View Full Version : Mac or PC

12-15-2003, 12:06 PM
I posted incorrectly (i see now) in another forum.

I am a hobbyist new to LW (haven't even purchased yet- just playing around with Strata 3d Pro now on my pb 867 - I have tried it on a DP G4 1.5 and it's real fast - about 10% faster than a dell 2.4G P4).

I plan to get LW early next year...

I have a definate mac-preference over PCs - and about $2500-$3000 to spend (inlcuding RAM!) and need your advice - should I go with the Mac or PC (DP xeon or DP Opteron seem to be the choices).

Purchases won't happen until after MWSF, AND I get an apple Educational discount, So I may be able to get a DP G5 2.2, 4 or higher, depending on price.

Others seem to swear by PC for stability, features, ease of use of LW.
But you all here seem pretty happy. I assume by the time I buy LW in January I'll get the upgrade to 8 (LW Ed. Disc includes upgrade to 8, vendor said).
I also have a few PCs at home (dell 2.4 G desktops and laptops) that I coudld use for dist. rendering...
As I said, I prefer macs over PCs, if the speed/feature diffs are minimal Macs win.
If there are *significant* speed/usability LW issues then PCs win.

My main questions are;
If you had my $ ;-) and were buying a new machine, "starting from scratch", what would you buy? (pc or mac, and which)?

How much RAM (1 or Gig)?

what video card?

Some of the things people talk about - plug -ins, etc are maybe not so important for a beginner. As a beginner/hobbyist, ease/stability/speed are important, not maybe all the bells and whistles.

12-15-2003, 01:13 PM

Most people that read this part of the forum are pretty high on macs (me included).

The good thing about Lightwave is that it now comes with a dongle that works on both macs and IBMs ( + compatibles... hereafter PCs) and you'll receive the software for both platforms also.

So, once you have it, you can install it on various machines to try it out.

If you're close to an Apple store, there is a good chance they will let you install Lightwave temporarily on their showcase machines (and this is not illegal since LW needs the dongle anyway) and try it out it the store (I've done this several times, and they've always been very nice about it...hooray for the Apple store).

And though it a good thing to ask for opinions, hands-on experience is going to be the best reference to make your decision on what platform you will work ultimately; it's whatever your own preferences are...

Plugin compatibility is sometimes an argument when this question pops up; There are a lot of plugs out there that will not run on the mac... but all the mayor ones (like the Worley plugs) do. In fact, Worley is so great, they tie the license to the dongle, which means you can use it on both platforms without an extra charge... (unlike some %$!!y companies like Dynamic Realities that will charge you extra)

But geez, if you like Macs better anyway...

And oh... about RAM; get as much as you can afford... Though it might be cheaper to add 3rd party ram later on, rather then have it build in. Go 512 as a min. I'd go for 1GB (or higher) if money isn't a problem.

12-15-2003, 01:34 PM
Hmmm.. Very tricky question in these forums..

You could actually trigger a MAC-PC flame-war (again :rolleyes: )

But hey.. here's my experience..

Go with what you feel best with! If you like Mac's.. go for a Mac! The new G5's are just blazingly fast! As for the ram.. yes! get as many as you can afford!

for example: if you have 3000 bucks to spend, you'd be better of with a dual 1.8 with 2 gigs of Ram than a dual 2.0 with 512 Ram.

Ofcourse a Dual 2.0 with 2 gigs of ram is better :D

I would go for a Mac.. (I'm going for a new Mac in january as well.. I hope a dual 2.6, but 2.4 is more likely)

12-15-2003, 02:49 PM
well I am certainly doing my homework.
short of having a dp xeon or opteron side by side w/ the DP mac g5 this is hard.
Short of working with the program on both platfroms - thsis is real hard.
so, here is what I have determined:
At the current MOMENT, Mac vs Xeon vs Opteron .At My Price Level are about equal - the PCs may have a slight speed difference - but nothing huge - and the new G5s may close that gap w/ HW and SW (new compilers). The new LW for 8 may also help close this gap.
I have not seen anything to lead me to believe the PC platform at the speeds I can afford is significantly faster than the Mac.
I think I will look at the Mac in Janaury and what I can afford - probaly a 2.2 or 2.4 and be happy with that- I will get LW when 8 is released and get my skills back with strata in the meantime.

thank you for all your help.

12-15-2003, 03:21 PM
I think the reality is that you money will go farther in a PC than in a mac. there's no debating there. If just value is important, for your money, a PC will give you

1) a faster machine (currently, this may change in as little as one month)

2) a stable version of LW to run (again this may change in a month or so)

3) More choices with plugins, mainly home brewed freeware stuff)

4) more software choices, like Shader tree, PhotogenicsHDR and Messiah. This won't change for some time, if ever.

5) allow you to immediately drop into LW with proven hardware and a proven version of LW.

6) vast library of games :D

7) you can immediately take advatnage of the sale and have a basic compositor for free (DFX) and upgrade to a full version for like $1500 down the road.

8) general advantages of working in a non niche computer platform, i.e. familiarity with OS, support, etc.

I' m sure there's more, but its off the top of my head.... PC's sole a more immediate need, however the mac horizon does look promising.....

1) no 64 bit OS or 64 bit version of LW, so current benchmarks are innaccurate of true potential of speed of G5

2) NT commitment to the mac platform, and the imminent release of LW 8 offers the possibility of a more forcused effort towards a G5 compatable LW

3) Apple's iLife software suite is a great value, integration and productive out of the box, and Apple's production suite (FCP, DvDpro, Shake, etc) is unmatched in integration.

4) current mac architecture offers tremendous possibilities for high end production that is dependant on vast ram resources and fast processing.

6) While there are more plugins for the PC, many of the important ones are ported to the mac. Messiah isn't FYI, and thats a major bummer..

7) There is a higher S/N ratio in mac shareware and freeware. Meaning that although mac has a smaller development communities (shareware/freeeware), I find it more concise and useful and less crap and viruses than on the PC.

8)As cliche as it sounds, the future is looking bright for the mac. The transition to 64 bit seems far less complicated for the mac than the PC (only one vendor) and it seems to have the major players eyeing it. I believe that Pixar is transitioning to macs as are many up and coming boutiques using macs for shake.

9) Plainly said, using an apple and a PC is like using a mercedes and a toyota, plain and simple. Apple is a niche marked the way Mercedes and BMW is: its pricey, but its a better user experience. far more elegant and sophisticated.

In the final analysis, the PC offers many definite qualities right now that you can immediately use. While the mac offers many ifs and possibilities (LW compatability, rapid growth of pro apps, final benchmarking possibilities with 64 bit OS and apps). So in the end it is a personal decision.... would you rather settle for a PC that is fast now, but have it be obsolete as soon as you plug it in, or invest in a 64bit mac now which future potoential is yet to be realized within the next 6 months?

For the record, the track record of LW issues with the mac is spotty, however this was during a time of transition with NT. So its a bit unfair to expect that in the future, but it is noteworthy. So to say that LW 8 will hold better promise of a smoother development path for NT is more of a promise than a fact.

Either decision isn't wrong... I have both a mac and a PC.. IF i'm just using LW, I think the PC is better because in the end, I'm just using Lightwave and the software is the same on both appearancewise. For general computing and using 2D media, I use the mac. Its just a better computing expericence, far more streamlined (Safari alone is worth the price of a mac!!!!), less clutter, very tight integration of apps like iPhoto, iDVD and iTunes.. you are far more productive and less concerned about virus', instalation wizards, window patching, etc.

Your decision of a mac front end with PC being your render be-otchs is not bad either... I just wish that I could get 1U sized cpus like the xserve of the dell servers w/o the expensive support packages... Just a low profile render machine with just the CPU and the ram.

Perhaps it would be possible to build your own 1U server box as you would any PC to keep the size small... after all, all you need is extra CPU's right?

Is anybody even aware if thats even possible? to build your own 1U servers?

12-15-2003, 03:27 PM
The lifespan (on the desktop) of a Mac vs. a PC is significantly longer (according to some magazine article -- and no, it wasn't in MacWorld, MacAddict or any other MacXXX magazine).

The comprehensive HW/OS integration on a Mac is better than any Windows PC.

The actual hardware (unless you are a byob person) is comparable in cost within $200-300. Pair this with the first statement, and you get more bang for your buck over more time.

12-15-2003, 04:19 PM
Out of boredom and curiosity I checked ebay and can find a DP xeon or opteron system for around $1300 (2.66/2.0 respectively).
Both with big HDs and 1 G ram. Now that is quite a diffeence from the mac - almost 1/2 the price.
So, this makes me think of getting a PC for LW for now, using the difference in $ for more ram and actually buying LW (not a cheap issue) and using my mac laptop (867 G4) for "normal" office work and learning LW - then, after LW8 comes out and things stabilize a bit it will be easier to decide to get a mac - and whihc one -- or not.


12-15-2003, 04:55 PM

another soul lost to inferno... and we tried so hard.

12-15-2003, 06:03 PM
maclamb, if you need it up and running now, thats not a bad idea... LW 7.5c on a PC is a proven combination. Just be careful regarding ebay computer purchases... Perhaos for a bit more you can go to Del or Gateway and get a refurb.

LW 8 can be had, new, for a good price at Sharbor.com, look it up.

Use the PB to keep you reel on after you make your kewl stuff on LW 8!! :cool: :D

12-15-2003, 08:30 PM
Originally posted by archiea
2) a stable version of LW to run (again this may change in a month or so)
There seems to be a perception among Windows users of Lightwave that the Mac Lightwave is not stable.

I've used Lightwave for some years now and I think that LW7.5 on MacOS 10.2.7 is the most stable combination I've seen yet. I believe it's much more stable than Lightwave on WinXP.

Now when LW8 is released, there's no reason to believe this wouldn't still be the case. LW8 will go with Panther. The two should be used together. (LW7.5 should be used with 10.2.7 or 10.2.8). Because LW8 is being optimized for Panther I would be very surprised if there isn't a speed boost from this combination.

Originally posted by archiea
8) general advantages of working in a non niche computer platform, i.e. familiarity with OS, support, etc.Apple may be a "niche" but its niche is content creation. This is our niche.

Things are starting to get exciting on the Mac platform as it makes major inroads into professional content creation.

Familiarity with Windows means nothing. I guess people may get very familiar with Windows because it doesn't get updated very often. The next major revision of Windows (code named Longhorn) isn't expected to appear until 2006 at the very earliest, possibly 2008 or 2009.

Modular: The G5 internals are modular. Open a Windows box and have a look inside... there'll be cables dangling everywhere, looking like spaghetti.

Open the side hatch of a G5 and look inside. No cables or wires. Components (like fans) click on and off, so you don't have to unthread a cable underneath other components if you want to remove something.

This is the attention to detail and industrial design that only comes from Apple.

12-16-2003, 09:32 AM
All your help has saved me much time and $$$.
After evaluting all the options, and given I have a PB 867 and a Dell 2.4G P4 Rambus, I have decided to:
1. PUrchase LW 7.5 ( a good first start)
2. Upgrade the Dell to a 3.06 CPU w/ 1G Ram and better video
3. Work withthe package on both machiens - giving me some approx benchmarks fo speed. I gather a 3.06 P4 533FSB HT will be quite good for layout and rendering. AI also ahave 2.4 G Dell Laptop that can help when it comes to rendering
4. See if I even want to stay on LW at all -
5. See what comes out of MWSF.

By waiting , reading and considering your advise I have saved much time and $


12-16-2003, 11:06 AM
You are making the right decision at this time. However you seem to have doubts about whether or not you would stay with Lightwave. If this is true you should really try the free discovery edition before you actually purchase Lightwave to make sure you like it. I wouldn't want to shell out $995-1595 (depending on promotional deal) for something I may or may not like/want.

Also there are PLE versions of Maya and XSI (PC only) if you want to see what other packages offer. Of course these are higher end apps with corresponingly higher price tags.

I think you will find that like a PC Lightwave gives the most bang for your buck.

Also rendering will be pretty slow on your Mac powerbook.

You will find that a 3 Ghz PC will be on average about 4 times faster than the 867 Powerbook. Of course that is to be expected given the processor speeds.


12-16-2003, 11:16 AM
If you're used to the Mac, just be prepared for more crashes if you go for a PC. I was surprised at, the number of system crashes on XP at 2 different houses I've worked at, things just stop working spontaneously, and none of the PC people seem the least bit surprised: "just restart" "I expect Lightwave to crash once a day" - while at home I worked tirelessly for months with only a few applications crashing in a week, and this is while running twice as many programs than I do on XP: 2 copies of LW, Modeler, After Effects, Safari, Mail, iTunes, Quicktime Pro and sometimes Photoshop.

12-16-2003, 01:19 PM
what kind of mac do you have?

12-16-2003, 01:43 PM
OK, sorry to hijack this thread, but I am curious...

Toby... how are you running two copies of Lightwave? I've often wished I could open two scenes at once so one could render and I could work the other. I know you can do this on a PC, but I've never gotten it to work on Mac.

Do you mean that you are running two different versions, i.e. 6.5 & 7.5? Or have you actually found a way to make it open twice?

12-16-2003, 02:17 PM
I would imagine you duplicate the applicaton, give it a different name with a matching cmdLine?

12-16-2003, 02:44 PM
WOW!!! could you elaborate?!?!?

12-17-2003, 12:11 AM
Originally posted by marble_sheep
OK, sorry to hijack this thread, but I am curious...

Toby... how are you running two copies of Lightwave? I've often wished I could open two scenes at once so one could render and I could work the other. I know you can do this on a PC, but I've never gotten it to work on Mac.

Do you mean that you are running two different versions, i.e. 6.5 & 7.5? Or have you actually found a way to make it open twice?

what kind of mac do you have?"

An old dual 450.

Yes, dupe the application and give it a different name (like 'Zeitwave'). You also have to disable the hub, it doesn't allow 2 Layouts - but I like working either way. I haven't done anything to the pref files or cmdlines, they use the same ones. Same versions.

Rendering in one and working in the other is sweet. I sometimes rendered in both while I modeled or worked in AE - it gets slow though!

12-17-2003, 01:25 AM
Originally posted by maclamb
I have decided to [...] Upgrade the Dell to a 3.06 CPU w/ 1G Ram and better video

I would have difficulty working in such a small amount of RAM. True, I may be using larger image maps than many other people do, but the renders I do on my G5 would not be able to be done on a P4 with 1 gig of RAM.

12-17-2003, 06:54 AM
Thanks Toby! I never would have thought to just disable the hub (a "duh" moment...)

12-17-2003, 09:01 AM
archiea, sorry I couldn't explain it in more depth any sooner, I thought an image would say it all...

But it looks like Toby answered it now anyway :)

12-17-2003, 09:09 AM
Originally posted by Beamtracer
I would have difficulty working in such a small amount of RAM. True, I may be using larger image maps than many other people do, but the renders I do on my G5 would not be able to be done on a P4 with 1 gig of RAM.
Hi Beam,
sheez, what kind of images do you render? Even Area51 only needed 1 GB per processor, and they rendered in HD...
I never needed more than 512MB for a render (except for some extremely high res stills, but that was for the frame buffer).