IMac vs Mac Pro ($3500 budget) but need a workhorse

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by producer4u, Feb 10, 2012.

  1. producer4u, Feb 10, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2012

    producer4u macrumors newbie

    Nov 3, 2011

    I am wondering a question please. For my budget of $3500 I was looking at these two options. What I will be doing is music. I have a studio, using Digital Performer with 3 or 4 plugins running. I also want to do heavy duty video editing in the future.

    Ok on the IMac:

    3.4GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7
    16GB 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 4x4GB
    1TB Serial ATA Drive + 256GB Solid State Drive

    Price $3,400

    On the Mac Pro:

    One 3.33GHz 6-Core Intel Xeon “Westmere
    3GB (3x1GB)
    1TB 7200-rpm Serial ATA 3Gb/s hard drive

    Price$ 3699

    Ok I know on the G5 the processors are way better, but I will get less ram, and not the solid state drive, which I believe would be great for speed.

    What are your opinions with what I want to do. Which computer would be best?

    Thank You!!!! for any info you can help with!
  2. simsaladimbamba

    Nov 28, 2010
  3. producer4u thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 3, 2011
    Sorry I meant the mac Pro purchase on Apples web-site. I edited my post. Thanks

    Thanks for the info on upgrades though!!!
  4. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    Ram is cheap. You shouldn't stress $100 worth of ram on such an expensive purchase. I would upgrade the ram in the imac yourself rather than paying the rate charged by Apple if you go that route. The SSD may be annoying to install for the end user on an imac, but ram is easy. Compared to just the cpu upgrade, that sounds like way too much for the imac with the upgrades included. Personally if I wanted an imac I'd take advantage of the awesome refurb prices on them. It knocks off several hundred. Upgrade to 16GB of ram for $100 or $150 or whatever, and you're out the door under $2k that route.

    The problem is I don't like the imac. I've seen plenty of long term display problems with them, and the HDD is not user serviceable. If you're doing a lot of video/sound stuff, hard drives will likely be a big deal. With the imac your option would be the thunderbolt enclosure which is rather expensive for what you get. The mac pro has a lot of great options in drive enclosures, and you can fit four drives internally. You might be able to fit another in one of the optical bays. If your video editing software can benefit from gpu power (which many but not all can), the mac pros get better gpu options. I don't really like the current ratio of what you pay to what you get on the mac pro, but I will never use an all in one due to the limitations.

    Apple's upgrade pricing for that ram and SSD on the imac are both way too high. I wouldn't personally pay it. If you do go that route, I'd skip that stuff, do the ram upgrade yourself, and put the rest of your budget into storage solutions for the computer or applecare or something of that sort. Since some people ask about resale value of macs, you'll never see a dollar spent on those upgrades back again, even if you sell it a few months later.
  5. minifridge1138 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 26, 2010
    Go with the Mac Pro.

    You're within $300 anyway.

    The only thing you loose is the nice display that comes with the iMac.
    You gain:
    -support for memory
    -support for more disk space
    -2 extra cores
    -more future proof (if there is such a thing in technology, this is as close as it gets).

    Also, can we get a moderator to move this to the correct forum?
  6. Subish macrumors member

    Dec 2, 2011
    Your totally talking about the "Mac Pro" and not the "PowerMac G5"
    The G5 looks very similar to the Mac Pro.

    As far as a "Work Horse" I would go with a Mac Pro as they are design to be a Workstation.

    The Mac Pro for one has better cooling so really don't have to worry about heat when you have your machine running for hours at a time doing heavy loads. I know that my iMac gets hot and while it is design to be a big heat sink there is still a lot of heat trapped in side.

    ECC ram is nice as it does correct its own errors and will not require rebooting to clear out.

    The Mac Pro you're showing has 6 cores and a lot of profession software will put them to good uses. More core = better (depending on application)

    Why the SSD is great right now for iMac, just think in about 6 months you can add one to Mac Pro.
  7. Mac2012 macrumors regular

    Nov 6, 2011
    Go with an iMac because they are pretty close in performance, and Universal Audio just came out with the Apollo so you're covered with DSP for great sounding plugs. There's 2 TB ports on an iMac and single process threads, the iMacs are neck and neck to the 6 core MP, now video editing the mac pro will beat it but only slightly. When they come out with a 6 core iMac the lines will be blurred a bit because there's other things I'd spend my $$ on like a KILLER preamp and transducer, monitors etc so $1800 refurb iMac you'd have PLENTY left over to buy other things that ensure a great quality recording... I use DP too and my iMac opens ANYTHING I've done on my mac pros without breaking a sweat but I've used DP for close to 20 years and know it well... I produce gold and platinum level albums on my iMac, so don't let anyone BS you!
  8. Mac2012, Feb 10, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2012

    Mac2012 macrumors regular

    Nov 6, 2011
    Even a monitor can go out on a mac pro. I have installed 18 different iMacs into facilities last year (2011) and NOT ONE issue with the monitors or anything! I have installed about 50 mac pros throughout the past 2 years and have had logic boards, processors etc. replaced many times. If it's burned in well, you will either find out if you have a lemon or not plus you have apple care if it goes out and if you need a monitor there's TB solutions too... Get a refurb, add ram and SSD yourself, (lots of info on the net) and use the remaining $$ for other things you'll need.
    Your saying "workhorse" (using Digital Performer with 3 or 4 plugins running) but the projects that your mentioning my Macbook can run! That's a PUNY session... my iMac can run 3 or 4 VI's and about 50 to 60 plugs 30 tracks of audio easily without even breaking a sweat!
  9. GermanyChris, Feb 11, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2012

    GermanyChris macrumors 601


    Jul 3, 2011
    in the 3500 price range I wouldn't even consider an can argue all the specs speed and anything else you want but I can't upgrade without much patience and some suction cups and to top it it can't go as far.
  10. producer4u thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 3, 2011
    Thanks everyone! This is a wealth of info to study and process....I appreciate it.
  11. INSURGENCYmusic macrumors member


    Jan 15, 2012
    hollywood, ca
    yea mac pro man. the imac is not a workhorse because they aren't upgradable. I'm still using my g5 that I bought in 2005 because i was able to upgrade the components. If I had an Imac, i would've been stuck right now.
  12. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    Bleh I have multiple displays. If I have to send in one, it's annoying, but I can still operate until a replacement comes. If it was a gpu, it depends on warranty status, but assuming I needed it back up and running immediately i'd order a replacement. With the imac you can't even replace the HDD yourself as of 2010 or 2011. I agree with you on burning things in. I haven't heard much in the way of logic board or cpu failure problems from others using mac pros. Has it been more or less common since they switched away from the Intel boards in 2009? Last while I mentioned I don't care for the imac, I did suggest an alternative configuration if he goes that route. I suggested not paying Apple such an asinine amount for those upgrades when you could put that portion of the budget to better use.
  13. macchiato2009 macrumors 65816

    Aug 14, 2009
    definitely MP

    you'll be able to insert PCI-E cards for extensions, use RAID, upgrade HDD, video card, add more RAM

    the MP is for sure a workhorse
  14. producer4u thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 3, 2011
    Did you upgrade your processors. I have the old one like that as well! Thanks
  15. wonderspark macrumors 68040


    Feb 4, 2010
    The thing I see most people name as a benefit for iMacs is, "You get a screen with it." The other side of that sword is that if anything goes wrong, your whole system is down. I have two monitors, and both won't go down together. I also have two GPUs, so if my 5870 dies, I can use the GTX285 in the meantime.

    I love that I have USB 3.0, eSATA and mini-SAS all in my Mac. I just tossed in an SSD, and it was as simple as opening the side and putting it in place.

    For $3500, you can make a much better Mac Pro by shopping and performing your upgrades wisely.
  16. kalex macrumors 65816

    Oct 1, 2007
    I had 2009 mac pro. decided that I want an Imac. Bought one, shipped it of to OWC to have them upgrade it to SSD. Got it back, connected it and went through setup motions. Used it for about 1 day then posted it for sale on Craigslist. Sold it and went back to my mac pro.

    Performance wise it was on par with mac pro but I hated the glossy screen. My desk is next to the window and I never had any problems with 3 of my 24" Matte displays connected to the mac pro. As soon as I connected imac i hated it. I was using my computer and i was seeing myself in the reflections.

    Another plus is when updated hardware comes out its fairly easy to install it into mac pro. Not so much into imac. When my applecare runs out I'm going to upgrade my mac pro processor to westmere Hex model. I already upgraded my video card to 5870 and will upgrade it again when newer cards come out. Can't do that with imac.
  17. ashman70 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 20, 2010
    You stated in your post that you wanted a 'workhorse' I would not classify an iMac as such. If you want a system you can grow with, add drives to, change GPU's and reconfigure any way you want, then you want a Mac Pro, no question. While iMac's are great computers that suit the needs of many people, it does not sound like it would be the right choice for you. There are some great deals to be had on used 2009 models if you are patient and they can be upgraded to hexcore models that are very similar to the performance of the 2010 model.
  18. velocityg4 macrumors 601


    Dec 19, 2004
    If your comfortable tinkering with a computer. Buy a refurb base 2010 Mac Pro for about $2000 or a 2009 model for less and upgrade the CPU to the Xeon W3680 yourself $600. You could save even more buying a used Mac Pro instead of a refurb and upgrading it. The 2009 models need a firmware upgrade to use the same firmware as the 2010 model.

    Although it would void the Apple warranty you could always just get a Squartrade warranty on it (they cover more than Apple anyways). Or just keep the old CPU. If something fails later on that is not related to your upgrade just swap the old one back in. It is extremely unlikely anything other than your hard drive will fail.

    Then you can upgrade the ram add, add an SSD and monitor for the price of the iMac.

    2010 Mac Pro refurb $2040
    Intel Xeon W3680 $600
    OCZ Agility 3 240GB SSD $290
    16GB (4x4GB) DDR3 1333mhz RAM $144 (there are likely better prices)
    Dell Ultrasharp U2412M (24" high quality LED backlit IPS panel for color accuracy) $340
    Total $3414

    So if you upgrade the CPU yourself in a refurb Mac Pro you can have the entire system for nearly $300 less than Apple charges for a base 3.33Ghz Mac Pro. If you factor out the SSD, Monitor and RAM you save over $1,000 when just comparing two 3.33ghz computers.

    If you want a higher resolution 27" screen you can get the Dell Ultrasharp U2711 for $980. It is also an IPS panel and would run about $350 more than a new 3.33Ghz Mac Pro. Including the SSD, RAM and CPU upgrade.
  19. jetjaguar macrumors 68030


    Apr 6, 2009
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 5_0_1 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/534.46 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.1 Mobile/9A406 Safari/7534.48.3)

    Where is he refurb 2040? I see 2166 plus tax ? Just curious cuz I'm looking into getting one
  20. philipma1957 macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
    Howell, New Jersey
    #20 the 2009 is 2039 plus tax the 2010 is 2119 plus tax.

    the 2010 is the better deal. also if you have a discover card you can get 5% off so the tax is 2% not 7% I live in NJ like you do.

    link for a hex chore chip. so in Jersey 2119 plus 45 tax after the discover card rebate. and 600 comes to 2750. a heat sink past kit and some tools and you have a hex for about 2800. plus a left over quad core you can hold for a while or sell for 150 to 200 you can have a hex for under 2650. still a lot but lower then 3600
  21. velocityg4 macrumors 601


    Dec 19, 2004
    Sorry I made a mistake on the year. Anyways the 2009 just needs the 2010 firmware patched to it to use the current Xeon chips.
  22. jetjaguar macrumors 68030


    Apr 6, 2009

    thanks .. I'm going back and forth in my head on what to do .. sold my iMac the other day. Was going to buy the refurb and just use it like that for a bit then do the upgrade down the road
  23. Zwhaler macrumors 604


    Jun 10, 2006
    Mac Pro! The CPU you listed is better than the one in the iMac, and you gain enormous expandability for RAM, hard drives/SSDs, optical drives, and graphics cards. For video editing Mac Pro is the way to go.
  24. MadMichael macrumors newbie

    Feb 9, 2012
    I can see that you are somewhat confused on what to get. The iMac's are nice machines and I have 2 in my household plus 3 MacBooks and my 2006 Mac Pro that I recently got.

    The iMac's advantages are a all in one clean desktop and no need for finding a place for the tower. Since you have had a iMac you know of the advantages and the take aways from this.

    The Mac Pro's advantages are almost unlimited upgrading that this gives but in your budget did you include the need for a good moniter, the eventual need for more RAM, drives and the such?

    Both computers are great machines but In my opinion the Pro is the better package for you. Oh course anybody can spend your money in his dream but you have to decide.
  25. Phildo macrumors member


    Nov 14, 2011
    Perth, Western Australia
    Mac Pro with 3.33GHz 6 core: 15720
    iMac 3.4GHz: 12575

    The Mac Pro is faster, and has a lot more future options. It would be easy to upgrade the processor (again) in two or three years. Swapping internal stuff is simple, ie hard drives, optical drives, RAM, graphics card, etc. Having two optical drives can be useful.

    The FireWire and USB ports on the front are useful - no having to reach around the back and trying to find where a cable is meant to plug into. Adding a second, or larger primary, screen is easy enough.

    The iMac will look good and take up less space on the desk, but the Mac Pro has more performance short term and more options long term.

    To make it even cheaper, get a secondhand 2009 Mac Pro and do the processor upgrade. You won’t have the warranty, but you’ll get one a lot cheaper than Apple’s refurb price.

    The 1Tb drive in the iMac will possibly need replacing with a larger capacity drive, which is a nuisance job. The same task takes seconds with a Mac Pro, or just add additional drives.

    In the future, when SSD drives become a lot cheaper and larger capacity (ie 1Tb+) then swapping SSDs is also an easy job.

    For moving from one drive to another, just put the new drive in one of the vacant bays and run something like Carbon Copy Cloner.

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