Upgrade… upgrade…

No, that’s not the catchphrase of the Doctor’s next arch nemesis. Although it is very reminiscent of the Cybermen…

Phill and Phil came round last night and we all ended up at the local pub. It was lovely to see them again and chat about stuff. In particular I actually enjoyed talking computers with Phill – I don’t usually get to talk techie much these days, so it was a refreshing change to delve back into my past and play at being a Computer Scientist again! One thing we were talking about was Macs, and how brilliant they are. The hardware is top quality, the case is pure genius and uber-stylish, and the operating system is a dream. Built on top of a robust Unix base it manages to combine solid stability with a beautiful user interface. It did get me thinking though – would it be worth my while upgrading my Mac to a more modern model?

The reasoning behind this idea covers many dead ends I have stumbled across recently. My current Mac is pretty darn good – bought for £200 on eBay, G3 inards, 1Ghz G4 processor upgrade, 832Mb RAM, OS X Tiger – and has certainly put my PC to shame. The Mac runs faster and smoother, and is much nicer to use on a daily basis. However, there are some areas where the Mac is struggling. For a start, hard disk space is on the low side – I have two 10Gb hard disks, both of which are pretty full, despite having moved stuff across to a shared folder on my PC. I recently had fun trying to install Apple’s iWork, which needs to be installed on the startup disk and takes up a whopping 3Gb; I had to move a lot of programs across to the secondary hard disk just to install it! And what with my recent interest in Photoshop image editing, I could probably do with a bit more storage space. My Dad almost solved this problem for me when he sent me an external hard disk, which was a sweet 250Gb, but despite being already formatted and ready for use, the drive wasn’t recognised at all by my computer.

My other concern is the graphics capability. While it is far better than my PC and runs the operating system and most applications without any compaints, it does sometimes struggle with some of the more graphics-intense programs. For instance, when I’ve got Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator and GoLive all running, switching between them takes a little effort, and when placing large image files on an InDesign document scrolling becomes a bit of a nightmare. I’ve also discovered that iWork is rather sluggish; it uses all the funky effects built into the OS X system and looks very impressive, but uses a lot of resources to get there. Again, my Dad almost solved this problem too by sending me a graphics card that he wasn’t using. It was a nice hefty graphics card with loads of RAM (can’t remember exactly how much), but unfortunately my G3 architecture doesn’t have an AGP slot, so I can’t use it!

So where do I go from here? My current Mac was bought so that I could see what it was like, so I wasn’t put off by spending so little for it. But if I’m going to be using it every day (which I already am) for both business and pleasure, doing some pretty intense graphics handling, do I need something a bit more beefy? Can I justify forking out for another computer? It would probably have to be a G5, since a lot of G4 Macs aren’t actually much of an improvement over what I’ve got already. I might be able to sell my G3, which would help. Of course it won’t help the wedding budget either! Please, someone, make this decision for me!!!

3 thoughts on “Upgrade… upgrade…

  1. If you’re going to be using it for business I’d say go for it. If you’d be able to get more productivity out of it (and I think you would), then you can justify the extra expense. Particularly if you can get a good deal!

    By the way, it was really nice to see you and A-M last night as well 🙂

  2. Is Ellie still a student? If so, don’t forget she can get a respectable discount at the Apple online store!

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