iMac i7 or Mac Pro Quad core

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by frownsarefun, Aug 27, 2010.

  1. frownsarefun macrumors newbie

    Aug 2, 2010
    If my mind is set on a Mac Pro, which model would you advise for someone handling a 85/15 split of office functions (email, ms office) and amateur creative (music, video, photo - itunes, ilife, etc).

    No pro apps or pro needs. Just want a desktop that has a track record of longevity, has enough ports (for me, the mac pro) and i have the OPTION of upgrading down the road.

    I`m guessing the base quad core would suit me well. I currently have a MacBook Pro i5 I`m getting rid of. Want the bigger screen real estate.

    What configuration would you choice in the Mac Pro line for someone like me...

    Also, what would be the best, most efficient way to set up extra hard drives. Buy externals and FW800 them, esata them? Or fill the extra bay slots with internals? If using all 4 internals, is there a method of connecting them so they run as quick as possible - same as you can daisy chain externals?

    Again, I know an iMac would be fine for me, but the Mac Pro is where I am at.
  2. jbyun04 macrumors 6502a


    Aug 31, 2008
    Let me put it this way:
    iMac 27 Base - more than enough for your needs
    iMac 27 Quad - overkill
    Mac Pro - freaking overkill

    If money isn't an issue and you just want to own a Mac Pro, go ahead but an iMac 27 is not just "fine" for you, it's more than enough to overkill. You don't use it for pro applications other than the occasional iLife / iTunes and you're doing office based tasks.. an iMac 27" Quad would last you a long time.. barring any problems with the screen which is why AppleCare is there I guess.

    Again, if money's not a problem and you've convinced yourself that you need extreme overkill expandability running dual 27" LED Cinemas, I sure as hell would but the Mac Pro is called Pro for a reason.
  3. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    If you need and want the expandability and upgradeability that Mac Pro offers, then it's your only choice. You can setup the HDs in RAID 0 to get the best performance. If you need to use externals, it may be wise to invest on eSATA PCIe card.
  4. frownsarefun thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 2, 2010
    I know the fact remains that for me just using a ton of email, whether it`s Mac Mail or Entourage or Outlook for MS Office 2011, iLife, iWork, iTunes, etc...I am not a pro designer working with photo, video, audio, web, etc. I might do some photo and video stuff with iLife, but that`s it.

    Everyone has the bug in them to get the next best thing that they don`t REALLY need, but rather want. I know the Macbook would probably be fine. But also not trying to impress anyone, as I work at home, so nobody sees my gear, but me an an uncaring wife (uncaring to the tech toys I buy).

    I would wind up getting myself a new MacBook Pro and 27'' monitor, but I don`t want to work diagonal or elevate the monitor high up, as I live in earthquake prone Tokyo. I would go the iMac i7 route, but then need 3-4 external hdd to store all my music, work files and everything else. At least with the Mc Pro, I can put in 4 internal hdd and thinking now, since I keep different items on each drive, I don`t even need to use RAID. But wasn`t sure if just plugging them in and going from there was the way to go - hdd1 in computer. hdd 2 is work. hdd 3 is personal/music. and hdd 4 is back up on all the others. can i do a raid set up where the other 3 only mirror into the 4th hdd?

    I was thinking the WD Caviar Blacks for internals. Maybe get a 2tb for the big backup of all the others.

    Is esata a default thing with these internal drives and mac pro? like i know my macbook pro has a card slot for esata. and i could daisy chain the external drives. i am only interested in this for speed, not reliability. that`s why i will use 4 drives.

    would i be ok with the 2 quad cores, or should i just spend the extra and gett the 6 core 3.33ghzz
  5. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    the decision a Mac Pro is for a computer that can be kept at the cutting edge of performance for as long as possible. in 5 years, will you still be satisfied with an iMac, performance-wise? on the flip side, maybe buying another iMac in a few years is a better way to spend your money than on an MP...

    how you configure an MP depends on your software needs. if you're just gonna be using iLife, I doubt you gain much with more than 4 cores. even Aperture doesn't fully utilize four cores...

    if I were you, I'd just get an iMac with the biggest drive available and an external data/backup solution. it's probably cheaper to buy two iMacs and external storage than buy, configure, and maintain a Mac Pro.
  6. chrono1081 macrumors 604


    Jan 26, 2008
    Isla Nublar
    Even though an iMac may be fine for now, if you think you may be taking your hobby to the next level then maybe a mac pro is for you.

    I just recently got my first one and spent the past 3 days getting it set up (I have a TON of data and programs to install) and I LOVE it so far! I do 3d modeling, programming, photography, digital painting, music, and little bits of video, nothing much and find its the perfect machine for me :D
  7. englishman macrumors 6502a


    Nov 6, 2006
    Bang for buck I think the quad would suit you fine (although some say hex - depends what you do).

    Consensus is best performance would be the hex if your budget allows.

    Factor in the HD for storage backup and extra RAM. Some first rate advice on Apple discussion forums on that by a guy called the hatter.
  8. alust2013 macrumors 601


    Feb 6, 2010
    On the fence
    If you're going to get a pro, the base quad would definitely suit you best, maybe the 3.2 quad, but honestly any of the processors are going to be way more than enough for you. I imagine you know that it's better to buy HDDs and RAM outside of apple, especially for the Pro. Another idea would be to get a refurb or used Pro, as they would also do what you need
  9. MacHamster68 macrumors 68040


    Sep 17, 2009
    the Mac pro is the way to go
    you might be happy for a while with a iMac 27 but you asked for longevityand despite the imac is not as bad as it sounds if you read through the forums
    but the Mac pro is just the cheaper choice if you need to exchange parts in the future
    but your other thing you asked for was screen real estate!!!and the iMac has only a poxy 27"
    there you cant beat the mac pro with the right graphics card (hdmi) you can hang on this little baby or if you fit 3 graphics cards with hdmi you can hook up 3 of these little screens and you must admit you cant ask for more screen real estate at the moment
    and as you did not set a budget i guess money is no object anyway


    no serious now,get a basic mac pro upgrade as your account allows then ,you get nice xx inch monitors too, but you can hook up a couple of them so you can start with 2 and expand as to as many as your bank account allows the macpro can take a couple of graphics cards and therefor power lots of screens up and you got a wide choice of other peripherals , wile the imac will as a all in one always have more limitations which makes the mac pro more future proof (esata for example and whatever there might be in the piplines in the future ...firewire 1600 )
  10. Jack Flash macrumors 65816

    May 8, 2007
  11. unixperience macrumors regular

    Jul 21, 2010
    after reading the first line of your post, you seem pretty set on the MP I'm not to sure why you titled the thread "iMac or MP" but here is my opinion on why you should get an iMac

    I think the thing to keep in mind when purchasing is to meet 90% of your needs. Now you may think why buy something that doesn't meet all my needs? Well mainly because all your needs aren't necessery.
    Many people say you CAN upgrade graphics cards/ pci/ add a million monitors.... but are you ever going to do that? really??? REALLY???
    You seem like an average user of a mac (like myself) you dabble in photo/music, and then use it for work tasks. The iMac is more than sufficient.

    as for real estate have you ever worked on a 27" iMac? it's massive!! and what all too many people forget is SIZE DOENS'T MATTER it's pixel count/dpi. Sure you can use the HDMI ports form your MP to hook up 2 40" 1080p monitors!!... but the pixel count, and detail will still trail the 27" iMac screen. Sure visibly it looks huge, but once you turn those screens on and have them half a meter from your face, the pixel size is very apparent and you see bigger screen size is not always better. Besides that point there are many quality usb-dual link dvi converters, for about 40 dollars each, you can add up to 6 of these (besides the imac one and the displayport one) using usb hubs or whatever. So saying you can add more screens with an mp simply isn't true.
    NOTE: someone said with a mp you can run to 27" cinema display, I jsut want to point out the 27" iMac is the same as the 27" cinema display(Same pixel count and size, both led backlight), so merely adding a cinema display to an iMac is the same as a mp with two 27" cinema displays

    as for your hard drive setup, if you got 4 hds to work with a mbp you can certainly get it to work with a imac, it may be a bit more inconvenient, but is the added convenience worth 1000s of dollars? I also do not believe esata is standard on MP but there is only a special pcislot for it. I know there is no such thing as too many backups, or too much security, but I think ti would be far easier to store all data on one harddrive and then maybe just have two BOOTABLE clones of the internal drive. Thats only 2 external harddrives and I feel that is more than adequate protection. BUt if you are truly set on your 4 hd setup, by all means do what YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE WITH

    Another thing is start up cost of the MP besides the tower is the screen, if you go with an apple screen thats 800 dollars minimum, for that price you could buy 2 imacs. Sure the MP is future more future proof than a iMac, but jsut think. Say your iMac lasts 4 years? you can buy one now, and in 4 years, the brand new model again, thats 8 years, for only a few 100 dollars more, But expecting your MP to last you that same 8 years? That to me seems less future proof. I'd assume the iMac 4 years in the future will be far more advance than a MP could keep up with, just thinking of usb3 as an example.

    Hope I offered a little insight:cool:
    EDIT: even if you buy refurbished, like the above post mentions, you can get 3 iMacs for the cost of your one MP. I think three iMacs bought 3-4 years apart will definitely outlast even a 12 core mac pro(especially for your use). Can you imagine a computer top of the line, 12 years ago, competing with even one of the bottom of the line modern computers?? It's food for thought
  12. chaosbunny macrumors 68000


    Mar 11, 2005
    down to earth, far away from any clouds
    I can understand the ops feelings and personally have a 2,8 ghz quad Mac Pro on the way to me - I'm selling my 24" iMac when I get it (already have a buyer).

    "IF you go with an apple screen" - one of of the best things about the Mac Pro is that you don't have to use one of Apples horrible mirror screens. It's a matter of preference I know, but I certainly won't get one of these things again.

    "USB3?" - easy with a Mac Pro, just get an express card.

    As for future proofing, depends on your wants/needs. Say Diablo 3 comes out 2012 or 2013, a current iMac will struggle to handle it at low/maybe medium gfx settings. A current Mac Pro will handle it way better to begin with, because it has a way better gpu (desktop vs. mobile). And if you are not satisfied, well just get a new gpu and enjoy it at high/max settings. Diablo 3 is just an example for any gpu hungry application here.

    Of course there are pros/cons to both options. I have made my decision, and it seems like so has the op.

    The base 2,8 ghz quad Mac Pro will suit you just fine. Since you didn't mention any gaming even the base gpu is fine. Get 2x4gb from a third party vendor, go for it and enjoy it.
  13. unixperience macrumors regular

    Jul 21, 2010
    ChaosBunny, you are indeed very correct in your thinking, but the op never mentioned diablo 3, or games at all, now I'm not trying to be nitpicky, but from what they said they use the comp for i believe a MP is a tad much.
    I do admit you are right about not having to use apples super gloss mirror screens haha, and the usb3. BUt that argument was mainly for the sake of the iMac, I think it will take a few years to popularize and by that time hopefully the new iMac will support it natively, even though you could potentially do it sooner with a MP(who knows, it could be like bluray players and apple never puts them in lol)

    If you have the money and can justify it adequately TO YOURSELF then don't let others influence you. That isn't to say don't listen to their advice, I merely eman after throughly investigating both sides, if YOU can still justify whatever decision you make, go with it. Afterall the comp is for YOU not others :) I'm sure you'll be happy either way
  14. chaosbunny macrumors 68000


    Mar 11, 2005
    down to earth, far away from any clouds
    And your advice was a good one - I certainly know how I was thinking back and forth... :)

    I'll be using my mp for more than office & ilife though.

    You sometimes see people around here who still use heavily upgraded G4 towers as their main machines, and sometimes they upgrade to Mac Pros after 8+ years. I don't know, I always admire this somehow if you know what I mean. I bet if the ops needs don't change he can easily use a current Mac Pro for 8 years too.
  15. mlblacy macrumors 6502

    Sep 23, 2006
    the REAL Jersey Shore
    this was my EXACT reasoning... good advice

    When I first moved away from the Pro towers I was a bit hesitant, but even if I had made a mistake I figured I could upgrade every 2 years, instead of every 4... and still net out around the same (worst case). The reality was the iMac served as a trusty workstation, just as much as a Pro tower... at half the cost, and it lasted just as long. I originally had about $7500 in hand, but ended up spending less than half that amount.

    After 4-5 years you will likely want/need to upgrade anyway. The technology just keeps getting better, faster, more powerful, and usually cheaper too. Even if you were a pro making a living off the machine, I would say go iMac (unless you are crunching some serious video). I make my living on mine, work on large publications, huge files, and run a massive image library... all without difficulty. My i7 is almost here... I made the same choice again.
  16. MacHamster68 macrumors 68040


    Sep 17, 2009
    nobody really said the iMac would not be a good computer in theory for the op , but i just think as he already thought about a Mac pro that he got the cash to get one otherwise he would not have thought about getting one in first place

    getting a Mac pro might be a overkill for him now , but if he decides in a couple month to go into heavy gaming or into heavy video editing as a hobby
    then he can without any problems on the Mac pro and for videodediting or gaming which is mainly the work of a graphics card , on the MP he has the choice to configure it to his needs
    on the other hand i do video editing with final cut and some photoshop on my eMac 1.42 's (have 3 and split the workload , takes longer , but getting the job done too
    and i have a PowerMac G5 dual 2.3 which is still upgradeable to my needs for the next decade to come (if he does not blow up that is ) but for now he's standing unused behind the couch as the eMac's are still more then sufficient enough and i love the design which is even more important to me then raw processing power

    so his choice is not about money ,its about how many boxes he can tick with the iMac and the Mac Pro
  17. frownsarefun thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 2, 2010
    OP here...

    Perhaps my title would have been more fitting if named convince me not to get a MP, or something along those lines. I have found, as with many people, that when buying an electronic product, I`ve historically leaned toward the more is better moto.

    I am not rich and money certainly is an object, but I can afford a MP and am not limited to the iMac pricing. It`s the same reason why I didn`t opt for the MacBook, which I am positive would have gotten the job done for me with my email, iTunes, iLife and MS Office needs.

    But for me, it has always been comparing the build quality as well as the pricing factor and what is included inside the unit - even if it is overkill.

    So I went with the MacBook Pro because I didn`t want another flimsy looking plastic shell of a laptop and the guts of the computer seemed like it would last ME well into the next century. And here I am now, happily working away on it with no complaints (except I want a larger screen size).

    My gf`s Sony Vaio just took a dump, so she`s going to buy this MacBook Pro for $2500, so I get a good price I`m happy with, and she gets some bonus software that she doesn`t have to buy from switching to Mac from MS.

    I don`t have any gripes about the iMac and I know that even taking the base model iMac off the shelf would be more than enough. I know that taking the base MP off the shelf is even more of trying to use a nuclear missile to kill a fly. But money aside, I don`t want to be replacing iMac`s every 4 years, when I know that the investment in a MP literally could last me 8-10 years with minor upgrades. And again, worst case scenario, is I could always sell it off to someone and get a new one, if I so desire - same as people do all the time.

    Maybe my needs will develop. Maybe they won`t. I can`t say right now. But I would rather have too much, than just enough for now with little growth in the future. I know the technology changes as fast as the sun rises and falls.

    My main areas again are email, iTunes, iLife, possibly some logic express in the near future and maybe aperture. That`s about the extent of it. I know the base quad model would be fine. But with all this talk about the sweet spot of the units and different programs not relying on 12 cores or even 8 cores, etc...I am wondering, am I best served to get the 3.33 6 core - which every one seems to think is the best value of the bunch or should I just splurge and get the 12 core (which seems I will never need). Speed is my biggest factor I am looking for and again, the things I do aren`t going to change much from what I just listed above. No graphic design outside of iWeb. No 3d rendering. And the only photo/video stuff, will be on iLife OR aperture. No pro apps.

    Aside from that...I was curious...should I get a cheap SSD for the main drive bay, like a 64gb ssd? My fear is that every time I have had to reinstall the Mac OS on a hard drive - same one or new one - the computer never worked right. Always problems. Also, should I use WD Caviar Blacks or Greens in the other 3 bays?

    Ideally, I want one bay to be the main/mac drive - one bay to be for business - one bay to be for personal and the last bay to be for main/mac backup. So for this kind of set up, am I best to just plug in the internal hdd`s into the bays and leave them be...or should I set up raid or esata, etc? The only 2 drives that would share info would be the 1st bay (main/mac drive) and a 2nd bay as backup via time machine. the other two bays are different info.

    Again, my main thinking is simply speed and performance. I don`t know what my options are.

    3.33 6 core or 2.66 12 core?
    Get 2tb main hdd from mac as main drive or get small 64gb SDD as main?
    WD Black or Green Caviars as remaining drives?
    RAID any of them, ESATA any of them, etc?
    Is 8GB memory ok for my needs above?

  18. THX1139 macrumors 68000


    Mar 4, 2006
    Why do you keep posting when you have already received good advice? It's clear that you have your mind made up to buy a Mac Pro even though you absolutely don't need one. Sure, better and faster is usually good, but then if you have a bunch of cores sitting around doing nothing, then it's a total waste of money. And it's not like you are going to grow into the machine. All of the applications you have mentioned, with the exception of Aperture, don't need that much power. Actually... even the high-end iMac is overkill for your usage!

    Do you even know what the Mac Pro is designed for? It's hard for me to accept that you are even considering the 12 core MP for what your usage is. It's like buying an expensive sports car just to drive to the grocery store. You have to remember that computers depreciate very fast. It's not always a good thing to spend extra on a top-end machine in the off chance that you'll need the power later UNLESS you are a power user now (or like to buy expensive toys). Based on your current usage, by the time you even get close to taxing that 12 or 6 core, there are going to be much better and faster machines on the market. In the meantime, it's going to sit there and depreciate until you find a use for it - or until in the very distant future where Safari may require 12 cores to run. :eek:
  19. MythicFrost macrumors 68040


    Mar 11, 2009
    The 27" iMac is a good machine, it is barely upgradable though. The GPU should be sufficient if you have any gaming needs, the CPU is a power house, it has plenty of hard drive space available (2 TB) and a SSD option and it comes with a large screen and the rest of it in a very neat package. You can easily add RAM to the iMac.

    The Mac Pro is also a good machine, but unlike the iMac it is highly upgradable. The GPUs are very powerful but not much use to you unless you game and wish to do so at high settings on high end games.Adding a SSD, additional hard drives, a new GPU, more RAM, more screens, etc.

    Honestly, I'd go the Mac Pro. I'd recommend using a SSD (I.E, Intel X25-M G2 160GB) as the boot drive and buying a 2 TB HD and 12GB (3x4GB) of RAM from a place like OWC (

    Apple charges ridiculous amounts for RAM (a little under 3x) and hard drives.
  20. jbyun04 macrumors 6502a


    Aug 31, 2008
    About 80 years in the future when HTML 13.2 is out :D
  21. frownsarefun thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 2, 2010
    The reason why I posted on here - again - is because many of the replies on this forum started to go off on their own tangents about `should I get into ________ uses with the computer.` I wanted to clarify exactly what I - THE OP - would be using it for, and acknowledging that I would not consider the iMac at this time.

    But I have seen more examples of what other people would get if they were to buy a MP, not what would be a good, solid MP for ME.

    Specifically, an an example, I doubt that I need 16gb of memory added into the system - not for my needs. Perhaps for people who are in dire need of a MP, but I am not one of those.

    I simply want to know what a good MP system would be, which people seem to be split between the quad core or the 6 core because it`s the sweet spot in terms of value/performance. Fine. Got that.

    Would 8bg be enough for my current needs, which I made clear in my previous post today? Should I do 4gb x 2 - is this the most performance savy method?

    Would it be a waste to put a Western Digital 64GB SSD as the main, or just go with a 2gb Black Caviar, as seems to come standard. Would it be best to stay with the Black Caviars for the remaining 2 bays?

    Lastly - again - if bay 1 is main drive of 2gb. Bay 2 is 1gb business/work. Bay 3 is 1gb personal. And Bay 4 is 2gb a backup of all bays 1, 2 and 3. Can I raid any of these, or would just plugging them in a forgetting about it be what to do. What`s best performance option.
  22. MythicFrost macrumors 68040


    Mar 11, 2009
    2x4GB should be plenty for you, but I'd do 3x4GB anyway for maximum bandwidth -- an additional module can be added later though if you only want 8GB now.

    The 2.8GHz should be good enough for you, I don't think you need the six-core, if a faster clock speed is desired the 3.2GHz should be enough. Personally I'd buy the six-core anyway.

    I'd recommend a SSD for your main drive, although make sure it's a good one (some can be rubbish and I don't know of the WD Digital SSD you mentioned) -- the intel one 80/160GB is a great one.

    Raiding any drives makes them one drive, so unless you want business and personal on the same drive then I don't believe so.

    I'd recommend using an external drive for backup, otherwise you'll need to swap the internal drive out when it fills up.
  23. Giuly macrumors 68040


    Get an iMac. Same performance, lower price and you get a really nice 27" display with it.
    Need more disk space? Attach disks via FireWire800.
    Need more RAM? Install 4x4GB DDR3-1333.
  24. blinc2008 macrumors newbie

    Oct 17, 2008
    External Drives: OS X slowness

    I currently run an older mac pro and am considering jumping down to an iMac or even a Mac Mini, but I find it constantly (many times per work day) annoying to have my disks attached externally. Perhaps someone understands how to solve this problem.

    For disks that are internal to my mac pro, I get great performance, no annoyances.

    For anything attached externally, USB or FireWire (400 or 800), the disks spin down after a very short idle time and then, anytime _ANY_ disk on my system needs 'new' access (every 5-20 minutes), the entire system more or less locks up waiting for the drive to spin up.

    This isn't just for accessing the idle, stopped drive, this is any time Finder does a 'new' action across the system on any disk.

    This problem was present on my previous PowerMac and I've been discussing the annoyances with iMac users who complained about this problem.

    I don't actually need that much computer power in most of my work, but I need lots of disk. The main reason I am considering paying the extra zillion dollars for a Mac Pro is because I want the disks internal to avoid the annoyance of waiting for external disks to spin up.

    So, assuming someone doesn't know the magic solution for that, that's something I'd consider if I were choosing between a MP and any other mac.
  25. foodle macrumors 6502

    May 14, 2008
    Pennsylvania, USA
    I just couldn't let this pass :mad:

    A cheap SSD will likely perform no better (and possibly worse) than a good HDD in many cases. Your concern about reinstalling the OS on HDDs seems anecdotal at best. Plenty of people have reinstalled their OS on HDDs without a problem. You will do fine with an HDD, however ...

    ... as many other posters have said, you do not need a MP (or an SSD or a hex core or 8GB of DRAM), but you seem deadset on buying one. All the better for the :apple: quarterly profit report. I too understand the strong draw of wanting something that is more than what's needed just because it's shiny and powerful, but consider what else you could be doing with the money you'd spend on a MP.

Share This Page