iMac vs Mac pro


macrumors newbie
Original poster
May 23, 2012
Hello I've been looking into getting a new computer. I previously posted "which Mac is better?" Now I see an iMac is on sale at Best buy and am having trouble deciding between the two.

Intel® Core™ i5 processor Features a 6MB L3 cache and 2.7GHz processor speed.
Features smart 4-way processing performance with a speed boost.
Intel® Turbo Boost Technology Automatically speeds up your processor when your PC needs extra performance. 4GB DDR3 memory For multitasking power, expandable to 16GB.
Multiformat DVD±RW/CD-RW drive with double-layer support
Records up to 8.5GB of data or 4 hours of video using compatible DVD+R DL or DVD-R DL media.
21.5" LED-backlit TFT widescreen display
With 1920 x 1080 resolution for intense images.
1TB hard drive (7200 rpm)
AMD Radeon HD 6770M graphics Feature 512MB of GDDR5 video memory for lush images. Dual-display and video mirroring capability.
FireWire 800 port and 4 high-speed USB 2.0 ports
Provide quick and simple connection for digital peripherals. Built-in Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR wireless interface.
Built-in wireless LAN card (802.11n)
Built-in 10/100/1000Base-T Gigabit Ethernet LAN with RJ-45 connector.
Mac OS X Lion preinstalled
Provides a stable computing platform $1407

Mac Pro:
The Mac Pro "Quad Core" 2.66 (Early 2009/Nehalem) is powered by one 2.66 GHz Quad Core 45-nm Xeon W3520 (Nehalem) processor with a dedicated 256k of level 2 cache for each core and 8 MB of "fully shared" level 3 cache.

By default, it was configured with 3 GB of 1066 MHz DDR3 ECC SDRAM, a 640 GB (7200 RPM, 16 MB cache) 3Gb/s Serial ATA hard drive, an 18X dual-layer "SuperDrive" and an NVIDIA GeForce GT 120 with 512 MB of GDDR3 memory.

Expansion includes two external 5.25" "optical" bays (one free by default), four internal 3.5" "cable-free, direct attach" hard drive bays (three free by default), and four PCIe 2.0 slots (one free PCIe 2.0 x16 slot and two free PCIe 2.0 x4 slots with the default single graphics card installed).

Ports include five USB 2.0 ports, four Firewire "800" ports, dual Gigabit Ethernet, and both a Mini DisplayPort and a dual-link DVI port, among others. Bluetooth 2.1+EDR is standard, AirPort Extreme (802.11g/n) is optional.

The 64-bit "Nehalem" architecture is substantially faster and supports "Hyper-Threading" -- which "allows two threads to run simultaneously on each core" (so MacOS X recognizes eight "virtual cores" on this model) -- and "Turbo Boost"

It also replaces the frontside bus with a new "QuickPath Interconnect" (QPI) system described as a "bidrectional, point-to-point connection" that provides "quick access to the disk, I/O, and other Mac Pro subsystems".

Other changes include four PCIe 2.0 slots (instead of two PCIe and two PCIe 2.0 slots), four Firewire "800" ports $1379

I plan to run Photoshop CS5 and Final Cut Studio 3.

Any thoughts? I apologize for the extremely long post.


macrumors 68000
Oct 19, 2007
Nambucca Heads Australia
GeekBench tests show not a lot between the two ~ the iMac comes in at 7830 and the Mac Pro at 8144. These are not particularly high scores. A Mac Pro 1.1 with Intel X5355 CPU's comes in at 9560.

If the funds allow it, a 2x2.66GHz 2009 Mac Pro would be a much better choice with a bench test of 14,458.


macrumors 68030
Feb 25, 2012
NYC NY/Pittsburgh PA
The Mac Pro will be far more expandable, it has plenty of room for extra hard drives, expansion cards, easy to upgrade the processor. Easy to swap in a new video card.

iMac is pretty, but you can't find more hard drives in it, you can't change your video card, and it has no room for expansion.

It depends what you need.


macrumors 604
Aug 5, 2010
It depends what you're doing. Expandable is a pretty generic term here. With the mac pro, being able to load extra storage drives is a major plus, but you'd still want to back them up outside the mac pro. Typically you'd want to keep backups physically separated to a degree. Someone mentioned an 8 core version. It matters how well your software uses multiple cores. Most software caps out at a certain number of cores, yet different functions scale differently within a given application. Overall performance on most things won't scale in a linear manner with core count.

Now regarding the applications you're using, photoshop scales pretty terribly with high core counts. Anything beyond a quad is a waste. The 6 core may seem nice, but your primary benefit is clock speed. It runs into severe diminishing returns at higher core counts. Final Cut is a little more of a blurry line. Anything prior to FCPX has horrible scaling, and it didn't make the leap to 64 bit until FCPX.

I will say that overall I prefer the Mac Pro, especially given the options being compared here. While someone mentioned a 2009 8 core, you will see virtually no benefit in the two applications mentioned unless you upgrade to FCPX as I mentioned. Geekbench scores don't tell you much about real performance, and having memory performance averaged in makes it a weird test app.

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