New Mac

One of the scary things about owning a Mac is that you get attached to them. You can see this in the number of older Macs out there. People don’t toss them out nearly as quickly. Even the packaging is so pretty it's hard to toss out the box your Mac arrives in.

So 3 years into my MacBook Pro, I’m starting to feel unfaithful. I’m having thoughts about a younger model. I’m lusting after a solid state hard drive and a unibody enclosure. In short it’s time for a new Mac.

My tip for buying a Mac is to use Apple’s online store. Having school age children, I recommend the Education store. The prices are better, I saved about $1000.

So I configured up the Mac of my dreams. Basically the fastest 15” I could make. Then I hit the button. Following her progress online, I can tell you she has been built, boxed and left the factory. Last seen at Shanghai International Airport looking for a ride to Australia no doubt.

Technical specs don’t mean as much (or at least they are less popular in the Mac universe). But what did I order?

2.88Ghz Core i7 Obviously the faster the better. This new Intel chip has a few kinks though. It can provide more cores (processors) or reduce the cores and overclock (speed up) to optimise, depending on what’s running.

NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M with 512 MB Again, the faster the better. This sucker has 48 cores of its own and cranks at 182 gigaflops, which means nothing except the main processor (above) is only 108 gigaflops. So graphics wise, it should honk.

8Gb RAM More is better.

512Gb solid state hard drive (SSD) This is where I am hoping for magic. Traditional hard drives use spinning platters, floating heads, electromagnetic servos and heaps of other moving parts. The density of data is staggering and the error correction works overtime just to get you back what you wrote to the disk. SSDs use non-volatile memory chips and contain no moving parts. In real world applications, they are supposed to be about twice as fast.

Samsung released this video to show you just how flipping fast SSD really is.

15” high resolution anti-glare screen I’m not a fan of glossy screens. They look good showing movies but quickly gather finger prints, dust and look cheap and tacky. Call me old fashioned, but I like the non-glare variety.

3 year Apple care warranty Having spent the dollars, you expect the laptop to last 3 years, so get a 3 year warranty!

So the new Mac arrived early. A case of Apple under-promising and over-delivering. It was quite awkward really, I wasn’t ready. So this is also an article about changing to a new Mac.

As you know, I‘ve had my old Mac for 3 years. I have customised it, added all the programs I need, got plenty of precious files and pretty much have it just the way I like it. Sp how do you get the new one to do all that and feel as comfortable? Easy.

I had purchased a Firewire cable, but I noticed that Ethernet was an option (for transferring) and given that both machines have Gigabit Ethernet (1000Mb/s) and firewire is only 800Mb/s, why not try that? Faster is better.

So what you do is fire up your new Mac, answer the basics like Language, country and name, then you get asked if you are transferring from an old Mac, so I said “yes” and then you get a list of cable options (USB, Firewire, or Ethernet) and I followed my nose. The program asked me to plug in my old Mac, boot it and run the install DVD that came with the new Mac. I obeyed.

Next you get asked what you want to bring across and I picked everything. After a few seconds, the verdict was this process would take 4 hours (I did have 250Gb worth after all) and away it went. I went off to bed.

Next morning nearly everything was perfect. The Migration Assistant had reported that it couldn’t do my Parallels Windows virtual machine (Windows on my Mac) so I copied that manually (dragged it from old Mac to new Mac, big deal, not sure why it couldn’t do it).

The big thing is that the Migration tool moves everything, not just your files, but the programs too. You do not need to install all of your programs on your new Mac. You absolutely can NOT do that on Windows!

Then time to power down the old Mac and start using new Mac.

First observations were that the Bluetooth keyboard and mouse were not paired. These are serial number specific so they were added as new devices, easy. Testing every program I own, I found that my Cisco VPN client (remote access to work and customers) didn’t start. A simple re-install fixed that and kept all my settings. (Not sure why that one stuffed up)

Off to work and I found my work keyboard needed the re-pair treatment too. But everything else just worked. Kick Apple as much as you like, but the upgrade to new Mac feature works perfectly from my experience. (This is the 3rd time I have used it personally)

3 days later, I haven’t found anything to complain about. My new Mac works just like my old one and all my programs, files and settings are exactly as I had them.

Seven months later, I'm still delighted. Oh yeah, there's this newer Mac with even more power and Thunderbolt and this and that. But the (now) old Mac is fine. The biggest thing I notice is running Windows (yes, I do have to do that for work) is so much faster. XP boots in seconds. All the Mac apps run so fast I can't complain.

It would seem the SSD is worth every penny. I'm now recommending SSD over spinning drives regardless of laptop brand. The savings in battery and performance are worth the cost in price.