new iMac good enough to replace a Mac Pro?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by mrwibble, May 3, 2013.

  1. mrwibble macrumors newbie

    mrwibble

    Joined:
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    Paddy's Bar
    #1
    Hello Folks,

    Been reading the forums for maybe a year hoping for news on the new Mac Pro. I'm still using a Mac Pro 1,1, but it's been a great computer and served me well. Gone on and bought a Macbook, mini, iPad, iPhone and more since, so I'm just a little confused that Apple don't even sell the Mac Pros here anymore. Got to wonder what their devs are using to design the new products.

    Anyways, how much could an iMac (27", i7, 16Gb, 1TB fusion, 680mx) handle? Could I run this a good 14 hours a day with an extra 30" cinema display and a smaller 24 or 27" display without anything melting? I'm not doing graphics or video (although I wouldn't mind playing the odd game if things are slow), mostly using parallels to run a virtual machine, and development applications. I'm using multiple graphics cards now, so my fear is that the iMac would just overheat or get very noisy trying to stay cool.

    Also, with it being only 4 cores, would running so many applications, virtual machines etc actually slow the iMac down so much that there's little or no performance increase over the old Mac Pro?

    Any thoughts or guidance will be appreciated.
     
  2. designs216 macrumors 65816

    designs216

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    #2
    IMO, there is no substitute for the Mac Pro. It's designed to be driven hard all day and also expand to have years and years of useful life. Though it might be tempting to purchase the iMac since it is available now, I would stick with what you have and wait for the refresh of both the MP and ACD/TBD.
     
  3. Macsonic macrumors 65816

    Macsonic

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2009
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    Earth
    #3
    Hi mrwibble. For stability and expansion I prefer a Mac Pro for long hours of heavy tasks. I've also used iMacs in the past and it's a good computer too though my problems with iMacs is the screen tends to develop dark spots/smudges at the corners i guess this may be due to heat buildup, dust and architecture design. If you can get a 4,1 or 5,1 Mac Pro you will notice a difference from your 1,1.
     
  4. Porco macrumors 68030

    Porco

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2005
    #4
    If you didn't know, this is why:

    http://www.macrumors.com/2013/01/31...fective-march-1-over-regulatory-requirements/

    Very silly.

    To answer your question, I think it just depends on how urgently you need the new machine. Tim Cook did say there would be something for Pro Mac users this year, but not exactly when. So if you can wait, I would wait.

    Apple will still sell refurbs in the EU I think, so that's another option, but at this point I think even a discounted refurb Mac Pro is pretty expensive for its age.
     
  5. CaptHenryMorgan macrumors regular

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    Apr 27, 2013
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    The District
    #5
    Disagree on every level. My iMac has a 512GB SSD and a 7200RPM 4TB drive in it. Thunderbolt negates any need for the Mac Pro's internal 3Gb SATA. The GPU is more than adequate (better than the stock 5770 or 5870 in the Mac Pro anyway). And 32GB RAM in my iMac.

    I edit 12 hours a day on my 3.4Ghz iMac at a professional broadcast level, and so do a LOT of animation, motion graphics and video editors I work with. Not problems at all. Running off internal drives for scratch and archive to thunderbolt. Even edit off Thunderbolt occasionally.

    That's not to say I won't buy a new Mac Pro if it includes Thunderbolt and 6Gbps SATA, but the current Mac Pro is a waste of money compared to today's iMacs unless you are seriously crunching 3D modeling, hardcore animations, or other processes that utilize more than 4 cores/8 threads.

    Simply put, the Mac Pro is waste of today's money for 3 year old tech. You're better off buying an iMac now if you need it, then selling it if a new Mac Pro comes out. Better performance, more up-to-date tech, etc.

    Source: I owned a 2010 8-Core Mac Pro, and sold it for my current iMac. Couldn't be happier.
     
  6. jeffhayford macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2007
    #6
    I too have maxed out my 3.4 Ghz iMac with a Crucial 512 GB SSD, 4 TB HD and 32 GB of RAM and I'm still hitting a ceiling when I edit. I think the heat dissipation on the iMac is a little poorly designed. Several times I've felt the top and it's very hot especially under heavy renders.

    There really isn't any beating the dual processors of the Mac Pro's. Two is simply better than one no matter how many cores and hyperthreading you pack on.

    All that being said I agree the current Mac Pro's are a waste of money given the technology the have. I've been holding out 5+ years for a new Mac Pro and I'm not about to give up yet!

    What if we all just started flooding their inboxes with requests for a new Mac Pro, what would it take to make it happen?
     
  7. CaptHenryMorgan macrumors regular

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    #7
    You really need to run smcFanControl. My iMac never gets more than warm under heavy renders. Also, as I said in my post, it depends on the software you're using. If you're using Adobe, then yes, the more cores, the better. But if you're using Final Cut Pro 7, or any other apps that aren't multi-core aware, then those extra cores are simply a waste and you're better off with sheer speed over cores.
     
  8. designs216 macrumors 65816

    designs216

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    #8
    I advised purchasing after the refresh but missed the OP's implication that he lives in the EU. So the Mac Pro is out of the question and any discussion is moot.
     
  9. theluggage macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2011
    #9
    Dunno about the rest of the EU but here in the UK there seem to be places with plenty of Mac Pros in stock (e.g. Jigsaw24). I'd suspect that the reason that Apple didn't fix the EU compliance issues is that they had enough already in the supply chain to last until the promised shiny new Pro appears.

    As you're not doing video or graphics, I doubt that you'll tax a quad-core i7 too much provided you've got plenty of RAM (and the iMac can go up to 32GB). I doubt it would be a downgrade from a Mac Pro 1.1 (a newer model, maybe).

    Also, don't underestimate the effect of switching to SSD (or fusion) storage for your system drive. People obsess about the peak transfer rate of SSD but the real gain is the dramatically reduced seek time: if you have multiple applications accessing files, or if memory runs low and you start paging, a SSD really is a rocket up the backside.

    I think the downside is going to be the "multiple graphics cards" thing - presumably you're driving 3+ screens since you say you're not doing graphics/gaming. I don't think you can add more than 1 DVI/DisplayPort screen or 2x Apple Thunderbolt displays to an iMac.

    If you can live with the fact that the Mac Pro 1.1 won't run Mountain Lion, I'd suggest trying a SSD as your system drive to squeeze another year out of it, and see what Apple's new Pro offering is going to be (or, failing that, how much SSD you can affordably have in an iMac in a years time: one thing putting me off the sealed iMac is that you won't easily be able to chuck in a 1TB SSD when they become affordable).
     
  10. CaptHenryMorgan macrumors regular

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    #10
    The discussion is certainly not moot. Someone else may find this thread in the future whose country may have plenty of Mac Pros in stock. :rolleyes:
     
  11. mrwibble thread starter macrumors newbie

    mrwibble

    Joined:
    May 3, 2013
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    Paddy's Bar
    #11
    Thanks for the replies folks.

    I had thought about just adding extra RAM and an SSD (I dismissed upgrading processors), that seems simple enough. I'm already using a newer HDD and the 5770. However, I'm wondering if an iMac would offer over a huge performance boost and last 2 or 3 years (or 1 year and trade-in for a new Mac Pro).

    I've looked at the cost of a PC with the same i7 chip or the 8-core AMD, cheap as chips, but I don't have much confidence in Mackintosh or Windows.

    I have no Thunderbolt displays, not really necessary for me, I just want to be able to view as many lines of code as possible and run tests on VMs. The Apple store seemed to think an iMac could power two large displays in addition to it's own 27" (I mentioned I'm using a 30" cinema display which pre-dates thunderbolt), but is the 680mx really good enough?
     
  12. CaptHenryMorgan macrumors regular

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    #12
    Unless you're trying to game on 3 displays, then yes, the 680 is more than adequate.
     

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