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Wednesday, 18 October, 2006

Apple seems to be thwarting me. I’d be perfectly happy with a low-end mac mini. However the red tag low-end mac minis come with a barely adequate 512 MB of memory. In order to upgrade the memory, since it is interleaved, you must remove and dispose of the chips inside the unit then buy two new sticks to upgrade. A gig starts at $170. That extra $170 brings you within a stop at 7-11 of a retail mac mini with a dramatically faster chip, but it doesn’t have the “Superdrive” DVD burner; which is profoundly slow by contemporary standards but what are you gonna do? Well, you could blow $45+35 and put together an up-to-the-minute external 1394a DVD burner. That operation and adding a few bucks to bring the retail mac mini up to spec, brings you within a tank of gas of an iMac with the camera and the display that will knock your socks off. That would also free my current monitor and such for screwing around with the soon to be old Duron box until it dies. Of course, there’s always KVM boxes.

  1. Retail mac mini, 1.66GHz Intel Core Duo, combo drive $674.00
    • 1GB 667 DDR2 SDRAM – 2×512
    • 60GB Serial ATA drive
    • Mac OS X – U.S. English
    • Built-in AirPort Extreme [802.11 g] and Bluetooth 2.0
    • Apple Remote
    • Intel GMA 950 graphics

    please add $80 for an external DVD, and $45 for an enclosure for my Hitachi 250; totalling $799.

  2. Red Tag mini #1: Refurbished Mac mini 1.5GHz Intel Core Solo $479.00
    • 512MB memory (667MHz DDR2 SDRAM) [actually a negative value since it is salvage]
    • 60GB Serial ATA hard drive
    • Combo drive (DVD-ROM/CD-RW)
    • Built-in AirPort Extreme [802.11 g] and Bluetooth 2.0
    • Apple Remote

    please add $80 for an external DVD, $45 for an enclosure for my Hitachi 250, and $170 for 1024 MB; totalling $774.

  3. Red Tag mini #2: Refurbished Mac mini 1.66GHz Intel Core Duo $649.00
    • 512MB memory (667MHz DDR2 SDRAM) [actually a negative value since it is salvage]
    • 80GB Serial ATA hard drive
    • Double-layer SuperDrive (DVD+R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
    • Built-in AirPort Extreme [802.11 g] and Bluetooth 2.0
    • Apple Remote

    please add $45 for an enclosure for my Hitachi 250, and $170 for 1024 MB; totalling $864.

  4. Refurbished iMac 17-inch 1.83GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
    • 512MB (2x256MB) 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM, [actually a negative value since it is salvage]
    • 160GB Serial ATA hard drive
    • 24x Combo Drive
    • Intel GMA 950 graphics with 64MB of shared memory
    • Built-in AirPort Extreme [802.11 g]
    • Built-in iSight Camera

    please add $80 for an external DVD, $45 for an enclosure for my Hitachi 250, and $170 for 1024 MB; totalling $1159.

  5. Refurbished iMac 17-inch 1.83GHz Intel Core Duo $949.00
    • 512MB (single SO-DIMM) 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM, can be retained.
    • 160GB Serial ATA hard drive
    • Slot-load 8x double-layer SuperDrive
    • ATI Radeon X1600 graphics with 128MB GDDR3 memory
    • Built-in AirPort Extreme [802.11 g] and Bluetooth 2.0
    • Built-in iSight Camera

    please add $45 for an enclosure for my Hitachi 250, and $130 for 1024 MB; totalling $1124

However, I could stick with a “PC” which would mean I’m sticking with the linux and remaining relatively toy free. The killer app for the Mac in my estimation are the multimedia goodies, and the potential to acquire mainstream graphics software. For audio, the only appeal is the relatively easy ability to add multiple devices, such as multiple microphones. Gargaeband would probably be just swell, but Audacity is similarly powerful and I’m quite familiar with it. For video, the appeal comes from iMovie, a video editor dumbed down to the point that I could use it. Avidemux is good as far as it goes, but what I’m wanting to do would require multiple Avidemux operations.

Because of availability and shipping costs, I’m considering buying a barebones kit from Newegg. This is what I’m considering:

  • AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+ Windsor 2.2GHz
  • Mushkin 2 x 1GB DDR2 Dual Channel SDRAM
  • 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive
  • Samsung 18X DVD±R Burner 12X DVD-RAM, w/LightScribe Technology, Black
  • NVIDIA GeForce 6150, integrated video
  • 10/100/1000 LAN
  • 8 x USB 2
  • 2 x 1394a/Firewire 400
  • ASUS Vintage V2 case

This box is slower than the iMacs, about the same as the minis, and would run $650. It is expandable in a way that the Apple machines simply are not going to be anytime soon, perhaps ever.

Then there is the possibility of a value PC. That is, buying a set of even lower-line parts, preferably in bundles.

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