Very confused about getting iMac or MacPro

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by CoffeeMonkey, Oct 21, 2007.

  1. CoffeeMonkey macrumors regular

    Feb 23, 2003
    MacPro or iMac? I'm stuck between the two, and really wish Apple offered a consumer-level tower.

    Right now, I have a G5 PowerMac that is about 3.5 years old. I'd been planning on getting a MacPro when the line refreshes, but a recent conversation with a friend who got a new iMac (and is really happy with it even though he's traditionally gone for towers) has me thinking that the Pro is probably a bit to "pro" for me.

    In short, what I use my Mac for is: serving up music to my home office, my iPod, and my AppleTv; playing World of Warcraft, Warcraft III, and Sim City 4 (and hopefully Spore if it is ever released); editing home movies and managing family photos in iLife; and converting videos with VisualHub and ffmpegX to work on my AppleTV. I know that none of these activities is especially "pro", and so the MacPro is probably overkill. What appeal to me the most about the Pro line is the multiple internal drives, and the ability to upgrade my video card if I ever want to.

    Further complicating my decision is the fact that I already have a 24" Apple display that is about 3 years old, and I'm not sure how long I can count on that working. (As an aside - if I got the iMac, is there a video-out port so that I could use my current display along side the iMac)?

    Are there any objective measures of how much faster a 2.8ghz Intel iMac would be than my 2ghz PowerPC PowerMac and how much slower than a dual 2.66mgz MacPro? Right now the only thing that is far too slow for me is video conversion.

    Price differential betwen the MacPro and the iMac would sure buy me a lot of external hard drive space.

    Please help!
  2. Dont Hurt Me macrumors 603

    Dont Hurt Me

    Dec 21, 2002
    Yahooville S.C.
  3. galstaph macrumors 6502a


    Jul 24, 2002
    The Great White North Eh
    For what your doing an imac would suffice with plenty to spare (money and power wise)
    as for the power differential see geekbench
  4. Cabbit macrumors 68020


    Jan 30, 2006
    From my point of view both options have there pro's and cons.


    All in one design
    Big hard drive
    Nice looking


    Poor graphics sub system
    Non upgradeable graphics
    Limited memory capacity
    Limited hard drive options and space for extras
    Poor display
    Slot load drive dosn't take mini sized disks
    Its a replaceable commodity
    Unresolved software bugs

    Mac pro


    Fully upgradeable and serviceable
    Upto 4TB hard drive(current)
    2 Tray load optical drives
    Pro Grade graphics options
    X1950 upgrade is ok
    Upto 32GB ram (will outlast the machine)
    Base CPU can be user upgraded to dual quad or more
    ^_^ shiny
    Best in class price/performance
    Many input/output ports
    Pci Express expansion ports
    Can use a apple 30 inch


    Expensive ram
    Dose not come with a screen
    No current graphics cards options
    Limited to only 4 HDD bays
    Logic board cant be replaced cheeply
    Logic board cant be upgraded
    No multi GPU capable
    Can get expensive
    Dinny buy ram form apple
  5. CoffeeMonkey thread starter macrumors regular

    Feb 23, 2003
    Looking at the image of the back of the iMac on the Apple site, I saw that there is a video out port. Does that mean that I can run an external monitor at the same time as the built-in one? That would be pretty cool.
  6. emptyCup macrumors 65816


    Jan 5, 2005
  7. Schtumple macrumors 601


    Jun 13, 2007
    Yes you can, you can mirror the image or you can have multiple desktops which is what I plan on doing, just need to find a nice white 17inch widescreen now :D
  8. sndcj1 macrumors member

    May 22, 2007
    When I went from a tower to the new iMac, I had some of the same questions. I was going to need a new monitor myself, but I liked the "upgradability" of the tower. I ended up going with the iMac because I realized that in the many years that I had a tower that I could upgrade various parts of, the only thing I ever changed was ram, and internal hard drives. I can upgrade ram in this machine, and external hard drives are as easy to come by as internal. The graphics card was never upgraded because it seemed as though any gains in graphics performance were always offset by losses in age of computer. I personally LOVE my new 2.8 24" iMac, and wouldn't go for a tower again.
  9. czachorski macrumors 6502a


    Sep 24, 2007
    I mirror this sentiment as well. Like the OP, I too just went through that decision, and just ordered a 24" iMac a few days ago (scheduled to arrive Wednesday). For me, the deciding point was when I played with the new iMovie and realized that transitions, effects and titles playback in real time with no rendering. It's not like I am going to get anything faster than real time when editing a movie. That is the point when fast enough is fast enough for me.

    Then on the rendering, I played around with rendering a 1 minute HD clip from iMovie to h264 at the apple store. 52 seconds on an iMac, 35 seconds on a Quad Core Mac Pro. If I am rendering a 10 minute movie, do I really care if it finishes in 5 minutes or 9 minutes? No - I get it going, and then I do something else on the computer (like surf the web, read email, etc). Both machines will handle the multi-tasking just fine. Also, it's not like a render things 10 times a day. Maybe once per week. Those things, and me basically lusting after the form factor and 24" screen pretty much cinched it.

    I have a 20" ACD now, and I am looking forward to the 24" screen. I am one of those who likes the glossy and thinks that it makes photos and movies look outstanding. (Typical consumer: ooohh it's shiny!!! :) )

    Looking forward to wednesday!
  10. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    May 19, 2002
    If you are doing a lot of video conversion with an app that is multicore aware, the extra two cores of the Mac Pro might get you a heck of a lot of performance.

    This is the situation where you should opt for a Mac Pro over the iMac, especially if you have the ACD.

    Plus, if you are using high power apps and they take advantage of more memory soon, the fact that the Mac Pro is 32GB capable -- will add a heck of a lot of performace, at a reasonble price in the future.
  11. czachorski macrumors 6502a


    Sep 24, 2007
    True. True. I've maxed the RAM on the iMac to 4GB and that is all I will ever have. Of course, I put 1.5 GB of RAM in my PowerMac 5 years ago, and found it never needed to be upgraded. Then again, my uses for the machine never changed much over the 5 years and mirror that of the OP.
  12. GoKyu macrumors 65816


    Feb 15, 2007
    New Orleans
    Wanted to add my thoughts to this, cos I was going through the same decision-making process myself...

    I was thinking that the Mac Pro would be best, *but*, I'm literally so sick of windows now, that I'd be willing to get an iMac early...then looking at the price of the 24" model ($1800+) ... well, if I spend just a few hundred more, I'll be able to just get the Mac Pro (a LOT faster, MUCH better upgrades available, etc), so I may as well hold out for it.

    So that's what I'm doing....saving up, and should be able to afford my Mac Pro by Christmas, I hope, and at that time, will just use the 2 monitors that I have now, instead of worrying about getting a new screen and putting out even more money...

  13. Carrot007 macrumors regular


    Sep 18, 2006
    I think a lot of people belive they need a mac pro because they are still in the windows way of thinking.

    All their previous machine will be windows towers so when they decide top try a mac they look at the mac pro because it looks the most simaler.

    However I would ask them have any of your windows machine been xeon class workstations costing around the same as a mac pro?

    If not then no you do not need a mac pro.

    Yes on the imac you do lose a lot of expansion options but unfortunatly you do just by moving to mac. The mac pro is not as expandable as you think it is because you cannot just use pc stuff (well unless you just plan on installing windows on it, but really!)

    So the imac vs mac pro debate questions are really, do you need more than 4gb ram, most people do not, and is external storage good enough for me, yes get a big drive internally to use but external does good enough for a store for most things, hey I don't even use fw or usb for my external storage because most of my stuff sits on my linux box and the network is plenty fast for most things.

    The hardest thing to do when getting a mac coming from a windows background is realise you need to change the way yoiu think and that an imac is what you need.
  14. motomac macrumors member

    Oct 19, 2007
    I must say well put Carrot007!

    If you have a 2 year old windows tower or older, chances are the new aluminum iMac is a good sized step up as far as performance goes. Sure the iMac is barely upgradable, but then again, why does the average Joe T. Consumer need to go from a $600 Best Buy HP or Dell computer complete with monitor and printer and lay down at least $2200 for a "low end" Mac Pro without the accessories?

    If they bought or was considering a $400-800 complete windows system from Best Buy or Circut City etc., chances are they wern't buying it for movie making or high def pic editing. Heck, those systems get more use outta being used for chatting online or as a word processor, than for serious, time sensitive prosumer digital editing and graphics support.

    Agh! Thats my two-bits worth.:eek:
  15. jatkins123 macrumors newbie

    Oct 17, 2007
    i agree with what everyone has been saying about being able to deal with the imac as it is more than sufficient for now...however, im in the same dilemma as the original poster but ive decided on the macpro because i want to use it to play both PC and mac games for at least the next 4 years and you all know how quickly the spec requirements for the latest and greatest PC games goes up...

    i know that for now the mac pro would be over kill for anything im going to play (BF2142, WOW, SCII etc) but guaranteed that if you buy an imac and want to play and PC games in 2-3 years you'll be struggling graphics wise...

    im not saying unplayable...but not playable at the best...and when you're spending this much on a computer you want to get longevity out of it...

    just my 2 cents

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