Archive for August, 2010

Time for a new Mac!

Saturday, August 21st, 2010

It’s over 4 years since I bought my first Mac: A lovely white iMac Core Duo 20″ (the first Intel iMac IIRC). It’s served me well over the years, but in the last few months it’s really started to slow down. I’ve finally snapped and am in the market for a newer, faster Mac.

But what new Mac to buy? I thought I’d jot down a few thoughts/questions, partly to help me think things through, but also to ask you, the reader, for your opinions. Also I hope this post might be useful for others looking to buy a new Mac.

My current old banger

My trusty iMac 2GHz Core Duo 20″ (2GB RAM) that I bought back in May 2006 is finally getting long in the tooth, I fear. The poor dear now grinds to a halt in daily use. Here’s what I tend to have running, on average:

  • Mail
  • Firefox with 10-20 tabs
  • Safari with a couple of tabs
  • Photoshop CS3
  • OfficeTime
  • Things
  • iTunes

It just about copes with that (although it can take a second or 2 to switch between apps). But then if I need to open a couple more apps, like

  • OpenOffice
  • Chrome
  • Preview

…then it really starts to slow down, with plenty of beachballs.

Then if I fire up WinXP in VMware Fusion 3 to test a website in IE… forget it! Might as well go and make a cup of coffee while it boots the VM.


I suspect the main culprit with this old iMac is the 2GB RAM limit. Even before firing up VMware, I’m at about 70% RAM usage according to iStat Menus. Fire up VMware, and stuff starts paging like crazy.

(At the back of my mind, though, is this thought: My iMac was nice and fast when I bought it, so why is it so slow now? I’m still running pretty much the same stuff now as I was back then. I suspect a lot of it is down to VMware Fusion 3 being more power-hungry than my original Parallels Desktop 2, combined with software generally becoming more bloated over time, but I’m not sure.)

For the record, I’m a web designer/developer and use my Mac all day, every day for browsing websites, blogging, coding, browser testing and Photoshop work, plus the usual office type apps. (more…)