newest iMac versus MacPro?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by MSampson, Mar 23, 2016.

  1. MSampson macrumors member

    Sep 4, 2008
    I am trying to get a new Mac. I'm currently working on a Retina MacBook Pro (mid 2012, 2.3 GHz i7 with 8 GB RAM). I am crashing Excel all the time because it doesn't have enough ram.

    I'm trying to see which replacement has better specs and performance - the older 2013 Mac Pro base quad core with 16 GB RAM and 512 GB SSD or the newest iMac with the 4 GHz quad core i7 with 16 GB RAM and 1 TB HD.

    Any easy way to compare performance on these two? Even better to show how much better they will be over the current laptop.

  2. Alrescha macrumors 68020

    Jan 1, 2008
    As much as I love the Mac Pro, my expectation is that the new iMac is going to win the day. Exceptions might be if you do long-running compute-bound tasks, the Mac Pro will not slow down due to heat, whereas the iMac may have trouble keeping cool and will have to throttle itself.

    Benchmark sites abound.

  3. mlts22 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 28, 2008
    The Mac Pro has not seen an update in almost three years. iMacs have been recently refreshed. I'd not buy a Mac Pro as it stands now, just because you are paying top dollar for 2013 technology.
  4. briloronmacrumo macrumors 6502


    Jan 25, 2008
    FWIW: for less than $100 ( USD ) the MBP Retina can be updated to 16 GB RAM. If you find that is sufficient, your decision can be delayed which might give you more options ( such as a revised Mac Pro )

    If you're convinced a new Mac is better, I'd go with a new iMac i7 and not the Mac Pro for the reasons mlts22 mentions.
  5. iceman42 macrumors regular

    Nov 12, 2012
    for me it was a no brainer i went with the 2013 mac pro i got the quad core with the d700 cpu and 32gb.i like the fact that you can have any size screen monitor with the mac pro and put up to a 4tb ssd in it if i need to down the road
  6. orph macrumors 68000


    Dec 12, 2005
    + briloronmacrumo why not just upgrade ram? you can even buy an display, external HD, keyboard and mouse for when your working for a lot less than a mac pro or imac. (even get a bigger SSD installed)

    if not a imac will be a better option, faster, newer, nice display, good speekers and you can get apple care if you want to feel safe. (and you can plug in an second display in to an imac)

    if you get a macpro you will need to get a display, speakers etc just to get it working

    if your just doing Excel you wont need the top end models.
    do you want to do more than excel? the macpros are more for video or animation work that can use 2 GPU's.
    the imacs 4GHZ cpu may be faster than the 3.7GHz cpu in the macpro even (and relay for Excel you dont need anything like that unless your doing something hardcore)
  7. wheelhot macrumors 68020

    Nov 23, 2007
    Yeah, the nMP excels if the apps you use make use of its dual GPU, openCL and calculation based apps. If it's not, the iMac is a better buy and more recently updated.

    On a side note, I do hope this year WWDC will give us an updated MP. And I wished Apple would just do a yearly refresh for the MP, it's not like they have to redesign it or anything since Apple usually choose the same processor range for each of Intel generation products.
  8. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Spend over 3,000 dollars on a 3 year old computer, or spend 2k (or 2,500) for a skylake equipped machine that is using current technology and whose speeds match if not exceeds the MacPro in a number of areas? To me, the iMac is a win, provided you're not expecting to upgrade it yourself. The MacPro offers a little more flexibility in that department AFAIK.
  9. MSampson thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 4, 2008
    thanks all.
    Yes, I am doing huge, complex calculations in Excel with over 50,000 rows and over 100 columns and it really bogs down or crashes. My formulas have over 20 variables that point to cells for the value. I also use JMP, which handles the large amount of data better, as well as the rest of the office suite and Illustrator and Photoshop for creating figures and posters.
    I already work with two monitors so that's not an issue.

    It's my work I'm trying to get to buy this for me. I just found out my option is not to buy the newest iMac instead of the MacPro, it's that they have one here I can use. I have to check what it's specs are.

    It is annoying how slow the refreshes are on the Mac Pros. I had one before and when I begged to upgrade the retina MacBook Pro was better specs than the (at the time) current Mac Pro.
  10. orph macrumors 68000


    Dec 12, 2005
    if works buying you the computer :D go craze
    If you relay are eating ram the macpro can hold more RAM.

    how well threaded is your work ?
    a 6 core macpro is where it starts to move ahead of the imac in terms of speed if you can use all 6 cores
  11. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
  12. MSampson thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 4, 2008
    Turns out the iMac they want to give me is a late 2013 27 inch with a 3.2 GHz i5 with 8GB RAM. They said I can order more RAM for it.
    I guess it will be better than the laptop but not as good as I'd like to get. Maybe when they refresh the MacPro I can ask again.
  13. jerwin macrumors 68020

    Jun 13, 2015
    Well... You could consult geekbench...

    Mac Pro 64 bit (4 core)
    Imac 2013
    MacBook Pro (15-inch Mid 2012)

    figure out which sub-benchmark is most representative of your data, and go from there.

    The MacPro does make sense over some machines, for certain applications, in certain non-base configurations, but you'd have to make a very specific case for it.

    Look at this comparison between the Imac 2013 and what I assume is your machine of the moment.

    A lot of the iMac's advantage is in cryptographic benchmarks, which don't really matter unless you're using encrypted hard drives. The MacBook Pro is faster at a great many floating point multicore benchmarks-- must be the i7.

    It's entirely possible that you're using Excel beyond its design capacity- in which case switching to some other program-- Matlab, for instance, or to a proper database program might be a vastly faster solution, regardless of whether you were using a new machine or not.

    If somehow you did finangle a current-model machine out of your bosses, the 5K display is very nice for spreadsheets.
  14. wheelhot macrumors 68020

    Nov 23, 2007
    One saving grace for the nMP will be the ECC RAM which I'm not sure if it'll better for the work you're doing or not.
  15. an-other macrumors 6502

    Aug 12, 2011
    Just a semi-random thought: Is using Excel for the work/calculations you're doing optimal? Do you have access to a good database program or tableau? Excel is a great program, however it does bog down with big data.
  16. MSampson thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 4, 2008
    I haven't ever worked with a database program. I use JMP from SAS for statistics. It can do some programing, and I actually take the JMP equations into Excel for doing further work. I am much more comfortable programing equations and calculations in Excel than JMP though. I do a wide variety from vlookups, conditional nested if statements to flat-out math and algebra type formulas.
  17. jerwin macrumors 68020

    Jun 13, 2015
    From February of this year...
  18. Grotti macrumors newbie

    Mar 31, 2016
    The last time I checked Excel for Mac could only utilize one core, so no need to buy a new computer if that is your problem.
  19. jerwin macrumors 68020

    Jun 13, 2015
    Would you like to beat your head against the wall instead?
  20. Mr. Buzzcut macrumors 65816

    Mr. Buzzcut

    Jul 25, 2011
    Is RAM really the issue? Do you see that in activity monitor? That sounds like a large sheet but I often work with similar or more. Maybe fewer formulae.
  21. jerwin, Mar 31, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2016

    jerwin macrumors 68020

    Jun 13, 2015
    It's a 32 bit application, so more memory (that Excel can't address) won't help. If speed was also the issue, a 4.0 Ghz i7 might be faster than your current processor. In single threaded mode, the iMac i7 is the fastest choice.

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