I am currently an Illustration/Web Design major, going into my junior year at college. I currently own a macbook, and have been pushing it beyond its limit with my adobe CS3 work. This summer seems to be the best time for me to buy a new computer, one that would definitely need to last for a few years doing professional design work. I don't have the most amazing budget, so I'll most likely be taking out a student loan to purchase the new computer. Since I already have a macbook, and since desktops for the most part have a much better cost/feature ratio, I want a desktop. I know that the summer is still a few months away, the imac, and possibly even the mac pro could see updates by then. As of right now, the two machines I am comparing are: iMac: 24", 2.8GHz dual core, 500GB HD (more through FW800), 4GB RAM It comes to roughly $2500 with tax. MacPro: Two 2.8GHz quad-core, 320GB HD (+2 more 500GB internal, and possibly a WD raptor), 8GB RAM, GeForce 8800 GT. Plus a Dell 2408WFP (which adds $700). It comes to roughly $4500 with tax. Please do note though, I also plan on buying cases for the machines, and a 13"x19" pinter (which can be an additional $500-$800), a screen calibrator, other little things like cables, maybe a FW400-800 card for the mac pro, and software like (legal copies of) CS3 design premium and microsoft office 08. All which easily adds up to be another $1500-$2000. My loan could be anywhere from $4500 to $6500+ based on what I decide to get. I'd like to keep it as low as possible, without sacrificing anything necessary. As of right now, I am leaning towards the MacPro, but for a long time I was set on an iMac. Anyways, I need some suggestions as to which one to get. Since I don't want my loan to be crazily expensive, I'll of course be upgrading all my ram and possibly hard drives with non apple parts to save money. The main question is, does the $2000 price between the two machines justify itself? I'm looking for longevity of the machine, four years, maybe even more. Here's some other general questions I do have: - I know that an 8-Core processor is obviously better than a dual-core, but to what extent? This may seem like a dumb question, but would a 3.0 GHz dual-core be better than an 2.8GHz 8-core? I've read that only some applications can effectively use 8-core processors to their full extent. - Would the difference between 4GB and 8GB RAM be significant? I'm sure it gets to a point where extra RAM makes little or no difference. I do run quite a few programs from time to time. - Is it worth it to have extra hard drives within the mac pro? or will externals work just fine? Would a 1TB drive be slower than 2x500GB drives? - In the case of the Mac Pro, does an additional $750 for two 3.0GHz quad-core processors justify itself with a noticeable performance increase? What would you do? Any suggestions, comments, definitely help. Thanks so much! ~Aljovido P.S. Saving the $2000 to put towards a new imac a few years from now isn't much of an option because I lose all my student discounts after I graduate (and my ability to take out a student loan).