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Old Feb 4, 2013, 04:25 PM   #1
macdud
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Mac Pro Quad vs iMac i7

I know the pros & cons of a tower vs. iMac (upgradability, servicing, heat etc etc) but was curious if on pure performance the new iMac with 3.1/3.7 i7 quads beat the 3.2 Xeon quads currently equipping the Mac Pros. i'm talking with the same amount of ram (8gb) and HD (7200 rpm).

I'm asking because i had my heart set on a Mac Pro (even though i know the life cycle is ending) but this article made me reconsider: http://www.macworld.com/article/1160...eimac2011.html

btw, i do pro audio (heavy pro tools sessions)
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Old Feb 4, 2013, 05:36 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by macdud View Post
I know the pros & cons of a tower vs. iMac (upgradability, servicing, heat etc etc) but was curious if on pure performance the new iMac with 3.1/3.7 i7 quads beat the 3.2 Xeon quads currently equipping the Mac Pros. i'm talking with the same amount of ram (8gb) and HD (7200 rpm).

I'm asking because i had my heart set on a Mac Pro (even though i know the life cycle is ending) but this article made me reconsider: http://www.macworld.com/article/1160...eimac2011.html

btw, i do pro audio (heavy pro tools sessions)
Short answer, the i7 in the new iMac is faster than the 3.2GHz Quad-Core Xeon in the Mac Pro. The new iMac also has faster RAM, USB 3.0, and ThunderBolt. That being said, the 3.2GHz Mac Pro is no slouch, and I like it better than the new iMac. If you need more speed in your Mac Pro, you can always drop in the 3.33GHz Hex processor, and you will experience a noticeable speed difference.
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Old Feb 4, 2013, 05:45 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by macdud View Post
I know the pros & cons of a tower vs. iMac (upgradability, servicing, heat etc etc) but was curious if on pure performance the new iMac with 3.1/3.7 i7 quads beat the 3.2 Xeon quads currently equipping the Mac Pros. i'm talking with the same amount of ram (8gb) and HD (7200 rpm).

I'm asking because i had my heart set on a Mac Pro (even though i know the life cycle is ending) but this article made me reconsider: http://www.macworld.com/article/1160...eimac2011.html

btw, i do pro audio (heavy pro tools sessions)
I do the same work and I too was waiting, waiting, waiting....Now we have this utterly ridiculous EU ban on the Pro due to it not having fan guards. Anyway, I decided on a BTO iMac 27". It's way faster than my buddies Pro, eats all I throw at it, and although its only a month in, I'm convinced I made the right choice.

It is totally maxed out, 32GB ram 2GB VRAM etc. and I went for the 3TB Fusion drive. It was a case of wait no longer, but there is no compromise in performance here at all...I highly recommend you get hands on with one if you can....I'm saddened by the lack of the new Pro, but am happy with my new IMac.
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Old Feb 4, 2013, 08:32 PM   #4
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And one for the Mac Pro:

Yes the CPUs are outdated, and yes it is not upgraded to USB3 and Thunderbolt, but you can buy your way out of that...

It is not all about CPU power. Take an MP, and you can put in one or two high-end graphics cards - CUDA cards if you like.

You can put in SSDs in Raid0, via a PCIe card, or even better, put in an Accelsior card with 960GB. You can even buy two Velocity cards, and basically have 4 SSDs in Raid0. Nothing beats that kind of performance!

Thunderbolt is just PCIe over a cable, and soon I am sure you will be able to buy OCIe expansion cards with Thunderbolt.

I know it is pricey, but when a new MP eventually comes out (and it will), you can still put the good ol' HDD back in, along with the original graphics card, and use your "upgrade" in your even newer machine.

Try that with an iMac, which will loose value most most faster, and which you cannot upgrade in any way, except RAM, and that's only if you have the 27".
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Old Feb 4, 2013, 09:10 PM   #5
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i think i'm just going to wait a little longer... imac i7 is clearly the better bang for the buck at the moment but i really want a mac pro and i'm sure they're about to drop (if anything the EU ban may speed up the new model release, wishful thinking i know )
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Old Feb 5, 2013, 12:43 AM   #6
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i think i'm just going to wait a little longer... imac i7 is clearly the better bang for the buck at the moment but i really want a mac pro and i'm sure they're about to drop (if anything the EU ban may speed up the new model release, wishful thinking i know )
If that does happen, I won't lose much if I decide to sell the new iMac and go for a Pro, but I would only do that if I start hitting slowdowns etc. hasn't happened yet, and I'm working it hard.
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Old Feb 5, 2013, 12:44 AM   #7
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I'm in the same boat. Also a heavy Pro Tools user. I'm wondering if the iMac CPU could be upgraded down the line?
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Old Feb 5, 2013, 01:00 AM   #8
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I'm in the same boat. Also a heavy Pro Tools user. I'm wondering if the iMac CPU could be upgraded down the line?
It occurred to me that if Apple did kill off the Pro, then they would pretty much HAVE to offer a wider choice of CPU's, but I do think we will see a new Pro this year.
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Old Feb 5, 2013, 03:17 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by macdud View Post
I'm asking because i had my heart set on a Mac Pro (even though i know the life cycle is ending) but this article made me reconsider: http://www.macworld.com/article/1160...eimac2011.html

btw, i do pro audio (heavy pro tools sessions)
How noise-sensitive are you? Reason I'm asking is that the Mac Pro's noise levels under stress will probably be far lower than the high-pitched whine you'll get with any iMac under the same load.

Okay, I'll admit - I have no experience with the current breed of Pro's, but my 3.1 Octo does not change its noise level noticeable, even after working 800% on handbrake after two hours.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Macman45 View Post
Now we have this utterly ridiculous EU ban on the Pro due to it not having fan guards.
You know what I think is ridiculous? The ban has been in the works for years. It's been publicized for the first time back in 2009 what the regulation will demand. So in my mind, it's ridiculous, that Apple has had all this time to react and has done exactly nothing.

RGDS,
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Old Feb 5, 2013, 03:29 AM   #10
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The Mac Pro also has ECC and more CPU cache.

Depending on what you are doing, the Xeons can still be faster. You can also fit a heap more memory, which depending on what you are doing can often be a lot more important than CPU speed - it doesn't matter how fast your CPU is if the machine is forced to page to disk. And yes, even with 32 GB, some people have workloads bigger than that.
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Old Feb 5, 2013, 03:41 AM   #11
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All top models are roughly the same speed today (13000-14000 range on Geekbench). Top MBpro and Mini are just a little behind the Pro and the iMac (less than 10% slower in speed). If you need to connect FireWire mixing panels and a mobile solution, the Mini is awesome for music (where GPU is not so relevant).
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Old Feb 5, 2013, 03:47 AM   #12
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All top models are roughly the same speed today (13000-14000 range on Geekbench). Top MBpro and Mini are just a little behind the Pro and the iMac (less than 10% slower in speed). If you need to connect FireWire mixing panels and a mobile solution, the Mini is awesome for music (where GPU is not so relevant).
Adding in fast RAID0 arrays helps too...I have an R4, but am about to daisy chain an R8 to add more real-time work in T/bolt is a reality with this setup...I'll hang in there and like I said, unless I hit beach balls I'm happy.
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Old Feb 5, 2013, 06:58 AM   #13
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I know it is pricey
Actually, not as much. I did some 'back of the envelope' calculations using current prices for both and assuming I could add the upgrades I wanted (which I can not) like a 3.5 SSD sitting next to a 3.5 HDD and a full size nvidia. With the exception of the monitor the two machines were roughly comparable and I usually allocate 3K for a new machine.

Two things that really help here. If money is the holdup most of the upgrades on the pro can be done later ... but with the iMac it makes sense to do all of them up front. You can also reuse components in your next machine (the lcd at the very least) thus dropping the price considerably.
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Old Feb 5, 2013, 07:27 AM   #14
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some good points in favor of the MP... it's just annoying that the i7 imac has faster performance and ram speed then the MP.. such things have happened before in apple world (lower-end cannibalizing high-end) usually when a line is at the end of it's life cycle.. i'm gonna hold my breath a bit longer and see what apple has in store (btw a trivial but cool fact was tim cook announcing the Mac Pros production will be shifted to the US of A, i smell a major revision )
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Old Feb 5, 2013, 07:48 AM   #15
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In real life usage I am not sure how much faster the iMac actually is.

With the non-Apple graphics card options you can add a GTX570 with fantastic CUDA performance, and then your Adobe apps really shine. With a GTX680 you get gaming possibilities that even the best graphics option in the iMac (NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675MX) cannot deliver.

And with the Accelsior card you totally outshine the fusion drive.

And, these are all options which you can take with you.
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Old Feb 5, 2013, 08:29 AM   #16
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Thunderbolt is just PCIe over a cable, and soon I am sure you will be able to buy OCIe expansion cards with Thunderbolt.
No it isn't. Thunderbolt is a new protocol, PCI-e that multiplexes both DisplayPort and PCI-e over a cable.

Intel has said from the start there are no PCI Thunderbolt cards coming soon.

There already exists a external PCI-e standard.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PCI_Exp...ternal_Cabling

There is zero rational motivation to create another, more proprietary, one that does exactly the some function. Thunderbolt is not external PCI-e.

No Thunderbolt contraptions have passed certification. They can't be labeled Thunderbolt and don't receive volume allocation of TB controllers.

Even though you can't "buy a card" out of the issue, the need for Thunderbolt is questionable. Unless, a user sinks significant money into Thunderbolt devices there is no pressing need. PCI-e cards bring the Mac Pro into parity with just about any TB device. It is a minor form factor difference: embedded the PCI-e card's core into the external device or just use a PCI-e card and different, often cheaper, cabling.
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Old Feb 5, 2013, 08:45 AM   #17
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My mistake - I only meant to simplify the functionality of the Thunderbolt bus.

Looking around at various links I am surprised there is no add-in card that at least allows Thunderbolt devices to connect o the Mac Pro. Is that not just a question of time?
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Old Feb 5, 2013, 08:50 AM   #18
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(btw a trivial but cool fact was tim cook announcing the Mac Pros production will be shifted to the US of A, i smell a major revision )
But it isn't a fact. Cook said some relatively low volume product would be moved back. Lots of folks read between the lines to assign that to a Mac Pro. It could be another Mac, even though the Mac Pro is likely the slowest moving Mac. Pretty sure Apple still has their idled Ireland facility too that used to make Mac Pros.

Moving the lower volume Mac products out of China is a good move. Having the totality of Mac worldwide production clustered in a relatively small geographic area is a bad risk decision. (e.g.., the Thai floods and HDDs market impact about two years ago. )



A non-trivial revision is plainly evident because they haven't launched something new, 6 months after saying were going to do something.
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Old Feb 5, 2013, 09:34 AM   #19
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Looking around at various links I am surprised there is no add-in card that at least allows Thunderbolt devices to connect o the Mac Pro. Is that not just a question of time?
No. Three factors. First, Intel is the only supplier of Thunderbolt controllers. It does not look like that is going to change any time soon. That means anyone trying to do something that breaks the "rules" on how Thunderbolt is to be implemented can be cut off from controllers.

Second, IHMO likely a bargain the worked out with the DisplayPort folks on hijacking their port for Thunderbolt. All computers will output DP without exception. If users have a expectation that can plug a DP monitor into a DP port and it works then that shouldn't be broken. A "maybe it will, maybe it won't" implementation of Thunderbolt will not promote DisplayPort as a video connection standard. The port would be hijacked by Intel with little to no upside for DisplayPort.

Third, Intel gets an added benefit because their iGPU solutions are the easiest, most cost effective way in the vast majority of contexts to deliver this DisplayPort output. Intel is already the largest graphics producer. This just keeps the upward momentum going strong. So no, Intel is not motivated at all to give AMD/NVidia discrete solutions an easy leg-up upon most computers. Workstations (with GPU less CPU packages) are the only context.... for now. If Intel weaves an iGPU into a future E5 class offerings even that window will close.

iGPUs are entrench just as deeply in AMD the portfolo of AMD designs. I don't think AMD wants to put an Intel part into their reference designs. (that just means more money for Intel to beat them up with). However, at some point TB may get critical mass and they have no choice. That would be mean an even smaller set of systems that would need it. If pushed to Xeon E5 and Operton class machines being the only ones, then no... there is no large market motivator for some 3rd party workaround card to solve a "problem" those machines typically don't have (lack of PCI-e slots and/or multiple video outputs).

PCI-e/PCI slots are not always a panacea cure-all.
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Old Feb 5, 2013, 09:42 AM   #20
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Are you going with the TB "Native" setup? seems the best option available for an iMac.

If you get a mac pro, you have all the options. HDX (heck, it does all the work for you on its DSP's), Native on a PCIe card (better latency #'s)..

If i had the choice, and this was my bread and butter, I'd probably get a used or refurb'd 2010 from the apple store, then upgrade the cpu's.

YMMV.
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Old Feb 7, 2013, 07:20 AM   #21
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I really would like to go with AVID's TB solution hence swinging in favour of a maxed out 27 inch iMac. I'm just really not sure that the iMac's i7 will manage a large session with a lot of plugs. I just thought (perhaps foolishly) that I could just swap out the i7 CPU for a Xeon down the line.
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Old Feb 7, 2013, 08:45 AM   #22
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I really would like to go with AVID's TB solution hence swinging in favour of a maxed out 27 inch iMac. I'm just really not sure that the iMac's i7 will manage a large session with a lot of plugs. I just thought (perhaps foolishly) that I could just swap out the i7 CPU for a Xeon down the line.
Remember, also, that if you don't need the latest and/or greatest, PT10 HD systems are flying off peoples shelves at absolutely ridiculous discounts - I've seen HD2 and even some HD3 systems with one of their 192 a/d units under $2500.

YMMV! Best luck whichever way you go. Hard to beat ~4 samples latency of the HD setup.
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Old Feb 7, 2013, 10:24 AM   #23
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Oh that's very interesting to know. Thanks very much!
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Old Apr 17, 2013, 05:46 PM   #24
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I was also debating this myself. As I need more memory than the iMac can be upgraded to. The TB is convenient when adding additional TB Displays and a TB raid. The speed is great. If I want to do that with the MP, then I could use a NAS for the storage but would go with two GPU's to have each drive a TB Display. I would like to wait until the new MP's are released but not sure when that would happen and when it does, not sure if it will have TB or not. Sure I can use Firewire for immediate storage needs and a NAS for mass storage needs but neither comes close to performance to the TB. Well, guess I could get a 10 bay NAS and stripe across all 10 drives but then I would saturate my GIG-E whenever I needed to copy gigs of files. So, get MP now or wait till years end, hmmm.
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Old Apr 17, 2013, 06:15 PM   #25
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If you want a new display and decent GPU, the iMac is very compelling.

Consider:
27" ACD - $999
Nvidia GTX 680 - $599

With the iMac buy a 27" ACD and 680M and they'll throw in a Quad Core computer for just $547. Not bad. You can buy a lot of cool TB accessories with the $2000 you save.
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