Vector Illustration: Mac Pro or iMac?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by chrisleavens, Mar 10, 2009.

  1. chrisleavens macrumors newbie

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    Los Angeles
    #1
    I realize there are other threads asking for advice in choosing between the iMac and the Mac Pro, but I have a more specific, performance-related quandary. I'm an illustrator by trade and I primarily create my work using Adobe Illustrator. My work has a tendency to get fairly complex (samples can be seen at my website) which often slows down my old dual 2Ghz PowerMac to the point of unusability, so I've decided to upgrade to a new rig.

    I'm leaning heavily toward the new quad Mac Pro as the RAM limit isn't really an issue (AI isn't a really RAM-hungry app). I guess my question, for those of you who might understand the underlying processor tech. a little better than I do is, is the performance/price ratio in my favor here, or will I be over-doing things by getting a Mac Pro? I'm fairly certain that Illustrator doesn't really take advantage of more than one core, but I'd really like whatever computer I'm getting to be able to push through what I throw at it for at least four or five years (hopefully a couple more). Any thoughts/ideas/advice would be massively appreciated. Oh, and I'm not interested in going the hackintosh route, so that's not an option.
     
  2. sigmadog macrumors 6502a

    sigmadog

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    Feb 11, 2009
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    near Spokane, WA
    #2
    I'm not so sure about this. If you are creating some fairly intricate illustrations with gradient meshes and such, I think Illustrator would really improve with a lot of RAM.

    By the way, nice illustrations.
     
  3. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2004
    #3
    Nice work. :)

    If I were you, I'd also give some thought to the display you want to use and check out some of your EPS files on an iMac at an Apple Store. Although I'm no Illustrator whiz, I'm a print designer and will always get the most powerful Mac I can afford with as much RAM as I can first fit in there, just for expandability and longevity. I like being able to choose my display and more importantly, replace it if it goes on the fritz.

    As far as I'm concerned, when it comes to a work machine for design, you can never 'overdo' it. Today's overkill machine is tomorrow's sluggard. I suspect we'll also see some development in Illustrator's capabilities over the coming years; it's been a bit of a neglected step-child... I find it clunky on my machine as well.
     
  4. eyefoniac macrumors 6502

    eyefoniac

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    #4
    I guess it really depends on how much work you are planning on making the new compy do. Like Blue Velvet said, today's overkill is tomorrows sluggard.

    If you are going for something that will last awhile with the option of (easy) upgradability (besides RAM), and can afford it, the Pro is right for you.

    If you think you can get by with just upgrading RAM (could offer quite the improvement in speed with Adobe) then an iMac may be for you. The iMac offers large screen real estate/power for quite the affordable price.
     
  5. chrisleavens thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #5
    Thanks! I've no reason to doubt you, but I've never run into a RAM-related bottleneck as of yet. All of my performance issues have been processor-related, usually resulting in me turning off every possible "redraw" of the image (Navigator panel, layer thumbnails) as each piece progresses. At a certain point nothing responds on first click, which is really frustrating and annoying. I rarely use gradient mesh, by the way. Most of my shading is accomplished with masked, feathered objects.
     
  6. mogus3000 macrumors newbie

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    Feb 12, 2009
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    UK
    #6
    I agree with Blue velvet. You need a kick ass display for your work. I would look into a mac mini with a 24inch cinema display as a possible alternative to an imac. Illustrator will run sweet on a mini. Mac pro is overkill for illustrator, but get one if you have the budget.
     
  7. chrisleavens thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #7
    Thanks. I was pretty much thinking along the same lines. I've got a nice display already which is another reason I've been leaning Mac Pro. I sincerely hope the next version of AI takes advantage of more cores. That would be awesome.
     
  8. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2004
    #8

    Maybe with Snow Leopard as well apparently helping leverage multicores, there may be some mileage in that. The only reason I switched from a Power Mac to a MacBook Pro with external display, keyboard and mouse was for space reasons. The Mac Pro couldn't fit in the new space I'd set up.

    I've never liked the iMacs so I'm biased. An all-in-one sealed machine doesn't appeal to me at all and I've never been impressed with their displays. The other advantage of the Mac Pro is internal hard drive expansion for years worth of archived work and other stuff, and also for using Time Machine instead of stringing external drives all over your workspace. The Minis are crippled with their pokey little drives.

    Most Macs I've demoed in the Apple Store have at least CS3 on them. If I were you, I'd certainly put some files on a USB key and go and demo some machines, putting them through their paces.
     
  9. iisarenotnobody macrumors member

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    Jul 18, 2008
    #9
    I have used illustrator and photoshop (CS3) at the same time, and my iMac takes forever to preview render 3D text. One of the reasons why I am going mac pro
     
  10. chrisleavens thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #10
    I've already got a really nice display that I'm happy with, which is one of the reasons I was leaning Mac Pro. In all honesty, I think I don't think the mini's got enough horsepower to make it seem like a worthy upgrade from my current machine. If it had a bit more juice, I'd go for it without a doubt. Basically, if it was a headless iMac or the fabled "xMac," I'd go for it, but it's not.
     
  11. vogelhausdesign macrumors regular

    vogelhausdesign

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    Jan 7, 2009
    Location:
    Columbus, Ohio
    #11
    Chris, your website's not doin' ya justice my friend :) I should know.. I'm a professional designer.

    Im sure it's been said, you'll want something more powerful than a Mac Mini to handle those kinds of illustrations and for better performance overall with the addition of RAM.

    Now I know for a fact you've probably had illustrator crash on you because of bottlenecking memory.. Get yourself something nice man :)

    Great work, enjoyed it.

    PS: Are you using a Cintiq? Intuos3? I would suggest an iMac.. but then again it's all about your needs. Definitely get a decent display though. Keep your colors in check :)
     
  12. bntz313 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2007
    #12
    I would go for a refurbished quad 2.8, is cheap and it can have 32gb ram.

    You work is awesome, makes me really wanna get on my illustrator skills
     
  13. chrisleavens thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Mar 10, 2009
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    Los Angeles
    #13
    Yeah, my site's in pretty desperate need of an overhaul. I've been meaning to crack into it or hire someone to do because I'm just SO busy with illustration and design jobs (I work as a designer as well, but I'm not by any means a web-design guru), personal art, and art shows that I haven't been able to find the time. I guess if I wasn't doing well, I wouldn't be able to justify the Mac Pro, would I?:)

    In all honesty, I've only had memory-related issues when exporting my work to raster format. My computer hasn't even ever hit the page file when I've been illustrating. Seriously, unless Activity Monitor isn't working properly and my hard drive slips into silent paging mode when virtual memory kicks in, RAM issues haven't been existent.

    Thanks!

    I've been doing this for about a decade now, so I'm pretty OK when it comes to peripherals. Intuos 2 (no need to upgrade since it works perfectly fine -- would love a Cintiq -- that's next on the list) and I've got a nice Formac LCD that I've had for a few years and it still looks great. Thanks again for your opinions!

    P.S. Your design work is excellent!
     
  14. chrisleavens thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Mar 10, 2009
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    Los Angeles
    #14
    Thanks so much! I considered the refurbs as they seem to be a good value. I'm pretty sure I'll spring for a new one though. I've got the money saved up and I'd like to eke out a little extra time from whatever I end up with.
     

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