Computer Upgrade - 2013
My Computer Headquarters/Office

In November of 2013, I upgraded my computer(s). I replaced a Mac Pro (with dual quad-core processors) with a 27" iMac. The all-in-one computer takes up considerably less space, costs a lot less, and has more processor power than my old Mac Pro (not by much though / that old Mac Pro still has a lot of years left in it). I also purchased a computer (a Mac Mini) for use as a media server (in the living room/adjacent to the big-screen TV).

Purchases for the computer upgrade were started in October of 2013, and completed by the middle of November, 2013. Kim and I planned and saved for nearly five years in preparation for this upgrade. With a budget of appx $7,500.00 (I didn't spend all of that), I planned the computer upgrade for November of 2013.

I can actually afford a slightly beefier upgrade now that I'm not in the military anymore. With my new career, I can finally afford some of the nicer toys offered to consumers these days. The last computer (the Mac Pro) was purchased in May of 2009. It lasted a long time, and it did it's job well. With the purchase of our new computer(s), the old work-horse (the Mac Pro) will make it's way to Wisconsin (when we drive there just after Christmas). I'm planning to hand it down to a Niece who's enrolled in college courses and living on a very limited income.











My Computer: Purchased 11 Nov 2013


Hardware/Primary Desktop machine:


Machine type: iMac (27-inch, late 2013). I chose an iMac instead of a Mac Pro this time around. In comparisons of computing power for my needs, I now find that the iMac line has sufficient power to handle my computing needs. You no longer need a Mac Pro to do video editing, rendering, production. In the past, the iMac line couldn't adequately handle this type of application (in my opinion). Since occassional video production is now my most CPU/Graphics intensive application, I can easily switch over to the iMac line for my needs.
CPU Type: 64 bit, 22nm, fourth generation 'Haswell' chip. The CPU contains a 3.5GHz quad-core i7 processor (4 processors on one chip).
CPU Speed: This particular build to order option cost $200 more than the standard 3.5GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor (with Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz). With the Turbo Boost (automatically enabled based upon processor load), this CPU can clock up to 3.9GHz. Each core has a dedicated 256k level 2 cache, and each core shares a single 8MB level 3 cache.
Number of Cores: This CPU supports 'Hyper Threading', giving this desktop iMac access to/the ability to recognize eight total 'cores' or 'threads' (four real/four virtual).
Memory: The base model comes equipped with 8GB (2x4GB - Two slots unoccupied) of 1600MHz PC3-12800, DDR3 SDRAM SO-DIMMs (204-pin) - The machine has four memory slots (optimized as one slot per core on the CPU). Following the 'bigger is better' maxim, I maxed out the RAM. Apple wanted $540 in order to max out the RAM at 32GB. I opted for a second party upgrade (installing it myself) for appx $350.00. (Previous machine had 20GB of RAM)
Hard drives: With only one slot for internal storage, I'll need to connect external drives via USB and/or Thunderbolt in order to get the same kind of redundancy/storage I had on the old Mac Pro. The old Mac Pro had a total storage capacity (counting internal and external storage) of 9.28TB.

Internal to 27" iMac:

  • This model has a few configurable storage options. I selected (for $200 more than the base model) the 1TB fusion drive. A 1TB Serial ATA drive running at 7200rpm, fused to a small (128GB) SSD drive for optimal speed. The 1TB drive is more than spacious enough for my current needs and the SSD addition makes for super snappy apps (especially those I use most frequently).

External/Network drives:
  • Western Digital MyBook 500Gb USB (set up as general purpose backup/BackupAlpha)
  • Toshiba Canvio 3.0, 500Gb USB (set up as general purpose backup/BackupBravo)
  • Buffalo Technology LinkStation Pro Duo 4 TB (2 x 2 TB) RAID Network Attached Storage LS-WV4.0TL/R1 (Black) as NAS (Network Attached Storage). This ethernet/network attached server is configured to serve up Music, Movies, Books, Television shows and other files to users on my network (I even managed to configure the server for internet based web access)
  • Buffalo Technology 6TB hard drive (HD-LX6.0TU3). This massive hard drive is attached to my network by way of my primary router. I've configured it to serve as a primary back-up destination (Archive01 (2TB - Set up as backup for music, movies and photos), Archive02 (2TB)), and a Time Machine backup destination (TimeMachine01 (1TB), TimeMachine02 (1TB)).
  • G-Technology 4TB G-RAID Thunderbolt Hard Drive. Purchased through Amazon. Connected using a 2m Thunderbolt cable that I purchased from Apple.When I purchased this hard drive, I also purchased a Seagate Rescue & Replace warranty (Data recovery services and hard drive replacement plan).

Total storage = 16TB

Media drive: The iMac doesn't come with any media drives (CD or DVD). I purchased a USB SuperDrive for any disk reading/writing needs. Model MD564ZM/A is a slot-loading 8x SuperDrive (DVDA±R DL (double-layer)/DVDA±RW/CD-RW). Writes DVD+R DL and DVD-R DL discs at up to 6x speed. Writes DVD-R and DVD+R discs at up to 8x speedWrites DVD-RW discs at up to 6x speed and DVD+RW discs at up to 8x speed. Reads DVDs at up to 8x speed. Writes CD-R discs atup to 24x speed. Writes CD-RW discs at up to 16xspeed. Reads CDs at up to 24x speed.
Internet connection: 12Mbps(download)/2Mbps(upload) always-on cable (Motorola SB5100 SURFboard cable modem) internet connection (Comcast) w/DHCP IP assignment.
Wired/Wireless Network: I'm planning to buy one of the new ME182LL/A Airport Time Capsules. The 3TB model (~$379.00). The Time Capsule is a simultaneous dual-band (2.4GHz/5.0GHz) wi-fi base station (Apple's Airport Extreme router) with 802.11a/b/g/n/ac wireless, Bluetooth (modified in Apr 2012 to use an external antenna), an Ethernet WAN port, three Ethernet LAN ports, and one USB port. It supports the following protocols: NAT, DHCP, PPPoE, VPN Passthrough (IPSec, PPTP, and L2TP), DNS Proxy, IPv6 (6to4 and manual tunnels). There's a 3TB hard drive inside the casing for use as a Time Machine backup (I'll use this one with my new iMac). I've also got an older MB764LL/A Airport Time Capsule. It's a 500GB model, with 802.11a/b/g/n simultaneous dual-band wi-fi capabilities (I'll use this one with my wife's laptop). I've also got an Airport Express in my network. It's serving (through the ethernet connector) an older Roku player that would otherwise slow my network down.


Video card / Displays:


Video card: iMac desktop - comes standard with NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675MX 1GB GDDR5. I opted for the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M 4GB GDDR5. The card's memory: 4 GB (780M) GDDR5. Display connects via Thunderbolt digital video output (The iMac has support for up to two Thunderbolt displays). Display Modes Dual display extended, video mirroring, AirPlay Mirroring, and Target Display. External Resolution Up to 2560 x 1600 pixels. The iMac's display has a built-in FaceTime HD camera.
Second display: I used an awesome 30" monitor with my previous Mac Pro, and I liked that monitor so much that I bought another for use with my new iMac (I gave the old one to my Neice (along with the old Mac Pro (see above for additional details)). The second monitor is connected to my iMac's video card (it can support two monitors) using a video adapter cable that I purchased from Apple. Dual-Link DVI to Mini DisplayPort Adapter. The second monitor is a Dell UltraSharp 30" monitor - 3007WFP-HC. LCD / Widescreen Flat-panel. Resolution is 2560 x 1600. I mounted the second monitor on the wall behind and above my iMac desktop (see the photo above) using a Mounting bracket for the 30” monitor - VideoSecu Long Articulation LCD LED TV Monitor Flat Panel TV Wall Mount, 20 inch extension 55lb loading capacity VESA 75mm/100mm 1US. I'm truly amazed that I mounted the unit correctly the very first time. I set the screws into a 4x4 stud that sits adjacent to a window frame in the corner of my office. I hit the studs dead-on, and the height was perfect for mounting the monitor - I'm awesome!




Printers: The office/our home is currently hosting three printers.
Epson Stylus photo R200. The old work-horse. This printer (capable of printing on CDs and DVDs as well as all sorts of media (up to 8.5" x 11") dates from 2004, when Epson initially produced them. Of course the printer was made obsolete soon afterwards, but it's continued to produce relatively inexpensive (because I use 2nd party inks) color prints (not suitable for photos anymore) for draft work. The fact that you can buy and use 2nd party ink with this printer means I'll keep using it until it can't/won't work any more. Epson no longer updates the drivers, but it keeps on working despite the progression of Mac OS updates.
Epson Artisan 800 multi-function printer, scanner/copier, fax. This is the printer we use for photo prints. I've already reset the 'print counter' once, and I don't know how much longer it will allow me to produce prints. This Epson printer was manufactured in such a way that you can't use second party ink, and the printer must be serviced after a specific (secret) amount of time and/or prints, lest you flood your office with ink from the saturated 'ink pads' - Odd, I've never replaced the 'ink-pads' on my R200, and I've had it since 2004!
Brother HL-2270DW wireless laser printer with duplex printing. This laser printer produces black and white toner prints for cheap. It's a great printer for use with drafts that don't require color and plain text documents (I print a lot of those for D&D). This printer sits in the basement, closer to our D&D table. Eventually I'll get a color laser printer that I can share with others (D&D players). For now it's connected to my primary network, because it doesn't have dual network wireless capabilities.
Camera: The iMac's built in monitor comes equipped with a built in FaceTime HD camera. The built-in 720p FaceTime HD camera (with an ambient light sensor) lets you make video calls that are so clear, it seems like everyone's in the same room. Make FaceTime calls from your iMac to any FaceTime-enabled Mac, iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. The video is supported with the iMac's dual noise-canceling microphones. The camera has an indicator light that illuminates when the camera is in use, but it doesn't have a manual shutter like the old Apple iSight camera, and I can't disconnect it at will like a second party USB camera.
Keyboard: I'm still not using one of the standard Apple keyboards. While I like the aluminum with chiclet styling, the ergonomics of that keyboard aren't comfortable for me. I'm using a Microsoft Natural Ergonomic 4000 keyboard. Ergonomic design with a zoom feature (tied to the Mac's universal access functionality), numerous customizable hot/favorites keys, internet/media keys, integrated palm rest, and an outstanding design - Microsoft makes some good stuff. This keyboard is one of their better products. I wish I could find a better ergo keyboard, but I can't seem to locate the one that's just right for me.
Mouse: I exclusively use the Magic Track trackpad for Mac. Awesome! Makes your hand into the mouse. It's the best 'Mouse' I've ever used. It beats the traditional mouse, the scroll-wheel mouse, and the thumbwheel mouse. No wrist strain, easy to use, highly configurable.
Speakers: Bose Companion 3 - Series II mulimedia speaker system


Operating system / Core components / Software:


Mac OS: Mac OS 10.9.3 - Mavericks
Productivity Software - I opted to have Pages, Numbers, and Keynote pre-installed at $19.99 each. As of 22 Oct, 2013, the creativity software is free!
Creativity Software - iLife ’11 (includes iPhoto, iMovie, GarageBand). The release in Oct, 2013 did not include any iWeb or iDVD updates. Although it was still branded as iLife '11, it was commonly referred to as iLife '13.


Author: Robert L. Vaessen e-mail:
Last Updated:
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