Mac Pro or iMac?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by choosy, Jul 2, 2012.

  1. choosy macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2012
    #1
    Hi all,

    I have been wanting to replace my five year old quad core PC for awhile now as it has become very unstable. Originally I crossed out the iMac due to its hardware limitations. I am seriously reconsidering this though.

    I use 2D (Photoshop) but will be mostly using 3D programs such as Maya and ZBrush.

    The iMac seemed to be my main choice as it is affordable and has a high resale value, so if I needed an extra GPU or CPU kick I would just sell it and upgrade to the latest model. I was thinking about getting / waiting for the update this July.

    However I saw a refurb Mac Pro for the same price as I was considering spending on the iMac. It is the 2010 model. The Quad Core 2.8ghz Xeon. It does seem outdated and slow, but the GPU expandability is a major upside. Mac Pros seem to be only really worth getting the 8 or 12 core model and paying up. Although I guess I could upgrade to the 6 core processor in the future. It seems pretty expensive and old though.

    I don't really know how easy it is to sell a Mac Pro, so if I bought one, I would assume it would be for a long term basis rather than an iMac. I like the idea of the Mac Pro a lot more coming from mainly PC's but I'm not sure if the old model is worth it.

    What do you guys think?
     
  2. miles01110 macrumors Core

    miles01110

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    Jul 24, 2006
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    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    #2
    Buying a computer for resale value is stupid. You don't know what could happen between now and when you are ready to sell it that would affect it's value. Buy for your needs, not for a future price.
     
  3. macrominnie macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2010
    #3
    I agree with the concern about the Mac Pro. It is terrible relative value because of the long time between updates.

    If you absolutely need the top of the line performance, need it on Mac OS (and hackintosh is too much fuss) and price is no restriction, then a souped up high end Mac Pro is the way to go. If not, go for the iMac. Rumors are that the Mac Pro update will be in 2013, not before year end.

    With the iMac, you are paying plenty extra for a nice screen. If you don't have an excellent (IPS) monitor, sit in front of a screen a lot, and/or value screen real estate, those are extra incentives for the iMac.

    If you can wait a few months, probably there will be 2012 iMacs, with USB 3.0, better processor and graphics, maybe other improved features. It's far from sure, to us non-insiders, that the iMac will be released in July. It would be a good companion launch to Mountain Lion, but Apple's getting good PR year round these days. As always, buy if you need it. The update cycle always continues no matter when you buy.

    A low end 2011 iMac might meet your needs:

    http://barefeats.com/imac11c.html

    If you get the 2011, you can also get the $100 Back to School credit. IME it's better to re-sell a low end machine and trade-up, rather than the other way around. There's less of a depreciation hit and usually a larger buyer audience (for the less expensive model).
     
  4. ssgbryan macrumors 6502

    ssgbryan

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2002
    #4
    I don't think macrominnie could be more wrong. The MacPro is always a better option. Heat dissipation isn't an issue with a MacPro. If you are doing heavy duty rendering (and with Maya & Zbrush I figure that will be a good bet), the iMac is going to get hot on a regular basis. Which wouldn't be a problem if Sir idiot-boy took that into account when designing Apple products, but he doesn't. (glancing over at a stack of apple products that died due to heat issues.)

    Then there is the whole expandability part. Doing any upgrades will be very painful on the iMac, in comparison to the MacPro. Much easier to add a HD to a MacPro than to upgrade an iMac. Going with external storage also increases the overall cost. Same issue with ram. Even more so with a video card.

    After that, there is the whole expandability issue. The iMac will have a 3 year life span. The MacPro will give you a 6 year lifespan.

    Bottom line, the TCO for the MacPro is lower than an iMac.
     
  5. 24Frames macrumors regular

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    Mar 23, 2012
    #5
    I'm told that Maya is a lot more stable on Windows 7 than OS X.
    Have you thought of buying one of the new Dell Precision T3600 or T5600 workstations? These look much better value than the 2012 Mac Pros and come with professional graphics cards instead of consumer ones. A much better solution for Maya than the Mac Pro.
     
  6. thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

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    Aug 5, 2010
    #6
    Ignore resale value. It's not predictable, and it tends to be best if you're selling your computer at an inconvenient time where people don't actually want to buy, but they need something then. Right now is a good time for the 2011s. Prior to the rMBP announcement would have been even better. An upgrade should be expected soon, yet it hasn't landed and some people may require a replacement for theirs that just died, so they're browsing ebay at work or whatever. See the point? When the new thing comes out, the older ones drop, sometimes significantly. Take a look at refurb pricing on some of the 2011 macbook pros. The 2.2 ghz 15" macbook pros were around the $2200 mark early last year. Now the same ones (February 2011) are roughly $1350 in the refurbished section. If you're selling one used, you will have to ask for less unless the buyer is ignorant of its value (and stupid people do exist).

    You've made me curious what died and how long they lived. I don't doubt you. I'd just like to hear details even if they are anecdotes. Zbrush is very cpu and ram heavy. It doesn't use OpenGL drawing. Given the OP's intended purposes, Windows is also a viable option.
     
  7. violst macrumors 6502

    violst

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2012
    #7
    I use similar software to you but my 3D app is Cinema 4D.

    For any 3D work I would strongly suggest a mac pro, and not a 4-core a minimum of 6-cores because most if not all 3D apps take full advantage of multicore/multithreaded CPU's. you can get a good price on the older 8-core 2.4 refurb or the new 6-core 3.33. the 4-core 2.8 would be a good deal if you upgrade the cpu to the 3.33 6-core.

    The ability to put in the GPU of your choice even though limited is a big plus.
    Also the ability to have an internal raid and an SSD boot drive help a great deal. all very easy to install with the mac pro.

    I just don't know how an imac will hold up to the processor intensive beating that most 3D apps cause? I know for me my mac pro takes a real beating and never skips a beat.
     
  8. ssgbryan, Jul 3, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2012

    ssgbryan macrumors 6502

    ssgbryan

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    Jul 18, 2002
    #8
    Well, lets see, I have an Apple 1st Gen AppleTv (dead logic board), a Time Capsule (dead seagate HD), and a MacBookPro. I got all of these right at about the same time, along with my MacPro.

    It kills me that my $300 netbook lasted longer than the Apple laptop. Each one died before it reached 38 months. AppleCare repairs are only good for 6 months & after getting every board in the laptop replaced, the logic board died at 7 months after repair.

    The MacPro on the other hand, keeps chugging along at 4 1/2 years. I have had 2 video cards die (the original 7300, and the replacement 3870), but I had ordered the 3870 before the 7300 died. Same thing with the 3870 - I ordered the Apple 5770 and then the 3870 fan decided to quit.

    I have done quite a bit of upgrading with the MacPro as you can see from my sig. 22Gb of ram means that my swap file is 5.1 megabytes (and btw, if you max out an iMac with ram, your cost will equal the MacPro & max ram). 6 hard drives inside the machine means that I don't have to worry about a cheesy external power brick for an external HD enclosure. I can also run up to 3 monitors. I have a dual monitor setup that I just couldn't live without.

    I do lots of rendering - my workflow consists of Hexagon - Poser 2012 - Vue - Photoshop Elements, so I work out my system
     
  9. thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2010
    #9
    While I've had some problems too (G4 powerbook charger + random shutdowns + 2 batteries+ other things, G5 throttling and odd behavior during summer months, mac pro random stuff but minor, macbook pro pre unibody random shutdowns at one point, never determined the cause, screen flickering, can't remember what else), yours sound worse. At this point I check things thoroughly when I buy them. If they can't pass stress tests, I return the computer. I memtest ram as soon as I get it. I read every possible review on backup devices to determine what the complaints were and how they were resolved, as you don't learn much from the 5 star ratings. You only learn what to expect if everything works as intended.


    I do agree with you on this stuff. PC towers aren't a bad option either considering the OP's target applications assuming that he's not already locked into OSX licenses. Some aspects of zbrush would run better under Windows. I'm not 100% sure with Maya. Windows is typically better supported. Some things run quite well under OSX. Windows is more picky on gpus. I also agree on ram. While you don't necessarily have to max it out at any cost, it's important to understand that most applications can benefit from more than the bare minimum needed to open a given file.
     
  10. strausd macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2008
    Location:
    Texas
    #10
    I am surprised nobody has mentioned this, but Maya will take advantage of NVIDIA Quadro cards on both OS X and Windows. On Windows 7, the difference between an ATI 5870 and a Quadro 4000 was ~5-8 fps and ~300 fps respectively. This was on a very high poly scene. Here is a video demonstrating the Quadro 4000's performance, but this time under OS X.

    So if you need to work with high poly scenes, the Mac Pro will be the best option strictly because you can buy a Quadro 4000 for it. Or just buy a PC version of the Quadro 4000 and run it under bootcamp.

    The other option would be to build your own custom desktop for great performance and a cheaper computer. You might even be able to put in a Quadro 5000 with the money you save.
     
  11. thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

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    Aug 5, 2010
    #11
    The lack of OpenCL on this card makes me sad. Adobe's applications seem to be split between OpenCL and CUDA implementations at the moment. If I had access to that scene, I'd test it on other cards under OSX. I'm not dismissing the value of the Quadro. It's just that when I looked into it, I found many many many issues mentioned with AMD's consumer cards in Autodesk applications under Windows. Cards like the 5870 are tested and certified on the Mac Pro under OSX. This doesn't happen under Windows. I'd still like to see that full comparison under OSX if you ever get the chance:D.
     
  12. Pval macrumors newbie

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    Jan 7, 2008
    Location:
    Holland
    #12
    Not just Maya, many graphical programs will benefit from OpenGL/OpenCL/CUDA and those benefits will be larger on a Mac Pro and upgradeable. I'd still recommend a hex core, but I'm not so sure you need a dual if you manage to offload the rendering and graphs processing. Also keep an eye out for mountainlion as it seems to contain drivers for the nvidia kepler gtx cards.
     
  13. choosy thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jul 2, 2012
    #13
    Thanks for the input.

    Sorry PC fans. I am solid on getting a Mac. Too many bad experiences. Also, the heating issue is interesting, I've heard it before but I am planning on getting apple care so, for 3 years I'm safe.

    I agree about the graphics and expandability but only the quad core model is available on the aus refurb store. The next jump (12 core) is out of my reach.

    Unless an 8 core pops up in refurb, it seems my choice will be the new iMacs this year. I currently have a 2.6ghz quad core and that was made nearly 5 years ago so I feel it is too slow / old for me to warrant buying the quad core model.
     
  14. wallysb01 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2011
    #14
    There is an 8 core in the refurb now, and at ~$2700, that seems like quite a good deal so long as you can generally use all 8 cores. The next step up in the DP is pretty large. A refurb 2.66 12 core is $4200 ($1500 difference), and a new 2.4 12 core is $3800 ($1100 difference) and understandably out of your reach. Its also substantially cheaper than the refurbished 3.33 hex, which is ~$3,150 ($450 difference). So if your apps are well threaded (as they seem to be), the 2.4 8 core will be faster (though only slightly) and cheaper than the 3.33 hex.

    Plus, with the 8 core, you'll have the capability of adding more RAM, or adding the same RAM for cheaper, because you have 2x the DIMM slots. For example if you want 48GB of RAM it will cost you about $700 for 3x16GB sticks. But a 6x8GB configuration will cost about $500. However, this won't make much of a difference at the lower densities. So if 24 GB is enough for you, then you're not saving much, if anything, getting 6x4GB rather than 3x8GB.
     
  15. choosy, Jul 4, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2012

    choosy thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jul 2, 2012
    #15
    Sorry, I was meaning to specify. I am looking in the Australian refurb store. There is only the quad core in stock. I am looking into forwarding it from priceusa.com
     
  16. wallysb01 macrumors 65816

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    Jun 30, 2011
    #16
    Ah, that would make sense that.
     
  17. strausd macrumors 68030

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    #17
    If there is a way to run a PC Quadro 4000 under OS X then I can try and borrow it for a day from my friend. Do you know if that is possible?
     
  18. thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2010
    #18
    I can look. Obviously I have to look at things that do not involve flashing the card seeing as it's a borrowed item.

    Some reference... keep in mind this is a bootcamped mac pro. The OSX results were less impressive. It had a maximum advantage of roughly 2x which is still very good. i just can't find it right now:mad:. In some things it's slower. For After Effects + Maya, I recall the Quadro 4k still being the fastest. I was trying to show that your situation was a little extreme, but it's still a fully viable card as long as it's tested and tuned with the application you're using.

    http://www.barefeats.com/aecs6.html
    http://www.barefeats.com/wst10g12.html
     
  19. strausd macrumors 68030

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    #19
    The main thing is that I would always take a workstation card over a consumer card when running Maya any day.
     
  20. thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

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    Aug 5, 2010
    #20
    I don't blame you. I was trying to point out that on macs workstation cards really have to be paired with the applications. Photoshop benefits from them somewhat under Windows. In OSX, that is not the case. It's an easy example. You can get one for your mac pro off Amazon cheaper than Apple.

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produ...ies_VCQ4000MAC_PB_nVIDIA_Quadro_4000_for.html

    B+H is probably the cheapest. In your cart it ends up being $750, then they have a $60 mail in rebate. Overall NVidia cards always seem to do better with Maya. Whenever I've seen the discussion arise regarding its performance under Windows, it always seems to be NVidia Quadro > NVidia GTX > AMD, although AMD has released a couple exceptional firepro cards at times. I wasn't sure if you've looked at this. Annoyingly while they've been out for a while, no new cards seem to be immediately forthcoming.
     
  21. strausd macrumors 68030

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    Texas
    #21
    I have looked at some FirePro cards, but they do not perform as well as their Quadro counterpart. The only good FirePro card I have seen is the V4900 which has better Maya performance than the Quadro 600. But when you get into higher quality and higher performing cards, AMD has some trouble keeping up.

    I remember seeing a few rumors about new Quadro cards around the time of the new GTX 700 series, so we will still need to wait a bit for those.
     
  22. thekev, Jul 4, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2012

    thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

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    Aug 5, 2010
    #22
    AMD has a lot of issues with autodesk products. They get more attention on OSX simply because they're such a large portion of what is available. I do hope Adobe enables support via OpenCL too.

    Just to clarify, right now under OSX photoshop is predominantly OpenCL based where Premiere and After Effects use CUDA calculations. The photoshop implementation is the most recent, and Adobe seems to be headed in the direction of OpenCL support. It's just that NVidia was the first to push this stuff in their own proprietary form.
     

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