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Which Mac should I buy for my situation?

Bribie Liz

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Hi Brian

I have a late 2014 27" iMac with 1 TB hard drive and 24 gb memory.  I am retired and have enjoyed doing Photoshop activities for several years, until the last couple when I have had to focus elsewhere.  I have taken some of  Damien's classes and renew each year because I want to keep in touch.  I use Photoshop as a hobby.  I am ready and keen to get back in to it, but I know I am going to need a new computer as mine is now very slow, and I can't do software updates any more.  I have spent the last few days trying to reduce the storage which was up to having only about 110gb of 1 Tb available.  I have gained back 100gb but still have more deleting to do.

My query is "what do I need to buy?"  Despite the price in Australia where I live I do want another Mac because everything else I have is Mac and it is just so convenient, and I enjoy using Mac.  It is really up to what do I need to buy to enjoy using Photoshop on a new Mac.  I am thinking something that will have sufficient speed and capacity that will future proof me for as long as possible, given the type of use (no batch editing) it will get.  I don't want or need to go over the top but just want to know that I am buying at least what is necessary to be happy with Photoshop speed and storage etc.

I have read your previous comments about what was needed in early 2022, but now that Apple has brought out the new Mac Mini M2 I don't know which way to go.  Could you please also comment on the Display.  My feeling is I would like to spend the extra and get the nano texture glass so that I don't have any reflexions.  My query is does the nano texture affect your ability to see the small detail on the monitor when working in Photoshop, or is either Display acceptable?

Thank you for giving your time with such helpful and useful information.  I read your comments regularly and appreciate that you give your time this way.

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Here's the deal with current Apple Products: There is no upgrading after the initial purchase. If you need more of something, whether that's HD Capacity, RAM, Video GPU Performance, you are buying a new computer. When it comes to my recommendations, I tend to go a little over-board and recommend the more expensive options. Why? Not to spend your money, which I'm very good at doing (spending other people's money,) but I want their computers to last for about 7-8 years, instead of forking out thousands every 24-36 months or so, which is what Apple wants you to do. Heck, they'd love it if you purchased a new computer every 18 Months!!

When I configured my 27" iMac back in 2017, I really tricked it out. Got the better video card, better CPU, added RAM, etc. My cost ended up being around $3800, after tax. Of course, since I'm in the States and that's US Dollars. I tell you this to illustrate my new configuration, IF I had to purchase a new Mac today. The cost is about the same, if you think about it, because I am forced to get all of the upgrades at the time of purchase. So without further ado...

...this is what I'd buy today:

I will say the new Mac Mini M2 Pro Model, with some tweaks, is really something. It's actually more powerful than last year's Mac Studio for half the cost! Now I would not buy the lower-end Mac Mini computers, start with the model on the right, the one for A$1999 and tweak a few things:



  • Upgrade the CPU to Apple M2 Pro with 12‑core CPU, 19-core GPU, 16‑core Neural Engine (Adds A$450). The reason is, we want the better Video GPU because each time that Adobe Updates Photoshop, it relies more on the GPU than the CPU. In fact, it's more important to have a better video card than to have a fast CPU!
  • Upgrade to 32GB Unified Memory. While it's true that the M1 & M2 Macs treat memory differently, there is no upgrading after the fact, since everything is built into a single chip. 32GB on a M2 Mac is more like 64GB on a Intel-based CPU; it's more future proof.
  • Upgrade the HD to 1TB Storage. Two reasons...one 1TB gives you A LOT more wiggle-room to do things, and two, the smaller HD configurations use slower chips, so you are penalized for going with a cheaper configuration. The bandwidth that the larger HDs use is a lot faster with a 1TB version instead of a smaller drive, like a 256GB model. Surprise!! Now, if you want to go larger, that's up to you and your wallet. For me, a 1TB Internal Main Hard Drive is fine, even in 2023. You could always get a 12TB External Thunderbolt Drive, or even something larger, at a later date. You definitely want a Thunderbolt 3 or Thunderbolt 4 EHD, they are quite fast and they feel very much like the internal drive as compared to a USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 EHD. 
  • The last thing you can upgrade is the Ethernet Port. Unless you have a 10Gb Ethernet Setup (Switches / Routers and the like) there is no benefit to 10Gb Ethernet. I even think Australia doesn't have really fast Internet as it is, so I'd leave this option at the default to save some money. As a speed comparison, my download speed is 940Mbps and upload is 40Mbps. If I want to go faster, and I will with my next computer, I will need a 10GB Ethernet Setup. (Well, anything more than 1Gbps, but I'm going the Full Monty and getting a 10Gbps setup in the next few years when my wife and I purchase a new home.)

As it stands, we are at A$3349, before any Tax and AppleCare. Plus, that's using an existing keyboard and mouse, which saves you around A$418. Here is the configuration again:


By going through Apple's Website, you are getting the Premium Hardware options. The above configuration, you will not be able to buy at Harvey Norman's or your other local retailer. So yes, you need to go through Apple. To save time and have a little more security, if you have an AppleStore close to you, ship it there. I'd hate to have a A$6000 computer sitting in front of your door.

Now, people will recommend that you can use a 3rd Party Display and they will work "fine" with a Mac Mini. Even Apple Salespeople will tell you this...

...what they don't tell you is that they will look like shit.

That's the issue. So before you ask, "Is it really worth it?" my answer is Yes. If you want and are used to the "Full Apple Experience," then you need to purchase the stupidly over-priced Apple Studio Display for A$2499. That's why I jump up-and-down about the Displays with current Mac products, especially if you are editing Photos or Video.

So brace yourself, here it the cost so far: A$5848.

Man, things are so expensive in OZ. That's before the full AppleCare and such. Now, for the good news; you are buying a stand-alone display, so going forward, you can keep the display and then just upgrade the Mac Mini when it comes time. So you might get 2-3 computers out of that monitor; granted it sucks on the front-end, but you are saving money on the back-end and in the long-run.

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Hi Brian

Thank you so much for the time you have put in to replying to me with such detail which has also helped me to understand why I should do the upgrades.  The information you have provided is so helpful.  I shall now be able to order my new Mac with confidence, and I will be using your suggestions.  I am going away in a couple of weeks to Hawaii😄, so I shall order it when I get back, and will collect it from Apple at Chermside which is only about 45 minutes drive north of where Damien lives, and an hour south from me. Given his love of Apple he has probably never been there.🤣  I am already excited about using it.

Just out of interest, you mention your download and upload speeds.  My download speed is 50, and upload speed is 18, and no 5G yet where we live!  We live in hope!

Thanks again for your time and attention to my specific request.

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Yeah, I think Damien might have 60 Down? Maybe it’s 50. So no benefit for you upgrading to 10Gb Ethernet with your Mac Mini. Save the $100.

Here I am wanting the 1200Mbps that I’m paying for, and you only have 50 down. :D 1Gbps Ethernet has a “Cap” of around 940 due to how the frames and packets are handled; in short, there is a bit of overhead with 1Gbps and you’ll never get the full 1000 down. 942 is about as close as I will get. That said, speed is relative and in reality all a person / household “needs” would be about 300 down but 50 is doable. I’ve known people that only have 3 down, as in three down, and .5 up. THAT IS SLOW. 

5G Cell Phone is more Marketing and Buzzwords than anything. Hopefully 6G will be a real improvement in the future. 5G is “okay” but isn’t the 2nd coming of Christ that it’s made out to be. 

Please report back on your new Mac setup. Just as a forewarning, you will need to have / use the latest Photoshop CC version to work with the M2 chips. This isn’t a big deal if you are on the Photoshop CC Photographer’s Plan, but could be an issue if you are using PS CC 2019 or earlier. 

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