iMac or MacPro for web development professional.

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Sean Dempsey, Jun 28, 2007.

  1. Sean Dempsey macrumors 68000

    Sean Dempsey

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2006
    #1
    I'm at the crossroads again. A longtime PC user, I am closer than ever to purchasing my first Mac desktop. Last summer, I bought a MacBook and it's been great, but I just use it for home use, internet and email.

    I own a small but busy web development company, and I'm not only the owner, but do most of the labor. My assistant uses a 24" iMac, and has been harping on my constantly to finally upgrade from my Pentium4 I built in August of '03.

    But, I need some advice from people with experience with similar demands. I'll list my questions/considerations/wants/needs, and you can respond as you see fit.

    Basically, I am trying to decided between a MacPro or a 24" iMac.

    Okay! First things first:
    - Consideration: I have two Samsung 214T monitors (21 inch LCD's) that run at 1600x1200. They are a year old, I paid $1200 for both of them. With the iMac, I can use 1 monitor as an extension, but with a MacPro I can use both, and add more monitors later (3-4 monitors would be great).

    - Consideration: I work 10-12 hours a day, chained to a keyboard. Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Flash, FTP, chats, a bunch of small utility apps, and multiple browser windows are open at all times, plus at any given moment additional Illustrator, Indesign, Acrobat, Word, Excel, and lord knows what else. People say that if you're not doing 3d/Video or 40gillion megapixel work, you can't really "tax a system with web dev apps!!". Well.. that's never been my experience. When I explain that I build websites for a living, people usually poo-poo it and say "You can run those apps on a 386 with 8 megs of ram!"

    - Consideration: With the above consideration, suffice it to say, I feel like I can definitley tax a system with all my web dev apps, and I want a screaming fast computer. I know the MacPro and the iMac can both be fast, but please don't say that a MacPro is "overkill" for web development.

    - Question: With an iMac, I'm pretty limited. Hard drives are gonna be external, can't change video cards or add more than 1 monitor, limited to 3 gigs of ram. Right now, I run 2 external drives and 3 interal, and would like to have my new machine have 10,000 rpm drives. Will the iMac probably reach limitations alot faster than a MacPro?

    - Consideration: Cost... but not really. I figure I can get the MacPro I need to start for about 3000-3500, and add more 10k drives and ram as needed (start with 4 gigs). The Imac will end up about 2500 with the added ram and such.

    - Question: With a MacPro, will it's functional "fast computer" longevity be alot longer than the iMac? With the type of demands and wants I have for a workstation, what will I be saying in 2 years with the iMac? The MacPro?

    - Question: Does the Processor speed difference on the MacPro really matter much? is a 3.0 machine really that much faster than a 2.66? Or will I probably not notice.

    - Want: I want a nice, fast machine. This PC is almost 4 years old, full of quirks, and just pretty slow and outdated.

    - Need: I will NEED a new machine soon. I've already lost a drive and a motherboard on this beast. It can't last forever, and time is money, working slow just slows down my ability to earn money and provide for my family.




    Right now, the MacPro I'd get is the 2.66 quad for about 2700, and then 4 gigs of ram from Crucial for another 400. Then add the 10k drives later. I have everything else I need (software, periphs). So I figure with odds and ends, about $3200 bucks to get into a new tower. Or, if you can advise, maybe it's worth the extra 800-1500 for the faster processors, or the quad cores?

    the iMac, 2000 plus about 150 for 3gigs of ram.

    Someone weight in! If you can say "you'd be stupid not to get a macpro with what you've described" and then give reasons, go ahead. I *will* be buying a computer soon, but this kind of monetary investment, and also the whole livelihood of myself and my family is riding on this machine and it's performance/reliability.

    I can already feel the MacPro making more sense, but I'd love for some people who use Mac's for their career/job to weigh in. I've never worked on a Mac, so this is a huge step in alot of ways.

    Thanks ahead of time, I REALLY appreciate feedback.

    Love,
    Sean Dempsey
    Ex-Hardcore PC user.
     
  2. aaronw1986 macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2006
    #2
    Kinda seems like you've made up your mind for a mac pro. Makes sense to me for what you've said. You don't want those monitors to go to waste you bought. The mac pro will have a longer life for sure. Upgrade capability seems important to you, which the mac pro can definitely give you.
     
  3. matperk macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 6, 2004
    Location:
    Milwaukee, Wisconsin
    #3
    I agree w/ aaron....you seem like you pretty much already decided. The obvious advantage of the mac pro is can really expand easily...and you've already got ideas about how you're going to expand it. I have a 3ghz xeon macpro and it is amazing and extremely simple to upgrade and I can throw everything at it and it handles it easily.

    It will last you years and will always be worth quite a bit at the end of it's lifecycle.
     
  4. aaronw1986 macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2006
    #4
    Just for the record...I just read your sig, and I am very jealous.
     
  5. matperk macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 6, 2004
    Location:
    Milwaukee, Wisconsin
    #5
    lol. Thanks, but I don't get to use them all on a daily basis...they're my family's...I just run them and use them when I'm home.

    (and I read your sig and am jealous of the SR MBP...my Core Duo is showing it's age.)
     
  6. plinden macrumors 68040

    plinden

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2004
    #6
    Although I think you could probably work fine with an iMac, one thing to consider is that you'll want to make sure your webapps work on Windows and Linux (you do make sure they're crossplatform, don't you?)

    So you'll want Parallels or VMWare Fusion, which means your RAM and CPU will take a hit.

    Although my iMac with 2GB RAM is usually ok, Parallels does slow it down enough that I only run it when I really need to, rather than keep it open all the time like I'd prefer.

    So yeah, a MacPro is probably best.
     
  7. Sean Dempsey thread starter macrumors 68000

    Sean Dempsey

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2006
    #7
    There's nothing I have that would need Parallels actually, there's equivalent software for OSX, and if not, I'll just use the old PC as a backup, since it'll probably be a music/print server anyways.


    Question about upgrading: I know that I can go to 32gigs of ram, and hard drive space is unlimited almost... but are the 2.66 processors upgradable? Or am I stuck with these processors forever since next year, no doubt, they will be using different ones?
     
  8. plinden macrumors 68040

    plinden

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2004
    #8
    They're socketed so can be replaced.
     
  9. aaronw1986 macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2006
    #9
    16GB's RAM, 3TB storage.
     
  10. Dimwhit macrumors 68000

    Dimwhit

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2007
    #10
    I honestly think the iMac would be plenty powerful for your needs. But already having two monitors makes the Mac Pro an attractive option. If I were in your position, I would get the low-end Mac Pro to save some money, then expand with RAM and hard drives. I think the higher-end Mac Pro would be overkill. But I would definitely get the Mac Pro over the iMac for the sole reason that you have two nice monitors already.
     
  11. Igantius macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2007
    #11
    From production point of view, the iMac would be more than credible, but - and this is a big but - you've obviously thought about this pretty hard and it sounds you want to go down the MP line and there's no compelling reasons for you not to.

    BTW have a look at anandtech.com - good article on how to upgrade the processors.
     
  12. btaussie macrumors member

    btaussie

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2007
    #12
    Hi,

    I'm a website developer myself having acquired my Bachelor's degree in Computing & Internet Technology (Website Development). Having the privilege of a university that has both the iMacs, G5's & MacPros(they were phasing out the G5 for MacPro), I can honestly say based on your needs that the MacPro is the way to go. You need the multiple monitors particularly if you are doing significantly lots of multi-tasking. Macs rule at this hands-down. Trust me mate, the MacPro, although more expensive is definitely a machine you can invest in and get years and years worth of use. Money well spent.
     
  13. Sean Dempsey thread starter macrumors 68000

    Sean Dempsey

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2006
    #13


    I think I've boiled it down to the MacPro 100% at this point. The iMac would work, but I do want to add a 30" cinema eventually, and use my 2 LCD's as 2nd and 3rd monitors. Plus, the ability to add the 10,000 RPM drives into the MacPro is a huge plus. And let's not forget the added RAM.

    I had high hopes for having a nice, portable iMac, but it looks like I'm finally gonna be one of those guys with the weird Mac tower and the circular translucent mouse.
     
  14. Sean Dempsey thread starter macrumors 68000

    Sean Dempsey

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2006
    #14
    A quick question about the Mac Pro:


    I plan to order the base model, which will come with 512x2 ram.

    If I order a kit from Crucial that is 2gigx2, is it correct to assume I can keep the 512's also?

    there are 8 banks, so mine would be
    [ 2 gig ]
    [ 2 gig ]
    [ 512 meg ]
    [ 512 meg ]
    [ empty ]
    [ empty ]
    [ empty ]
    [ empty ]

    For a total of 5 gigs of RAM?

    Will it work like this or does it have to be paired up in the banks? Are there any rules to how to add ram, or as long as it's all the same can you add DDR2 PC2-5300 sticks until it's full?
     
  15. dingdongbubble macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2007
    #15
    Multi Tasking

    You will be using some really high end programs at once so you need the multiple cores for the multi tasking. An iMac for you I would say is useless, wont last long. This is a no-brainer. Go for the Mac Pro. You can upgrade the CPUs to octo core or whatever later on once the warranty is over. Add an other 7300gt graphic card for the other displays later on. Keep your RAM to 4 GB right now and then later on keep upgrading bit by bit as you feel yr Mac going sluggish. Maybe you should go for the 2Ghz procs because you might not need that .66x4 extra performance and then later on you can upgrade the CPUs anyways.
     
  16. Sean Dempsey thread starter macrumors 68000

    Sean Dempsey

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2006
    #16
    Purchased and ordered!!

    2.66ghz x 2
    1 gig ram (with a Crucial order of 4gigs on the way)
    an Extra 7300 for the quad displays
    bluetooth and airport
    wireless keyboard and mouse.

    Ended up paying apple $3004, and will pay Crucial the extra 400 for the ram.

    and now just gotta track down some killer 10krpm drives.

    I'm excited and terrified at the same time. This is my first mac, and also will now be my main work computer. Mac don't fail me now!
     
  17. darrenemo macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2006
    #17
    So, how is it all working for you man? I'm curious because i'm in the same boat as you are.
     
  18. nimbuscloud macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2007
    #18
    I'm in the same boat also!! :p

    Please let us know how your Mac Pro is doing. Were you able to use all of the RAM from Crucial AND the RAM that was installed for 5 GB?

    Is your Mac Pro running really well? Thanks again.

    :apple:
     
  19. Mac In School macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2007
    #19
    Why the strong desire for the 10k rpm hard drives?

    I understand wanting one for your OS/programs. On Windows machines, I used to put my OS/programs on Raptors, and all my data on the 7200 rpm drives.

    Unless you're saving enormous files, I don't see a benefit. I regularly save 300+ MB Photoshop files on 72k rpm drives, and it's instant. As is opening them. Unless I'm missing something, I'd reconsider this expense. Unless, of course, you have money to throw around and just want the latest/greatest of everything. But if that was the case, I figure you would have gone for the processor upgrade.
     
  20. englishman macrumors 6502a

    englishman

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2006
    #20
    Alternative Advice

    I don't mean to dis' this forum but you could also try posting for advice on the lively Apple discussion forum.

    My advice though would be a Mac Pro - no contest
     
  21. Sean Dempsey thread starter macrumors 68000

    Sean Dempsey

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2006
    #21
    The Mac Pro is great. Whatever you want to ask, the answer will be "fast, great, awesome"

    I did not buy Crucial ram. I bought 2x2GB OWC Netlist Certified ram. Zero problems. I definitely am planning on grabbing another 4 gigs in the next few months. For my use, I doubt I need more than 5gigs, but I like excess, so I figure 8-9 will be great.

    So far, everything Apple has been great. I've made some mistakes and jacked some stuff up, but it was my fault, or 3rd party software.

    Right now, I am in the process of using Superduper to move my system from the stock 250GB drive to my 150GB Raptor, and then taking the dual Seagate 320GB's and making a striped RAID0 with them. I might not be alot fast that way, but I don't think it will be slower.

    I also have a 500GB OWC Mercury Elite Aluminum FW800 external which is great, I back up all my data to that. And I also use a few year old FW400 Maxtor One Touch II 200GB external for a SuperDuper clone of my system drive, and that drive is bootable.

    So with my system on an external backup, and my data on a different external backup, I feel good about using the RAID0 for my internal drives.

    It's sort of pathetic. I have 1.6 Terabytes of capacity, and my entire "life" consists of around 112GB total (not including backed up stuff).

    There are some bugs/quirks in Adobe apps, but I can't blame apple for that. I did switch with the mindset of "I am buying a Mac Pro to run CS3", so running into CS3 problems was disappointing, but, like a cat in the shower, what can I do? I've tested the same CS3 annoyances on my Macbook, and they aren't there. So for some reason, my Mac Pro and CS3 don't get along, and I don't know why.

    But, that's a topic for another forum.
     
  22. Mac In School macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2007
    #22
    Sean,

    Will you pm me when you post your bitchfest about CS3? I may have a thing or 2 to contribute. DW...

    I'll save it. :)
     
  23. Sean Dempsey thread starter macrumors 68000

    Sean Dempsey

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2006
    #23
    I'm actually posting it now in the design forum
     
  24. nimbuscloud macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2007
    #24
    Did all your RAM work together for 5GB of RAM? I thought you said you got 2x2GB and the 2x512mb that came with the Mac Pro.

    :apple:
     
  25. Sean Dempsey thread starter macrumors 68000

    Sean Dempsey

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2006
    #25
    Yeah it worked great. I have 2x512mb in the top riser, and 2x2gb in the bottom. The heatsyncs on the OWC netlist ram are as big as the official apples ones.
     

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