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Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Jason Snell evaluates a new, $3,449 iMac vs. his iMac Pro:
Macworld said:
Pro or no? How the high-end 2019 iMac measures up
High-end iMac or iMac Pro? Ever since the iMac Pro was released in 2017, that’s been a key question for pro-level Mac users who aren’t sure if taking the perilous leap from the summit of the iMac product line across to the $4,999 (and up) iMac Pro was worth the financial risk. With the 2019 updates to the iMac line, the gap between the two products has narrowed even more, making the question that much harder to answer.

I’ve been using a base-model iMac Pro as my primary computer since it shipped, and last week Apple sent me a high-end 2019 iMac, so as I write this I am literally sitting in that iMac Pro gap. (It’s comfy here, thanks for asking.) The 5K iMac is equipped with the 3.6GHz 8-core ninth-generation Core i9 processor, 16GB of RAM, a Radeon Pro Vega 48 GPU, and 512GB of SSD storage—a configuration you can buy today on Apple’s website for $3,449—a savings of $1,550 from the price of the base-model iMac Pro.

If you’re in a market for a new, powerful desktop Mac, should you buy the top-tier iMac or leap across the gap and into the warm embrace of the iMac Pro? Reader, you will be shocked to learn that it all depends on your priorities.
 


What is a "standard black stick" please? Thanks!
A "black stick" is mentioned as a tool in a lot of official Apple Service Source guides, but it's not 100% certain what they actually are, since the term doesn't seem to be used elsewhere. They are used to pry open plastic cases without damaging them, and for disconnecting small cables inside devices.

Most people seem to believe that they are nylon spudgers and pry tools. Some vendors even describe their pry tools this way.
 



... I configured a Late 2012 iMac 27-inch for a client. We added beaucoup media storage with a single Thunderbolt enclosure. The screen is magnificent. The desktop is uncluttered with the wireless keyboard and Magic Mouse. This system is still going strong. It replaced a much older iMac, which had continued existence by means of external drives - I refused to open the thing. Apple then obsoleted it, making my life simpler.
Now, Apple is "obsoleting" these newer-older iMacs (I have the 2011) by switching to new "Metal" graphics hardware, which prevents older Macs from running current macOS software (beginning with Mojave).

It's really a bummer, because you're right: the screen is magnificent, my machine still has an optical drive and card-reader slots, and runs beautifully with my installed internal 1TB SSD.

But no more macOS upgrades after High Sierra. (sigh)
 


Now, Apple is "obsoleting" these newer-older iMacs (I have the 2011) by switching to new "Metal" graphics hardware, which prevents older Macs from running current macOS software (beginning with Mojave).
...
But no more macOS upgrades after High Sierra. (sigh)
Yeah. But [my client's 2012] iMac just makes it for Mojave.

I look forward to the changes for macOS 10.15 with mixed fear and trepidation and anticipation of a joyous upgrade. (Crossed Fingers emoji here)
 



Now, Apple is "obsoleting" these newer-older iMacs (I have the 2011) by switching to new "Metal" graphics hardware, which prevents older Macs from running current macOS software (beginning with Mojave).

It's really a bummer, because you're right: the screen is magnificent, my machine still has an optical drive and card-reader slots, and runs beautifully with my installed internal 1TB SSD....
It's a minor point, but the iMac has retained the SDXC card slot through and including the 2019 models.
 


Just for grins, I asked the sales department at ibuypower to work up a proposal for an expandable "Lightroom/Photoshop" machine....
I changed the video card to the Vega Pro 56, as this seems to be an almost identical match to the Vega Pro 48 that Apple uses (and the 48 may be an Apple-only item).

So, with a 500GB M.2 boot drive, an additional 1TB Samsung 860 EVO SSD, and room for two additional 3.5" drives, it pushed the price up to about $2600 plus the cost of a display (for which I budgeted $500 for the top of the line 27" Viewsonic with 2560x1440 resolution). That's about $3100 for a machine that has plenty of USB3/3.1 ports and one USB-C port. Of course, there are PCIe slots for additional cards (more USB-C?). You need to add AppleCare's [cost for comparison] (an additional $169), because both the iBuyPower PC and the Viewsonic come with 3-year warranties. That drives up the price delta to about $700.

So the questions that come to mind are these:
1. How much is macOS worth to you? Are there Mac apps you use that aren't available on Windows?​
2. Once you buy the display, aren't you planning to continue using it when you buy the next PC in 4-5 years? Amortize the $500 cost over how ever many extra years.​
3. How many external enclosures are too many? I can put 4 drives inside the PC (wait, it's five if you include the M.2 slot). Certainly backup to externals is wise.​

I have a number of Anker USB3 hubs to which I've connected 10 enclosures (some multi-bay boxes). As the cost of large external hard drives has dropped dramatically, it'll be easy to copy the old drives' data to new ones (and probably consolidate many smaller hard drives down to fewer, larger ones).
 



I purchased two LG 32UD59-B 32" 4K UHD LCD Monitors for $380 each in 2017 for both my 2012 Mac Pro and 2008 Mac Pro. I've never had any problem with those montiors; the picture quality is truly amazing.

The real answer for Apple is to come out with an affordable, upgradible Mac Pro for 2019. The 2008 - 2012 Mac Pros are still so usable for a fraction of what you will pay for the new Mac Mini or iMac Pro.





 



About Apple News Plus: I usually read BBC, NY Times, Apple News and Flipboard apps. Well, Apple News is now posting more and more Apple News Plus-only articles. So you are led to think that the news is readable, but it's a paywall-teaser. Since last week, the number of News+ articles has tripled on my app.

(I shouldn't complain, as for now, my work gives me access already to NY Times, Wall Street Journal, etc., but it's not before long that Apple News will turn into a checkout aisle "pop ad rag" app.
 


Now, Apple is "obsoleting" these newer-older iMacs (I have the 2011) by switching to new "Metal" graphics hardware, which prevents older Macs from running current macOS software (beginning with Mojave). It's really a bummer, because you're right: the screen is magnificent, my machine still has an optical drive and card-reader slots, and runs beautifully with my installed internal 1TB SSD. But no more macOS upgrades after High Sierra. (sigh)
I'm in the same boat, Ralph. My mid-2011 iMac 27" is upgraded as far as I can get it, and I'm sad I can't buy a new iMac and do the same. That 2011 iMac came standard with a WD Caviar Black 1TB, 7200RPM drive. I replaced it with a 1TB SSD and added a second 2TB SSD internally, which helped out a lot. And with 16 GB of memory (user-installed, what a bargain), it goes along pretty well.

But it's not as fast as my Hackintosh, and I've been doing a lot of video editing lately, which taxes the GPU in the iMac. So I beefed up the Hackintosh with an inexpensive video card (with 2 GB of VRAM instead of the iMac's 512 MB) and sprang for a 32" 4K monitor. That coupled with a Blu-Ray burner and five SSD's makes it a great machine for video editing.

I'd love to buy a new Mac, but the new iMacs are really a step down from the one I bought in 2011. Given that it would be prohibitively hard to replace the hard drive or even add an additional internal one, plus the exorbitant cost for additional memory through Apple, I can't justify it. And add to that a somewhat bleeding-edge file system... no, I can't do it.

Apple makes its money now through devices and services, not computers. And, as part of that, they're really not focused on what they put out as far as their computers go. That's OK, I guess, but it's soured me on them, especially when I remember what great machines and software they used to make. Ah, well...
 


Last night I was thinking about the fact that in the past seven years, Apple has not released a desktop Mac that I want to own. Seven years! It is incredibly frustrating to me that they have neglected the Mac Pro line for so long. In the silver tower, they had a design that was close to perfect, in my opinion. They abandoned that in favor of what seems to have been an ill-conceived vanity project, with major flaws, and then abandoned both that and the great preceding design that had worked beautifully.

Because of Apple’s ridiculous OS release schedule, there is now no chance that whatever Pro machine comes this year or next will accommodate my needs. A decent 2015 Mac Pro capable of running Sierra would have been good, for my purposes, for many years.

I never thought I would be inclined to build a Hackintosh, but that option is looking more attractive to me. And of course I will do everything I can to keep my lovely silver Mac Pro going.

For me, Adobe is a very big part of this problem, since I cannot bring myself to pay them rent. Being able to just buy an upgrade would simplify all of this.

Change is inevitable, but I hate where all of this is going.
 


Last night I was thinking about the fact that in the past seven years, Apple has not released a desktop Mac that I want to own. Seven years! It is incredibly frustrating to me that they have neglected the Mac Pro line for so long.
My own needs are comparatively simple, and I don't think I've ever even seen a Mac Pro, but I've read about them, particularly at Pierre Igot's Betalog journal. I see his last post was two years ago, a very long essay about his endless troubles with his Mac Pro(s). He also was keeping track of the ongoing mess of Apple's Pages app, apparently up to 200 posts by 2015 (and another 319 posts about his experiences with Microsoft's Mac software). I wonder what happened to him; maybe he just finally gave up? I also wonder if anybody at Apple ever paid any attention to his unpaid but thorough, detailed beta testing.
 


Because of Apple’s ridiculous OS release schedule, there is now no chance that whatever Pro machine comes this year or next will accommodate my needs. A decent 2015 Mac Pro capable of running Sierra would have been good, for my purposes, for many years.
I never thought I would be inclined to build a Hackintosh, but that option is looking more attractive to me. And of course I will do everything I can to keep my lovely silver Mac Pro going. Change is inevitable, but I hate where all of this is going.
I've been using Macs since the original Macintosh (128K) arrived in Italy. I've had a ton of different models of all sorts. The last one I had for many years was a Mac Pro (cheese grater) which I kept souping up with memory, SSDs, USB3 cards etc., etc.

I was not going to switch to Windows - even Windows 10 is way too clunky, and Windows 10 display rendering is horrible for my old eyes.

So I built a Hackintosh.

I looked at tonymacx86.com, I did my research and decided on using a motherboard (ASUS Z370-E) that was very well described and discussed.

I have rarely been so happy (except for my first 128K! ;-)

I have Mojave running, two 1TB NVMe drives, 64 GB of RAM (for $300), USB-C, RX580 graphics with three monitors,. All the Apple little thingies work (iMessage, iCloud, including Apple Watch unlock!).

And it screams! With an i7 8700K, it gets 6,500 single-core and 30,000 multi-core Geekbench marks.

I would strongly encourage everybody with a minimal technical knowledge to try building one. There are very extensive and detailed instructions on tonymacx86. You can download the boot folder; you don't need to do much customization, if you stick with the motherboards with the most postings.

Order everything from Amazon (using MacInTouch link), keep all the packaging, and you get 30 days to get everything to work or use their return policy.

I was reticent, but now I'm really happy and already built a second one as a server. The only question is when Apple will make a macOS that is dependent on a certain chip (e.g. T2). Considering the vast current installed base, I think it will not happen anytime soon.

Try it.
 


Another interesting point about Apple's commitment to the Mac Pro:

I was at the local Apple Store looking for an external Thunderbolt (1 or 2) drive. They had none, it was all USB-C. I asked if they were just temporarily out or they no longer were going to stock Thunderbolt drives. The answer is they are USB-C only, since all their new Macs were now USB-C.

I replied, "You're not supporting the Mac Pro? It's still Thunderbolt 2." Just an uncomfortable look in response.
 


It should be noted that Pierre Igot's problems with a Mac Pro that are catalogued on the Betalog journal involve a "New Mac Pro" (i.e. 2013 model). Granted, he was also pushing the envelope pretty hard to get multiple high-definition displays working.
 


So I built a Hackintosh.
I've been doing a lot of investigation and reading on this over the past couple of days. The one thing which frustrates me is, often, the documented systems have been superseded or discontinued.

Ideally, I'd like to find a complete machine which just works :)
... Dell, Lenovo, HP - just something that I can buy complete and know will work as a Hack.

Aside from my daughter's MacBook Pro, I also need a new web server to replace an aging Mac. I'm back and forth between a Hackintosh and Linux. macOS has plenty of upside (especially in relation to backups and cloning), but there's a reason most of the web runs on Linux. GIven Apple's recent walk away from most things server-based, it's also not hard to imagine support of things like MySQL and Apache on the Mac may become more patchy.
 


Ideally, I'd like to find a complete machine which just works :)
... Dell, Lenovo, HP - just something that I can buy complete and know will work as a Hack.
I've asked about this before, too, and the response I got was that you can't guarantee that you'll get exactly the same components that have been tested and verified if you go for a pre-built or even built-to-order system from one of the major manufacturers. Things like the processor chipset could have revisions, or the motherboard could be a version 3.7.22.03 instead of the 3.7.22.02 that it needs, causing the wifi or something else to not work. There may also have a proprietary BIOS or firmware that causes conflicts depending on the version. So since the motherboard and processor chipset are critical components, you're already pushed into a custom build.

Of course, the solution would be for Apple to subcontract Dell or whoever to build certified systems, or to license the OS to partner companies to allow them to develop macOS compatible hardware. Of course, we know how that turned out in the 1990s. Apple has changed a lot since then, but they seem more than happy to let pro products wither on the vine rather than spin them off to a subsidiary or sell the technology to a third party (Aperture, iPhoto, QuickTime 7, even Final Cut Pro have been either completely shuttered or superseded by woefully inferior iOS ports).
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
There are some interesting financials involved in Apple's purchase of Texture, which it morphed into its News+ app.
The Motley Fool said:
Apple Is Paying a Boatload for Texture

The New York Post reported yesterday that Apple will end up paying a whopping $485 million for Texture after all is said and done. That sum includes a $100 million up-front payment to four of the publishers (Conde Nast, Meredith, Hearst, and Rogers) that had created the joint venture that developed the service, as well as private equity firm KKR, which had invested $50 million in 2014. However, the report does not mention the other two publishers, Time and News Corp., that were involved in the joint venture, so it's unclear what happened to their stakes. KKR exited its investment with the sale to Apple.

In addition to $100 million up front, Apple is paying a "minimum" of $145 million to those four publishers in the first year, in addition to at least another $240 million for the second and third years combined, according to the report. That will put the total cost at $485 million or more over time.
 


Ideally, I'd like to find a complete machine which just works :)
... Dell, Lenovo, HP - just something that I can buy complete and know will work as a Hack.
I've asked about this before, too, and the response I got was that you can't guarantee that you'll get exactly the same components that have been tested and verified ... since the motherboard and processor chipset are critical components, you're already pushed into a custom build.
All this having been said, don't let it dissuade you. Assembling a non-laptop PC is not hard to do, especially if you go for a large (e.g. mini-tower) case. After buying the parts, you can assemble everything in a few hours.

Unfortunately, assembling a laptop from scratch is beyond the skills of most mere mortals, myself included. If you need a laptop and can't buy an approved/tested model, then you're pretty much out of luck (or you're going to get far more involved in the hackintosh community than you'd prefer in order to get it working).
I also need a new web server to replace an aging Mac. I'm back and forth between a Hackintosh and Linux. ... GIven Apple's recent walk away from most things server-based, it's also not hard to imagine support of things like MySQL and Apache on the Mac may become more patchy.
Installing a Linux server is pretty easy to do. There is definitely a learning curve, because setup and management are completely different from the way they are in the Mac and Windows world, but once you get over/through that, you will have a solid system that should stand up to whatever you throw at it.

The nice thing is that what you're describing - a LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) server is a very popular Linux server configuration, so there are a lot of resources to help you set one up.

Depending on your requirements (storage, performance, etc.) you may be able to run your in-house web server on a Raspberry Pi (which is also a Linux PC, just a really small one).

Regarding Apple and open source packages (like MySQL and Apache), if Apple stops shipping/updating/supporting them, you can still download and install your own copy. You can use any of the major Unix package systems (Homebrew, Fink or MacPorts), compile your own installation or (maybe) find an official Mac binary installation (there appears to be one for MySQL but not Apache).
 


(Aperture, iPhoto, QuickTime 7, even Final Cut Pro have been either completely shuttered or superseded by woefully inferior iOS ports).
Not to take away from your other points, but I'm not sure that this is correct for either iPhoto (Photos is somewhere between the old iPhoto and Aperture) or Final Cut Pro (which, despite the mishandling of the initial release of FCPX, is now more powerful than ever).
 


Not to take away from your other points, but I'm not sure that this is correct for either iPhoto (Photos is somewhere between the old iPhoto and Aperture) or Final Cut Pro (which, despite the mishandling of the initial release of FCPX, is now more powerful than ever).
I don't know enough about Final Cut Pro to say for certain, but if it's finally gotten back to where it was, then great. It does make you wonder just how much farther along it could be if it hadn't been essentially rebooted.

As for iPhoto vs Photos, yes, Apple tried to position Photos as something in between iPhoto and Aperture, but it doesn't even have the same level of digital asset management that iPhoto had. I've dabbled in it a little bit, but its interface is the epitome of hide-and-seek craziness, and I still consider it a big step backwards from where iPhoto was, let alone Aperture.
 


All this having been said, don't let it dissuade you. Assembling a non-laptop PC is not hard to do, especially if you go for a large (e.g. mini-tower) case. After buying the parts, you can assemble everything in a few hours.
We're not bothered at all by assembling a desktop PC, the bigger issue is sourcing 'verified' parts, especially down here in Australia where we have far fewer options for supply. Some recent tax changes also make it uneconomical to ship things from the States.
Installing a Linux server is pretty easy to do. There is definitely a learning curve, because setup and management are completely different from the way they are in the Mac and Windows world, but once you get over/through that, you will have a solid system that should stand up to whatever you throw at it.

The nice thing is that what you're describing - a LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) server is a very popular Linux server configuration, so there are a lot of resources to help you set one up.
As mentioned in another post, we installed Mint yesterday on an old iMac, and it took about 30 minutes start to finish. We've been using MAMP Pro for testing some WordPress sites, so using LAMP or LNMP is an attractive alternative to installing everything individually.
Depending on your requirements (storage, performance, etc.) you may be able to run your in-house web server on a Raspberry Pi (which is also a Linux PC, just a really small one).
Interestingly, we run a Raspberry Pi as a live backup to our MySQL server. I only logged into it yesterday - first time in about 6 months (we have other backups as well), and it was running perfectly and up to date. Slow, but super reliable.
 



I've been doing a lot of investigation and reading on this over the past couple of days. The one thing which frustrates me is, often, the documented systems have been superseded or discontinued.

Ideally, I'd like to find a complete machine which just works :)
... Dell, Lenovo, HP - just something that I can buy complete and know will work as a Hack.

Aside from my daughter's MacBook Pro, I also need a new web server to replace an aging Mac. I'm back and forth between a Hackintosh and Linux. macOS has plenty of upside (especially in relation to backups and cloning), but there's a reason most of the web runs on Linux. GIven Apple's recent walk away from most things server-based, it's also not hard to imagine support of things like MySQL and Apache on the Mac may become more patchy.
It's not the latest and greatest, but for under $100 (see the last post in the thread) you can get an HP 8300 which makes a great Hackintosh (it's what I'm typing on now):

[Guide] HP Elite 8300 / HP 6300 Pro using Clover UEFI hotpatch

You'll probably have to sink another $100-$200 on a video card, RAM, SSD, etc. but the end result is a quad core i5/i7 3rd gen machine with USB 3 built in and plenty of expansion options.

The best place to find OEM builds that work as Hacks is in the forum build sections:

tonymacx86 > forums > Installation > MacOS version > guides
 



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