iMac vs. Mac Pro for long running calculations

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by, Feb 16, 2010.

  1. macrumors newbie

    Feb 16, 2010
    Hello All

    I'm considering an i7 iMac vs. a single proc Mac Pro. I do a lot of long running calculations (physics simulations) that use all available processor cores and last several days. So, I'm a bit concerned about heat buildup in the new 27" iMac. I've read that some think the heat is from the GPU, in this case, it would not be a big problem, as all my calculations only use the main processor, and not the GPU.

    I know that the 27" iMac is definitely the most bang for the buck performance wise, and the screen is dammed nice, and I have at most about $2400 to spend.

    So, I'm leaning towards the iMac, but are there any words of caution about heat buildup in long running calculations?
  2. talmy macrumors 601


    Oct 26, 2009
    I've kept my i7 iMac busy on all 8 cores (including the "hyperthreaded" virtual cores) for a couple of hours and it did OK, but I'd be concerned about running it for days like that. Of course there would be AppleCare to fall back on, but the Mac Pro is better built for this type of application.
  3. mward333 macrumors 6502a


    Jan 24, 2004
    There is absolutely no substitute for having a Mac Pro for these extended calculations that run for hours / days / months. I've run some short calculations on my iMac at home (previous generation, just before the i7), but I do all of my intense computing on my Mac Pro.... seems more suitable for the Mac Pro.
  4. opeter macrumors 65816


    Aug 5, 2007
    Slovenia, EU
    For lonng running calculations I would definitely go with the Mac Pro.

    It has much better air cooling and ventilation (and also will be more powerfull, since you can upgrade the RAM to 32 GB or even more, not to speak about internal hard drives, graphic cards, even the CPUs - if you have enough money).

    The iMac is really stylish, but they did forget, that there should be proper cooling.
  5. striatedglutes macrumors 6502

    Feb 22, 2009
    Get the iMac, keep a steady backup going, and if it doesn't work out, sell it second hand for a mac pro.
  6. Puqq macrumors regular

    Oct 18, 2009
    For long running calculations I would definitely go for a PC. Build it yourself- i7 (or a couple of Xeons), Intel mobo, good cooling and loads of RAM. It will cost much less than iMac or MacPro.

    Go for Win 7 64 bit (it is extremely stable) or Linux (even more stable, if you know what you are doing).
  7. chrono1081 macrumors 604


    Jan 26, 2008
    Isla Nublar
    Days and weeks of calculations!?!

    Ugh I can't image that. I'm trying to keep my head above water in my college physics class. (I have a 93 or 94% so I guess thats ok).
  8. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 16, 2010
    Thanks for the info

    Still not 100% which way to go, might wait for the new Mac Pros to come out to see if they are a little more sanely priced.

    As for the upgradability of the Mac Pro, I really don't see it. I currently have a Mac Pro 1.1 dual 2.6. CPU prices are freaking insane, over a $1200 for a pair of 4 year old processors (Xeon 5355s), I can get a brand new iMac for less then this, and the new core 2 duos are way faster then the old xeons. I have no idea who the heck is buying these ancient xeon processors that is keeping the prices this high. Apple stopped making the nVidia upgrade cards for the first gen pro, so practically the only thing that makes sense to upgrade is the ram and hard disks. I just don't think it makes sense to do CPU upgrades in general: newer processors almost always require a new socket, so that means a new logic board, which means new ram, etc...

    In my case, I do not do windows period. A linux box would work (our supercomputer runs linux), but I'm not too thrilled about having to re-compile the kernel just to load a freaking video driver which I've done far too often. Thats one of the things I like about Macs is that they just work, and I see them as a direct descendent of the NeXT workstations which I used to use, and very fondly remember. And the simulations I write need to work on the Linux supercomputer, so I can develop and debug on the Mac, then re-compile on the supercomputer, and run the big simulations there. Its all Unix, its all good.

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