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What Mac should a gamer buy?


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#21 teflon

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Posted 09 July 2008 - 01:25 AM

Id say that even as a casual gamer youre better off spending less on a PC than spending more on a mac.
Also, with that Macbook of yours, you can plug it into the screen and get dual displays going on.
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#22 mattyb

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Posted 09 July 2008 - 06:08 AM

I've spent nights awake pondering the same question.

Keep the iMac, and try and build a PC just for the games, or splash the cash for a Mac Pro, load it up with RAM and basically have one physical box but that can be :

my Mac
my Windows gaming machine
my virtual server machine
upgradable

I'm limited by space, and stupidly I'm limited by electric sockets in our rented apartment. Hub, screen, iMac, external disk, printer, desk lamp, phone charger are all on the one socket ATM.

I haven't got the funds yet, but the latest goal is a Nehalem based Mac Pro with hopefully a Radeon 3870 or even two. The machine will have to last for at least four years since the budget will be above 2500. I'd like to get at least 6G of RAM in there for the virtual machines and with a boot camp partition for XP (or Vista 64 bit).

Obviously this is my dream at the moment, I must get that lottery ticket to make it reality. ;)

#23 The Liberator

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Posted 09 July 2008 - 06:19 AM

If I were you, (and from what I have read) I would not buy a Mac Pro. Unless you would have a really good reason to gobble up the money (like some sort of very graphical intensive Mac thing, I wouldn't buy one at all. I would personally go for the option of a custom built gaming PC. The reason for, and for not buying the PC:

The pros:
*More than half as cheap than the Mac Pro
*Just as good specs as you could have with the Mac Pro

The cons:
*Has Windows OS on it
*Does not have OSX on it
*A possibility of not having warranty

Your choice. ;)

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#24 King_Eric

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Posted 09 July 2008 - 07:04 AM

View PostAika, on July 8th 2008, 09:48 PM, said:

If as you say you are a casual gamer maybe you don't need a really powerful box and won't feel restricted by Macs. If you want the latest and greatest of course Macs are terrible, they're so far behind the curve it's laughable but as a Blizzard fan who likes to play the odd RTS, FPS or RPG in between World of Warcraft sessions I feel well catered for even though my system is pushing 3 years now.

IMO if you invest heavily into a Mac specifically for gaming, aiming for the latest and greatest you'll just end up frustrated and are better off buying a PC for that. If you want an excellent computer that runs Blizzard games perfectly (and a few others decently) then I highly recommend the iMac :)

Wow, thanks for all the advice guys, I really appreciate it.

Yes, I'd classify myself as a casual gamer, but I used to be pretty hardcore into it, so I certainly would appreciate some higher-end stuff.

Also, I remember having an 'ok' gaming computer when Warcraft 3 game out, back in the day. It more than met the minimum requirements, but wasn't near the recommended. It ran the game, but the lag... oh god the lag... Any large battles would cause the frame rate to plummet and many of my favorite custom games would usually end with a frame rate of about 5-10. It was a huge pain in the ass.

#25 XxtraLarGe

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Posted 09 July 2008 - 07:56 AM

View PostKing_Eric, on July 9th 2008, 09:04 AM, said:

Wow, thanks for all the advice guys, I really appreciate it.

Yes, I'd classify myself as a casual gamer, but I used to be pretty hardcore into it, so I certainly would appreciate some higher-end stuff.

Also, I remember having an 'ok' gaming computer when Warcraft 3 game out, back in the day. It more than met the minimum requirements, but wasn't near the recommended. It ran the game, but the lag... oh god the lag... Any large battles would cause the frame rate to plummet and many of my favorite custom games would usually end with a frame rate of about 5-10. It was a huge pain in the ass.

I'm a semi-casual gamer, and I highly recommend the new 24" iMac to anybody who can afford it. It plays WoW & Civ IV Warlords like a dream, and I was also able to play Prey at the top settings without any drop in framerate that I was able to notice. the 24" iMac will be a very good computer for the next several years, though it will probably not be as capable a game machine by then. I'm not too worried about that though, since I buy a new computer every 3 years. Still, all the same, if you're looking for a stunning looking, great performing computer, the 24" iMac is where it's at!  :happy:

#26 PeopleLikeFrank

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Posted 09 July 2008 - 08:18 AM

The problem even with the 'casual gamer' argument is that you can spend less than it would cost to get any current Mac except the mini, and still wind up with a more powerful gaming computer than any Mac including the Pro. The only way the argument holds water is with the 'Macs are good for other stuff too' bit, assuming it's for general use with a bit of gaming thrown in.

That's true, but if someone owns a Mac already that's less than a year old, and is now looking to spend a bit in order to be able to game, there's no way that the PC doesn't still come out as the better option. That is unless: 1) they're so strapped for cash that they absolutely need to sell the current machine as part of the process; 2) they for whatever reason really don't want 2 computers; or 3) they have no confidence about putting their own PC together, since a pre-built one usually pushes the price closer to iMac territory.
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#27 nagromme

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Posted 09 July 2008 - 02:38 PM

View PostThe Liberator, on July 9th 2008, 08:19 AM, said:

If I were you, (and from what I have read) I would not buy a Mac Pro. Unless you would have a really good reason to gobble up the money (like some sort of very graphical intensive Mac thing, I wouldn't buy one at all. I would personally go for the option of a custom built gaming PC. The reason for, and for not buying the PC:

The pros:
*More than half as cheap than the Mac Pro
*Just as good specs as you could have with the Mac Pro

The cons:
*Has Windows OS on it
*Does not have OSX on it
*A possibility of not having warranty

Your choice. ;)

Liberator.

Good roundup.

I actually DO plan to buy a Mac Pro for (first and foremost) gaming--and game creation. Not for a year or so, but someday. Reasons why:

* I may not NEED that power for my other Mac stuff... but I'd like it! 3D modeling and Folding@Home will benefit.

* Having a souped up Mac would be FUN in and of itself. Gaming is about fun, after all. (Dealing with Windows is not fun for me--and neither is dealing with an unsupported home-built machine. Now, actually putting the thing together DOES sound fun.)

* I expect to be able to afford it by then, without having to sacrifice much. I'll be willing to "overbuy" for hobby/recreation reasons. Much like some people overbuy their gaming PC, or, for that matter, their car!

* I'll always want to be gaming on Mac, and with a multi-core tower and occasional GPU upgrades, a Mac that starts out expensive will end up lasting years and taking the place of more than one other Mac I'd have bought. (Be they iMacs, or MacBook Pros with external displays.)

* The reason I chose an iMac over a Pro last time is gone: I picked an iMac because it had the tiny Apple remote. Good call: I use that all the time, and like it a lot better than my big complex remotes of the past. And my iMac has had plenty of power. But next time, it won't matter: my iPhone will be the remote control for ANY Mac (or PC for that matter) :)

It's not something I'd recommend as a rule, but I look forward to it all the same.

#28 charmin

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Posted 09 July 2008 - 03:04 PM

One of the big draws of a Pro is internal RAID. Saucy. Can't do that in any other Mac.

That said, I wouldn't split my moolah between two machines, and if I had a choice of PC or Mac, it'd be the Mac.
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#29 Jarmo

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Posted 09 July 2008 - 03:30 PM

Buying and selling imacs every second year or so is actually a viable option, as long as you don't fill the thing with optional goodies.
For the base machine, you get your money back surprisingly well. Might be close to 70% of the purchase price.

It's not cheaper than keeping a second gaming PC (like I do), but if you do the math it's not much more expensive either.
I prefer the convenience of having 2 machines side by side (but then I have plenty of room and a huge computer desk).

One other thing I did, was to get a used mac. 24" iMac, top of the range 2 generations ago.
Used MacPro could be a solid alternative, but not in the $1000 ballpark by a longshot.

#30 The Liberator

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Posted 09 July 2008 - 07:45 PM

So. I guess the difference between the two options is a matter of pure opinion and what the individual like, needs and does not have.

By the way, If I were you, I would buy a Mac Pro, that is if I could get away with it financially.

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#31 Tetsuya

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 07:41 AM

i think the problem i have with a get-a-cheap-mac + build-a-cheap-pc argument is that, all told, you end up spending roughly the same (call it 80% of the cost of just getting a Mac Pro) and end up with a PC that is great at games (and not much else), and a really gimp Mac.  

I'm not a hardcore Mac guy; i dont really need 8 cores (well, i have a first-gen Mac Pro quad core, but you get the idea).  But my Girlfriend has a MacBook, and running side by side, the MacBook makes me want to tear my hear out and scream.  It's so freaking SLOW.  Just everyday tasks annoy me; and then there's the fact that the 80GB HD isnt enough to do.. well... ANYTHING i do seriously on a Mac.  I've got more than that in music.  (duplicate sets; Apple Lossless for listening to on the computer, MP3's for loading into my iPod)  Then there's the 5-7 TV shows i download every week...  

no way a MacMini (basically a MacBook on your desktop) would function for me.  But... for about the price of a top-end gaming rig + a halfway decent low-end iMac, i got my MacPro that flies through everyday tasks, devours high-end work when i do have the rare occasion to need to do such work, has 2TB of HD space, AND, when booted into Windows, runs games at about 85% of the speed that a dedicated gaming rig would... and it's one machine, sitting on my floor, that is a dream to work on, a dream to use, and convenient.  

The other thing that a lot of people just dont do, (and i dont know why), if theyre "serious" about games; is get a top-gen Windows video card in the 16x slot and then load their Mac card in the 8x slot and be done with it.  

That way, you can get top-end Windows gaming performance and still have a kick-ass machine, for not a lot more than you spend on a Mini + Gaming Rig.

I wouldn't two-box, were i you.  If you can deal with high-midrange performance in your games (call it 85% of the framerate you get from a windows box), the MacPro is the way to go, especially since if you really must have max performance, you can buy a new Radeon 4850/70 for use in Windows and just use your Mac video card in OSX and call it a day.  

ALthough the games you listed, anyway, are going to be Mac-native.  (Diablo 3 and SC2)

#32 PeopleLikeFrank

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 09:06 AM

Ok, but I can put together a better gaming rig than the Mac Pro that comes out at $780 with the latest sales at my favorite online store, then get a refurb 20" iMac for $1000, and it still comes out as cheaper than a new or refurb MP, and you get a more powerful Mac than a MB or Mini would offer.

I grant that one might not want to bother with two boxes, but better gaming still comes out cheaper with a PC.
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#33 charmin

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 09:35 AM

Or a console  :zonk:
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#34 Tetsuya

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 11:26 AM

View Postcharmin, on July 10th 2008, 08:35 AM, said:

Or a console  :zonk:

i cant think of any polite words that adequately describe how much i disagree with that statement.  

number of games that are console exclusives that i want to play: (both from the last generation of consoles and the current one)  Zero.

And i dont think you can put together a PC for 780$ that will be significantly "better" than a MacPro for gaming.  As good as, certainly, and slightly better, sure.  But significantly, i doubt.  My friend just recently put a new gaming PC together and to get specs that are "much superior" to my MacPro he had to spend about 1100$.  Still way cheaper than a MacPro, of course.  But not 800$.  

And for people who dont want two boxes and arent hardcore gamers (and can live with 100fps in games instead of 140) a MacPro is still your best all-around bet.

#35 charmin

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 11:48 AM

Consoles are a good money saving option. They'll still play the latest games a few years down the line, and with no fannying around upgrading bits and bobs. It's what I use for gaming rather than building a PC.

(And I completed Mass Effect LONG before it hit the PC of course)
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#36 PeopleLikeFrank

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 12:04 PM

View PostTetsuya, on July 10th 2008, 01:26 PM, said:

i cant think of any polite words that adequately describe how much i disagree with that statement.  

number of games that are console exclusives that i want to play: (both from the last generation of consoles and the current one)  Zero.

And i dont think you can put together a PC for 780$ that will be significantly "better" than a MacPro for gaming.  As good as, certainly, and slightly better, sure.  But significantly, i doubt.  My friend just recently put a new gaming PC together and to get specs that are "much superior" to my MacPro he had to spend about 1100$.  Still way cheaper than a MacPro, of course.  But not 800$.  

And for people who dont want two boxes and arent hardcore gamers (and can live with 100fps in games instead of 140) a MacPro is still your best all-around bet.

Well, it was an E8400 @ 3.0GHz, 4GB DDR2 800 and a Radeon 4850 - the rest of the specs aren't as important, but they're all quality parts. I bet it would beat a MP running an 8800 GT in any gaming benchmark. Not by a massive amount, but the $1600 price difference (~$1370 if you get a refurb MP and buy the same video card for use in Windows), plus much greater flexibility with upgrades still sways it to the PC in my books. The only caveat is that I didn't include an OS, since I tend to have a few different ones hanging around, so add $100 to my price.

I fully acknowledge that it's not as all-around powerful as the MP, but for games it should still beat a cheap-config MP, and I had to knock the MP down to a single 2.8GHz CPU to even get it vaguely competitive. I also understand your point about why you prefer not to go this route, and I'm not really arguing against that. But I think it still stands that you can get a better gaming rig, plus do better than a Mac mini for less than the cost of a MP + whatever graphics card (Mac or Win) you need to get a decent gaming experience.

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#37 teflon

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 12:45 PM

View PostTetsuya, on July 10th 2008, 06:26 PM, said:

And i dont think you can put together a PC for 780$ that will be significantly "better" than a MacPro for gaming.

I beg to differ. I can make a machine for 400 which has a 3.16Ghz C2D on 1033Mhz FSB and a 4850 from ATI which will whip the 8800GT by miles. check out this anandtech review. the processor speed is pretty close to what I have outlined. Its always ahead of the 8800GT, and at 1920x1200 with 4xAA is 13FpS faster in CoD4, 25 in ETQW, 25 in Bioshock. Crysis has the closest result, but its a testament that at 1680x1050 the 4850 is at a just playable 30FpS, whilst the 8800GT will struggle along at 25FpS.
This machine will be head and shoulders above a Mac Pro in windows. Its only got two cores, but games dont leverage more than 2 right now.

125 for the ATI 4850 (yes, not a high end card, but it still beats the 8800GT by miles)
145 for the intel E8500 at 3.16Ghz
55 for the Asus G33 ATX logic board
20 for a generic case with 400W PSU
30 for 2Gb PC-6400 RAM
20 for a DVD-RW (though I can go cheaper or scavenge for a cheaper/free one)
30 for a 160Gb HDD
50 for Vista (Though I could just get a cheap XP license of ebay or transfer my current one from my MBP, as I only use that for gaming anyway)

which comes to a total of 475. 75 over my budget, and if I were actually to make this Id get a decent case, a better HDD, possibly more RAM and. However, Id also shop around more as I just went to www.dabs.com and got prices from there. Yet, prices will inevitably be cheaper in the US than over here, so Id expect you could quite easily get something along those lines for $800 by cutting corners and getting rebates etc. etc.

and if you say that the Mac Pro will be more economical over the years, then I beg to differ. Youll have to buy a fresh GPU for the vastly inflated mac prices, which means that with that money I can replace my 4850 with a newer card, or for even less get another 4850 and crossfire them. Or I can build a new machine afresh two more times and still come in at less than your Mac Pro did initially. Specially as I can hold onto my Vista license, HDD, DVD-RW, case and PSU (depending on the power demands of the future). Also my electricity bill will come in at less because Ive got a 400W PSU whilst youve got (I believe) and 800W PSU.

I think I can quite comprehensively say that Ive won the price argument on PC v Mac Pro.

But, in tandem with a iMac, as nobody pointed out, you win by miles still. You dont have to suffer the extortionate GPU upgrade costs as I mentioned before, theres less/no reboot time, which I find particularly annoying, you dont have to use up space on you mac's HDD for boot camp, which can get very big unless you cut back on the base install through nlite or vlite or use an external HDD to store games (which Ive had to resort to). And, of course, youre always behind the curve with hardware on the mac apart from for the two months after Apple puts a new GPU in their MBPs and iMacs, and even there youre getting downclocked mid-high end portable parts (quite frankly though, the 2x00HD series sucked bad anyway).
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#38 Tetsuya

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 02:45 PM

View Postteflon, on July 10th 2008, 11:45 AM, said:

I beg to differ. I can make a machine for 400 which has a 3.16Ghz C2D on 1033Mhz FSB and a 4850 from ATI which will whip the 8800GT by miles. check out this anandtech review. the processor speed is pretty close to what I have outlined. Its always ahead of the 8800GT, and at 1920x1200 with 4xAA is 13FpS faster in CoD4, 25 in ETQW, 25 in Bioshock. Crysis has the closest result, but its a testament that at 1680x1050 the 4850 is at a just playable 30FpS, whilst the 8800GT will struggle along at 25FpS.
This machine will be head and shoulders above a Mac Pro in windows. Its only got two cores, but games dont leverage more than 2 right now.

125 for the ATI 4850 (yes, not a high end card, but it still beats the 8800GT by miles)
145 for the intel E8500 at 3.16Ghz
55 for the Asus G33 ATX logic board
20 for a generic case with 400W PSU
30 for 2Gb PC-6400 RAM
20 for a DVD-RW (though I can go cheaper or scavenge for a cheaper/free one)
30 for a 160Gb HDD
50 for Vista (Though I could just get a cheap XP license of ebay or transfer my current one from my MBP, as I only use that for gaming anyway)

and you have a generic case that sounds like a jet engine taking off, a PSU that will die and take your MoBo and CPU down with it, and no Dual-layer support on your DVD-R/W; top that off with a microscopic HD.  

Notice i never said that you couldnt build a machine that would perform as well as or slightly better than a MacPro for around 800$; merely that you cant build one that is vastly better.  Your hinging the entire claim of "beats the MacPro by miles" on the video card; since it is a given that if you're using a MacPro for gaming, you will be doing so in Bootcamp, that's a moot argument.  For the same price i can just add the Radeon my MacPro; retain my 8800GT for OSX in the 8x slot and use the same video card as your target machine here in Windows, narrowing or nearly eliminating the performance gap.  That is the route i will most likely take, in fact, if there is not a Radeon 4xxx series card for Mac when my 8800GT starts to get long in the tooth.  (and since i play at what i like to call "real world" resolutions, the performance difference i'd notice will be FAR less. Most average people, even "average gamers" (who are not average people), do not play every game at 1600x1200 and expect to get 20000000 fps).  

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which comes to a total of 475. 75 over my budget, and if I were actually to make this Id get a decent case, a better HDD, possibly more RAM and. However, Id also shop around more as I just went to www.dabs.com and got prices from there. Yet, prices will inevitably be cheaper in the US than over here, so Id expect you could quite easily get something along those lines for $800 by cutting corners and getting rebates etc. etc.
Cutting corners being the operative term.  I wouldn't build a high end gaming right with crap parts.  40$ case and PSU? Never.  I like to have my computer not die and take itself down for me.  I've seen it happen dozens of times to friends who built on a budget.  

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and if you say that the Mac Pro will be more economical over the years, then I beg to differ. Youll have to buy a fresh GPU for the vastly
inflated mac prices,

No i dont; If im not gaming or doing pro-apps in OSX, OSX can run off of whatever midrange video card is available for cheap from Apple pretty much indefinitely.  I'm not restricted to using Apple's video cards to game in windows.  

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which means that with that money I can replace my 4850 with a newer card, or for even less get another 4850 and crossfire them.
So can I

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Or I can build a new machine afresh two more times and still come in at less than your Mac Pro did initially. Specially as I can hold onto my Vista license, HDD, DVD-RW, case and PSU (depending on the power demands of the future). Also my electricity bill will come in at less because Ive got a 400W PSU whilst youve got (I believe) and 800W PSU.

your estimation of what someone who was targeted at gaming with a MacPro paid are off, i think.  I got mine out the door for 2100$.  Processor power has plateu'd pretty nicely the last few years.  Even 2 generations of CPU removed from the Core2's in my MacPro, performance has only increased about 11% clock-for-clock, and they aren't really predicting a lot of advance in that region, meaning my MacPro (like any other PC), will be mostly l imited in its upgrades by Video Card availability (gaming in windows, so ive got the same selection you do) and i can keep my Vista liscence, HDDs, etc... and not really need to gut my machine to stay within 20% performance of the second machine you build fresh.  


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I think I can quite comprehensively say that Ive won the price argument on PC v Mac Pro.
i think you just badly misinterpreted what i said in the first place.  I never said that gaming PC's capable of beating the pants off of a MacPro weren't much cheaper than a MacPro, i merely refuted your claim of what price point you were looking at.  At the 1100$ my friend just spent on his new machine, it beats my MacPro pretty soundly.  But he couldn't have built that performance in (with decent parts, at any rate, that arent going to melt and die) for 800$; scrapping his second video card he could have brought it down to maybe 950 or so, but then id have caught up in a big way).  

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But, in tandem with a iMac, as nobody pointed out, you win by miles still. You dont have to suffer the extortionate GPU upgrade costs as I mentioned before, theres less/no reboot time, which I find particularly annoying, you dont have to use up space on you mac's HDD for boot camp, which can get very big unless you cut back on the base install through nlite or vlite or use an external HDD to store games (which Ive had to resort to). And, of course, youre always behind the curve with hardware on the mac apart from for the two months after Apple puts a new GPU in their MBPs and iMacs, and even there youre getting downclocked mid-high end portable parts (quite frankly though, the 2x00HD series sucked bad anyway).

If you own a MacPro, you dont need to eat up space on your MacHD for Windows; i certainly dont.  I've got a 500GB drive that i picked up on NewEgg for about 80$ to hold Windows and all of my games.  And on top of that, working inside my case is far easier than any PC setup that doesn't cost tons; every single one of my friends is jealous of the engineering inside my Pro and the fact that you cant hear it when it is on; all of their machines sound like jet engines.  

edit: in reference to saving on your power bill; not really.  Because under your scenario you're running a pair of 300-400W PSUs simultaneously; so that's a total wash IMO.  

I think i pretty much refuted some of your argument:  you DONT need to pay Apple's extortionate prices for video cards (unless you insist on doing your gaming in OSX, which renders this whole argument moot since the OP was curious about Bootcamp); you can use any off-the-shelf video card and run it in Windows just fine; and use whatever Mac card you have for OSX.  If you really want to, as well, you can use Crossfire in a Pro under Bootcamp.  

It mostly comes down to a preference thing; do you want to put up with two boxes or not?  I dont.  But to build a truly whoop-ass computer out of not-junk parts, you're looking at 1,000$ or more; add in another 1,000$ or so for a Mac that isnt terribad all on it's own and you've just about totalled yourself up to the 2100$ i spent on my Pro.

#39 Tetsuya

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 02:52 PM

View Postcharmin, on July 10th 2008, 10:48 AM, said:

Consoles are a good money saving option. They'll still play the latest games a few years down the line, and with no fannying around upgrading bits and bobs. It's what I use for gaming rather than building a PC.

(And I completed Mass Effect LONG before it hit the PC of course)

its more of a preference thing;  the kinds of games made for consoles just aren't my bag anymore.

and playing any shooter type game on a console is a no-go for me.  Ive played ME on the 360 and couldn't even play for 15 minutes before the gimpified consolitis controls made me hate the game; only the recommendation of one of my best friends got me to try it for PC (and it was like playing a completely different game).  So the fact that you played what i would consider a terrible game months before its much superior sibling came out on a PC is not a selling point for me.  

If you can stand the controls, then you're right, its probably better for you in the long run.  But not for me, (and i suspect) and not for most other people who game on PCs and actually like feeling like they control the game and not just "share the game experience" with the console controller.

#40 teflon

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 04:31 PM

View PostTetsuya, on July 10th 2008, 09:45 PM, said:

no Dual-layer support on your DVD-R/W
yes it does. ive already got one. if anything itll have gotten cheaper.

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your estimation of what someone who was targeted at gaming with a MacPro paid are off, i think.  I got mine out the door for 2100$.  Processor power has plateu'd pretty nicely the last few years.
refurb is a wonderful thing. I was going on a new mac pro with a 8800GT and only one quad core, which comes to $2450. If I stay within what is planned, Id stay within that easily. Also, you forgot to add the price of a 8800GT, which takes you back up to $2370, which is close enough to what I was working on. Also the price of updating with a new GPU in a years time.

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(and since i play at what i like to call "real world" resolutions, the performance difference i'd notice will be FAR less. Most average people, even "average gamers" (who are not average people), do not play every game at 1600x1200 and expect to get 20000000 fps).
what resolution do you play at? I either play at native resolution or down one notch to get some "free fuzzy FSAA". Which in turn means that anyone with a widescreen display, with 22" being most commonly sold these days, will have 1680x1050. Put simply, things start to look like ass once you go too low on the resolutions. So the most real world resolution i can think of is 1440x900.

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I've got a 500GB drive that i picked up on NewEgg for about 80$ to hold Windows and all of my games.
my prices were UK based, yours are US based. You wouldnt necessarily cut those corners to stay within the $800 limit +/- 10%. nobody said as much in the post that preceded mine (i took a long time to write mine)

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in reference to saving on your power bill; not really.  Because under your scenario you're running a pair of 300-400W PSUs simultaneously; so that's a total wash IMO.
where I said energy bills I was talking in terms of not having a mac along side, which admittedly wasnt particularly consistent. But in the instance that you have the PC there, it doesnt need to be turned on. You save time on rebooting by turning it on as youre finishing off what youre doing in OSX, then its ready to go when you get to it.
Also, I believe that an iMac runs between 200 and 250W because of laptop parts, being designed within those limits etc. etc.

I can easily argue both sides of this, but to me, the distinct machine wins out every time in the current climate. Everything but the Mac Pro has no real hope in 2 years time of being a decent gaming machine, not even the most kitted out imac. And right now every single machine Apple sells is outdated in the GPU department. Almost hopelessly so. When I buy a new macbook pro I expect it to be able to handle games. The fact that it struggled with games released 2 months later shows that.
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