Upgrade 2010 with 7950 or get iMac Late 2012

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by lssmit02, Mar 23, 2013.

  1. lssmit02 macrumors 6502

    Mar 25, 2004
    Assume for this post that you can either upgrade your 2010 Macpro5,1 hexacore with the Sapphire 7950 for $479, or for the same money, sell your 2010 and monitor (Apple 30" Cinema display) and buy a late 2012 iMac i7 3.4 ghz with the 680MX. Which would you do?
  2. kgapp macrumors regular

    Jan 6, 2004
    Chicago, IL
    I have both machines described so I believe I have a good point of reference for this question. My main machine is a MacPro 4,1 flashed with 5,1 firmware and a Hexcore 3.33 with a newly added Sapphire 7950 driving a 30" ACD and an old GT120 driving two flanking 20" ACD's in portrait display. I recently bought a 2012 iMac i7 3.4 with 680MX for my wife.

    I am of the opinion that the 27" display on the iMac blows away my aging 30" ACD on the MacPro. The image quality on the new display is far superior to what is now a 7+ year old 30" ACD. Obviously that has largely to do with the higher ppi and the newer display tech in an iMac display. There is no contest in this department.

    The new 7950 has certainly breathed life into my graphics performance and my MacPro hexcore is now once again clearly the superior machine when it comes to raw cpu and gpu processing power. The iMac is fast and a pleasure to use for most every task but my MacPro still has a significant edge when it comes to the heavy lifting. Video encoding, FCPX work, etc. MacPro wins hands down. Everyday computing you would probably be better off going with the new iMac.

    Fortunately, I have not yet had a serious itch to start acquiring external TB devices. If this happens then it will be time to abandon my current MacPro. In fact, if/when Apple releases a new stand alone display if it is TB only I will start to seriously question the future of my existing MacPro. Until then I am happy to have what is one of the fastest machines around even if it is essential built from 2009 technology.
  3. RAMtheSSD macrumors member


    Mar 23, 2013
    High on a Mountain Looking for Wisdom
    LOVE that big Aluminium Box on My Desk

    The answer is simpler than that: I have an Early 2009 with the flashed boot rom but no changes as of yet. When I bought it, I could not afford both the 30" cinema display AND the 8 core Mac Pro. While I could have afforded faster processors, I wanted gobs of ram right off so I went with the slower ones with more ram -BUT- my machine had a manufacturing defect that was hard to find (to their credit, once found, Apple took care of it) and at first, Apple blamed the centon ram and said I should replace it with Apple ram (twice as expensive) so I ended up with half the ram! There is definitely a drop in speed when you go from 16gb to 8gb of ram!

    I am telling you all of that because of the way it was fixed. You see, Apple had to replace the motherboard and the processor tray. This was a 1/2 hour job. The machine went from 1 cycle of the diagnostic software in 24 hours to all 30+ in 5 minutes! I have opened quite a few iMacs over the years and I can safely say that it would NEVER be anything less than a 3+ hour job to do a MB replacement unless you had huge amounts of static free space and one or two "nurses"!

    I ended up buying an ASUS monitor with a beautiful resolution and near Pantone color rendering. I would strongly suggest that you consider what can be upgraded and how easy it is to upgrade a Mac Pro rather than purchase what is, in essence, a huge iPad.

    for 479 dollars, you could have an awesome LED driven monitor and have money left over for some extra ram! I am very happy with my MT276HE (and though critisized as a fingerprint magnet I've had no such problems)

    These are the specs:

    Screen size: 27 inches
    Resolution 1920x1080
    Aspect ratio: 16:9
    Horizontal viewing angle: 170 degrees
    Vertical viewing angle: 160 degrees
    Pixel pitch: 0.311mm (I can see 12 point helvetica from 3 feet away with no increase in the image size of the word document)
    Brightness: 400 cd/m2 (max) (bright enough to light up the whole room and interfere with sleep!)
    Dynamic contrast ratio: 50000:1 (max)
    Response time: 2ms (grey-to-grey)
    Ports: 2xHDMI, VGA, S/PDIF, Line out audio
    Dimensions: 26.2 x 20.3 x 9.1 inches (WxHxD, including stand)
    Weight: 18.74 pounds
    Stand: Tilt: +15 degrees, -5 degrees
    Built-in 3W stereo speakers, remote control, Kensington lock, VESA mount
    Warranty: 3 years limited parts and labor with free pick-up service

    The only benefit that the new iMac will bring you (yes, the retina display is impressive ) is the ability to use a bluetooth keyboard from the backyard and the apple remote. I love the idea of thunderbolt; however, the reality is that I have gobs of storage and between local, NAS, and cloud, I have yet to find something that thunderbolt can do that I really need. If I had ~500 dollars right now, I would go to OWC and snag 48 gb of ram (ok, the registered buffered ecc ram (16gb per stick) is 69 more dollars but still.) and enjoy the sight of the empty 5 holes that can be filled with more ram! :)
  4. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    I bought the 7950 upgrade and I have a new 3.4GHz iMac with the 680MX option.

    In terms of use, the Mac Pro runs cooler, is still faster, and the new GPU has made it a powerhouse again.

    The iMac has a few advantages, one it being very compact, runs my two Thunderbolt displays, and connects to my Thunderbolt drives.

    I think the video performance between the iMac GTX 680MX is pretty close to the 7950, so if you already have a Mac Pro, I would get the update instead of buying a new iMac.
  5. lssmit02, Mar 23, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2013

    lssmit02 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mar 25, 2004
    Thank you all for your replies. When the Sapphire 7950 was announced, I thought it was a no brainer to upgrade my Mac Pro, particularly since the new iMac is not faster (if you go by geekbench). However, when I looked at the benchmarks on barefeats.com of the 7950, it looks as if the 680MX is generally slightly more capable than the 7950. Couple that with the addition of a terrific display, I started wondering if perhaps I should make the switch, since it now appears that the iMac is quite powerful.

    EDIT: To sum up, new iMac video card is equivalent to the 7950 (if not a little better in some test), runs just about as fast in terms of processing (based on geekbench scores), and has USB 3 and Thunderbolt to boot. Add in a much better display, and now it seems a slightly better value (assuming you can cover most of the cost by selling the MP and ACD).
  6. RAMtheSSD macrumors member


    Mar 23, 2013
    High on a Mountain Looking for Wisdom
    ...About your Summing UP...

    lssmit02: I realize that the new iMac seems powerful beyond belief and is definitely beautiful (wish they made the cube again!) but there is one final thing to consider -aside from the potential to change processors in the Mac Pro- and it is this:

    When the 7950 is old and if you are as serious a gamer as you sound, that can't be far away, it will still be useful to someone else (get a couple of 100 bucks for it) as an upgrade and then you can buy a new and much hotter video card. Unlike other machines, the Mac Pro design has gobs of room for even triple height cards -although I am not sure if one could mount two without loosing two hard drives- and can boot from a PCI SSD (my next purchase I think :) ) whereas the iMac cannot.

    The iMac may be upgraded with a SATA 3 SSD but even that cant hold a candle to a PCI SSD. Moreover, the PCI SSD can be upgraded as well. So you have a choice between, and I stand by my words, essentially a giant iPad or a far more upgradable and modifiable machine. True, there is a limit as to what a 3 channel motherboard can do as opposed to the soon to come out 4 channel Mac Pro; however, that limit is far far away where as I can say with some degree of certainty that 3 years from now, you will be giving that iMac to a child or nephew.

    I am sorry if I appear too far forward or insistent as such is not my intent. I only hope that whatever decision you make is the best one for you and one that you will never have cause to regret. I also hope I have been helpful.
  7. lssmit02 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mar 25, 2004
    Thanks for your thoughts. In fact, I decided to do what you suggested and ordered the 7950. Given that games are mostly GPU bound, and the 2010 still benchmarks more or less at the same level as the new iMac, it seemed like the logical choice. As to that last point, I suspect that benchmarks like geek bench overstate the processing power of Mac Pro relative to the iMac since few apps are as fully multithreaded as the benchmarks. Nevertheless it is still very fast.
  8. Macsonic macrumors 65816


    Sep 6, 2009
    Given the above choices between a 2010 hexacore Mac Pro and a late 2012 iMac, if the tasks to be done are heavy stuff like graphics, video work I would keep the 2010 Mac Pro and upgrade the videocard to 7950. As files get bigger storage expansion is essential plus exta pcie cards and the option to choose your monitor screen are the advantages from a Mac Pro.

    I had 2 iMacs years ago and decided to sell them as I had screen corner smudges issues. Though they were taken cared of by AppleCare, the smudges came back. For heavy design and After Effects, these were critical in my case.
  9. Bohab macrumors newbie

    Apr 5, 2013
    Keep the Mac Pro, its MUCH more powerful in every way. The iMac uses all laptop parts and runs very hot.
  10. DanielCoffey macrumors 65816


    Nov 15, 2010
    Edinburgh, UK
    I have just posted some benchmarks of my Apple 5870 against my new non-EFI 7950 in Skyrim at 1440p HERE and I am very impressed with the jump in performance.

    With the 5870 I had to run on High with 0xAA 8xAF to get a stable framerate and had to do without mods like SkyrimHD. With the 7950 3Gb I was able to get High at 8xAA 8xAF with perfectly stable 60fps and Ultra at 4xAA 16xAF also at 60fps without maxing out the GPU load. Around 2Gb of VRAM was used. I suspect I can now load up more textures and add ENB without hitting my new ceiling.

    In my mind, the 7950 is an excellent upgrade for gamers.
  11. rabidz7 macrumors 65816


    Jun 24, 2012
    Upgrade with a 680(prefferable), or 7950(not as fast).
  12. lewdvig macrumors 65816


    Jan 1, 2002
    South Pole
    The 680mx (a powerful mobile part) is about the same as a desktop 580.

    Grab a 660 Ti or 670 GTX for your MP and you can have all the power you need in a quiet cool card.

    And compared to the Fermi generation of cards, the GeForce GTX 660 Ti outperforms the GeForce GTX 580 whilst drawing less power and emitting less heat, allowing the GTX 660 Ti to run flawlessly from a modest 450 Watt power supply.​


    A 2009 MP is still better than a 2012 iMac, after three years.

    IMO this will continue for another couple years at least. Haswell is a small bump for most people, the new I/O is probably a bigger deal then the CPU.
  13. derbothaus macrumors 601


    Jul 17, 2010
    Yes, a REAL GTX 680 not the mobile GTX 680mx in the iMac. Should be 15-50% faster due to the 300MHz+ clock speed increases and memory speeds.
  14. Tesselator macrumors 601


    Jan 9, 2008
    I guess since this is the MacPro forum most people will pick the MacPro. I know I sure would. If I wanted to stuff a laptop into my desktop LCD I suppose I would select the iMac.

    Likewise I guess if you post the same thing in the iMac forum most of them would select the iMac - and if they wanted a big box taking up space...

Share This Page