New Computer – Part1

Hardware
At the end of last week I took delivery of my new computer. I haven’t upgraded the self-built PC for some time and I was looking at my next computer. I also had the excuse that other members of the family could do with new computers too, the computers ripple down through the family.

I initially looked at getting a laptop device and even considered the new Microsoft Surface Pro 3 as this was about to be released but sanity prevailed and for what I do a desktop computer made most sense.

With that decided I also wanted to migrate to the Apple Mac too so there were 3 basic choices open to me as follows:

  • Mac Mini
  • iMac
  • Mac Pro

The decision was really simple here, the Mac Mini is in dire need of an upgrade by Apple and is essentially a 13” MacBook without the screen in a desktop form. The Mac Pro is really overkill for my needs and the cost is prohibitive too so I was left with the iMac. The fact that I am keeping hold of the Dell 24″ Monitor did not factor into the decision.

Apple offers a number of set configurations of the iMac but the choice here was simple too, I need to ensure two things:

  1. The specifications had to match or better exceed the specification of the PC that I was replacing.
  2. The specification had to be suitable high enough to last for 3 years (the upgrade options of the iMac are limited to memory-only upgrades).

iMac-27

I chose the top 27″ iMac model and made the following upgrades:

Base Spec:

  • 27″ 2560×1440 display
  • 3.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 (Turbo boost to 3.8GHz)
  • 8GB (two 4GB) 1600MHz DDR3 memory
  • 1 TB Hard Drive (7,200 rpm)
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 775M with 2GB of GDDR5 memory
  • SDXC slot
  • Four USB3 ports
  • Two Thunderbolt ports
  • 10/100/1000 BASE-T Gigabit Ethernet port
  • Headphone port
  • Kensington Lock port
  • Apple Wireless keyboard
  • Apple Magic Mouse
  • WiFi 802.11 ac
  • Bluetooth 4.0

Upgrades:

  • CPU: i7 to 3.5GHz i7 Quad CPU (Turbo speed of 3.9GHz)
  • Hard Disk: 3TB “Fusion” drive this is a system level controlled SSD and Hard Disk combo
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M with 4GB of GDDR5 memory
  • Input devices: Added an Apple Touchpad

So why didn’t I upgrade the memory? Simple answer is cost. Although I am fortunate enough to pay less than the full retail price thanks to the fact that the company I work for has an EPP store, the upgrade from 8GB to 16GB is £150 (replacing the two 4GB SODIMMs with 2 6GB SODIMMs) and 32GB is £451.20

I can get two 8GB SODIMMs from Crucial UK for only £120 which if added to the existing 8GB will give me 24GB which is plenty. At a later date I can replace the two 4GB SODIMMs with 8GB versions and go to the full 32GB if needed.

However, I always like to make sure that there are no issues before I embark on upgrading the on-board memory so I will do this next month.

From one of my previous Apple experiences I purchased an Apple Super-drive (combo DVD/CD reader/writer drive) which isn’t something I will need often but can be plugged into the iMac as needed.

I have had problems getting a reliable connection between the iMac and the Dell Monitor, I started with a mini-Display Port (iMac end) to Display port (Dell end) cable, I’m not sure when I got the cable but although it works the connection isn’t reliable and it is somehow “locking up” the monitor to the point that none of its touch-sensitive controls work and I have to disconnect the display-port cable and the power to the monitor. I was certain that the monitor had developed a fault but re-connecting it back to the PC proved that it was OK – the difference is the cable. The full-sized display port end also didn’t plug into the port on the Dell monitor very reliably either.

I didn’t want to spend £25 on an Apple mini-display-port to DVI adapter and a quick look an Amazon yielded a full mini-display port to DVI cable for only £6.99 with next-day free postage via Prime.
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This cable although being cheap and with questionable build quality (what do you expect for £6.99?) is now connected to the second DVI connector on the Dell monitor and the second thunderbolt port on my iMac and works fine; this cable is a bargain.

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