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What type of MAC is recommended for a student art lab?

Hey everyone, I provide PC services for a number of non-profit charities.  However, we don't normally deal in MACs.  That being said, we have a charity client who is being given grant money to purcahse MACs for an after school program that will teach them photoshop and various other art programs.  The teacher is paid for by the grant as well.

They are going to be using Photoshop CS3 or CS4 and perhaps some other adobe products.  That being said, we don't normally deal in MACs.  However, given the charity nature of the client I'd love to help.  Can you Mac Guru's help recommend a good MAC model for them?  I can build and quote PC's in my sleep, but I seldom venture into the Mac World.

It's going to be as follows:

Used in a lab setting, probably about 10 of them total.  There is already a 16 port switch in the room to give them internet access.  They need to run various Adobe art apps.  What's a good model to look at for them in their grant money?

Thanks in advance for your help and please forgive my MAC ignroance!  We are only using them because the grant requires it!

I just want to make sure they get good models that can run the art class.  It's for a good cause!
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8/22/2022 - Mon

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Strung's suggestion is probably the best.  If money is tight at all a 20" iMac will work just fine... I have two at my desk at home. But the 24" isn't much more money and the extra scree real estate is wonderful. Make sure that it comes with a hard drive with a size that's appropriate and at least 2 GB of RAM.. although with what you're doing 4 GB wouldn't be unreasonable.

The iMac will pretty much come with everything you need built-in... A good choice.

Thanks guys!  So what I'm looking at right now is as follows:

24" iMacs for the lab.  
Art and Productivity Software (Adobe and Microsoft Office most likely)

1. What I need is a good MAC comatible photo quality printer for printing the Photoshop creations

 2. A good network hard drive.  On PC's I've used things like the Netgear ReadyNAS, etc.  The only catch is this lab is being administred by a charity teacher after we set it up, so it can't be anything complicated. Does anyone recommend a network storage device (just for students to archive there work on) that is easy to access on MAC ?


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William Peck

I'd check out the Epson line of ink jet printers.  They have some new lines that do a fine job.  If you want an overall good model that will do photos and more, I'd check out the Artisan or Workforce lines.  I'm not real familiar with the photo- only models.  

I haven't used any NAS type devices with my Mac specifically, but the ones from IOmega (Storage Pro) see like nice ones... if you're looking to put one on the LAN.  You can also buy nice USB/firewire ones that plug into the Mac...500GB for less than $200 USD.

P.S., if you combine Leopard's built-in Time Machine Software:  http://www.apple.com/macosx/features/timemachine.html

with a 1 Terabyte Apple Time Capsule:  http://www.apple.com/timecapsule/

you can set it up to do automatic incremental backups of user's folders on the iMacs. These backups will allow a user to "go back in time" to earlier versions of their work if they need to. By defaults the incremental backups are done hourly.

If you run out of storage with 1 Terabyte, you can hang one or more USB drives off the Time Capsule's USB port and turn those into network drives too. You can connect to the Time Capsule by 802.11N wireless or by Gigabit ethernet. (The iMacs come standard with both).


You said gigabit ethernet or wifi. I'm assuming it will work with 10/100 also?  The switch in the lab is not gigabit (10/100/1000). Thanks!
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Will work with 10/100 too.
Irwin W.

Time Capsule will work but when you start getting into networking etc, don't Time Machine the clients.  Use A server for storage of the files and backup theserver with a good backup software.

When you start doing things like large file transfers, as your Photoshop and Illustrator files will grow in no time and when the clients start pounding your server for the apps, one of the lower end NAS may not give you the throughput that the clients desire.

Lastly, I would recommend getting a Mac Mini(Max out the RAM) for about $1100USD, add the drobo http://drobo.com/resources/drobodemo.php(about $500USD)

The xServe will give options such as netboot/netinstall(similar the Windows RIS).  IT will also give Open Directory(similar to Active Directory for Windows).  When you start deploying Macs the netboot netinstall will drastically improve your time spent reinstalling the machines.

Thanks for the suggestion.  I don't know if it will be completely neccesary here though as it will be a basic lab with less than 10 machines, and the students will only keep their art work on the machine for one semester at a time then it will be printed and deleted (unless they want to use a thumb drive to keep a copy).

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