Need to build a monster computer

Mirage

Administrator
Staff member
V.I.P.
#1
I need to build a monster computer without spending a monster amount of money. Thoughts? Your answer doesn't have to be specific. I'm looking at all sorts of options right now.

I thought maybe about switching to Mac for the added power for the price. Has anybody here made the switch from PC to Mac? I'm considering it.

What are the main things to consider with such a switch? I only ask because I want to make sure I'm not overlooking anything important.

Obviously the main thing to consider is program compatibility. I already have checked a lot of the programs I use and a lot of them come in Mac versions as well so I think I'm fine there.

I'm open to many options so feel free to ramble a bit.
 
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Bananas

Endangered Species
#2
I dont want to start a Mac v Pc debate, but I ask..... WHY???????


I use a PC at home but I frequently use Macs in University(Im on a PC everyday at home and then Macs 2 or 3 days a week).

I do not like them mainly due to non-conforming with my own knowledge and ability. A lot of computing has become second nature; shortcuts, key commands and general method of doing things. You have to reprogram your brain to use a Mac and that takes time (its not ctrl+s, it would be apple+s instead) and if you are computer literate it is hellish frustrating when you have a layman task and are incapable of doing so. My lecturer laughs at me as he knows when it comes to PC I know my stuff yet I will sit there screaming at a Mac as I cant resize a window(or something similarly easy). That is my biggest issue, what will take me 5 minutes on a PC will take me 10 minutes on a Mac. Sure if I were on Macs all the time I would adapt better but that leads me to part 2:::

part 2:
I dont buy into "the Brand", and that is what Macs are a brand. PC stands for Personal Computer, there is nothing personal about a Mac. Computers should be built and adapted for a users needs. It is considerably easier to adapt a PC than would be a Mac......and when you do start fiddling with a Mac you realise you are paying for a lot of stuff as it is a part of the brand.


I can bet a dollar that you would love the Mac for about 2 months and then graduallly start to loathe it, that little spinning wheel of "wtf are you thinking about now!" will begin to haunt you.
 
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Sim

Registered Member
#3
I've got a MacBook since August, although I have not really "switched", because I still have a PC as desktop.

From my experience, you've already mentioned the most important thing to consider: Program compatibility. If you've found that you can find Mac versions of all the programs you need, I'd say go for it. Obviously, Macs are less suited for gaming than PCs, simply because most new games are released on PC first, and only some of them will be released for Mac, with delay and usually more expensive. But all kind of office applications are available on Mac, and sound and video editing is said to be even better on Mac than on PC.

I've got my Mac for half a year now, and I don't agree with Bananas. I've not come to like the Mac less after 2 months. I still like it, but I'm not a Mac fanatic either. PCs have their strengthes and weaknesses, and so does the Mac.

The Mac's pros are considerable: That they are "a brand", as Bananas said, is an advantage in certain regards. Since all MacBooks are exactly the same, I have never encountered any compatibility issues whatsoever, unlike on the PC, where you often face compatibility issues between the different components by different manufacturers. Also, there is a good service in case of malfunction by Apple -- while it's a matter of luck to get good service for PCs. Macs are not as susceptible to viruses and malware as Windows systems, so you can go online without burdening your system with anti-virus software. The OS is much more stable, I've never even had a crash on the Mac (which happens often on Windows), and there is no need to reboot the system more than once in 10 days or so, while Windows gets very slow within a few hours, even if you do next to nothing on it.

On the con side, Macs are less costumizable than PCs. But at least every piece fits perfectly to the other.

Another aspect is a matter of taste: The design. Personally, I find the Mac design appealing, both regarding the design of the machine itself, and the design of the OS and software. You don't have numerous annoying pop-ups and warning messages as under Windows, which is a real relief, because they were driving me crazy. And I think the Mac OS looks much more elegant than Windows. But as I said, that's a matter of taste.

I'm really happy with my MacBook, but I'm glad I still have a Windows PC as desktop for the tasks I cannot do on the Mac (like gaming). Both have their pros and cons.
 

Mirage

Administrator
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#4
Well a few things.

If I were just considering switching for the fun of it then I wouldn't bother. The thing is that I've been trying to get into 3d rendering/animation more and it's difficult to build a PC that can compare to a Mac Pro in maximum power capabilities.

For example, Mac Pro's can be fitted with up to 32GB of RAM. That right there is a huge selling point for me. If you show around on eBay you can get the full 32GB for around $700. Combine that with dual quad core processors (also possible in a PC), you'll be ready to rock and roll for years to come.

As for gaming, they may not be the best but my current PC is pretty awesome for gaming as it is (dual core processor, 4GB RAM and a 768MB video card). I have no idea how Windows based games would run on a Mac with a Windows OS installed but I bet it would be ok. With Parallels software you can install and run Windows on a Mac if you want. From everything I've heard about this, it runs just fine on Mac (better in many reviews) so as long as the Mac had some solid video cards installed I can't imagine it would be any worse for Windows based gaming. You're right though about getting Mac specific games.

So basically I am more interested in the power than the Mac brand, per say. I will also admit though that I haven't been impressed with the latest OS offerings from Windows (Vista), while I've heard all the software I run runs great on a Mac. For example, I use a lot of Adobe software and have been planning on buying more soon. They will transfer all licenses to Mac versions for free. The fact that I often times will have HUGE files open in graphic programs, video editing, or even sound editing programs concerns me because on Windows I usually cause my system to crash with these.

I've shopped around a bit and if somebody wants to run Windows with up to 32GB of RAM in a home computer they will either have to buy a small Windows server to run in their home, or go with a Mac Pro. The highest I've seen a PC support (even high end stuff like Alienware) is 16GB of RAM. (Unless I'm not looking in the right place).

So I wouldn't be switching just to "have a Mac", like the Mac commercials promote. I even posted another thread here a week or so ago about running Windows on a Mac. It seems to me that it would be the best of both worlds. 64 bit quad core processing with 32 GB of RAM, up to 4 video cards, and the ability to run Windows OR Mac based programs. What is the downside?
 
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MAgnum9987

Do What Thou Wilt
#5
I have always had a Mac. Though, before my dad got our first Mac, I used my grandfather's PC, and their really is no comparison. I have NEVER had a crash on a Mac, and its been in use for almost 4 years now. The sound quality is much better, and so much more simple to use. I don't want to fiddle around with technicalities, I just want to get up and do it. With a PC you have so much shit to fiddle around with, and the Mac really is simple. Mac's are low maintenance, once you bring it home from the store you just have to plug in and go, while with a PC you have to work for hours and hours to get set up. As well, the Mac may not be too great for games, though I bet if you looked you could find them. Games for Mac really aren't that available. I have always used a Mac, and am content with it
 

Sim

Registered Member
#6
As you explain it, buying a Mac makes sense. The only downside I see is probably the cost. But better spend a little more on something that actually works, than saving a few bugs but going through the hassle of system and/or compatibility problems.
 

MAgnum9987

Do What Thou Wilt
#7
Well, considering a Mac will last longer with so little hassle, it balances the cost a lot. Plus, if you look on Ebay, their are so many idiots who sell Macs at such great prices, because they don't even know how to use one! The new one I got was 360 bucks, and additional investment of 40 dollars got additional ram and now it goes faster than any PC I have encountered. someone was selling a brand new Mac Book for 700 bucks, considering out of the store it costs 2000, it is a dream deal
 

Mirage

Administrator
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#8
I have always had a Mac. Though, before my dad got our first Mac, I used my grandfather's PC, and their really is no comparison. I have NEVER had a crash on a Mac, and its been in use for almost 4 years now. The sound quality is much better, and so much more simple to use. I don't want to fiddle around with technicalities, I just want to get up and do it. With a PC you have so much shit to fiddle around with, and the Mac really is simple. Mac's are low maintenance, once you bring it home from the store you just have to plug in and go, while with a PC you have to work for hours and hours to get set up. As well, the Mac may not be too great for games, though I bet if you looked you could find them. Games for Mac really aren't that available. I have always used a Mac, and am content with it
Well, for one, sound quality can be great on any computer. You probably have an iMac? They have built in Bose speakers so that's why you have great sound. I have a PC with a 32 bit sound card running through a surround sound receiver to Bose speakers and a high end sub woofer. I guarantee you my sound is better than the default Mac sound. :lol: That is definitely a non argument.

As for the low maintenance argument, that would only be true for the iMac or Macbook. You can't really tweak anything on them aside from RAM (which is easy). The Mac Pro is a tower setup. It can be upgraded the same as a PC could be. Processors, video cards, RAM, hard drives, disc drives, etc can all be swapped out. I've built all of the PC's I've ever owned from parts so the idea of being able to upgrade is very important to me. I would never want an iMac to be honest. I like the idea of being able to open it up and take things out, move things, put new stuff in, etc. I mean, if an iMac were to go bad you have to pretty much take it to an Apple store and have it fixed. If a Mac Pro or Tower PC goes bad you can get in there and replace parts until it works again.

As you explain it, buying a Mac makes sense. The only downside I see is probably the cost. But better spend a little more on something that actually works, than saving a few bugs but going through the hassle of system and/or compatibility problems.
The cost is the annoying part. But then again I definitely plan to shop around (If I get one) and buy it at a discount on eBay or something. Or maybe buy a cheaper one and upgrade it with parts from eBay. The Mac Pro is actually very similar to a tower PC due to the fact that it can be upgraded in many of the same ways as I mentioned above. It can even run Windows so in the end it's a win win (seemingly).
 

Bananas

Endangered Species
#9
If you are entering the realm of 3D rendering this is what you want (Link:drool:)

- On a MacPro 2 x DualCore Xenon 2.66 Ghz with 4 GB ram
took 552 minutes (9.2 h)
- Helmer did same 24 frames in 4k format in 64 min.
...and this is why I prefer the PC route, they are 100% customizable.

You mention you can open up a Mac Pro and change parts, that is true ......but...... you are still limited with compatability issues. For examlpe you cant just grab a gfx card off the shelf and stick it in, OSX has a lot of issues with what is being used with it, even with bootcamp there are alot of technical aspects to trip up on. Personaly if I were to buy a Mac I would not want to tale it a part, as soon as you start undoing those screws a PC would of been a better investment. The positives of a Mac are also its downfall, if you want to pay big money for a hassle free machine and want nothing else they are good, I guess it then depends on the user.

BTW: I do shed loads of rendering, I have a quad core, with 4gb RAM on 32bit windows it is more than adequate for most of the stuff I do, I have had a few 18 hour renders but usually by that point I could do with a break from the PC anyway:eek:nline2long:. It would be nice to have more grunt but when you start getting adventurous the price to power ratio increases rapidly.

I always think it is better to repeatedly buy okay computers for an okay price($800-100) than to buy a high-end computer for a ridiculous price($2500+).
AS Im sure you are aware you have to think of the future, it is near impossible to future proof a machine, however much you spend. eg. USB 3.0 will be mainstream soon, solid state drives and a host of other stuff that may or may not be compatible with any purchase you make now. If Google gets their way the home PC will be obsolete in the near future. Buying a computer is always going to be a gamble, only buy what you need and not what you think you need.
 

Mirage

Administrator
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#10
What's Google got up their sleeves now? I'm not sure what you mean about the home PC being obsolete. Care to elaborate?

And I'm looking more for hardware right now than OS. Do you have any idea how much that Helmer server cost to build? My guess is $10-$15k easily. :shake:

What else would you suggest that might be more affordable to the average person?