You can also buy refurbished Macs that have been traded directly from Apple.com. These have a good warranty and have supported operating systems for at least 6 to 8 years. After that that, the Mac’s browser no longer is updated and you are in danger of getting hacked using an out of date browser. Other than, the Mac will run with the software that is current in its last supported year. I’m a Mac collector and I have several Macs that were manufactured in 1998, 2004, 2008, and 2012. The run and run well.
Apple computers have evolved a lot since in the last 30 or so years. Here is a time line of the kinds of computers and how they evolved. Here is that poster in high resolution. You may not be aware of all of the kinds of Apple computers to choose from if you are a dedicated Windows computer user. That chart will help you visualize all of the computers I will discuss below.
You can buy Macs in two varieties for CAD and GIS: Laptops and Desktops.
It is a very expensive proposition to buy a high end laptop with as much power as an iMac or a desktop Mac.
Desktops come in three varieties: Mac mini’s, Mac Pro’s and iMac. The old Mini’s have less power than the Pro and run about like a laptop. Today, some Mac mini’s are very powerful, but are very expensive. Mini’s used to be cheap, but those days are gone.
If you buy anything other than an iMac, you will need to buy an apple compatible monitor. They come in three main kinds: older Apple Studio Display (15-inch flat panel) and Apple Cinema Display (20″ to 30″) and the current apple compatible monitors sold on the Apple.com website. You can also use otherness expensive apple compatible minors listed here.
The monitor has to match the video card. The older monitors come up for less than $100 on ebay and work well. The newer monitors, especially the large monitors, are very expensive. You can run up to four monitor (may eight) on some computers. More than one monitor may require separate video cards. Some of these cards can upgrade the performance of the Mac significantly costing from $250 to $500. These are the same cards used to process bitcoin so their price varies with the cost of bitcoin.
The older Mac Pro “cheese grader” as discussed below are popular because they can be upgraded so easily with newer video cards and up to four slide in hard drives. You can add SSD cards that will significantly improve the performance of these older Mac.
Newer Mac Pros have been purposively designed to deny you the ability to upgrade them. You have to buy a newer Mac Pro that is up to twice as fast as older ones so the newer ones are popular with people who do high end work on a Mac. Unless you need a super fast Mac Pro to do video editing for Hollywood movies or audio editing for a music studio, you do not need a newer Mac Pro for the class that I teach.
You can research Macs on everymac.com that literally tracks every Mac manufactured by series and form shape. This is useful when researching Macs on ebay.
=2= KEYBOARDS AND MICE
If you buy a new Mac, then usually it comes with a mouse and keyboard; but you can custom order the kind that you want directly from Apple or from compatible devices from third parties for mice and keyboards.
There are various kinds of Apple keyboards. The contemporary keyboards are not clocker keyboards like typically found on Dell and other windows keyboards. The contemporary Apple keyboard s have keys that travel inward much like the keyboards often found on laptops. The move just a bit; not like the keyboard that click like a typewriter.
The layout of the Apple keyboards come in two varieties: those with the standard letter keys and navigating keys; and others that have an additional numeric key pad. Because CAD and GIS require data input, I recommend that you get a numeric keyboard.=
There are various Mac mice. The least expensive is an older used mouse from Ebay that plus into the keyboard that has one function to select or unselect. The most expensive mice enable you to navigate the mouse to scroll and select.
You can run windows on a Mac. You will need to buy and install emulation software and Windows 10 operating system. Parallels, the recommended emulation software ($80), provides an un-registered copy of Windows, but it is not secure when you use the browser and email online because you have to run one user as an administrator. That means that you have to be very careful not to get hacked while in administrative mode because if that happens you lose control of your computer. I no longer use Windows because of hacking, which is almost entirely unknown on a Mac. I only use the windows emulator when using Arc Map.
You can also use the native Apple application called boot camp on a Mac to run Windows. I have not had much luck using that program. It is very buggy. The trouble is that is splits the hard drive and at times, you cannot unspilt the hard drive without reinstalling every application on the computer unless you have very good backups. I just gave up rather than do that; but perhaps you can invest some time and energy to save yourself the cost of the emulation software, Parallels.