Having second thoughts about iMac vs. Mac Pro. What would you do?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by StephenCampbell, Sep 25, 2013.

  1. StephenCampbell macrumors 65816

    Sep 21, 2009
    I was about to buy the new Haswell iMac, and then remembered that we still don't know exactly what the Pro has in store and how much it's going to cost.

    Here's what I'd be getting if I went with the iMac:

    27" 3.5GHz i7
    32GB ram (from OWC)
    3TB Fusion Drive
    GTX 780M 4GB
    4TB Mercury Elite Pro external hard drive for Time Machine
    Mercury Pro 15X Blu-Ray burner

    This will cost me around $3,800.

    What type of Mac Pro setup do you suppose $3,800 would be able to buy? I have a feeling that if I get the iMac now, it's going to turn out that a $3,800 Mac Pro setup would actually be more powerful and longer lasting.

    Keep in mind I'll still need the external hard drive and Blu-Ray drive with the Mac Pro, and perhaps even a second external hard drive. And the display.. unless I kept my 30" ACD.
  2. elithrar macrumors 6502


    May 31, 2007
    What are you using the machine for?

    I would estimate the entry level Mac Pro with some extra RAM would rapidly approach $3800.
  3. StephenCampbell thread starter macrumors 65816

    Sep 21, 2009
    I'm not using it for anything that needs the Mac Pro's power, but I always go for whatever is the best bang for the buck in terms of how long it will last. I've loved not having to upgrade for the past seven years from my 3.0GHz August 2006 Mac Pro.
  4. luffytubby macrumors 6502a


    Jan 22, 2008
    Seven years is a very long time, and in that extreme circumstance, I would tell you; I doubt either Mac Pro 2013 or Imac will last that long.

    Technology expands and grows faster every year. And Mac Pro having no upgradeability, I think it's lifespan, not in durability but in power will be shorter because technology makes even bigger leaps every year now than it did in 2006.
    On the other hand, Intel has been clear in that they are going to favor mobile platforms over desktops now in the grand scheme of things, (Haswell for example having very small performance improvements, while focusing on lower power consumption and battery drain), so maybe this won't apply to the Desktop platform as much. So maybe Mac Pro will have a very long life.

    Imac, I think you will beg for an update within 4 years. Maybe 3 if there turns out to be problems with the graphics cards (2010-2012 models). The CPU is desktop based, but most of the other components inside Imac are mobile components designed for Laptops. This is due to Imacs incredible thin design.

    The paradoxic nature of Imac is that you are paying for a screen as well, and you need to weigh in how much you need a high performance grade IPS display for those 3800 bucks.

    Personally, I would get the Imac because you get a free screen as well, and personally I would never need more than the Imac power. In fact I am not even going to want the Quadro card over the normal gaming card as I will be wanting better yields when gaming with the best drivers optimized for it, versus more raw unoptimized performance.

    Add to that, that I am not sold on Mac Pro's over minimalistic aesthetics, I this new Imac looks like a bargain. Haswell was build with mobile platforms in mind so it rocks the world even on Imac. The GPU has a 256-bit bus, and that might be hindering the access to the impressive 4GB GDDR5 video ram.

    Also, Imac allows you to expand the memory, and that is easy, so you don't need to pay an insane premium for that. At the same time, you really need the SSD, and SSD prices still suck generally, but on Apple computers. The makeup charge is so unfair. Don't go for mechanical outside thunderbolt external. You will want this in the longer run, even though Fusion Drive is a good idea.

    When you get an Imac you don't have a visible computer hidden beneath the desk or next to the monitor. It's right there. Another paradox though, is that you migjht need external media drives, apple super drives and other things plugged in 24/7 hiding it's clean aesthetics.
  5. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    Well, I think that within next 4-5 years we will have new gen RAM available for customers, which is over 10 times faster than current DDR-based solutions. That will make all machines obsolete. So I wouldn't worry much about future-proofing ;) Also, if you don't play games, there is no reason whatsoever to go for a 780M - even if you plan to keep the machine long-term.
  6. blanka macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    I feel the exact opposite.
    Seems like all machines are reaching some ceiling. Few years ago, there was a huge gap between the performance of Pro, iMac and Mini. Now they are rougly on par CPU wise, and not much changed since 2011 (top score on geekbench is around 13000 for a few years now). I think in 5 years the iPhone will do 13000 on GB too, and that the MacPro, iMac and Macmini just keep shrinking.

    Problem: there is no killer app demanding more. Guess 1080p video editting which was the major force behind the last 5 years, will not be followed by the same adaptation of 4K for home-use. And the attitude changes too. 5 years ago, I saw people making a nice edit of their vacation holiday video's. Today they upload snaps to Facebook and that's it. Most people stopped using the computer for serious creation.
  7. kazmac macrumors 603


    Mar 24, 2010
    On the silver scream
    I would wait to see what the nMac Pro offers

    If you feel it's worth it continue with a Mac Pro go for it, if I were to go Mac Pro I would be in the same place as the OP, I have no need for that kind of power, but if the longevity were a reality (at least 5 years), I'd definitely shell out the $.

    As others have said, buying a machine for future proofing, especially in light of the latest Mac designs probably isn't viable any more. I hope that is not the case, but...

    we'll see.
  8. jclardy macrumors 68040


    Oct 6, 2008
    I don't know, I am thinking they could be starting at $2k.

    256GB PCIe flash storage (Which is included in the Macbook Air), 16GB RAM in the base model, 6-core Xeon processor, and some kind of dual graphics card setup would probably be $2-$2.5k starting. Remember you are not getting a 27" IPS display with this computer. The main question though is in the graphics, it says workstation class ($$$) but I am not sure if that is on every model or only the high end. That is probably the main variable in factoring the price, considering you have two of whatever card it is.

    I was really close to pulling the trigger on either a new or refurb iMac, but I just have to wait and see what Apple does with the mac pro. A lot of people don't like the new external parts design, but I do - for the most part all I will be plugging in externally is some kind of thunderbolt RAID solution for fast external storage.

    I already own a Dell 24" IPS monitor and if I go the Mac Pro route I will probably buy a second one, so don't forget the display costs in your decision.
  9. trstam macrumors newbie

    Sep 26, 2013
    I have a 2008 mac pro with a Caldigit Raid Card running ML. It is still amazingly fast and more than I'd ever need. No plans to replace it in the near future unless it dies. The only issue I have with it is the power consumption - quite high.
  10. Bear macrumors G3

    Jul 23, 2002
    Sol III - Terra
    You should've broken the price up into 2 parts. The iMac plus memory and the external devices. The iMac I believe would be $2700 plus memory. I'm not sure a Mac Pro would come in that inexpensively considering you would probably need either a large SSD in it or another external drive.

    More importantly, you didn't say what you use your Mac for. Do you really need more power than the iMac has?
  11. theSeb macrumors 604


    Aug 10, 2010
    Poole, England
    There is no ceiling and we are never going to reach it. It's against all human spirit.
  12. StephenCampbell thread starter macrumors 65816

    Sep 21, 2009
    It's true that the power of the Macs are leveling out. If I had bought the first i7 iMac in late 2009 I wouldn't even be close to thinking of upgrading it yet. It has a geekbench of close to 10,000, only 4,000 less than the newest iMac four years later. Looking at it that way it seems like the current iMac would have great longevity, any quantum leaps in technology not withstanding.
  13. Bear macrumors G3

    Jul 23, 2002
    Sol III - Terra
    For your uses, the late 2009 might be fine. I'm running up against the graphics cards and lack of USB 3 and Thunderbolt. Although I'm not quite ready to replace mine, if it does happen to need a repair, I might opt to replace instead of repairing depending on the repair cost.
  14. StephenCampbell thread starter macrumors 65816

    Sep 21, 2009
    For my uses my 2006 Mac Pro is fine. The only reason I'm upgrading is because of the OS compatibility. I've had this thing for seven years, and it doesn't run the latest operating system. If you don't upgrade once your machine doesn't run the latest system, it's a quick slide to being quickly out of compatibility with everything. But in terms of the capabilities of the machine there's no other specific reason I need an upgrade right now.
  15. fig macrumors 6502a


    Jun 13, 2012
    Austin, TX
    At this point, if you really need that much power, you might as well wait it out and see what the Pro delivers.

    Unlike most of the "it's coming next week/month/year/decade" machine update rumors that we have tons of threads about, we actually know that there's a new Mac Pro coming in a month or two.
  16. KaraH macrumors 6502

    Nov 12, 2012
    After seeing the trash can it wiped out my main interest in the pro: the tower form factor.

    Now after having given up on the iMac as an idea before sniffing around the MP I am back to it again. After various OWC toys it will set me back 4K or so, but it will be a sweet machine.
  17. orangezorki macrumors 6502a

    Aug 30, 2006
    I like your enthusiasm, and I'll be queuing up with you if that turns out to be true, but I really doubt it. Apple aren't shy about keeping high margins, and the new MP does include pro grade tech. Even the lower end could be pretty pricey, just thinking about the Xeon and dual video cards.

    At that point, the CPU might be clocked lower than the iMac i7, and the video cards may not be a big improvement in gaming and general use. That could still make the low end MP fantastic for highly parallel number crunching but mediocre for everyday uses. With most of the upgradability gone, and the iMac including one of the best displays out there (not including wildly expensive colour calibrated Eizo/NEC/Barco models etc), the MP seems to be returning to pro-only territory - for better or worse.

  18. nutmac macrumors 68040

    Mar 30, 2004
    Based on my research, I suspect entry-level Mac Pro will be priced at $4000, which includes 6 cores E5, dual AMD FirePro 2GB, 512GB PCIe Flash, and 8GB RAM, as component cost alone will be north of $2500. But this is just my speculation and we will probably find out for sure in 3 weeks when Apple is expected to announce date and price of new iPads, Mavericks, Mac Pro, and MacBook Pro.

    It is also widely speculated that Apple will announce a Thunderbolt 2 accessory during this event, most likely retina 4K display (my guess is $2000).
  19. mslide macrumors 6502a

    Sep 17, 2007
    You're willing to spend $3,000 - 4,000 on a computer when your current one still meets your needs (aside from being able to run the latest OSX)? In that case, would a new Mac Mini be enough? It sounds like you don't need much horsepower. It's cheaper to replace a mini every few years than to buy something more powerful in hopes that it would last you longer.

    I don't know what you're doing with your computer, but I'd get something cheaper. If I didn't need discrete graphics, I'd get a mini.
  20. senseless macrumors 68000


    Apr 23, 2008
    Pennsylvania, USA
    That's what I did and you are right. I never expected to have my I7 for 4 years and not want to upgrade.
  21. in4fun macrumors regular

    Dec 4, 2012
    And thanks to that - people like me are still in business ;)
  22. APhillyApple macrumors regular

    Sep 3, 2013
    For that price you would get a lot of power in either machine. What is it you do that requires that much?
  23. inhalexhale1 macrumors 6502a

    Jul 17, 2011
    Ridgewood, NJ
    That's pretty good advice. No one knows for sure of course, but I doubt the new Mac Pro will have price equivalency to an iMac. As it is, the low end Mac Pro is $500 more than the high end 27" iMac. Plus you need a display.

    Probably the best option would be to just wait. Why not see for sure how much the Mac Pro is, and by then everything will be shipping with Mavericks anyway. It sounds like your current setup will be good for another month or two, right?
  24. Santabean2000 macrumors 68000


    Nov 20, 2007
    I have the 2009 iMac and I agree with you for the most part. Yes, no TB, USB 3 and aging graphics, but the biggest change in the last 4yrs is the proliferation of SSDs.

    The CPU eats up most stuff, but the slow disk inside is a real killjoy.
  25. alksion macrumors 68000


    Sep 10, 2010
    Los Angeles County
    I agree. I have a late 2009 i5 and only now, have I even considered upgrading to a new iMac.

    I wish I would have gotten the i7. I do a lot of video editing and rendering / encoding. If I had the i7 version, I probably would wait one more year for sure with out considering anything.

    It still is a fairly capable machine with 16GB RAM, but the lack of an SSD is most certainly a killjoy. I have considered installing a SSD, but SATA II is a real bottleneck and doesn't seem worth my labor to install because of that very reason.

    If I do get a new iMac, it'll be for Christmas, but I may just squeeze one more year out of this puppy.

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