2008 mac pro vs i7 imac

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by jayjohnson, Nov 18, 2009.

  1. jayjohnson macrumors newbie

    Nov 18, 2009

    I am in the market for a new mac for audio production and am not sure what to get. I am considering the new i7 imacs but the lack of expansion worries me. I could also, for a few hundred dollars more, get a 2008 8 core (2xquad core) mac pro second hand. I have heard that these work better with audio at the moment because there are problems with hyper threading in the 2009 mac's. However what concerns me about getting the MP is that it will be "obsolete" in a year or two's time.

    I mainly will be using logic 9 with lots of software instruments and pluggins loaded so processing power and ram are very important. However, I will also use pro tools le 8 for mixing, which tends to work better with a second internal drive rather than an external firewire drive (my only choice on imac). I have also heard reports that hyper threading doesn't work too well with pro tools and audio in general but that may change when things start running natively at 64 bit.

    Anyone got any thoughts on the matter?
  2. thunderboltspro macrumors regular

    Oct 4, 2009
    It depends on what you call out dated. If it can successfully run what you need then upgrading wouldnt be necessary but any who i would go with the mac pro. Easier to upgrade ram, hard drive etc and will give you the power you will need.

    if your really hurting for space imac would be a better choice i guess.
  3. Badger^2 macrumors 68000


    Oct 29, 2009
    what are you using now?

    With a fast 2TB internal drive (which you can install yourself), theres no need to run PT externally...
  4. jayjohnson thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 18, 2009
    Actually there is, pro tools does not support recording to a system drive. If you try to record to a system drive you get disk errors. Therefore a second drive dedicated to audio is a must.
  5. rpaloalto macrumors 6502a


    Sep 19, 2005
    Palo Alto CA.
    Go for the second hand macpro. It's a work horse.
    You can push it all day and not worry about heat. Way more expandability and up to 4 hard drives. Plus your monitor, whatever monitor you have. Is kept separate. What more could you ask for.
  6. jayjohnson thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 18, 2009
    Yeah that's the general conclusion I am coming to after reading up on other forums. I guess my only concern is that new mac pros are due out early next year and there's rumors that they'll be 12 core with HT. But then again there's always something new to get 'gear lust' for.
  7. MacKiddyWiddy macrumors 6502

    Aug 18, 2009
    mac pro i'd say, there are some good refurbs on the apple store... check it out [​IMG]
  8. ildondeigiocchi macrumors 6502a


    Dec 30, 2007
    Go with the Mac Pro... I promise you'll love it and you'll never settle for anything less in the future. :D
  9. jayjohnson thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 18, 2009
    Any other opinions? Anyone got a new i7 imac?
  10. Flynnstone macrumors 65816


    Feb 25, 2003
    Cold beer land
    What do you have now?

    It looks like 2 drives minimum is one of your important requirements
    Firewire 800 drives don't work for you
    MacPro is your best option.

    This is just my experience. I have a 1 T Buffalo FW 800 drive. Its fast. I've seen 80 MB/sec transfer rate.
    I suspect you need low latency. Perhaps lots O RAM and a 10k RPM drive in a fast FW800 enclosure would work.
  11. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    "Actually there is, pro tools does not support recording to a system drive. If you try to record to a system drive you get disk errors. Therefore a second drive dedicated to audio is a must."

    A "workaround" is to partition the internal drive, creating one or more "work partitions" that are relatively small in size, but "large enough" to contain the project you're working on.

    By keeping them small, the drive controller won't have to go "writing all over the place" during tracking. And it will be easy to defrag and optimize the work partition when necessary.

    I use this on a white Intel iMac using Cubase. Granted, I'm only recording 2 tracks at a time, but it has never "hiccuped" during recording or otherwise given me any other problems at all.

    I realize that using ProTools, one's "mileage may vary".

    Having said that, the i7 iMac will probably be fine for the projects at hand. Make sure you get the 27" model for the horizontal scrolling!

    - John
  12. jayjohnson thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 18, 2009
    Yeah I have a 2007 MBP now, which has both firewire 400 and 800. I have an external HD, connected using FW 800. I must say that it's not as fast as I thought it would be, definitely not as fast as a second internal HD. This is what is slightly turning me off the imac. However, the price is very tempting, with the money I save I could get some other gear I want.
  13. mcpryon2 macrumors 6502a


    Dec 12, 2008
    Obsolete? I know of plenty of people doing pro-level work on first gen Mac Pros and even G4 and G5 Pro Tools setups.

    I wouldn't let that worry you too much.

    The iMac is shiny and attractive, but if you want expandability you can't beat the Mac Pro. But, if the Mac Pro is overkill, get the iMac. I've used both a core 2 duo iMac and MP for audio and video work, they both work just fine.

    I have a 2009 Mac Pro quad right now that works really nicely with Logic Studio. I have to admit all of the kernal panics drove me to move away from Pro Tools on OS X, so I haven't used PT on this machine. I miss PT for mixing, though.
  14. jayjohnson thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 18, 2009
    I have heard of similar stories of PT not working properly with i7/nahalem processors because of hyper threading. Which is what led me to consider the 2008 MP 8 core machine in the first place.
  15. Incision macrumors newbie

    Jun 22, 2009

    Sorry to sort of resurrect this thread. I currently have a mac pro 2x2.8 ghz quad (8 Core) mac pro with 8 GB of ram, 1.5TB of internal storage and the 30" screen. I was thinking about swapping out this setup for the imac. Really i use the computer for graphic design work.

    I wanted to see if there are any benchmarks out right now showing an even comparison between the i7 imac and the 8 core 2.8 ghz that i have. I have searched the forums and i didn't really come up with anything.

    Its just that i have someone who would like to purchase my setup and its for enough so that i could purchase the i7 and pocket a good amount of cash however i don't want to downgrade my computer performance TOO much.

    If anyone could help out with this it would be greatly appreciated.

  16. Eithanius macrumors 65816

    Nov 19, 2005
    8 solid cores on the MP vs 4 physical + 4 logical on the iMac i7
    4 drive bays of storage on MP vs only 1 on iMac
    Graphic upgrades option of GTX 285 on MP vs only ATI 4850 on iMac
    30" ACD vs 27" iMac, with the latter being slightly smaller on resolution

    The only good side I see of the iMac is it's space-saving design.

    Benchmarks don't necessarily reflect real-world performance.
  17. jayjohnson thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 18, 2009
    have to agree with Eithanius on this one. Even though I think the i7 imac is the best imac to have come out in a long time, the 8 'real' cores on a mac pro would definitely outperform the 8 theoretical cores on an i7. Plus you also have the expansion options.

    As for myself I have pretty much decided to go with a 2008 mac pro if I can find one. I think the expansion options plus the multiple internal drives are clear winners for me.

    I'd still love to hear from anyone with an i7 imac...if you've got one and use it for audio, tell us what it's like.
  18. Incision macrumors newbie

    Jun 22, 2009
    I would still love to see some actual benchmarks between the two. I am really considering the i7 as a replacement.

    P.S. If I finally get those benchmarks I might put my 2008 mac pro and 30" on eBay. :)
  19. pukifloyd macrumors 6502a


    Jun 25, 2008
    I will also say go for the mac pro as you need the expandability...

    check out some refurb mac pros..you might find a good deal...

  20. jetjaguar macrumors 68030


    Apr 6, 2009
    nice deal on the 2.8 octo for 2399 .. im tempted to pick it up .. but i think im going to just wait for the next mac pro update
  21. jayjohnson thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 18, 2009
    Cool...do you live in Australia by any chance?
  22. Nadav35 macrumors member

    May 18, 2008
    To prove a point..

    Here is my Mac Pro setup...

    Mac Pro 2008 3,1 Harpertown(NOT CLOVERTOWN) 3.00 ghz(close to 3.2 by 5 percent off in performance - not a hugh deal).

    4, YES 4 SSD drives + a few 4 TB hard drives I have in FW800 and USB enclosures.

    32GB of memory
    TWO ATI RADEON 4870 cards fully working inside.. did not need to add any extra power supplies.

    TWO 22X SATA optical drives - Mac side only + two external superdrives.

    I'd say a second hand Mac Pro from 2008 is just as fast, if not faster than the imac, but again if space is an issue, go with the imac.

    But, the imac is not upgradable like the mac pro is.. Check this out:
    Processor is not upgradable - u are stuck with what you get.
    Video is soldered to the board - no 1GB or 2GB video options.
  23. mcpryon2 macrumors 6502a


    Dec 12, 2008
    I ran Pro Tools LE on my Nehalem Quad and didn't have many problems in regard to hyperthreading, though I will say that I had numerous problems because of the Mbox. I had kernal panics like crazy, which apparently are attributed to the core audio drivers. That's just an OS X conflict with the core audio drivers, though.

    As far as the hyperthreading goes, I don't really have any first-hand problems, but I've heard a lot of people having them. A studio at the University I attended just got two Quad Nehalems and they seem to be working just fine with Pro Tools and a Digi 003 rack. They use the DV toolkits with Avid Media Composer and it works as well as PT and MC will work together.

    I'd definitely recommend getting the 2008 eight-core for a Pro Tools rig over the iMac. I used an iMac with Pro Tools for a few years, but found myself wanting more internal drives and RAM.

    ...hopefully some of this makes sense...
  24. musique macrumors regular


    Apr 10, 2009
    FWIW, I purchased a refurb Mac Pro (early 2008) and it's everything that I expected. I use an older 24" iMac at work, but the Mac Pro at home is a piece of cake to upgrade. Any hardware task (replacing hard drives, adding memory, video cards, etc.) takes almost no time.

    I use two 24" displays and I added 8GB RAM. I can have so many processes humming at the same time it feels like I have two machines.

    Don't get me wrong. I love my iMac and I've never had a hiccup in over two years. But for flexibility I think you can't beat the Mac Pro.

    Good luck on your decision. Either one will be a solid choice.

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