The Computer Blog

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The iMac is Back!

My wild hair won out, and my new 24-inch iMac showed up on my doorstep yesterday afternoon. I had already rearranged my office to accommodate it, so I had only to unbox the thing, photographing it as I did, and set it up on my desk. I cranked it up and quickly hit the Migration Assistant, which I used to transfer all data from my Mac Pro sitting next to it. While the Assistant did do a cursory search of the Mac Pro’s hard drive to build an estimate of over 415 GB of data and applications to be transferred (58GB of that were applications), it didn’t let me select individual applications or folders to bypass; so, I resigned myself to letting it copy everything from the Mac Pro, including many gigabytes of material I knew I’d remove. In hindsight, I probably could have manually copied over much of the data and manually loaded what few applications I was going to transport over a lot faster; it took almost eight hours for the assistant to do it all by itself. (I was going nuts during the last hour staring at too many “4 minutes to go” prompts.)

Once it finished, I uninstalled all my Adobe CS3 applications except for Go Live 9, removed my Apple “pro applications” (Final Cut Studio, Live Type, Compressor, Motion, DVD Studio Pro, Soundtrack Pro, and Aperture), removed all the media associated with those applications, reinstalled Fusion and moved the Windows XP virtual machine from my Mac Pro to my iMac (The Mac Pro still can run XP using Boot Camp.), reinstalled Zinio to get it working again, removed a copy of Xplane 8, installed a copy of Adobe Photoshop Elements 6 for Mac, and ran Software Update. That was not all I wanted to do to configure the iMac for its new duties, but it ws all I could do last night. I had to get some sleep before going back to work.

This machine is the most elegant and beautiful computer I’ve ever seen. The 24 inch screen, even though only one inch larger and sporting the same native resolution as the Mac Pro’s Apple Cinema Display sitting across from it, seems to dwarf everything in the room. It definitely commands the center of attention when you walk into my office, beckoning you like some mystical portal into worlds of the unknown.

The machine is not totally silent, but is almost so. I can hear a small fan whirring some of the time, but it’s really down in the mud and must be listened for in an otherwise silent room. Even though I have a room light hanging from the ceiling and just slightly behind my head, reflections off the glossy screen are minimal. I had worried that the light’s reflection might be an annoying distraction. It’s not.
On the surface, the machine seems on par with my Mac Pro, which is honestly a little slower with its 2.66 GHz CPU’s. Nicely enough, the iMac came with 2 GB of RAM, but I’m going to kick it up to its 4GB maximum tonight. The unfortunate part of that is that I have to replace ALL the iMac’s native RAM, and I don’t currently have another Mac where that memory could be used to expand it. I’m buying my RAM from OWC (Other World Computing) and they have a “trade-in” program but I’d only get $20 for the whole 2GB. I’d rather keep it and hope I’ll find some use for it in the future.

I like being able to control iTunes with an Apple Remote again, though it’s a bit of a pain not to have a magnet or some other container on the unit to clip it to. That’s a cheap fix, Apple. You can provide a little plastic stand or an aluminum colored clip hat snaps onto the iMac’s side or top and lets you snap the remote into it. There needs to be something other than just having it lie around.

I haven’t tested out the machine’s interface with my scanner, but I plan to do that this evening after I perform the memory swap and confirm that’s okay.

The last thing I need to do to finish the machine’s configuration is an external hard disk big enough to handle Time Machine’s backing up of 500GB’s of data (well, it’s really only about 340GB right now). Once I do that, I’ll not only breathe easier but can remove all my personal data off the Mac Pro, which will free up space on it to be used for creative purposes.

As for you, my dear reader, I’ll be running some performance benchmarks you might find interesting as soon as I can. I intend to publish results using Cinebench and Imaginator and build comparisons not only with those published using a 3.06 GHz iMac with the Nvidia 8800GS GPU but with my Mac Pro and my current MacBook Pro. I also plan on buying the new ATI Radeon HD3850 video card this month and putting it in my Mac Pro, so I’ll have comparison results with it as well. It will probably be next week, though, before the first of this happens; so, stay tuned.

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