iMac expandability vs. new MP?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Kingsly, Oct 13, 2013.

  1. Kingsly macrumors 68040


    While everything is speculation until the official announcement, we do have some hard facts: Apple's plan for expandability with the new MP is riding entirely on Thunderbolt. Six of them. 36 devices. Pretty impressive.

    My entire livelihood relies on my MP 3,1. It has four internal HDDs plus a SSD and an upgraded graphics card. It's near the end of it's usable lifespan so I'll be looking to sell it for a replacement soon.
    Whatever I upgrade to I'll need a 4bay USB3 enclosure for my scratch drives.
    Now I'm looking at the current iMac line-up, which can support 12 TB devices (more than most users will ever use) plus the USB3. It looks like the new MP is a massively overbuilt iMac without a screen. iMacs have the same (albeit fewer) "expandability" ports. If iMac can handle external PCI chassis just as well as the MP I feel like a fully spec'd iMac is significantly better bang-to-buck than whatever the trashcan's final pricing ends up being. Unless it's closer to $2k than $3k. ;)

    Is there something I'm missing?
  2. Krevnik macrumors 68040


    Sep 8, 2003
    Not much, although the Mac Pro is also about the CPUs/GPUs that you will simply be unable to buy in an iMac. The 2010 Mac Pro with enough cores will still beat the iMac on stuff that can be parallelized well.

    The Mac Pro is really about cases like "My build takes an hour, and is bottlenecked by the CPU. With 4-8 extra cores, I can cut that time down dramatically". Which is important to me at work, just not at home, where the iMac is suitable as a replacement.
  3. Kingsly thread starter macrumors 68040


    True, after I posted this I went back through Apple's MP preview site again. I run FCP, NukeX, and DaVinci Resolve on a daily basis. So the GPU options in particular are important, especially with Resolve (it loves dual GPU's). I wonder how a spec'd 27" would fare as a stopgap until the "new" MP is put through it's paces (I'v been bitten by the first gen bug too many times to fall for that again...)?
  4. KaraH macrumors 6502

    Nov 12, 2012
    My current machine is an iMac. I would MUCH prefer to have some sort of an expandable box, which was most of my macs before it. So for my 2013 upgrade I was going for a pro solely because of expandability. Then apple went and killed the MP (yes, I know they are calling the trashcan a MP, it is not one). Now I have ordered a 2013 iMac ... since neither machine has the internal expandability planned for I may as well order the cheeper one (prices have not been announced but it is a pretty good bet the trashcan will be much more expensive than the iMac).
  5. Kingsly thread starter macrumors 68040


    This is exactly my thought process as well. If both computers have mostly the same expandability options (thunderbolt) then it really just comes down to the question of how well my apps will perform in the real world on the iMac vs. the trashcan.

    Either way, they'll perform much better than my five year old tower. Geekbench shows ~25k for the trashcan, ~15k for a max'd 27", and my MP at 10k. :eek:
  6. barefeats macrumors 65816


    Jul 6, 2000
    The new Mac Pro will have a server quality CPU with up to 12 cores (24 virtual). The fastest iMac has a desktop quality CPU with 4 cores (8 virtual).

    The new Mac Pro will have two very fast GPUs (FirePro). The fastest iMac has a single mobile GPU (780M). Translation? Dual FirePros render the LuxMark OpenCL benchmark SIX TIMES faster than a single 780M.

    The new Mac Pro will have 1866MHz ECC memory with 60GBps bandwidth. The iMac has 1600MHz non-ECC memory with 25GBps bandwidth.

    The new Mac Pro will have dual PCIe flash storage modules with transfer speeds up to 1250MB/s. The iMac can be ordered with a single flash storage module with transfer speeds up to 780MB/s.

    The new Mac Pro will have three times as many Thunderbolt ports as the iMac and they will be twice as fast (20Gbps vs 10Gbps).

    For the consumer, the key question will be something like, "Will the performance advantage of the Mac Pro justify the higher cost -- at least for the way I use the Mac?"
  7. Kingsly thread starter macrumors 68040


    These are the bits I was failing to comprehend! Especially the benchmarking of the FirePro's and the Thunderbolt speed bump. :)

    Given the above, I see where the MP falls in line compared to the fastest iMac. So the question really is "to first gen or not to first gen?" haha.
  8. KaraH macrumors 6502

    Nov 12, 2012
    The specs of what cpu and so forth do not really address the topic of the thread, which is expandability.

    The sole difference from that point of view is more thunderbolt ports and as far as I know you can daisy chain them anyway. In which case the key question is not how many ports but how many controllers. Since there has not been a tear-down yet I am guessing there are not 6 thunderbolt controllers in the trashcan so it is pretty much the same as hooking up a USB hun and saying your machine has more USB ports than another machine. Yes, you do have more ports, but you have not really gained anything other than ... more ports.

    What else is there to epand? Ram ... maybe? It depends on what you need, 32 may be more than sufficient for whatever you want to do.
  9. Mike Biggen macrumors member

    Jun 23, 2010
    The new Mac Pro has three Thunderbolt 2 controllers vs a single (iirc) Thunderbolt 1 controller in the iMac.
  10. barefeats macrumors 65816


    Jul 6, 2000
    You make an important point. With the iMac, all Thunderbolt devices on the chain are sharing that one 10Gbps controller. The Mac Pro with its three 20Gbps controllers provides an aggregate of 60Gbps.
  11. Kingsly thread starter macrumors 68040


    The TB 1-2 and actual number of controllers pretty much solidifies the iMac thunderbolt vs new MP thunderbolt questions. While it initially looks like they'd share the same level of expandability, the truth is that the MP is far more capable (other hardware improvements notwithstanding).

    Thanks y'all!
  12. propower macrumors 6502a

    Jul 23, 2010
    The expandability of the MP is a lot bigger with the extra TB ports (and actual access t the internal SSDs!)...

    But in the next 3 to 4 years who will actually exceed the capabilities of the imac expandability? Some for sure (multi 4K displays, huge raid and server arrays, TB connected application specific peripherals (video - maybe pro audio)...

    One might consider which group they belong in before jumping in... though i have no problem with people buying the best of the best just cause they want to :)

    From here - with the imacs built in display I have a pretty hard time seeing how I would exceed its capacity in a pro audio environment (and I still have one TB port open)...
  13. Kingsly thread starter macrumors 68040


    I've never used any outboard (or, er, PCI) cards/devices on my MP, other than a mid-life video card upgrade. So unless in the next few years I get a RED Rocket or some sort of fancy 4k reference monitor, I don't foresee exceeding the limits of Thunderbolt 1. But since my work as historically revolved around computer's internal, as-shipped, power, it would probably be wise to spring for "the best".
  14. StephenCampbell macrumors 65816

    Sep 21, 2009
    Oh mann. Now you've reminded me why my philosophy was always to go for the Pro Macs.
  15. richard13 macrumors 6502a

    Aug 1, 2008
    Mill Creek, WA
    I think this thread clearly illustrates that these two computer lines are meant for different uses. It doesn't seem to me really a matter of should one go for the Mac Pro or not, it's does one need a Mac Pro or not?

    It seems to me that if you use your Mac for specific types of business (i.e. CAD, graphics rendering, heavy mathematical models, etc.) the Mac Pro is clearly the way to go. But if you use your Mac primarily for end user purposes or for non-graphical/CPU intensive businesses (most) then the iMac is a more cost effective way to go.

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