Choosing the right desktop Mac (Imac vs MP)

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by mrwhite76, May 2, 2011.

  1. mrwhite76 macrumors newbie

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    May 2, 2011
    #1
    Hello all.

    I'm a graphic & web designer, and I'm working with a nice & smooth 2010 MBP with i7, using an external monitor. I use this laptop at the office and sometimes at home for other little extra jobs.

    At home I don't have any other computer, and as I don't want to put my music library and my personal photos on a "job-only" laptop I was thinking about buying a desktop and leave it at home.

    I mainly work with the Adobe CS5. Lately I've started to learn Maya and After Effects, as I'd like to add 3d graphics and video editing to my skills - even if not as a full-time professional.

    So the use for this desktop is 2d & 3d graphic design, some animation and video editing, plus the usual web-surfing, music & photo library, etc.

    I've two options:

    - Wait (very few hours to go?) for the new Imac, and go for a middle/high configuration (1500€?)

    - buy a used 2010 Mac Pro, with 6Gb of Ram, Intel Xeon Nehalem quad core 2,8Ghz (2000€)

    - buy a refurbished 2010 Mac Pro base (>2000€)

    - buy a refurbished 2010 Imac

    Advices or considerations?

    Thanks in advance :)
     
  2. chaosbunny, May 2, 2011
    Last edited: May 2, 2011

    chaosbunny macrumors 68000

    chaosbunny

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    #2
    I've worked with an (at the time) high end iMac for 3 years and sold it in Summer 2010 for a 2010 Mac Pro.

    In my opinion th Mac Pro is a much better computer for our field of work for various reasons:

    You can choose your display, Apples mirror screens suck for design work because of their constant reflections (even in a dark room).

    You can upgrade your processor, gpu, multiple hds, etc so the lifespan of the Mac Pro might be far longer than that of an iMac.

    The Mac Pro, unlike the iMac, will have less heat issues because of much better cooling during long renders etc. which also leads to a longer lifespan. My Mac Pro never reaches more than 50-60° C, while the iMac often reached 80-90° C even with SMC fan control. It idled at about 60°, where the Mac Pro stays at about 40° during normal use.

    If you happen to need a repair, you don't have to send in the entire combo of computer + monitor with a Mac Pro, and if the repair is out of warranty it's much easier to do it yourself with a Mac Pro. I'd absolutely recommend Apple Care with an iMac, but in my opinion you can safe these 300 bucks with a Mac Pro - equalizing the cost.

    Just my opinion & experience working on both.
     
  3. cyberthom macrumors newbie

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    Sep 14, 2010
    #3
    keep in mind that if you want to use it for home entertainment that the apple remote does not work with the mac pro which i find quite useful.. for me the main advantage of the mac pro is the upgradeable harddrives (let's be honest - who is going to change the cpu? and even if so your choice will be limited by the motherboard so it's not like you can put in the newest cpu in two years time).. with thunderbolt however that advantage is pretty much non existent as you get full speed even with ssd drives (once available admittedly).. the money you save allows you to get a new computer every 2 years as opposed to 4..
     
  4. mrwhite76 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    May 2, 2011
    #4
    Thanks Chaos and Cyber.

    Nah, I don't plan to use it for entertainment (it will be located in my studio, not a place handy to watch movies). The thing I'm not sure about it's how powerful the new Imac will be compared to the 2010 Mac Pro, as AE and Maya are quite heavy on the computational side.

    And this is going to be a computer that I'm going to keep at least for 4 or 5 years (I hope...).
     
  5. foodog macrumors 6502a

    foodog

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    #5
    I've always towers.... at least since they've been offered. I finally decided to give the G5 the heave ho when I bought a MP in 2006. I sold it in 2009 when the 27" iMac came out and I bought the i7... never really got used to the glossy screen. When the iMac hard drive started reporting a SMART status of failing. I loaded it up, drove to the Apple store and dropped it off. 10 days later I got it back and put up the for sale sign. I am now the happy owner of a refurbished 2010 MP.

    Spend the extra money and get the MP
     
  6. Winni macrumors 68040

    Winni

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    Location:
    Germany.
    #6
    Here's the killer argument AGAINST buying a Mac Pro, in one word: Noise.

    My quad core 27" iMac is almost noiseless. I even use it with a JSCO noiseless mouse because noise -is- an issue for my wife and myself at home. The click-click-click quickly becomes annoying and the constant noise of the cooling fans of a Mac Pro is stressful. Although Apple's workstations are quieter than most of the competition, they are still loud computers. When you are sensitive to noise, you don't want to have one in your home. The quad core iMacs are a perfect balance between computing power and... silence.

    Other than that, the extensibility of a Mac Pro might be nice to have, but then again, let's be honest: You probably won't ever upgrade the CPUs because it is more likely that you will exchange the complete computer with a newer model. You -might- upgrade the graphics card, but if you don't play First Person Shooters on the machine, you will probably never do that either.

    That reduces the extensibility to the hard disk slots. One acronym for you here: NAS. Put it in a separate room where you can't hear it and both your storage and noise problems are solved.

    Mac Pros are great machines, and I really liked mine. But when you work a lot at home, the 27" iMac probably is a much better solution for many reasons.
     
  7. grooveattack macrumors 6502a

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    Jan 9, 2008
    #7
    I went from a 24" imac up to a 2010 MP and have never looked back.
    The imac is a beautiful and fast machine with an unbelievable screen.

    but

    you are your stuck with one hard drive. unless you want to have a few externals (thinking time machine, scratch disks etc.) a big deal for me was to put in an SSD in my pro. although you can do that in an imac you have to use apples very expensive SSD CTO.
    as stated before, it is much cooler than an imac. i dont think it is nosey at all.


    +1 for MacPro
     
  8. chaosbunny, May 2, 2011
    Last edited: May 2, 2011

    chaosbunny macrumors 68000

    chaosbunny

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    #8
    I even have my Mac Pro on my desk right next to me and I can barely hear it. I also like to have some quiet music running while I'm working, so when I turn that on any noise from the Mac Pro is gone.

    If you put it under your desk - which I won't do because of my 2 cats - noise shouldn't be a problem.

    But that's something everyone has to decide/notice for themselves.

    cpu wise the new high end iMac will almost certainly be slightly faster than the current 2.8 base Mac Pro, but gpu wise, well maybe in 2 years mobile gpus will catch up with current desktop gpus. There is a lot more to a computer than bare cpu benchmarks - like I said, cooling for example. What's the point of a cpu that's faster on paper when it has to be throttled down after 1-2 hours of stress because of heat issues?
     
  9. mrwhite76 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #9
    This indeed is an interesting question, one that I've never considered.
     
  10. alust2013 macrumors 601

    alust2013

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    #10
    I'd say the Mac Pro. The new iMac will be plenty powerful, but even the base Pro is a very powerful computer. Plus, you can upgrade it later down the line with a new CPU, GPU, HDDs, more RAM, etc. Not that you can't upgrade the HDD or RAM in the iMac, but you can only have one drive in the iMac, and it costs an arm and a leg if you want more than 16GB in it.

    As for the above, I haven't heard of too much in the way of heat issues with the iMac causing slowdowns. It will certainly run warmer than a Pro, but not so hot that it is causing throttling
     
  11. chaosbunny macrumors 68000

    chaosbunny

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    #11
    I can only speak of my own experiences with my previous iMac. I often noticed this while gaming for example, a game would run just fine on certain settings, but after some time it startet to stutter slightly. Quitting the game and waiting for 5 minutes fixed it. fps of handbrake encodes also often droped after a while. I have noticed this behavior with my mbp too. Monitoring SMC fan control I came to the conclusion that it has to do with heat. This simply doesn't happen now with my Mac Pro.

    Maybe this was just a problem with my particular iMac, who knows.
     
  12. foodog macrumors 6502a

    foodog

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    #12
    My MP is silent sitting right next to my desk

    I've upgraded the Video card as needed for video processing power. Makes Starcraft II look nicer too.

    A NAS is great for space but is absolutely horrible for performance.

    Agree the iMac is a great machine. Consider I can swap drives at will, replace the display as I like... not be stuck with that dang glossy screen, and upgrade my GPU I will not get another iMac.
     
  13. trip1ex macrumors 68000

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    Jan 10, 2008
    #13
    Noise/heat are non-issues.

    Just depends on all-in-one vs tower preference and your budget.


    Remember you need a monitor, speakers, keyboard, mouse, webcam perhaps and mic for your Mac Pro. Hopefully you figured that into your budget.

    You get the flexibility to choose your monitor and easily add hard drives inside and update your gpu later with the Mac Pro.

    You can upgrade iMac though by just reselling it and getting a new one. Then chalking up the difference to your upgrade costs.

    You are stuck with the monitor Apple gives you for better or worse.

    all-in-ones of course are big space savers.

    Also a newer iMac could very well outrun an older Mac Pro. Mac Pros also use more expensive ECC memory I believe. Haven't checked the cost of that lately.

    With a Mac Pro you might able to get a better gpu. Perhaps one more suited for 3d workstation tasks.
     
  14. Transporteur macrumors 68030

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    UK
    #14
    That depends on how much money you put into your NAS solution. However, if you need really fast performance you're right as a NAS with an iMac will be limited to about 100MB/s. With a Mac Pro, sky's the limit.
     
  15. englishman macrumors 6502a

    englishman

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    Nov 6, 2006
    #15
    Monitors

    If you don't like the iMac screens then you've answered your own question.

    The monitors/displays you can get with a MP are endless - from the old 30" to 2 x 24" to... the sky's the limit.
     
  16. mrwhite76 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    May 2, 2011
    #16
    Ok, now that the new Imac are out I can trim out the selection to this two:

    - IMAC i5 Quad Core 3.1Ghz, RAM 4Gb, 1 Tb, 6970M 1Gb

    VS

    - MAC PRO Intel Xeon Nehalem quad core 2,8Ghz, RAM 6 Gb, 1 TB, Radeon 5870 1GB

    Both are sold around 1.900€

    Considering the task that I've described (Adobe CS, "light" 3d and video editing) what's the better solution, regarding computation power? Monitor isn't an issue, I've already a 24'' at home.

    Choices choices :)
     
  17. jetjaguar macrumors 68030

    jetjaguar

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    #17
    The base mp quad CPU can be upgraded easily to a 3.2 hexacore for around 600 dollars
     
  18. opera57 macrumors 6502

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    #18
    Probably the Mac Pro, especially if you have your own monitor and for the uses you need it for. Main advantages is that it can be upgraded more easily - new graphics cards, hard drives can be added and swapped at ease for more storage, and the CPU can even be upgraded as mentioned above. [​IMG]
     
  19. chaosbunny macrumors 68000

    chaosbunny

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    #19
    Don't exaggerate, the Mac pro comes with the same mouse and keyboard as the iMac - apart from that you are correct.


    Get the Mac Pro - the i5 doesn't have hyperthreading so the 8 (4 real + 4 virtual cores) of the Mac Pro are faster than the iMacs 4 cores. Plus the Mac Pros DESKTOP gpu will run circles around any iMacs MOBILE gpu. A couple of mhz don't really make a difference these days.
     
  20. englishman macrumors 6502a

    englishman

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    #20
    MP also comes with a small internal speaker that is usable.

    Monitors are very cheap these days, especially used ones on Ebay.

    Standard corporate ones used on Ebay can be had for chump change - 2 of these connected to a MP are a very economical and very usable solution.
     

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