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Old April 11th, 2003, 09:59 PM   #1
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About to buy this Power Mac - Please offer advice.

Hey everyone,

A couple of months ago, I got an XL1S and have been shooting stuff - mainly vacations and quirky, miscellaneous footage. I plan to buy a Power Mac for editing in the next week.

For the next year at least, the most I will be editing is short films I direct and vacation/trip videos/misc footage for personal practice. I will want them to look good so don't discount that but at the same time, no, I will not be shooting Spy Kids 2 and editing at home.

This is the configuration I drew up and I'd love everyone's two cents on it. You'll notice that I don't have a display - I am going to use my PC's 19" Mitsubishi Diamond Pro 900u at least for a couple of months to make sure I don't go dead broke (which I will if I buy an Apple display).

I wasn' t sure about the graphics card but I thought better safe than sorry. I figure 120 gigs is more than enough for non-feature length stuff (correct me if I'm wrong). And the Apple Protection Plan because, again, better safe than sorry.

Without further ado, all comments encouraged:

Summary
Power Mac G4 Dual 1.25GHz w/1MB L3 per proc.
1GB DDR333 SDRAM (PC2700) - 2 DIMMs
120GB Ultra ATA drive
Optical 1 - Apple SuperDrive
Optical 2 - None
NVIDIA GeForce4 Titanium w/128MB DDR
56K internal modem
Apple Pro Keyboard - U.S. English
Mac OS - U.S. English
APP for Power Mac (w/ or w/o display) - Enrollment Kit

If it helps, I will be using an educator's discount though its pretty measly from Apple. Maybe someone knows of a place where it'll work more effectly for buying this comp.

I don't know yet (haven't called Apple to ask) what the RPM is on their 120 gig or if its ATA 100 or ATA 60.

Thanks everyone for taking the time to look at this. Like Donnie, I'm like a child wandering in the woods...


Joshua Kopple
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Old April 11th, 2003, 10:23 PM   #2
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Are you a serious gamer? If so, you'd want the ATI 9700 Pro board, not the nVidia card. If your not a serious gamer use the stock board and put the extra money into more Ram and/or more drives. You will be surprised how fast you can fill up 120 gigs. I use 2 gigs of ram, you can never have too much.
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Old April 11th, 2003, 11:25 PM   #3
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Joshua,
The only aspect I would change is your 120Gb HD selection. I would use a smaller (60-80Gb) as the main system drive and get a 2nd larger (120+Gb) drive to use as your media repository. It's best not to use your main system drive as your media drive. Unless you're doing a great deal of compositing you should be fine with 1Gb of memory for a while.

I get the impression that you may be a "switcher"? Speaking as one myself (several years ago) I can say that you're in for a treat once you get the hang of the Mac OS.

Have fun!
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Old April 12th, 2003, 12:31 AM   #4
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Hey. I too would stay with the stock card and get another drive. It was a mess for me. Dropped frames, fragmentation. The stock I believe is 80GB. A 120GB would be nice. Also, I believe that the superdrive is also a slower CD burner. When I get a new one, I'm going to get a CDRW and install my own DVD burner. Good luck. Have fun.
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Old April 12th, 2003, 02:27 AM   #5
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To Game or Not To Game / Extra HD

Jeff: I am not a serious gamer. My trend is that once I find a game I really dig, I play it forever. Doom 2, CS. But this computer is going to be kept pretty clean as far as I can tell, for editing alone.

Ken/Jeff/Claude: So I should forget upgrading to the 128mb graphics cards and stick with the ATI Radeon 9000 Pro w/64mb DDR. For $50 less, they offer the NVIDIA GeForce MX w/64mb DDR. In the spirit of keeping it simple, should I save $50 and go for the NVIDIA? And just to clarify once and for all, you guys are really saying that for editing it is alright to have the stock graphics card? Why is the highest end graphics card not necessary?

Ken: Yes, I am a "switcher" so to speak. I had a good laugh over that part of the Apple site. I thought the tab, "Switch," was for some networking/hub/router part of the store. I will keep my PC for my files/mp3s for now and keep the Mac for editing only. But yeah, I'm pretty excited about crossing over; I used to be a huge Mac naysayer when I was younger.

Ken/Claude: The stock is 80gigs. While I don't see a basic option for "Add a 120/180 gig HD," I'm sure Apple will accomodate. The question is: Will it matter if there is a difference in ATA speeds between their 80 gig and 120/180? And is there, do you know?

Or should I just get their stock HD and then go buy one (I presume it will be cheaper) on my own, and if so, which?

Again, thanks so much everyone for your comments. This is very helpful.


Joshua
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Old April 12th, 2003, 02:45 AM   #6
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Skip upgrading the video card. There's no benefit for video editing or other 2D tasks.

No, there's no hazard with having different rotaional speeds for the system drive and media drive. I'd just go for the stock HD, which is probably an 80Gb Seagate.

Consider buying the media drive somewhere other than Apple. You'll get a better price and selection elsewhere (and probably bypass state sales tax, too). Look for a 7200 rpm drive. Western Digital and Seagate make good models. I use an IBM DeskStar 120Gb. The newer models of the WD and Seagate feature an 8Mb cache which can be a real performance advantage for video. You can easily install the drive in 10 minutes. (Coming from the PC world you may be in for a pleasent surprise at how accessible the Mac's innards are.)

Also, remember that you can always add external firewire drives if needed. There are many excellent models available.
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Old April 12th, 2003, 02:57 AM   #7
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Ken,

Do you know if it is possible to just buy the motherboard with the cpu, i could honestly build a system together for not even half the price of the mac built systems if i had just those parts, as far as i've looked everything else is just PC components.

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Old April 12th, 2003, 11:39 AM   #8
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No, you can't. You'll have to pay-up. But it's worth it.
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Old April 12th, 2003, 02:34 PM   #9
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The disk speed of all the drives from Apple are now 7200 rpm (except PowerBooks). The faster video cards give you more frames per second for your games. Video is a very low tech application from that stand point (30 fps).

I would still get more ram when you can afford it. More ram allows you to have more programs open at the same time or work on larger documents. Your machine will have four memory slots so make sure you buy 512 mb sticks so you can max it out at some point. I think the new FCP 4 will make use of more ram also (music/sound applications can be very memory intensive).
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Old April 12th, 2003, 05:49 PM   #10
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An extra HD and stock video card.

This is good. So...

1) Video card: The stock card is the ATI Radeon 9000 Pro w/64mb DDR. For $50 less, they offer the NVIDIA GeForce MX w/64mb DDR. Shall I just save the $50 and go with NVIDIA? (This saves me $300-350 so thanks for the tip.)

2) Hard Drive: I'll go with Apple's 80 gig HD and buy another 120+ gig HD, whichever has an 8meg cache (though Seagate, from a cursory look on CDW, seems cheaper than WD or IBM). I now have a couple of more questions:
a) Shall I be looking for a 10,000 RPM drive or is 7200 adequate?
b) Shall I be looking for an ATA 133 HD or is that unnecessary?
c) Any recommendations on the cheapest place to buy this HD? I know you guys have recommended sponsors - any in particular you'd direct me to for this purchase?

Thanks again,

Joshua

P.S. I really want to get that 20" Apple monitor and I think I'll be able to afford it in a month or two. Just felt like saying that. Feel free to comment. :)
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Old April 12th, 2003, 06:49 PM   #11
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Get the monitor when your budget permits. You'll love it. The stock ATI video card is fine. Seagates are good drives, so don't worry. No need for a 10,000 rpm drive at this time. It's not necessary for DV. If you need something faster in the future, build a RAID 0. The 133 is fine, Macs support it, in the new machines. I bought my last drive at CompUSA. After rebate it was cheaper than anyplace else.
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