Digital Cinema and Game Dev. Laptop Mac & Windows Questi

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Digital Cinema and Game Dev. Laptop Mac & Windows Questi

Postby LittleAtari » Sat Aug 30, 2008 9:25 pm

So I'll soon be the owner of a MacBook Pro for school purposes. I'm a double major in Digital Cinema and Game Design so I'll be needing both OS X and Windows XP. I was wondering if I should go with Parallels or Bootcamp. I would like to use Parallels because I want to be able to switch back and forth easily between both OS, but I've heard that there are some stability issues. Have these issues been corrected or is there a way to avoid them? I've also heard about Mac emulators for Windows, but I dont know too much about them. If they work great, then it would save me money if I could go with a Windows laptop.

So far, I've had my eye on this laptop:
MacBook Pro
2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
2GB Memory
200 GB Hard Drive
Double Layer SuperDrive (Anyone mind telling what this is?)
NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT with 256 MB

Here are some of the programs I plan on using on this laptop:
Final Cut Studio
Adobe After Effects
Adobe Photoshop
Maya
Torque
Motion Builder

Am I okay with those specs or should I upgrade some stuff? I looked at the minimum requirements and I meet them, but will the programs still run smoothly? Also, if a program that is compatible with both Mac and Windows, do I have to install it on both OS? Does that mean that also I need two licenses?

One last thing, if there's anyway to cut costs, please point me where to go. Obviously this stuff is going to burn a huge hole in both my parents and my pocket. I've decided to get a credit card with zero interest for a year. I will of course be using my student discount on everything I can.

Prices of most of the stuff with discount:
MacBook Pro: $1799 (via Apple)
Final Cut Studio 2: $699 (via Apple)
Adobe Creative Suite Production Premium: $599 (via Adobe)
AutoDesk Maya Complete: $149 (for 14 months via JourneyEd.com)

I still have to purchase Windows XP. I'm not sure about which version I should get. I was thinking about the 64bit version. I went with Adobe Creative Suite because it has both Photoshop and After Effects with a bunch of other stuff for cheaper than buying the two separately.

Thanks in advance everyone. If you have any other suggestions that are outside of what I'm looking at, feel free to say them.
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Postby NeoQuixotic » Sun Aug 31, 2008 12:55 am

Ok, as a video production student myself I'll help out :)!

I was wondering if I should go with Parallels or Bootcamp.

Parallels or VMware Fusion are nice because they allow you to run Windows while in OS X. However, they are really only ideal when running simpler programs and not video and 3D programs. The performance and stability is not worth it for those kind of programs. I have heard that VMware Fusion performs better, but haven't checked to see if that has changed. Plus the amount of RAM available to programs is limited, since you'd be running two operating systems at the same time. Boot Camp is the way to go. And if you need to access your Mac drive/partition while in Windows, you can get MacDrive. Normally costs $50, but you can get a educational price of $35 by contacting them.

I've also heard about Mac emulators for Windows, but I dont know too much about them.

As far as I know there are no Mac emulators anymore. There was one called PearPC, but if I recall correctly it was only for running PPC (PowerPC) not Intel software. So basically no go. And anyways you run into the whole performance issue anyway if there was a product available.

Double Layer SuperDrive (Anyone mind telling what this is?)

Apple's fun name for a dual layer DVD-RW/CD-RW drive. No Blu-ray or HD-DVD. Although it is rumored official support for Blu-ray is coming. You can buy Blu-ray drives for Macs, but they are very expensive and support for them is limited.

Am I okay with those specs or should I upgrade some stuff? I looked at the minimum requirements and I meet them, but will the programs still run smoothly?

The CPU speed is fine. The increased cost for the 2.5Ghz or 2.6Ghz is pointless. You only get a maximum of 200Mhz increase. I've personally found it takes a 400Mhz difference to really notice a difference on the current Intel chips. However, the 2.5 and 2.6 have a 6MB L2 cache vs the 3MB on the 2.4Ghz.

I'd get the maximum RAM, 4GB. DO NOT buy it from Apple when ordering, they charge you up the wazoo. I'd recommend buying it from Other World Computing (site: www.macsales.com). Instead of the $180 Apple will charge you, you can get it for $90. MacBook Pros only hold 2 sticks of RAM, so you'll remove the 2x1GB that comes with it and place the two 2GB sticks you bought. Feel free to keep the extra RAM, sell it, or mail it to OWC (only for a $20 rebate though :/).

The hard drive might be too small if you install Windows and all the media programs. You'll basically run out of room for any data. So getting a bigger internal hard drive and/or getting a fast external hard drive would be ideal. Apple only offers 250GB as the largest size. The 5400RPM upgrade is fine for $45, but if you want the faster 7200RPM version, consider buying from elsewhere since it comes only in 200GB for $90 extra. OWC also sells hard drives for the MacBook Pro and in sizes 320GB and even 500GB now! A 320GB 7200RPM sells for about $160.

If getting an external hard drive, get one with Firewire 800. In fact, plan on getting an external simply being you're getting a notebook. This gives you much more space to work with and is portable making it easy to use with other machines. Also you'll want room for making backups of your work too. So getting two might not even be out of the question.

And if you aren't comfortable upgrading the MacBook Pro's memory and hard drive, you can either pay the extra from Apple, pay a tech service to install them, or find a tech savvy friend/student/faculty member.

Also, if a program that is compatible with both Mac and Windows, do I have to install it on both OS? Does that mean that also I need two licenses?

Well not many programs come with both a Mac and Windows install disc. If it does, check the details on it or contact customer service to make sure you can install it on OS X and XP at the same time. But usually you have to buy a Mac or Windows version. So yes you'd have to buy two licenses and have the proper install discs for both operating systems. Like with the Adobe packages, you either buy a Mac or Windows one, so if you want to have it on both you'd have to purchase it twice. It doesn't matter if it's on the same computer. Now there could be rare exceptions, but if you're not sure just contact the companies customer service.

Adobe Creative Suite Production Premium: $599 (via Adobe)

If you haven't already I'd check to see if your school offers any extra special deals for software. At my school they offer the Adobe Master Collection for only $499 to students. Same could go for Final Cut Studio, but its generally much harder to get any deals on Apple products.

Also software related, if you need to purchase Microsoft Office, Microsoft is offering Office Ultimate 2007 to anyone with a .edu e-mail address for $59.95 - The Ultimate Steal. This is the Windows version. There is a Mac version (not related to this deal), but it only has Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and Entourage for about $130.

I still have to purchase Windows XP. I'm not sure about which version I should get. I was thinking about the 64bit version.

If you're going to get XP, I'd get Professional over Home. In most cases you'd be ok with Home, but since XP is basically end of life as far as being sold I'd just go for Pro. Don't bother with XP 64 because Boot Camp doesn't support it (at least not officially). I'm fairly sure Parallels is not 64-bit capable, but VMware Fusion is. You'll need a full version, not upgrade version. You can find a full retail copy of XP Pro SP2 on Amazon for as low as $170 (there is no SP3 retail disc, so you'll have to update after installing). Or you can try to get a OEM XP Pro SP3 disc from Newegg for $150. And ask if your school offers deals on operating systems as well.

Now Boot Camp and Parallels/VMware Fusion will state they won't work with an OEM version. This is both true and false. True, because if you try to use an OEM disc that came with a PC (HP, Gateway, Sony, etc...) it won't work due to being tied to that particular system. False, because an OEM disc that you can buy online will work, but with two caveats. First, many online retailers will only sell you the cheap OEM version if you buy several other computer parts (CPU, Motherboard, RAM, etc...), basically assuming you're building a computer for it.Second, the OEM version license states that the machine it is installed on is the only machine it can ever be installed on. But a retail copy allows you to uninstall it and install it other other machines. This is generally an honor system type of thing. When activating XP a unique hardware ID of your computer is sent to Microsoft. If it changes drastically (major upgrades or installed on a different machine) it will need to be reactivated. Most activations are over the net and immediate. But sometimes it will make you call Microsoft and they will ask you questions about why you are reinstalling/reactivating. I've had to call them 3 times so far, but only for Vista installs.

Now don't ignore Vista as an option (unless you know for sure some software you need won't run on it or your school said no). Vista really isn't as bad as people say it is. A MacBook Pro will run Vista great. Vista has four consumer versions: Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, and Ultimate. Also you can get 32-bit or 64-bit versions of the all but Home Basic. I've used most of the Adobe Creative Suite CS3 apps in Vista Ultimate 64-bit and they all worked great, if not better. Adobe After Effects can only use 2-3GB of RAM on 32-bit, but can use 4GB on 64-bit. AE on OS X can only use a max of 3GB of RAM. Also, Adobe announced that Photoshop in CS4 will have a 64-bit version, but only for Vista 64-bit. If you have any specific questions on Vista and 32-bit vs 64-bit, just ask.

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