iMac 24" maxed out vs 2.66Ghz Mac Pro

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Klrbee25, Apr 8, 2007.

  1. Klrbee25 macrumors member

    Mar 23, 2007
    Hey Everyone,

    I apologize for the mundane question, but I need an answer specific to my needs. I will be a convert from PC to Mac so I'm not that familiar with the performance differences of these machines. I'm done waiting for Leopard as I'll just happily upgrade when it's available, and a redesign of the iMac isn't all that appealing to me since the improvements are likely to be relatively minor.

    So here goes, I need a new desktop machine to support my photography work. I'll be buying Photoshop CS3 shortly and I do most of my RAW editing using Bridge. My crumby pentium 1.7 is killing me, and it's time for an upgrade.

    I like the prospect of the all-in-one iMac and the decked out 24" is the way I'd go. However, using the student developer discount, I could essentially get the 2.66Ghzx2 Mac Pro with a 20" cinema screen for about $500 more. I'm not thrilled about having the slightly smaller screen nor the beastly tower, but the prospective gains in performance are tempting. Is it worth the extra $500, 4" compromise on screen size, and large tower to get the Mac Pro, given my usage?

    Thanks in advance for your help. Hopefully I'll be a happy Mac owner in the near future.

  2. puckhead193 macrumors G3


    May 25, 2004
    get the mac pro when u have extra cash u can upgrade that thing for years to come. To save more get a dell monitor....
  3. zap2 macrumors 604


    Mar 8, 2005
    Washington D.C
    How much RAM would your Mac Pro have? And harddrive space?

    Personally I'd go with the Mac Pro, you'll get a lot of speed from the Woodcrest vs Merom. The 2 extra cores will be nice, the screen could be upgrade later if need be.

    Edit-puckhead193 has a point, if you don't want the Apple Cinema Display, you could go for the Dell Monitor, doesn't look as nice, and some say the ACD is better, but not by much. Might be able to get 24'' screen from Dell
  4. FleurDuMal macrumors 68000


    May 31, 2006
    London Town
    Given that your stated need for this Mac is photography, I would think that a larger screen be more helpful in your creativity than a faster machine. Although I haven't seen any benchmarks of CS3, I'm sure the 24" iMac is more than speedy enough for your average amateur/prosumer.

    On the other hand, with the Mac Pro there is always the potential to upgrade to a 30" monitor down the line, which you never could with the iMac.
  5. jesteraver macrumors 6502

    May 16, 2006
    Montreal, QC
    I compared the iMac 24" to Mac Pro with specs I am looking for man oh man it be $1200 CDN difference lol

    Thats one thing about the Mac Pro if you want to upgrade something its easy. With the iMac you cant really do much at all.


    iMac 24" @ $2,798 CDN (STUDENT)

    • 2.33GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
    • 2GB 667 DDR2 SDRAM - 2x1GB
    • 250GB Serial ATA Drive
    • NVIDIA GeForce 7600 GT 256MB SDRAM
    • SuperDrive 8X (DVD+R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
    • Apple Wireless Keyboard & wireless Mighty Mouse + Mac OS X (French Canadian)
    • AppleCare Protection Plan for iMac - Auto-enroll
    • 24-inch widescreen LCD
    • AirPort Extreme
    • Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR

    Mac Pro @ $3,942 CDN (STUDENT)

    • Two 2.0GHz Dual-Core Intel Xeon
    • 2GB (4 x 512MB)
    • 250GB 7200-rpm Serial ATA 3Gb/s
    • NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT 256MB (single-link DVI/dual-link DVI)
    • Apple Cinema HD Display (23" flat panel)
    • One 16x SuperDrive
    • Both Bluetooth 2.0+EDR and AirPort Extreme
    • Apple Wireless Keyboard and Apple wireless Mighty Mouse - U.S. English
    • Mac OS X - U.S. English
    • AppleCare Protection Plan for Mac Pro/Power Mac (w/or w/o Display) - Auto-enroll
  6. Klrbee25 thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 23, 2007
    Thanks for the quick replies. The 24" iMac with 500gb hd and upgraded graphic runs $2370 with base ram through the educational store (i'll buy from crucial to get to 3gb). As for the Mac Pro, a 2.66ghz x 2 with 1gb ram and 500gb hd with ati x1900 and 20" cinema screen runs $2950 with the student developer discount. Again, I'd upgrade the ram through crucial directly. As you guys mentioned, I could add a second 20" screen or go bigger later (I would stick with the cinema screen). However, the prospect of the 24" screen in the iMac from get-go is very nice indeed.

    What it comes to is this: I don't forsee my processing needs to vastly increase over the next 4 years or so. I just need Photoshop CS3 to run like a champ. I'd like to minimize my costs, but I don't want to get the 24" iMac on my desk and then be bummed out that it's not a big improvement from my prehistoric pentium 1.7ghz with 512mg ram.

    Thanks again for your help.

  7. jesteraver macrumors 6502

    May 16, 2006
    Montreal, QC
    I did some research which the specs I posted.

    One thing I would advise you on, stick with the 250 gb hard drive and get an external one. Only reason I say that I have been plaiged by bad hard drives in the past 3 years had to change almost 1/2 a dozen times already.
  8. spyderracer393 macrumors regular

    Jan 8, 2006
    I would definitely go with the Mac Pro for upgradability alone - the performance will greatly beast the iMac as well. Do you really need the X1900? I know it would be nice to have, but it won't help Photoshop out at all. Photoshop relies on CPU - if you were planning on using Aperture, I would consider the X1900, but unless you plan to play games the 7300 will do fine. Remember, with the Mac Pro, you can easily upgrade the graphics card sometime down the line if need be.
  9. aarond12 macrumors 65816


    May 20, 2002
    Dallas, TX USA
    Trust me. Either computer will be a LOT faster than a 1.7GHz Pentium 4 computer. You can't go wrong with either system.

  10. freddiecable macrumors 6502a


    May 16, 2003
    Hi Kirbee,

    This is a tricky question - indeed. I'm in a similar situation and I've been thinking back-and-forth for some time. And now I'm awaiting the "next generation iMac luring in a quite close future". However - when being realistic and looking at the facts...I will be using it at home and I'm not really using it as my professional tool earning money to pay my rent etc - thus I must say that the iMac 24 is a better choice for me. I was thinking of getting a MacPro 2.66 Ghz with a 23/24" Dell or Apple or even a 30" and use it as teve - but that is probably quite stupid in my case. And - it is actually a significant price difference: 1999 USD vs 3400 USD for 24". And I also said to myself - "well I it was my work I would buy the MacPro".

    So it really comes down to "how professional needs do you have"? Are you really depending on your desktop computer - doing serious work 24/7, want massive storage capacity, earning good money while doing it - I would buy a 2.66 MP with a large screen - not 20". I think a 24" screen is a sweet-spot when it comes to usability as well. 30" screens can become "too big".

    However - the iMac with 2GB RAM will probably take care of your 2D photoshop work with no problems at all.

    Edit: after reading your second post - it think you'd be better of with a MP 2.66 - but start of with a 23/24" display instead of a 20". The MacPro is faster - no doubt. A collegue has a MP 2.00 and it is significantly faster than iMacs of today. And - don't max out graphics cards - use that money on RAM instead and/or display. Whatever you do - it will be vastly better than your current solution :) Good luck!
  11. jamericani macrumors newbie

    Aug 25, 2006
    I will add my two cent here.....I bought a Mac Pro not because i was a power user or it was my cash cow. I simply bought it b/c it was upgradeable in almost every aspect. If it became a cash cow, i could upgrade. That was the deal breaker, period. I bought the absolute cheapest and honestly for what i have in my Mac Pro from shopping around i have saved hundreds, to the tune of close to $1000 if not more. I would have saved more if i knew about ADC. O well cant win them all. I also found myslef moving backwards everytime i stood in front of the 30 inch screen, so i opted for dual 23's :D
  12. tuartboy macrumors 6502a


    May 10, 2005
    Are you a student developer? I know you said this is your first Mac and I just wanted to make sure you knew that it was actually something you have to sign up and pay membership fees for, not just an option at the register.
  13. solvs macrumors 603


    Jun 25, 2002
    LaLaLand, CA
    Be aware that with the Student Developer program, you get the discount once. Not once a year, once. In a lifetime. If you need to buy now, get the Mac Pro. Upgrade the video card if you can afford it, and get the wireless right off the bat. As for the RAM and hard drives, or any second optical drives, get them 3rd party. OWC has good prices for both. Newegg has some good prices too, but don't get the RAM there. Not for the Mac Pro. You can add a drive and more RAM for the same prices as an upgrade would cost, even with the discount. There are monitors out there that are just as good as the Apple ones for less, so I would recommend that as well. I bought a very nice 22" monitor for half what a 20" ACD would have cost.

    If you can wait, Santa Rosa will be out soon. I expect new iMacs based on them around WWDC in June. There will probably be a better 24" model. Then you can upgrade the RAM and hdd, maybe even get a better graphics card and upgraded CPU, and have enough left over for an external hdd for Time Machine.

    You do get Leopard for free anyway from ADC, so that's not really an issue, but the new iMac would come with it.
  14. Father Jack macrumors 68020

    Father Jack

    Jan 1, 2007
  15. Kingsly macrumors 68040


    Wait, so the MacPro is slower than the 24"iMac in some areas? :confused:
  16. osx-linux macrumors member

    Apr 4, 2007
    I believe those number are referenced to the 2.33G iMac core 2 duo with the upgraded video compared to the bottom of the line 2G quad mac pro.

    And the answer is yes. Since that iMac had a faster video, grahpics intensive gaming wouldnt be as good. Moreover, since the 2.33G CPU is a bit faster than the 2.0G bottom end mac pro, in single threaded apps the iMac will likely win.
  17. nagromme macrumors G5


    May 2, 2002
    I had to face a similar decision, and aside from a little savings, I REALLY like the iMac's silence, simplicity, and even portability from one part the house to another. And a 24" screen vs. 20" is pretty significant.

    Still if you can wait a little longer, more specifics about the next iMac (or Leopard ship date) may surface.

    My guess is we will see black iMac, but that could be just wishful thinking :)
  18. solvs macrumors 603


    Jun 25, 2002
    LaLaLand, CA
    The memory seems to have higher latency, among other things.
  19. Jiddick ExRex macrumors 65816

    Jiddick ExRex

    May 14, 2006
    Roskilde, DK
  20. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    Firstly, you don't need the upgraded graphics card to run photography software. Aperture will run well on the base video card. In fact, Aperture isn't even something you need to purchase. :p Any graphics card in the iMac or Mac Pro can handle what you'll throw at it. If you end up switching over to Adobe Lightroom or iView Media Pro from Bridge, things will still run smoothly. :)

    Also, I'd rather have my 20" Dell for photography than the 24" Dell simply because my Dell has an S-IPS LCD panel, while all the 24" Dells use an S-PVA panel. On that note, I'd rather get the Mac Pro because while the 24" iMac screen is beautiful, and would be great for watching movies, gaming, basic photo editing, and browsing the internet, it's not exactly a colour accurate display for pros. I'm not dissing the 24" iMac's screen. It's just that the intent of that monitor wasn't for pros. Someone who doesn't deal with colour wouldn't even notice a difference, nor should s/he care. Most people like to have a large screen to look at their photos, and have no intent to print them. Photo editing doesn't need to be colour accurate, either. However, you're a pro or hobbyist, right? You may care about the displays ability to show you subtle shadow details, colour shifting on your display, etc.

    Get the Dual Core 2.66 GHz Mac Pro, and stick with the base graphics card. That would let you purchase a 23" ACD for around the same price.
  21. Kingsly macrumors 68040


    I am facing the exact same dilemma as the OP, except instead of photography I am editing DVCPro-HD video all day. I am thinking more and more that, for me, a 24" iMac w/ the upgraded gfx card is the way to go, while still leaving room for a second monitor addition down the road.

    Is the gfx card in the iMac a portable version or the full desktop version? I think that would make a big difference for both the OP and I.
  22. CrackedButter macrumors 68040


    Jan 15, 2003
    51st State of America
    He is doing Photography, he's going to need a real monitor.
  23. Schroedinger macrumors regular


    Feb 12, 2004
    Baltimore, MD
    Mac Pro without a doubt. Why? Those two extra cores. Yesterday I was encoding a DVD in iDVD, transcoding HD video in VisualHub and comfortably using iTunes and Safari to kill time. The machine acted like I hadn't asked it to do a thing.

    Also, don't poo poo the expandability. External harddrives are fine and all, but there is nothing like having 4 SATA drives buzzing away inside the machine.

    I went the all in one route with my last mac, and over time as my interests and desires evolved, the poor thing couldn't keep up. Something as simple as not being able to upgrade from USB 1 to USB 2 drove me nuts. With the tower, if USB 3 comes out, I'll be able to adapt.

    Good luck
  24. freddiecable macrumors 6502a


    May 16, 2003
    you should def. get a MacPro! Especially when rendering video etc.

  25. jesteraver macrumors 6502

    May 16, 2006
    Montreal, QC
    I am more then likely going to get a Mac Pro now than getting a iMac 24" seeing I can upgrade easilly :) cost more but will be worth it in the long run

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