Base nMP vs maxed iMac?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by TheKnifeFight, Nov 16, 2013.

  1. TheKnifeFight macrumors member

    Oct 29, 2008
    I've been holding out for a while to get a new system and I'm torn between getting an iMac or going with the quad nMP. I've spent way too long going back and forth and I'm wondering if the community could help me pull the trigger on the right system for me.

    My usage:
    I do intend to do some moderate video editing (FCPX, AE) and photo editing (lightroom, cs5) but wouldn't consider my needs to be on a professional level. Most footage will be coming from Canon DSLR and would be 1080p. The content would likely end up on Vimeo and in my own portfolio. I do work in the film industry so it would be nice to use my new system to help train me to go further in my career.

    I've priced out both systems as I would like/afford and there's roughly about a $400 difference. I'm not sure if the base nMP really offers much over the iMac. I cannot purchase a hex core system.

    I like the faster PCIe SSD speeds, TB2 and dual video cards found on the nMP but there's also the additional cost of adding another monitor (I like working with two monitors). The iMac gives me pause because it still has TB1 and uses a mobile class video card. Although I don't currently use TB capable devices, it would still be nice to have a more future proof system if my needs change before I upgrade again. I plan to keep the system for a minimum of 3 years adding RAM to either system when the time arises.

    i7 iMac with 256SSD and 780M 4GB video card.

    base quad config
  2. NOTNlCE macrumors 6502a


    Oct 11, 2013
    DMV Area
    The question is weight of performance for you. FCPX tends to benefit more off of OpenCL, which you're going to get extreme amounts of with the Dual FirePros in the Mac Pro, and not so much in the 780M in the iMac. Lightroom and After Effects are going to benefit more off CUDA, which is present in the NVIDIA card, though it is a mobile class card, it still has over 1500 CUDA cores. That being said the iMac does offer essentially a Cinema Display built in, which you are most definitely not getting with the Mac Pro. Thunderbolt expansion is going to be the way to go, regardless of your choice. With PCIe Flash, you're going to want external drives for the storage you'll need. The processors are different, however. The performance gain between the i7 and the Quad E5 may not look like much on paper, (both quad core 8 thread) but we also don't have QE5 benchmarks yet. The 6 core tops at just over 18,000 on the 32bit version, while the iMac will hit just above 13,000 in the 32bit version of Geekbench. I can imagine the QE5 will hit a nice middle, probably around 15,000 32bit. So my question to you is, do you care more about the OpenCL and Xeon power that comes with the Mac Pro, or do you like the beautiful display of the iMac? Do you care more about FCPX performance with OpenCL or would you rather use the CUDA acceleration in CS5/6? Keep in mind that we do not know how up-gradable the nMP is going to be. The iMac does NOT have a soldered processor in the 27 inch model, but it comes with the highest grade processor that the iMac will take. IF the nMP has an upgradable CPU, five years down the line, you might be able to find a cheap 12 core Xeon and keep the machine going for a few more years. (I did this with my 08 Mac Pro, a Xeon to fit that cost me under $40).
    Sorry if this is extensive or confusing. Trying to kill time at work.
  3. Celedral macrumors 6502


    May 29, 2008
    Los Angeles
    For your type of work any of the two system will work. I would suggest leaning towards the MP in terms of future upgradeability i.e. "possible" graphics card upgrade, CPU, and memory capacity 64 vs 32. I also like the fact that the NMP is portable as I can easily move it from my home office to my work office.

    The iMac is the way to go in terms of Value/Performance. The Mac Pro will offer Performance/ "upgradeability"
  4. mrhick01 macrumors 6502

    Sep 22, 2008
    Interesting question.

    All other things being equal, I think I would lean toward a maxed out iMac, if you only plan on keeping it three years.

    I have been looking at the new Mac Pros, but I also know that DDR4 will start showing up next month, and if I were to get a Mac Pro, I might wait until mid-late 2014 where there would be a version 2 with DDR4 RAM.
  5. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    While the 780M has a 'M' stuck on it, the foundation there is really a desktop entry-mid level GTX 770

    GTX 1536 cores, 1046 MHz, 2-4GB VRAM , 226 GB/s

    780M 1536 cores, 823 MHz , 4GB VRAM , 160 GB/s

    about -21% in core clock (and very little to no boost) and -29% in memory clock along with a -50% drop in power required. 100+W GPUs are at the fringes of the "mobile" space. If the 780M and top-end mobile CPU were in a battery power device, that system's battery life would suck (or the weight would be relatively high)

    The question with max BTO iMac in past couple of iterations has really more so been whether the enclosure can handle the desktop parts in the enclosure more so than really dealing with "mobile parts". The 2012-2013 thermal set up of substantially better than it was, but if typically do long, performance grinding sessions with the Mac then new Mac Pro probably still has some advantages.

    The D300 in the upcoming Mac Pro are also clocked down a bit; not as much but making a trade-off for both choices.

    TB v2 devices will work on TB v1 host systems. If upgrade your overall system the iMac/nMP is a component in that overall system that the end user engages. If had TB v2 devices with future TB v2 system they would give faster throughput, but if you're not currently saturating TB v1 like bandwidth there is no short term performance loss.

    The Mac Pro will have a higher RAM cap. Your plans on software will play a role. If committing to Adobe CS5 for the long haul then there are some CUDA advantages. If moving forward over time with FCPX and Adobe upgrades then there are advantages for the dual GPU Mac Pro that will evolve over your 3 year operational window that will probably justify the $400 difference. Adobe's dependency on CUDA will very likely continue to diminish over time.

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