Deciding between iMac and MP

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by jotade11, Jul 6, 2010.

  1. jotade11 macrumors regular

    Feb 2, 2009
    Hello everyone!

    I am trying to decide between purchasing an iMac or buying a Mac Pro. I know that both are due for an update soon, so I will be waiting as long as September to buy, but I'll assume that the updated versions will be as "different" in specs as they are now.

    I am a hobbyist web designer and videographer/photographer and my 2009 MacBook Pro just doesn't have the horsepower to run Final Cut, Aperture, iWeb and Dreamweaver smoothly (not all at once, but with 2-3 open at once, it of course runs out of RAM space and freezes). Is the lower-end model of the Mac Pro or the 27" iMac a better choice for running these programs comfortably?

    Also, another factor is cost... I would most likely buy an HDTV to connect to my Mac Pro as a display, which will bring the total to something like $4,000 whereas the iMac comes with the display (duh!). I just don't want to overspend on a Mac Pro if it's too much power for my needs!

    Thanks for any replies! :)


    P.S. If it seems like I'm re-posting a duplicate, I'm sorry. I couldn't find any posts quite like my situation! :S
  2. AlvinNguyen macrumors 6502a

    Jun 23, 2010
    I can see your dilemma, I'm also a photographer ( and I often work on short videos as well and definitely the MBP is not enough - Im currently using the latest 13.3" and it's only good for light editing and on-location work to examine the shots.

    I recently bought the 21.5" iMac with 1TB and ATI Radeon 4670 and find it very fast for editing and I will be adding another 4 GB of Ram to make it even snappier. Now if you're looking into doing heavy video work with after effects and premier, no doubt you will want (and need) the MP. But if you're doing less of that and more still photography then you'll be more than happy with the iMac - especially its amazing screen!
  3. Ravich macrumors 6502a

    Oct 20, 2009
    Portland, OR
    The high end iMac outperforms the low end Mac Pro. The only reason you should get a Mac Pro is if you NEED the PCI slots and HDD bays.

    Definitely go with the iMac. It would be one thing if you could get by with a low end monitor, but something with similar specs to the 27'' iMac display is ridiculously expensive.
  4. wisty macrumors regular

    Feb 18, 2009
    Mac Pro can get (much) better internal hard drives. That's the main selling point.

    EEC and PCI slots are important, but only if you already know you need them.

    The Mac Pro has a lot more horse-power, but the i5 and i7 iMacs aren't too slow. Sure, you can get ~2X the CPU horsepower and more RAM, but surely 2.6 GHz and 4G RAM is enough for anyone ...
  5. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    If you need a monitor, and have some sort of budgetary constraint. Then the iMac is a better choice.

    As others have chimed in, the MP is a great machine when you need expandability, either in graphics, PCI slots, or drive bays.

    To be honest, I can't recall needing to buy any sort of PCI card for a my computers in 10+ years. Yeah upgrading the GPU is a plus but actual PCI cards - no.

    There's also plenty of external drive solutions available as well, so you may not need to have all your drives inside the computer.
  6. CCK macrumors member

    Feb 14, 2010
    The imac & the bottom line MP will run these programs about equally.

    If I was doing mostly photography, I'd probably go for the imac, but my machine is mostly for video and the 2 main issues are the hard drive options and more importantly the SINGLE FW port on the imac, especially if your capturing through FW.

    When the quad imacs first came out, I was temped. But then the reality of having to depend on ONE FW800 port for ALL my connectivity made it simply not an option.

    For heavy weight programs such as FCP, it is really advantageous to have a HD that is dedicated to just the OS for it to run at it's best.

    The imac is a great machine, but it really can't be optimized for video, so it depends on the video demands that you put on your machine, as to which would be suitable for your needs.
  7. bzollinger macrumors 6502a


    Aug 1, 2005
    I'm in the same boat as you.

    The iMac is very tempting. I do still photography w/ CS4 and LR2 on my G5, either would be a huge upgrade for me.

    The biggest thing keeping my from jumping on the iMac is the single drive. With a MP four drive will be used. My experience with external drives is mixed, they don't behave the same because of USB issues or whatnot.

    The other thing that really makes me nervous is the all-in-one design. If one part goes out then your whole computer is down. Whereas in a MP you can replace a hard drive, RAM chip, optical drive, or graphics card pretty easy.

    Of course our local mac store is privately owned, so I think they have to send anything for repair out of state so, my turn around time is more than most....

    And I'd like to add an eSATA or USB3 card to an MP if I were to buy the 09 or the 2010s don't come with those features, which even the top of the line iMac doesn't have.
  8. PG-Monkey macrumors regular

    Jun 20, 2010
    Nice website btw. What camera are you using?
  9. AlvinNguyen macrumors 6502a

    Jun 23, 2010
    Thank you, I was previously using the Nikon D700 but last month I switched back to Canon with the 5D Mark II because I needed more megapixels and the video. Definitely miss some things from the Nikon but the Canon has amazing features that I need so I'm happy :)
  10. reel2reel macrumors 6502a


    Jul 24, 2009
    Haha, I laugh everytime I read stuff like this. What does this mean exactly? When it comes to pushing Mac's the way I do everyday, the iMac fails terribly. It hardly "performs." My Mac Pro, though, keeps delivering, day after day after day. For example, I tried opening a show on a brand new 27" iMac last week and it took ten minutes(!!!). It takes one minute on my Mac Pro.

    So your claims are a little broad and inaccurate to say the very least.
  11. reel2reel macrumors 6502a


    Jul 24, 2009
    It's a necessity in video. There are people that make the TV shows, Movies, ad's, etc, that you see on the TeeVee. And there aren't many getting made on iMac's. You gotta get your video out and shows aren't getting delivered on HDV tapes or DVD.
  12. reel2reel macrumors 6502a


    Jul 24, 2009
    I'm a Nikon shooter and I'm jealous. Video on Nikon is a joke. I want me a 5D!!
  13. Durious macrumors 6502

    Apr 11, 2008
    Calgary, Alberta
    Curious what is the spec of your 27" iMac vs the Mac pro
  14. Cavepainter macrumors regular

    Apr 26, 2010
    Los Angeles
    Back on the comparisons of the iMac and Mac Pro, what about the difference between ECC and non ECC memory? Is the difference visible on day-to-day work with different apps, or is it not that important? That seems to be a significant difference between the two setups, but is the difference worth the premium?
  15. Umbongo macrumors 601


    Sep 14, 2006
    It's an odd one. Memory errors that are correctable by ECC do happen, these days more so with larger memory sizes, but then it is reduced by better manufacturing techniques. A flipped bit can cause a crash or corrupted data. ECC also enables error logging. When it comes down to it those doing creative work are probably not going to be hugely affected by an uncorrected error. But for those doing calculations, data processing etc where time is money and data can become corrupted, it is silly not to buy it. It's barely more expensive. Just another safety net. It's there because the platform caters to a lot of uses where it should be present.
  16. hugodrax macrumors 6502a

    Jul 15, 2007
    Ecc a must for me. When selling options an extra digit due to some ram glitch changes things by a magnitude :D
  17. mlts22 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 28, 2008
    This may not be important for a home user (assuming they have Time Machine running to copy their vitals to an external HDD), but the ability for a Mac Pro to have RAID may make it worth the price difference. If someone is doing an extremely time intensive project, the time it takes to haul an iMac to an Apple repair place (the HDD isn't user replacable), wait until it is fixed, then restore the data from the external drive may impact income. On the Mac Pro, it can ship with a hardware RAID card, or OS X can do software mirroring. Either way, if a drive blows, you will get a notice on the screen, but you will be able to keep working, and just carry just the blown drive (not need to haul the whole machine) to get it replaced.

    Of course something like a Drobo mitigates this, but the cost of an iMac + Drobo gets closer to a Mac Pro with a RAID card and some decent internal drives.
  18. tonyGriggs macrumors newbie

    Aug 5, 2009
    To the OP:

    You note that the fact that the iMac comes with the display as an advantage over the MP. If you're going to be doing any color work whatsoever--which it sure looks like you'll be doing--I'd count that as a disadvantage of the iMac.

    We're about to return our 3rd 27" iMac because of the absolutely awful screens. I do feature film and animation color work and I can't believe how bad the monitors are.

    Since you're willing to wait, I would absolutely wait until the next generation iMac or get a decent monitor with a Mac Pro.

    (Just a note: I fully understand that the iMac monitor is not intended to be a replacement for a professional color monitor. That being said, I can't express how much I regret selling our 24" iMac. The quality of the monitor on our 3-year old iMac was vastly superior to the current iMac monitors.)

  19. bigbutt macrumors newbie

    Jul 11, 2010
  20. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    May 19, 2002
    You should upgrade to the Mac Pro if you need... Power, Security, Reliability, or Choice of components.

    Not saying Mac Pro is more reliable, but the ability to swap drives with another machine rather easy can increase the uptime of critical workstation. Security is the opposite, being able to remove the drives and plug the factory drive back in when machine is sent in for service.
  21. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    iMac is as fast as quad core Mac Pro so you would need to get the 2.66GHz octo which is already like four grands. The biggest advantage of Mac Pro is its expandability and upgradeability. You can add several internal HDs easily while with iMac you are limited to the one internal which is hardly swappable. Mac Pro also has four PCIe slots and plenty of ports so you can add pretty much anything to it, more SATA ports or another GPU for example. HDTV is limited to 1920x1080 while iMac as resolution of 2560x1440 which is a lot better and nicer for video editing and stuff. You can add up to 8 displays for Mac Pro though

    I would get the iMac unless you need something that I or someone else mentioned above i.e. upgrade- and expandability.

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