New iMac or Mac Pro ?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by mcfly27, Aug 17, 2007.

  1. mcfly27 macrumors newbie

    Aug 16, 2007
    It's about time to upgrade my set-up. I'm trying to decide if I should by a new iMac with all the bells and whistles it can hold, or a base line Mac Pro. If I get the Mac Pro I will still have to spend a good bit more to purchase the monitor. I'm thinking it will be about an $800 price difference.

    Most of what I do is graphic design and photo editing. I do on occasion record music and video edit, but that's more of a hobby.

    I was excited about the new iMac, but I'm not too sure about those glossy monitors. Any designers or photo editors out there run into any problems with them? I hate to buy an all-in-one unit like the iMac and discover that I can't work with the screen. On the flip side, it has about everything I need at a decent price.

    Feedback would be much appreciated. Thanks.
  2. combatcolin macrumors 68020


    Oct 24, 2004
    Northants, UK
    Mac Pro.

    Loads of expansion prospects, plus a graphic card that can hold its own against the PC world when you upgrade from the default option.

    Refurb will be cheaper.

    On a personal note, have you ever seen or used a 24" monitor? For what you like a big screen will be heaven.
  3. mr_matalino macrumors 6502a


    Oct 14, 2005
    My take:

    If you're a professional, get a professional comptuer. MacPro
  4. kingslod macrumors member


    Jul 8, 2002
    Portland, OR
    Devil's Advocate

    Here's another perspective....

    I like the iMac price point, as it allows me to get the latest technology, and then upgrade every couple of years when it's showing its teeth. When I got my G4 tower it was great at first, but after 4 years that thing was a dog (relatively speaking) and I had invested so much money into it was hard to justify a new computer.

    I run the Adobe Creative Suite on my iMac g5 20 inch with 2gb of RAM, and it can handle pretty much whatever I throw at it. I'm interested in a bigger monitor, and faster machine so I'm looking at the new 24 inch iMac, but not sure about the new glossy screen. (I looked at the screen at the store and it seems OK compare to my g5 iMac--maybe I'll just wait for RevB so that any issues will have shook-out by then.)

    Price for a basic set-up on each:

    iMac 24 inch with 2gb RAM: $1,949.00 (from what I've read, bumping to the faster processor won't make a huge difference)

    Mac Pro with 2 gb RAM + 23 inch monitor: $3697.00

    Difference: $1,748.00
  5. jerry1 macrumors member

    Aug 15, 2007
    I'm actually considering the same options as the original post. Additionally, I'm completely new to Mac. This will be my first.

    I think the iMac is enough for me. I'm no pro by any stretch. However, the screen is VERY reflective and a better video card would be nice. I have a couple questions and the answers might help the original post as well.

    With the Mac Pro, the advantage is expansion/upgrades, but can someone clarify the following?...

    - How does the performance compare between the base 2.66 Pro and a 2.8 iMac?
    - If upgrading/or adding another HD to the Pro, do you buy the Mac version, or are there reliable, 3rd party HD's available that are less expensive?
    - If upgrading the base video card, again, are the choices what you see on Mac's website, or will any card work?

    Overall, I'm not planning on doing alot of tweaking or upgrading but I really don't know what limitations there are for upgrade options since it's a Mac and not a PC (which is the reason I'm buying Mac anyway!)
  6. ricgnzlzcr macrumors 6502a


    Jun 7, 2005
    Why don't you pick up a refurbished mac pro for the price of $2200 and add your own ram? Then you can pick up a 24 inch Dell LCD for about $600? Still more expensive then the imac but if I had the money I'd get it.

    I can just imagine my mac pro running with 32gb of ram.......mmmmmmm. I'd be very poor too.
  7. 4God macrumors 68020


    Apr 5, 2005
    My Mac
    I think instead of going for the $1949 version (which is actually the
    $1799 one with upgraded ram) you might as well go with the big boy for $2299. For $350 more (or $500 if you get the $1799 base without the ram
    upgrade) you get a bigger hard drive, 2 gigs of ram and the 2.8 Core 2 Extreme.
  8. Silencio macrumors 68020


    Jul 18, 2002
    I too am in the exact same boat. I typically buy a new desktop machine only every four or five years, and I wring every last processor cycle out of each purchase, even if I'm not encoding video all the time or playing the latest FPS game for five hours a day. I haven't totally outgrown my Dual 2.0GHz PowerMac G5 yet, but it would be very nice to have something that runs quieter and cooler and can run Bootcamp/Parallels.

    The 24" iMacs looks like they have almost everything I need. The lackluster GPU gives me pause, especially since it can't be upgraded later. With so many of Apple's pro apps offloading graphics processing tasks to the GPU -- a trend that figures to only grow with the new APIs in Leopard -- I'd rather not skimp on that aspect of a desktop machine.

    If Apple could have paired a higher-end GPU with the top of the line 24", that would have done me right. As it stands, I'm still in Mac Pro territory.

    There are some good benchmarks at that match up the new iMac against the Mac Pros in a variety of applications. The iMacs hold up pretty well in many benchmarks, though generally fall behind on gaming and on apps that utilize more than two cores.
  9. mcfly27 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 16, 2007
    Thanks for the input everyone. I'm still undecided, but after pricing I have figured out that I am between an

    iMac: 24", 2.4GHz, ITB, 2Gb Ram for $2498
    Mac Pro: 2.66GHz, 750GB, 2Gb Ram, with wireless and 20" monitor for $3,709

    (this factors in my education discount)

    Someone brought up a really good point about computer lifespan. If I buy the Mac Pro I will probably use it for 5-6 years. If I buy the iMac I will probably use it for 3-4 years. I know the Mac Pro is very upgradeable, but the processor will stay the same. Will this cause problems towards the end of it's lifespan? If I had bought a power mac 5-6 years ago, then it would be almost unusable today. And I damn sure can't drop almost $4,000 every 3 years on a new Mac Pro. My main point is: I know I can get 3 years out of the iMac, can I get 5-6 years out of these new Mac Pro towers?
  10. Sean Dempsey macrumors 68000

    Sean Dempsey

    Aug 7, 2006

    Okay buddy, I'm going to lay it out straight for you. (I should just save what I write here so I can repaste it in future threads.)

    I am a professional graphic artist and web designer. I am self-employed and work alone in a lonely brick office downtown. There are 3 windows 8 feet tall and 4 feet wide that look out onto the city below.

    I currently own a Mac Pro 2.66 quad, a 2.4 duo iMac (ultragloss!!) and a Macbook (ultragloss!!).

    I am at my office right now. I literally have the iMac here with me right next to the Mac Pro and it's screens. The Mac Pro has Samsung 214t monitors, and the iMac has the glossy display.

    Alot of haters and other naysayers will tell you that no "real graphic artist" would put up with the glossy iMac, and that if you use one, you're not a "professional" designer. Well, it's easy to say that when you aren't in the position of being a professional, self employed business owner who uses a Mac Pro and a new iMac to earn your money.

    So I'll make a few statements as a working, full time designer who is also self employed and owns both a Mac Pro and an iMac and has them both on his desk RIGHT NOW in front of him:

    1. the iMac screen is glossy, and it does show a slight reflection. It it not a mirror and it does not interfere with my work. In fact, my brain has already filtered out any visual artifacts caused by the glossy screen. As a professional (though some would say I'm an amateur because I dare say an iMac is sufficient), my professional opinion is that this iMac PASSES ALL CRITERIA.

    2. I had no problem calibrating the monitor. It might not be perfect, but it's a 1500 dollar all in one computer, so I don't expect it to be.

    3. I see no problem using the iMac in a real work environment. It's great for a freelancer, and would be great for a design business who wants the all in one package.
  11. mcfly27 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 16, 2007
    ha ha, ok then. I appreciate your honest evaluation. You may have saved me over $1000. I have heard that argument about the iMacs not being "professional machines," but I think that is just a perception fulled by Apple to get designers to pay more. (I first heard that line from an Apple sales rep.) Honestly, every design studio I've worked with has at least one iMac. My main concern was the screen, but given your assessment, I would say I'm leaning towards the iMac.
  12. Stamen macrumors newbie

    Aug 16, 2007
    HDs are just normal hard drives, normally SATA 3.5" for iMac and Mac Pro, and SATA 2.5" for laptops. Any brand will work fine.

    Memory is also normal, and you can buy it from any vendor that meets the specs. Mac Pros need a special heat sink, but 3rd party vendors make these. Don't ever buy memory from Apple, they mug you on prices (it's almost criminal IMHO).

    As for Video cards, you can't just use any PC card, and there are very few upgrades (why is this, why can't NVidia just make an 8800 specifically for Macs and sell them like they do PCs? Is there some legal reason they can't? Anyone know?)
  13. bennyboi macrumors regular


    Jun 1, 2006
    West Coast

    Yes the Mac Pro is crazy expensive ESPECIALLY if
  14. combatcolin macrumors 68020


    Oct 24, 2004
    Northants, UK

    1st time i've heard that since the Mac Pros were released.

    Only caveat with the Mac Pro memory is to make sure its fully buffered, but any decent dealer will have a compatible product line.
  15. bennyboi macrumors regular


    Jun 1, 2006
    West Coast

    Yes the Mac Pro is crazy expensive ESPECIALLY if you add a mac monitor. Go to Dell for a much cheaper monitor. the $ you'll save is totally worth it.

    I was in the same boat. Mac Pro = too expensive. iMac = no expansion!!! I met myself in the middle and ordered a macbook pro 2.4 160gb refurb. I did this because I wanted a better video card (iMacs video card sucks- really sucks) and I wanted PCI expansion (express card 34).
    I will be using the express card to connect a SATA RAID for media editing, which freaking screams using photoshop / fcp / logic / etc. (see for burly 4 drive enclosure) It's relatively inexpensive for great raid performance, and the raid enclosure alone is a great investment sure to last you your next 2 or 3 computers (because hard drive technology isn't exactly advancing like processor technology, and when it does, the 10,000 rpm drives will come down in price, and you still have your enclosure to rock it out). Anyways- no PCI expansion on the iMac :( so- if you're a pro and want to save $ against a mac pro- look at a macbook pro because I think you'll find you'll be spending only a little bit more. Sure the storage isn't as great, but I can live with 160 gb with my big media projects on a sata raid or firewire.
    But if you do a mac pro, which would be awesome, maybe don't do a mac monitor.
    By the way- look at apple's refurb page. I got a macbook pro 17'' 160gb drive at 7200 rpm, hi-res option screen for $500 cheaper than normal. Hard deal to turn down.
    Sorry- I know this thread didn't include the macbook pro as an option, but someone had to say it ;)
    Good luck!
  16. darthraige macrumors 68000


    Aug 8, 2007
    Coruscant, but Boston will do.
    Screw the Apple monitors. Waste of money. I'm rockin' two of these monitors out and they are awesome! Wait for the MacPro update.

    20" BenQ Monitor $189
  17. rest44 macrumors member


    Sep 24, 2006
    It depends on what you´ll do with it.

    If you just do ordinary stuff like checkmail, surf the web, listen to music, light photo/video editing, ect: go for the iMac!

    If you do heavy processing work like audio editing, video editing or heavy photo editing: go for the mac pro.

    The iMac is great to have at home. And is more than enought powerfull for almost everyone (exept if you want to play games.. but than get a pc or a videogame console).
  18. Stamen macrumors newbie

    Aug 16, 2007
    I said needs, which isn't exactly correct, but they recommend them; the important part, from what I've read, is that they do need heat spreaders. Some info:

    "Apple recommends special heat sinks to 'ensure that the fans run at the proper speed to maintain the optimal temperature and ensure acoustic performance'. While a system will operate with FB-DIMMs with conventional heat sinks, Apple recommends Apple-approved heat sinks for 'optimum performance and acoustics.'"
  19. combatcolin macrumors 68020


    Oct 24, 2004
    Northants, UK

    The devils in the detail eh?

    To be honest i always buy RAM with heat spreaders, the new groovy spreaders have a heat sink connected above the RAM module to move the hot air away from the motherboard.

  20. bocomo macrumors 6502

    Jun 29, 2007
    New York
    i really think the upgradability of the mac pro is a huge plus. that played a big part in my decision to get one.

    save on the monitor - get a dell ultrasharp for half the price of the apple displays. i love mine.

    either way, you will be really happy with your upgrade...
  21. atari1356 macrumors 68000


    Feb 27, 2004
    I'm getting off topic here, but this 4 drive enclosure looks pretty sweet too (hot swappable, and it always makes sure your data is safe by mirroring it to the other drives):
  22. mattraehl macrumors 6502

    Feb 26, 2005
    external monitor

    One thing to keep in mind if you're worried about the glossy screen is that you can get a 20" iMac AND an 23" Apple Cinema Display HD for less than the base price of a Mac Pro (without a monitor). When you factor in getting the external monitor from Dell or elsewhere, the value equation becomes even more compelling.
  23. combatcolin macrumors 68020


    Oct 24, 2004
    Northants, UK
  24. atari1356 macrumors 68000


    Feb 27, 2004
    I'm in the same situation - debating between an iMac and Mac Pro. It will be used in my living room as both a work machine for photography, and as a media center. More and more I think I'm leaning towards the iMac, even though the glossy screen is a major downside to me.

    Not sure I can justify the extra $1100 for the Mac Pro when comparing these (note, this is with education prices):

    24" iMac - $2,418

    2.8GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme
    4GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM - 1x1GB
    750GB Serial ATA Drive
    SuperDrive 8x (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
    ATI Radeon HD 2600 PRO with 256MB memory
    24-inch glossy widescreen LCD
    AirPort Extreme
    Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR

    Core System: $2,149.00
    4GB RAM upgrade kit from OWC: $269

    Cons: glossy screen, so-so graphics card, limited upgradeability, might have to replace it sooner than a Mac Pro


    Mac Pro - $3,573.00

    Two 2.66GHz Dual-Core Intel Xeon
    5GB (2 x 512MB)
    250GB 7200-rpm Serial ATA 3Gb/s
    500GB 7200-rpm Serial ATA 3Gb/s
    ATI Radeon X1900 XT 512MB (2 x dual-link DVI)
    One 16x SuperDrive

    Core System: $2,523.00
    4GB RAM (for 5GB total) from OWC: $330
    500GB internal hard drive: $120
    24" external monitor: $600

    Cons: expensive, airport/bluetooth cost extra, no front row, takes up more space
  25. jerry1 macrumors member

    Aug 15, 2007
    I've considered that too but I just can't figure out how to fit 2 fairly large displays into my space... and have them be funtional w/o them looking "forced" in there.

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