Which computer do I need?

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Post: #1
Hi guys. New user here.

I want to start developing apps/games for iPhone and I don't have a Mac computer so I need to buy one.

Since I have never used a Mac before, I need some help from you. What do I have to take into account? I'm looking for the cheapest yet suitable solution:

1. MacBook or iMac? I guess that's not important and will depend on what I like best. If that's the case, I'd go for a MacBook (probably the 2GHz/2GB/120GB one).
2. What specs? What's the minimum memory, CPU frequency, HD size, etc. do I need to run Xcode, iPhone simulator and all the needed tools?
3. Maybe I'm forgetting about other things I should have in mind, so feel free to give your opinion.

Thanks in advance!
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Post: #2
Any new MacBook will work fine for iPhone development. Any new minimum spec machine will do.

I wouldn't recommend getting any memory upgrades from Apple though, since they (ridiculously) overcharge for RAM for some unknown reason. I don't know about their international sales but I ordered 4GB RAM from this place for like ninety bucks. You don't have to have a RAM upgrade though. 1 GB will work fine, albeit a little slow launching and switching apps from time to time.
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Post: #3
They quietly bumped the low end MacBook to 2gb recently, so it's even more of a good deal.
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Post: #4
Don't worry about specs for the iPhone Simulator, I use a G4 and it works fine with some modification to install.
But just make sure that you computer is an Intel, not a used G5 or G4.
Then think of what making games for iPhone may cause: full Cocoa Apps for Mac.
If it's games your making then get the high or mid level graphics card, or plan on it later.
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White MacBook (new $999 one with nvidia graphics)+external monitor (20 or 24 inches, 24 recommended ) seems a great choice. Otherwise it will be painful to code on 13 inches.

As far as tech specs the base version will be more than enough.

You could save something with the mac mini but i dont think its worth it.

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New game in development Rubber Ninjas - Mac Games Downloads
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Zwilnik Wrote:They quietly bumped the low end MacBook to 2gb recently, so it's even more of a good deal.

Nice! That shouldn't require any upgrades at all then.

As Najdorf suggests, I too use an external display (20" is all I have right now, but it works fine for me). 13" is fine for portability, but I wouldn't want to code on it normally.
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Post: #7
I bought a second hand macbook for just 400 euros.
BTW, programming in a 13 inches screen is horrible.
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I should think even a mac mini would be fine, but I haven't used one. The nice thing about the mini is that if you already have a monitor, keyboard and mouse you can just use those and reduce your costs.
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Post: #9
Thanks for your answers!

Oddity007 Wrote:If it's games your making then get the high or mid level graphics card, or plan on it later.
Yes, I'll need it mostly for coding games for the iPhone. Do you mean that if I use OpenGL I'll need a better graphics card? Isn't the default one enough? I was thinking of buying the cheapest MacBook and the specs say this about the graphics card: "NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics processor with 256MB of DDR3 SDRAM shared with main memory". My games are not going to have very complex scenes. In fact, I'll start with simple 2D graphics, even though I'll use OpenGL for them.

Najdorf Wrote:White MacBook (new $999 one with nvidia graphics)+external monitor (20 or 24 inches, 24 recommended ) seems a great choice. Otherwise it will be painful to code on 13 inches.
That's something I'm a bit worried about. I mean, I know that 13" is not enough for coding, but I don't like the idea of having to buy an external monitor specially since I've already got one. Will I be able to connect the MacBook to a normal LCD monitor (Benq) through DVI? I know MacBook doesn't have a DVI output, but what about a converter from Mini DisplayPort to DVI? Does it exist/work?

Blacktiger Wrote:I should think even a mac mini would be fine, but I haven't used one. The nice thing about the mini is that if you already have a monitor, keyboard and mouse you can just use those and reduce your costs.
The problem I see with MacMinis is that, sure they're cheaper, but they "only" have 1GB of RAM. Also, even if I'll code using a monitor most of the time, I like they idea of MacBook being portable. Oh, and I don't know about how powerful its graphics card is.
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Post: #10
The built in graphics on the current base end MacBook or MacMini is fine for the iPhone simulator and if you're writing Mac games at some point, they're perfect for making sure it works on the lowest possible graphics card.

You need an adaptor to go from the mini display socket on the MacBook to DVI (it's a different one for the old-design white MacBook from the one on the new aluminium designs btw), but it's only about £15. Other than that it's absolutely standard and works with any DVI or SVGA monitors (there's a separate adaptor for SVGA) and you can even get an SVHS adaptor to connect it to a TV.

If you need more than one external monitor on a MacBook (or a 2nd monitor on a Mac mini), check out my review of the MIMO UM-730 screen on the iDevGames.com front page.
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Zwilnik Wrote:You need an adaptor to go from the mini display socket on the MacBook to DVI (it's a different one for the old-design white MacBook from the one on the new aluminium designs btw), but it's only about £15. Other than that it's absolutely standard and works with any DVI or SVGA monitors (there's a separate adaptor for SVGA) and you can even get an SVHS adaptor to connect it to a TV.
That's great news. Grin If that's the case, I'll go for the cheapest MacBook then.
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Post: #12
I got a Mac mini, and I'm using 19" monitor, keyboard, and mouse that I already had around.

Remember to run the monitor calibration! My display was disappointingly washed out until I ran it.
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Post: #13
Zwilnik Wrote:The built in graphics on the current base end MacBook or MacMini is fine for the iPhone simulator and if you're writing Mac games at some point, they're perfect for making sure it works on the lowest possible graphics card.
And really, the 9400M is a decent card. Much better than the Intel integrated crap from the previous revision. I can run Fallout 3 pretty well and GTA IV supposedly runs decently too.
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Josh Wrote:And really, the 9400M is a decent card. Much better than the Intel integrated crap from the previous revision. I can run Fallout 3 pretty well and GTA IV supposedly runs decently too.

Agreed, even lowest end macbooks have that now, mac minis are stuck with the gma 950.

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I bought a mac mini (2gb ram), 8gb ipod touch, wireless keyboard/mouse for about $1100. I didnt get a laptop because it would be more expensive and I wouldnt have the cash to get the ipod touch also. Laptop prices are always going down (at least in the PC world), I figure I can wait before I get a MacBook Air/Pro.
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