2009 Mac Pro or 2011 iMac?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by jijoya, Nov 18, 2011.

  1. jijoya macrumors newbie

    Oct 9, 2011
    Hello everyone,

    I've been saving up for my first Mac, and although I always wished I could get a Pro, it was never an affordable option. I'm in the EU, and for the iMac I'd set my sights on (27", i7 processor, 256 SSD + 2GB HD, 4GB RAM) I'd have had to pay $4600 US (that includes an extra 2x4 GB of RAM from Crucial).

    The base Mac Pro costs $4485 here, 27" display costs $1500.

    I've been keeping my eye on a second hand forum, and someone has just put up the following Pro for sale (condition - "indistinguishable from brand new"):

    MacPro 4,1: 8-core Xeon Nehalem 2.26Ghz / 10GB RAM / 500gb HDD / GF120. He writes that the video card has been modified and now includes a noiseless radiator instead of the stock fan. From his description I gather the stock 640GB HD has been replaced with the current 500 GB HD because the latter is noiseless. He has not stated its brand and other specs, I could of course ask him.

    Apple Cinema Display 30"

    His asking price for the Pro + display package is $3447.

    The Pro has also got an optional 2хSSD FORCE SERIES CORSAIR F60 in a RAID (for a total of 120 GB) - $262

    Optional keyboard + mouse - $70

    Optional Lacie Quadra 2 TB portable HD with firewire 800/400, eSATA, USB - $220

    If one buys the package with the optional stuff included, total would be $3930 US.

    For the record, the reason I would rather max out the iMac is that a) the machine is going to be used for heavy duty prepress, 3D rendering + Photoshop work, and moderate amounts of large-file video processing, and b) I want the system to last as long as possible. A minimum of let's say 4-5 years - I can't afford to upgrade an Apple machine more frequently than that.

    It seems to me like this Pro (SSD RAID included) is a great find and a better investment than an 2011 iMac, though I might have to upgrade the video card. The fact, however, is that I'm not hardware-savvy so my estimate may well be very inaccurate. Could you please let me know what you'd do if you were in my shoes? A 2011 iMac or the above Pro?
  2. elpmas macrumors 68000


    Sep 9, 2009
    Where the fresh snow don't go.
    I'm not going to calculate all the factors in atm...since it's like 3am, but I kinda like the all in one set up rather than having the traditional set up. I would choose the iMac :)
  3. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    Bleh too many factors.... if you do go with the mac pro buy an Eizo instead or at least something with ccfl backlighting. The Apple isn't really ideal for color and has no practical means of calibration.

    The video and 3d rendering are the only things out of what you mentioned that will scale efficiently past four cores. Somehow I recall the current top imac being pretty close in cpu benchmark to that specific mac pro, but I don't care for the imac, and once again you'd be using a glossy display that doesn't profile well due to LED backlighting. In past experience a lot of imacs see the edges of the display pick up a magenta cast as they age as well. I mentioned Eizo because I recall them being cheaper there than in the US.
  4. Vantage Point macrumors 65816

    Mar 1, 2010
    New Jersey
    Bleh too many factors.... if you do go with the mac pro buy an Eizo instead or at least something with ccfl backlighting. The Apple isn't really ideal for color and has no practical means of calibration.

    As a photographer I dislike the Apple monitors. An Eizo is a top of the line monitor along with other brands like NEC. I had a iMac and sold it for a MBP and NEC monitor. NEC like Eizo are top shelf, non-glossy, offer wide-color-gamut models, and can be calibrated very accurately with the right calibration tools.

    One of the questions in deciding what is best for you is the monitor. With an iMac you are locked into a single monitor but with a MP or MBP you have options. The new MBP's are pretty powerful and if you can get by with one of those and your own monitor then you have the best of all worlds, including portability.
  5. charleswhalley macrumors newbie


    Jan 26, 2004
    Peterborough, England
    iMac v Mac Pro

    This is possibly why Apple are talking about ditching the Pro.

    Go for the iMac with the SSD and 1TB drive you state.

    A few questions first...

    But (there is always a but) - there are hopefully new mac pro's around the corner (Jan/Feb I hope) and these will fly. But maybe unaffordable to you. But may bring down the value of your 2010 Mac Pro that you are looking to purchase.

    Will the graphics card in the iMac be good enough for you. Do you need the expandability of a Mac Pro?
  6. A l e x macrumors newbie

    Nov 13, 2011
    I'd definitely go for the iMac... I don't know why, but the Mac Pro seems so outdated right now. Maybe it's because I have some old ones at work, I don't know...
  7. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    the 2009 is a good deal, but the specific model is not ideal for your intended use. 2.26GHz is just too slow.
  8. jijoya, Nov 18, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2011

    jijoya thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 9, 2011
    Thank you all for responding.

    Re: the monitor, apparently this one is a 30" matte. I've researched the Eizo displays available here, and my only option seems to be waiting out a second hand sale. Could work if I convince the guy to sell the Pro and the 30" display separately. (For the time being he's not willing.)

    A 2011 or 2012 one is just not going to be an option, unfortunately - until someone decides to sell one of those second hand ;)

    The Apple retailer told me it's quite superior to what I've currently got (an nVidia GeForce 8800 GT) so I was more than looking forward to it. From what comparisons I've read, the one that comes with the 2009 Pro will have to be upgraded for sure.

    It will be welcome for future video card upgrades (and to upgrade the CPUs eventually and get a couple more years out of the system when it starts to feel "old" to me). Plus I run out of space quickly. Would be nice to keep using the 4 TBs worth of hard drives I've got in this PC without having to juggle with external enclosures, too.

    Once again thank you for your very helpful feedback (not to say further comments won't be welcome). I'll sleep on it and then decide.
  9. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    Just to reference this the per core performance on the imac is significantly higher than this 8 core. The 8 core in some situations might be faster if you're saturating all cores, but it wasn't my favorite. If the OP intended to perform a cpu upgrade, he could turn it into a 12 core machine, but this would be quite expensive.

    Edit: Also you couldn't upgrade to a sandy bridge. The fastest you'd get would be 2x westmere.
  10. jijoya thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 9, 2011
    She. Thank you - you, toxic and the person I'd be splitting costs with have basically hammered in the last nail into that particular coffin. We've both decided against the early 2009 Pro. I WISH there was a way to just get the 30" monitor - The Last of The Mattes - but I don't expect the seller will agree to split the package. Oh well.
  11. Sjhonny macrumors 6502

    Feb 25, 2011
    The land of the cucumbers
    there are other display vendors. I wouldn't buy a 30" ACD. Dell has great displays, some are better then the 30" + a new one still has a warranty.
  12. jijoya thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 9, 2011
    You're right of course. Where I live, however, choice is far more limited and prices are overblown, so often my only option is to wait for second hand technology to become available. I've decided, however, that saving up for an Eizo or a Dell is my next task after we finally get this Mac Desktop purchase out of the way.
  13. szolr macrumors 6502

    Jul 27, 2011
    London, UK
    I'd choose the iMac tbh. Between the out specced 2011 iMac and the Mac Pro there's less difference than you'd think. Sandy bridge gives the iMac the edge in some things, whereas multiple processors gives the Mac Pro the upper hand in other scenarios. The gap between the iMac and Mac Pro currently is undoubtedly the smallest its been in a long time-that's for sure.

Share This Page