Sort of stuck at a crossroads MacPro or iMac

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by knoxtown, Nov 30, 2012.

  1. knoxtown, Nov 30, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2012

    knoxtown macrumors 6502

    Nov 19, 2007
    Thanks to everyone in advance for reading this.

    In the next month, I'm going to have to buy a computer. I'm still using my old iMac Intel Core 2 Duo, and its about at the end of its life. It's Christmas, I need a new machine, and my budget is around 3000... let's have fun.

    Essentially, I'm trying to choose between a fully loaded 27" iMac or a Refurbished Mac Pro. I'm a professional photographer, and (sometimes videographer) who never plays games. My machine will be running a combination of Photoshop, Capture One, Final Cut, Illustrator, and InDesign (plus the usual email, web, iWork, etc) for about 8 hours a day.

    What lead me to look at the MacPro is I've had lots of heat issues with my iMac. Although, its a capable machine, power-wise, I'm not sure its really meant for a heavy use environment (maybe I'm wrong).

    I know the Ram is slower on the MacPro 1066 vs 1600, but does that really make a big difference? Just add more right?

    CPU battle: 3.4GHz Quad-Core i7 vs 3.2GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon . There is enough reading on these two to make anyone insane, but let me take a novice stab at it. Basically, its a high end mobile processor against a lower end (on its on scale) desktop processor. I know the Xeon is a beast of a processor, but do i really need it? What is the true impact of this? Will the old tech Xeon still be going in 4-5 years? Maybe I'm off base, but I'm worried about longevity of the machine more then price. Thoughts? Also, am I right to believe that the graphics card is the same situation as the CPU?

    Another consideration, for me at least, the MacPro has a superdrive, so thats another expense for the iMac if I go that route. Also, internal storage will be cheaper on the Pro, it looks like, which makes me very happy hahaha

    Sorry if this is all over the place, I'm finally in shopping mode, and can't wait to get a new machine! Thanks again everyone!
  2. monkeybagel macrumors 65816

    Jul 24, 2011
    United States
    I had been dealing with similar questions over the past month. Everyone screaming that he Mac Pro is end of its life, etc. I considered my options, and decided to order one I am happy with the expandibility of the Mac Pro and at the rate Apple is going, there is a good chance they will mess some things up on it. I like the 2 1GbE ports, four drive trays, decent graphics, dual Xeons, dual optical bays, etc.

    With the design direction Apple is going they are shrinking things left and right. This could mean less expansion, less power, single processor, no optical bays, etc. or it could mean redundant power supplies, SAS storage, Thunderbolt, etc. if they go the right direction. I have a bad feeling that we may be looking at the last real Apple workstation. I am just afraid the new one will drop so many things I need, and I am happy with the current offerings (not that I would turn down better specs, but I do not want less, like I feel the iMac and new MacBooks with Retina Displays are. The removed to much for negligible improvements for someone that needs heavy computing power. The delay on these systems clearly show this is not their primary focus, so I grabbed one while I can.

    I would not consider the new iMac because of lack of ODD.

    The Xeon is a few cycles behind from what I understand, but it is fast. I think the main argument is that the I series processors are starting to catch up. But add more cores and get better multithreaded performance.

    I also don't like tossing away a good display when a computer has reached EOL.

    If Apple does release a desirable Mac Pro in 2013, I will already have had plenty of profit making use out of mine for many months, with many more months left in it.

    Just my thoughts.
  3. wonderspark macrumors 68040


    Feb 4, 2010
    First, you can have a Mac Pro with RAM running 1333MHz, such as mine.

    Second, you can buy a refurbished Mac Pro from Apple for $1819 right here.
    Next, you can buy a 6-core CPU $591 from Provantage and drop it right in, such as I did.

    You've spent about $2600 before tax, depending on how much RAM you put in (but I prefer 32GB) and you still need a monitor.

    However, you have two more speedy cores than the iMac, you can put better GPUs inside and you never have to worry about heat or disk space.

    Apple wants you to buy a new iMac, but a Mac Pro can still be a better machine, even after all these years.
  4. mmomega macrumors demi-god


    Dec 30, 2009
    DFW, TX
    IMO, an external BluRay Drive, even USB2 rips and writes much, much faster than any SuperDrive I've ever used. I gladly removed my SuperDrive to make way for raid0 ssd's and a 1TB 3.5" drive.

    If you like double ethernet, there is a Thunderbolt to Gigabit adaptor.

    The i7 is a standard 3770, 3.4GHz - 3.9 Turbo.
    The 3770s, low power i7 goes from 3.1-3.9. Specs so far are pointing towards a regular desktop i7 chip like previous 27" models.

    RAM speed does make a slight difference. No not just add more, no point in adding more unless you are actually coming close to or using all available RAM, more RAM won't speed anything up if it isn't being used. Like having a gallon jug as a drinking cup if you're only going to use a few cups full.

    You'll have to add a USB3 expansion card to use any faster external drives.

    I mean people argue over it for hours, a new Mac Pro (even the current ones) are pretty beast and I wouldn't mind having one myself but I just can not talk myself into one, pricing aside, I went to the iMac to get away from having a huge tower that I always wanted to add to or mod. Loved it enough that I now own 4.
    I believe the new i7 27" will be plenty powerful enough for you by what you've described. IMHO.

    Heck, even after you upgrade to a new computer you could use this iMac as a secondary display.
  5. monkeybagel macrumors 65816

    Jul 24, 2011
    United States
    Everyone has different needs

    My point exactly. Not interested in "dongles" or any additional devices I need to hang of my workstation to get "normal" functionality. If Apple continues to go this way, I will look elsewhere. This is one of the few machines in which they haven't.
  6. mmomega macrumors demi-god


    Dec 30, 2009
    DFW, TX
    First off I'm not bashing the Mac Pro (notice I said it was a beast), I'm tossing out suggestions. If the OP had his mind made up he wouldn't be stuck at a crossroad, just saying there are options.

    Adding an adaptor for a second Gigabit ethernet connection isn't "normal" when only 1 of their products offers it. That's extra. A majority of PC motherboards have single ethernet connections, yes I know there are some that come with two but unless you add a 2nd most of them have one, especially in normal consumer devices which is what the iMac is.

    I'm guessing you are referring to the laptops where the ethernet connection was removed. I'm not sure, you didn't specify laptops but all desktops even the AppleTV's still have gigabit ethernet.
  7. ashman70 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 20, 2010
    The way I see it comes down to expandability: internal storage versus external for the iMac. CPU and GPU performance, well, your stuck with whatever you order with the iMac not much you can do about that, whereas you have options with the Mac Pro. Whilst the Mac Pro is old at this stage, if you absolutely need a machine now versus waiting a few months to see if Apple releases a new Mac Pro, then that is what it comes down to. You can take advantage of newer tech like thunderbolt with the iMac but in my opinion you get more choices which mean a better bang for your buck with the Mac Pro.
  8. knoxtown, Dec 2, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2012

    knoxtown thread starter macrumors 6502

    Nov 19, 2007
    Thank you to everyone who responded, given me alot to think about. Let's throw a hypothetical out there...

    Lets compare a refurb MacPro and a new iMac...


    3.4GHz Quad-core Intel Core i7
    3.2GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon


    8GB (2 x 4GB) 1600MHz DDR3 SDRAM
    6GB (3 x 2GB) 1066MHz DDR3 ECC memory

    I'll be expanding both of these (probably from RamJet). what is the significance of the speed difference?


    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675MX 1GB GDDR5
ATI Radeon HD 5770 with 1GB GDDR5

    Is it true that the GTX is better for more gaming type applications, but the ATI handles long-term workload better?

    MacPro $2,139 (will probably add SSD later) + Monitor = $2,700 - $3,000
    iMac $2,699 (with fusion) + Superdrive

    Prices are about the same...

    If I get the MacPro, I'll, at some point, add a USB3 port, and most likely add more internal storage.

    Am I right to be worried about the viability of the Pro machine in 4-5 years? I guess the right question is, what ISN'T user upgradable on the Pro? Essentially, I'm trying to find the long term ceiling of the Pro machine vs the iMac.

    Thanks again everyone! You guys (and gals) are the best. :apple:
  9. All Taken, Dec 2, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2012

    All Taken macrumors 6502a

    Dec 28, 2009
    Just buy the iMac and sell it when the new Mac Pro is released, you'll have a far better return than you would with a Mac Pro of current.

    As for the 'ceiling' The Mac Pro is a Aircraft Hanger and the iMac a Pantry Cupboard. The new iMac has ONE useable SATA connection - the other is proprietary Apple SSD. You're limited to 2 drives, only one of which you can really change yourself.

    The Mac Pro offers 6 SATA ports, SATA 2 yes but it also offers 4 PCI-e slots - think SATA 3, USB 3 and maybe more importantly for some it has updatable graphics. As an example I run a cheap and cheerful SAS Raid card that is SATA 3 8x and have 8 SSD's plumbed into the optical bay, the speed in RAID 1 comes out at almost 3500MB/s.

    You can pick and choose your drives at will, also you retain the internal optical drive with this Mac Pro.

    If you insist on a Mac Pro now, get a 3.33Ghz 6 core, it is faster than the current top iMac and the expandability.... well 1 SATA port on the iMac is all i'm saying.

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