I frequently get asked what computer I would recommend, and for most people that ask me, my go-to answer is the 13″ MacBook Air. I’ve used the MacBook Air for nearly a year now, and it is the best laptop I’ve ever owned. It’s fast, light, and looks good.
The lack of significant hard drive space has been the only thing that keeps the Air from being the primary and only computer in my home. So for the past year I’ve also had a Mac Mini desktop to serve as a media machine, storing music, videos, and many thousands of family photos.
Unfortunately, once you get used to a solid-state drive, like that on the MacBook Air, it’s very hard to use anything else on a regular basis. The Mac Mini seemed slow by comparison. Also unfortunate is the fact that changing hard drives in the Mac Mini requires a complete disassembly of the machine. Not for the faint of heart (or for those who want to keep their warranty intact).
Enter the Mac Pro
I decided that I wanted to get a more powerful desktop machine with more accessible storage. While I was working towards easier storage, I figured I’d want to improve photo editing, video production, and gaming at the same time. That throws out just about every Apple computer, except for the Mac Pro.
Not wanting to buy a brand new computer starting at $2,500 direct from Apple, I started lurking on the local online classifieds. After a couple of days, one machine popped up that looked like a perfect fit.
The machine was a 2008 Mac Pro with an 8 core CPU, a 480GB SSD, and a killer graphics card (especially compared to any on-board graphics card like those in most laptops and the Mac Mini). I had my reservations about buying a computer that was over 4 years old, but I decided that the huge upgrades in the SSD and the video card were worth it.
The Best Machine I’ve Ever Owned
So I went to the bank, withdrew my $1300, and picked up my new (old) machine. Sure, the computer is over four years old, but it’s the best machine I’ve ever owned. This thing screams. The SSD is spacious and speedy, the extra hard drive bays give me easy access to add terabytes of storage as our media library grows, and the processor can cut through Photoshop actions and video rendering like a hot knife through butter. And it does all of that without the fans sounding like a jet taking off in my living room, they’re nearly silent.
I don’t game a lot, but when I do, I play Blizzard RPGs. Diablo III, which ran on low settings at a paltry and annoying 20 frames per second, now runs on high settings at a much higher resolution at 60+ frames per second.
If someone told me a decade ago that I’d be happy after purchasing a four year old desktop, I’d have laughed. But as with all gadgets and devices, finding the right product to fit your needs doesn’t necessarily mean buying the latest and greatest. In my case, the much more powerful four year old Mac Pro runs circles around the 10 month old Mac Mini.