top imac vs entry level mac pro

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by blof, Mar 13, 2009.

  1. blof macrumors newbie

    Mar 7, 2009
    Could anybody enlighten me; why would anybody buy a quad 2.66 instead of a top of the line imac? What are the performance advantages of the former? Could you give some real-life examples? Say the user is no professional but often edits raw photos (incl. HDR scientific photomicrographs) and avchd home videos, and needs to spend minimum time on these activites.

    Please exclude "because one has already got a monitor" reason.

    I hope my question makes sense
  2. grue macrumors 65816

    Nov 14, 2003
    I can think of plenty of reasons:

    1. I'd rather punch myself in the testicles with my armored motorcycle gloves than buy a glossy display.

    2. Zero expandability:
    2a. No extra HDD bays
    2b. No extra optical bays
    2c. No extra PCIe slots​

    3. Laptop architecture. Yuck.

    4. They're a dirty pirate hooker to work on.

    5. One FireWire port? Lulz.

    6. Most importantly? Slower.
  3. benbraco macrumors newbie

    Mar 13, 2009
    Just look at bench on barefeats.

    The 2,66 quad is 2x higher on both cinebench and geekbench than the 3,06 imac.

    The mac pro has 4 cores the imac only 2.

    If you dont care about the monitor...
  4. Igantius macrumors 65816

    Apr 29, 2007
    Well, as for your first question, I can buy through the UK HE Store and via this, the difference in the price between the quad 2.66GHz and the top-end iMac is less than £3 (yes, that's three pounds).

    I do video editing, this isn’t for a living and certainly not to the extent that I would be mad to consider the iMac – in fact, I’m sure that iMac would do me very nicely, but in this respect the quad would server me better. There are are quite a few reasons (a couple grue mentioned – but I wouldn’t hit him ;) ) why I would go for the quad.

    With regards to real-life examples about performance, I’m afraid that we’re going to have to wait for sites like to give examples. From the uses you said and from saying that you need (rather than want) to spend minimum time, I think the extra cores of the quad would be useful.
  5. TheNightPhoenix macrumors 6502

    Dec 16, 2005
    It's pretty simple really, if you need the power, you go for the Pro, if you don't, you buy a nice little neat package called iMac.

    For your uses of home video and HDR an iMac will be fine, but a MacPro will do it half the time. (but you'll spend more getting a monitor on top)

    I bought the iMac, I work as a video editor and colourist, but it's mainly home use, the pro would be over kill and take up space.

    If I was to replace my work machine the iMac wouldn't even be looked at.
  6. grooveattack macrumors 6502a

    Jan 9, 2008
    i bought the most powerful computer i could afford.
    thats my main reason, and they look good to

    oh and just for reference i will be using for final cut pro, motion, photoshop etc.
    i think it will do just fine. the odd percent here and benchmark there is not enough to sway my decision to another computer.
  7. Shownarou macrumors regular

    Sep 15, 2008
    Newton, IA
    Upgradability. I want to be able to put more hard drive space, more video cards, better video cards, in the computer as I go. Not being able to do that is just going to hurt the life of the computer.
  8. blof thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 7, 2009
    thanks guys, great answers (perhaps except the one about hitting balls, I didn't like that one ;))

    the price difference here in the Netherlands is EUR1846 to EUR2023 , imac being cheaper. I personally see displays as investments contrary to the computer so I don't need to worry about it (I'm not trying to start another discussion on electronics&investments).

    In fact what I was looking for was exactly something like what TheNightPhoenix said as "For your uses of home video and HDR an iMac will be fine, but a MacPro will do it half the time.". This is quite a practical explanation which tells me a lot more than Benchmark results. My main problem is that the AVCHD files are being accumulated day after day and I'm losing my enthusiasm to edit them because my current imac 2,16 is too slow. I'm looking for salvation.
  9. TheNightPhoenix macrumors 6502

    Dec 16, 2005
    Just how much AVCHD do you have to edit?

    I've never used it, but I understand it's even worse then HDV to render.
    If you consider a screen an investment (not something I would do, I found every screen I've had has started to look "shabby" in 18 months time) then I would say go for the pro and power through your editing.

    Also the Pro can have it's RAM, the drives and graphics upgraded at a later date to stretch out it's life, something the iMac can't do.
  10. blof thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 7, 2009
    A lot. I have a 1 year old daughter and her mom loves to shoot her every moment in 1080i. Sadly, she's not good with computers so it's me who should edit and save them, otherwise I find it impossible to store all the raw mts files. My time is limited after devoting to work, wife and the young one so I need to do editing as quick as possible. Simple as that. Of course than going for the top mac pro makes more sense but alas I don't have that kind of money.

    If I can edit 300mb mts file say in 10 minutes with a quad 2,66 instead of 15-20 min with a powerful imac, I'm in for a Mac Pro. Heck, if it can be done around 5min I can even go for a 2,93 quad. I know technically I don't make much sense but I hope you all get what I'm after.

    On a second thought, I agree that LCD's indeed look a bit shabby after say 2 years.
  11. TheNightPhoenix macrumors 6502

    Dec 16, 2005
    Remember the machine may be faster but you can only edit so fast, unless your the flash ;)

    I presume it's the end rendering that is the problem? Or does it have to transcode the AVCHD into something? I'm assuming your using iMovie?
  12. CrisMatthews macrumors newbie

    Mar 10, 2009
    I was in the exact situation last week. I couldn't decide between the iMac I had my heart set on, or the new Quad Mac Pro. I went for the Mac Pro in the end, here is why.

    I am a photographer, I use lightroom and Photoshop all day every day. The iMac would be fine for that, except I am starting to work with video more and more. I have only had a quick play around with the Mac Pro in iMovie as I haven't had much time since my new machine arrived, but already I can tell you it was the right decision. The benchmarks are correct in pointing out in raw power terms the Mac Pro Quad kicks ass! Rendering is quick and easy and workflow is fast. I am not waiting around too much for progress bars etc... as I was on my old Macbook, I can see from the iStat menu that even iMovie is using all 8 threads to process video. This gives it a big advantage over the iMac.

    So I think I have made the right decision for me, and by the sounds of it the Mac Pro could be right for you too. If you are not bothered about the screen, I had one anyway, then the Mac Pro is a great machine for the price compared to the top end iMac.


  13. TheNightPhoenix macrumors 6502

    Dec 16, 2005
    4. I'd love to work on a dirty pirate hooker!

    5. Cancelled my iMac. I stupidly expected it to have two, since my current iMac has two. Apple seem to have a serious dislike of firewire recently.
  14. CaptainChunk macrumors 68020


    Apr 16, 2008
    Phoenix, AZ
    Well, at least the iMac (and even the Mac Mini) still has FireWire. Apple doesn't seem to think that vanilla MacBooks need it anymore...
  15. justit macrumors 6502a

    Dec 1, 2007
    gambled that snow lep. would be better on my 4 instead of 2.
  16. Billydelp4 macrumors regular

    Feb 29, 2008
    remember that firewire can be daisy chained so all you need is one port. It can power like 16 daisy chained units together right?

    Im still a fan of the Pro but saying that the imac doesn't have enough firewire is a bogus reason. I have all of my externals on my MBP daisy chained through the single FW800.

    Even with FW400 you can get 8-6 pin converters for a couple bucks online. no biggy.

  17. Cynicalone macrumors 68040


    Jul 9, 2008
    Okie land
    This is the debate I have with myself every time it's time to upgrade the iMac's. :)

    I do a lot of video work, so when the beach ball effect gets to annoying I decided it's time to upgrade. Right now my Mid 08 iMac 3.06 with 4GB of RAM is doing okay. I know the thought process you are having, I've had it myself many times.

    I don't know if I would need two displays, but being able to upgrade the HDD(s) and Graphics Card(s) would be a big plus down the road. And of course going beyond 8GB of RAM might be a plus with Snow Leopard.
  18. TenFour macrumors member

    Feb 12, 2006

    Its good to know someone else here can find the humour in testicles and pirate hookers. Now dar be three of us at least, arrrgghh! This doesn't bode well for the iMac. Imagine if someone asked how the wife and kids were, and the response involved testicles and pirate hookers.:eek:

    But I jest... the iMac is a sweet offering, it just depends on whether your looking for light/home use or heavy professional processing. You could have the most powerful computer in the world, but if you only use it to surf the web and check e-mail, you've made a very bad choice.
  19. TheNightPhoenix macrumors 6502

    Dec 16, 2005
    Not so Bogus when you actually try chaining.

    I've had many problems with Video decks and Cameras which don't like being daisy chained.
    Also many devices can't be chained as they have only one port, especially 800 devices. In fact i have three drives that only have one 800 port and 2 400 ports.
    Plus I couldn't get four drives to work on a chain, no matter what order i put them the fourth drive never mounts.
  20. stix666 macrumors regular

    Nov 13, 2005

    Try capturing video from a video camera onto an external drive, both daisy-chained to each other and the computer. It is flaky and unreliable. Crippling the iMac this way is the sort of business decision designed to drive the likes of me and blof to the mac pro rather than the iMac.
  21. CaptainChunk macrumors 68020


    Apr 16, 2008
    Phoenix, AZ
    I think you missed the context of my comment. I made a comment that at least iMacs still have FireWire, whereas Apple has decided to omit it on vanilla MacBooks and MacBook Airs. The reason I made this comment is because there have been quite a few people in past using previous-gen white and black MacBooks for light editing in Final Cut Studio because of the portability factor. Those had FW400 and now the new ones don't have FireWire at all.

    Daisy-chaining with FireWire works well to a certain extent. If you have an active FW400 device on the bus with other FW800 devices, the whole bus slows down to match the FW400 device. Also, some FireWire devices are prone to slow down period when daisy-chained.

    So, there is a certain advantage in having the expansion of the Mac Pro to add a FW card for a second, dedicated bus. When I'm on the film set with my MBP even, I carry a FW800 ExpressCard (along with my eSATA card) with me for this very reason. Time is money.
  22. kevink2 macrumors 65816

    Nov 2, 2008
    Some of it depends on whether you already have a monitor you want to use or not. The iMacs have a pricey monitor included. Of course, if you have 1 monitor, you could go dual monitor with an iMac.

    Last year, when I bought my Mac Pro, the iMacs were limited to 2 cores and 4GB of RAM. Too limiting for my taste, since I wanted to upgrade to last for at least 4 years.

    If I hadn't upgraded last year, Apple has at least broken the 4GB limit, even if only to 8GB. If they also provided a 4 core system, i probably would have gone that route. Just think in terms of 3 years instead, and a nice hand me down system to some family member.
  23. barefeats macrumors 65816


    Jul 6, 2000
    Here's a few interesting "top iMac versus low-end Mac Pro" benchmarks.

    I just tested the 2009 iMac 3.06 with 4G of RAM running After Effects CS4 render of a project. I get 404 seconds.
    The 4-core 2.66 Nehalem Mac Pro is twice as fast (203 sec).

    For 3D Gaming, the GeForce 130 GT in the top iMac beats the fastest 8-core Mac Pro 2.93 with the GeForce 120 GT:

    ET:QW at 1920x1200 "High"
    iMac = 82 fps
    Mac Pro = 45 fps

    CoD4 at 1920x1200 "High"
    iMac = 38 fps
    Mac Pro = 23 fps

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