iMac vs MacPro : advices and rendering issues

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by wahit, Oct 29, 2008.

  1. wahit macrumors member

    wahit

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2005
    Location:
    Portugal
    #1
    Hi guys! Need some help here...

    I want to buy an Apple desktop to my design+architecture studio. The software I'm using is Rhinoceros, 3DStudio Max (sometimes!), Maxwell Render and Adobe Creative Suite.

    Yes, I'm using Rhinoceros, that is a Windows-only application, yet Rhino will be launched to OSX early next year. So until then I'll have to use Windows as well. Everything else is going to run on OSX.

    Anyway, I need some help choosing one of these two systems - iMac and MacPro - but since I'm somewhat on-a-budget, I can't loose my head and spend a bunch of cash. Some please take a look at these configurations:


    - iMac 3.06Ghz Core2Duo + 4GB RAM + gráfica nvidia 8800 GS 512MB (+- 2000 euros)

    - MacPro 2x 2.8Ghz QuadCore Xeon + 2GB RAM + nvideo 8800 GT 512MB (+- 2600 euros) + monitor



    The computer is meant to do a lot of 3D work, rendering and image editing. I know that any entry-level iMac can manage 3D modeling and image edition on Adobe CS, yet when we talk about rendering the conversation takes another route.

    On a working environment time is an issue, so fast renders would be a plus. Yet the price diference between these two computers is almost 1500 euros (don't forget about the extra monitor for the MacPro!).

    So my question is: is the MacPro speed-boost big enough to compensate the price difference? I mean, will I save a lot of time if I buy THIS MacPro in particular comparing to the iMac?

    Or do you think the iMac makes the job pretty well and fast enough?

    ----

    And one more question. I want to know how much the MacPro is upgradable, I mean, can I add/change processors, RAM, graphic cards and hard drives on the future?

    Can you tell me if I can add extra processors to the MacPro?



    Thank you very much for your help! I really appreciate it.

    Cheers!
     
  2. leighonigar macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 5, 2007
  3. arkitect macrumors 601

    arkitect

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2005
    Location:
    Bath, United Kingdom
    #3
    Mac Pro…

    I use Rhino and Maxwell render using Vmware Fusion (Bootcamp if doing over-night renders).

    Apart from speed you will appreciate the Mac Pro's expansion capabilities.

    Load it up with RAM and you won't be dissapointed.

    BTW, are you using the Rhino Beta for Mac OS X?
    I have been using it the past months and it is almost perfect. Super fast and slick. Rendering is still an issue but for modelling it has most of the tools.
    I cannot wait for the official release. Now if only NextLimit will get their Rhino plugins to work in OS X it'll be a match made in heaven. :D
     
  4. dr. shdw macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2008
    #4
    New MacPros on the Nehalem architecture will be released...eventually, might want to wait for those if you can.
     
  5. JKitterman macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2006
    #5
    You need to decide if you need more memory of the iMac or the multiple cores of the Mac Pro. The Mac Pro will offer you the option of filling the drive bays and using RAID for faster disk access and more expandability for RAM. According to the website for 3ds Max, "Note: Apple® computers based on Intel processors and running Microsoft operating systems are not currently supported." If you are just learning the software, an Apple product may not be bad. If this is production work, stick with supported hardware / software setups.
     
  6. dr. shdw macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2008
    #6
    That and Quadro drivers..
     
  7. Slippery Gimp macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2008
    Location:
    Leeds, UK
    #7
    OP, yes, 3DS Max is Windows only at the moment, unless you know something I don't.


    I use my Intel iMac 20" 2.66ghz 4gb RAM with 3DS Max running on Bootcamp and rendering speeds are good, depending on the complexity of the scene. Obviously not knowing exactly what type of scenes you have, it's hard to say. I recently had a 130,000sqft department store to render with all those metal arms and bars, racking etc (ie, loads of geometry), and it rendered in very good time with one skylight lighting the whole scene. Post an example of your work if you want so we can see.
     
  8. wahit thread starter macrumors member

    wahit

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2005
    Location:
    Portugal
    #8
    Yes it is!


    I can't mate. I have to order the computer this week. I need it by next Tuesday!


    Indeed... I said 3DStudio Max, but I rarely use the software. I just putted the software in here because one of my workers like to use it. My main software to use is Rhinoceros, Maxwell Render and the Adobe Creative Suite.


    I'm mainly an industrial designer, and I design a lot of furniture, lighting stuff and other 'small objects'. Yet, my studio also works with interior design and architecture. So lets just say I might need to render big spaces, mainly stores, hotels, medium-size buildings, etc.

    For that scene you are talking about - that department store - how much time did it take to render on your computer?



    Cheers!
     
  9. nick9191 macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2008
    Location:
    Britain
    #9
    For starters forget the 8800GT and use the money for more RAM. Buy a 4gb kit and fit it yourself totalling in 6gb.
     
  10. wahit thread starter macrumors member

    wahit

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2005
    Location:
    Portugal
    #10
    Forget the 8800GT? So you think the ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT 256MB is enough for the job?

    For the solo purpose of the rendering, the 8 cores of the processors will all work at their 'full speed'?


    Right now I'm really thinking about the iMac, because the iMac would cost me around 2000 euros, and the MacPro with only 2GB RAM and a 22" monitor would cost me 3500 euros. It's a 1500 euros difference...

    I can almost (I can!) buy two iMacs and run them simultainously to render my scenes for the price of that one MacPro.

    Aghh... I'm so confused! The speed-bump I could get with the MacPro comparing with the iMac worths those 1500 euros?





    I've tried the beta for OSX and it's so sweet. Yet, I keep modeling in Windows because I need to use the renderer quite often, so always moving from OSX to Windows can be pretty boring.

    I just can't wait to have Rhinoceros for OSX 100% ready! It's going to be a definitive 'bye bye' to Windows :)
     
  11. rpaloalto macrumors 6502a

    rpaloalto

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2005
    Location:
    Palo Alto CA.
    #11
    Why not get the build to order single quad core, mac pro. $500 bucks cheaper here in the U.S. Add some ram and a second hard drive from a third party source like OWC.

    A 2.8 quad core bumped up with 4 to 8 gigs will be plenty. You can run it for days on end, wont ever over heat. Very quiet even under demand.
    My neighbor has the 3.06 iMac and that thing gets pretty warm from semi taxing tasks.

    If you can wait till mac world 09 do so. The only thing is they might not offer a lower end option like they do now. Plus this revision of the mac pro is fairly stable. Apple has had time with the current chips and design to work out any bugs.
     
  12. Umbongo macrumors 601

    Umbongo

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2006
    Location:
    England
    #12
    I would go for an 8 core 2.8GHz Mac Pro with 4GB of memory (don't buy it from Apple) and the 8800GT (don't get the 2600XT). If you can't afford that step down to the single quad core Mac Pro. Rendering is all about processor power and that is where the Mac Pro outshines the iMac considerably. If you have long waits for rendering and the software uses multiple cores (check, but it all should) then the Mac Pro is the obvious solution in a working enviroment.
     
  13. wahit thread starter macrumors member

    wahit

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2005
    Location:
    Portugal
    #13

    Never thought of getting the single processor version. Do you think the speed-bump of the 2.8Ghz QuadCore is a lot comparing to the 3.06Ghz DualCore of the iMac?

    I can't really wait for the MacWorld. I really need to buy the computer this week!!!



    8 core 2.8Ghz or 4 core 2.8Ghz?!

    And about the memory. If I go to the Apple Store, the 4GB ram cost me 450 euros, which it a lot! Where can I buy RAM cheaper, and what kind of RAM do I need to the MacPro?

    Do you think the single 2.8Ghz quadCore processor is a lot better comparing to the 3.06Ghz coreDuo?
     
  14. dr. shdw macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2008
    #14
    In rendering, more cores is better, especially if the program can utilize them. Though I'd suck it up and get the extra quad core cause it'll make a huge difference.
     
  15. Umbongo macrumors 601

    Umbongo

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2006
    Location:
    England
    #15
    I don't know what country you are in and depending on that there may be a local site that is cheaper, but Crucial are generally competitive on price.

    2GB (2x1GB) is €80.99 ex. VAT

    http://www.crucial.com/eu/store/mpartspecs.aspx?mtbpoid=DFD6A1C5A5CA7304

    Definatly where rendering is concerned. Stretch for the 8 core if you are expecting to spend hours each week waiting for rendering to finish before you can do anything.

    For example consider the following (real) benchmark just to give you an idea. You don't get half your time back every time you double cores but it's not far off. Only you know how waiting for things to render affects your time and how valuble that might be to you.

    3DS Max Render - 3.2GHz Processor
    Single Core: 19m 0s
    Dual Core: 10m 10s
    Quad Core: 5m 40s
    Eight Core: 3m 0s
     
  16. Slippery Gimp macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2008
    Location:
    Leeds, UK
    #16
    Graphics cars wise I'm not sure what to think.

    Our works PC had only a 64mb graphics card in, and it was very sluggish rotating and zooming the viewport. I then used my own iMac with the 256mb ATI card in and things were vastly improved. We have just got a new works PC which has (I think) an nVidia 9800 something or other with 1gb VRAM and I expected things to be super smooth...but they were pretty much the same as my 256mb ATI card. I would always get the more powerful option, but I just can't see a difference for the work that I'm doing at least.
     
  17. nick9191 macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2008
    Location:
    Britain
    #17
    The 2600 XT should be fine, but the RAM is more important. Upgrade the graphics card at a later date if you need it.
     
  18. wheelhot macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2007
    #18
    Aaah, Rhino is coming to OS X already? Darn, and those folks and SolidWorks is refusing to announce will there be an OS X version of it :(
     
  19. wahit thread starter macrumors member

    wahit

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2005
    Location:
    Portugal
    #19
    Agh... decisions decisions.

    Right now I'm thinking about getting two iMacs. I'd get an extra computer for the working environment, and I could make my renders using them both at the same time by network rendering. Or this is not a good idea?

    Anyway, a guy told me today about another renderer - Fryrender. He says it is as good as Maxwell Render, and a bit faster. Any comments about this? Personally, I never heard about Fryrender before...
     
  20. monokakata macrumors 68000

    monokakata

    Joined:
    May 8, 2008
    Location:
    Hilo, Hawai'i
    #20
    MacPro.

    You're using this equipment to make money. Your time and mental/physical effort are as important as rendering speed. Suppose you want to reconfigure or upgrade one or two iMacs?

    Upgrading the Mac Pro (memory, drives, even video) is trivially easy. Need a new drive? Buy it, pop the side panel, pull out a drive drawer, screw in the drive (screws already there for you), slide it back in...done. Adding RAM isn't any more difficult.

    On your iMac, upgrading is much more difficult. You can't just add a disk when you need one (except external). You go to 4 gb RAM and that's it. Change video, forget it.

    In a production shop, you want a machine designed for production. That's the Pro. Yes, it's more expensive. Nothing to be done about that. Yes, sometimes that excess processing power just sits there, unused. But when you need it...it's there with no fussing and no excitement.
     
  21. wahit thread starter macrumors member

    wahit

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2005
    Location:
    Portugal
    #21

    Hello again!

    Now I have some more questions regarding the MacPro updates.

    If I buy the single processor version, can I later add extra processors and/or swap the one I bought initially for another one?

    I think this will work just like the RAM. If I buy extra RAM from Apple Store, I will buy A LOT more expensive comparing to a regular store. I believe the same will happen regarding the processors.

    Check out this page > http://www.chiptec.net/index.php?catid=15&subcat=347&pagina=0&order=preco


    Can I buy any of these processors and add them to the MacPro? If yes, which ones?


    Thanks... again!
     
  22. kanga macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2008
    Location:
    London
    #22
    I'd agree with others here in recommending the Mac Pro - I render with Maxwell regularly at work on an 8 core Mac Pro with plenty of RAM. With complex architectural renders you'll appreciate the speed.

    In comparing two iMacs with one Mac Pro, wouldn't you also have to factor in additional software licenses? I'm sure this would be a significant extra cost to consider.
     
  23. Umbongo macrumors 601

    Umbongo

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2006
    Location:
    England
    #23
    It costs more to upgrade processors after the initial purchase. To add another quad core 2.8GHz processor you are looking at €900 for the processor and at least another €100 for the heatsink to cool it which you would probably have to order from the US.

    If you want 8 cores get them when you buy it.
     
  24. justflie macrumors 6502a

    justflie

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2005
    Location:
    Red Sox Nation
    #24
    I know it might be a pain in the butt and not the most efficient method but....



    What about purchasing an iMac now and then selling it/buying a Mac Pro after the new ones are released. From what I understand (and that's not much) the performance increase on the new Intel chips will be substantial. The iMac can get you buy for a couple of months or so and will retain much of its resell value between now and then. You could sell it after migrating from it to the Mac Pro (an easy procedure, you could even leave it overnight) and not miss a minute of production time. :) Good luck either way!
     
  25. rpaloalto macrumors 6502a

    rpaloalto

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2005
    Location:
    Palo Alto CA.
    #25
    Hi, I was the one who suggested the single quad core.
    adding a second processor to a single quad core would be difficult. It has been discussed here at Macrumors just do a search.

    Stop thinking about the iMac.
    Their nice computers but not what you need.

    If your not short on money and you can afford the 8 core get it. If you almost have enough, get the single quad core. With the money you save on the single quad core you can use that to get ram and a hard drive from a good third party source like OWC. And still your total would be less than the 8 core mac pro.

    Again stop thinking about The nice little iMac
    The Mac pro is so much better for your needs. It is of server quality. It is meant to be pushed to the limits. And designed to run hard and long, for days, weeks even years.
     

Share This Page