MacPro 5,1 vs new iMac

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Christoffee, Aug 28, 2018.

  1. Christoffee macrumors 6502


    Jul 26, 2012
    Hello everyone

    This is a hypothetical question, which I hope those with lots more knowledge than me won’t mind giving me some thoughts on.

    I recently came across these guys selling used Mac Pros built to order.

    If I were in the market for a new Mac and had £2k to spend, would I be better off with a new iMac or one of these? Hypothetically.
  2. pl1984 Suspended

    Oct 31, 2017
    This really depends on the use case. We'd need a hypothetical use case to help provide guidance.
  3. BillyBobBongo macrumors 68020


    Jun 21, 2007
    On The Interweb Thingy!
    #3 would be much cheaper to buy a Mac Pro 5,1 (2nd hand) and upgrade it yourself! :p
  4. Christoffee thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jul 26, 2012
    For sure. I suppose what I was wondering about was if there were any cons.

    When would a new iMac be better? Being dropped from the macOS upgrades is possible with an older machine.
    --- Post Merged, Aug 28, 2018 ---
    Hypothetically, the OP might be a numpty that’s never built a PC before! :oops:
  5. bsbeamer macrumors 68020

    Sep 19, 2012
    Do you have a monitor already?
    What applications are you mainly using the Mac for?
    Does it need to be on 24/7?
  6. Kris Kelvin macrumors regular

    Dec 28, 2005
    If you need a Retina display or want a system that's simple (no tinkering required, few cables etc.), go for an iMac 5K.

    If you are running software that can utilize lots of cores and you like doing hardware upgrades yourself, get a MacPro5,1 but expect it to be unsupported when macOS 10.15 arrives.
  7. pl1984 Suspended

    Oct 31, 2017
    You're going to have to be a lot more specific. For example when you say you're wondering if there were any cons...cons to what? The Mac Pro, the iMac, both?

    If you're referring to the current iMac (not the iMac Pro) then there are a number of advantages. Single processor (and multi-threaded up to a certain point) is better. It has faster I/O ports. It has the ability to use, and boot, from NVMe SSD. I'm sure there are additional benefits but that should be a good start.
  8. Squuiid macrumors 65816


    Oct 31, 2006
    Well put. This is the bit I’d be wary about. It is indeed highly unlikely that the next macOS after Mojave will be supported.
    If you have the funds for a 5K iMac then I’d personally go for that. It’ll last you a LOT longer than a 5,1.
  9. jscipione macrumors regular


    Mar 27, 2017
    iMac: quad core i7, Mac Pro: 12 core Xeon
    iMac: up to 64GB DDR4 RAM, Mac Pro: up to 128GB DDR3 ECC RAM
    iMac: 1 NVMe SSD or hybrid, Mac Pro: up to 4 3.5" hard drive or SSDs + PCIe SSDs
    iMac: 0 optical drives, Mac Pro: 2 optical drives
    iMac: Radeon Pro 580, Mac Pro: many options including Radeon RX 580/Vega 64/Geforce 1080 Ti/Titan V
    iMac: good selection of ports, Mac Pro: expansion using PCIe USB3, eSATA, 10G ethernet, built in ports are USB2
    iMac: nice 5k monitor, Mac Pro: whatever monitor(s) you want

    iMac is good if you want decently powerful all-in-one desktop with a bunch of ports, Mac Pro if you want anything else.
  10. barmann macrumors 6502a

    Oct 25, 2010
    Well, I'd still be running Snow Leopard on my cMP if it wasn't for a few apps I need a later OS for .
    Mavericks is still running fine here, lasting well so far .
  11. h9826790 macrumors G5


    Apr 3, 2014
    Hong Kong
    I upgrade the OS mainly for the new GPU support
  12. Squuiid macrumors 65816


    Oct 31, 2006
    That’s rather naive IMO. Snow Leopard is a security swiss cheese, full of holes. If the box is in any way connected to the internet it is extremely vulnerable and rather trivial to compromise.
  13. macpro51 macrumors newbie

    Aug 31, 2018
    Hello Christoffee,

    I will share my experience with my purchase of a Mac Pro 5,1 from ipower resellers: I received the computer almost two years ago. It worked fine for a little over a year. Now it has been endless trouble. I am pretty much given up on it and am trying to decide what to do with it. The symptoms it has mostly it will not startup and run reliably. When I can get it to start it may run for a hour or so, but then it will turn itself off. I have tried resetting the SMC/PRAM numerous times. Tearing the computer down to almost bare bones and making sure every thing is clean and seated. Different video cards etc,. Pretty much everything that you can read on apple discussions and sites like this I have tried. I have talked to two apple stores genius bar and apple repair. They have told me they cannot repair because they cannot get parts and the computer is too old. All the diagnostics I ran say the machine is OK, but it still wont run.

    Now here is some impressions about the machine itself.

    When I received it, it was in wonderful condition. In fact it looked new. If had to do over I would have ordered the machine exactly how I wanted it with the ram, video card, and other options the way I wanted, assembled and tested, and I would have also bought the maximum extended warranty.

    As an aside, I had a 2009 mac pro at work and it was solid as a rock. The only problems that I had was the Apple Raid card was POS and needed to be replaced with an attotech card. I also had trouble with finding drives that would not burn up inside because of the poor drive cooling. The case was not capable of cooling drives that ran hot. Once I fixed these problems it ran all day long without trouble. That was one reason I bought a mac pro for home use.

    Back to the Mac Pro 5,1. The current OS installed is the latest high Sierra with all patches and updates.

    Some observations: The hardware is PCIE gen 2. There is no built in USB 3. There are some USB 3 cards that work fine, however. The Apple flashed video cards available are extremely expensive. The PSU is not capable of powering many new video cards, though it seems it should. The PCI Aux connectors carry 75 watt max each. If you want to use an SSD, you have to get an special bracket to convert.

    Many of these issues may not be important to you depending on your needs.

    My biggest gripe is the Apple SMC chip, who's inner workings are a mystery held by Apple. It turns of the computer without warning and the user is left to guess why as it leaves no error message. All the solutions are to basically "throw parts at the problem" until you find a combination that works.

    I hope my griping may help others decide.

  14. mikas, Aug 31, 2018
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2018

    mikas macrumors regular


    Sep 14, 2017
    I use both of these machines allmost every day. I can't say which is the better one. I like Mac Pro better 'cause I can fiddle with it, upgrade and change the dispaly/screen at will. And it's a little bit more powerful in some of my use cases, with these pretty old processors (dual X5680 processor model) oddly enough. iMac has got a beautiful 5K screen. It's gorgeous. iMac is powerful enough for everyday serious work. But it's upped to it's max allready: 64GB RAM and 1TB Flash SSD. Radeon Pro 8GB. Nothing to upgrade anymore. I don't expect it to last in use something like 8-9 years. This Mac Pro though have lasted it allready. And it will go on a couple of years still.

    I would get a iMac, if it was for normal work use, and if your timeframe of use would be more than a year or two. cMP (aka old Mac Pro), is gonna be unsupported next year by Apple. iMac will be supported.

    If you want more options to consider, just go Win-PC.
  15. Mark Holmes macrumors member

    Mark Holmes

    Sep 22, 2010
    San Diego CA
    I have both sitting in my office. The Mac Pro is gathering dust while I use the mid range i5 iMac to edit multicam 4k every day. Get the new iMac.
  16. namethisfile macrumors 65816


    Jan 17, 2008
    The cMP 5,1 can be cheaper. If, you want cheap now, I don't care about 2019 and future MacOS's and whether Apple will continue to support the cMP 5,1's... then, yeah, a cMP can be cheaper with "equivalent" power as current i7 iMacs. But, the current 27" iMacs are more power efficient, has a great screen already, comes with KB and mouse and has Thunderbolt 3, which is more flexible than PCIe, IMO. And, maybe TB3 is more expensive than just getting a GPU because one has to also get a TB3 eGPU enclosure. But, a TB3 eGPU enclosure in and of itself will give the user more flexibility down the road.... You will also get two GPU's to work with once you get a TB3 eGPU (the dGPU in the iMac and the eGPU).... which has been known to work in Davinci and perhaps, FCP X in future updates will be better at it...

    I think eGPU's are more flexible because it's been known that one can connect two TB3 eGPU's in an iMac and basically have 3 GPU's to work with, where apps like Davinci can already leverage... And eGPU's are more flexible because you can use them with laptops, if, one would, say, get a TB3-equipped laptop down the road...

    And, there is also something to say about how much easier a 27" iMac is to deal with, like, moving it around your room than the heavy cMP 5,1... even though it has handles, it needs deskspace or floorspace... with an iMac, since it's an AIO, it is easier in this way...

    just my 2 cents... might have been 5....
  17. Matty_TypeR macrumors regular


    Oct 1, 2016
    iMac's are ok, but remember they are all in one systems, although they offer thunder bolts 3 and eGPU's they also have there own faults like over heating under load for long periods, and the screens also have some issues with back lighting and yellowing. the Mac Pro 5.1 might be older tech, but they are still the work horse and built to last. and with apple supporting them with Mojave and new GPU offering like the RX-580 they still have a lot to offer.

    but ultimately the choice is yours of course!
  18. kohlson macrumors 68000

    Apr 23, 2010
    Consider that both FCPX and CC Premiere Pro demand relatively recent versions of macOS. For the latest versions of these apps, FCPX wants 10.13.x, and CC PP just announced that the next release will need 10.12.x or later. I expect this "trend" to continue.
  19. bsbeamer macrumors 68020

    Sep 19, 2012
    Adobe is always 1-2 OS releases behind max for the recommended. Some applications can get away with older versions, but support is not guaranteed without issues.

    FCPX generally wants OS version at the time of the latest software release. Updating beyond that occasionally creates a hiccup until the software point update is released.

    If you need 3+ years of updates out of this machine, it's hard to recommend a MacPro4,1/5,1.
  20. namethisfile macrumors 65816


    Jan 17, 2008
    The backlighting and yellowing is an issue with any screen, whether they are part of an AIO or a separate display... In that case, you'd be covered under the warranty.

    As to overheating under load in prolong durations... where is your source for this?

    I have a mid-2007 iMac and I know they're not the current iMacs and are thicker. But, they don't overheat under load in prolong durations.... Nothing happens... except the chassis on top does get warm... But, that's normal...
  21. edgerider macrumors regular


    Apr 30, 2018
    no, no and no.... get a boosted cMP.
    All the hardware you buy for upgrading it will either comme handy in your next machine, or in 2 years, you will be able to still use a twin x5690 with 128gb of ram to run a 100$ 10gbe card and a raid array and voila, your old machine will be an awsome new fileserver.
    no qnap/sinology or other nas can compeat with that.
  22. kschendel macrumors 65816

    Dec 9, 2014
    It's probably easiest to list the situations where I'd prefer the Mac Pro (and I'll assume that the cMP already has a Westmere upgrade and probably at least one SSD):
    - if I want to use it to fiddle and learn;
    - if I need to run long (like days long) jobs of some sort that aren't CPU bound;
    - if the work I do is very I/O intensive;
    - if I need more memory or storage than I can get with the iMac;
    - if I have some sort of exotic PCIe card that I need to use for my work;
    - if I have other cMP's and need another for whatever reason;
    - if I needed the extra protection from errors by running with ECC memory.

    and that's about all I can think of. The cMP is a fantastic machine but the arthritis is really starting to set in, I'm afraid. I just retired mine from everyday service. (It's going to live on in a lesser role as a Hadoop namenode.)
  23. kohlson macrumors 68000

    Apr 23, 2010
    I think something to keep in mind is that the cMPs are very energy inefficient compared to more recent systems. IIRC sleep mode consumes 30+ watts, and power-on idle is 180-190 watts. Now that SSDs are more affordable, the boot time of less than a minute (compared to 2-3 minutes for HDD) helps. But still...
  24. Matty_TypeR macrumors regular


    Oct 1, 2016
    Having owned the iMac 5k maxed out i7 cpu and radeon GFX I can tell you heat is an issue when you push it, even the new iMac Pro's people have reported heat up issues. a work horse they were not designed for, casual work and the odd home project they can work well. and the yellowing of the bottom of the screen is well reported, and if it doesn't happen under apple care after that its an expensive repair, with a Mac Pro you can buy another screen a lot cheaper.

    As for the Mac Pro, can you drop an RX580 8G Gfx card in, or Vega with a few Mods? the iMac you can't just upgrade a few years down the line like a Mac Pro 5.1 yes the iMac has T bolt and you can use external GFX cards but this guy has 2k to spend not 4k+ if his budget was no limit then an iMac Pro maxed out with external Vega GFX would be a recommendation to consider. all in all the Mac Pro 5.1 has some upgrade paths to include Nvme drives if you want with some help from forum members here with boot rom's. I expect the new Mac Pro 7.1 will out perform them all, but at what price? 7k plus or a lot more.

    Mac Pro 5.1
    duel 3.46g CPU's
    48G ram to 196G
    GX580 8g GFX
    Pcie angel wings PC1
    500G Nvme drive
    USB 3 card if needed.

    and can be had for under 2k to me this offers the best bang for buck! but if an all in one is what's required then an iMac to the highest spec you can get for 2k is the way forward.
  25. h9826790 macrumors G5


    Apr 3, 2014
    Hong Kong
    More precise

    - if I need to run long (like days long) jobs of some sort that aren't CPU single thread performance bound;

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