Max, I hear ya. I'd finally set my mind to accepting an iMac but recently did a 180 in my thinking. I know the tower is overkill. I wish Apple had a stand alone tower between the iMac and Mac Pro.
The problem is mostly with the hard drives. Max, if the iMac drive fails it isn't an easy matter of slapping in a new drive like we're used to. It means taking in to the shop and have someone else do it. You live near Carbon so you might get your machine back in 2 days. For me it means taking my machine into the Sherway or Yorkdale Apple store and waiting 2 weeks. I refuse to pay their extortion fee to get it back quicker.
The hard drives being manufactured these days are cheaply made. There's no such thing as a good one these days. They've all gone to cheap mass production in China. Seagate used to be made under tight tolerances in Singapore but no more. The chances of a drive failure within a couple of years is quite high now. In the iMac it can make things worse. They run very hot which can kill the life span of a hard drive. Some machines get so hot you can almost cook eggs on them. Others are okay. It's the luck of the draw.
Max, it's going to cost a few bucks more for a tower but considering your need for something reliable on the job, I'd be mulling it over some more.
OK, understand your reasoning, Marg. However, I disagree that all hard drives are junky these days, or that their Chinese origin is the reason that they're failing. I haven't noticed any greater failure rate in my drives these last few years. I generally look for whatever the consensus of the day is and go with that choice - it's served me well thus far. Usually I'll ask in a place like this, and I'll also query Alec, as he often knows more about this sort of thing from his experiences in the field. He hasn't steered me wrong yet. But I can't afford the Drobo option, however nifty it seems!
I wouldn't mind paying the considerable premium for the tower lineup if I were convinced that the main software I use could actually effectively harness all that theoretical extra processing muscle; I am not. So in the end, a tower is a bigger, clunkier route, offering me some more drive bays but little else. I don't need it to be stuffed with RAM - I imagine 4 to 6 Gb should do me fine for the next few years.
I do see your point about what happens should your iMac drive fail, however. That sucks. And I, like you, can't afford downtime. Especially once I'm at work. No way.
Unless this new iMac is different, Apple isn't making it easy for user repairs.
As far as hard drives? I've had more drives fail in the last 2 years than ever. I'm not alone. Both Swatty and carp had drive failures within 9 months of their iMac purchase.
There is a reason why drives are inexpensive. They just roll off the assembly line and boxed for export. No QC. Even Seagate aren't what they used to be. They bought Maxtor and what you have now is a Maxtor with a Seagate label slapped on it. If you get a good drive these days it's more to do with luck. I'm not impressed. I'd rather pay more up front for quality I can depend on. Obviously the masses would rather go cheap.
I dunno. I mean, anecdotal is anecdotal, y'know. Sorry about Swatty and Carp's hard drive misadventures but it ain't enough to convince me.
I dig you want to pay up front for quality you can depend on. But what's that mean, in an era when everything is made in the Pacific Rim anyway? What's Apple using for components other than fairly mainstream stuff?
Marg: You're kind of dreaming here. The drives in the iMac are the same drives as you find in the MacPros. They're made by the same people, they're just different dimensions to fit in the case. So this really isn't a quality thing, it's more of a convenience thing (not having to take the computer in to have a new drive put in should it go bad).
Sorry to hear you're having such bad luck with HDs failing. I've only had one drive fail in all my Mac-using years (it was a Panasonic drive, by either Western Digital or Phantom).
Max I tend to agree with you about the Pro vs. iMac debate. While I have a MacPro now, I still find myself wondering if I should have just gone with the 24" iMac. Ultimately, I went with the pro for the Xeon processors. I only have 3GB of RAM anyway, and have only added 1 internal HD which I got because it was so cheap.
I keep telling myself I like the "expandability" of the tower, but in reality I rarely add anything anyway. 4GB of RAM is plenty for anyone but the most demanding user, external drives have the flexibility of being able to take them anywhere, and the 24" screen on the iMac is beautiful - plus you get the iSight built-in.
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Max, this is my point. I have nothing against the iMac per se. Like I mentioned, I was all for it until I realized the downside... lack of ability to swap a simple hard drive.
While not everyone will encounter problems the odds are significantly higher these days of having a hard drive failure in a shorter time frame.
Apple gets their components from the same place everyone else does. Unfortunately all the manufacturers have lowered their standards in order to compete on price. Of course they all have warranties so you can get a refurbished replacement. That's not really the point for me. With my G5 I can swap out a drive in a minute. An iMac means taking it in to a service repair shop and waiting who knows how long to get it back. Don't believe me? Check with our mutual friend.
Max, I'm just trying to be helpful and point out some pitfalls of the iMac. I think I have some handle on the nature of your job and your need for reliability. I just don't want you to be in a major suckage on the job when you're in the middle of a production schedule. The odds of it happening with an iMac are up a bit from our G5 work horses. Like I mentioned previously, I wish there was a machine between the iMac consumer line and the overkill Mac Pro. Luckily you live near Carbon. Those folks understand the industry so you're likely to get better turn around service than dealing with Apple retail. Only you know what you can live with so weigh the pros and cons for yourself. As far as ability, the iMac is one great machine.
Loc: Pinellas Park, Florida
It isn't impossible to change the HD in an iMac yourself. Just more involved than a tower. Changing the HD in a Mini isn't a piece of cake, either but it is doable - done it myself. Maybe the Mini shold have been a small tower? Apple doesn't embrace the mundane.
Marg, it's all good and I appreciate what you're trying to say. But if I was at work and my iMac failed, I'd already be backed up and I would rent a replacement machine straight away - or, more likely, I would bring in my home tower and make it be the beast of burden until my sad iMac became happy again. I can afford half a day of down time, a day at most. That's the way it is. And if MacBozo is right, then perhaps I could switch out my own failed hard drive and not bother with taking the machine in for servicing. I am willing to take the risk.
Gizmo: I am glad to hear from you, as I suspect the kinds of stuff we do as designers tends to overlap a great deal. I am convinced that the Adobe suite as currently coded on the Mac side is not up to the power the towers represent. Work-wise, the Adobe suite represents 90% of what I do at work. Plus, I, like you, have rarely added anything other than the occasional drive to my towers - once in a while I've added something like a card for extra USB ports, but that's about it. I am over towers. It occurs to me, all these years later, that I really didn't require what they offered... and I paid a fairly stiff price in order to pat myself on the back and consider myself a power user!
I really think that, when it's time, I'm going to go with an iMac. I'll get 4 Gb and will also attach my 20" Apple display and that should be quite decent performance specs for the stuff I do.
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