New iMac or Mac Pro?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by TheMainOne, May 22, 2015.

  1. TheMainOne macrumors newbie

    Dec 21, 2014
    Struggling with which way to go here.

    Currently I have an late 2011 iMac. Connected to it are two thunderbolt drives and two firewire drives (daisy chained). 32 gigs RAM.

    My two thunderbolt drives give my iMac problems. The computer crashes because of them. OWC has done a lot of diagnositics and while not conclusive, they believe that it is probable that the Thunderbolt port(s) are having issues.

    I've gotten good use out of this computer, so it's time to hand it down and get something new.

    Most of my work is writing and researching, on one hand and music on the other. I do a lot of vocal recording and now doing a lot with music creation, using a good number of VST's and mixing.

    The idea of the nMP appeals to me due to all the connecions (6 TB ports that are twice as fast as my iMac has) and 4 USB 3 ports.

    In comparison, the new 5k iMac only has 2 TB ports. I could daisy chain my
    TB drives leaving one port open. But, no further expansion.

    I'm a bit nervous that if I buy the nMP now, I will be buying right before a refresh.

    But if I buy the nMP it will be the 6 core model with 64 gigs RAM.

    So, what say you? Which would be the best way to go for my needs? And for a bit of future expansion?

  2. Macsonic macrumors 65816


    Sep 6, 2009
    It may depend on your needs as both the 5k iMac and New Mac Pro have their pros and cons. The new Mac Pro will run cooler and you can choose your own monitor. The 5k iMac is just as fast as the new Mac Pro at a lower cost and you get 5k resolution.

    Keep in mind the 6 Thunderbolt ports of the new Mac Pro has its own limitations. Your monitor and external HDs need to be in connected in separate buses. You can't mix them on the same TB bus.

    Here is a guy who owns both the 5k iMac and the new Mac Pro. He performed real time tests mostly 4k video edits. Several tests the 5k iMac was faster.

    Probably later on you are able to decide which of the 2 machines after further researches. Good luck.
  3. TheMainOne thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 21, 2014
    Interesting video.

    Since I don't do any video editing, and since that video is done primarily by a video editor, it seems that might reduce the value of the 5k iMac.

    In addition, I don't really need a 5k screen. Sure, it would be nice, but not something that is important to me.

    What I am interested in is audio applications. I'm running mainly Audition and Ableton Live along with Omnisphere 2 and the other Spectrasonics programs. Also bought an Akai pro Advance keyboard (not here yet) and it has a program called VIP which can be rather processor and RAM hungry depending how many VST's are being used.

    Also, I hate a noisy computer. So that would further lean me towards the nMP.

    Any musicians have any thoughts on this? Is 6 cores enough?

    Seems to me that 6 cores would be good along with 64 gigs of RAM.

    Is there more I should be considering?
  4. TheMainOne thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 21, 2014
    And would I find benefit from the upgraded video cards in the nMP? Or are the D500's enough?

    Not sure if music uses the processing power of the video cards. That sounds dumb on it's face lol - but somewhere I remember that certain types of processing use the power of the video cards too.
  5. td2243 macrumors 6502

    Mar 14, 2013
    Santa Fe, NM
  6. rei101 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 24, 2011
    I have been in the same dilema and I do music as a hobbie. I have a 15" mac book pro fully optimized that is running Logic just fine with the REV and Signal plugins from Output.

    I am selling my 2012 iMac as well.

    If you are not in a rush since I am not, I would wait a few months for the new mac pro update or the iMac refresh.

    I use one monitor but I would like to use more than one because I like to have the plug ins open. I can do that with the iMac.

    I really like the 5K iMac, better than the nMP because is efficient and way cheaper.

    As you may be doing some more extensive processing and if you can afford the nMP... go for it. It is like pulling a band-aid, it will hurts when paying but then have fun.
  7. MMcCraryNJ macrumors 6502

    Oct 18, 2012
    The iMac is faster on paper, but the throttling constraints will mean that the Mac Pro will keep its turbo and base frequencies up for a lot longer, especially when you're doing multicore stuff.

    Also, if you're into Logic, or plan to use Logic at some point, it uses the dual GPUs for extra processing to run plug-ins.

    I have a 6-core Mac Pro with the D500s and use Pro Tools 11 and Logic Pro X, and I've not yet run into a session it could not handle.

    Not to mention, that the Mac Pro is virtually silent, whereas the iMac will be more noisy. Could be a factor in your decision if you're doing mixing/mastering/post work, or plan to track in the same room.

    But yes, I'd wait at least another couple of weeks to see what Apple reveals (or doesn't) at WWDC.
  8. TheMainOne thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 21, 2014
    Is a refresh expected soon as far as anyone believes?

    Sure wouldn't hurt to wait a few weeks, that's for sure.

    Silence is important to me. I have Audeze LCD-X headphones which are an open design so I can easily hear anything in the room. Fans spinning up loudly would not make me happy.

    Since Logic uses the GPU's for added processing power, it would probably be good to get the higher D700's then I imagine.

    The iMac is a lot cheaper but I'm thinking the quieter nMP would be the way to go for me. It sure is more expensive.
  9. maplingstorie macrumors 6502

    Jan 25, 2009
    6 cores is enough.. you will only benefit 12 cores if you use hundreds of tracks. But bear mind, higher clock speed will allow more plugins on a single track. I kinda regret going for the 12 cores because my plugins are power hungry (EWQL, Spire, Spectrasonics). Having about 20 EWQL each with Ableton's EQ8 has already cause crackling sounds at 512mb buffer playback in Ableton with 30-40%. CPU couldn't keep up. DAWs apparently aren't fully optimized for 12 cores. They do work but your cpu will never hit 2400% (like encoding videos) because of the DAWs audio processor.

    Logic does not use GPU for added processing. It can but that's up to Apple. And also the machine is extremely silent. That's the main factor why I kept the nMP.
  10. TheMainOne thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 21, 2014
    That is super helpful. I really appreciate your thoughts here.

    I like the idea of 6 cores because of the faster clock speed. And I am not using hundreds of tracks. Spectrasonics do use some memory, so was thinking of going for the OWC 64 gigs of memory for $700.

    Also, OWC offers an internal SSD replacement of either 1 or 2 TB. The upgrade to 1 TB through Apple is $800. Through OWC it's $900. The 2 TB is $1480. The 2 TB may be a bit much money wise. But the 1 TB through Apple seems like a decent deal.

    Can I ask what size drive you are using inside?

    And what kind and size of drives are you using for your VST's? Are you using thunderbolt drives?

    Would you recommend the upgraded D700 video cards or are the regular ones enough?
  11. MRrainer, May 23, 2015
    Last edited: May 23, 2015

    MRrainer macrumors 65816

    Aug 8, 2008
    Zurich, Switzerland
    The next "logical" upgrade to the MacPro would be when Intel releases single-socket Xeons for the upcoming "Skylake" platform.
    Various rumor-sites suggest, this might happen sometime in H2/2015.

    (edit: it seems it might take a lot longer before the "right" Xeons based on the Skylake-platform actually appear. See this thread:

    I therefor wouldn't expect a newer MacPro before Christmas 2015.

    And no announcement at WWDC.
    Last time, they had already killed the old product and as such there was no need for secrecy.
  12. th0masp macrumors regular

    Mar 16, 2015
    woah, these temperatures would worry me on the imac. :eek: heating up and cooling down all the time will surely not be easy on the hardware over time. and then the fan noise.
    easiest decision ever between those two, assuming the mac pro fits the budget. :)
  13. TheMainOne thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 21, 2014
    Well I don't want to wait till end of the year or 2016. Hopefully the nMP will be upgradeable.
  14. buster84 macrumors 6502

    Oct 7, 2013
    I have a 2013 Imac, fully decked out 3.5 I7 ect... I also have two mac pro desktops that i bought used on ebay and upgraded to 12 Core's. The purchase choice is yours but ask your self these questions when deciding on a computer

    1) What are you using it for?

    2) Do have extra space for a Big Desktop, or a Small Desktop?

    3) Do i want to a Computer that only has 1 cord (iMac).

    4) Do i plan to expand the computer (Lots of Disk Drives ect Externals cause a lot of clutter).

    5) Do i need the best Top of the line computer?

    6) Do i ever plan to upgrade my monitor, or does the idea of the monitor being apart of your computer bother you?

    7) If i bought a Used computer and saved thousands by doing so could that money be better used for something more important (software, The wife or in my case upgraded turbos for my car lol)

    Once After you ask yourself that then you can decided what to do. I wanted the new Mac Pro back at the end of 2013 but instead I settled on the 27" iMac. I love my iMac and even though its not retina it still has wonderful screen. I do some video editing and photoshop on the side (hobby) and play some computer games and the iMac has been enough for me.

    Then my wife decided that she wanted a Mac for her self so i bought an 8 core 2009 model and upgraded it to a 12 core x5670 beast. I have read that the 12 core x5690's are faster or just as fast than the new 6 core Mac Pros. I then bought 1 more 8 core 2009 desktops since i got it for an unbelievable price and i upgraded that to a 12 core x5650 and I'm using that as my server since Xenon's are really good for being on 24/7. Then i threw in 6 WD Reds into the mac pro.

    The big question is what will you use it for and how much space do you have... Or maybe you'd prefer to just save the cash and buy something else (espresso machine, new tires, bills) and you have the extra space.

    The cMP's can be had for cheap on Ebay For Example, this one. What ever you choice I'm sure you'll be happy.
  15. TheMainOne thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 21, 2014
    Thanks @Buster84.

    I posted what I will be using this for and why in the original post starting off this thread.

    The older Mac Pro's won't work for me since I have TB drives and want to take advantage of them.

    The heat and noise of the 5k iMac immediately caused me to eliminate that as an option, once I found out about those issues through someone responding here. I live in a hot and humid climate so that would compound things for me.

    Now I'm looking at how to configure the nMP etc.
  16. MMcCraryNJ macrumors 6502

    Oct 18, 2012
    As far as the PCIe SSD goes, there's a private seller on Amazon US that sells the 1 TB module for $650. I got mine from him (I bought the stock 6-core model, and then the SSD from him). It's brand new, not pulled from a machine. It has the heatsink/heat shield on it (you'll notice that Apple uses a black heatsink on the SSD in the nMP, but not in any of the rMBPs or iMacs...these would work in the nMP, as they are the same part, but it's nice to get an authentic part as configured by Apple).

    You need to keep checking it every few days. He usually gets 3 or 4 every couple of weeks, and they sell fairly quickly. It's $650 and no tax. Makes it an awesome deal.

    I'd stay away from those OWC SSDs. They are way overpriced, first and foremost. They don't employ native TRIM support in OS X (but they'll gladly tell you that it doesn't matter to make a sale). They are way slower than the Apple SSDS (they only use PCIe x2, not x4). And they require you to hook into additional power connectors on the GPU...which seems ill advised to me.

    For me personally, outside of the heat/throttling/noise concerns with the Retina iMac, the ability to use any display I wanted was a big factor. I purchased an LG 34UM95 ultrawide, which is absolutely amazing for DAWs in terms of the amount of real estate you get.

    Attached Files:

  17. dor macrumors member


    Mar 14, 2015
    Mac Pro is the way to go, but I would wait until WWDC just in case they might refresh it.
  18. maplingstorie macrumors 6502

    Jan 25, 2009
    I'm using the 1TB one for the rMBP. my nMP initially came with 256gb but I found a seller in eBay who sold me a rmbp 1tb ssd for $600. I have all my VSTs and sample libraries in my 1tb (400GB+ EWQL, 80+GB spectrasonics, 200+GB NI Komplete 9 U) with 200+gb left of SSD space. If I'm not mistaken, the 2TB OWC SSD offers is half the performance speed compared to 1TB. So, money wise i don't think it's really worth to pay so much for double the storage and half of the performance.

    Regarding the GPU, it is your decision but my opinion is if you just want to run DAWs, casual video, photo editing, I would choose the D300 to save money. And definitely get 32GB or 64GB if you plan to open many apps while loading samples. I had to close apps due to my 16GB ram else i'd get a lot of annoying prompts and crashes
  19. th0masp macrumors regular

    Mar 16, 2015
    3.5 ghz 6-core CPU would be my choice. clockspeed matters more than number of cores for the majority of use cases and many programs are not quite parallelized enough to really utilize all cores but in this case the larger cache and negligible difference in clockspeed to the quad-core makes the 6-core the best option IMO.
    if your work requires heavy processing once in a while then the two extra cores should make a decent difference or at least help keep the system more responsive overall.

    memory - how much do you really need right now? looks like you can upgrade at any point down the road so if you'd like to keep costs down now this would seem like a decent spot to do it. 16 or 32GB for a start? no idea about the requirements of music making but in my field 32 is currently plenty even for heavy CGI work. many make do with substantially less without problems. a lot of software does not really utilize tons of memory.

    internal storage - if your work files are kept external, even the 256 GB option might suffice. enough to house several OSX installations should you require that. i'd prefer 512 GB to be on the safe side.

    graphics - does not sound like you'd require lots of graphics power and texture memory. plus even the smallest option should be really potent to drive a bunch of monitors, so take your pick. i'd probably go for the D500 to leave a bit of headroom.
  20. TheMainOne thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 21, 2014
    Those are some really good ideas overall.

    Thanks, @MMcCraryNJ for the tip on the OWC SSD. I will definitely go with the Apple 1 TB SSD.

    As to where to buy RAM, is OWC ok for that? Or do you recommend something different as well?

    One thing that I wonder about is my late 2011 iMac has a 3.4 4 core i7 processor. The nMP that I am considering has a 3.5 6 core xeon processor. So I guess I won't really notice any speed difference using normal programs. Is that about right? I might see some difference processing a good number of tracks in Live with a bunch of VST's open though, if I'm understanding this right.

    I have a 1 TB SSd as well that I use for my Omnisphere, Live Suite and other VST's/effects. Still have 640 gigs available. I only use this to have fast access to my music. Going to put my programs on the internal SSD (from Apple) and everything else will be external.

    So, I'm also going to lose the 2TB drive in my iMac. Any good suggestions what to replace it with? It will now need to be an external drive.

    Actually, while we're at it, what do you recommend for the back up drive as well. I'm thinking maybe a 4 TB+ drive connected through USB3 for backup of my main 1 TB internal, and a 2 TB external.
  21. ixxx69 macrumors 65816

    Jul 31, 2009
    United States
    1. Strongly agree with Apple SSD recommendation - don't go third party there (I would recommend just paying Apple's exorbitant SSD tax and get it BTO, but if you're a little adventurous, I guess you can try the ebay route).

    2. For RAM, I'd suggest checking out - you tell them the Mac model, and they'll tell you what's compatible - guaranteed.

    3. You won't see a huge CPU speed difference between the iMac and nMP most of the time, but the nMP is about 15% faster single thread tasks, and nearly twice as fast for multi-threaded, e.g. encoding audio files (assuming 6 core nMP).

    4. Agree with recommendations for D300 - it's more than adequate for your usage.
  22. Babyboi macrumors regular

    Mar 16, 2008
    thanks for that eBay link! I was looking for an affordable 2009 Mac Pro 8-core for the x5690 upgrade!
  23. buster84 macrumors 6502

    Oct 7, 2013
    Haha no worries, the deals are out there once in a while. At least someone snatched it up from the forums lol.
  24. TheMainOne thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 21, 2014
    So I've decided on the nMP with 1TB internal drive from Apple. Thinking of staying with the D500 graphics cards. They should support 2 monitors, right?

    And I'm considering going with OWC's Thunder Bay 4 Raid drive. 20 gig software raid 5 (15 gigs usable).

    Any thoughts on this drive for use with the computer? Or any better suggestions?

    Lastly, I could easily get the Thunderbolt display. Does seem a bit costly but it keeps it all Apple. But are there good options? Doesn't need to be 4k but should be at least as good as the Apple monitor. Then need to get a good webcam - which is why I learn toward the Apple Thunderbolt display.

    I found a decent deal on the Mac Pro, just waiting to pull the trigger to line up the total costs and would love any suggestions on the issues above.

  25. th0masp, May 26, 2015
    Last edited: May 26, 2015

    th0masp macrumors regular

    Mar 16, 2015
    pretty sure you can hook up more than two monitors to any of the graphics options. :) these are beefy workstation cards after all.

    as for screens - is the thunderbolt display glossy by any chance? if so, best avoided for work. if it's matte then surely worth a consideration.

    i'd recommend checking out 27 inch displays from eizo or NEC. they both make nice office-standard displays that beat out dell and the usual consumer brands in terms of color, even background-lighting and so on. decent choice for graphics work, too.
    on the downside, these do not come with a wide variety of connectors (DVI and display-port) and at most some barebones USB (2?) hub built-in.

    i am happy with this: - comes with a light grey case option, too. i used to use NEC at work and they have a range that is about comparable. you might want to poke around a bit on that site. very extensive reviews.

    one note: i assume you are accustomed to 27 inch screens already? if not, worth pointing out that these have a pretty high pixel density compared to a 24 inch display. text looks rather small! i like mine for work but for reading i prefer 21 and 24 inch screens i have here.

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