Mac Pro or iMac 2011

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by mrt209, Dec 28, 2010.

  1. mrt209 macrumors 6502

    Nov 21, 2010

    I recently purchased the 27in iMac i7 and after 3 returns I decided to request a refund. Apart from the screen issues that they all had, they were all very noisy as well.

    When I got my refund, the Apple store manager told me to look into a Mac Pro instead as it would be much quieter. So, how quiet is the Mac Pro? I mostly work in a quiet room at night so I need it to be quiet enough to where I can concentrate while working.

    I was actually considering getting a Mac Pro before I got the iMac, but it seemed to expensive with having to buy the screen extra... but now that I got more money I am really considering getting it.

    I have a couple of questions to help me decide:

    1) I need the comp for Web Design, some Graphic Design, Programming, some Video Editing, School Work, and Gaming. What would be the best Mac Pro for me?
    2) What upgrades do I need to make to get similar specs to whats expected to be in the 2011 iMac?
    3) How upgradable is the Mac Pro, meaning can I just buy a new graphics card down the road 2 years from now?
    4) How much would it cost me to get the mac pro, a monitor similar to the 27in imac display (can def not afford the apple cinema display), a 128 ssd, and 12gb ram? For the display it should be at least 25in and I like really bright and vivid displays.

    Thanks for your help! :D
  2. NoManIsland macrumors regular

    Feb 17, 2010
    I can weigh in on the noise issue. My primary purpose for my 2008 Mac Pro was audio production and so noise floor was a major factor in my decision to purchase. I can't speak for a 2009 or 2010, but the 2008 is pretty much inaudible unless it's spinning up an optical disc. The fans are large and the case design is very effective for cooling - I can honestly say I've never heard them, even when the system has been under tremendous strain. I can only guess that the 2009 and 2010 are similar, but they share most of the thermal design features and I would be surprised if Apple went backwards in this respect (2009 audio bug excluded :p ).
  3. Glen Quagmire macrumors 6502a

    Jan 6, 2006
    I won't comment on the noise issue, as my Mac Pro is a 2006 model, and is somewhat noisy. Not sure whether its the hard drives or the fans.

    I'm not sure there's much you get in an iMac that you don't in a Mac Pro. Even my 2006 model is still upgradeable - i can add plenty more memory, a new graphics card (unofficially), more hard drives, an SSD, additional PCIe cards and so on. You can even upgrade the CPUs if you're a complete masochist. The Mac Pro is by far the most expandable model that Apple offers. And it just keeps going, like the Energizer bunny - mine dates from August 2006 and it's never missed a beat since day one.

    Graphics cards should remain upgradeable, unless Apple does something strange (which I wouldn't rule out, this being Apple). All of the existing Mac Pros can be upgraded, even the ancient ones like mine (though the cards aren't officially supported). The 2010 models are far more likely to be upgradeable in the future than the 2006-2008 models, which have a different EFI (firmware) implementation.

    As for the RAM don't get it from Apple. Go to OWC or Crucial - much cheaper. (The only exception I'd make is if you went for the 8 or 12 core Mac Pros - you get 6 * 1GB sticks with those - I'd pay $150 for Apple's upgrade to 8GB as you then get 4 * 2GB sticks, which means you don't have to ditch all your 1GB sticks when you run out of RAM slots; then buy an additional 4GB elsewhere to make it 12GB). RAM is very easy to install as well - five minutes maximum.

    SSD-wise, anything with a Sandforce controller is best for Macs, as OS X doesn't support TRIM functionality (why, Steve, why?) - look at OWC (again), OCZ, Crucial or Corsair.

    As for monitors, cheap and cheerful = Dell. Samsung and NEC are good makes too. Personally, I'd stick to the big name brands.
  4. kellen macrumors 68020


    Aug 11, 2006
    Seattle, WA
    1. I would think the base level would work 2.8 or 3.2 quad. If you have money to spend, the hex. No benefit to an octo in my opinion, clock speed will be better than cores for you.

    2. Ram basically. If you game the 5870 would be nice. Don't buy ram from apple, go third party (OWC, transintl, etc).

    3. Yes, its upgradeable due to PCI-e slots, CPU and the extra sata connection.

    4. Depends where you shop, but in a nutshell more than the imac. I think you would be lucky to keep it under 3500, realistically closer to 4000.

    Using macsales for ram and SSD, 12gb of ram is $240, 120 GB SSD is $250 27" Dell display is $900 on sale now, MP is $2899 for 3.2, $2499 for 2.8 (refurb could save you 300 or so). Total......3900, plus tax for the 2.8.
  5. justflie macrumors 6502a


    Nov 29, 2005
    Red Sox Nation
    My 2009 Mac Pro is not as quiet as I would like. Not loud, but certainly not inaudible. My CPU fans run at around 1200rpm at processor idle. That's the main source of the noise. I had thought they used to run at 800rpm (and were thus very quiet) but a genius checked the fans via diagnostics and they were fine.
  6. Mac Hammer Fan macrumors 6502a

    Mac Hammer Fan

    Jul 13, 2004
    I have a Mac Pro Quad Nehalem 2009 and fan speed is 800 rpm for the PCI expansion bay fan and 600 rmp for the power supply (measured with iStatPro).
    I have an ATI Radeon 5870 card installed. Upon startup the fans rotate at 2000 rpm but after 30 seconds speeds drop to 800-600 rpm.
    Did you try an SMC reset?
    To be honest, I had severe troubles before with an ATI Radeon 5770. Then the fan speed was 2000 rpm, unacceptable loud.
  7. eldo33 macrumors regular

    Mar 24, 2010
    I can comment on the noise issue since i have the 2010 2.8 Quad that I purchased over black friday. There isn't any noise issue AT ALL.. thus far for the past month, whenever the system is on, i could barely hear the fan at all and I usually only turn it on after the kid as sleep and the TV is off.

    I'm quite satisfied with it thus far and I've upgraded the RAM to 10GB and replaced the boot drive with intel ssd 40g and it boot up real quick. I'm doing boot camp with win7 so i have multiple drives for various reasons.

    Get the Mac Pro and you won't regret it.
  8. gabicava83 macrumors regular

    Aug 31, 2010
    Well, I must say the MacPro is the right choice.

    However, I have had nothing but issues in regards to the noise, it is stupidly loud (doesnt appear to be the case for all of them, as stated above)

    I've had 3 replacements, second one was worse, I originally thought it was the GPU but wan't.

    Info on this thread

    I did go for the Octo, seems like the SP don't really have issues.

    Give it a go, I am sure you will love it :)

    Even though I have had bad luck, I will still carry on trying, so please don't be put off by this, just voicing my experience.

  9. maestrokev macrumors 6502a


    Apr 23, 2007
    I have the same fan speeds with my MP2009 using 2 GT120 graphics cards.

    I wouldn't call it inaudible but you get used to the slight fan noise. Noise is very subjective and also depends on whether you have the MP positioned close to corner walls or windows where the sound might resonate.
  10. toxic, Dec 28, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2010

    toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    how quiet it is largely depends on what you put inside, mostly the graphics card. a GT120 is very quiet, but it's also not very powerful. out of all the recent cards, the 5770 should be the next quietest, followed by maybe the 4870.

    any quad or the 6-core.

    no one knows what will be in there, but it's probably more of the same (just a switch from Nehalem to Sandy Bridge), so the cheapest Mac Pro should be similar to the top iMac.

    the point of the MP is upgradeability...any Mac video card will likely still work 2 years from now, assuming Apple doesn't do anything stupid.

    I can't price it for you, but a ~120GB SSD is around $250, and 12GB of ECC RAM will probably be around the same.

    the only 27" alternative is the Dell U2711, which is wide gamut. whether you want a wide gamut monitor you'll have to figure out for yourself. it's $1000 right now, but it was $900 before, and Dell has frequent discounts on its monitors. you're probably better off looking at 30" monitors, which use the same resolution as 27", just at 16:10, or think about dual 24" instead. considering your budget, dual 24" will probably work better - there's a glut of good 24" panels on the market, but hardly any (quality) 27 or 30" ones. used 30" monitors are still around $800 or so used, but you can get two new 24" for $800 or less.
  11. mrt209 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Nov 21, 2010
    Hey guys,

    thanks for all the great replies :)

    Well you have definitely convinced me to get a Mac Pro over the iMac. The Mac Pro is much pricier but in the end I think it's worth it since rather then buying a new comp every 2,3 years I can just upgrade the parts.

    My birthday is coming up towards the end of January, so will wait until then as I'll have a bit more money by then.

    Although I would love to get the 6 core Mac Pro, I think I'll go for the 3.2 Ghz quad core with ATI Radeon HD 5870 1GB, which will be $3000 with the student discount. Then I'll get 8 or 12 gb ram from OWC and a 120gb SSD.

    I watch quite a lot of movies on my comp so would love a 27in or 30in monitor, but noticed too that they're all really expensive, so think I'll just go for a 24in samsung LED which is around $300.

    Oh and I have a question, can I get 1333MHz ram for the quad or is it only 1066MHz? Is there a huge difference?

    Thanks again for all the replies :)
  12. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    I highly suggest you spend the extra for an NEC EA231WMi or HP ZR24w. they both use IPS panels, which will particularly benefit you in your graphics work (though you'll have to buy color calibration software to get the full benefit), and they'll also be better to view in general because of less contrast and color shift when you view at an angle.

    the 23" NEC is cheaper and 16:9, which I detest but you might prefer...there's also a cheaper Dell with the same panel (U2311H), but it seems to have more QC issues than the NEC, so I would avoid that. the HP uses a slightly higher-quality panel and is 16:10.

    your setup sounds good otherwise.

    the quad uses 1066 but is compatible with 1333, the latter will simply downclock to 1066MHz. there's no real difference in speed, just get whatever's cheaper. the 6-core uses 1333, so you could get 1333 anyway to "future-proof" in case you decide to drop in a 6-core later...but hardly anyone actually does that, so I don't think it should be a factor.
  13. netnothing macrumors 68040


    Mar 13, 2007
    I picked up the 2010 2.8 Quad from the refurb store and Apple surprised me with the 5870 in it. The machine is dead quiet for me and runs MUCH cooler than my 2006 Mac Pro did. I put an OWC 120GB SSD in it, and 16GB of OWC RAM. It also has four 2TB drives in it. Still cool and quiet. I'm really happy with it.

    Got the 27" Cinema Display for Xmas and it's gorgeous. If you are into watching movies on your system, I'd try hard to find the cash for a 27"+ display.


    Attached Files:

  14. RAMtheSSD, May 10, 2013
    Last edited: May 10, 2013

    RAMtheSSD macrumors member


    Mar 23, 2013
    High on a Mountain Looking for Wisdom
    2009 Quiet even on top of my desk

    My 2 cents :) There are those that do not like or believe in the dual processors but I have found that I can do much more with the two processors and, judging by the previous mac pro's around here, there is greater longevity in two. Then there is the amount of ram you can pack in the dual vs the single (16 x 8 =128gb vs 64gb both using registered ram; unregistered, cut both totals in half.)

    I use my machine for everything 24/7 and, due to the bluetooth issue, it is on top of my desk which, while very large, puts My Mac Pro right by my left ear. I use SMCFanControl and at 20% it is barely there and the current temperature of the processors is 93 F. At standard, it is inaudible but when all 4 drives are working, the exhaust temps rise and I start getting headaches -wish I could make it water-cooled- so when I am really doing something intensive, I run all the fans at maximum which is decidedly noticeable and then some so if you want quiet, a cool -or cold- room helps a lot.

    I have heard more than a few times that the 5770 equipped machines run hot whilst the basic Nvidia and 5870 and up machines run cooler and quieter. I do not know why that is but my biggest regret is not getting a 5870 right from the start (now, I am saving for the 7950)

    My processors spend a lot of time doing nothing other than producing heat because I have gobs of storage but I really wish I had sprung for two small SSD's at least (PCIe based SSD better but $$) and raid 0 them because the main thing holding me back is the hard drives. They are not slow or cheap but they are what is holding the machine back -even more so than the video card. SSD's also run far far far cooler.

    One thing that is not often discussed is what the workstation sucks out of the wall. At 80 watts, my processors are cheap enough to operate that I can afford to let the machine run all the time. I seriously doubt that would be the case with the 5590s at 130 watts. The hard drives can power down as needed but the processors are on if the machine is not sleeping. Give this some thought because while I am sure that everyone wishes for faster processors, I doubt most people's workload ever takes a Mac pro over 50-60 percent average. I have taken mine to 100% on both processors but it took a lot of effort to do so and it was all aimed at pegging the needle :)

    Reinforcing Kellen's point: As far as ram goes, I have nothing but the absolute best to say about OWC. Their ram rocks (stable, consistent high quality, etc...) and their customer service is beyond awesome. Apple wanted 300$ for what OWC sells for ~100 and they took me for over 800$ in ram when I bought the machine (apple) with no benefit other than a sticker. My 32gb OWC ram ran ~380 plus S/h so for 80 dollars more than 1 apple 8gb ecc stick at 1066 I got 32gb OWC ecc 1333. Others here have tried other brands so... I tried crucial and corsair but there was nowhere near -even the littlest bit- customer support and they did not know (it seemed about what I was talking about) if their ram would down clock at all! So the case for OWC is bullet proof -they are great.

    If it didn't have that annoying blue tooth issue, it would not be on my desk. If it wasn't on my desk, it is likely I would not have replied. However, I hope that I've helped answer your question.

    As far as monitors, I have been very happy with a 27" Asus MT276 true HD with near Pantone colors. My only complaint is that -currently- I can not turn it vertical when I have papers to read. It is LED driven (cheap to run electricity wise) and I believe you can get one now for ~300 (far less than I paid back when I bought the Mac Pro)

    My one warning is this: be very careful with your printer purchase If you need it to be connected directly to the Mac Pro, it is not the same thing as connected over a network.

    In reference to your other ram question:
    With the boot rom update a 4,1 mac pro turns into a 5,1 and, while the early 5500 series Xeons do not support 1333, I bought 1333 ram which downclocked well and (I learned about it here; I can't remember the user that explained it to me but if you want to read his reply, look for my question about memory.) the tables were tight enough that the slightly higher latency not only did not matter but with the wider window I get better performance than the 1066 ram. That being said, if you are buying a new one, this should not be an issue at all as the current series except for the single quad support 1333. I did it to future proof my machine for when the 5590s drop in price and I can afford more electricity.

    :)congratulations on your new Mac Pro:)

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