What is the cheapest available Mac that is good enough to make apps?

Discussion in 'Public Game Developers Forum' started by GatorDeb, Mar 9, 2009.

  1. GatorDeb

    GatorDeb Well-Known Member

    Feb 1, 2009
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    Las Vegas, NV, USA
    I want to make an app (even have an idea!) and would love to get a Mac. What's the cheapest Mac that will get the job done?
     
  2. CandyNJ66

    CandyNJ66 Well-Known Member

    Feb 18, 2009
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    I wish there was a cheap mac Deb heh. I think some of the Powerbook ones aren't that pricey. Amazon.com I think has listings of them. I envy you girl...they look awesome.

    What idea do you have? PM it to me :)
     
  3. dannys95

    dannys95 Well-Known Member

    Sep 29, 2008
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    You need OS X so the cheapest would be a Mac mini which is $600. Devs say they are perfect for making apps so there you go. I too have an idea and will be getting a MB soon so stay tuned. But the coding is hard! Be warned. :cool:
     
  4. GatorDeb

    GatorDeb Well-Known Member

    Feb 1, 2009
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    $600 is too much :(

    I don't really WANT to do the programming. What's the best way to find a programmer who WON'T rip my idea off and will share profits equally? (either 2-way or 3-way (with a designer) or 4-way (with a publisher).

    P.S. Not talking about you ripping it off Candy I'm just too tired to type a whole lot right now :D
     
  5. InsertWittyName

    InsertWittyName Well-Known Member

    Nov 26, 2008
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    You generally won't get a lot for coming up with an idea.

    Just a forewarning.
     
  6. WellSpentYouth

    WellSpentYouth Well-Known Member

    Jan 11, 2009
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    App Tech Studios, USA
    If you have "an idea", a programmer most likely wouldn't split it with you. My friends and family give me plenty of ideas. Programming is fun, but is hard to learn. Again, you can't get paid half share for "an idea". That said, I encourage you to get a mac and make it yourself!! I am not trying to be mean, I an just stating the facts. Good luck!
     
  7. Adams Immersive

    Adams Immersive Well-Known Member

    Dec 5, 2008
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    Cheapest Mac: Mac Mini.

    Cheapest SOURCES of Macs (you can do better than $599):
    Education discount (if you're a student or school employee)
    Apple Refurbished (have full warranty--see bottom-left of Apple store page)
    Amazon.com

    Or you could go the used route WITHOUT warranty and look on eBay, if you're feeling adventurous.

    Just be sure you get a Mac with an Intel processor and Leopard, aka OS X 10.5 (all recent Macs are fine--some older used ones are not).

    Also, some additional savings: if you have a PC now and expect to require Windows in future, you might be able to sell the PC and then buy a copy of Windows (if you don't already have one) to put on the Mac. Macs are also Windows PCs--they just don't come with Windows pre-installed.
     
  8. jaemcsd

    jaemcsd Member

    Feb 19, 2009
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    Put a post on oDesk.com to hire a programmer. If it is really, really small (basically does nothing) and you have all the graphics and sounds it needs (if any) then you could get it done for a few hundred.

    + mac mini for $600 (if you already have a keyboard, mouse & monitor)
    + $99 to join as an Apple Developer
    + $250-1000 if you need any artwork or graphics done

    To share revenue it needs to be the best idea ever that nobody has ever thought of before. If it is kinda like program X but with a little of Y thrown in, forget it.
     
  9. PointOfLight

    PointOfLight Well-Known Member

    Dec 29, 2008
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    @Adams Immersive: Thanks for the tip on the refurbished section of the store. I had never noticed that before. Unfortunately, they don't have any Mac minis right now, and their cheapest refurbished is $850 bucks. I imagine that's something you'd have to check on a regular basis, though.

    @jaemcsd: Will a standard PC VGA monitor plug work with a Mac mini? I've been considering getting into this game myself, and I could probably swing the bare-bones Mac mini, but if I have to start adding in things like keyboard, mouse and monitor it's probably going to run me too much.
     
  10. jaemcsd

    jaemcsd Member

    Feb 19, 2009
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    #10 jaemcsd, Mar 9, 2009
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2009
    The new Mini that came out last week (with Nvidia video card) will need a VGA adaptor for $20. I would get the new one if you want to make or play games.

    The 'old' one with the Intel video card comes with it already.

    Apple is selling the old ones on clearance: http://store.apple.com/us/browse/home/specialdeals/clearance?mco=MTE3Njg

    Any usb keyboard/mouse should work fine.
     
  11. sticktron

    sticktron Well-Known Member

    If you already own a relatively modern PC, there is an alternative to buying a Mac: install OS X on your PC.
     
  12. PointOfLight

    PointOfLight Well-Known Member

    Dec 29, 2008
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    Once again, I appreciate the info. Are you saying that you don't think the old one is good enough for making games, or is it just a personal preference towards the new one? I don't want to make a bad decision if I do this, but seeing as I don't really have the money anyway, $100 is a big difference. I did notice that there were no upgrade options for the clearance model, which certainly makes sense. Can you buy and install memory yourself, or does this violate Apple's warranty? On the flip side, would 1GB be sufficient for development? At this point I really don't see myself using the machine for anything outside of programming.
     
  13. Zwilnik

    Zwilnik Well-Known Member

    Not reliable enough for proper iPhone dev and it's breaking the developer agreement with Apple so you could easily find all your hard work rejected.
     
  14. Zwilnik

    Zwilnik Well-Known Member

    If it's a Mac, has an Intel chip in it and is running OS X 10.5 Leopard, it's enough to write iPhone apps with. The newer Mac minis are better value for money than the previous ones for the same price, but if you can pick up an older one at a clearance price it may be a better deal for you.
     
  15. PointOfLight

    PointOfLight Well-Known Member

    Dec 29, 2008
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    My PC would definitely not work for this (I've already looked into it), and from what I understand, it violates the OS X license agreement anyway. If I was doing this for fun I'd consider it, but since I want to develop and sell games, I want this all to be legitimate. Of course, if someone could prove me wrong on this point I know a place where I can get a non-Apple machine with OS X installed a lot cheaper than Apple.
     
  16. Adams Immersive

    Adams Immersive Well-Known Member

    Dec 5, 2008
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    #16 Adams Immersive, Mar 9, 2009
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2009
    I'd say 1 GB is "sufficient" for just about anything these days (short of pro media production and some games). But 2 GB will be BETTER for just about anything: fewer "wait cursors" while data swaps from the hard disk, especially. 1 GB will make the machine feel slower, but still usable for your needs.

    You can install RAM in the Mini later (and macsales.com or some other 3rd party will sell RAM cheaper than Apple). But I don't know whether it violates your warranty! It doesn't on other Macs, but on the Mini? I'm not sure--I know it's a little tricky (needs a putty knife) to open up.

    I'd say an older Intel Mini with Leopard would be fine. The biggest difference with the new ones will be 3D graphics performance for games. Not important to you probably.

    And the timing is right: new Minis just came out, so the Minis that were current models a week ago are now on clearance! That $499 model should be sufficient for your needs. And it comes with the VGA monitor adapter in the box--which I don't think the new ones do.

    You could pay more for more HD and more RAM, and those are great to have, but if you're on a budget, $499 for a Mac with the latest 10.5 OS and full warranty ain't bad!

    As for keyboard/mouse: anything USB should work fine. (Old PS/2 keyboards and mouse would need an adapter, and those adapters can be finicky, as I discovered the hard way.)

    And of course you'll also need to learn to program in Cocoa (using Xcode, the free software platform from Apple for making both Mac and iPhone apps). But there are a ton of free Cocoa and Xcode learning resources out there--starting with Apple's own videos and tutorials, and your local library.

    One last thing: if your idea is a 3D game, I can highly recommend the Unity engine. Additional cost, but it's a nice engine to work with, and I know non-programmers who have used it to learn programming and now have apps on the store. Disclaimer: I have never shipped a game for any platform with Unity, nor have I ever used the iPhone version. I HAVE used the regular Mac/Windows Unity to make good progress on a partial game, enough that I feel confident about using it to move to iPhone later.
     
  17. jaemcsd

    jaemcsd Member

    Feb 19, 2009
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    The $499 old one is plenty of power to make any of the programs that will run on the iPhone. It's just that if you are making games using a lot of graphics programs the new ones will run faster. Or if you want a computer that will play just about any game, the newer ones would work better. Making any productivity app or even a basic game like a match 3, any intel Mac with OSX10.5 would be more than enough. I almost got one of the Mini's and was waiting for the new ones, but decided to get a MacBook instead.
     
  18. PointOfLight

    PointOfLight Well-Known Member

    Dec 29, 2008
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    Right now I'm not worried about 3D, not really worried about playing games, and probably not even too concerned about graphics (I know a couple people that if I'm lucky, I might be able to persuade them into creating the graphics for me). So from the sounds of it, the clearance Mac Mini will suit my needs just fine. And, if this ends up being something I really want to pursue, at that point I'll consider upgrading to a full blown Mac Something. Thanks to everyone for all your input, even though I wasn't the one that started this thread :D
     
  19. yourofl10

    yourofl10 Well-Known Member

    Dec 11, 2008
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    Soo u can strip your PC OS and but in Mac OS X I see but its not legal or what ever right?
     
  20. sticktron

    sticktron Well-Known Member

    No need to "strip" anything, just install OS X on a separate partition and dual-boot. It helps if your PC hardware is similar to what they use in current Macs, since there are far fewer device drivers available for the OS X platform.

    It's not "legal", and it's not as ideal as having an actual Mac, but for those who want to explore OS X and iPhone development it's a great way to start for free.
     

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