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Thread: Need Macintosh Purchase Advice

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    Need Macintosh Purchase Advice

    Hello everyone,

    I hope I got this in the right forum link (I don't really post all that often just in large blocks). It didn't seem to fit in the hardware forum since it seemed related to Ubuntu issues with hardware. If it isn't right, hopefully a moderator can help me get it where it needs to be, and sorry for the trouble if it is. So basically here is the situation.

    I am currently living in Puerto Rico working as a web developer (mostly web APIs for services the company provides). Currently all development is done using C# so they are Windows shop. However, they are looking to start creating mobile clients with for their software, and they want native IOS and Android apps. I was forcibly volunteered to start working on the IOS solutions and they are going to provide me with an IMac (at work only). Since work has to come home with me.... a lot..... Then I am going to be needing a way to work at home as well. Now I am in the market for a Mac for home, but I just don't know which would be the best choice for me while not completely hammering my wallet all at once. I tried to google for solid information between the choices but most of the answers were related to the GPU performance which isn't a very high requirement for me, and the Ubuntu Community of Users tends to be the best place for me to turn to for answers. They are a really great group.

    So I am turning to those here who might have had a situation similar to mine in the past. I am looking at 2 different options right now, but I am open to any advice anyone can give me.

    Option 1 - Mac Mini

    The Mac mini is due for a refresh, I know this much, but the specs are still fairly solid. I love the minimalist nature of the design as well, and I wouldn't be disappointed if they do a refresh soon after buying. The reason I am interested in it despite the refresh is HDD space. I tend to have Windows and Ubuntu on all my PCs and I would like to have the ability to at least have Windows or Ubuntu (or both) running in a virtual machine without hassle. The 500 gb HDD makes this much easier over some of the newer options from Apple since they use 128 or 256 gb SSDs. Also, at the price of a mini, I could get it and a cheap laptop and not spend as much as on the 2012 macbook pro (down to one desktop at the house with my wife's now in heaven, and my laptop is having power and heating issues).

    Option 2 - 2012 version Macbook pro

    This would kind of kill 2 birds with one stone. It would replace my aging and failing laptop and I could always hook it up to a monitor at home. There isn't a huge difference in the specs, and portability is a tremendous plus in today's world.

    Although the GPU isn't high on my priority, for a hobby, I mess around with the Unity Engine, but only simple 2D stuff, but still with that in mind, would I be better off going with a 13 inch Macbook Air or Retina Macbook pro (sorry I guess there was a third option >.<)?

    If any web developers stumble across this and can give me some advice, I would appreciate it. I haven't had a Mac since the old beige G3s running OS 8 and 9, and that was when I was a child.

    Thanks in advance for any readers who come across this.

  2. #2
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    Re: Need Macintosh Purchase Advice

    I use a 17" MacBook Pro. It's only dual core. If you can find one then grab it up, matte screen is best, i7 is best if you can find it. If you need a laptop, then this is the one to get. Anything smaller and you need an external monitor to work on it for any length of time. I use mine with an external anyway, I use both to get dual monitors.

    Mac mini: I've been tempted several times for this thing. I use Mac OS X with Parallels, and VMs for Linux and Windows and whatever else as necessary.

    Regardless of what you get, RAM is at a premium if you intend to run VMs. I often need 3 or more simultaneously and so 8g is not really enough. I also get the CPU hot enough to shut the system down every now and then.

    I would say USB3 is extremely desirable whatever you get. I don't know if the current offerings have it or not.
    Help stamp out MBR partitions. Use GPT instead!

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    Xubuntu 14.04 Trusty Tahr

    Re: Need Macintosh Purchase Advice

    Macs are expensive all around, and to develop software for iOS you HAVE to have Mac OS X. Here's what I would do:
    Find a refurbished Mac that can run the latest version of Mac OS X (Maveriks I think)
    Upgrade RAM, HDD, whatever needs upgraded (if possible) and downoad XCode
    http://www.macofalltrades.com/

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    Re: Need Macintosh Purchase Advice

    I have actually been considering this option but (at least here) The difference is so negligible that I can't justify buying one used. They are expensive, however, they really come loaded too. I was amazed to find some of the built in features of even the mini. Thanks everyone for the fast replies too. I really appreciate it.

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    Re: Need Macintosh Purchase Advice

    Yeah personally I'd go with a Mac Mini if you have a monitor, keyboard, and mouse. I think WWDC is... june 2-6 which they will probably reveal a newer model. Hmm... look at the refurbished section, that way if you don't pay as much for a new one, but get one, you're not out too much as they'll have warranty.

    If you want a laptop though. MBA's are alright, if you can work on that thin and small of a machine (11" screen... uh... yeah...). I you need the screen size, don't do an MBA, do a MBP 13" non-retina display.

    Mac Mini is my vote.

  6. #6
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    Re: Need Macintosh Purchase Advice

    I used Macs for years,including Macbook Pro's.

    Mini's are, in a way, laptops fitted into that little case minus a display.

    Obviously, if you need something to carry between home and the office, then you need a laptop. If you'll just be accessing the office from home via the net or a VPN, the Mini comes into the mix. If that's the case, and if you already have the display(s) to use with it, you can focus on the specs for the Mini.

    I'd suggest pointing your browser to the Apple store and configuring different models to see how they price out. The relative price difference should stay much the same if you eventually buy refurbished. (Apple sells refurbished and clearance items. There's a link at the bottom of the store page.)

    (....If it was me, for web development I'd buy an Air to carry back and forth, and a separate desktop display would be very useful.)

  7. #7
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    Re: Need Macintosh Purchase Advice

    Actually if you are going between home and office, you CAN do it with a mini. Have a monitor, keyboard and mouse on each end, grab the CPU and go. Smaller than any laptop.

    1080p monitors are really cheap now, thanks to the television market. The Apple trackpad or mouse are a bit steep, but I'm seriously addicted to my trackpad. First trackpad I actually preferred over any other pointing device.

    If the mini had more USB ports I'd be all over it.
    Help stamp out MBR partitions. Use GPT instead!

  8. #8
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    Re: Need Macintosh Purchase Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by 1clue View Post
    Actually if you are going between home and office, you CAN do it with a mini. Have a monitor, keyboard and mouse on each end, grab the CPU and go. Smaller than any laptop.
    Ah, true!

    But it's tough to use a Mini on a train or at the airport.

  9. #9
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    Re: Need Macintosh Purchase Advice

    Yeah, well in that case you're gonna need a laptop. But for years now I've questioned the need to have a true laptop for most people. Certainly for me, the laptop is an overly expensive extravagance, no matter if it's a Mac or something else.
    Help stamp out MBR partitions. Use GPT instead!

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