iMac or MacPro... which suits my needs best?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Gooter, Jan 9, 2008.

  1. Gooter macrumors member


    Jan 3, 2008
    First off, sorry for another iMac vs MacPro thread. However in my defense, each thread is sort of different as it applies to the OP's needs.

    I started posting here last week. I am a current Windows user who wants to make the transition to Macs. Before the announcement of the updated MacPro, I was pretty much set on getting the 24" iMac 2.4GHz model for $1799. Now, I'm not so sure.

    Here are my computing needs in no particular order:
    1. Light to moderate gaming (some classics like Rise of Nations, KOTOR, WoW and possibly some new ones that may be released)
    2. Office work (spreadsheets, word processing)
    3. Web surfing
    4. Photo & video for personal use (editing home movies, turning into DVD's, storing and organizing both photos and movies)
    5. Video editing for professional use (was thinking of maybe doing this on the side for friends, family, etc. when and IF I like it and/or get good at it. Would be very basic in nature.)

    I currently have a nice display that I recently bought and still like (Samsung 216bw 21.6" WS LCD). I also have a decent 2.1 speaker system set.

    Some more background information: I have built my own PC's for the past 15 years so I am used to having more upgrade options or at least the chance for upgradeability.

    I can now configure a MacPro single quad core with the options (8800GT, wireless, 500GB HD) I need for $2649. Granted, this is around $850 more than I initially intended to put towards a Mac but I like that it is upgradeable, I love the 8800GT option and to me, the iMac just seems like a laptop built into a monitor (great for space saving, design, etc. just not sure I like it).

    So, my question is do you think I should go with the MacPro or iMac based on my needs and what I have been used to in the Windows world?

  2. emw macrumors G4


    Aug 2, 2004
    It sounds as though you're looking for confirmation of a decision you've already made. ;)

    Based on your needs, and the fact that you've upgraded the video card for gaming, the HD, etc., the MacPro seems like the obvious choice. Especially if you're looking to eventually (maybe) get into professional services, the MacPro will give you flexibility that the iMac won't.
  3. zelmo macrumors 603


    Jul 3, 2004
    Mac since 7.5
    Agree with emw that you're looking for someone to pat you on the back and say "go buy" to the MP.:)
    That being said, since you aren't sure about how serious you may get with the video edit thing, you could always buy an iMac and then eBay it if/when you outgrow it.
  4. fivepoint macrumors 65816


    Sep 28, 2007
    I think I have a slightly different view that the first responders above. To me, it sounds like for atleast the first couple of years you wouldn't be able to even tell the difference between the iMac and the Mac Pro. The applications you are running will run perfectly on the new iMacs, and you can get into them (screen and all) for less than $1700. To me, its a no-brainer. The iMac offers all the speed, hd space, and ram you could want for those apps...

    The only thing that I could see changing this is whether or not you can give up the upgradibilty of your machine. All you can do with the iMac is upgrade the RAM. You can always add more/faster parts to your MacPro, but remember... you already have almost $3000 into it!

    I am a very similar user to you, and your list above matches my type of use very much. I plan on getting a new iMac in the next 2 months.... because it fits my needs PERFECTLY.

    On a sid enote, I just sold my G4 iMac this week, and got a TON of good use out of it over the last 4 years. It was a great machine, and after 4 years, I still sold it for $550!
  5. Bengt77 macrumors 68000


    Jun 7, 2002
    I'd go for an iMac, if I were you. I have a BTO 24" with a 2.8GHz Core 2 Extreme, and this thing screams. Also, with gaming in Windows, and when having upgraded the drivers for the GPU, it's not nearly as mediocre in gaming as some people will make you believe. In fact, it's quite good. Even modern games like Bioshock play really well. At full resolution and high settings, mind you.

    For anything other than gaming, especially on an (at least initially) hobbyist level, a Mac Pro is pure overkill. So I'd say, keep the money and go for a specced-out iMac. It's a brilliant machine that won't even begin to be able to disappoint you.
  6. Techguy172 macrumors 68000

    Feb 2, 2007
    Ontario Canada
    If you like the Mac Pro get the mac pro but the iMac is cheaper and it suits your needs Mac Pro is overkill for what you want to do.
  7. cohibadad macrumors 6502a


    Jul 21, 2007
    Mac Pro will always do things better but in reality for what you need the iMac would be fine.
  8. biturbomunkie macrumors 6502a

    Jul 30, 2006
    get a MP if money wasn't an issue, but an imac is all you really need. :)
  9. Bardsley macrumors newbie

    Jul 16, 2002
    The only thing that you might like the Mac Pro for is professional video editing, in which case it might be worth waiting until you actually are a professional. That's not a put down, it's just that the iMac will suit you fine for a couple of years if you're just starting out. When you start knowing more what you need then you'll know whether or not a Mac Pro is a suitable upgrade.

    Everyone likes to buy for contingencies, but given the average life of computers it can mean buying a computer that never really utilizes its potential, until it starts to become obsolete.
  10. PNW macrumors regular

    Feb 7, 2007
    That's spectacular advice.
    I think a big part of the problem for those of us who are coming from the build you own PC world is that we've always looked at our boxes a as dynamic units that we could bump here and there as needed. With the iMac there's this sense of: "I'd better do this right because I'm stuck with it for the next 4-5 years".
  11. fivepoint macrumors 65816


    Sep 28, 2007
    Yes, but when you do sell your iMac, you will great resale value.

    Also, its just like a laptop on the PC side. Its not a mac vs PC thing... its an all-in-one vs. giant tower thing.
  12. Muncher macrumors 65816


    Apr 19, 2007
    Everyone at some time asks this in the apple world. It's when you go into the store to look at, say, a macbook (pulling from personal experience here), and you spy a 20" iMac that is about $300-400 more. Suddenly you have to have it, even though you don't need it. %50 of people with macs don't need what they have, and could get by with a lot less. The other %50 are in film and music. For your uses, I would normally recommend a macbook, or even a better mini. You've got the money though, and I don't think anything I say will stop you.

    Whatever you pick, enjoy your new Mac!
  13. PNW macrumors regular

    Feb 7, 2007
    Yep I know.

    Given that the cheapest "giant tower" from Apple is a whopping $2300, it is a Mac vs PC thing.

    I'm in more or less the same place as the OP (except I'm way more focused on photography than video). I'm probably going to pick up a 2.4 Ghz iMac despite the fact I don't need the monitor (or like it for photo work). I want a little more umph than the mini offers plus two monitors are still better than one even if I can only use one for final photo work. But this still doesn't quiet the little voice in my head that says do it right now because you can't upgrade later. So I start tweaking and wind up with an iMac that costs as much a Mac Pro. Then I start thinking about the MP until I realize that I'm now looking at adding the cost of Photoshop to the computer and I go back to square 1. For the record: The box I'll be replacing is 6 years old but the motherboard, power supply, and case are about the only original parts left.
  14. fivepoint macrumors 65816


    Sep 28, 2007
    Another difference is that a Mac 4-5 years from now will run better than most 2-3 year old PCs. No viruses to worry about... OS updates that don't slow the machine down... etc.

    This has been my experience anyway.
  15. Gooter thread starter macrumors member


    Jan 3, 2008
    First of all, thanks so much for all of the replies!

    Yes, this is a big reason why the MacPro is factoring into my decision. I'm having trouble letting go of my Windows PC way of thinking. Just wait until I get the darn thing and start using Leopard! LOL I'm so used to bumping one piece or two when I need it to extend the life of my PC. I think not being able to have that option on the iMac may get to me.

    I agree with others that MacPro is definitely overkill for my needs. Which then causes me to think that for my first Mac experience, an iMac would be just fine. Then, I think that I have a nice LCD going to waste. :p

    Oh well, still going to wait until after MW to make a decision. Please chime in if you have any more advice!

  16. akm3 macrumors 68020

    Nov 15, 2007
    Why not go for a refurbish Mac Mini for your first Mac experience? Pop it open and throw in a real hard drive and max the RAM, and use your current PC monitor/keyboard/mouse. You get into the mac experience very cheaply, and get Macbook level performance. Then, you will have a VERY good idea if you need a Macbook Pro, or an iMac, or if you are just good with a Mac Mini for now!

    I absolutely love my Mac Mini. It introduced me to iLife and I've taken lots of photos, used camcorder footage with the photos in iMovie, published with iWeb, put stuff on You Tube, made family photo books for Christmas. I love iLife! Mac Mini is a legitmate entrance to the Mac experience. I just can't game on it, but I don't care.

  17. Keebler macrumors 68030

    Jun 20, 2005

    go mac pro.
    why? b/c if you think you'll even do stuff for family and friends, you'll need the power.
    I run a video transfer business and am running a larger transfer (29 hours).
    I needed the power of the imac to help process mpeg2 files using bitvice. In fact, I had my G5 running a few files too.

    It took about 6 hours 45 minute to process a single 1.5 hour movie into an mpeg2. Not bad...but not great. still helped me out.

    With my mac pro, i ran 3 (yes THREE) files, each running 1 hour 45 mins to 2 7 hours. pretty much a 3:1 ratio. I have the 2.66 model with 3 GB Ram and it's FAST. of course, the latest models are 1.4x or more faster (from what I saw on apple's website).

    i politely disagree with bardsley too. my dually 1.25 G4 is still working away so i'd say it reached its potential and is still holding. Same with the G5 - it reached the potential and is holding strong. If I wasn't buying a macbook pro next week, i'd buy a new mac pro b/c i know it would reach its potential too.

    The reason I mentioned the mac pro is you probably don't want to wait for family/friends' projects to be finished. There is enough to learn about editing and transferring that when it comes down to it, you won't want a slower or, less powerful machine to help you. One of the biggest motivating factors I get is knowing my MP will pump my files fast when I've done most of the hard work already.

    my 2.6 cents :)
    good luck,
  18. Full of Win macrumors 68030

    Full of Win

    Nov 22, 2007
    Ask Apple
    Well looks like we have a poster child for a MidiMac Desktop that everyone seems to want. Wait for MWSF before doing anything.
  19. PNW macrumors regular

    Feb 7, 2007
    That's because with XP you need to reinstall the OS every few years because it will corrupt its system directory over time. A fair number of my hardware upgrades over the years have come from yard sales where people were just trying to get rid of a "broken" computer.

    However, my PC runs Linux so no a problem there. I do have to run XP (virtually with VM Ware's free player) for digital darkroom work. I'm ready for a new box and won't run / pay for Vista, hence a Mac.

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