iMac i7 or 2010 Mac Pro for After Effects

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by anim8or, Jun 18, 2011.

  1. anim8or macrumors 65816

    anim8or

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2006
    Location:
    Scotland, UK
    #1
    Hello all,

    I know there are many similar threads on whole iMac v Mac pro topic but I have read them all and still feel I have questions so thought I would post and see if I can get to the bottom of my queries...

    So I work for a broadcaster in the UK and do the majority of my work in work, but I do want to keep my home setup up to date...

    I currently run CS3 Production suite on my '06 Mac Pro, see my sig for specs... And definitely feel it's time for an upgrade.

    I have about £4k - £5k in my budget of which I am putting aside £950 for my CS3 to CS5.5 upgrade and wish to spend the rest on a new desktop.

    I am currently debating whether to get a 2011 iMac or a 2010 Mac Pro.

    With my job I get a good discount at apple and have spec'd up a couple of options but still cannot decide which way to swing it... Hopefully people in similar lines of work can give me their advice to help my decision.

    The spec of the iMac I would get is 27" i7 3.4GHz with SSD and 2TB HDD and 2GB GFX card and then max out the RAM to 16GB from Crucial. The added draw is the 27" screen... Even though I have 2x23" ACDs I would appreciate more real estate as I find working across 2 screens to be a pain in after effects (just my personal preference).

    With the Mac Pro I would love to get the best I can too but my budget holds me back.... I have spec'd up an the standard 8 core Pro with 16GB or 24GB of crucial RAM as well.

    I would love to get an Nvidia GFX card for the Pro too but have read mixed reviews as to it's necessity for AE so am holding off on including it in my budget until someone tells me it's a must.... This obviously may sway my decision to the Pro too...

    Anyway with my discounts and with the CS5.5 upgrade my prices are as follows:-

    iMac is £3335 and the Mac Pro is £3815 (£3715 for only 16gb ram).

    As you can see they are very close and in my budget so struggling to decide.... I know that most of the work I do is at work on their systems but I want to keep my personal setup running reasonably parallel, work just bought new Mac Pros, not sure of the specs as yet... Anyone care to help?
     
  2. derbothaus macrumors 601

    derbothaus

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2010
    #2
    Your in a strange place right now unfortunately. You should get a Pro for After effects as it eats up ram really fast. But the iMac procs murder the 2.4GHz westmere if it was a single proc. The storage is needed as well. Read this.
    http://macperformanceguide.com/Optimizing-AfterEffects.html
     
  3. nanofrog macrumors G4

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    #3
    Mac Pro, but the current Octad may not be the best way to go, due to the clock speed (2.4GHz). It's priced at 2859 GBP, and you'll want to add a faster pair of CPU's (rather expensive, unless you find the right deal for used CPU's on sites like eBay UK). You'd need to price this out to see if it's a viable alternative. 55xx series or 56xx parts would work in a 2010, and the 55xx parts may be found a bit cheaper (example).

    If you're set on getting a 2010 model, you may actually want to consider the SP Hex core (base price for the 3.33GHz Hex is 3022 GBP, incl. VAT before any discounts). Still leaves enough funds for upgrades. Much faster for single threaded applications, and should have similar, if not slightly faster performance with true n core multi-threaded applications.

    But an older system might be something to consider as well, such as a refurbished 2009 or even a 2008 at a good price (2008 = 1st machine to use EFI64, which you'll want in the near future to continue to upgrade the system as you'd want).

    BTW, I'm not sure if you've seen it, but there's a hack that allows 2009's to be flashed with 2010 firmware (would allow you to run DP Hex cores if you wish).

    Just a couple of thoughts anyway... :)
     
  4. anim8or thread starter macrumors 65816

    anim8or

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    Location:
    Scotland, UK
    #4
    Both great advice, thanks.

    I understand the RAM needs of AE but was thinking 16GB would be fine... Also the added bonus of Thunderbolt on the iMac in terms of storage, hopefully a TB nas enclosure will come out to address this.

    But I also see the benefit in more than 4 cores for AE...

    In terms of adding my own procs to a Pro, I don't think I would venture that far, I have tinkered with hardware in the past with great results but would prefer not to with this latest investment... I also wouldn't like to limit myself to only 4 RAM slots with a Hex core Pro...

    I know my personal thoughts on this kind of make the query more complicated but it is a complex query... I suppose every situation requires a bespoke answer.

    I would hope to keep my next desktop for a good 5 years and still get the good levels of performance I do with my current Pro after 5 years... To be honest I wouldnt feel the need to upgrade if the '06 if it had the 64 bit EFI then I would probably hold on a little longer.
     
  5. Santabean2000 macrumors 68000

    Santabean2000

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2007
    #5
    Shoot with the iMac. It will take up to 32GB, which is stupid expensive right now, but will be a whole lot more affordable in a year or two's time.

    Thunderbolt will allow for the expansion you might need and the 27" screen is special.

    And in 4-5 years time, you can retire it as a pretty sweet 'smart tv'.
     
  6. mism macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 25, 2010
    #6
    As an aside which may influence your decision: In my experience allow at least 2GB of RAM per core for rendering in AE plus a few gig left over for the system and other apps.
    If you're going to be doing a lot of rendering out I'd be inclined to go for the Mac Pro. If its more working in AE, tweaking animations etc then the snappiness of the faster iMac CPU may be of more benefit.
    The other thing to bear in mind is I/O. If you're working with big comps reading a lot of files from disk the iMac isn't going to give you an upgrade path whereas the Mac Pro allows for RAID etc.
     
  7. nanofrog macrumors G4

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    #7
    You have PCIe slots in the MP, which can allow you to get fast storage cheaper than a Thunderbolt based storage system (quantity pricing is ~$90 USD per chip, and it's also new, so it's likely going to be pricey for what it is; for example, Matrox has announced a TB card for computers, with an MSRP of $299 USD to give you an idea).

    Up to you. But if you have second thoughts on a CPU swap, it's not hard (much easier than the 2009's, as they use CPU's with IHS and the sockets have the retention component meant to be used as part of the socket <latching mechanism>).

    As per memory, you'll be able to put more than enough in a SP MP if you need to (currently you can use up to 16GB sticks, and it will run 32GB when those come out as well). Of course this is rather expensive, but it's possible if you need massive amounts of capacity (this is where a DP system can make more sense).

    But given your interest in running 16GB, an SP system would be the right way to go cost wise (fits your budget, including still allows you to purchase necessary upgrades). I'd recommend a 2 * 8GB kit (16GB), which will leave you 2x empty slots for future expansion (will need to remove the OEM memory, as the 8GB sticks from OWC are Registered, and cannot be mixed with any other type).

    Understandable, as it's fairly expensive hardware. But as it's at least partially being used to earn a living (presume you'll be working from home on occasion), it's a justifiable expense and could even be considered to at least partially pay for itself (bit different with an employer and presumably paying for this yourself vs. running your own business where the system can pay for itself quickly).
     
  8. derbothaus macrumors 601

    derbothaus

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2010
    #8
    Also extended rendering will really spin up those micro fans in the iMac so it will not be so quiet. Keep in mind.
     
  9. anim8or, Jun 19, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2011

    anim8or thread starter macrumors 65816

    anim8or

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    Location:
    Scotland, UK
    #9
    Yeah, i have been looking at all the pros and cons of both and have read a few reviews on the iMacs heat and fan noise both of which concern me as i know that the rendering side of my work would increase your average use of the processors and hard drives and therefor the heat and noise....

    I guess at the moment one of the major things making my decision harder is the fact that the iMac is current and the Mac Pro is last years model... with a possible update coming in the next 3-9 months. As i said i would hope to still be using the machine i get in 5 years time, hopefully performing as well then as it does now.

    That and the fact that Apple have now decided to hold any new hardware releases until after Lion has dropped... i was hoping the opposite so that i could get a new MP with Snow Leopard and know that i wouldn't have any problems with software and plugin compatibility. There decision to hold has pushed back towards the iMac.

    At present i have no offers to buy my current machine so have been thinking about keeping it and maybe tinkering with it or using it as a rendering machine (although again the 32 bit EFI may hold me back if i upgrade to AE CS5.5?)

    Any further insight would be appreciated.

    NOTE: Okay so i neglected to read the front page for a few hours and it seems that there are rumors of a Mac Pro update in August, i guess i can afford to wait for them to pan out... so here's hoping that the prices don't sky rocket!
     
  10. derbothaus macrumors 601

    derbothaus

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2010
    #10
    I'd wait. Even if new Mac Pro's don't come to pass. If you are planning for a 5 year machine, get a just released one:p

    Most things work just fine in Lion. A few enterprise issue remain but it should not affect home business.
     
  11. johnnymg macrumors 65816

    johnnymg

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2008
    #11
    I suspect that rumor will die a very slow death. Other than an incremental update (TB only) I don't see SB MP's until late 2011 or more likely early 2012.

    Have you considered a used or lower end refurb MP as a hold-over until the next gen is released. JMO, but the imac (even the i7) is NOT a pro level platform. Just too many compromises concerning memory (32 GB is crazy expensive) and expansion/IO capabilities (lack of TB devices is a major fail).

    cheers
    JohnG
     
  12. anim8or thread starter macrumors 65816

    anim8or

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    Scotland, UK
    #12
    When you say most things work, are you coming from a media professional POV? I still get bugs with plug ins in after effects that can bring my work to a halt... But with snow leopard they are getting few and far between, adding a new OS increases the possibility of more bugs not less...

    I think I would prefer to get a freshly updated Mac Pro even if that update is very small ie just the addition of TB... That way I will at least be buying the latest model I can and not buying an older generation.

    At this stage I wouldn't consider buying a used machine either, I would most likely be happy with my current machine but unfortunately I NEED a 64 bit EFI to get the maximum performance from my desktop and the software I use.
     
  13. derbothaus macrumors 601

    derbothaus

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    Jul 17, 2010
    #13
    I was talking generally. I do not have time to test all the various plugs that can be amassed in a persons workflow. Core apps are doing ok.
    With those small boutique plug in companies they are always behind as you well know. If you are not opposed then see what is offered and you will always be able to get a 10.6 2010 Pro for even less if Lion and 3rd party are too buggy.
     
  14. anim8or thread starter macrumors 65816

    anim8or

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    Scotland, UK
    #14
    True, and yes I know what you mean about not being able to test everything I was only enquiring if you were coming from the same angle as I was... There must be loads of people out there who use the same software and plugins that I do and are testing them with Lion... You post made me think you may be one of them.
     
  15. derbothaus macrumors 601

    derbothaus

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2010
    #15
    Personally I do only audio. So Logic, waves, BFD, etc...
    I support Video and design users at work. AE, Smoke, Xsan, OS X server, FCP, Final Cut Server, Trapcode, Adobe CS5, CInema 4D, Maya and a couple things I know nothing about (thankfully they seem stable:)
     
  16. anim8or thread starter macrumors 65816

    anim8or

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    #16
    Well that's great... Your list pretty much covers what I use and intend on using so gives me a good help with my decision.... Which currently stands at wait il these recent rumorsvpan out... I can wait another 6-8 weeks.
     
  17. derbothaus macrumors 601

    derbothaus

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    Jul 17, 2010
    #17
    Yeah. Apple will most likely have some 2010's in their refurb section even after you can't get a Pro to boot 10.6.
     
  18. sbb155 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2005
    #18
    DEFINITELY WAIT!

    New Mac Pros will be out in a few weeks, august! That is just 6 weeks away!
    Things are going to change! New MP will be much more powerful!
     
  19. derbothaus macrumors 601

    derbothaus

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2010
    #19
    No it wont. 133MHz is not much more powerful if they stick with parts that actually exist (X58 - Westmere). And a 3.46GHz hex is not much faster than a i7-2600. That's why we want the new socket in the upgrade.
     
  20. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #20
    A couple of tweets from a guy who does NOT have a good track record IS NOT FACT. It's an unsubstantiated rumor, nothing more. And the way you're going about it, it's FUD.

    Exactly.
     
  21. TheAnalogue macrumors member

    TheAnalogue

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    #21
    another thing to think about when deciding on getting an iMac vs. a Mac Pro is product lifespan. The Mac Pro and Xeon processors are designed for longevity (they are purposely under-clocked to reduce heat and other usage wear) and the Mac Pro has better cooling and running 24/7 in mind. Whereas the iMac has a small enclosure using some mobility components. iMacs get hotter faster, and that shortens component lifespan dramatically. I would be estimate that an iMac has half the lifespan of a Mac Pro, and I haven't even considered the upgradability of the Mac Pro (to keep it current) that the iMac can't. That shortens the iMacs usable life even more.
     
  22. anim8or thread starter macrumors 65816

    anim8or

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    #22
    So, still no concrete rumors of an updated Mac Pro....

    I can now afford the 12 core 2.66 ghz 2010 model of the Pro and am starting to think I should just bite the bullet, it's going to be blazingly faster than my current Pro and realistically what can a new model Pro bring that would be so special?

    I only foresee TB included and possible proc upgrade coming to the Pro anytime soon....

    ...what other features are a possibility in an updated Mac Pro that I would regret not waiting for???
     
  23. chockymonster macrumors member

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    Jul 9, 2008
    #24
    I'm in the same boat, sitting on the cash to buy a Mac Pro but not wanting to with them just around the corner. I was planning on waiting for the iphone 5 announcement as I figured they'd do any other new hardware on the same day and if nothing new came along I'd be going for a SP Hex.
    I've done the iMac route and I'll never make that mistake again.
    I'm not good at being patient.
     
  24. anim8or thread starter macrumors 65816

    anim8or

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    #25

    Glad to hear im not the only one....

    I am half tempted to just buy it now and be happy with my purchase.
     

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