• 25 December 2009メリークリスマス!(^o^)/

    Many thanks to Andreas for the Pro Git book! I'm going to devour it during the holiday break.

    I hope everyone's having a fine Christmas with or without Santa Claus ;-) I've got a nice present for you all in store for the new year (*fingers crossed*)!

    In other news...

    I'm switching to an iMac early January. Damn you Apple for forcing PC people to buy a humongous 27 inch screen to have a decent graphics card. Ah well. I guess I'll get used to it.

    More seriously, about a month ago I reconnected the Macbook to a LCD with an external keyboard and mouse.. I tried to switch last year but using the Macbook as a desktop wasn't an option, the Intel graphics chipset is really weak, even for office apps.

    It's interesting how my mind switched from PC-must-have-killer-graphics-card mentality to an iMac buyer. First I realized I don't need a portable, I never take it around, and I could sell the Macbook and buy an entry level iMac without spending too much. This would leave me with a PC for gaming and using OSX for development. Granted, there isn't a huge difference between the entry level iMac and a Macbook, but compared to my early 2008 Macbook, the late 2009 iMac is a much more performant machine, and the displays are miles apart.

    Switching between two different computers isn't practical. And why should I even need to do this? Why couldn't I use just one? I was mightily impressed with Windows emulation both within OSX and as a native boot option (also known as BootCamp).

    From one thought to another, call it enlightenment or something... I came to realize I don't need a fancy 400€ graphics card if playing games is just a fraction of the time I spend on the computer. It was still important for me to be able to run some upcoming games, to have a little gaming session now and then. I started looking at the top level iMacs, based on a decent ATI card.

    The late 2009 27 inch iMacs have a Core i5 processor, which is what I was going for with my PC overhaul. That is very sweet indeed. But what about the graphics card? ATI Radeon HD 4670? No thank you, that is even weaker than my ageing 8800 GTS 640mb. So the only option left was the humongous 27 inch iMac with the Radeon HD 4850. Apple doesn't even give you the entry level PC version here, they cut down the 1GB to 512mb. If you want to enable AA (Anti Aliasing) at the 27 inch native resolution, your games will crawl. There is not enough memory (forgive me if I can't find the tomshardware benchmark right now, but that's my source). Then again, with such a card clearly it's not a good idea to run games at the native resolution.

    Recently I had a "LAN party" as we call it, where we get together, mostly family (cousins, and step brother) and we have a great time together for... a few days ;) I was very surprised to see my old Nvidia GTS 8800 640mb was able to handle recent games such as Tomb Raider Underworld, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2, Demigod, Burnout Paradise and even Colin McRae: DIRT 2. Most games could average 30 fps with all details enabled, at 1680x1050. Demigod was a slow at times (~15fps in skirmishes), but playable as a RTS. DIRT 2 is clearly a port from the XBox and I was really impressed with the level of polish, it ran with a very smooth framerate on the GTS 8800 (ps: all these games ran on XP in Direct X 9 mode).

    The ATI HD 4850 peforms better than my GTS 8800 according to benchmarks so I concluded, while the top Core i5 iMac has an outdated graphics card from a PC gamer point of view, the ATI card should be just fine and I am guessing that by lowering a few details it should be able to handle the upcoming Diablo 3, or Guildwars 2 and so on.

    The last point that made me confident about the switch is that Apple hardware seems to have a healthy resell value. In one year I should be able to sell the Core i5 / Radeon 4850 iMac at half the original price, and upgrade to the latest revision if I feel the graphics card is too far behind for gaming.

    Part of my decision was also inspired by a colleague. I was talking about my reservations about the iMac. Then what he said I thought was really funny, he said "You think it's too pricey, and you'll look at the benchmarks and you'll keep coming back to it and thinking about it, and then in 10 months time you'll buy one anyway. So just buy it.". There's something really refreshing in what he said, it made me laugh. Now that's zen!

    I think I won't be disappointed. The humongous screen size may turn out to be a good productivity improvement, the Bash/Terminal is going to be so much nicer to work with Git. And if we put the graphics card aside, the Core i5 is a very sweet processor that should last me easily a couple years.

    Just buy it! :D