Mac Pro vs. 5K Retina iMac

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by edithmac, Feb 25, 2015.

  1. edithmac macrumors newbie


    Feb 25, 2015
    Hi All,

    My birthday is in April and my Partner has broken tradition and asked me what I would like. Normally he would buy me jewellery, perfume or perhaps a handbag etc.

    However since he has asked this year I am thinking of asking for a Apple Mac. I have never owned a Mac before and I use Photoshop etc a ton just for fun I'm not a professional.

    As I am mostly at home I do not really see the need for a laptop so it's a choice between the Mac Pro and the 5K Retina iMac.

    27-inch iMac with Retina 5K Display:


    • 4.0GHz Quad-core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 4.4GHz
    • 32GB 1600MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 4x8GB
    • 1TB Flash Storage
    • AMD Radeon R9 M295X 4GB GDDR5
    • Apple Magic Mouse
    • Apple Wireless Keyboard (British) & User's Guide (English)

    iMac Cost: £3,519.00 + :apple: Care: £139.00

    Total Cost: £3,658.00

    Mac Pro:


    • 2.7GHz 12-core with 30MB of L3 cache
    • 64GB (4 x 16GB) of 1866MHz DDR3 ECC
    • 1TB PCIe-based flash storage
    • Dual AMD FirePro D700 GPUs with 6GB of GDDR5 VRAM each

    Mac Pro Cost: £7,779.00 + :apple: Care £199.00

    Total Cost: £7,978.00

    The difference in price between the two machines is £4320.00. Although I would be very lucky to get either machine and both machines cost a considerable amount of money. At Christmas he bought me a Hermès "Birkin Bag" in Crocodile leather and I'm ashamed to say how much that cost.

    The iMac is deficiently the best value for money as it comes with it's own 5K display. However the built in display puts me off it and I think I would rather have the Mac Pro.

    The thing that confuses me about the Mac Pro is the more cores you have the better yes? However when you add cores the clock-speed decreases I'm not expert but I gather this is to do with system stability?

    As someone who plays a lot of games on the PC I thought clock-speed was king. So if someone could explain what's going on there that would be a big help.

    I'd very much value any and all input before asking him to spend that kind of money on either machine.


  2. doc4x5 macrumors member

    Jul 15, 2008
    the great Pacific northwest
    Do you really need it?

    The Mac Pro you describe is a screamer. If you do Photoshop for "fun," you certainly do not need all that. I have a 6 core Mac Pro with 64GB RAM and a 1TB SSD. I spend a LOT of time in Photoshop, but sadly not for money, and mine is overkill for me. How about a 4 or 6 core Mac Pro, and 32GB or even 16GB (horror of horrors). Don't forget that you'll need a high quality monitor and some method of Thunderbolt or USB3 external storage with the Mac Pro, so add these on to the budget. Based on what you've said, you have a well to do boyfriend, who enjoys spending money on you. Get the iMac, save a bundle, and take a nice vacation. You'll still be able to use Photoshop on your vacation photos. Good luck and have fun.
  3. dan1eln1el5en macrumors 6502


    Jan 3, 2012
    Copenhagen, Denmark
    the iMac.
    But don't buy RAM from apple, get them from Crucial (as you are in UK)

    the iMac looks good, super fast and the amazing screen.

    Photoshop is a non-issue on any of the current macs (from mac mini and up)

    the Mac Pro is a pro machine, it doesn't come with a screen, and honestly you should be a 3D animator, movie editor or in science to be able to fully utilise the power of the tower.

    go iMac
  4. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68030

    Aug 28, 2012
    Between the coasts
    The Mac Pro would be dandy (I'd hardly balk if I got one as a gift), but it's gross overkill if you're just looking at how much computing power you need. Machines like the 12-core Mac Pro are built for situations where time is money, the product takes a lot of time to compute (professionals rendering video and animation, etc.), and the software can make profitable use of the dual-GPU architecture. If you're using PhotoShop for working on still images? You'll be asking far, far less of the computer.

    There's always a trade-off between the number of cores in a CPU and the clock speed. The more cores, the slower the clock. The issue is heat. Each core generates additional heat, as does a higher clock speed. One has to come down in order to offset the other.

    You have to look carefully at the software and tasks you'll be using to know how the trade-offs will work in your case. If it doesn't make profitable use of all those cores, why spend money on them?

    What aspect of the built-in iMac display puts you off? Have you actually seen it in the "flesh," or might it be wariness about putting all your eggs into a single basket?

    Speaking of displays, what display were you planning to use with the Mac Pro? 5K displays are not yet available as external displays, and 4K externals are pretty pricey.

    I don't know what you're planning to do with all that RAM, on either machine. 16 GB is probably enough for your stated needs. RAM is the one thing you can upgrade on those machines, so if 16 GB turned out to be too little, it's easy enough to remedy.

    It's nice that you feel 1 TB of Flash is within budget. I'm certainly not going to say you don't need it. But if you needed to bring it in on a tighter budget, I'd go with the iMac, 16GB of RAM, and a 3TB Fusion drive (same processor). I just bought one of those recently for my company's art director/designer (heavy InDesign, PhotoShop, and Illustrator use). I haven't heard any complaints.

    It's not my business to comment on your domestic situation - some people can easily afford what you propose. But if your relationship is anything but "cost is no object," I strongly recommend the iMac over the Mac Pro. A £7,978 diamond is "forever," while a computer is a depreciating asset. And if you ask me, a 27" iMac is a whole lot more sexy-looking (and practical) than a Mac Pro with a smaller display (if that's what you would consider for the Mac Pro).
  5. edithmac thread starter macrumors newbie


    Feb 25, 2015

    Thank you all very much for taking the time to comment. Each of you took the time to leave a thorough and helpful comment which I appreciate greatly. Although I quote ApfelKuchen in my reply I will try to respond to each of you.

    Although not avalaible on has the "Dell Ultra HD 5K Monitor UP2715K 27-Inch Screen LED-Lit Monitor" for $1,841.03.

    The reason I do not like the built-in display on the iMac as my Sister had one and it failed. She had it for 8 years true but when she took it in to see if the hard drive could be repaired Apple had a look and said no and charged her £660. Her insurance paid the bill but still it's left me with a fear of all "all-in-one" systems.

    Thank you very much for explaining the clock speed vs. cores that helped a lot. I am more in favour of the iMac now than I was to begin with but I will tell you why I still lean towards the Mac Pro.

    My partner and I are paid well (him more so and me) and he would think see no difference between buying the iMac and the Mac Pro. As long as I do not frown on his spending I am free to get whatever I want within reason.

    Now if I did get the iMac I would have to get a new desk as my current desk is not big enough for my gaming PC and an iMac. I could however fit a Mac Pro in there somewhere.

    The other reason is I am not sure how good my PC is it was fairly cheap to build about £2200 I understand at the time it wasn't bad for a custom water-cooled machine with two graphics cards and the and two 1TB SSDs.

    I don't know if it's 4K ready but I could get a new 4K monitor and share it between my PC and my Mac Pro I'm not sure I could share the iMac screen...

    Plus the iMac screen is only 27" my current monitor is the 34" LG 21:9 3440 x 1440 Thunderbolt which I got at a really good price when we were in Berlin last year I think it was 450 euros. I don't think I could go smaller on screen size again.

    I know both machines are overkill for what I need but it's only money, thank you so much for your time. :)

    Much Love,

    Edie x
  6. jmoore5196 macrumors 6502a


    May 19, 2009
    Midwest US
    If you have flash storage in the iMac, Edie, then the fear of failure is probably a little overblown. Flash can fail, certainly, but the only moving part in a flash-storage iMac should be the fan.

    I realize that you spend most of your time at home, but an Apple laptop might be an ideal compromise. My 15" retina MacBook Pro is almost always "docked" to my Apple Thunderbolt Display. The laptop display is handy when I need more screen real estate. I work with Creative Cloud apps much of the time, and when I need the additional screen, it's there. The rest of the time, I leave the MacBook closed.

    The machines you've specified are both terrific performers ... but as others have noted, the Mac Pro is probably overkill for your use. I think you might be boxing yourself into a corner by refusing to consider a high-end laptop. Performance is about on par with the iMac and lower-end Mac Pros, and the versatility a MacBook offers is a very handy thing from time to time.
  7. Destroysall macrumors 65816

    Feb 28, 2012
    United States
    I'd save the money and just invest into a regular iMac 27-inch. The 5k is cool, but you don't need it. Especially if you are doing this for fun. The 1440p resolution of the iMac is gorgeous. If you haven't had a screen like such, you'd appreciate it just as much as the 5k.

    It'll save your partner a bit of money to which you can invest into maybe other things? Get the basic 27-inch model and upgrade to a 1TB fusion drive. Total cost should be $2,000 USD. I don't think you'd need to invest into Apple Care either.
  8. Roadking714 macrumors regular

    Mar 7, 2014
    The iMac would be perfect for you as it has the the beautiful 5k Retina display also keyboard and mouse
  9. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    By all means...

    Get a mac pro if you want one but there is no need for 12 cores hell on your use case the 4 core would be fine...

    I would say get the 6 core mac pro with D700's and 1TB SSD, as the most you'll need for about 10 years...

    As other have said though the retina iMac is probably a better bet that display is just about the best available at the moment, the hardware is good and it'll look amazing.
  10. winston1236 macrumors 68000

    Dec 13, 2010
    I think you should get the 5K iMac. Why?

    First, you don't need 12 cores for anything you do and they are actually quite slow for basic computing like what you describe. More cores = slower clock speed.

    See here for speed benchmarks: You'll have to scroll way down to see the 12 core on the 64 bit singlecore scores. Thats the important one.

    Second, The 5K is way faster in everything you will be doing as is faster on 64 bit multicore. Unless you plan on becoming a 3D animator and rendering at home the 12 core will be much slower.

    If you want speed, make sure you max RAM and get all Solid State Drives.
  11. aviduser2 macrumors newbie

    Jan 14, 2015
    Since you also use a PC, then i would go for a Mac Pro.. Not the monster you've described though, but rather a 6-core. (cost should be tops 4k).

    This way you can also buy 1-2 4k screens (dell p2715q for example) and you can share the inputs between MAC/PC.

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