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What Mac should a gamer buy?


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#41 Mr. Selvetarm

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 06:00 PM

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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.

Amen to that. Crysis came out like a month or two after my MBP was released and I struggled through the demo at around 30 FPS.

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#42 PeopleLikeFrank

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 09:23 PM

View PostTetsuya, on July 10th 2008, 04:45 PM, said:

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.

Just had to nit-pick a bit and say that the $800 system I specced out in my last post had a high-quality PSU, quiet case, DL support, a decent size HD, and pretty much every part in it had a better warranty than Apple gives you by default. Just sayin'. That's all. Ok I'll shut up now.

View PostmR.sELvETaRM, on July 10th 2008, 08:00 PM, said:

Amen to that. Crysis came out like a month or two after my MBP was released and I struggled through the demo at around 30 FPS.

True, and it's too bad the midrange parts from the last generation of GPUs were so weak. But Crysis may not be the best example. For all that people were disappointed that it didn't run as expected on their machines, the devs had been saying for months that current computers would struggle with it.
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#43 teflon

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Posted 11 July 2008 - 03:02 AM

its good to nit pick, and seeing as that was half the argument, its definitely a valid point.

ok, in UT3 on medium settings at 80% screen rendering of 1440x900, I average at around 30FpS. yeah its good enough to play with, but UT3 isnt a particularly demanding game even on release. I could give other examples if you want...
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#44 nagromme

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Posted 11 July 2008 - 03:06 AM

Having a major PC maker design and build a system FOR you, complete with online resources specific to that config and one-stop warranty support, has real monetary value. Home-built is a great cheap option, but it IS cheap for a reason, and it's not a sure-fire good choice.

(Personally, I think the flaws of home-built sound like a fun challenge, in a way. Nor sure if I'd still think so if faced with the reality or not.)

#45 mattyb

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Posted 11 July 2008 - 05:19 AM

The trouble (for me) in having two machines is the wiring, the space, the complications.

I already have all the 20" iMac ports full. Another machine will just add too much complexity for managing ipods, cameras, external hard drives, keyboards, game controllers and mice. Yeah I know, KVM blah blah, but with a Pro I don't add this complexity, I keep a bl**dy good OS and I can game. Plus the 1 CPU Mac Pro is only about 200€ more than an iMac.

I've been looking at gamer machines since I last posted on this thread and TBH, for the same spec as the Mac Pro, you're looking at around 1500€ - ok quad core doesn't help gaming YET, but it will (he hopes). Those are pre-built systems BTW, I've done my share of building PCs and I've had enough of it.

Even if you spent 1000€ on a PC, are you sure that it will be able to run Windows 7 (for example). I'm pretty sure that a Mac Pro bought this year will be able to run Apple's operating systems for the next four (maybe even five) years. For me the longevity of the hardware is a factor.

#46 Tetsuya

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Posted 11 July 2008 - 07:05 AM

View Postmattyb, on July 11th 2008, 04:19 AM, said:

The trouble (for me) in having two machines is the wiring, the space, the complications.

I already have all the 20" iMac ports full. Another machine will just add too much complexity for managing ipods, cameras, external hard drives, keyboards, game controllers and mice. Yeah I know, KVM blah blah, but with a Pro I don't add this complexity, I keep a bl**dy good OS and I can game. Plus the 1 CPU Mac Pro is only about 200€ more than an iMac.

I've been looking at gamer machines since I last posted on this thread and TBH, for the same spec as the Mac Pro, you're looking at around 1500€ - ok quad core doesn't help gaming YET, but it will (he hopes). Those are pre-built systems BTW, I've done my share of building PCs and I've had enough of it.

Even if you spent 1000€ on a PC, are you sure that it will be able to run Windows 7 (for example). I'm pretty sure that a Mac Pro bought this year will be able to run Apple's operating systems for the next four (maybe even five) years. For me the longevity of the hardware is a factor.

as for OS Longevity, my Mirrored Drive Door G4 (used primarily as a DVR/DVP these days) runs 10.5 just fine.

And that computer is almost .. have to think.... 7 years old? or maybe older.  And my B&W G3 ran 10.4 fine (if a little slow) before i scrapped it in favor of giving it to a friend to build a PC into the case.

#47 PeopleLikeFrank

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Posted 11 July 2008 - 07:41 AM

View Postnagromme, on July 11th 2008, 05:06 AM, said:

Having a major PC maker design and build a system FOR you, complete with online resources specific to that config and one-stop warranty support, has real monetary value. Home-built is a great cheap option, but it IS cheap for a reason, and it's not a sure-fire good choice.

(Personally, I think the flaws of home-built sound like a fun challenge, in a way. Nor sure if I'd still think so if faced with the reality or not.)

Honestly it's a lot simpler than a lot of people take it to be, but that's a valid point. Interestingly, I noticed that at the store where I was looking at the prices, as soon as you have enough parts in your basket to constitute a complete system, they add an option where for $50, they'll assemble it for you, including OS install, driver config and testing to ensure it's all working before shipping off to you. So kind of best of both worlds there, since that's still cheaper than a prebuilt system.
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#48 teflon

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Posted 11 July 2008 - 07:52 AM

MDD? nay, it was 2003, which puts it at only 5 years old. However, this is also the average life span of a mac (the windows world runs around at 3 years).
however, leopard still supports the QS, which is 2001-2002 vintage. But dont forget that with a CPU upgrade and a GPU upgrade older machines can still cope quite well with Leopard. My parents own a G4 AGP which has got a 1.3Ghz upgrade, a flashed 9800 and 1.5Gb RAM. Its plenty good for general OSX, Word, iLife etc. etc.
Sure it might be slower than a new iMac, and not handle HD content, but its plenty for the basics.

as for a new machine now being able to handle Windows 7, yes it will. Its based off the same base end as Vista, will still use DX10 etc. etc. its evolution instead of revolution based on current reports.
Add to that that this €1000 PC will have a decent CPU and a decent GPU instead of integrated nonsense and it will definitely be able to handle the demands of the system itself. On the other hand, in 3 years time, the GPU wont be up to snuff, intel will have transitioned to a single chip Logic Board system (the RAM controller is moving to the CPU like with AMDs next year), and gaming will be more demanding and actually require more than 2 cores to work well...

there may well also be a new round of consoles on the horizon (with 2Gb of RAM hopefully)
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#49 The Liberator

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Posted 11 July 2008 - 08:01 AM

So, it seems that there are a lot of things that are happening on the horizon of gaming and general computer use. You could say that "the Times they are A–changing"? ;)

By the way, Teflon, are you saying that consoles do not have a large amount of RAM installed in them?

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#50 teflon

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Posted 11 July 2008 - 09:27 AM

yes, thats exactly what Im saying. The X360 is in better position that the PS3 when it comes to RAM as it pools all of its RAM into one 512Mb block (with an extra 10Mb dedicated to hyper fast VRAM-ness), which allows the developer to do what they want/need to with it. Whilst the PS3 has two blocks of 256Mb, one system one video... This means that even though the PS3 has got the ability to have some quite frankly photorealistic textures through having BluRay, it often cant use it because of the VRAM limitations. Or perhaps they want to use a bit more RAM for game logic. no can do.

oh, and its not even 256Mb in reality, because the back end XMB is still running and using up around 50Mb of it.

quite simply its not enough, and given that RAM prices are constantly dropping, Sony should have been man enough to take a slightly bigger hit in the early days of its release. Specially now that theyre still saying no to a price drop...
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#51 Tetsuya

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Posted 11 July 2008 - 12:16 PM

Apple's website says the original MDD G4's came out in 02 (and i got mine in August, i remember that); so its nearly 6 years old.

The later (faster) MDD's came out in 2003.  

I've got a Dual 1Ghz (that is finally on it's last legs after the internal IDE controller died) but it still runs 10.5 pretty zippy; and that's with 1GB of RAM and a modded G5 OEM Radeon 9600 (64MB)

#52 Sneaky Snake

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Posted 11 July 2008 - 03:25 PM

View Postteflon, on July 10th 2008, 06:31 PM, said:

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.

His argument is for gaming in bootcamp. So you wouldn't need the 8800 and could get a 2600 for mac stuff, throw it in the 8x slot, and then get 2 4850's or 4870's (takes 421.5 watts under load to crossfire a pair of 4870's, see here), crossfire 'em and then you have a sweet set up. My friend just broke his home build cuz he had a crap case and it bent/flexed slightly which ungrounded the computer, and then cooked a bunch of stuff, which led to other things getting cooked which led to his whole computer being turned to a box full of scrap

Now I'm not saying that this means the Mac Pro is now suddenly a cheap but amazing option for games but for about $3000 you could get the Mac Pro ($2100 with student discount), 2 4870's (approx $600), and a display ($300)

It beats the sub $2000 PC that Toms Hardware built (see here) and isn't much worse then the sub $4000 one they built (see here, I'm assuming that the 2x9800GX2 beats 2x4870) they have more RAM and faster RAM but for another $175 I could get 4 more GB's for the Mac Pro, plus I already have a display

I know there's going to be some people coming on here telling me how much the Tom's homebuild sucks, but there a big, respected company so I thought I could use them as a reference



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EDIT: I forgot to add Vista which will cost approx $100. So that means that for about $3300 you can have quad 2.8 mac pro with 6 gb of RAM, a 2600 for mac, dual 4870's for windows, and a display. Sure its more expensive then a homebuild but it will be as fast as pretty much any practical homebuild you can make but you still have OS X
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#53 teflon

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Posted 11 July 2008 - 05:02 PM

i was referencing his particular case, with a $2100 initial purchase (Rev A quad core), subsequent 8800GT and future 5870 or whatever.

oh, another reason. the Mac Pro is seriously hampered in terms of lanes for PCIe, meaning you might be hampered for SLI or CF with bandwidth.. its not exactly ideal.

oh,and dont forget youll need a display with two seperate digital inputs, otherwise youre switching cables/stuck with VGA. many budget monitors only come with one DVI and one VGA. get a dell is my advice here. they tend to be good solid monitors, with good panels (PVA not TN, only bested for colour reproduction by IPS as seen in the Apple displays) and overall good response times.

if youre gonna get a mac pro, dont hamper yourself with a rubbish display.

www.tftcentral.co.uk is my website of the week. very very informative
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#54 The Liberator

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Posted 11 July 2008 - 07:29 PM

I really did not expect that the gaming consoles would have such as loss of RAM. As you can see, my computer has 1 gb of RAM.

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#55 teflon

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Posted 12 July 2008 - 02:50 AM

Well, the PS2 had, I believe, 16Mb of RAM, the Gamecube had 24Mb, and the Xbox had 64Mb. From those, the step up was huge! But, Doom 3 was the first game that would use 512Mb of VRAM, CoD2 did too, 512Mb is now de facto on a new GPU, and it also helps with FSAA and higher resolutions and bigger textures etc. etc.
both MS and Sony cut costs (I believe the initial plan for Xbox was to have 128Mb RAM, and for the X360 to have 1Gb, but both times MS wanted to cheapen it slightly) though, and whilst its still workable on both consoles to get great results, the developer's lives would be much easier, the games would run better, the resolutions would probably be higher (Both Halo 3 on X360 and GTA4 on PS3 run at sub 720p resolutions and upscale for various reasons), and the cost would (2 years down the line) not be substantially more per console had they gone with 1Gb.

also, the whole divisions of RAM thing I mentioned earlier where Sony messed it up. Ill try and find the interview.

Also, bear in mind that a computer needs more RAM than a console because a) it has to run a whole OS in the back ground, b) stuff isnt as optimised, and c)writing a game for a console gives you set resources which the developers have to push to the maximum to get the best out of it.
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#56 The Liberator

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Posted 12 July 2008 - 07:17 AM

Oh, okay. Thank you Teflon for that very informative and useful post. I never knew that. :)

By the way, is it then possible that games on a PC can look better than games on a console? A reference would be a comparison between CoD 4 on the PC and PS3?

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#57 teflon

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Posted 12 July 2008 - 07:35 AM

yes, easily.
Youll get higher resolution, higher amounts of FSAA, better textures, a better frame rate and most importantly K&M control.

well, youd need a decent rig in order to get all that, but were talking 2.6Ghz C2D and a 8800GT. For some really kicking frame rate, get a 4850. 65 FpS at 1920x1200 with 4xAA. Simply the best.

but the PS3 is cheaper.
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#58 Sneaky Snake

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Posted 12 July 2008 - 08:39 AM

View Postteflon, on July 11th 2008, 07:02 PM, said:

oh, another reason. the Mac Pro is seriously hampered in terms of lanes for PCIe, meaning you might be hampered for SLI or CF with bandwidth.. its not exactly ideal.

oh,and dont forget youll need a display with two seperate digital inputs, otherwise youre switching cables/stuck with VGA. many budget monitors only come with one DVI and one VGA. get a dell is my advice here. they tend to be good solid monitors, with good panels (PVA not TN, only bested for colour reproduction by IPS as seen in the Apple displays) and overall good response times.

wouldn't the two 16x PCIe lanes do just fine for crossfire?

And you wouldn't need dual input display. For one thing it could create problems with bootcamp because it would use the 2600 instead of the 4870, so you would have to unplug it anyway. And switching one cable prior to restart takes about 3 seconds. For $3300 I'm sure you could spend more then $300 on the display. I didn't shop around looking for any discounts on the 4870's and you could just change to a pair of 4850's and save yourself a lot of money. Also I think you could find cheaper RAM for the Mac Pro or just get an extra 2 Gigs instead of 4.

A homebuild can easily beat a Mac Pro in gaming in you leave the Mac Pro stock. But since the Homebuild is being built entirely custom I think one should be a loud to drop a least a different video card in the Mac Pro. And think about it this way; For $1700 you can get a Mac Pro with a quad 2.8 CPU, 2600 XT, 4 GB's of RAM and a display. And then for $1600 you can get a quad 2.8 PC, dual 4870's, 4 GB's of RAM. $1600 for a homebuild like that is not to shabby you can probably beat the price but not by a lot. And then you guys were talking about buying a 2nd hand iMac for a bit over a $1000. The Mac Pro with school the iMac is CPU speed, have a better GPU (unless you get an iMac with the 8800 GS which will cost a lot more then just over a thou), and the MP will have more RAM.

So for around $2000 you can get a mini+mediocre homebuild, with a keyboard, mouse and display. Or you can spend $3300 get the most powerful, most customizable mac + an amazing gaming computer, with all of the extras and its all in the same box. The Mac Pro will kick the Mini's ass, and the dual 4870's in bootcamp will kick the homebuild's ass.

The choice is clear


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#59 charmin

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Posted 12 July 2008 - 09:39 AM

View PostSneaky Snake, on July 12th 2008, 03:39 PM, said:

So for around $2000 you can get a mini+mediocre homebuild, with a keyboard, mouse and display. Or you can spend $3300
[snip]
The choice is clear
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Did I misread your post or is this a HUGE non-sequitur?
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#60 teflon

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Posted 12 July 2008 - 09:54 AM

View PostSneaky Snake, on July 12th 2008, 03:39 PM, said:

wouldn't the two 16x PCIe lanes do just fine for crossfire?
yes, you could, but then the 2600 is stuck in a 4 lane slot which would limit it in OSX use... so its not a perfect solution by any means. This would only be workable with dual 3870s then, which are already behind the times. Just get a single 4870 or 4850 instead of dual. Unless youre running a 30" display the 4850 can handle your game at 1920x1200 with 4xAA (unless, of course, its Crysis).

Quote

And you wouldn't need dual input display. For one thing it could create problems with bootcamp because it would use the 2600 instead of the 4870, so you would have to unplug it anyway. And switching one cable prior to restart takes about 3 seconds.
yeah, cos everyone has their Mac Pro facing the wrong way. This really depends on how youve got the Mac Pro placed. Youd be better off getting a KVM just for this task. I can see it easily getting tedious and discouraging you from rebooting. I already find it tedious enough rebooting in the first place...
youre right about the potential conflict though, I was just thinking of the input switching that most monitors have built in, so as to avoid a KVM.

Quote

So for around $2000 you can get a mini+mediocre homebuild
I wouldnt call it mediocre. The 4850 is a very good card, and itd easily match up to the Mac Pro whilst using the same GPU. In fact, with a 3.16Ghz CPU (affordable in the $800 price bracket) it could probably best it in most games as nothing really takes more than 2 cores. Equally, multicore will be slow on the uptake beyond 2 cores. Right now one core does AI, another does Graphics, another may do physics (faster when offloaded to the GPU anyway), another handles sound. Until AI and Graphics can be interleaved between processors as on consoles (which will be difficult as processors can be very different from one generation to the next) which have custom written and tweaked code, this wont really happen very quickly.

OpenCL and Snow Leopard should make this much easier to do, but again, that wont really be used for gaming, as all games start life on Windows which wont have these advantages until Windows 8 most likely (It wont be possible for them to stick it into Windows 7 now, its probably slowly dropping features like Vista did)...
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Macbook Pro - C2D 2.4Ghz / 4GB RAM / Samsung 830 256GB SSD / Geforce 8600M GT 256Mb / 15.4"
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Self-built PC - C2Q Q8300 2.5Ghz / 4GB RAM / Samsung 830 256GB SSD / Radeon 7850 OC 1GB / W7 x64
and a beautiful HP LP2475w 24" H-IPS monitor