PC user - help me understand comparisons

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by ipoddin, Aug 14, 2006.

  1. ipoddin macrumors 6502a


    Jan 6, 2004
    Los Angeles
    So I'm a long time PC user but had a Mac a few years ago as well. I'm not familiar with any of the newer models and have been looking closely at the Mac Pro as a new purchase.

    Can someone help me understand the differences from what I have in my PC compared to the Mac line of dual processors so I know what I should buy based on my needs? Here's my current, home built PC:

    P4 2.6ghz overclocked to 3ghz
    2gb PC3200 RAM
    WinXP home
    Nvidia Geforce 6800

    I mainly do alot of Photoshop work with RAW images and jpegs from my Nikon D70. I also do video editing on Premiere Elements from my mini-dv camcorder. I do some gaming as well (mainly first person shooters).

    The Mac Pro is nice, and I could probably afford it, but is it overkill for my needs? I also have the luxury of waiting as my PC is currently working just fine. Ideally, I'd like to ditch the PC altogether, or keep it as a second computer, but have WinXP on a Mac via boot camp.

    An iMac is out of the question. And I understand the mini is underpowered graphically for games. If I went with that, I'd keep my PC and not dual boot.

    So my question is, how does my current PC stack up against a 1.66ghz core duo mini with 2gb of RAM for everything besides gaming? How does it stack up against a Mac Pro (I know the Mac pro will kill it, but by how much?) How do I put the differences in perspective?

    Thanks for reading and helping me understand.
  2. Chone macrumors 65816


    Aug 11, 2006
    The Mac Pro is definitely not overkill, sure you can build a cheaper PC that works better but you don't get the advantage of OS X, I don't think its overkill for your needs, just make sure you get the 2.66ghz (800 for 330mhz is not worth it and you can overclock the difference when you need more power), 2GB RAM and 1900XT configuration if you are going to game.

    The Mac Mini is not worth it if you are gaming but graphics aside, the CPU on the Mac Mini definitely edges out your Pentium.
  3. gekko513 macrumors 603


    Oct 16, 2003
    Here's a nice processor comparison chart. It roughly equates a 1.67 Core Duo with an imaginary single P4 @ 4.0GHz. You need to read up on the methodology used to create the charts yourself. It's not entirely scientific, but I think they are good ballpark numbers.

    Of course the Mac mini will also suffer from having a slower laptop hard drive compared to your PC. If you do video, you might consider an external Firewire drive.
  4. clevin macrumors G3


    Aug 6, 2006
    there shouldn't be any hardware problem, they are sure capable of the work u described above. only problem u will have is that many-if not most-games do not provide mac version, so u might need bootcamp to install winxp along with osx on you mac pro.
  5. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    Here are some very general ideas that will hopefully help you a bit, though the chart referenced is good for some very general comparisons. I've seen other benchmarks elsewhere comparing the Core Duo (not 2) chips to a variety of very high-end processors (Opterons, 3.75GHz P4 EE, Pentium D, etc), and the 2.16 core duo was almost always near the middle of the pack or higher--sometimes at the top.

    So, in real world terms, although the disk speed is going to hurt a bit in certain areas if you don't upgrade to a higher-end 2.5" drive (unless you're using an ancient 80GB in your tower or something), then the current core duo mini is probably going to be noticibly faster than your PC in raw computing power, a little sluggish in disk operations (but not enough to be a big deal for most things), and obviously underpowered for 3D graphics, which is why you wouldn't want to use it for gaming.

    I'd say that for the stuff you're talking about would be handled well enough by the mini, at least if you added an external drive for the video (for space). If you stick to Photoshop for processing you'll be hampered for a while by the lack of an Intel native version, but if you switch to either iMovie (which is, frankly, AMAZINGLY powerful for such a cheap app and includes the awesome iDVD, too) or Final Cut Express (even more so), which are both native, you'll be VERY happy with both performance and ease of use.

    If you do want to go the Mac Pro route, you're really buying overkill for your needs, but it's an awe-inspiring workstation. Depending on the specific action, you're looking at between two and four times the speed of the mini (at minimum), you've got all the ripping-fast internal storage you need with all those open SATA bays, and RAM out the wazoo, which is going to give PS or FCE an additional spped boost. If it turns out Aperature does some of what you want (heck, iPhoto even handles RAW now, depending on your needs), then the mass RAM will be even nicer.

    And of course, it lets you ditch your current PC and use bootcamp for gaming.

    Were I in your position, I have to admit I'd go for the monster, even if it is overkill, if I could afford it--the thing should keep you in beans for QUITE a while. I have a 3-year-old formerly-top-of-the-line G5 tower, and with a couple of drive upgrades and some extra RAM, it's STILL a snazzy machine for the same sort of work you're talking about, and I expect it will remain so for another couple of years at least. The Mac Pro has even more overhead thanks to the second optical drive bay and more internal storage, and you can apparently even upgrade the chips (can in the mini too, of course).

    That said, if you're on a budget, having fun with a mini will get the job done, and you've got your gaming PC to mess around with for fun.
  6. fblack macrumors 6502a


    May 16, 2006
    if you are doing video or gaming forget about macmini. Its ok for basic tasks like surfin. word and email, but that's about it. Besides lacking a serious GPU the hard drive is 5400rpm slow. Raw files are pretty big and so is video mac mini maxes out at 120gb. You'd have to get a big external firewire drive and you'll need some kind of hub because there's only 1 firewire slot.

    Its a budget machine and that's ok. I think if you want to play games and do photoshop, video, and bootcamp you are not an average pc user. You're closer to a power user and that means a powermac...ur I mean Mac pro. I'd go with the mac pro but lower processor to 2.0ghz and get the better graphics radeon X1900.

    Barefeats Has a pretty good comparison of the mac mini vs its older version and an intel imac. It might help you decide.


    good luk:)
  7. ipoddin thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Jan 6, 2004
    Los Angeles
    Thanks all. This has been very helpful and I'm going to do more research. I may also wait to see what Apple has up its' sleeves in the next month or so.

    Regarding the slow drive on the mini, I plan to bring my 500gb SATA drive over to the mini (or mac pro). In the mini's case, I'll install it in an external firewire drive.

    Good to know how a mini compares to my existing PC - too bad you can't upgrade the graphics on it for an all in one solution in my case.

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