyone seen a dock that would enable me to just drop the macbook on it (holding it vertically and out of the way) and thus automatically hooking the monitor and other perhipherals to it? I've seen one that is kind of likea big brick that goes on the side, but costs way too much money.

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#310001 - 09/05/2008 14:09 Re: Which Apple computer should i buy? [Re: burdell1]
wfaulk
carpal tunnel

Registered: 25/12/2000
Posts: 16706
Loc: Raleigh, NC US
Unfortunately, none of the Apple laptops has a docking connector. It's actually remarkable how few laptops have them at all these days. Pretty much only Lenovo, Dell, and HP.
_________________________
Bitt Faulk

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#310006 - 09/05/2008 14:27 Re: Which Apple computer should i buy? [Re: burdell1]
drakino
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/06/1999
Posts: 7868
Loc: Seattle, WA
You probably found this. Thats the only company I know of that makes full port replicating docks for the Mac laptops.

Beyond that, you can look for "universal" docks to just set the laptop out of the way. What the universal ones tend to do is have a USB cable that plugs into the laptop, then the dock has an internal USB hub with a USB sound device, sometimes USB ethernet and such that your system will see as separate devices.


Edited by drakino (09/05/2008 14:27)
_________________________
Tom

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#310013 - 09/05/2008 14:55 Re: Which Apple computer should i buy? [Re: DWallach]
DWallach
carpal tunnel

Registered: 30/04/2000
Posts: 3728
Random factoid: earlier in this thread, I said that the Mac mini was sufficient for Adobe Lightroom duties. That's true, so long as your raw photos are coming from a 6 megapixel Nikon D70 (typical file size is 5MB). For the weekend, I've borrowed a friend's D3. Raw files are maybe 15MB and it's a 12 megapixel camera. These significantly slow Lightroom down, to the point where usability is suffering.

Conclusion? If I were to buy one of these cameras, I'd need to upgrade the mini to something more powerful. What I'd really like to know is exactly how much more powerful. Do I just need more RAM? Faster CPU? Faster disk? All of the above?

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#310015 - 09/05/2008 15:15 Re: Which Apple computer should i buy? [Re: DWallach]
peter
carpal tunnel

Registered: 13/07/2000
Posts: 4153
Loc: Cambridge, England
Originally Posted By: DWallach
a 6 megapixel Nikon D70 (typical file size is 5MB) [...] D3. Raw files are maybe 15MB and it's a 12 megapixel camera

Not that it really helps with your question (just buy a Mac Pro, they're lovely wink ), but how come twice the pixels makes for three times the file-size? Is it just more noise on the fewer-photons-per-pixel sensor? Or perhaps the D3 has a greater bit-depth, forcing Lightroom to use different, slower algorithms?

Peter

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#310017 - 09/05/2008 15:24 Re: Which Apple computer should i buy? [Re: DWallach]
tfabris
carpal tunnel

Registered: 20/12/1999
Posts: 31256
Loc: Seattle, WA
I'd say more RAM.

Is it one of the older non-intel Mini's?
_________________________
Tony Fabris

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#310020 - 09/05/2008 15:52 Re: Which Apple computer should i buy? [Re: peter]
andy
carpal tunnel

Registered: 10/06/1999
Posts: 5786
Loc: Wivenhoe, Essex, UK
D3 RAWs are 14 bit, D70 is 12 bit.

Also, if the D3 was set with 14 bit RAW + JPEG then it will include a ~4MB jpeg, whereas the D70's normal jpegs with raws are only about 1.5MB.

And the final point that makes the difference is that the D70 NEF RAW files are lossy, which saves about 20-40% of size on the RAW sensor data. The D3's NEFs are by default lossless.

http://terrychay.com/blog/article/lossy-raw-compression.shtml


Edited by andy (09/05/2008 16:04)
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Remind me to change my signature to something more interesting someday

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#310022 - 09/05/2008 16:06 Re: Which Apple computer should i buy? [Re: andy]
DWallach
carpal tunnel

Registered: 30/04/2000
Posts: 3728
This is a Core Duo (not Core 2 Duo) mini, with an otherwise maximum configuration. When chunking through D70 raw images, there's a noticeable delay when you zoom in beyond its cached preview image, and the initial image import is chunky but tolerable. With the D3 raw files, the delays are well past tolerable, getting onto annoying.

As to file sizes, the D3 offers several choices in raw files. You can get "compressed/uncompressed" and "lossy/not lossy". And the raw sensor is 14 bits per pixel. (I'm using the "compressed/not lossy" setting.) The D70 only gives you one choice, "compressed/lossy" and it's (ostensibly) 12 bits per pixel.

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#310023 - 09/05/2008 16:15 Re: Which Apple computer should i buy? [Re: DWallach]
drakino
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/06/1999
Posts: 7868
Loc: Seattle, WA
2GB ram is the max for the Core (non 2) line of Macs due to the chipset used. You can have 2x1gb sticks, or 1x2gb, but go above 2gb in some way and the machine will refuse to boot. I tried it on both a Core Mini, and Core MacBook Pro.

As for what is causing your slowdown issues in Lightroom, run Activity Monitor and check the System Memory, Disk Activity, and watch CPU usage of the process. That should help point out RAM, CPU or disk speed issues. If CPU usage never goes above 100%, Lightroom is not going beyond one core of CPU usage. For OS X, CPU time max is 100xNumber of CPUs. So 800% is a 8 way Mac Pro running all 8 cores at max.
_________________________
Tom

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#310033 - 10/05/2008 02:11 Re: Which Apple computer should i buy? [Re: drakino]
DWallach
carpal tunnel

Registered: 30/04/2000
Posts: 3728
Okay, according to Activity Monitor, when I'm slamming it, Lightroom is using 600-700MB of real memory and up to 1.7GB of virtual memory. Watching a rendering task run, I got to watch my free memory quickly dive to zero, then back up again, and dive again. Looks like Lightroom was pushing other apps out of real memory. Both cores were slammed at 100% the whole time.

If I'm reading the tea leaves correctly, Lightroom would definitely be happier with more memory, but it's got enough going on to take advantage of more CPU power if I had it. Part of the issue seems to be slow memory leaks, since it runs much better when you've freshly started.

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#310325 - 20/05/2008 11:28 Re: Which Apple computer should i buy? [Re: DWallach]
burdell1
old hand

Registered: 14/01/2002
Posts: 930
Loc: Minnetonka, MN
OAlthough I don't have a Mac yet, but was wondering if anyone knows if they ever came out with a widescreen version of the themes that were first included with iDVD? Specifically, I was looking for a widescreen version of the 'red curtain' theme and the 'drive in' theme.....I assumed not, but was just wondering.....

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#310328 - 20/05/2008 12:37 Re: Which Apple computer should i buy? [Re: burdell1]
drakino
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/06/1999
Posts: 7868
Loc: Seattle, WA
All themes with iDVD 06 and above are widescreen, but none of the older ones were converted over. Choosing an older one will warn you that it will be switching to 4:3 for it.
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Tom

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#310520 - 27/05/2008 16:18 Re: Which Apple computer should i buy? [Re: drakino]
burdell1
old hand

Registered: 14/01/2002
Posts: 930
Loc: Minnetonka, MN
is it just me or does the LCD look waaaay better on the Macbook air than it does on the regular MacBooks? I know it is probably because of the LED backlight in the air, but still it looks much better. The MacBook looks very washed out...

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#310522 - 27/05/2008 16:25 Re: Which Apple computer should i buy? [Re: burdell1]
tfabris
carpal tunnel

Registered: 20/12/1999
Posts: 31256
Loc: Seattle, WA
It would make sense that the LCD technology improves in the newest models. LCD screens have been getting better and brighter and clearer and more contrasty with each successive generation.
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Tony Fabris

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#310524 - 27/05/2008 18:48 Re: Which Apple computer should i buy? [Re: burdell1]
JBjorgen
carpal tunnel

Registered: 19/01/2002
Posts: 3518
Loc: Columbus, OH
I don't have another MacBook to compare to, but I gotta say that the MBA lcd is really great. The other thing that concerned me about the screen, being glossy, hasn't been an issue either. While it is somewhat glossy, it seems significantly less glossy than other notebooks, but still has rich, vibrant color. Not sure how they did that, but I like it!
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~ John

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#310555 - 28/05/2008 12:44 Re: Which Apple computer should i buy? [Re: JBjorgen]
DWallach
carpal tunnel

Registered: 30/04/2000
Posts: 3728
The MBA monitor is an amazing thing. I've got it side-by-side with my 23" Cinema HD display, and the MBA monitor is brighter and whiter (which is to say, traditional LCD monitors have something of a yellow cast to them that's completely fixed by the LED backlight). It's staggeringly pretty.

Meanwhile, in non-related news, remember the problems I was having with my MBA battery drain? When Apple replaced the battery, it didn't solve the problem at all. Now, Apple has now sent me a replacement machine. After much agony, I got everything migrated over, and I'll be shipping back the original.

Agony? I just wish Apple still had Firewire on the MBA. Restoring from a Time Machine share, over a network, seems to simply not work. The relevant button in the UI is greyed out and there's nothing you can do about (despite a thread that holds out false hope). The only working solution was to have the Time Machine USB hard drive and a USB optical drive hooked up at the same time via a USB hub.

Also, strangely, despite restoring the backup "correctly", a number of things weren't restored properly. The screen gamma was set to the default (1.8) rather than where I want it (2.2 -- the PC standard). Likewise, Time Machine is now backing up to a different file on my network server rather than the original file. I suppose I'll delete the old one once I'm confident the new one is stable. I'm still discovering bits and pieces that aren't quite right, but overall the migration wasn't as painful as, say, moving from one Windows box to another. That's pure hell.

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