Since obviously money is not an issue (you are buying a Mac) then I recommend getting as much RAM as you can squeeze into it, starting at 2GB and going up as your wallet holds out. Yes you should be ok with the 8800.
Nvidia or ATI? Well I thought that most midline GPUs nowadays were equipped to run two monitors....but maybe it's just the ones I have looked at.
To address that question first: you can of course run a second screen on the latest iMacs.
Your PS Performance should be ok with the 2,4GHz version equipped with 4Gig of RAM (it doesn't supports more). It comes with the ATI HD2600, which should be fine for work in PS. No Nvidia Gforce in iMacs afaik.
My general advice would be if you're windows experienced and want to save some money and dont want an built-in display - go for a pc instead.
The Mac Pro is ridiculously overpriced in my opinion but if money indeed is not an issue or your're happy with the iMac then enjoy your new mac. It's a great thing.
I'm also looking at this option. Here are some of my thoughts and research:
- I don't think a high end graphics card is necessary for photoshopping, these are aimed mostly at the 3d/gaming side of things.
- RAM is always nice, the more the merrier. Just check whether the Photoshop Mac version has a usage limit (shouldn't be an issue).
- The system I'm contemplating is a MacBook Pro 15.4" 2.4 Ghz (the new ones, cheapest model) along with a 20"/23" Cinema display. Should give you enough USB ports, plus the MBPs come standard with 2GB of memory instead of one. This also allows a dual screen setup, and if you get the 17" MBP with LED screen you can configure it to have exactly the same resolution as your Cinema Display, both 20" and 23" models. Lastly it's portable. Cons are ultra super expensive costs and there are a few trade offs. Your HD won't be as fast unless you order a faster one (extra ching) and your performance takes a slight dip (guessing about 5-10%) over the iMac equivalent due to mobile tech. Still, unless you're working with A1 300 dpi posters, I don't really see how this'll be a huge issue.
hope this helps some, just a thought though.
Have you used a Mac before? I'm not sure why you think it has to be a Mac. In fact, most people in the concept world use PCs, due to the fact that their machine needing to do 3D content creation as well.
Also, you have really awesome opportunity in PC space to buy a machine that is much more useful for your endeavors then a boring iMac. You can buy a Tablet PC. The benefits of TPC over an iMac is way greater than it's defecits:
1. Draw/paint right on the screen
2. You can be mobile
3. You get much better bang for the buck
20" iMac is $1500, and you can't do 1 or 2 from above. And the $1300 Gateway C-141XL already comes with 3GB of RAM. The iMac comes with only 1GB, way too little for art.
If you are already a Mac user, then ignore all that above. I don't want to talk folks into switching platforms for no reason. But if you are a PC person, I think it might not be the best decision to buy a Mac just because you have to do art.
ikuru, Macs last a long time. Best thing to do is to buy the biggest most powerful Mac you can get your hands on that you can afford (then work it to death), with 2-4 gig of ram, and TWO drives as big as you can afford installed--and I mean BIG. The extra graphics card is only necessary (I think) if you want to run multiple 30" screens. Otherwise, you should be fine for multiple 20"-24"s.
Keep the primary reason you're getting a comp in front of you when you make a decision...work, longevity, work, stability, adaptability, work...and a lot of the stuff (accessories) meant for non-Macs will still work with an Intel Mac, so you're not cutting off all your supply possibilities.
For what you want to do, laptops are just toys as far as I'm concerned. They're nice, but you aren't going to be doing serious work on somebody's front steps, so why waste the money and add the increased possibility of damage or theft? And every time I look at the laptops in the media, it seems there's a problem with batteries, overheating, the screens, or some other little thing. And the screen can only be so big, so right there, you're limited.
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