Mac Pro or high-end iMac?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by TweakOnline, Mar 8, 2014.

  1. TweakOnline macrumors regular


    Dec 17, 2012
    Hey guys,

    For my business I have to buy a new, high- end computer to do a lot of graphic design and webdesign with. I want to buy a computer that will be high- end for at least 3 years. My budget: €3200,- euros.

    I decided to buy a 27'' iMac, but last month I fall in love with the Mac Pro. Is it worth the price? I generally use Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign, Dreamweaver and sometimes Final Cut Pro for my core business, beside mail, spotify and of course web browsing and using Skype.

    So I decided to compare the specs of both computers.

    • iMac: quad core i7 3,5ghz
      Mac Pro: quad core Xeon 3,7ghz

    • iMac: 512GB SSD
      Mac Pro: 512GB PCI-Express

    • iMac: 8GB 1333Mhz DDR3
      Mac Pro: 12GB 1833Mhz DDR3

    • iMac: Nvidia 780MX (4GB GDDR5)
      Mac Pro: two AMD Firepro D300's (2GB GDDR5)

    • iMac: 2560x1600 pixels screen
      Mac Pro: none :) - up to three 4K

    • iMac: Thunderbolt
      Mac Pro: Thunderbolt 2

    What's your advice? Looking forward to your answers! :)
  2. applereviewguy macrumors regular

    Aug 22, 2011
    Hi TweakOnline
    It's up to you, but I would say you wouldn't need the Mac Pro.
    The Mac Pro will last longer, because you can upgrade the CPU, RAM, and remove the GPU's and possibly upgrade them later.
    You would also need to get a display for it, and if you want a similar 27" display they can range from $380 (asian displays) up to $999 for the Thunderbolt display.

    If you have any questions don't hesitate to ask.

  3. Truthfulie macrumors regular

    Dec 18, 2013
    nMP is probably overkill for what you will be doing. You may benefit a little for FCP work, but that isn't your main task if I understand correctly. With that said, you have freedom of choosing exact display you want with nMP. But I don't think you can squeeze in a decent display in your budget if you go with nMP, unless you already own something.

    Haswell-E refresh of nMP with DDR4 will arrive sooner than you'd expact. So if you don't mind being stuck with DDR3, I suppose nMP will last longer. iMac's DDR4 will come much later though. so it won't be "outdated" as soon as nMP will be.
  4. TweakOnline thread starter macrumors regular


    Dec 17, 2012
    I completely agree, but the fact the iMac is already available for almost 7 months and the nMP isn't available yet (with shipping dates between March and April), I think the nMP would be more future proof if you know what I mean. Beside that I don't expect a refreshed Mac Pro until the end of this year.

    Right now I have a MacBook Pro 15'' Retina (256/2,3ghz/8gb) and yet it isn't enough for multitasking. Like I said before, I generally use particular Adobe programs at the same time and want to let it run smoothly simultaneously. Beside that, I like the option to upgrade to a 4K screen when it is available on the market below €1.000 euros, which will be within one / two years.

    Because I buy this Mac for my own company, I have to use it for at least three years. That means the Mac has to be future proof for at least three to four years.

    The question left, how fast is the nMP against the high-end iMac? I only see benchmarks with the 6, 8 or 12 core nMP's, none of them are the basic model. Has anyone real world benchmarks of the basic model available?
  5. TweakOnline thread starter macrumors regular


    Dec 17, 2012
    Oh noes, the iMac processor seems to be quite faster than the quadcore 3,7Ghz nMP processor! See:

    How can a €1000,- euro more expensive device have slower results in a benchmark?
  6. rottnjohn macrumors newbie


    May 22, 2011
    silly valley
  7. Truthfulie macrumors regular

    Dec 18, 2013
    By the time 4K becomes affordable, you probably want to upgrade your machine anyway. I don't really see buying nMP to be "ready" for 4K when they become affordable being a valid option unless you plan to use 4K display right now. Of course there are plenty other reasons to buy nMP over iMac. 4K is still bleeding edge technology. I think we still have couple years until they become more common/affordable. I mean look at 1440p displays. We've had them for quite some time they are barely below $700 (decent ones anyway).

    True, the base model isn't really great in terms of bang for the buck. One should go for six core for better price to performance ratio. But you do get benefit of server grade Xeon CPU and ECC RAM. If that doesn't mean anything to you, iMac's Core i Series CPUs are probably better choice.
  8. michaeljk macrumors member

    Dec 14, 2013
    Get the nMP. That's what I did in a similar situation (standard 6-core model). There's no looking back involved. I have not once since getting mine two months ago wondered if I should have bought an iMac. If I had purchased an iMac, I know I would have been wondering if I should have purchased a nMP. Why? Because I have so much more versatility down the road with my nMP. I have two very different monitors hooked up to the nMP. One monitor (NEC PA271) retailed for about $1,500. Blows away the iMac monitor for photo work. The other is a cheapo HP monitor that cost less than $200 that I use for music stuff (logic). My external options have just begun. I have a relatively fast external HDD with Thunderbolt connection that is also 3 TB. I will be getting a 512GB SSD external "HD" to put my music samples on (when the price comes down a little). I can sock the memory by adding lots more down the road. The nMP doesn't get hot. It is quiet. It is beautiful, and out of my way. And I really do plan on having this for the next 5-7 years.

    nMP. Don't look back.
  9. Stingray454 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 22, 2009
    Or if you like tinkering and assembling your own stuff, you can do what I did and build a hackintosh :). I was in a similar situation, but didn't want the non-replaceable screen / gpu / cpu of an iMac, and the Mac Pro is _really_ expensive where I live (6-8k euros for an 8-core with some upgrades).

    I got a small, nice looking and quiet computer with 4.7 GHz haswell, dual 280x gpu (compareable to d700), 32 gb (2100 mhz) ram, 768 gb fast ssd and such that runs OS X flawlessly for about 2000 euros without screen included, and I can swap monitor, gpu's and all that whenever I want. Worth considering imo.
  10. pertusis1 macrumors 6502

    Jul 25, 2010
    Remember that the benchmarks do not well reflect the performance of the video cards, which for your work may be considerably different on the two machines. Also, the benchmarks do not really reflect performance under a sustained load. I have always found that iMacs end up having to clock back their speed in this situation, presumably due to heat dissipation issues.

    One other small issue I thought I'd point out... the iMac has 2560 by 1440, not 1600 as mentioned in the OP.
  11. scoobeesnac macrumors member

    Mar 4, 2014
    I tried the iMac, and I really wanted it to work for me because of cost and also my usage is more development-based rather than 'creative'.

    Unfortunately after 5 replacement machines and a screen replacement, I finally gave in and returned the iMac due to poor screen uniformity, a yellowing towards the lower part of the screen.

    I will be buying a nMP-Haswell and a 4k Apple screen, as and when.

    You can see others who were also unhappy with the iMac screen:
  12. theSeb, Mar 10, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2014

    theSeb macrumors 604


    Aug 10, 2010
    Poole, England
    Basing your purchasing decision on a single and synthetic benchmark is not the best idea.

    Having said that, an iMac seems great for your needs, apart from having to live with a glossy, built-in display.
  13. riggles macrumors 6502

    Dec 2, 2013
    Yes, the nMP is a bit more future-proof than the iMac, but is that your biggest concern? If so, it may be worth the extra money to you. But only you can decide that. As to which machine I would recommend for your work, I would say the iMac.

    You are getting more for less money in some ways, and getting less in ways that I don't think would negatively affect you (and you also don't have to pay for). Unless you leave your machine on overnight crunching on a render or something, the Xeon quad-core is more than you need and an i7 is fine. Unless you regularly take advantage of the additional OpenCL capabilities of the second D300 card, that's more money spent but not utilized (plus you have less VRAM than the iMac, which you likely will use).

    It's not cut-and-dry, of course, but I think the iMac will suit your work needs for the next 3 years, and you'll have a size able amount of coin still left in your pocket should you decide to get out early. Or use that money for the other often forgotten needs of creative professionals -- software (and data backup). Also, if you do a lot of switching between all those Adobe apps, you're first priority should be upgrading your RAM.

    Just a couple corrections on your configurations: the iMac also uses PCI flash storage, not an SSD, and it can support an additional display besides the built-in 27".
  14. Celedral macrumors 6502


    May 29, 2008
    Los Angeles
    I was seriously going to buy the NMP then decided a RMBP would suit me better. I'm a very power hungry person. I guess when the 6core is more widely available I'll get my hands on it.
  15. Gav Mack macrumors 68020

    Gav Mack

    Jun 15, 2008
    Sagittarius A*
    Geekbench is just a short testing benchmark. The iMac wins because the CPU on the nMP is ivy bridge based and the iMac is haswell and has a faster single core speed and newer design. That changes a lot when you stress the systems out such as running transcoding tasks as the iMac doesn't have the thermal design power (TDP) of the nMP. The iMac gets hotter, the fans ramp up a lot and can throttle back the CPU. The nMP on the other hand goes from inadudible to barely audible on full load. Upgrading the nMP to a 6 or 8 core replacement CPU bought on the open market at a later date when they are cheaper will leave the iMac way behind on multicore.

    If you are going to give your mac some hard heavy CPU/GPU work for years to come I wouldn't even consider an iMac - go for the nMP every time. I have had clients who have been using iMacs for the past few years as stop gaps for the nMP have had more than two replaced during the AppleCare period. They are keeping their old Mac Pro towers and replacing the iMac models with nMP!

    That will also open up the options for different displays such as 4k and those with less gloss and better colour gamut..
  16. liquid stereo macrumors regular

    Jan 21, 2005
    Saint Paul
    Please use the search function

    I know no one wants to say it but its quite useful.

    I would not use iMacs in a compute-intense business environment.

  17. richard371 macrumors 68020

    Feb 1, 2008
    The iMac will give you more for your money but you are stuck with the screen. I went with the nMP as I run a lot of VMs and I just don't like having my computer stuck on a board behind my monitor lol.
  18. TweakOnline thread starter macrumors regular


    Dec 17, 2012
    Thanks for all your advice, I've decided to buy the maxed out 27'' iMac. I might be switching to the new Mac Pro in the future (about 2 - 3 years), when the cpu/gpu's get better and 4K displays become more affordable. Beside that, I don't think the Mac software takes much advantage of the AMD D300 gpu's so it would be a waste of money for me personally. :)

    Last but not least, from the €1250,- /+ money I spare I'm going to buy a new DSLR camera. :D
  19. wildmac macrumors 65816

    Jun 13, 2003
    The choice here really comes down to if you have monitor(s) already. If you would need to buy one, the iMac does save you some money. If you already have monitors, then the nMP is actually cheaper.

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