I usually don't ask for buying advice, but...

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by xraydoc, Jan 2, 2014.

  1. xraydoc macrumors demi-god

    xraydoc

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    #1
    I consider myself a power user - I have around 3TB of data files (years of academic research, lectures, PowerPoint/Keynote presentations, Word & Pages files, PDFs, etc.) plus music, home video, movies, and around 900MB of iPhoto pictures.

    I need to run a Windows 7 virtual machine occasionally for some specialized Windows-only scheduling software and to verify my Mac-authored PowerPoint files display properly on Windows.

    I use Osirix (a medical imaging open-source package) frequently, which is fairly memory and CPU intensive, but not in any sort of life or death situation. Any video editing is done in iMovie, not Final Cut Pro. The app where I need the most power is Handbrake, though again I can walk away from it if I need to. I use Pixelmator for image editing, not Photoshop. Other than Acrobat (and the Flash browser plugin), I use no Adobe apps.

    So, now comes my question. I have a 2010 27" iMac with a 2.93GHz i7. It gets around 8200 on multithreaded Geekbench 32-bit (around 2200 single thread)...

    It's time to upgrade... But to what?

    I have a 6-core nMP on order, but at ~$5,000 (incl. extra RAM and SSD capacity), it may be vastly overkill for me.

    Anyone think a new, loaded 27" iMac to be a better fit? I already have a Dell 30" 3008FWP to use, so I don't really need a new display (which of course is inseparably included with an iMac). The iMac could be upgraded/replaced a second time before hitting the price of a 6-core nMP.

    The other option is a loaded up 2.6GHz i7 Mac mini and upgrading/replacing that 3-4x times for the same cost as a nMP.

    Anyone have any sage advice. Based on my usage above - Buy the nMP and keep it 4-5 years, upgrade the iMac then again in 2 years, or get a Mac mini and upgrade it annually??
     
  2. wildmac macrumors 65816

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    Jun 13, 2003
    #2
    Sounds like you are in a similar boat to me as far as what to buy.

    Since you don't need the monitor, the iMac really is not ideal. The MacMini might be a bit of an underperformer (or at least it might feel that way...).

    I'd recommend the base nMP, and use that price difference for some external storage that can be utilized in other ways, rather than the pricey SSD, which you really don't need for your uses.
     
  3. 2128506 macrumors regular

    2128506

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    #3
    If you decide to go with nMP, you will pay a lot of money for things you will not use and need - GPUs, Xeon CPU, ECC RAM, ultra-fast storage.

    I'd recommend iMac or Mac Mini - both will handle your tasks adequately. Loaded Mac Mini might be preferable, you don't have to buy new (and possibly problematic) display every time you upgrade.

    No offence, but you're not Mac Pro target audience, you just will not use all the power it has.
     
  4. wildmac macrumors 65816

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    #4
    If he has the monitor already, the loaded iMac is $2800, the base nMP is $3000, so.. which is better?
     
  5. 2128506 macrumors regular

    2128506

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    #5
    Good point. Sorry, was thinking CIS prices, not US - you have these things 2x cheaper. :)

    Then MacPro would make sense actually - even low-end config is more than adequate for some years for home user.
     
  6. Quash macrumors regular

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    #6
    Why is your current iMac too slow?
    Because it down not have an SSD, or is it running at 100% CPU?
     
  7. xraydoc thread starter macrumors demi-god

    xraydoc

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    #7
    ^^Also adds to the dilemma.

    Granted I will not use the full potential of an nMP on a daily basis. But it would sure be nice to cut a 2hr Handbrake run to 1.25 hours or less.

    My current iMac gets 8239 on Geekbench 3. A new iMac gets 13080 (1.6x faster). A new Mac mini, which could easily be replaced annually for a faster machine, currently gets 11602 (1.4x faster). The 6-core nMP gets about 18400 on Geekbench, putting it at 2.2x the speed.

    I know I'm not the Mac Pro target customer, so no offense at all, though I'm fortunate enough that I can afford it if I choose too.

    It's now just a matter of what the best option is:

    •iMac and replace in ~2 years
    •Mac mini and replace annually
    •nMP and keep 5 years

    Even the Mac mini is 40% faster for CPU-bound tasks than what I have now.
    Which would you do?

    ----------

    It has an SSD as the boot drive. Processor can hit 100% for extended periods when doing volume rendered 3D reconstructions in Osirix, though it's only maybe 10% of my total weekly usage. Any speed boost there will be majorly appreciated, which is why I considered a 6-core nMP instead of a 4-core (since without running OpenCL apps, the base Mac Pro is no faster than an iMac).
     
  8. Anim macrumors 6502a

    Anim

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    #8
    Does the mac mini get refreshed annually?

    What would I do?

    Hex nMP, it's the new sexy beast to sit proud on ya desk, and its so small as to be portable if you want to carry it someplace and plug it in to a TV via HDMI. Or your HI-Fi for streaming 24/196 hyper quality audio files. Anything else I would be forever wondering if I should have got the nMP instead. But thats just me. Go with your gut instinct :D
     
  9. wesk702 macrumors 68000

    wesk702

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    #9
    If you can afford it, order the nMP. You'll feel soooooo good hitting that submit order button. After I did, I shrieked "yeah!"
     
  10. QuakeProd macrumors member

    QuakeProd

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    #10
    Well, you have the funds, and you basically answered your own question, with at least 5 yrs with a Mac Pro.

    Think of it as an investment. Lets say you DO decide to advance some things; the power is already there.
     
  11. cubedude macrumors newbie

    cubedude

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    #11
    Agree. :) Also work in education, have similar software needs, ordered the 6-core to replace a 2008 Mac Pro, and expect to keep the nMP for at least five years. Before the Mac Pro 3,1 I had been updating or upgrading Macs every couple of years, and prefer the initial, larger expense of the Mac Pro to that. Good luck!
     
  12. noisycats macrumors 6502a

    noisycats

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    #12
    It seems your primary desire is to speed up encoding. I seem to recall in days gone by a USB dongle that promised to do just that. Made by elgato or eyetv??
     
  13. Quash macrumors regular

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    #13
    I wouldn't buy a mini if you're gonna max the CPU, even if it's just 10% of the time. I had the current mac mini quad. It's great but if you stress it over longer period of time, it will get hot, noisy and eventually it will throttle.
     
  14. riggles macrumors 6502

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    Dec 2, 2013
    #14
    At the current rate of development, over the next 5 years, 3 of the Mac Minis you buy will be identical, lol.

    Yea, if you've got the funds to seriously consider buying a new Mac Pro for Handbrake rips, my guess is that you'll regret it if you don't. I'm just thinking about the human element. When I needed to get a display, I couldn't decide which one to get for my work machine. Trying to find the best performance/dollar ratio. My fiancé said to "just get the Apple one", because I'd regret not doing so later, I'd complain to her about it, sell the one I bought (losing money), and buy the Cinema Display eventually anyway. Just fast forward to the end now and skip the mess.
     
  15. Anim macrumors 6502a

    Anim

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    #15
  16. xraydoc thread starter macrumors demi-god

    xraydoc

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    #16
    I'm actually starting to lean towards an iMac again. Granted its not as fast as a 6-core nMP, but in two years when there's something new and great that we Apple fans can't live with out, I'll be in a position to upgrade again, whereas with a large initial expense Mac Pro, I'd be more or less stuck for another couple years after that (short of attempting to sell the machine, something I've not had good success with).

    I hate making high-dollar decisions.
     
  17. cinealta macrumors 6502

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    Dec 9, 2012
    #17
    Wouldn't you be better of with an iMac or even get a replaceable Mini every 1-2 yrs? You're really paying for dual high-end GPUs in the nMP. Will you get adequate use out of that? Could that money be spent on additional RAM or SSDs? That's what I would do.
     
  18. wildmac macrumors 65816

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    #18
    Still think you should consider the base nMP since you already have your monitors.
     
  19. xraydoc, Jan 2, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2014

    xraydoc thread starter macrumors demi-god

    xraydoc

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    #19
    Thanks everyone for the advice.

    After weighing the options, I had decided to keep my order in place for the 6-core Mac Pro... but...!

    However, just this evening, my home theater projector crapped out on us. The bulb went bad and I think I'd rather replace the whole thing. It's a nearly 8-year old Optoma 720p DLP projector with a 105" screen. It's definitely given us our money's worth, but I think it's time for a 1080p with better color and 3D capability.

    So I've cancelled the Mac Pro order.

    I'll buy the 27" 3.5GHz i7 iMac instead w/ upgraded graphics and a roomy SSD, plus 32GB of OWC RAM and spend the difference -- less than the difference, actually -- on a new home theater projector.

    Looks as if fate made the decision for me. Thanks again everyone.
     
  20. propower macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2010
    #20
    IMO

    MacMini - No - for all the reasons in post from Quash -

    imac - Sell for 60% and replace every 1.5 to two years - my current plan - I love new computers

    nMP - Quad would be fine for your uses! costs about the same as decked out imac and you already have a very nice monitor

    nMP - Hex - great machine- I do Pro Audio - I want one - I can afford one - but it really wouldn't do anything for me that my imac can't... when I hit the wall on my imac (should I ever) - then ... :)
     
  21. ThrawnTHX macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2009
    #21
    Yeah, that's a thing. But you're correct in stating "in days gone by". I wouldn't recommend any of this low-end consumer hardware acceleration on my worst enemy. It produces the ugliest pixelated output I've ever seen.

    On the PC side, I have a 3960x six-core powered rig I built that does 1080p blu-ray encodes in Handbrake from MakeMKV on Apple TV3 preset in about 3 hours on average per movie. I would say expect roughly the same from the six-core nMP. You could build a rig with that CPU for about $1000 with some shopping around. I dislike PC myself, but I'm throwing it out there as an option.

    So, build that and keep your 2010 iMac that's sufficient for your other needs. Maybe feel content waiting for the next nMP refresh and then make a decision at that point. Bonus: you'll get to use your Dell monitor.

    ----------

    On the flip side though, take my advice with a grain of salt. I'm sitting on an 8-core nMP order even with the aforementioned PC.

    The best advice I can offer is bleed your wallet and go nMP if it can take the bloodletting. It's a lot of power that you can appreciate. If your bank account doesn't care about efficient spending, your usage doesn't really matter and you should go for it.
     
  22. mrsavage1 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2010
    #22
    I am having the same problem as you. If the 2013 imac has the ability to do 4k I would have bought it in a heart beat.

    The true problem here is 4k, this is the thing that is seperating the imac and the mac pro at the moment.

    My needs fit the imac more but the mac pro is the only current mac desktop that will do 4k 60hz.

    1- 2 years down the road I will have to replace the imac simply because it can't handle my 4k monitors
     
  23. Anim macrumors 6502a

    Anim

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    #23
    There is a MacFormat youtube video showing Blu-ray -> handbrake transcoding to Apple TV3 on an 8 core nMP. The guy says its almost realtime. Starts around 2:30 secs in.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ohd8LNWGjiI
     

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