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New Computer - PC or Mac?

Discussion in 'General Software & Hardware Forum:' started by Bence Ivanyi, Apr 5, 2016.

  1. Bence Ivanyi

    Bence Ivanyi New Member

    Hi everyone, :)

    So because I will start college this September I want to buy a new computer and I'm kinda clueless what to buy. o_O I'm and I was always a PC user and have a limited budget for buying a new machine (it’s around £1600-£2000). The things I will use it for are video editing, 3D modelling (and rendering), editing pictures and making illustrations, using After Effects, Premiere Pro, Photoshop, Illustrator, Cinema 4D and Maya.

    The PC I fancy buying has the following specs:

    CPU: i7-6700K

    RAM: 16GB

    GPU: GeFore GTX 980 (4GB)

    Motherboard: ASUS Z170-P

    Storage: 2TB 7200rpm HDD and a 480GB SSD.

    This PC would cost me £1600, it’s much cheaper than a Mac, and have substantially better hardware than a Mac computer has in this price range – as a PC guy I’m pretty sure this setup would be perfectly fine for me and would be powerful enough to do the previously mentioned activities, however I don’t really know much about Mac computers… :(

    I’m also thinking about buying the 27-inch iMac with the following config:

    i7 Intel CPU, 32GB of RAM, 2GB AMD video card and a 1TB fusion drive, and this would cost me £1900.

    As a PC person I would go for the PC obviously because that’s what I’m used to, that’s what I know better, but many colleges and universities (including the one I’ll be going to) have iMacs, as well as many employers are equipped with them. It also has a 5K screen, which would be much more suitable for working with high quality media than the 1080p monitor I would be using with the PC config.

    Do you guys think the iMac would be able to handle the mentioned tasks effectively or should I stick with the PC? o_O
  2. Levi

    Levi Moderator Staff Member

    To be fair that 27inch iMac does include the screen for the extra £300 and 32gb ram (although I'm sure you could get 32gb ram on the pc for around 1600 too) but lacks a proper ssd and has older spec cpu and weaker gpu.

    I will say that pascal is due shortly so nvidia gpu's are likely to be updated soon. Personally I'd also be looking at x99 (which is also due updates soon) over skylake because more cores equal more performance with 3D and video.

    What's the course by the way, sounds like it could motion graphics or similar. Having said that the odds of your university using a mac for maya is pretty slim because they'll likely be using quadro/firepro gpu's where they can get better deals going via dell/hp (most likely brand) workstations than by going with mac pro's from apple.

    Give more info and we'll try and give you the best option for your money although I have a viewpoint where I will spend a little more early on so it lasts longer, once I know the course I'll likely be able to spec a pc for the course. Also can you build your own pc as that will save money :)
  3. bigdave

    bigdave Moderator Staff Member

    You wont be expected to have your own £2k system to work on from day one. Wait till September and speak to your course leader to see what he/she recommends as industry standard.
    @GCarlD likes this.
  4. hankscorpio

    hankscorpio Moderator Staff Member

    You can go to PC Specialist and get a much better computer all round

    Chassis & Display
    Devcon Series: 32" Non-Touch Full HD Screen (1920 x 1080)

    Processor (CPU)

    Intel® Core™i7 Quad Core Processor i7-6700k (4.0GHz) 8MB Cache



    Memory (RAM)

    32GB Corsair Vengeance DDR4 3000 MHz X.M.P (4 x 8GB)

    Graphics Card

    4GB NVIDIA GEFORCE GTX 970 - 2 x DVI, HDMI, DP - GeForce GTX VR Ready!

    Free Item

    FREE TOM CLANCY'S: THE DIVISION with select GTX 9 Series GPUs!

    1st Hard Disk


    M.2 SSD Drive

    500GB Crucial MX200 M.2 2280 SSD (upto 555MB/sR | 500MB/sW)

    Processor Cooling

    Noctua NH-L9i Low Profile, Super Quiet CPU Cooler (£29)

    Power Supply


    Sound Card (you may want to update this?)


    Wireless/Wired Networking


    USB Options

    MIN. 2 x USB 3.0 & 2 x USB 2.0 PORTS @ BACK PANEL + MIN. 2 FRONT PORTS


    3 Year Standard Warranty (1 Month Collect & Return, 1 Year Parts, 3 Year Labour)



    Build Time

    Standard Build - Approximately 4 to 6 working days

    Price: £1,532.00 including VAT and delivery.

    Unique URL to re-configure:

    You can see by this - it's a 32inch screen - 4ghz processor, super cooling, 32gb fast ram, great graphics card for video for and 3d modelling etc.
  5. hankscorpio

    hankscorpio Moderator Staff Member

    Plus the OS will be installed on the M.2Sata which will give a much better OS performance.
  6. Bence Ivanyi

    Bence Ivanyi New Member

    The course is IDD (Interactive Digital Design) - the syllabus includes games design, interactive magazine design, web design, motion graphics, 2 and 3D animations and short films. This course is 2 years long, and after that, I'll be doing a specific course (focused on only one of these areas - I don't know which one yet) at another university.

    And yea I know it sounds pretty strange that they use Macs (with their pretty weak GPUs) for Maya - I've been to the place multiple times, and they do indeed use Apple computers for pretty much everything... Maybe because the course is not entirely focused on working in 3D, but includes other things as well, they thought they would just stick to the Apple Macs for the 3D stuff as well :confused:

    Building my own PC is not a problem, but from what I looked at so far, there isn't really that much of a difference in the price - but I guess it really depends on where you get the components from :)
  7. Bence Ivanyi

    Bence Ivanyi New Member

    We already had some sort of an "induction day" kinda thing, and we've already spoken to the course leaders about this - they said that I will use Mac computers for everything at school and it pretty much doesn't matter what computer I have at home as long as I can get the work done. But I think it would be just easier to have the some sort of system at home as well... And it's kinda tricky to know what the "industry standard" is, as the course includes a lot of different topics - games design, interactive magazine design, web design, motion graphics, 2 and 3D animations and short films... (So I guess it depends on what I want to do in the future, which I'm pretty unsure of yet :confused:)
  8. hankscorpio

    hankscorpio Moderator Staff Member

    Just double check the software you will be using is both Mac/PC compatible.

    And that there won't be any font issues. If you use OTF fonts it will be fine.

    However, some fonts between Mac and PC don't play nice cross platform.
  9. Bence Ivanyi

    Bence Ivanyi New Member

    Yep, I know... :D PCs are just cheaper and have greater performance than Mac computers - I originally had no doubt that I will buy a PC, but given that the course kinda "forces" you to use a Mac I'm a bit unsure o_O
    (Thanks for the config by the way :) - it's a really great site as well, I'll look around :))
  10. @GCarlD

    @GCarlD Well-Known Member

    I generally recommend Macs due to my experiences with both PC's and Mac's but in your case I automatically thought you got to get a PC!

    But if your college only uses Mac's just for pure ease, less headache and 'straightforwardness' of just using one type of computer at college and home for the above reasons and more, I'd say go for the Mac if you can.

    You can't really go wrong either way, either or is more than sufficient for your course. To be honest I would never spend that much starting out, you are getting way more beyond than what you actually need.
  11. Levi

    Levi Moderator Staff Member

    I haven't had a chance to spec a machine for you yet Bence but will try to do it tonight but like I said earlier now is not a good time to be buying due to new stuff coming out soon. I am thinking x99 though over skylake.

    Carl, I wouldn't class spending up to 2k on a machine as a lot when you consider what it's being used for, I can easily hit 3k+ on 'single cpu' machine for 3D.

    I'll also say it's wiser to spend it earlier rather than later when at uni because you usually have less cash near the end lol. When I was at uni I spent iirc about 2k on a dual cpu machine (this is athlon xp era) that saw me through the entire 3/4 years of uni with nothing more than a ram upgrade (well except a failed motherboard which can happen to any machine), I didn't actually build this as I wasn't as willing back then (I am now lol) to do it myself. There were others on the course buying the single cpu machines at the beginning of the course for over 1k but then had to do it again in year 3/4 because the machines weren't good enough...mine was still doing fine, in fact it was more powerful than the uni pc's....
  12. @GCarlD

    @GCarlD Well-Known Member


    It is for a student imo, but if you can afford it then why not.
    hankscorpio likes this.
  13. Levi

    Levi Moderator Staff Member

    A student who is going to be doing 3D in Maya and Cinema 4D and video production in premiere and after effects, not just photoshop/illustrator or office stuff.
  14. @GCarlD

    @GCarlD Well-Known Member

    I doubt the course will expect their students to spend £2K+ on a computer, but as I said, if it is affordable for the individual, then no problem go for it.

    I just remember how costly everything was for me as a student, course fees, living expenses, books, art material, sketchbooks, portfolios etc etc, Splashing out around £150+ on an all in one printer, scanner and copier, was a big deal for me at the time. And I know everything is even more expensive nowadays for uni students, I feel sorry for them. Hence why I am just saying, if you can spend £2K on a computer, perfect, but don't feel you have to buy a computer that is 5x better than what you will be using at uni.
  15. Levi

    Levi Moderator Staff Member

    Ok... Had a quick spec up of a machine I'd go for and you should be able to get pretty much the below for around 2k, yes I know it's top of your budget but if the stagnation of cpu's continues you'll be able to keep it for at least 5-10 years before any major need to change any of it (other than gpu).

    Please note that this is current hardware and as I've said new gpu and cpu's are out soon so keep that in mind. I'd also say buy as close to start of course as possible due to the new stuff coming out.

    Spec, won't go too specific as you may want it slightly different due to personal preference.
    • ATX x99 Motherboard
    • Intel i7 5820k 3.3GHz 6 core/12 thread cpu - this should overclock to 4GHz pretty easily with a decent cpu cooler (a 240/280mm AIO radiator is a good choice). This over skylake due to more cores means more performance in renderings etc.
    • Decent Aluminium case such as the Phanteks Enthoo Pro M or a similar size Lian Li (there are other brands obviously)
    • 32GB (4x8GB) ddr4 ram - this doesn't need to be the fastest mhz, quantity will do more for you than speed.
    • GTX 980, maybe 980ti if on offer or you go cheaper on the case
    • Samsung 250GB 850 EVO SSD for programs and OS - Don't look at other brands, just get the samsung.
    • 2x 1TB drives for storage of files and backups etc (mirrored raid or equivalent)
    • Superflower or equivelent 850W PSU - don't skimp on quality here
    • Windows 10 OEM 64bit
    • Dell U2715H IPS 2560x1440 screen - I know it's not 4K but windows doesn't really do 4K that well yet, can't say I've seen a need for 4K yet, let alone a single gpu strong enough for it, and Apple only uses the resolution to smooth out the image as default setting (ie like on the iPhone)
    • If you're prepared to spend a tiny bit over the 2K you could add in another 250GB ssd for a scratch disk (this will make a difference with video editing)
  16. Bence Ivanyi

    Bence Ivanyi New Member

    Thanks! :) So from the extra research I did yesterday and from what you said I assume it's better to have more cores and threads for rendering than to have a higher clock speed, right? o_O
    I'll be buying the computer around mid/end summer, so if any new hardware comes out I can consider buying that instead. Thanks for the specs again, I'll be doing some calculations with the price for now :D
  17. Bence Ivanyi

    Bence Ivanyi New Member

    Yea I know normally there're a lot of expenses, but I'm in the lucky situation that I don't have to pay any education fees (yep free higher education still exists today... I was amazed xD) , as well as printing, scanning and copying (on high quality paper on any size) is really cheap here, plus the fact that most things I'll be doing are digital, so I don't actually have to spend money on printing out a lot of stuff... I also live 20 minutes from the school, so don't really need to spend much on living and travelling expenses, leaving me a bit more to spend on my computer... But I'm sure there'll be many expenses on the way still... :confused: :D
  18. Levi

    Levi Moderator Staff Member

    in essence yes, but there does become a point where more cores at slower speed doesn't pay off. Always do a number cores/threads multiplied by clock speed test to see if more cores would actually be faster because after 8-10 cores the return does diminish considerably in single cpu machines. Most of the pro software you'll use is multithreaded and even games are starting to go that way more too.

    You've also got architecture playing a small role, AMD is currently slower than Intel but their new zen design might change that (doubtful). You then have internal architecture differences, haswell-e/broadwell-e versus skylake for example where skylake is about 1-5% faster than the other ones with the same number of cores... in real world terms you like won't actually notice that at all with the level or work you'll do at uni. The non x99 cpu's do have the advantage of built in gpu and quicksync decoding but in my experience cuda will easily match/beat that.

    Like I say use mine as a baseline and work around it. Feel free to post it up here etc for a once over/more ideas.

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