Just upgraded from old Windows PC to a new Mac Mini system

Discussion in 'hardware' started by SoCalReviews, Apr 17, 2012.

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  1. SoCalReviews

    SoCalReviews Registered Member

    My near decade old PC running Windows XP Pro SP3 still runs well but it was time to upgrade my main home desktop system. My options were buying a new desktop or laptop running Windows 7 or building my own PC with the best parts I can purchase which is what I have always done in the past. When I was at BB looking at the computers I noticed the Mac Mini was on sale. I realized it was about the same cost as if I built my own PC desktop box with Windows 7. I always wanted to try a Mac in the past but they always seemed expensive compared to the PC's with Windows. The Mac Mini base model desktop unit with Intel i5 2.3Ghz was on sale at BB for less than the Windows PCs (about $570) I was looking at and except for the external DVD/CD writer ($80) everything was already put together in one small ready to go desktop package with every major feature I wanted (minus USB 3.0. It only has USB 2.0 ports. You also must purchase separately or use your own mouse/trackpad, keyboard and monitor or TV with HDMI input).

    I upgraded the RAM myself from the stock 2GB to 8GB for $45 by ordering direct from Crucial. I ordered Parallels virtualization software for Mac so I can run Windows XP, Windows 7 and Linux concurrently virtualized inside Mac OSX Lion. I was going to use my own keyboard and mouse but after some initial resistance I ended up buying the Mac wireless keyboard and wireless trackpad that were designed to work with OSX Lion. Surprisingly I have adapted very quickly to the Mac keyboard and trackpad and now they are two of my favorite things about using this new Mac. I type better than I ever did before on a regular keyboard and the Mac trackpad with OSX Lion's built in multi finger gesture control seems more intuitive and easier to use than a traditional mouse or trackball.

    After working with Mac OSX Lion for the last two days so far I am very impressed. This system with the upgraded 8GB DDR3 memory feels really quick. Programs start in the blink of an eye. After an initial slight learning curve with some frustrations I am already adjusting to the OSX environment very quickly. OSX is built on Unix and while the GUI layer is OSX Lion it does seem to have a nice secure Unix feel and function with it's default security settings. I have been running Windows XP SP3 so I can't compare to Windows 7. The entire OSX system seems to be comfortably locked down without being annoying to the user. By default it requires your personal password to make system changes or to install programs. I installed Firefox 11 but I am already using Safari as my primary browser now that I have become familiar with it. One of the intriguing aspects of OSX always was the enhanced security but I didn't want to sacrifice all the functionality I had for browsing popular web sites. Therefore I didn't install Java but I did install Adobe Flash and customized it's settings with restricted permissions for extra protection.

    My next quest is to find a good AV program for the Mac that also protects against Windows viruses. The Mac OSX has been vulnerable to viruses in the past and it benefits from having an AV but I also don't want to unknowingly pass on malware to my Windows machines. I am running and testing out F-Secure for Mac on it right now but it only protects against Mac viruses. There are a few top rated Mac AV programs I want to try out including Bit Defender and ESET for Mac. I am open to other AV suggestions from other OSX Lion users in the forum.
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2012
  2. mattfrog

    mattfrog Registered Member

    Welcome to the fruity side!

    Suggestions for Mac AV would be between Sophos (free) and ESET (free) - Kaspersky also do a Mac version if I remember rightly too, but not free.

    I have run ESET very happily, it's interface is the same as Windows but with a little Mac finish here and there.
  3. SoCalReviews

    SoCalReviews Registered Member

    I haven't jumped off the Windows ship to join the exclusive Apple boat just yet. For now I still have my old XP system still working and connected along with the Mac Mini to my new 23" Samsung HDTV/ 1080p monitor. In time my Windows software will be running in Mac OSX Parallels. :shifty:

    Thanks for the input. It looks like ESET for Mac gets the nod for now. :thumb: It's not free though. I will probably download the 30 day free trial soon.
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2012
  4. TheKid7

    TheKid7 Registered Member

  5. SoCalReviews

    SoCalReviews Registered Member

    TheKid7, I will check out Dr. Web for Mac as long as it detects Windows viruses too. I will also have to install security AV software on the virtualized Windows OS but at least I have extensive knowledge and experience with those programs.
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2012
  6. xxJackxx

    xxJackxx Registered Member

    If you haven't yet try out VMWare Fusion before you settle on Parallels. From there choose the one you prefer but everyone I know with a Mac has preferred Fusion.
  7. SoCalReviews

    SoCalReviews Registered Member

    Thanks for the advice xxJackxx but I already bought Parallels 7. The online reviews were mostly good and it had some features VMWare didn't have so I went for it. If for some reason it doesn't work out for me I can still give VMWare a try. I have been a Mac "software and accessories review" junkie for the last week while I have been trying to play catch up with everything about Macs and OSX.
  8. SoCalReviews

    SoCalReviews Registered Member

    UDPATE: My new Mac Mini is running great. The machine is small, simple, secure, powerful, flexible, fast and almost silent. OSX is a great base OS to use with VMs. I really haven't seen any slowdown in the Parallels 7 VM environment running Windows OS's with common applications but I haven't done any significant processor intensive applications (games, video editing, etc.) to make a comparison. The latest updated Parallels 7 has run Windows OS's practically flawlessly. After a few minor problems being able to download Windows 8 preview from the link provide by Parallels (I ended up having to download it directly from the MS web site using Safari) and some confusion about the temporary license key I finally got Windows 8 preview 64bit installed and running in Parallels VM. I have already decided to upgrade the memory again from 8GB to 16GB. While 8GB works fine with one 64bit OS running it uses most of the 8GB up I want to be able to have three or more OS's running at the same time in the near future (Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows 8, Linux). With Parallels 7 for Mac I can allocate a specific amount of memory for each OS and 16GB should cover everything I want to run at one time.

    New opinion about Windows 8: After initial negativity based on what I have seen from reviews I have to say that after using the preview version hands on I have changed my opinion about Windows 8. I never owned Windows 7 so I don't have anything but Windows XP and before to compare it to but it definitely is an entirely different experience than any OS I have used before. The minimalist design of the Metro interface is intriguing to me even when used in a desktop environment. The more I used it the more I started to like it. The new Internet Explorer for Windows 8 is one of my favorite of all the current browsers I have used. Metro is visually the opposite experience that OS's have offered since the end of the MS-DOS days. In fact it even reminds me visually of how you would run MS-DOS using a third party program launch interface like Direct Access 5. I know that may sound really bad at first but in a strange way Metro makes the computer OS experience feel simpler and more about the applications and less about a cluttered and complex Windowed point and click environment that we have all grown accustomed to for the last twenty five years. It reinforces a long lost belief that the computer experience should be about running the applications and not about running the OS.

    On the negative side there are some tweaks that need to be made to Metro to make it better in the desktop environment. I won't go into too many details right now but there are some annoyances about it in it's current state that are discussed on most web sites and Youtube video posters that have reviewed it. The most disappointing aspect of Windows 8 is when going back and forth between Metro and the more conventional Windows 7 like desktop. That hybrid experience just doesn't feel right in its current state. Hopefully MS will improve the hybrid experience before the Windows 8 final is released.

    More about the Mac Mini hardware: I continue to discover more advantages to using the Mac Mini hardware. For example, I recently have read that you can use separate wired or wireless keyboard and mouse in addition to the Mac wireless bluetooth simultaneously. This works well if prefer using a more traditional keyboard and mouse for Windows or Linux but still want the native OSX keys and gestures functionality of the Mac keyboard and mouse or track pad. The main hardware issue I have to deal with is finding the right USB to serial, USB to parallel port and other converters so my older printer, fax/modem, etc.. can function in OSX Lion and/or the various virtualized Windows and Linux OS's.
    Last edited: May 5, 2012
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