Has anyone decided to buy an iMac instead?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by td2243, Feb 4, 2014.

  1. td2243 macrumors 6502

    Mar 14, 2013
    Santa Fe, NM
    Just wondering if anyone has jumped ship from the big MP wait times and bought an iMac. Is it performing like you thought? Any regrets?

    A souped up iMac is HALF the price of the BTO Mac Pro I wanted, so its hard not to consider that option. Especially when there are so many not so thrilled reviews.
  2. carlosm86 macrumors member

    Jan 29, 2014
    IT was honestly one of my options but I really cant stand huge 27" screens for a monitor.
  3. snouter macrumors 6502a

    May 26, 2009
    I considered one hard.

    A 27" IPS, with i7, SSD, ram is under $3000.

    I just don't like the iMac (they seem to last ~2-3 years before getting kinda junky and if one part fails...) and it does not represent enough of an upgrade "for my workflow."

    I think it boils down to your workflow. If it's 2d design, 1080p, light 3d then the iMac could be a good buy.

    I just ripped off two overnight 3d renders though, and I know I made the right choice. The CPUs were pegged for about 16 hours each time. No worries.

    For some people though, the iMac is definitely a solid choice though.

    With the nMP you also need key/mouse, pricey ram, monitors.
  4. macpro2000 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 20, 2005
    Tried one for 2 days. Great computer, but took it back not because of the iMac but because I like symmetry and the 2 thunderbolt didsplays didn't match the iMac in glare and design and height. If a new design comes out before nMP are readily available in bto, then I'll get the iMac and 2 thunderbolts. Otherwise I'll get a bto nMP 6core d500 1tb ssd. Either way is a win.
  5. Oudinot macrumors regular


    Mar 16, 2013
    Birmingham, AL USA
    Just sold my old Mac Pro and purchased the high end 27" iMac. Spent all week transferring data and reworking my work area. I like the large screen and miss the internal drives and upgrade ability of the older Mac Pro models. Either system was going to be a change to what I had done before so it's no big deal. Comparing the low end nMP to the high end iMac wasn't enough difference for me to stay with the MP. If one is comparing the middle to high end nMP to the iMac, well then, that's a horse of a different color.
  6. jbg232 macrumors 65816


    Oct 15, 2007
    Just purchased top of the line 2013 iMac - i7, 1Tb SSD, 780M, and will aftermarket upgrade to 32GB. My main usage is for aperture and I just couldn't justify the price difference between the mac pro and iMac. I've been hemming and hawing for 2 months about what to do and FINALLY pulled the trigger this last weekend after reading every mac pro review I could find. The other thing for me is that I already have a 30" apple cinema display and wireless keyboard, mouse, speakers, and external webcam which I basically have no use for and have no craigslist value (except for the 30" ACD) so that made my choice even harder.

    Ultimately, I really think that iMacs are MORE future proof than mac pros. Why do I think this? If you look through macs historically through mactracker interestingly the computers that can run the latest Mac OS X versions the longest are iMacs (average about 0.5-1 year LONGER than mac pros). i.e., Mavericks can run on mid-2007 iMac and only early 2008 mac pros. Lion can run on mid 2006 mac pros and mid 2006 iMacs. It obviously has to do with specific hardware but given the improvements in the iMac (haswell) vs the improvement in the mac pro (dual gpu) I think the OS of 5 years from now will most likely require the haswell over the dual gpu (but that is just an educated guess) as its "install-limiting component."

    Here's what I think are the pros of the mac pro:
    1. 4K ability for the future - the biggest pro and the reason to get one - but because it isn't fully supported yet for reasonably priced monitors and that likely won't happen for awhile I ultimately chose not to get this
    2. Faster SSD performance - the PCIe-SSD of the mac pro is about 300MB/sec faster than the iMac in most reviews. It likely comes down to bus design limitations but seems to max out at 700MB/sec on the iMac and 1000MB/sec on the mac pro. However, I don't edit 4K videos so this will likely have very little real world impact for me. The random 4K read/write is higher on the mac pro which WOULD be noticeable but not worth the price difference in my mind
    3. Dual GPU - This MAY become incredibly important in the future. However, I don't think it will the way people think it will. The reason why is because you can't put dual-gpus in laptops because of their power draw. This likely won't change in the future given the state of chips currently. Apple likes battery life and they won't require their OS and core apps to REQUIRE dual GPUs if they can't retain battery life. This puts the dual-GPU aware software firmly in the professional community. Will aperture get support for it, you betcha - will it be THAT much faster with it - NO, because photos are not at all like videos in terms of processing requirements
    4. Multi-core performance - Slightly overrated in my opinion because most apps now (and I predict the next 3 years minimum) will not use multi-core functionality. We've been waiting forever for dual and quad core functionality and even that is incredibly limited in the real world despite having the chips for 7+ years in the market. Basically, it's nice, but very niche and not worth it I think.
    5. Thunderbolt 2 - It's incredibly important for 4K monitors, but I don't need it for external storage yet. Even if I run a RAID array in my future (basically the only reason to need TB 2), the price of a TB2 array far outweighs the benefits. Would I get it if money were no object? Yes, but I'm not that person.
    6. D700 - this is a serious GPU and much better than the 780M. D300/D500 not so much for my uses
    7. 64GB memory limit - I love RAM and this is a good reason to get a mac pro
    8. "Newest Tech" - there is some validity to this reason to get it but once again, not worth the $1500 price premium
    Are these reasons valid? Yes. Are they worth the price difference? Only you know your budget. I WOULD get a mac pro with a pegasus 2 array if I had $7000 that I had no other use for, but my realistic budget and my sense of reason tell me that it's just not worth it for ME to get a mac pro when an iMac is basically just as fast (if not faster) and about 1/2 the price (after I sell the apple cinema display). That small difference in performance/future proofing was not balanced by the incredible increase in cost.

    Anyways, yes, I got an iMac. Who knows though, maybe I'll return it :)
  7. k-hawinkler macrumors member


    Sep 14, 2011

    Thanks for your excellent analysis.

    Until recently I used a 9 year old dual PPC G5 with Firmtek eSATA cards and enclosures as a file server.
    Why? It had astounding I/O bandwidth to Disk and SSD RAIDs.
    Over time I upgraded disks from 0.5 to 1, 2, 3, and now 4 TB drives.
    Not only did the drives increase in capacity but also in bandwidth.
    Burst 6 Gbit/s capable drives in 3 Gbit/s enclosures certainly are fast enough for my backup needs.
    Now with two converters my substantial storage investment should carry over to Thunderbold connectivity.
    Expected performance is indicated here. http://macperformanceguide.com/Thunderbolt-FirmTek-Q6G.html

    Hopefully in early March I should receive my nMP configured as

    3.5GHz 6-core with 12MB of L3 cache
    64GB (4x16GB) of 1866MHz DDR3 ECC
    1TB PCIe-based flash storage
    Dual AMD FirePro D700 GPUs with 6GB of GDDR5 VRAM each.

    What also influenced my decision to order the nMP was

    Four USB 3 ports
    Six Thunderbolt 2 ports
    Dual Gigabit Ethernet ports
    One HDMI 1.4 port.

    If this machine remotely lasts as long as my dual PPC G5 I am looking at a cost of roughly $1k per year.
    Not too bad alone for its data storage capability.

    Of course, I also expect this machine to fulfill my computing needs for the next few years.
    My 9 year old 30" ACD is still in fairly good shape and hopefully lasts until 4k displays are more readily available.

    This machine should also easily accommodate Thunderbolt2 RAIDs for the actively worked on data.
    Also booting from an external device may become important in the out years.
  8. SuperPolli macrumors regular

    Apr 20, 2013
    New Jersey

    I didn't change from a Mac Pro to iMac. My Mac Mini broke down and I thought about replacing it with an iMac. I looked at the prices but they were just too expensive. I ended up just fixing the Mac Mini. However, if I had the money for an iMac I would probably go with a 27 inch iMac with a 1 TB Fusion Drive and 16 GB of RAM. I also get AppleCare with every Apple product I buy. It's paid for itself more than once with different products....
  9. analog guy macrumors 6502

    Mar 6, 2009
    MP3,1 owner who faced the same iMac/nMP decision.

    i've had the MP3,1 for 5.5 years and it is still solid; i could wring another year or more out of it but decided it is time to move on.

    i've posted similar stuff in other threads, but i was biased against the iMac due to concerns with all-in-one units. combining devices, in my opinion, increases the likelihood of being without everything if one piece goes down.

    i decided to order an iMac core i7/780M w/ 512 SSD to evaluate, while i waited for my nMP. both iMac and nMP meant that i'd be moving to external storage , so that was a wash.

    for roughly equivalent configurations, the nMP costs ~$1800 more than the iMac (4c/16GB/512/d300 + Thunderbolt display vs i7/16GB/512/780M).

    my nMP arrives tomorrow (actually a 6c/512/d500) and i can perform some tests. i did some benchmarking of the iMac (check the photoshop & lightroom threads).

    my computing involves working with still photographs, audio, and at least one windows VM at all times (and occasional casual video (iMovie/QT)) -- so definitely not the professional video user for whom the nMP is a no-brainer.

    of course either the iMac or the nMP will be a huge jump vs the MP3,1. i have been living with the iMac for a number of weeks now (apple understand that i wanted to do a head-to-head comparison and the nMP backlog has made that impossible; i can still return the iMac) and have been pleasantly surprised at how great it has been.

    although the poster above pointed out that iMacs seem to be able to run the latest version of OS X a bit longer than Mac Pros, i'm not sure that is the best measure of longevity. one has been able to increase memory, add storage, upgrade video, add USB3 (via PCI card), etc, which has made the MP a more viable option (meaning ability to handle work-loads) for longer than the integrated solution. i realize that internal storage has gone away and graphics upgrades are questionable proposition on the NMP. we also go back to that risk of one part failing and taking out the system which pretty much -- by definition -- means the iMac will have lesser longevity *on average*.

    for still photography, audio and VMs, the maxed-out iMac is an excellent option if one can tolerate the risk of one part failing.

    i'll know lots more in 24-48h (specifically with respect to whether the nMP is better/faster on my work loads to justify the price differential) and can maybe offer more informed and/or quantified perspective.
  10. RoastingPig, Feb 5, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2014

    RoastingPig macrumors 68000


    Jul 23, 2012
    Depends on what your going from like if you have a 1.1-3.1 Mac Pro
    I think you should update to an iMac or nMP ASAP even if you have a low end 4.1-5.1 but I have a 2.66 12 core with a 670evga and a 500gb tempo ssd and I feel like I don't need to upgrade for a long time..I want the 6core nMP but can't justify myself into buying it
  11. snouter macrumors 6502a

    May 26, 2009
    The nMP has advantages right now over the iMac specifically in FCPX.

    The nMP may have advantages in AdobeCC if everyone gets to optimizing for OpenCL, specifically Adobe. On my Windows workstation I had to get rid of the AMD HD6950 video card and go with Nvidia 760GTX because the AMD card was crashing like crazy using the Mercury Playback engine in Premiere Pro. The AMD was supposed to work, but after I changed video cards I never had stability issues again. Adobe still seems a little CUDA biased at the moment.

    The nMP has advantages in software that hammers cores like 3d rendering. The nMP also can handle having cores hammered for long periods of time. It's silent under full load and temps stay well within tolerance, ~77C in my experience.

    The nMP is the only way short of a Mac Mini to get a Mac without a screen if that's something you need to do.

    I've worked at a few ad agencies and it seems like the iMacs end up in junk piles after ~3 years. True, a home user may not use them as hard as a workplace, but, there are a lot more failure points in an all in one and the iMac is not that easy to repair.

    The iMac uses the latest Haswell processors which are the usual 5-10% faster than Ivy Bridge clock for clock and they are nice on power, although I find Ivy Bridge to be pretty decent on power and heat.

    Peripherals and connectivity, you know what you need, so, whatever there.

    If you can live with the built-in screen and the laptop video card, the iMac is certainly a powerful computer that comes much cheaper than the nMP.

    If you know you need more video card power, are willing to wait for the software to catch up in some instances, need more cores to render and need the thermal advantages that the nMP brings, then, there it is. Even the base 4c nMP needs pricier ram, a keyboard, mouse and a screen, so the price is quite a bit more than the iMac. I think it would last longer, probably by about a factor of 2, and retain somewhat more resale value in comparison to the iMac. Personally, I don't think the 4c nMP makes much sense, so, you're really looking at the 6c and by the time you build that out with ram, key, mouse, monitor, it's going to be about twice as much as a honked out iMac.

    I strongly considered an iMac but I really needed to render 3d and video a lot. I'm on my 3rd over night this week and I know I made the right choice to go with the nMP. I would be baking and torturing the iMac with this kind of use.

    I think you know the nMP is the better buy if you feel like your workflow is just a bit much for the MBP or the iMac, especially thermally. I think that's a pretty small set of users honestly. I think my nMP has spent 40% of it's short life with the CPU pegged.

    The Mac I really wanted, they just refuse to make. Basically the 2014 Cube with an LGA2011 4 and 6 core non-Xeon CPU. I know, I know dead horse. But I just could never pull the trigger on an iMac and have been waiting since forever to get back into the MacPro game. I love my nMP 6c, but the $5000 price tag comes with a bit of, like whoa, especially when my homebuilt 4930k romps it for half the price.
  12. td2243 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mar 14, 2013
    Santa Fe, NM
    I sincerely thank you all for the responses. It is a great help. I'm still leaning toward a MP, even though the iMac is tempting.
  13. iMcLovin macrumors 68000


    Feb 11, 2009
    I own an iMac 27" late 2012 with 768 ssd, 680mx and i7 processor, 32gb of ram(top of the line previous model) before that one I had the top of the line 2009 iMac. The 2009 model still runs as good as it did at day 1, my kids use it today. The current iMac runs great ever since I got it it. I love the monitor, the performance is great and it's dead silent.
    I have considered many times over if I should get a Mac Pro this year around. But I expect the next iMac to get a decent update, and because my primary use of the machine is after effects and photoshop, I won't be able to exploit what's under the hood of a Mac Pro (sadly)..and if you don't actually work in a software that take advantage of the MP, you throw a LOT of money into nothing!....and from what I've seen, final cut is pretty much the only software that use all that horsepower. And besides I could happily work on the current iMac for a couple years more as well, so I'm sure the next gen will be good.

    Another thing is that I want an apple screen if I buy a MP, and currently the screen in the iMac is better than the current Cinema Display.
  14. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    iMacs can't do 4K over DisplayPort 1.1 ( sure limited to 30Hz, but not work at all ? ) ?

    MBP 15" has had dual GPUs for several years. Likewise the iMacs has also historically had dual GPUs. Completely symmetrical dual GPUs? No. But two of them? That has been around for years.

    The software to enable them ( OpenCL for Intel HD GPUs ) has been missing but that finally got completed for 10.9 (Mavericks) for the newer HD GPUs.

    There is little in the Mac Pro to have the "Compute" GPU lit up and consuming power. In fact, the shared thermal system is indicative that they don't want everything all lit up at the same time as being the normal operating mode.

    go to utility folder and start activity monitor. count the number of apps you use that have exactly one thread. Also count the number of PIDs that show up on that list.

    Individual threads inside of one specific app are not the sole consumer of CPU cores.

    OS X now has notifications running constantly. conceptually Siri natural language processing doesn't "have to" run on Apple data centers for Macs. All that has to happen is the OS X does more generally useful things than it used to for the core usage to go up.

    Not really. Vast majority of 4K monitors are going to be hooked up with HDMI and DisplayPort rather than Thunderbolt.

    TB v2 is important for perhaps Apple's future docking station display implementation, but that has little to do with overall 4K adoption or connectivity.
  15. wildmac macrumors 65816

    Jun 13, 2003
    Depends on what you get. It's more realistically $3500 with all the bells, or more if you get the 1TB SSD.

    These were my choices... (both gov discount prices)

    $3200 iMac

    3.5GHz Quad-core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 3.9GHz
    32GB 1600MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 4X8GB
    3TB Fusion Drive
    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M 4GB GDDR5

    $4000 nMP Quad/32/D300/512/Applecare

    That's close enough that for now, I'm still sticking with the nMP that I ordered.

    Still might change if I find a 5,1 at a steal of a price.
  16. snouter macrumors 6502a

    May 26, 2009
    + key/mouse/monitor(s)

    nMP goes up too if you choose better than D300 and a larger SSD
  17. jbg232 macrumors 65816


    Oct 15, 2007
    30Hz is unusable for any kind of productivity. You can see the mouse lagging across the screen. That's why there's an out roar from the 2013 rMBP owners, because Apple has only certified 4K at 60Hz to the mac pro.

    Having two POWERFUL GPUs has not been power-conscious to apple. The entire reason they had two GPUs was so that one was low power and the other was high power. They won't (at least in the near future) put dual-powerful-gpus in a laptop. It will just kill battery life given the current state of GPUs.

    Most apps will barely take advantage of the parallel processing abilities of even current day chips. Outside of media/encoding/etc, few others are able to do so.

    TB2 implementation IS Displayport 1.2 which is required drive 4K resolutions at 60Hz given the extreme bandwidth that many pixels need. HDMI 2.0 is required to drive 4K resolutions at 60Hz (not 1.4). It's basically the WHOLE reason to get TB2, i.e. to drive a 4K display.
  18. aggri1 macrumors 6502

    Jul 21, 2010
    I think you've slightly missed the point of the quote that this sentence of yours refers to. The point was that most 4K displays would not be Thunderbolt displays. Presumably, most 4K displays will be driven with DP1.2 and HDMI directly from a graphics card - no Thunderbolt involved at all.

    Only on Apple Macs where the display signal comes out 'embedded' in a Thunderbolt signal is Thunderbolt 2 required for 60Hz 4K.

    Therefore, I think the quote is valid.

    I'm not sure what you meant with "TB2 implementation IS Displayport 1.2"; you imply with "IS" that the two are identical, but in fact TB is more than DP.
  19. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I think if someone is considering a nMP their needs far outstrip what the iMac can produce.
  20. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    Because looking at high pixel count static photos requires 60Hz? Or 24Hhz 4K movies require 60Hz? 'Any' is just a sweeping generalization. That are more than a few folks buying up the relative high discount priced Seiki 4K UHD monitors that are capped at 30Hz.

    With 6 monitor ports the 4K monitor doesn't have to be primary computer program interface monitor. The 4K monitor can be used for viewing in quite productive contexts.

    The Sun can come up in the morning and there are folks complaining on macrumors.com .

    Powerful, in terms of computational power, is relative to what you have. In terms of FLOPs thoughput versus a CPU they are relatively powerful.
    This issue isn't about what woulda-coulda have installed in the systems but getting the max out of what is already there.

    And common sense. If running a dual CPU render on pure batteries... sure that is going tank battery lifetime. The trivial solution is to just plug in. Besides, frankly in terms of FLOPs/Watt the GPUs are better than the CPUs so even if don't plug in will get better battery lifetime on embarrassingly parallel computations if do move it to the GPU.

    That doesn't obviate using both at the same time if plugged in or if the computations are more efficient doing them on the second instead of the CPU.

    Thread and process actually being utilized counts say otherwise. It isn't apps as it is having work to do. Apps that do not do much can't. While everything can't be 100% parallelized the opposite is turn also. Few, if any modern apps are 100% serialized.

    Thunderbolt is Thunderbolt. Thunderbolt is not Display Port under a different name. Thunderbolt is not PCIe under a different name. Thunderbolt transports in its own protocol/format Thunderbolt data. What is being encoded to be transported is DP and PCIe format data, but they are not the same.

    60Hz isn't the complete spectrum of 4K usage. Sure TBv2 updates to cover DP v1.2. Eventually some future verson of TB will update to cover the updates to PCIe. The covered protocols update and later TB will encode those new ones also.

    It is the biggest marketing win. Hooping on the 4K hype bandwagon is what everyone is doing right now. 4K is on the 'hot or not' list.

    However, the Mac Pro with zero PCIe slots is a system and associated workloads that are likely going to make use of the PCIe throughput increase as well. Extremely low numbers of folks are going hook up more than on 4K monitor sytsems. With 3 TB controllers miniscule numbers of folks will b saturating all three with 4K video output data streams to TB monitors. Right now it is zero...... because there aren't any 4K TB monitors. Even after a TB 4K monitor arrives it will be marginally higher than zero.
  21. liquid stereo macrumors regular

    Jan 21, 2005
    Saint Paul

    I've long been a buyer of PowerMacs and MacPros. In late 2010 I decided to purchase 3 iMacs (27in, 8-core, i7, etc.). Three of them failed in a variety of ways.

    Thinking it is/was bad luck, I purchased another iMac in January 2014. That one failed (power supply) within 2 weeks.

    Never again.

  22. analog guy macrumors 6502

    Mar 6, 2009
  23. analog guy macrumors 6502

    Mar 6, 2009
    this isn't a fair comparison. compare the BTO iMac (fully loaded) vs the comparable Mac Pro (4c/same memory/same SSD).

    one could spend $10k on an nMP, but that is not the most relevant comparison.
  24. snouter, Feb 7, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2014

    snouter macrumors 6502a

    May 26, 2009
    I worked at an ad agency type place. After 2-3 years, the iMacs just pile up as junk.

    Even if home use is easier, the iMac has a lot of failure points, relies less on fans than using the case to dissipate heat and is kinda hard to repair.

    It's obvious that people can use the MacPro for 5+ years as evidenced by how many people here are still running 2006-2009 machines.

    If you get an iMac, definitely get the Apple Care, and expect to replace it after about 3 years. YMMV, but...
  25. analog guy macrumors 6502

    Mar 6, 2009
    if thunderbolt performance is important to the user, the nMP achieved faster disk performance vs a 2013 iMac -- even if the device was a TB1 enclosure.

    also the internal PCIe SSD of the nMP vs 2013 iMac (same size/manufacturer) was notably higher.

    not saying it should be the sole basis for a decision, but it all adds up.

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