Gamer looking at Mac Pro vs. iMac

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by efstuck, May 10, 2010.

  1. efstuck macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2007
    #1
    Hi there,

    I am referring to the yet to be refreshed Mac Pro that i am debating to get.

    My needs/uses: dual monitor for playing games (ahem - starcraft 2 and hopefully more good stuff from valve) and watching movies/shows. I know for this reason alone, I would be told to get an iMac but the problem is ...i've had an iMac for 3 years and I wouldn't need to buy a new iMac if i could upgrade the graphics card for starcraft 2 (tried beta and can only play in low which is not good enough). I use my computer a lot and i thought about switching to windows so i can get a cheaper, more flexible/expandable system but i just don't want to go back to windows...but i also don't want an iMac. If i could upgrade the graphics card in my iMac, i could of used it for another 3 years. So i figure maybe i should get a Mac Pro so i can have that option down the road. Also the 500gb hd is not big enough in the imac so i added a 1TB external drive but now that is full too and i just want that flexibility of a Mac Pro..but i know it's kind of overkill.

    Money isn't a huge issue if it will actually last me a long time. 5-10 years? I just want to be able to spend a couple hundred dollars to upgrade my graphics card once in a while so i don't have to replace my whole system.

    And also...are there any limitations in terms of upgrading the mac pro (maybe 3 years down the road)? I know i can only use graphics cards that apple uses, but how about the hard drive? can i use any hard drive out there?

    Does this justify buying a mac pro? or should i just buy a windows system. I really don't want another iMac. It's also a pain to carry back to the store when something goes wrong with it.

    Thanks
    -Ken
     
  2. Erasmus macrumors 68030

    Erasmus

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    #2
    You do know how heavy Mac Pros are, right?

    My advice is, if you really don't want an iMac, maybe you should consider a Macbook Pro? The 330M in them at the moment will have no problems with Starcraft 2.

    On the subject of a PC, you can always buy a super cheap PC, or build one yourself with a decent graphics card, and buy a new mac as well, or just keep using your iMac for all non-gaming. Is your iMac still viable for that stuff, or does it need replacing?

    Mac Pros are pretty cool, but I think they are much too expensive for what they are, especially the low end ones. If you just want a new game machine, I think a PC is the best way to go.
     
  3. EasyJW macrumors member

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    Apr 22, 2010
    #3
    if you wanna game dude, build a cheap pc and buy a macbook or something [​IMG] no mac is really meant for games
     
  4. Erasmus macrumors 68030

    Erasmus

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    #4
    That is WRONG! Please stop spreading your FUD immediately <joke>. You are clearly ignoring the iPod Touch and iPad. Two macs built for gaming.
     
  5. Stepint0sh macrumors member

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    The Netherlands
    #5
    Plus he is totally forgetting Steam. ;)
     
  6. DeSnousa macrumors 68000

    DeSnousa

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    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    #6
    Buy a windows box for gaming and connect it to a low end iMac 27 inch :) Or get a high end iMac and when it is slow for gaming buy a windows box.
     
  7. tomscott1988 macrumors regular

    tomscott1988

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2009
    Location:
    UK
    #7
    Buy the Pro

    Hi, I have the 2008 mac pro 2.8ghz with 10gb of ram, 2.32tb of drives, the new Nvidia 285GTX and 2x23" apple cinema displays.
    I decided to buy a Mac Pro over an iMac because of my profession, I am a Graphic designer and Photographer working for a newspaper/freelance so it was a no brainer for me, and within 6 months it earned its keep. The power this thing has is incredible it chomps through 500mb .psd's at lightning speed. But i bought the 2.8ghz because it was being discounted at £1500, (rare i know but places like John Lewis do this when the newer hardware is arriving) because of the newer nahalem pros. In uk pounds the price between the older 2.8ghz and the 2.26ghz was nearly £1000! and i felt that the extra money would be better spent on upgrades! Mac pros are behemoths anyway and what ever model you get they are very fast and a better option for the future than an iMac! I mean I love the iMac and have 7 in the office, but these have just been upgraded to the newer 'smaller' chin iMacs after having 2.16ghz white iMac's only lasting 4 years of constant hammer, so if you are thinking long term the extra money on the mac pro is worth it! at the time also the 24" 3ghz core2duo iMac with 2gb of ram and a 500gb drive was nearly 1900! Apple prices in the UK shot up for some reason at this time of upgrade, the previous 3ghz iMac was around the £1400 mark. Probably to do with recession and prices going up etc.
    So it made sense to buy a faster pro and save £400 over the iMac, So i got this one with the standard config of 320gb drive and the ATI 2600xt. I bort a second hand ati 1900xt and 8gbs (2x4gb) of ram to add to it and 2x1TB drives. To answer your question you can chuck any HDD in that is SATA. Those upgrades cost me about £550 and the thing is like lightening! I was dual booting into windows but the 1900XT was v loud and running v hot so i decided to upgrade to the Evga 285GTX and this thing is quick! running most games on my 23" apple cinema display at 1900x1200! It is also extremely quiet even on full load, i can barely hear the thing!
    With Steam now coming to the mac I would say yes get the pro, graphics card upgrades are few and far between with the only real options being the ATI 4870 and the Evga 285GTX but with this new development apple may start to bring out upgrades more frequently.
    With you saying you watch video, well my pro will encode video v quick - (.mkv to .mp4) an 8gb 1080 blu ray rip around the 1 hour mark and if your talking tv shows a 2gb HD lost episode will convert in about 15-18 minutes its unbelievable my macbook will take about 5 hours to convert an 8gb film!
    The thing im most disappointed in is that the dvd drive bays still use IDE so if you want to add a blu ray drive you have to root a SATA lead from the motherboard! ANOYING! but im guesing all the new pros will come with the SATA option. But that is the nice thing about the Pro is that it has the ports on the motherboard to expand these parts.
    So my mac is 2 years old and with the upgrades it still benchmarks at 12,568! similar to the 2.26ghz mac pro. To put this into perspective my macbook is the unibody 2.4 core2duo with 2gb of ram and it benches at about 2300 so the newer pros will be amazingly fast! but people do get hung up on buying the newer hardware if you can find the 2.26ghz version at discount when the new pro comes out! buy that! you can still get the 3 year warranty but save £1000 the price of the newer macs is getting hard to justify especially if your not earning any money with the machines, then you can spend the saving on upgrades!
    Hope this helps
    tom
     
  8. mac1984user macrumors 6502a

    mac1984user

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    Dec 10, 2009
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    United Kingdom
    #8
    Honestly, don't buy a Mac for this. I absolutely love Mac OS X and have been buying Macs all my life, but for gaming, I have a PC. Why? For the VERY reasons you've just described in your post. The iMac will not last for gaming. You have about two years of just 'decent' gaming when you buy a brand new iMac. After that, you can pretty much write it off. While I would recommend a Mac Pro, I think it's just too expensive to warrant buying for gaming purposes. AND, if you want to purchase a new graphics card after a few years, you're going to be paying a high premium for a replacement when you can get a PC-equivalent for a fraction of the price.

    In 2006, I built a PC and it is STILL playing new games on high settings, because of the ease and relatively low cost of replacing vital components. Often, it is not just enough to replace the graphics card to ensure high-end gaming performance. Though I have not purchased a new motherboard/CPU, I have overclocked my Core 2 Duo, added loads of RAM and replaced the GPU three times. All of these expenditures COMBINED over the years still do not equal the price of the lowest-end Mac Pro.

    I know you love Mac OS. It's fantastic. There's no reason to give that up. Use your current iMac for EVERYTHING else. Just shift a bit in your chair and boot up that PC that you spent a mere $1000 on to enjoy a high-end gaming experience that will last for 5+ years if you are willing to tinker with it every now and again.
     
  9. Penn Jennings macrumors 6502

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    Apr 22, 2010
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    Michigan
    #9
    He's still right. Macs are not good gaming platforms compared to Windows. The Windows platform has far more titles and will get new titles first in nearly all cases.

    Steam won't make up for the that :/
     
  10. tomscott1988 macrumors regular

    tomscott1988

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2009
    Location:
    UK
    #10
    windows on a mac

    Are you forgetting you can dual boot with windows? many people dont want to have two computers with 2 monitors/keyboard and mice! or have the hassel of changing all the cables when you do!
    You say windows is the better platform you are completely right, but if steam grows like it did on the pc then we are looking to the future! plus with a dual boot you have best of both worlds, and the only mac worthwhile having for both purposes and for future planning is the pro. Look at the growth of osx in the last 5 years! hence why steam is coming to mac! spending £1000 on a pc he wants a mac! and if gaming is the only reason for buying a pc then £1000 is alot of money! because at the end of the day he still wants to upgrade the iMac??
    Plus i bet if you put that pc up on ebay it wont make more than £50 after 5 years! because it wont be able to run any new windows software! I had an old g5 with a single 1.8 processor and sold it for £450 after nearly 8 years of service! when i payed £1600 for it. 8 years is a ridiculous time in terms of computer hardware! Macs are always worth more than pcs and will keep a considerable amount of their value for longer making buying one even more attractive!
     
  11. The Final Cut macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2009
    #11
    If your going to buy a mac pro , you have to buy the 23" or 30" cinema display for it, and thest best graphics card(s). Once you perfect it like that you probably could have ix 2-3 macbook pro's.
     
  12. tomscott1988 macrumors regular

    tomscott1988

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    UK
    #12
    Not really, the apple cinema displays are a high price but high quality, problem with most screens in the contrast ratio, 20,000:1 40,000:1 60,000:1 the ratio is far too high, making good prints nearly impossible! making a decent profile from such a high ratio is difficult hence why apple hasnt brought out a newer professional screen i think the ACD isnt even 10,000:1, but means making profiles alot easier. But unless you are a professional looking for results you would typically sell and are looking for a high res, high contrast screen for video/gaming you can buy 23" screens for £200 now although they wont fit with the rest of the system.
    But true the iMac comes with a decent screen but for print they are useless! and it comes with the price but still has the same problem, the graphics cards in the iMacs are lower end graphics for a desktop anyway so your buying lower end technology before you even receive it and give it a year two years and it will start struggling! but as with most desktops you have to buy a screen.. so.. unless you understand what you need and what the screen offers then a high quality one isnt needed although the ACD are v old now and are in desperate need of upgrade that would be another reason not to buy one of them! :)
     
  13. efstuck thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2007
    #13
    Thanks everyone for the response.

    I think I just feel like I am 'wasting' money/table space with a windows system AND an imac. But I think most of you make a good point on buying a windows system and using my imac on the side for everything else.

    How many <b>years</b> would a mac pro realistically last me for my casual gaming needs? I tend to stick with titles for a while and don't try every new game under the sun. IE i've been playing warcraft 3/dota since it came out. Some left 4 dead. and now Heroes of Newerth. I don't need the settings to be ultra for everything later on..medium is fine. Just not low.
     
  14. Umbongo macrumors 601

    Umbongo

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    England
    #14
    A 2010 Mac Pro should last you 3+ years of gaming with the same configuration assuming you get the high end video card option, whatever that may be. You will probably end up paying over £2,000 for a 2.8GHz quad core, 3GB memory and a Radeon 5850 or GeForce 470, more if they go with the 5870 or 480.

    Not an easy choice to make, the logistics of having two systems aside, the fact you can build a gaming PC that will perform better, even without overclocking, for half that price can be a hard thing to take on. I guess for the same sort of money youd be paying for a Mac Pro + display you could get a 27" iMac and a gaming PC using the iMac display for both, but that brings its own problems.

    Personally I'd probably go Mac notebook, gaming PC and a nice display for them to share.
     
  15. The Final Cut macrumors 6502

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    Sep 5, 2009
    #15
    So your one of those people who buy a $4000 mac pro and plug it into a black $99 acer monitor?. Apple makes some of the best monitors out there, especially when compared to 90% of the market.
     
  16. tomscott1988 macrumors regular

    tomscott1988

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    UK
    #16
    read you fool!

    No im not, as i am a professional and if you read my other posts you will see I have 2x23" ACD! all i was pointing out is that you dont have to spend £600 on an apple display for gaming/video and there are cheaper options out there. To be honest £600 is ridiculous for a screen! unless you are going to be making money with it! Hence why professionals buy mac pros with apple screens to make money! and mine payed for itself after 6 months so was worth it! I was making a point that to reduce cost the apple cinema displays arnt the way forward unless you are a professional or have more money than sense! and if you read the other comments this buyer is after a gaming machine, video and general purposes so a £600 screen would be an expensive addition! and there are cheaper options that would be more suitable.
     
  17. macsmurf macrumors 65816

    macsmurf

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2007
    #17
    If you buy a PC you can upgrade it several times over the years before even getting close to what a Mac Pro would cost you today.

    Mac Pros are not made for gaming and even today games aren't very good at taking advantage of multiple cores.

    In my opinion, Mac Pros are for professionals who need an awful lot of processing power doing tasks that are parallizable. In other words, almost noone.
     
  18. seb-opp macrumors 6502

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    London/Norwich
    #18
    I'd say get a mac mini and an xbox or gaming pc connected to the same monitor. If you want a mac for gaming you'll be disappointed. Yes, gaming is possible on the mac, but unlike a PC, you can't get a mac that's tailored for gaming
     
  19. JasO macrumors regular

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    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    #19
    you sound like a somewhat serious gamer, so in that case I say you really should get some sort of PC.

    PC and iMac/Macbook Pro sounds like a good option.

    I have had a MacPro before and sold it within 6 months, why, because it was really overkill what what I needed. I thought having four drive bays would be a real great thing, however I didn't find it much of a pain when I had externals hooked up to my laptop.

    Either way, the 27" iMac is a killer deal right now, and I wish that was around when I purchased my MacPro.

    i5 or i7 iMac will be great machine for 2-5 years.
     
  20. tomscott1988 macrumors regular

    tomscott1988

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    UK
    #20
    wait for development

    I think with the development of steam, it is going to be an interesting future for the mac. Yes at the moment macs are not geared up to extreme high performance gaming and it will cost you to get the higher end graphics cards, but looking toward the future, steve jobs seems to be pushing further with gaming on the portable devices and with the introduction of steam i think we will see this on the mac too! also more development of graphics cards for the mac! i think within the next 5 years we will see a complete change with mac supporting dual graphics configurations and a higher end experience.
    Saying that buying a pc and upgrading it over this period is going to be cheaper than buying a mac is just wrong! if your interested in buying a high end gaming pc you look at alienware and tell me that a half decent spec pc from them is cheaper than a pro because they are even more expensive! and its still a pc! and for som1 who is mac going back to a pc full time would be an uncomfortable experience.
    I bought my brand new mac pro 2 years ago for £1500 the 2.8 octo core with the basic config and spent £800 on it with 10gig of ram a 285gtx and 2tb of drives now tell me any pc that would have a better experience, £2300 for a mac pro with that spec is a bargain if you ask me or any other mac user! fair enough its 2 years old but benches at over 12,000 now many pcs would have difficulty getting there for tht money!
     
  21. maghemi macrumors 6502

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    Melbourne Australia
    #21
    Stop being a bunch of girls and stump up the cash for an octo core mac pro, get the gtx285 and a couple of ssd's in raid 0 and your gaming with be fine :D

    *edit*

    On a serious note. I passed on my old PC when I moved to mac a few years back (core2duo 1.86, 7600gt, 2gb ram). That PC is now 3 odd years old. It's video card and processor speed is currently dwarfed by the decent specced 27" imacs, yet it still handles most games with relative ease.

    This whole 'apples will only last a couple of years at running games' is total malarkey. Sure to get gaming with a lot of titles you need to bootcamp, but that's more a developer issue, and with any luck the advent of steam will help with that.

    So a 27" i7 Imac with the 4850 video will do you fine for a number of years with gaming, and a Mac Pro with either the 4870 or GTX285 will last a bit longer than that.

    The video cards are now far better than 2-3 years ago, and I suspect will only get better as the market share increases and user demographic expands.
     
  22. macsmurf macrumors 65816

    macsmurf

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    Aug 3, 2007
    #22
    While it's true that an Apple will probably last 3 years I would much rather have something upgradeable which will performs excellent at all times instead of just lasting. As you mentioned, graphic cards have improved a lot over the last 2-3 years (and the 2-3 years before that etc.) which would seem to suggest that the graphics in games will take advantage of these improvements (as they did the 2-3 years before that etc.). That being said, you can probably still run the games at lower settings but why do that when you can get a better gaming experience cheaper?
     
  23. jpjandrade macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2010
    #23
    Personally, if money was not an issue and I wanted to buy my perfect gaming setup, it would probably be a 27'' i7 iMac for work / browsing / etc, and for gaming I would set up a kickass PC rig with a radeon HD 5970, which has mini DVI out so you can use the iMac as a monitor. This way, I would get the best of both worlds, wouldn't have to use the PC for anything else but gaming and wouldn't have to sacrifice OS X hard drive space for Windows.
     
  24. tomscott1988 macrumors regular

    tomscott1988

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    UK
    #24
    The same argument stands

    You still need 2s the amount of space and 2s the amount of peripherals to have 2 computers! the mantra of mac is space and a clean workspace! and if the only use of a pc is gaming then I would say its a waste of money and put both towards a kick ass mac pro! I mean come on an octo core xeon unless were tlking ridiculous priced and cooled systems there isnt much that will touch one! in terms of power yes there may be faster windows systems at cheaper prices but the point is that macs work 100% of the time and are completely reliable where as home made pcs are not, unless you are extremely well adapted at pissing around with it all the time! hence why I changed over to mac anyway! messing with settings wore tiresome quickly. The whole experience of a windows system, temperamental, and in a working environment its not ideal! even for gaming! I want to just get on the game and not mess with it!
    Unless you are going to buy a system from dell/alienware that would be the only place worthwhile getting a pc from, because all the components are optimized to work together without glitch! how many normal computer users have the ability of optimizing there components to increase their reliability!? half the problem with windows pc's is compatibility there is so much stuff out there and it all has to be supported by windows whereas with a mac there are a handful of components that are optimized perfectly to run without hiccup hence the reliability of a mac!
    Plus the pro will be a much more capable system in 5 years than a windows system! apple makes all its hardware capable of running on all versions of OSX except snow leopard for obvious reasons! my old power mac g5 on leopard booted the same speed as the octo pro on leopard! where as my Athlon 3800x2 with its 5 year old components wont support vista or windows 7! plus talking about upgrading a windows pc who has £300-400 to buy the new version of windows!? unless your gna pirate it! which is even more unstable! so the costs probably arnt too far apart and for the hassle for me it would be the pro every time! I did and i wont look back!
     
  25. tomscott1988 macrumors regular

    tomscott1988

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    Apr 14, 2009
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    UK
    #25
    is everyone forgetting that steam is coming to mac or is it just me? and within a year most games will be supported... no brainer
     

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