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Buying a computer

Siúil a Rúin

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This is a general thread for people to share advice and experience for the way to optimize buying a computer and staying current with upgrades, etc.
 

Siúil a Rúin

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For starters, I will need to buy a new Mac laptop before next tax season, since the software said it will require the next operating system. I researched a bit and found that they think they are going to be coming out with the new Macs this Fall. So, I thought waiting until Black Friday could be a way to optimize getting the best computer for the best price.

I also feel a bit concerned about the progression of the pandemic in the U.S. and consider the whole place could be shut down by then with highly disrupted shipping lines. If the pandemic does become significantly worse this year than last, then it might be wise to get in on a back to school deal, although it won't be the new exciting Mac upgrades like later this Fall. Although even that timeline could be pushed back if the pandemic is bad enough.

I'm taking a music recording class and may need better equipment to function in the class. My current laptop constantly runs out of space, so I have to keep all videos on an external hard drive, but am constantly having to fuss with it to even open photoshop.

My current specs are:
MacBook Pro 13 inch
2.3 GHz Intel Core i5. 8GB
maxOS Mojave 10.14.6

Any thoughts and recommendations are appreciated.
 

Totenkindly

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I don't have experience with Macs, but I agree with your logic -- I'd have the same concerns with waiting until November. THings might be okay, but with the way it's going and the issues with distribution and production worldwide for a variety of products, you could be running a risk with cost as well as even availability. no idea how this will pan out in the fall.
 

Lady_X

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For starters, I will need to buy a new Mac laptop before next tax season, since the software said it will require the next operating system. I researched a bit and found that they think they are going to be coming out with the new Macs this Fall. So, I thought waiting until Black Friday could be a way to optimize getting the best computer for the best price.

I also feel a bit concerned about the progression of the pandemic in the U.S. and consider the whole place could be shut down by then with highly disrupted shipping lines. If the pandemic does become significantly worse this year than last, then it might be wise to get in on a back to school deal, although it won't be the new exciting Mac upgrades like later this Fall. Although even that timeline could be pushed back if the pandemic is bad enough.

I'm taking a music recording class and may need better equipment to function in the class. My current laptop constantly runs out of space, so I have to keep all videos on an external hard drive, but am constantly having to fuss with it to even open photoshop.

My current specs are:
MacBook Pro 13 inch
2.3 GHz Intel Core i5. 8GB
maxOS Mojave 10.14.6

Any thoughts and recommendations are appreciated.

Have you tried to just update your os? i'm on big sur. you should just be able to update it tho, right?

I would for sure just get a 1 or 2 tb external drive and store all of the things on it. Are you using photoshop cc? as much cloud based software as you can run instead of having it installed the better imo.

unless you just want the latest, i'd think you could just upgrade and use what you have a while longer. personally.
 

Doctor Anaximander

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I use a mac because it's a great machine for producing music and videos. Logic is a great program (Garageband is a good free, streamlined DAW for those unable to afford Logic).

I have never bought a mac brand new. I always go after used machines that are still powerful enough for my needs. Macs are expensive, although a really great PC maxed out can also run very expensive. On a budget, one can find a good used Mac.

With my latest Macbook, I took a chance and got it as is off ebay. Other than having to take it in to get RAM maxed out, it's served me well as a portable music production studio. It's a 2012 15 inch. At the the time of release was one of the most powerful machines on the market and I find it is still a fast machine that can more than handle what I need it for. Not bad for a nearly 10 year old machine.
 

Cor Luctis

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My first advice is always to use some flavor of linux, e.g. Ubuntu. Everything is free, so keeping apps and OS updated is easy. It is more secure and also runs well on older hardware. Many people, however, are wedded to certain windows or mac applications and hesitant to take the plunge. My personal experience with macs has been mostly negative, so I don't have much to offer there, other than to agree with those suggesting buying something used. If you buy from a reputable vendor with a reasonable warranty, you can get a decent product at an affordable price.
 

ceecee

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I'm also looking to get a new computer but a PC. It's strange to be circling back to a desktop but it would be the most practical thing for work.
 

Cor Luctis

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I'm also looking to get a new computer but a PC. It's strange to be circling back to a desktop but it would be the most practical thing for work.
They are practical, if you are working from a fixed location. If you put one together yourself, you will know it inside and out and be able to troubleshoot whatever comes up. I have found vendor customer support quite useless.
 

Siúil a Rúin

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Have you tried to just update your os? i'm on big sur. you should just be able to update it tho, right?

I would for sure just get a 1 or 2 tb external drive and store all of the things on it. Are you using photoshop cc? as much cloud based software as you can run instead of having it installed the better imo.

unless you just want the latest, i'd think you could just upgrade and use what you have a while longer. personally.
My computer is old enough I'm afraid to try to update the operating system. The last time I did that on my old computer it completely destroyed it and I was in fear I lost all my data. I'm gun shy to try it again when the computer is three or more years old.
 

Cor Luctis

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My computer is old enough I'm afraid to try to update the operating system. The last time I did that on my old computer it completely destroyed it and I was in fear I lost all my data. I'm gun shy to try it again when the computer is three or more years old.
My computer is 8 years old, and I upgrade the OS every couple years without losing data. You just need to back up your data on an external drive, then copy it back on your HDD once the upgrade is complete.
 

Siúil a Rúin

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My computer is 8 years old, and I upgrade the OS every couple years without losing data. You just need to back up your data on an external drive, then copy it back on your HDD once the upgrade is complete.
I did have my data backed up on a time-machine backup and the mac-store people said my computer was completely toast from the attempted download that had to much data to fit on my computer, so the hard-drive got scrambled. You would understand it better than me technically, but there is some way it was considered destroyed by the mac store.
 

Doctor Anaximander

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anyway, i realize my advice is counter to what you wanted and you are interested in something newer. But not sure if you considered looking at used macs that are a couple years old, or if those would even be enough for what you need
 

Doctor Anaximander

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kind of a semi related piece of advice, but I would suggest backing everything important up at least 3 times. So if you have one external hard drive, you might consider getting a second or third one. I had an external drive get corrupted and I lost several family photos so moving forward I am going to start using at least 2 external hard drives.
 

Siúil a Rúin

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kind of a semi related piece of advice, but I would suggest backing everything important up at least 3 times. So if you have one external hard drive, you might consider getting a second or third one. I had an external drive get corrupted and I lost several family photos so moving forward I am going to start using at least 2 external hard drives.
This is a good idea. I have a time-machine backup and one G drive. Maybe I should buy one or two more for an overall backup, but also take the wave files and photos off my current computer as well as the videos. My "scratch discs" keep getting full so I can't open photoshop or imovie. It's true I do a lot of media work, so use up a lot of space. I only have 2.36 GB of storage space available on a 250 GB hard-drive right now.

It could also see it being a good idea to keep one drive in a security box at the bank or other location in case of fire.

[MENTION=9811]Coriolis[/MENTION] I should ask you how you manage keeping enough space on your computer for the updated hard drives? I've been told by mac support that various ones of my devices become too old to support current operating systems. It happened to an iPad and I think an iPhone. It was my understanding it was also the case with the computer when it crashed it. I'm wondering if taking the bulk of my files off the computer and onto an external drive would clear up enough space to update operating systems and use the computer for a longer time?

Maybe there are some other ways to optimize data. I remember a long time ago using a defragmentation program recommended by a computer guy. I don't have that now and wouldn't know what is the right one.
 

Cor Luctis

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This is a good idea. I have a time-machine backup and one G drive. Maybe I should buy one or two more for an overall backup, but also take the wave files and photos off my current computer as well as the videos. My "scratch discs" keep getting full so I can't open photoshop or imovie. It's true I do a lot of media work, so use up a lot of space. I only have 2.36 GB of storage space available on a 250 GB hard-drive right now.

It could also see it being a good idea to keep one drive in a security box at the bank or other location in case of fire.

[MENTION=9811]Coriolis[/MENTION] I should ask you how you manage keeping enough space on your computer for the updated hard drives? I've been told by mac support that various ones of my devices become too old to support current operating systems. It happened to an iPad and I think an iPhone. It was my understanding it was also the case with the computer when it crashed it. I'm wondering if taking the bulk of my files off the computer and onto an external drive would clear up enough space to update operating systems and use the computer for a longer time?

Maybe there are some other ways to optimize data. I remember a long time ago using a defragmentation program recommended by a computer guy. I don't have that now and wouldn't know what is the right one.
  • You say you have a time-machine backup. Does that save your backup on an external drive? If so, how large? If not, where is it saved?
  • What are your "scratch disks"? Are they the mac version of swap files on your computer's internal hard drive? (Yes, having <3GB available out of 250GB will significantly degrade performance.)
  • Yes, mobile hardware can become too old to support current OS. My phone is many versions of Android behind and I cannot update it. That doesn't keep it from doing what I need it to do, so I have no incentive to spend the money on a hardware upgrade.
  • Yes, you should defragment your hard drives from time to time. There used to be a program called Spinrite from Gibson Research that was great at this, especially for the older hardware. Modern OS's (at least Win and linux) have built-in accessories to do this, which seem more than adequate. This is not a substitute for cleaning out your hard drive, but will only help. You should make sure your HDD is less than 80% full before defragmenting.
  • I'm not sure what you mean by keeping enough space on my computer for the updated hard drives. I update the OS, not the hard drives. Do you mean that newer OS's usually take up more disk space? That is a benefit of linux: the OS HW and SW requirements tend to be much more modest. I did have a situation this year in which my computer started to be very slow, sometimes freezing up and requiring a reboot. I finally replaced the main HDD with a SSD, and all is well now. I use the HDD for extra internal storage, and back it up on an external drive. I also have a NAS at my house, but that is probably overkill for you.

It sounds like you need more hard drive space. Can you upgrade your internal HDD for a larger one? Then you can put the old, smaller one into a housing and use it as an external drive, perhaps for material you want to keep but don't need to access readily. You also need a very reliable backup, ideally two, one to be kept off-site as you mention. You can get a 2TB external drive for around $60 now. I suspect alot of your present trouble comes from having so little free space on your hard drive. If you can afford it, I would: replace your internal HDD with a larger one, at least 500 GB. Get a housing so you can use the 250GB drive externally for archival storage. Get a 1-2TB external drive for backup, two if you can afford it, and keep the second away from your home.
 

Falcarius

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Falcarius tends to buy a new pc every 5 years. His first computer was Shuttle XPC Cube which he bought himself for his 18 birthday. The next computer he just got was a motherboard bundle and just put it in an HTPC ATX computer case. His next and present computer he got at the end of 2014; an ever-reliable but not spectacular Intel Core i5-4460, 8 GB RAM, 120GB SSD and 320GB HDD which he put together.

Probably in the next year, as it is starting to show its age in that the CPU and RAM can't really handle dual monitors as well as they did a few years ago; either or both are probably going to die soon. He thought of upgrading at the start of this year but the CPU kept fluctuating in price and going out of stock so he has put it off for now. He is another person dinosaur using Ubuntu-he had his second pc on dual boot (Windows XP and Ubuntu) and his present one has just had Ubuntu ever installed. Despite using Ubuntu for like a decade Falcarius is pretty much a Ubuntu noob for the most part; for example, he has no idea how to stop it going on the GNU Grub line after it got corrupted or something at the start of this year (he lost no data so might be just an idiot and put it in some random setting- it just goes to Grub Line whenever it is switched on), so he has to just type 'exit' in the command line to get to the password page. Falcarius does not do anything too complicated with his computer so Ubuntu perfectly usable; just Netflix, Spotify, Steam, web browsing, teleconferencing, and word processing. Every few years when he can be bothered he just updates Ubuntu and at present he is on Ubuntu 19.10 which came out 3 years ago, but can't be bothered with few hours of getting everything backed up and customising all the settings.

When he does buy a PC he will probably build one around either AMD Ryzen 7 3700X or Intel Core i7-10700, and upgrade to 1 TB SSD, 32GB RAM and also his present 120GB SSD.
 

Siúil a Rúin

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In hearing responses from avid PC users I'm getting a sense that mac does have more built in obsolescence. I'm not sure what 'scratch discs' are except a pop up tells me mine are full, so I have to delete files constantly.

I'm afraid to burn through my savings on a good mac, so bought two more external hard-drives and will use two as backups, and have one as my active hard-drive for files. I don't see how the time machine backup can access that drive to backup, but it could allow me to get a year or two more out of this machine.

Over my life I went mac - PC - mac - PC - mac - mac - mac. When I lived with a partner more into computers it was easier to use PC and upgrade piece by piece. I think I have to stick with macs, because it's a little hard on files to go back and forth, but idk. I don't like the built in obsolescence reaffirmed by their 'genius bar'.
 

Cor Luctis

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In hearing responses from avid PC users I'm getting a sense that mac does have more built in obsolescence. I'm not sure what 'scratch discs' are except a pop up tells me mine are full, so I have to delete files constantly.

I'm afraid to burn through my savings on a good mac, so bought two more external hard-drives and will use two as backups, and have one as my active hard-drive for files. I don't see how the time machine backup can access that drive to backup, but it could allow me to get a year or two more out of this machine.

Over my life I went mac - PC - mac - PC - mac - mac - mac. When I lived with a partner more into computers it was easier to use PC and upgrade piece by piece. I think I have to stick with macs, because it's a little hard on files to go back and forth, but idk. I don't like the built in obsolescence reaffirmed by their 'genius bar'.
You should be able to backup to an external drive from a mac using time machine. See here for (not many) details: Backup disks you can use with Time Machine - Apple Support.
 

Tomb1

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I bought a refurbished cheap as dirt. That was about 3 years ago. I never had a problem.
 
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