Looking to buy a 24" iMac to replace my G5 Tower

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by atomicshark, Jun 7, 2009.

  1. atomicshark macrumors member

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    #1
    I currently own a original mid-range 1.8 GHz G5 tower with 2 GB RAM. I bought it new with Applecare back in 2003. I mainly use it for 3-D, Illustrator, photo and some hobby video work.

    I do use it for professional work, but I have noticed it is lagging lately. This is especially evident when compared to the 8 core Mac Pro I am using at work.

    I'm looking into buying an iMac 2.93GHz. with 120GT video card and Applecare.

    I know I am giving up some speed in 3-D but Photoshop should run just as fast as a Mac Pro and that sounds good to me.

    Has anyone out there bought an iMac to replace an old tower mac or chose an iMac over a Mac Pro? I was also wondering if anyone is using their iMacs for some pro work?
     
  2. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #2
    iMacs are very capable for doing everything. It should run all apps smoothly. If you want upgradeability, then Mac Pro is your way. Your old G5 tower did it job well, so iMac should do it better!
     
  3. Loa macrumors 65816

    Loa

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    #3
    Hello,

    I was in your exact situation last year, and bought an iMac 24 (2.8GHz) to replace my first-gen PowerMac G5.

    Quick review: everything is significantly faster, but quite a few things are less snappy. Switching between apps while some of them are working can take more time than with my old G5. Overall it was a significant upgrade, and with the new GPUs in the latest batch of iMacs, gaming should be even better then on mine.

    On the other hand, the lack of expandability was killing me. I say "was" because I just bought a Mac Pro to replace my iMac. I had maxed out the ram at 4GB, but then I realized that this iMac was never going to get any faster. Ever.

    Right now on my Mac Pro I'm looking at 8GB of ram as well as SSDs as boot drives and a 4 drive RAID0 set up. For me the real bottlenecks were the low ram limit (now fixed with the current iMacs), but most importantly the hard drive speed.

    I could have gotten about 10-15% more speed by replacing the iMac's hard drive with a very fast but small HD, but that just wasn't enough. I can now fit 6 HD in my Mac Pro, and 4 of them will be a RAID0. I'm expecting somewhere between a 3 to 3.5 fold increase in disk speeds.

    For example, it took my iMac 55 seconds to save a 350MB photoshop file. To me that was unacceptable. That 55 seconds is now down to 42 seconds on the stock Mac Pro, and will go way down when my RAID is up.

    I was not the kind of guy that filled his G5 tower with all sorts of upgrades, so I decided to give the iMac a try. But I'm now back with a tower and I'm very happy about it. Lot more expensive, but, for me, worth it.

    Loa
     
  4. atomicshark thread starter macrumors member

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    #4
    Thanks, that's what I figured. I just wish that Apple offered something in between the iMac and Mac Pro. The market must be ripe for a decent midrange desktop without a monitor. I know I'd buy a desktop with specs between an iMac and Mac Pro if it cost less than $2,000.
     
  5. Loa macrumors 65816

    Loa

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    #5
    Has been ripe for about a decade. But looking at Apple's profits and cash reserves, especially compared to every other computer maker, maybe they understand something we don't...

    Loa
     
  6. atomicshark thread starter macrumors member

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    #6
    Hi Loa,

    Thanks for the response. I did upgrade my G5 a few times, but only to keep it up to date. It was never more than RAM, 16x DVD-RW, second HD, USB 2.0 card, Airport card and bluetooth.

    I know that if I bought an iMac it would have everything I'd ever want, but I do run the risk of being left out of new tech, like USB 3.0 for example. I suppose I might miss some of the internal upgradeability, but that's not a deal breaker.

    I am glad that the new iMac has the ability to have 8GB. Since I never had more than 2GB at home and 4GB at work, I think I should be in decent shape for at least 3 years. I just hope Snow Leopard is not a resource hog and I hope that the apps I use don't get too unwieldy over the next few years.

    What scares me is your statement about switching between apps. Obviously it is really good on my work based Mac Pro and not too bad on my G5, but I'd hate for it to be less snappy on an iMac that is 7 years newer than my G5.

    How does the Mac Pro and iMac compare when using similar apps? Are they close or is there a large difference? Specifically, if you run Photoshop, Illustrator, Painter or any 3-D App, I'd love to know how they compare.

    I just want to make sure by saving $600 with an iMac I am not cutting my nose off to spite my face. If the differential is 10% or so then I think I could live with it.

    Thanks again!
     
  7. TantalizedMind macrumors 6502a

    TantalizedMind

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    #7
    I also have a single 1.8GHz PowerMac G5 from '03 but I still have 1GB Ram. I had a 2.2GHz C2D MacBook Pro.. but I sold it, I never used it. I can't seem to enjoy laptops after I buy them (done it 2x).

    Since I sold my MacBook Pro I am looking for a new computer. I am not sure what I will end up with. I have used OS X for about 6 years now. But I would like Windows so I can play some Games for Windows games and for more software options.

    Originally I wanted to get a Mac Mini and Dell Monitor combo.. but if I want to use Windows Vista or 7 via BootCamp for gaming.. I am left with no choice but a Mac Pro. Apple I love your designs.. but we need at LEAST one more unit that does not sport intergrated graphics!!!! Headless iMac w/ dedicated graphics FTW!!

    I don't know what I will do.. but I will most likely pick up a new iPod after today.
     
  8. Loa macrumors 65816

    Loa

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    #8
    Everything you listed here except the Airport, you won't be able to install the equivalent on an iMac. (Like go over the 8GB limit, change your burner, add a second HD, add USB 3, or add the equivalent of the "next" bluetooth).

    I think you're going to have to deal with it if you get an iMac: With my new Mac Pro, "snappy is back!". :)

    My only intensive app is Photoshop, so I can't comment on the others. What I can't understand is how you can use PS with only 2GB of ram. Going from 2GB -> 4GB on my iMac made a significant difference. And right now I'm going for 8GB on my Mac Pro, for a measly 150$ from OWC.

    Another forum member told me that with 12GB, using decently large images (12-14Mpx RAWs), he doesn't even see PS using scratch! That translate into a huge performance increase!

    Look at it another way: let's say you keep your Mac Pro 4 years before replacing it. Well 600$/4 = 150$ per year = roughly 10$ per month.

    Is a Mac Pro not worth 10$ more per month? Or, looking at it yet another way, are Mac Pro regrets worth 40 cents more in your pocket every day! :-D

    ---

    I chose the iMac to save some cash, and ended up regretting it after having had the pleasure of using 5-6 incarnations of PowerMacs. While I regretted it, it doesn't mean that you will. But for ~10$ a month? Can you really take that chance?

    Loa
     
  9. atomicshark thread starter macrumors member

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    #9
    100% agree, but I think you would get a decent gamer from the 3.06 GHz. iMac with 130 GT or Radeon. Either way you are looking at spending over $2K.
     
  10. atomicshark thread starter macrumors member

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    #10
    Thanks for the quick response!

    That is true but I don't think I'd go over 8 GB RAM with 2 or 3 years and I already have 2 external firewire HDs with a firewire hub, so I just need to hook that into the iMac. I intend on buying a LaCie external DVD-RW drive, so I won't miss the slow internal drive that the iMac comes with.

    I learned to deal with the 2 GB RAM on my G5. Photoshop is perfectly useable, but it is definitely not quick. This is why I am counting on the iMac blowing the G5's doors off in PS. 4GB RAM and the faster processor should be like night and day. BTW, doesn't the base Mac Pro only come with 3GB? I know it's cheap to upgrade, but it's still more $$$$ on top of an already expensive proposition. Plus Applecare is an extra $100. I will never buy another Mac without Applecare.

    I don't think I'd be able to upgrade my RAM right away, so I know I will have to be happy with 4GB, no matter what I buy.

    Do you notice a huge difference in performance between the iMac and Mac Pro?

    Believe me, I see the logic in your math. Personally I'd love the Mac Pro. Unfortunately, I was sort of thrust into needing to buy a new Mac after my wife accidently spilled a cup of water into her Macbook. The cost of repair was just not worth it and she was willing to take my G5, so here I am looking to buy. Problem is I can't spend too much and if I can save hundreds now, I can always sell the iMac in a couple of years and buy something else if I absolutely have too.

    Thanks!
     
  11. Loa macrumors 65816

    Loa

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    #11
    Honestly? Not more than 15%. But that's using only 3GB of RAM and a single HD.

    For 150$ for 8GB of ram I expect another significant speed up.

    And for 400$ for a 4 disk RAID0 set, I expect a HUGE speed up!!! :)

    So, yes it will cost me 550$ more, but by then the difference will be night and day. I don't have the cash to do it right now, but the important factor for me is that I will be able to do it.

    My iMac was very nice for the first couple of months, but the first time I asked myself: "What can I do to sped this machine up?", it was all over. When I bought it I knew perfectly well that I was not going to be able to speed it up, but confronted with it, months later, it hit hard.

    Loa

    P.S. As for Applecare, you have a full year to buy it, so no biggie on the 100$.
     
  12. atomicshark thread starter macrumors member

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    #12
    Thanks for the info. I appreciate it. There is definitely some food for thought there. To me it sounds like I'd have to spend $3,000 to get a significant boost in performance over an iMac working in Photoshop.

    I do have to admit that it would be nice to own a mac that could last me another 6+ years. I doubt the iMac would be that kind of machine, but with the cash I save now, I could buy another mac in 2-3 years. Plus by then the iMac could become my kids first computer (They would be 4-5 years old).

    Decisions, decisions.:D
     
  13. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #13
    I do quite a lot photoshopping with my iMac and it's very fast. No slowdowns or anything.
     
  14. Loa macrumors 65816

    Loa

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    #14
    Very true.

    But it always depends on what you compare it to, and how much your time "spent" doing PS is valuable.

    The iMac is very fast, until you compare it with a well configured Mac Pro.

    But more importantly: if you do a lot of PS for fun because you like that type of work then an iMac will be, again, absolutely great. On the other hand if it's part of your work and you want to do it as efficiently as possible, then the iMac won't cut it.

    That relates to one of the OP's questions: "I was also wondering if anyone is using their iMacs for some pro work?" The simple answer is: "Yes. Of course there are. iMacs are great machines."

    But if you're a pro, you're in this for the money: it's your job. A well configured Mac Pro will cost a lot more up front, but will let you do your work faster. At the end of the month if you can complete 10% more projects, then you'll cover that extra cost very quickly.

    But even if you're a pro, make sure that the computer is actually your major bottleneck! Let's say you're a pro photographer that relies on PS a lot. If you can't get enough contracts to make you work full time, a Mac Pro is not worth it: you have more than enough time between contracts to finalize your images.

    Although if you get to a point where you have to delay contracts, the actual photography work, because you don't have time to process the images from your last contract, then a Mac Pro with 12+GB of RAM and a 4-disk RAID0 is more than worth every penny!

    Not an easy problem to solve, but worth considering if you're on a tight budget.

    Loa
     
  15. atomicshark thread starter macrumors member

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    #15
    I could not have said it better myself.

    In my case I feel that since I will be effectively tripling my workflow with an new iMac over my G5, I don't think the 10-15% I'd gain over the iMac with a Mac Pro is worth it (for me).

    I do most of my work at work and what I do at home is not enough to need a super fast set-up. If my freelance work jumps then I would be able to justify buying a Mac Pro.
     
  16. Loa macrumors 65816

    Loa

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    #16
    I'm glad we helped you reach a decision. But I don't think you should expect a 3 fold increase in your workflow... :)

    Loa
     
  17. atomicshark thread starter macrumors member

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    #17
    Well, yeah, maybe not threefold. ;) I just hope I don't downgrade myself further and buy a new Macbook Pro. Those things looks mighty tempting. :cool:
     
  18. Loa macrumors 65816

    Loa

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    #18
    Thing is, I don't think you'll see a huge difference between an iMac and a MacBook Pro, provided you get a 7200RPM HD.

    The iMac has a *lot* of laptop-grade components... :)

    Loa
     
  19. atomicshark thread starter macrumors member

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    #19
    That is true. I'd have to buy the 15" Macbook Pro with 9600GT and upgrade to the 7200RPM HD. I priced it at Apple for $2,049. A bit more than I was intending on spending, but it is doable.
     
  20. atomicshark thread starter macrumors member

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    #20
    I finally bought a new 24" iMac last night from Best Buy.

    Thanks for the input!
     
  21. J&JPolangin macrumors 68030

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    #21
    ...the iMac does still have a 3.5" desktop HDD in it though and that WILL be faster than a 2.5" laptop HDD of the same size/speed...
     
  22. atomicshark thread starter macrumors member

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    #22
    Exactly.

    In the end I really loved the Macbook Pros, but I just don't need a laptop for the work I do. Plus the 24" screen on the iMac is one of the best in the industry. I already notice the difference of it's quality compared to the $700 Sony LCD I bought a few years back.

    BTW, the iMac pretty much makes my G5 Tower feel like a slug. It is also quite comparable to my Mac Pro at work. Well, at least until I get into heavy 3-D rendering.
     
  23. atomicshark thread starter macrumors member

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    #24
  24. 007bond macrumors 6502a

    007bond

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    #25
    you will be perfect with the iMac, but may i suggest getting the ati4850 graphics upgrade? it will give you better performance with graphics-heavy tasks such as yours and will also help in snow leopard,
     

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