Interesting TB iMac vs Mac Pro comparison

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by VirtualRain, Jun 28, 2011.

  1. VirtualRain macrumors 603


    Aug 1, 2008
    Vancouver, BC
    I just did a quick calculation to figure out what it would cost to equip a TB iMac and a Mac Pro similarly...

    iMac $3000
    - 3.4GHz Quad
    - 8GB RAM
    - 256GB SSD
    - 6970 2GB
    - 27" ACD
    Thunderbolt R4 $1000
    - 4x1TB

    iMac Total: $4000

    Mac Pro $3500
    - 3.2GHz Quad
    - 8GB RAM
    - 5870 1GB
    SSD $400
    - 256GB
    HD's $300
    - 4x1TB
    27" ACD $1000

    Mac Pro Total: $5200

    So we're essentially paying an added $1200 for:
    - Expansion and easy upgrades
    - Ability to run multiple monitors (key for me)
  2. mrfoof82 macrumors 6502a

    May 26, 2010
    Lawton, OK
    Keep in mind, the iMac has two Thunderbolt ports, each of which can power at least two external displays for a total of five once Thunderbolt Cinema Displays come out, and two external displays in the interim (3 total).

    Thunderbolt-to-FCAL HBAs are in the works as well, for those who need to connect to a SAN.

    The Mac Pro's main advantages are going to be that it's dual socket, uses Xeons instead of consumer i7s (higher cache associativity), uses workstation class chipsets (higher memory bandwidth, more PCI-E channels), has a much larger memory capacity, more memory channels, and uses ECC memory. The GPUs are also the "professional-grade" GPUs that focus on standards compatibility instead of raw performance (i.e. for games).

    Mac Pros will be catering almost exclusively to the high-end professional workstation market. For "prosumers" and enthusiasts, the high-end 27" iMac has moved up to meet those needs more affordably and in a much smaller, more power-efficient footprint.
  3. ActionableMango macrumors G3


    Sep 21, 2010
    One of the big bonuses of the Mac Pro is you don't have to use an ACD. :)
  4. scottsjack macrumors 68000

    Aug 25, 2010
    Exactly, dump the ACD and get a good $500.00 mat monitor and it comes down to a few hundred dollars for which you get:

    1 Borrow another monitor and keep working if the display dies while your old on is being repaired or exchanged.

    2 Pull HDDs with sensitive or valuable data if the computer dies and has to be repaired or exchanged.

    3 Add more cost effective RAM if you need it.

    4 Add a BluRay drive for less than $100.

    5 Choose your own HDDs, WD RE4 2TB are about $230 now.

    6 Have a computer than can run all day and just get warm, as opposed to an iMac that is too hot to touch after sitting while doing very little.

    7 Run more FW800 devices without the problems that some of them have when daisychained.

    8 Sell your computer while retaining your personal data or other upgrades.

    9 I'm sure there are more.
  5. eljanitor macrumors 6502


    Feb 10, 2011
    Thunder Bolt for Mac Pro

    Does anybody know when the Mac pro will be seeing a TB expansion card? I haven't seen any yet, just wondering who will make them.
  6. IceMacMac macrumors 6502

    Jun 6, 2010
    VirtualRain, You are comparing a just-released iMac with fresh specs versus a dated Mac Pro.

    The comparison is only going to be valid after the next MP is released.
  7. derbothaus macrumors 601


    Jul 17, 2010
    Also the video card in the Mac Pro embarrasses the iMac. Is not worth 1000.00 though. Knock down 400.00 more and still get a better display from Dell or NEC if all you need is 1920x1200. Choice is yours. I would never buy an Apple display. Great if it comes with the iMac in ISP flavor. I hate LED for color critical work. Same panel on the iMac can be had by more professional companies. Thus giving you some control.
  8. VirtualRain thread starter macrumors 603


    Aug 1, 2008
    Vancouver, BC
    As everyone has pointed out there are still many reasons why we're here... but the iMac has come a long way and continues to narrow the gap with TB options.

    At the risk of committing heresy, I might suggest that the situations in which a Mac Pro is the only viable solution vs. an iMac are becoming more fringe all the time.
  9. derbothaus macrumors 601


    Jul 17, 2010
    Truth. But really to get a functioning storage solution on the iMac can end up costing you the savings anyway. Did you see the Promise TB RAID? And the 50.00 cable?
  10. VirtualRain, Jun 28, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2011

    VirtualRain thread starter macrumors 603


    Aug 1, 2008
    Vancouver, BC
    Yeah... I added that into the initial analysis... And the iMac was still over a cool grand cheaper.

    Let me put it another way... If you think a top of the line iMac with a Promise TB RAID is expensive, wait until you see the cost of an equally equipped Mac Pro!!! :p
  11. PaulD-UK macrumors member

    Oct 23, 2009
    Here's what was reported at Intel's TB launch in February:
    The company (Intel) also said there are no plans for a PCIe adapter card for Thunderbolt; the only way to get it will be with a new computer/motherboard.

    That may be because of the complexity of integrating the graphics card signal with the PCI-e bus data.
  12. ActionableMango macrumors G3


    Sep 21, 2010
    If you only care about CPU speed, you don't need a dozen cores, you don't need expandability, you don't need tons of memory, a slow mobile GPU is adequate, you like glossy screens, and you compare a 2011 iMac model to a 2010 Mac Pro model, then yes, the iMac is 100% viable.
  13. AppleDroid macrumors 6502a

    Apr 10, 2011
    Honestly for what I do an iMac would be perfect (Print, Web and some Video) but I'm one of the goofballs that cannot deal with the glossy screen. I wish I could, I really do.
  14. nanofrog, Jun 29, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2011

    nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    This is how I see it as well.

    Generally speaking, the enterprise market is getting more complex as well, due to Intel releasing Xeons on 3 sockets once they've gotten all of the Sandy Bridge parts out (LGA1155 for entry level, LGA1356 for mid-level, and LGA2011 for the high-end segment of the market). The bottom end may seem a bit weird at first glance, but it would matter for those with less stringent performance needs, but still require ECC memory (i.e. software is recursive and errors cannot be tolerated).

    I'm actually a little surprised at the cost of the Promise Pegasus units, as I did expect them to be more expensive due to enterprise disks needed for stability reasons.

    Keep in mind however, that if you need to use a 3rd party RAID card in a MP (more ports, levels OS X cannot perform, or more performance than the ICH can deliver), then you'll need to plan for enterprise grade disks due to the recovery timings programmed in the disks firmware (consumer disks tend to be unstable on such controllers).

    So the cost of the storage system will be even worse.

    However, if say 4x disks will work, and only 0/1/10 or JBOD are needed, the MP can handle that without the need of enterprise disks or a controller. Thus the cost would be cheaper under these conditions.

    Cheaper solutions may become available for the iMac or laptops via Thunderbolt ports (i.e. software implemented RAID, and the TB chip is attached to a SATA controller + PM chip), but I don't recall seeing an announcement for such a product yet.

    There are ways to actually do it, and have been covered in other threads.

    As per an actual PCIe Thunderbolt card, one has already been announced by Matrox (MSRP = $299, and it gives the impression it's DATA only, so no video signal). Not exactly cheap for an interconnect that was claimed to be low cost (TB chip sells for ~$90 USD in quantity, which is almost double what the LightPeak codename was claimed meet @ $50 USD, and was more complicated due to the optical transceivers). :rolleyes: :(

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