Mac Pro versus iMac 24 for the professional

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by mrsmacaddict, Nov 7, 2006.

  1. mrsmacaddict macrumors newbie

    Nov 7, 2006
    I'm happy to have found this forum as I need advice. The question has been posed before but I'd like to get some feedback relating to my husband's situation.

    My husband works as a photographer/videographer for a private school. He currently uses an iMac 20 with upgraded RAM and hard drive. He primarily uses Final Cut Pro, Aperture, iMovie, and Photoshop.

    We are thinking about getting a family computer for Christmas; of course, he will be the primary user (and often brings work home), but our 9 year old daughter and I (both PC users) will get to play a little too.

    So this is the choice we've narrowed it down to:

    1) Mac Pro with 2 2.66 dual-core Intel Xeon, 1 GB memory (to be upgraded when we have more cash, 500 GB harddrive, 2 16x Super Drive, Bluetooth and Airport Extreme, with an Apple Wireless Keyboard and Apple wireless Mighty Mouse.

    About $3100 with my educational discount. (Gotta love being a teacher!)

    Main reason for choice: super fast and expandible
    Problem: our budget doesn't allow for a monitor so we would connect it to our 17" Polaroid flat screen.


    2) iMac 24 inch, upgraded with 2 GB memory and 500 GB hardrive and upgraded graphics card.

    About $2900 with the upgrades.

    Main reason for choice: comes with a big, yummy display
    Problem: not so expandible, not as fast.

    We keep going back and forth. First, I wanted choice 2 and he wanted choice 1. Now, I'm thinking choice 1 and he's coveting that choice 2 big screen.

    I guess the real problem is that we don't know if we want something that will last us a much longer time because of it's expandibility plus it's super speed for his professional uses OR will we get the more consumer-friendly model with the nice screen with plans of replacing it in 4-5 years when new technology might make even the Mac Pro a little obsolete.

    I really appreciate any feedback you all could provide as I'd like to make the purchase prior to Christmas.

  2. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    May 19, 2002
    If Core Graphics/Video gets more use, likely the two areas you will run into trouble with a iMac for professional use will be the graphics card, and maximum physical memory.

    The iMac is nice, but it is a desktop bound laptop with Intel's 3GB memory limitation.

    The Mac Pro will at least get you a little further if you do quite a bit of work at the pro level, the 32GB memory limit alone is worthwhile -- along with a graphics card slot.

    You can replace the LCD at any time, later over the next few years.

    You may lust after an iMac, but if the Mac Pro fits the professional needs over the next few years -- that "may" be a better choice.

    Of course there is nothing wrong with the iMac either, it just tends to show its age a bit quicker -- and an iMac may be something you want to wait until 2007 (and the new Intel 965 chipset) to get.
  3. DeSnousa macrumors 68000


    Jan 20, 2005
    Brisbane, Australia
    Well seeing it will not be a primary work machine for your husband, the iMac will be fine. Great family computer with a large screen and when your husband brings back work with him, the iMac will be capable.

    Stick to your budget limits, as the upgradability imo will not limit your husbands work. For example use external drives to increase overall storage :)
  4. gigiuk macrumors newbie

    Jul 30, 2006

    Get the iMac, you'll be very happy with it and it'll last you for years, no upgrades needed.
  5. jsw Moderator emeritus


    Mar 16, 2004
    Andover, MA
    I feel that the iMac is a better choice, given the constraints and options. Why? A few reasons.

    First, the iMac is usable immediately, whereas the Pro and a 17" screen is, well, limited to say the least by the small screen (why spend over $3K to end up looking at a small screen?).

    Second, the iMac is quieter, smaller, and more aesthetically pleasing - important in a home environment.

    Third, the iMac also has FW800, so you can get fast external drives (and, as mentioned above, I'd spend the 500GB upgrade money on an external instead, not only because you'll get more for your money but also because, when Leopard comes out, having an external drive for backups will be a big plus).

    Fourth, the iMac comes with an iSight, whereas the MP doesn't - and an iSight is a plus in a family system.

    All in all, the iMac isn't the best professional option, but it's a pretty good one, and it is more usable overall for less money. If only your husband were using it, my recommendation might be different if you could get at least a 20" monitor.
  6. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    May 19, 2002
    If you decide to get the iMac wait until the new chipset in 2007 -- if you can.

    The benefit of more memory will be worth it, especially if the Crestline chipset comes with a 8GB RAM limit.

    of course, this will destroy the Christmas present especially with a April-June shipment date.
  7. emptyCup macrumors 65816


    Jan 5, 2005
    The reasoning behind the iMac suggestions is very sound. It is a great family machine and I think it has the potential of staying a good family/schoolwork machine longer than the current Mac Pro will remain a great professional machine. Whatever you decide to do about the internal HD, get an external HD for backups.
  8. speakerwizard macrumors 68000


    Aug 8, 2006
    im a professional, but i also use my mac in my bedroom / study as a media machine and TV, i went from a powermac to the 24inch imac, and never looked back, yes you cant have as much memory but thats only 1 limitation, as for mac pro expantion, very rarely does anyone upgrade a mac graphics card because its so expensive, and they come out so far behind windows equivelents yourll probably be upgrading your computer by then anyway, (in my experience)
  9. dollystereo macrumors 6502a


    Oct 6, 2004
    Get the mac pro with the radeon only (dont get either ram or HD from apple)
    It will last you forever, I am still using for video editing my dual G4.
    THe imac is nice, but for upgrade HD is expensive (must be external, the mac pro has 4 internal slots), and the mac pro with the X1900 video card is a killer combo! really it worth the money.
    You are spending 3k, is better expend that in the mac pro, is more powerful and solid. (you can get a 24'' display or even a 20" from dell very cheap)
    Just my 2 cents.
  10. dollystereo macrumors 6502a


    Oct 6, 2004
    Two 2.66GHz Dual-Core Intel Xeon
    1GB (2 x 512MB)
    250GB 7200-rpm Serial ATA 3Gb/s
    ATI Radeon X1900 XT 512MB (2 x dual-link DVI)
    One 16x SuperDrive
    Both Bluetooth 2.0+EDR and AirPort Extreme
    Apple Keyboard and Mighty Mouse - U.S. English
    Mac OS X - U.S. English
    TOTAL 2.872 USD (i would drop airport)
  11. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    May 19, 2002
    Yep, skip the HD, superdrive upgrade and buy them from a 3rd party.

    It'll be less than Apple, and with Christmas on the way -- there will be smoking deals on 20" LCDs, SATA HDs, optical drives, etc.

    Probably making it possible to get a new Dell 20" LCD for $250-300 ... with the coupon specials soon.
  12. dbater macrumors member


    Nov 4, 2006
    Victoria, Canada
    If the primary purpose is Final Cut Pro and PhotoShop the MacPro with as much ram as you can afford is your best bet but I would wait for a few weeks to see if Apple upgrade the processor to the quad and get the max. horsepower.. enjoy
  13. asencif macrumors 6502

    Dec 21, 2005
    Hello there,

    Your thread title states for the "Professional". Yes, the 24 inch iMac is a very worthy contender in the Pro circuit, however I would suggest a Mac Pro. For FCP use and Aperture this system would be ideal. Not sure how savvy your husband is in Hardware, but he can really add more Hard Drive to that machine and have a separate scratch disk and also more drives which he can build a Raid with. The benefit of this is speed and protection against a failed drive depending on which RAID he sets up.

    Anyway, sorry about getting to technical, but I just wanted to give an idea of what sort of expandability the Mac Pro has. With four processors it will be plenty fast for years to come, especially when more companies start developing multi-proccessor(4 vs 2) aware software. As for the screen, I guess I would recommend a 20 inch Dell if you are strapped for cash and do away with some of the upgrades on the order.

    2 x 2.66 Ghz Xeon Processors
    1GB RAM
    250GB HD
    Just one Superdrive
    No Bluetooth or Airport.....Not sure if you can connect via Ethernet, if not then just Airport.

    Upgrade the RAM and get extra HD's from 3rd Party vendors, especially during the Christmas season. You can upgrade as time goes on slowly, which will continue to make the system stronger.

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