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Advice on buying new computer!


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#1
mac90

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Hello everyone,

I'm new to this forum and it seems like a great place to seek advice and help. :D

Here's the case; I work as a graphic designer (freelance) and I am looking to buy a new computer that can handle really heavy work in Photoshop/Illustrator. I'm also thinking of learning 3D-software, like Zbrush. So a real workstation in other words. My current computer isn't too great for this kind of work but it isn't exactly bad either. It's alright but it can get quite frustrating when working on large PSD files for example.

The specs of my current computer is:

Intel Core2 Quad Q9550 @ 2.83GHz
3 GB RAM
NVIDIA GeForce 8500 GT
Windows XP (32 bit)


Now, my instant thought was a Mac (which is dominant in the advertising business). I have been thinking about getting a Mac Pro with the following specs:

2x 2.4GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon Westmere (8 cores)
12GB RAM (6x 2GB)
ATI Radeon HD 5770 1GB


Would that mean a big difference in performance compared to my current computer? I know the specs obviously looks better with the Mac, but as I am not too knowledgeable about hardware I was wondering about the processor speeds (the Mac has 8 cores compared to my 4, but also has lower frequency. Does that matter in this case?)

I would love to hear your opinions!

Thanks,
Marcus
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#2
ZaRMan

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There would be a huge difference in performance between the two computers! The lower clock speed on the Mac processor is not to worry about because of more cores, the Mac processor is a lot better. It is like Intel processors, an i7 @ 2.0 GHz is better than an i5@2.5 GHz because of the difference in the number of cores. I personally prefer ATI cards and the 5770 is a very good one. I has DirectX 11 support while your current one only goes upto DirectX 10. I imagine the Mac would cost a small fortune for those specs, but if you can afford it, then go ahead. Overall the Mac is very high-powered and should support all your graphic design needs and beyond. Hope this helps!
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#3
Digerati

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It is important to keep in mind that graphics cards, like most intelligent electronics, can be designed and tweaked for their primary intended purpose. Graphics cards tweaked and marketed for gaming do not make the best cards for graphics design. You said so yourself, you are looking for "a real workstation". As such, you should look for a card designed, tweaked and marketed for graphics design, a "workstation graphics card".
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#4
mac90

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Thank you very much for your input guys :D

Digerati, I see your point. Which graphics card would you recommend out of those on the link you posted? It's a shame you can't opt the graphics card out when configuring the Mac at Apple store...

I might however be open to a PC as well. It seems though like a Mac is more suited for work and a PC for gaming from what I've read. Less hassle with the Mac. The biggest advantage with a PC probably is the price tag. It can seem like the Mac is a little overpriced.

That said, I wonder also if anyone can comment on the "PC or Mac" matter. Just no blind fanboyism please. :D
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#5
Digerati

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It seems though like a Mac is more suited for work and a PC for gaming from what I've read.

No, that's not a fair assessment. While Macs may be more suited for work, and you can make a good game machine with a PC, it is not fair to say to PCs are for gaming. By far, of the 1 billion Windows based PCs in the world, most are used for work and school projects and those used for gaming are a minimum. I have no doubts that if the software industry decided to concentrate development for optimal gaming on Macs, they too would be known for being excellent gaming machines.

Which graphics card would you recommend out of those on the link you posted?

No way I can answer that - not when they range in price from $80 to $4000 and you have not stated your budget.

I recommend you set a budget, then research the programs you will be using most to see which graphics features they need. Perhaps search the maker's forums for the applications you will be using for advice of other users of those apps.

That said, with graphics cards, unlike some things, the general common sense belief that more money gets you better performance is true. So for the best performance for the money when building a computer today in today's graphics oriented world, the largest portion of the budget is often best put on the graphics solution. I set my budget for lots of RAM, graphics, then CPU, then motherboard. Last, but perhaps most importantly, I then budget for a "quality" PSU with enough headroom for possible added hardware. If there's not enough budget for a "quality supply" from a reputable maker, then cut back elsewhere, or wait until you can increase the budget for a quality supply - don't feed your brand new high-performance computer generic, cheap, no-name gas. As to the PSU size, graphics cards can easily be the most power hungry device in your computer, demanding considerably more power than many CPUs. So size (current on the +12V rail) and quality are important.
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#6
mac90

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Thanks for the tips, Digerati.

I don't have a huge budget but enough for a Mac with the specs I mentioned. As I'm not sure if I'll even need a better graphics card (that's more suited for workstations) I think I'll probably go with the Mac as it is. I could always make an upgrade later down the line if needed.
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#7
Digerati

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Sounds like a plan. Good luck.
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