27" iMac or Mac Pro?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Norskman, Mar 3, 2010.

  1. Norskman macrumors member


    Feb 23, 2010
    I've been holding out on getting the new 27" iMac due to the screen issues and it looks like issues might be persisting judging from posts on the forums.

    So, I'm looking for some opinion from the Mac peeps here and I know you give good advice! ;)

    I can either go with the 27" iMac i7 2.8 as planned, or I can spend a little more and get a refurbished 2.93 Quad-core Mac Pro. I know it all comes down to what I'll use it for so here it is.

    I do some web / graphic design, mostly in Photoshop or Illustrator. I edit movies in iMove, shot with my 720p camera, lots of pictures in iPhoto/Aperture 3, Music is generally just for listening to in my house so no music editing.

    I also boot camp to Win7 Ultimate and play online games like EverQuest 2 from time to time so that has to be taken into consideration. I'd be running the Mac Pro on my Dell 24" LCD until I can afford to replace it.

    Definitely like the expandability of the Mac Pro over the iMacs, but the all-in-one solution with a 27" LED backlit LCD is alluring to say the least.

    I have a few HD's from my old PC I'd like to use, but I can toss those in external enclosures if necessary. If I went with Mac Pro I'd probably upgrade to a faster graphics card and of course add RAM/HD from a third party site.

    Would love to hear from both the Mac Pro and the iMac guys on this.

    Oh, and as you see from my signature this desktop solution would supplement my MacBook Pro as a bigger creative station. Right now I use my LCD connected to the MBP with external keyboard/mouse to create a desktop of sorts.
  2. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    Mac Pros are due an update any time soon so prices of the current ones will drop and you may get something you need/want in the new ones as well.

    There are more and more good iMacs around too so don't worry too much about the issues.

    If you can wait, do it and see what new Mac Pros offer but if you can't it's up to you. Mac Pro costs more and isn't that much faster (better GPUs though) but offer expandability which iMac doesn't.
  3. techound1 macrumors 68000


    Mar 3, 2006
    The expandability of the Pro is nice, especially being able to put all that RAM in. Since you've got a MBP, I would recommend holding off on the iMac and getting the pro.
  4. CaptainChunk macrumors 68020


    Apr 16, 2008
    Phoenix, AZ
    It really depends on what matters to you, because it's a trade-off. I'm assuming you're comparing the base MP Quad to the 27" iMac i7 Quad (that would be the most fair comparison, anyway).

    From a features to features standpoint, the iMac 27" would be the better deal; you get a slightly faster CPU, a bigger hard drive and faster GPU. And you get a rather nice high-res 27" IPS display to boot.

    But the MP Quad obviously has more room to grow. It holds more RAM, has an upgradable graphics card, holds up to 4 internal hard drives, PCIe expansion, etc. I own a MP because as a video editor and colorist, I need hardware expansion for additional hard drives, I/O interfaces, etc.

    I'd say if you need the machine to grow with you, get a MP. If this doesn't matter to you as much, it's hard to beat the value in the 27" iMac.
  5. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    I wouldn't buy a Mac Pro right now. The 6-core Xenons will be available shortly. But right now, i7 iMac is probably the best value Mac there is.
  6. MovieCutter macrumors 68040


    May 3, 2005
    Washington, DC
    I think a Mac Pro is total overkill for you. I went from a Mac Pro with 8 cores, 12GB RAM, and the ATI 4870 GPU and 2 24" Cinema Displays to a 27" i7 iMac and couldn't be happier.

    I edit HD video in Final Cut Pro every day, and Final Cut can't see multiple cores, and neither can gaming, or web surfing, etc. I've never looked back. That's me, but looking at your needs, I'd say a Mac Pro, current or upcoming, are way overkill. Plus they take up so much space.
  7. bagelche macrumors 6502


    Nov 2, 2007
    Western Mass.
    For your described uses/needs, I'd say go with the iMac. Top-notch screen (potential yellow aside), speedy, and doesn't take up a ton of room. For your uses, I don't see much need for the expandability of the MP. Storage is easily handled with external enclosures (granted you can't run eSATA).
  8. Badger^2 macrumors 68000


    Oct 29, 2009
    how does your current MBP handle those tasks?

    sure i7 iMac will be faster than the MBP for just about everything, but not by leaps and bounds (well, maybe gaming)

    IMHO going from a 2.8 Core2Duo to an i7 is more of an incremental upgrade, not a huge jump

    Sure a MP will hold more ram -- but unless you have $650 floating around for 16 gigs -- thats not really an issue.

    that said, I agree that a MP is overkill -- it sounds like what you are doing would barely tax the 3.06 C2D, let alone the i5 or i7.

    Sounds like you are doing OK, so just look at this iMac as a 3 year deal. Spend $2000 today, sell it in 3 years for $1000 and drop in another $1000 to get the new 2014 i10 iMac with 30" screen, 4TB storage, ATI 98XX video and 8 gigs ram standard...
  9. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    With applications that use hyperthreading it is a huge jump.
  10. Norskman thread starter macrumors member


    Feb 23, 2010
    Lots of great suggestions here guys, thanks!

    One thing I notice more than anything on the MacBook Pro is the CPU throttling once I've played EverQuest 2 or any other game for a little while. The CPU gets hot and the Mac throttles the speed to cool it down which directly affects the framerate.

    I guess the question is... Would I see more of a performance jump going from the MacBook's 2.8 Core 2 Duo to the iMac's 2.8 Quad, or the Mac Pro's 2.93 Quad? I'm guessing the MP's tower will provide much better cooling letting the CPU's run at much higher clock rate for longer periods of time.

    I'm guessing the ATI Radeon HD 4850 512MB in the iMac is better than the Nvidia GT120 in the Mac Pro by a mile, but at least the Mac Pro can be upgraded. The iMac can't. Has anybody put the 4850 and the iMac through its paces gaming wise? I don't have time to do a lot of gaming, but I'd like to have a good experience when I do. :)
  11. Norskman thread starter macrumors member


    Feb 23, 2010
    Let me ask this...

    Has anybody who bought the iMac 27" over the Mac Pro regretted it?

    Has anybody who bought the Mac Pro over the iMac 27" regretted it?

  12. jungeliest macrumors member

    Feb 18, 2010
    It is only true if you are talking about the Arrandale i7. The i7s in iMacs have four cores, which gives you, well, double the performance when dealing with Maya or Logic Pro.

  13. Kissaragi macrumors 68020

    Nov 16, 2006
    I bought an i5 27" imac and regretted it. It went back a few days later and im now waiting for the new mac pros to come out.

    My issue with the 27" was the screen size, it was just too big for me to use comfortably. It also made my desk vibrate the whole time.
  14. duky macrumors 6502

    Jun 25, 2007
    North Carolina
    This may or may not be an issue to you but the one reason I held off on getting the 27" i7 iMac is because I can't put a SSD in it easily (i.e. without risking voiding warranty or breaking something). The Mac Pro on the other hand allows you to and that's a huge plus for me. Of course you can always sell the iMac and upgrade once SSDs become an option but I'm trying to get away from selling my Macs every couple of months and I know that I will want to put a SSD in my machine at some point this year. The i7 processors with a SSD would be the perfect computer for me (and very future proof) so I'm either going to be getting a Mac Pro or one of the new MacBook Pros (assuming they are on par with the i5/i7 iMac speedwise).
  15. RebootD macrumors 6502a


    Jan 27, 2009
    NW Indiana
    I wouldn't buy a MacPro right now since their prices are the same for year old tech. If you can hold out a few months until they release a bump in specs to get the most for your cash.

    If you really need something *now* then the i7 iMac is just as fast, and sometimes faster, than the Quad 2.66 MP/8c 2.26. Of course I highly suggest you see the thing in person because it is a giant screen and a lot of gloss. If you don't care then that thing will last you years.
  16. DJTHEFUNNY macrumors member

    Aug 2, 2009
    I Conntect My MBP To My 32" FS TV And It Works Like A Doll. But If It's Going To SUPPLEMENT Another Laptop Then I Would Just Go Buy The Desktop. Much More Powerful, less Expensive, And Sexy Like NO Other.
  17. Badger^2 macrumors 68000


    Oct 29, 2009
    Can you list some? I bet the OP doesnt use any.

    He listed: "some" web design and iMovie and Aperture. Big whoop. You can open a thousand crappy 72 dpi web graphics on a G4 400 with no problem.

    lots of gaming tests -- and look, the i5 has identical gaming numbers as the i7...:

    Although I think I stated before -- Im not sure that I would let "gaming" be the sole reason whether or not I buy a new computer.

    And opening an iMac does *not* void the warranty -- unless you break something while inside it. Ive opened a replaced drives on about a dozen 24" AL iMacs, not hard. Maybe 15 minutes now that I have done it a few times.

    Get the iMac and be done. If you dont like it, sell it in a year and get something newer. probably only be out a few hundred bucks at most.
  18. eddywashere macrumors newbie


    Jan 8, 2010
    had to buy mac pro's at work - picked an i7 imac for home

    I was given a pretty decent budget to work with for getting machines for video production at my old job.

    Picked two mac pro's w/8 cores each, had to stick with stock configs.
    Had one 24" monitor for each machine.

    Left that job for a new one, and had to start thinking about a personal machine.

    imac 27" i7 was my first choice when it came down to $$$, power, memory, and size.
    I do web dev/graphics, video editing, motion graphics, and even .net work on a windows 7 vm.

    It gets the job done, and it does it with ease.

    mac pro would be my choice, if and only if, I had loads of money and a fancy desk.



    Did i buy my machine in hopes that it would last forever?


    But I got a good feeling I have a several years before something else catches my eye, and it's a nice tax write off.
  19. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    Aperture 3 does. Next version of Photoshop will. And you can bet video encoders will - ffmpeg already does.

    You said going from a Core 2 Duo to an i7 was incremental. i5 is a different story (but i7 is still better).
  20. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    Doesn't matter because RAM is still much more important than the CPU. HT won't make a difference really, unless you work with HUGE Photoshop files, so no matter is it i7 or C2D, OP won't notice the difference.
  21. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    Hyperthreading doesn't make any difference with Photoshop CS4 because it can't do hyperthreading. Where you'll see a difference is with manipulation of RAW images and 48-bit TIFFs from typical high-end cameras (e.g., 5Dii, 7D, etc.). And there is a substantial difference with Aperture 3 on an i7 iMac compared to Core 2 Duo iMacs or MBP with these files. I have done side-by-side comparisons and the i7 is instantly responsive, while the C2D lags.
  22. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    Not me. I was using a 1st gen top-of-the-line G5 tower and a loaded MBP 17" 1st gen, both of which I got immediately after they were announced. I'd always assumed that the replacement for the tower would be a Mac Pro.

    It was getting to be time for a new monitor (IPS required for what I do), but I'd been holding out on a new tower as long as possible.

    Then the i7 came out and offered me a giant IPS screen, 8GB of RAM at a reasonable price (the four RAM slots, paired with inexpensive 2GB sticks, are a HUGE benefit), and a good quad-core processor. I took a bit of a risk and went for it, and I'm quite happy.

    I'm moving in the not-too-distant future, so I wasn't planning on using this computer for more than a couple of years, which was a factor--I didn't need to think about too much future proofing, and it was more than enough for my current needs.

    Outside of people who actually need expansion cards the only real downsides are storage; no ability to just pop another internal drive and/or add a cheap eSATA card for external storage (not that you're likely to need it with four bays). I could imagine that getting annoying some day, but currently the 1TB plus my server storage are fine.

    In my case, doing typical web work I have open PS CS3 (light duty), CSSEdit, an HTML editor, a half-dozen browsers, plus periodically iPhoto, iMovie, and iDVD, and a subtitling app plus maybe a video encode, and whatever my wife is running in her account. I have thus far never seen more than three cores pinned (nothing I'm doing uses hyperthreading, based on never seeing more than four of the 8 visible cores under load except when I tested Cinebench) and I've never run short on RAM. So, at this point it's easily sufficient for my needs. The 27" screen is also a huge benefit to productivity.

    Additional benefit: Holy crap is that thing quiet. The G5 towers weren't exactly wind tunnels, but it's almost eerie to turn it on and hear nothing, even in a quiet room. I've never heard the fans ramp up to more than a quiet woosh, even when doing multi-core video encodes that took over an hour.
  23. Transporteur macrumors 68030

    Nov 30, 2008
    Just for the record;

    HT = Hyper Threading, Intel's technology to create virtual CPU's.

    What you guys probably mean is multithreading, a software methodology that splits tasks in separate threads that can be performed on different CPU cores.
  24. Badger^2 macrumors 68000


    Oct 29, 2009
    Well, now you had to go a ruin the thread. =(

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