Mac Pro vs iMac, which is for me?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by phpmike, Apr 8, 2009.

  1. phpmike macrumors newbie

    Mar 8, 2009
    I am having trouble figuring out if an iMac or a Mac Pro is better for my needs. I was going to go with an iMac but I didn't expect the new ones to still have the Core 2 Duo in them. I don't want to feel like my computer is outdated a year from now and I think that the core 2 duo is going to be just that.

    Right now, I have the 1st gen macbook w/ 2gb memory and 320gb 7200rpm hard drive. Still stuck with the intel core duo at 2.0ghz though.

    These are my basic uses:
    -Programming - the languages that I tend to use locally are php, RoR, java, and objective-c. Right now I sometimes create scripts that are hard for my computer to handle. An example task would be really processing large amounts of information in loops.
    -I run Ubuntu and Windows through VMWare Fusion. This works OKAY with one of them going, but it definitely slows this thing down.
    -I use CS4 and usually have 1-2 of those apps open, but I would like it to be able to run smoothly in the event taht I had flash, illustrator and photoshop all open at once.
    -In addition to the 1-2 CS4 apps, I am usually running about 8 other apps that are less intense

    Despite whichever I choose, will I see a difference in everyday work if I upgrade my graphics card (I'm not a gamer)? I was thinking about snagging one of the HD ones, especially because I just bought a $300 1080p LG monitor.

    What do you think would be a good processor rate?
    These are the models I have been checking out:

    Mac Pro Quad Core:
    -on the fence between 2.66ghz and 2.93ghz, leading towards 2.93ghz
    -6gb of memory (just because I would upgrade to 8 later and if I stuck with the 3x1gb then I would have to buy 4x2gb later whereas if I use apple's crappy prices and get the 3x2gb now I would just have to buy one more 2gb stick, make sense?)
    -on the fence between the GT 120 and the Radeon HD 4870
    -keep the 640gb hard drive and update later

    -deciding b/w 2.93ghz and 3.06 ghz.
    -4GB memory (are they kidding with the cost to upgrade to 8gigs?)
    -1TB hard drive
    -deciding b/w GT 120 and Radeon HD 4850
    was looking at the 2.93 ghz for the iMac, or the

    I get the developer discount so w/ configs above:
    Mac pro price range: $2,159.00 - $2,719.00
    iMac price range: $1709 - $2024
  2. Airforcekid macrumors 65816


    Sep 29, 2008
    United States of America
    :apple:High end iMac get the 1TB hard drive and you should be set!:apple: Use the other monitor for dual displays!
  3. VirtualRain macrumors 603


    Aug 1, 2008
    Vancouver, BC
    Interesting... I don't like the iMacs due to the built in screen. My monitors usually survive at least two generations of computer... however, looking at the pricing, it's pretty economical to buy an iMac even if you replace the screen with each major upgrade. Hmm... If you like the display in the iMac, I would go that route... seems to makes more sense given your workload.

    I would upgrade the graphics card... although it won't benefit you much now, it will when OpenCL is supported and will increase the resale value of either system for that reason.
  4. groovdudeyo macrumors regular


    Aug 16, 2008
  5. Plutonius macrumors 604


    Feb 22, 2003
    New Hampshire, USA
    Whatever you decide on, get the best video card you can.

    Also, it's cheaper to buy the smallest amount of RAM that Apple sells with the MAC. Then, buy what RAM you need from someone other then Apple and put the RAM in yourself.
  6. Tesselator macrumors 601


    Jan 9, 2008
    I think you've answered your own question quite nicely!

  7. Demosthenes X macrumors 68000

    Demosthenes X

    Oct 21, 2008
    iMac. Your needs don't demand or justify the cost or server-grade processors in a Mac Pro, nor does it sound like you need the expandability offered. I would go with the iMac - you should be very happy.

    If you do decide to go with the Pro, though, keep in mind that the new Pro uses tri-channel memory. So it likes matched triplets of RAM, i.e., 3GB, 6GB, 9GB, or 12GB... eight will work, but it won't give optimal performance. :)
  8. phpmike thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 8, 2009
    thanks for the tips.

    What are your opinions on the following two systems with regards to my needs:

    Mac Pro Quad Core:
    -6GB memory
    -Radeon HD 4870

    -4GB memory
    -Graphics: Radeon HD 4850
  9. Tallest Skil macrumors P6

    Tallest Skil

    Aug 13, 2006
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    Completely different CPUs.
    Completely different RAM.
    Completely different lines of GPU.

    But the iMac is what you need.
  10. Cynicalone macrumors 68040


    Jul 9, 2008
    Okie land
    I vote for the Mac Pro. You'll have expandability over the long run. With an iMac your stuck without realistic upgrade options. With the Pro when you start to beach ball to often you can always add more RAM as needed. With the iMac once you get to 8GB your are done. Also upgrading the graphics card(s) or adding a BR drive is only possible on a Pro. I love both of my iMac's but I ended up going the Pro route because of the lack of expandability.

    And yes I suppose that some here might have the technical know how to crack open an iMac and upgrade the guts of it. But again let's be realistic most people won't want to do that.
  11. bobfitz14 macrumors 65816


    Oct 14, 2008
  12. hugodrax macrumors 6502a

    Jul 15, 2007
    I would go the Mac Pro route. My 2006 quad 2.66 is still fast and running great.

    If you amortize the number of years your Mac Pro will provide good reliable service you will find it a better value.
  13. jons macrumors 6502

    Apr 24, 2008
    Sounds like you should go with a Mac Pro. VM's and running multiple apps will be much faster.
  14. Pika macrumors 68000


    Oct 5, 2008
  15. UltraNEO* macrumors 601


    Jun 16, 2007
    Another way to look at the problem...

    If you really need to ask... Then I'd say you don't really need the power of Server technology and any computer you buy today, regardless of how powerful it maybe will be outdated within six months because Intel has a policy to update, revise and introduce new improved versions of their existing platforms; thus smaller die, more efficient, less power etc...

    If your earning money with the system, then the Mac Pro would be the professionals choice, as over the course of ownership, you'll be making more investments into various expansions... mostly Memory and Storage.
  16. nightfly13 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 17, 2008
    Ranchi, India
    There aren't very many people that I would recommend a Mac Pro to vs a powerful iMac, but you are one of those people.

    The level of multiasking and heavy CPU load you'll have and memory demands all point to 'more is better' to avoid bottlenecks.

    Three factors that drove me to the Mac Pro are the ability to run more than 2 displays, video card upgradability, and insane retention of value for resale.
  17. Tesselator macrumors 601


    Jan 9, 2008
    WOW! 7 out of 7 say MacPro.

    I should say iMac just for fun. :D
  18. clyde2801 macrumors 601


    Mar 6, 2008
    In the land of no hills and red dirt.
    Either system would be a noticeable improvement over your original core duo macbook.

    If this is for business, look up some benchmarking for the new systems and compare it with your current one. Macworld and the like specifically compares systems for specific purposes, like doing common tasks in photoshop.

    Figure out how much your time is worth, and you can reduce it to a mathematical equation. Cost of machine divided by value of your time times increase in productivity. This should tell you how long it will take each system to pay for itself.

    That being said, it sounds like you're already wanting to buy a top end mac pro and max it out; I'd say you're just wanting us to justify your decision.

    2 gigs of memory is really insufficient to run windows xp in a vm. I use a couple of windows programs for work, and I could tell a noticeable difference going from 2 to 3 gigs in my white core2duo imac.

    And as for keeping up with technology, and not wanting to feel that whatever system is outdated in a year or two, that's an impossible task. Technology punks us all in the long run. Good luck with your decision.
  19. ZunePod macrumors regular

    Apr 1, 2009
    As lots have said, get the Mac Pro, when the time comes, you can upgrade the CPU, although this voids the warranty, by that time your warranty will be out anyway.

    Plus you can put in more GPUs and run SLi and Crossfire.
  20. Tallest Skil macrumors P6

    Tallest Skil

    Aug 13, 2006
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    Completely and utterly wrong.

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