MacPro vs iMac

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by selonimes, Jun 8, 2011.

  1. selonimes macrumors newbie

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    Jun 8, 2011
    #1
    First time poster...long time lurker here.

    I am a long time Apple lover...but a long time PC owner. For years I have wanted to buy a Mac...bought one for my wife but never for myself.

    Well that time is going to be this summer to buy a Mac. :D

    Coming from the PC world I just haven't jumped into to seeing how different hardware is when it comes to Mac. So I started digging around to try and get more information about the new iMac 2011 with the 2nd gen intel chips in there with a 6970M video card vs a 2010 MacPro and 5870 video card.

    What I really wanted to know was personal experience with members who have one or the other in terms of performance. Are the new iMacs faster than MacPros or vise versa and if so how and why?

    I also come from a PC gaming world so that has always been something I look towards in terms of raw power. As I continue to drift away from gaming, I want the availability to play games if want at high resolutions, yet have the ability to work on photo and perhaps video editing, as it is something that I have always been interested in.

    Having said that I know that a refresh could be coming for the MacPro. I know that Intel has the new xeon chips out there. Given the keynote recently, it seems that Apple might be moving away from the idea of a desktop but who knows when that really would be.

    One thing to note is that I do like the idea of being able to expand a little and the new iMacs are going to be rough to do that with, besides a RAM boost.

    Could anyone share there thoughts on what advantages there are with buying an iMac vs MacPro.

    Thanks again in advance and I am glad I finally took the time to post!
     
  2. philipma1957 macrumors 603

    philipma1957

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    Location:
    Howell, New Jersey
    #2
    imac you are stuck with the screen. = that can work for some
    mac pro you have a choice of many screens.


    imac if the internal osx hdd crashes it is off to the shop.
    mac pro if the osx hdd crashes about 30 seconds to slap in a cloned osx on a spare hdd.

    the imac is very tough to do upgrades


    if you have lurked the mac pro can get big upgrades diy style.

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1122551&highlight=


    this upgrade cost about $375 huge improvement in scores. 10000 to 15500
     
  3. ActionableMango macrumors 604

    ActionableMango

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    Sep 21, 2010
    #3
    1) For high resolution gaming you'll basically need a Mac Pro in order to take advantage of more powerful video cards. The mobile chip in the iMac is slower than the 5870.

    2) For casual photo and video editing, either machine is fine.

    3) You mention you like to expand. Definitely go with the Mac Pro then. Especially for the ability to upgrade to an even more powerful graphics card in the future.
     
  4. selonimes thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jun 8, 2011
    #4
    Based on this thread, which is what I was using for most of the PC based video cards it shows the 6970M is better than the 5870, although not by much of course.

    I also realize that those numbers are based on PC tests which could alter things.

    http://www.notebookcheck.net/Mobile-Graphics-Cards-Benchmark-List.844.0.html

    Would it be worth it then to see if there is a refresh for the MacPros or buy a 2010 version and upgrade it after the fact with the assumption that I could upgrade to the new architecture of the 2nd gen?
     
  5. ActionableMango macrumors 604

    ActionableMango

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    #5
    The tests you link to use a mobility 5870. The Mac Pro uses a real 5870 which is much, much faster than a mobility 5870 and also faster than the 6970M, which is also a mobility chip.
     
  6. akilone macrumors newbie

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    Feb 6, 2011
    #6
    I have similiar question. This year I will start studying 3d modeling and animation at college. That is reason why I need more powerful mac than my macbook pro. Is new iMac good for 3d animation ( zbrush, 3dstudio max on dual booted windows ...)?
     
  7. selonimes thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #7
    Loved your write up. I assume that Westmere will be supported, but not Sandy Bridge correct?
     
  8. selonimes, Jun 8, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2011

    selonimes thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #8
    Well darn...there goes that whole theory!! :eek:

    5870 is the highest at this moment that we could go correct until there is a refresh?

    Assuming that something like that happens...whats the chance that the new logic boards would fit in say a 2010 Pro case?

    I don't mind doing some work on my own. I actually have done that with my PC, but I am tired of crappy software...I just want... "It just works" as we hear so much from Jobs. :D

    Edit: I just realized that when AMD switched the numbering system that 5770 became 6770, and 5870 became 6870. I THINK that its pretty much the same. They may have switched architecture but I haven't been able to find that specific information.
     
  9. iBookG4user macrumors 604

    iBookG4user

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    #9
    Sometimes the GPU makers release a standalone graphics card that works in the Mac Pro, although it is rather rare.
     
  10. selonimes thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jun 8, 2011
    #10
    I do wish Thunderbolt were out though for MacPro...that I think knowing everything I know now would push me over the edge.

    Could there be a chance of an addon card in the PCI slot?
     
  11. selonimes thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #11
    I also notice that you can have 2 ATI 5770 card. I assume though they are independent and don't work in Crossfire correct?

    What would be the benefit then to have 2? Multiple screens for larger video projects where one card was doing work and the other other work?
     
  12. iBookG4user macrumors 604

    iBookG4user

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    #12
    Correct, they do not work in Crossfire. As far as benefits go, you can have more than three screens and that's about it. I'm running three screens right now and am considering getting a second GPU in my Mac Pro to add at least another one.
     
  13. ActionableMango macrumors 604

    ActionableMango

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    Sep 21, 2010
    #13
    Yes, 5870 is the highest official Apple card. It's no slouch by the way.

    I think it's really unlikely that the Sandy Bridge logic boards would fit in a 2010. I would expect a new case for Sandy Bridge Mac Pros.
     
  14. selonimes thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jun 8, 2011
    #14
    So the question really becomes is it going to be worth to wait for a refresh since I have waited this long anyway?

    With the Keynote specifically not being on Hardware you have to wonder when they are going to update the MacPro.

    Thoughts?
     
  15. derbothaus macrumors 601

    derbothaus

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    Jul 17, 2010
    #15
    Have you lurked over to the endless "When are they updating the Mac Pro" threads? Buckets of reiteration. Not until Intel releases the chips (Q4 2011 - Q1 2012).
     
  16. selonimes thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #16
    No I did not. The last thing I saw was that they were still waiting to get more specifics because they had already released some Sandy Bridge Xeon processors.

    I will however take another look over the buckets. :D
     
  17. philipma1957 macrumors 603

    philipma1957

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    #17
    Thank you it was a fun task for me to give back something to the mac forum.

    Yes If you buy a 2010 mac pro you could build the machine I did.

    Then when sandy bridge comes out your upgrade path has ended. At least cpu wise.

    It is a hard call for you not so much if you should get the imac vs mac pro. the call you need to make is wait for;

    a new mac pro,

    buy a quad 2.8 mac pro upgrade to hex or consider a dual quad 2.4 mac pro and upgrade cpus.


    someone did a great upgrade of a dual quad 2.4 to a dual hex 3.46 he got a great price on the processors and made a real killer machine. the pair of cpus cost 3300 list he paid under 1700! He built a dual hex 3.46 for about 4500 that is 1800 less then apples dual hex 2.93 he has scores over 28000!
     
  18. selonimes thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #18
    If they are coming out in Q4 '11 or later...I don't think I am going to wait that long to get one.

    Buying guide here says July however I know that is just a "guide" as to previous updates. I think that I will in the end go with an iMac 27inch upgrade to core i7, 2gb 6970m and add an SSD and call it a day.

    The only thing that stinks there is that its a 4-6 week wait right now for the SSD.
     
  19. TheAnalogue macrumors member

    TheAnalogue

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    #19
    From the list of software you use, I only use 3ds Max, but I also use a lot of other Autodesk Software for 3d modeling and digital prototyping. An iMac will run 3ds Max, but you will need to upgrade your RAM. it will also be slow. I would suggest looking into a Mac Pro, there is a huge performance increase. The 3.33 hex core, or any of the Dual Processor Configurations would give yo the best performance. the key is finding the right balance of Processor clock to the number of cores. many people on these forums including myself have concluded that the balance point is the 3.33 Hex.
     
  20. TheAnalogue macrumors member

    TheAnalogue

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    #20

    Buy the iMac without it, and upgrade it yourself, it will be faster and cost less
     
  21. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #21
    Matrox has announced one, and it will set you back $299 USD. :eek: Expensive for what it is (TB chip is ~$90 per in quantity, and there's not much else needed on a board).

    But unless you need to share high speed peripherals with a laptop or pull data off of a camera with a TB port, then it's not going to be of much use. Existing tech can work, and either be cheaper (i.e. eSATA) or be able to run faster by using more PCIe lanes = more bandwidth than TB can provide (i.e. proper hardware RAID system).

    Just a thought anyway. ;)

    As per the Sandy Bridge Mac Pros, they're going to be expensive I expect, as the parts are more complicated than current offerings (LGA2011 vs. LGA1366 which is the current socket used), and both Intel and Apple have been increasing their margins. Doesn't bode well on the MSRP of the new systems IMO.

    To give you an idea of how Apple's margins can affect matters, the base single processor model is ~$1k or so more than an equivalent model from another vendor (same Xeon CPU P/N's, not comparing to consumer grade systems that use i7 versions, though the technical differences = ECC is disabled by Intel; it's otherwise the same when comparing identical clocks <same socket = LGA1366>). :eek: Not that much different when you get to DP (Dual Processor) versions, but that may not be the system type you go for.

    As mentioned, the SP Hex core does offer a nice balance of both clock and cores. Memory is a bit more expensive to upgrade for SP systems if you need to use large capacity sticks (8GB or larger to meet your capacity requirements), but it's not impossible to get a lot of capacity should you need it.
     
  22. ActionableMango macrumors 604

    ActionableMango

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    Sep 21, 2010
    #22
    Selonimes,

    It sounds like you already have a working PC and don't actually need a new computer at the moment for work. If it's just a casual purchase, at this point I'd wait for a new MP even if it will be toward the end of the year. You'll probably get a newer case, faster video card, thunderbolt, sandy bridge, more memory, more hard drive space, and a potentially years-long upgrade path. Also, many of Lion's initial bugs will be sorted out by then.

    I'm just saying if you don't have a compelling reason to buy now, hang in there and get a Mac Pro that is substantially better in almost every way.
     
  23. selonimes thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jun 8, 2011
    #23
    Actually the main reason why I want to get a mac is that I get so many BSOD and have tried so many things that I just want the damn thing to work when I turn it on. :D

    This is why though I was thinking about getting an iMac vs MacPro. Probably I will just get the iMac. Its an upgrade in terms of performance from what I have at stock. I would be going from AMD Phenom 965 to core i7, ATI 5770 to the 6970 mobile, which is an upgrade as well, and software that is just so much better.

    It seems like a no brainer to me. I was just interesting at the thought of a MacPro for tinkering purposes since I already have a home built.

    Part of the fun was building it...but the after BSOD madness is just insane.
     
  24. Unfair macrumors member

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    Nov 21, 2007
    #24
    I was in the exact same position as the OP a few years ago. But budget forced me into an iMac at the time. I have to say, while for a few generations of iMac I did enjoy the system, it had always been a goal to get a Mac Pro.

    I could never justify the expense. Last year, right after the 2010 Mac Pros came out, I sold my iMac and went for a Quad Core 2009 Mac Pro w/ 5870 and 16GB of RAM and I have never been happier with a computer.

    I game on it, I work on it. It does it all and has been perfectly awesome.

    While the iMacs are great machines (if you can get over the glossy screens, which gave me massive headaches..) the Mac Pro, even a generation behind, is totally worth it.
     
  25. akilone macrumors newbie

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    Feb 6, 2011
    #25
    Does that mean 3d studio max and other 3 d modeling software use just cpu power? What is with gpu? What monitor do you use with mac pro?
     

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