I love my iPad Pro, and it’s what I use to get basically everything done in my personal life. That said, I like having a traditional desktop around because, well, I’m a nerd and there are some advanced things that I just can’t do on an iPad yet.
Up until this week, a 2012 Mac Mini was filling that role, and for a $600 computer it’s held up quite nicely in the following 8 years. But for the past year I’ve been thinking about replacing it because it’s just not cutting it for some tasks anymore. Yes, it can handle the large Photoshop files I throw at it, and it technically can edit and export 4k video, but it’s not particularly good at it either. It was time to upgrade, but I wasn’t sure to what, exactly.
To get an idea of my thinking, here are Apple’s line of Macs:
- MacBook Air
- MacBook Pro
- Mac Mini
- iMac Pro
- Mac Pro
The two MacBooks are immediately eliminated because I don’t want a laptop…I have an iPad. The iMac Pro and Mac Pro are also eliminated for cost reasons, so that left the iMac and Mac Mini.
The Mini was the direct upgrade, but frankly I wasn’t that excited about what I could get in my $1,000-ish price range. An 8th gen Intel chip with 8GB RAM and integrated graphics are pretty anemic, and while I know I can upgrade to get some more power, that’s a lot of money, and I’m still buying 2 generation old Intel chips.
The iMac was another option, but the pricing just didn’t work for me. I could spend north of $2,000 and get something pretty beefy, but that wasn’t the budget (and even if I did put up the cash, the GPU options are rough). My budget allowed for the 21 inch 7th gen Intel chips, which was just not something I had any interest in.
This all brought me to an interesting realization: Apple doesn’t make a Mac for me anymore.
Or maybe I’ve just changed what I want from a desktop computer. Either way, none of the options Apple currently sells would make me happy, which is how we get to today.
Dude, You’re Geting a Dell
After much consternation, I eventually found my way over to Dell’s website and started configuring a G5 tower. Here’s what I got for about $1,100:
- 9th gen Core i5 9400 (4.1GHz 6 cores)
- RTX 2070 Super GPU
- 16GB RAM
- 1TB HD with a 128GB SSD for the system
- Wifi 6
And of course, because this is a tower, all of this is replaceable and is designed to be swapped out whenever I want to upgrade in the future.
Now I should mention that I’m not suggesting this machine is a flat out better value than the Macs Apple is selling now. Apple’s machines are far better looking and are much quieter that this guy, and that’s definitely some people will care more about than others. But for me, as someone who needs a desktop around to do heavy tasks that the iPad isn’t cut out for, I really want the specs.
Do I like the blue lights? Nope.
Do I like how loud the fans get when I push this thing to its limits? Not at all.
Do I like Windows nearly as much as macOS? No, and it’s not even close.
But do I love how fast it processes Photoshop edits and edits video? Do I adore how essentially any game will run at 1440p 60fps on ultra settings? Yeah, I really do.
I’m trying to think about all I have to say about this machine, and there’s a lot there, so I’m going to stop here for now and write some follow ups on specific things that make this a good and bad experience, but I wanted to share that yes, after 8 years I have finally upgraded my desktop computer, and to everyone’s surprise, including my own, it’s not a Mac.
Also, yes, I could have built my own PC, but I decided against that for a couple reasons, which I can get into later. Long story short is that this build was comparable in price to building it myself, which made me go this route.