Usually the one giving, but now need advice on iMac vs Mac Pro

jbg232

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Oct 15, 2007
1,141
2
It's time to upgrade my setup and really not sure what to do despite reading all the reviews, seeing the units in stores and asking multiple people their advice, so I'm turning to the community.

Currently I have a 2008 Macbook Aluminum which I upgraded with an SSD and 8GB of memory. It's good for most things but ever since I became very serious with my photography hobby this computer really can't handle editing 5D Mark III RAW images in Aperture and Photoshop very well (Aperture 99% of the time, Photoshop 1%). I also wish to play a game or two every year (not seriously, but every once in a while it's fun) and my current computer really can't handle the new ones.

The thing is that once I became very serious with photography I basically set my computer up as a desktop and got a 30" apple cinema display, keyboard, mouse, webcam, and speakers and permanently keep my laptop in clamshell mode on the floor.

My next computer would be a desktop with it's two main "prosumer" functions being large RAW image edits in lightroom/aperture and a possible game or so. Down the road, I would really like to have a 4K monitor, but definitely need them to come down to <$1000. I would keep my current laptop for when I need portability as everything is now in dropbox and other cloud systems.

Here comes my dilemma: Should I get a Mac Pro or a fully upgraded iMac???

I already have the externals so I feel like purchasing an iMac would be a waste of money because I have so much external hardware, most of which has no resale value except for the cinema display. However, a Mac Pro seems really overkill and expensive for my needs. One thing I do know that I will need is a 1TB SSD and at least 32GB Memory on either computer. If I went with a Mac Pro I also feel that I would have to go at least 6 core and D500 just to justify a difference in specs between the two machines. When these upgrades are added to the mac pro it seems like I'm paying a lot of money for a machine that is not designed for a prosumer like me.

I should mention that I was initially budgeting 3-4K for a new computer but a mac pro at 5K would really be stretching it.

What would you do?
 

prfrma

macrumors regular
May 29, 2010
204
0
It's time to upgrade my setup and really not sure what to do despite reading all the reviews, seeing the units in stores and asking multiple people their advice, so I'm turning to the community.

Currently I have a 2008 Macbook Aluminum which I upgraded with an SSD and 8GB of memory. It's good for most things but ever since I became very serious with my photography hobby this computer really can't handle editing 5D Mark III RAW images in Aperture and Photoshop very well (Aperture 99% of the time, Photoshop 1%). I also wish to play a game or two every year (not seriously, but every once in a while it's fun) and my current computer really can't handle the new ones.

The thing is that once I became very serious with photography I basically set my computer up as a desktop and got a 30" apple cinema display, keyboard, mouse, webcam, and speakers and permanently keep my laptop in clamshell mode on the floor.

My next computer would be a desktop with it's two main "prosumer" functions being large RAW image edits in lightroom/aperture and a possible game or so. Down the road, I would really like to have a 4K monitor, but definitely need them to come down to <$1000. I would keep my current laptop for when I need portability as everything is now in dropbox and other cloud systems.

Here comes my dilemma: Should I get a Mac Pro or a fully upgraded iMac???

I already have the externals so I feel like purchasing an iMac would be a waste of money because I have so much external hardware, most of which has no resale value except for the cinema display. However, a Mac Pro seems really overkill and expensive for my needs. One thing I do know that I will need is a 1TB SSD and at least 32GB Memory on either computer. If I went with a Mac Pro I also feel that I would have to go at least 6 core and D500 just to justify a difference in specs between the two machines. When these upgrades are added to the mac pro it seems like I'm paying a lot of money for a machine that is not designed for a prosumer like me.

I should mention that I was initially budgeting 3-4K for a new computer but a mac pro at 5K would really be stretching it.

What would you do?
Get an iMac.
 

ElectronGuru

macrumors 68000
Sep 5, 2013
1,516
369
Oregon, USA
Im in a similar boat. Struggling with LR/PS on a core 2 MBP and looking for a way out. Heres the deal...

TB1 cannot drive 4k. So nothing but the new Mac Pro will do the job you want to eventually move to. So, 1) whats better than the MB, 2) works with your current setup, and 3) has a good resale when more macs are shipping with TB2? A quad core mini with dual raid 0 SSDs is looking pretty good for this job.

4K imac hits, you sell the whole lot and live happily ever after.
 

jbg232

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Oct 15, 2007
1,141
2
Im in a similar boat. Struggling with LR/PS on a core 2 MBP and looking for a way out. Heres the deal...

TB1 cannot drive 4k. So nothing but the new Mac Pro will do the job you want to eventually move to. So, 1) whats better than the MB, 2) works with your current setup, and 3) has a good resale when more macs are shipping with TB2? A quad core mini with dual raid 0 SSDs is looking pretty good for this job.

4K imac hits, you sell the whole lot and live happily ever after.
I don't know if the graphics card in a Mac mini will be up to snuff. Any experience?
 

wildmac

macrumors 65816
Jun 13, 2003
1,167
1
Im in a similar boat. Struggling with LR/PS on a core 2 MBP and looking for a way out. Heres the deal...

TB1 cannot drive 4k. So nothing but the new Mac Pro will do the job you want to eventually move to. So, 1) whats better than the MB, 2) works with your current setup, and 3) has a good resale when more macs are shipping with TB2? A quad core mini with dual raid 0 SSDs is looking pretty good for this job.

4K imac hits, you sell the whole lot and live happily ever after.
Yeah, a lot of us are in this boat...

There are two thing we really need to know...

LR 5 performance on the nMP, 4 core vs 6 core
Benchmarks on the D700 (it's looking more and more like the D500 is a dog for the money, so the real choice is D300 vs D700)

Pending those two things.. that should tell us where to go from iMac vs nMP.

We need those benchmarks..
 

keigo

macrumors regular
Nov 6, 2006
245
6
I don't know if the graphics card in a Mac mini will be up to snuff. Any experience?
For those who even think about Mac mini GPU then the nMP D300 is already over kill for you.

That is the result I never consider Mac Mini due to the crappy GPU in it.
 

jbg232

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Oct 15, 2007
1,141
2

wildmac

macrumors 65816
Jun 13, 2003
1,167
1
He last post sums up my thoughts - no it will not work out. The problem is that aperture loves a fast ssd and gpu for loading and CPU for adjustments. That and a crap ton of ram (it just caches as much as it can without any limit I can find...). Still between the imac and Mac Pro....
and between the D300 and D700 on benchmarks... need data...
 

keigo

macrumors regular
Nov 6, 2006
245
6
He last post sums up my thoughts - no it will not work out. The problem is that aperture loves a fast ssd and gpu for loading and CPU for adjustments. That and a crap ton of ram (it just caches as much as it can without any limit I can find...). Still between the imac and Mac Pro....
actually purchase either one will work out for you.

The next factor will be cost.

Next it will be your prefer of mobile CPU & GPU or workstation CPU & GPU with better throttling

Lastly do you need 64GB ram, 4k, TB2 or more TB port?
 

Thunderbird

macrumors 6502a
Dec 25, 2005
903
753
What is your budget?

When do you need to decide?

How long do you want the computer to last?
 

jbg232

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Oct 15, 2007
1,141
2
actually purchase either one will work out for you.

The next factor will be cost.

Next it will be your prefer of mobile CPU & GPU or workstation CPU & GPU with better throttling

Lastly do you need 64GB ram, 4k, TB2 or more TB port?
I would like to use 4K down the road when the software and drivers have become more stable and the prices of the displays become more reasonable. I don't see myself needing TB2 but if I did get a mac pro it wouldn't be out of my zone of possibility of getting 64gb of ram down the line.

What is your budget?

When do you need to decide?

How long do you want the computer to last?
Comfortable budget - up to $4300 (including apple care)
Uncomfortable budget (but could still afford) - up to $5K (including apple care)

I have a little while to decide. My current computer is 5 years old but the problem is that I have about 20 photo events that I have yet to even look at (they are just hanging out on the memory card) because my laptop is out of space. That and the fact that I am kind of tired of waiting (I was going to get an iMac last year but then just upgraded to an SSD to hold off for another year to see what the mac pro offered as I am ideally set up for one).

I would LIKE the computer to be able to last 4 years realistically. Actually, aside from the 35MB raw image photo editing my Macbook aluminum from 2008 with an upgraded SSD and 8GB of RAM is a total champ and the best computer I've owned in 25 years in the market. I'm still going to keep and use it as my portable computer till the day it won't turn on - then it will get a funeral...
 

PJNanook

macrumors member
Jan 2, 2014
36
3
Pretty much in the same boat as you. I am a photographer with a Nikon D800 as my primary and way too much other stuff to list. The big files especially stacks and panos are really making my MBP Core2 duo cry. The SSD I put in helps but, I still get tears.

I really hate the glossy screens when doing actual photo work and own one of the PA series monitors from NEC with the calibration set up.

I ordered the nMP 4 core/32 Gig/1TB/D300 and think that will be just fine. Not wanting the glossy display, my choices were the Mini and the Pro. I don't like the shared RAM on the Mini for the video, so my choice was made.

I don't game. I don't run benchmarks. I don't do video. I just do photos. Some of my Panos are over 2GB before they are flattened. Even then the file size is about 500MB or so. The lots of fast RAM and a big SSD for a swap file will serve me well. 64 Gig will be in my future if OWC does not figure out how to put 128 in it. (later when the price comes down) Might upgrade the processor later in its life. Just depends on what is available down the line.

Worrying about it too much just wastes time you could be getting work done.


Kevin
 

propower

macrumors 6502a
Jul 23, 2010
719
112
How much do you love the 30" ACD??

Random thoughts -
- The i7 imac CPU, SSD and 32G Ram will certainly keep up with what you are doing. How much difference the two video card options (780M and 775) make I am not a good one to say. THe real issue is whether the 27" imac screen is a good thing or a bad thing for you. Me, I love it but photography people are very particular here. If you love the 30" ACD you almost have to go nMP (and the base model would probably kill on what you are doing). If the 4K thing in the next two years is real key - nMP.
 

Thunderbird

macrumors 6502a
Dec 25, 2005
903
753
I would like to use 4K down the road when the software and drivers have become more stable and the prices of the displays become more reasonable. I don't see myself needing TB2 but if I did get a mac pro it wouldn't be out of my zone of possibility of getting 64gb of ram down the line.



Comfortable budget - up to $4300 (including apple care)
Uncomfortable budget (but could still afford) - up to $5K (including apple care)

I have a little while to decide. My current computer is 5 years old but the problem is that I have about 20 photo events that I have yet to even look at (they are just hanging out on the memory card) because my laptop is out of space. That and the fact that I am kind of tired of waiting (I was going to get an iMac last year but then just upgraded to an SSD to hold off for another year to see what the mac pro offered as I am ideally set up for one).

I would LIKE the computer to be able to last 4 years realistically. Actually, aside from the 35MB raw image photo editing my Macbook aluminum from 2008 with an upgraded SSD and 8GB of RAM is a total champ and the best computer I've owned in 25 years in the market. I'm still going to keep and use it as my portable computer till the day it won't turn on - then it will get a funeral...
If you're fine upgrading in 4 years, then an iMac should be enough, given the type of work you're doing. An iMac bought now should keep pace with existing and advancing hardware for the next 3-5 years. A nMP would probably be overkill, however, for that very reason it will last longer (5-7 years) before you felt the need to upgrade.

Also, in case it matters to you, the new RAM standard DDR 4 will be coming out later this year, which will give a boost over existing DDR 3 for memory intensive programs like the ones you're working in. But Apple probably won't have any desktops products with DDR 4 in them until the middle of next year.
 
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