web / graphic designer looking at Mac pro

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by shanDB, Jul 30, 2008.

  1. shanDB macrumors newbie

    Jul 30, 2008

    So my poor old PC is on its last legs. It has served me well over the years, but I am in dire need of a new system. The specs on my PC are quite laughable (It's an old workhorse): 2 gigs of ram / pentium 4 processor

    I also have a macbook, which I love - So it makes perfect sense for my new system to be a MAC. I'm now just deciding as to which one, and I would love to go for a MAC PRO.

    I'm a designer, so the applications I would be running are mostly Abobe (Dreamweaver / Illustrator / Flash / Photoshop etc) - but I also do a fair bit of audio work, so I need something that can handle audio editing / production nicely - and perhaps the occassional bit of video editing in Premire.
    I also plan to use VMWare or Parallels so I can keep using some of my old PC applications that have served me well..

    So - which machine? After hanging on to my good old PC for so many years (way past it's due date) I now feel like I want to treat myself to something a little 'high end', but of course don't want anything too excessive or costly beyond my means.

    I would love a MAC PRO, but how should I spec it? I have heard that 2x3.0 / 2x3.2 quad core is proberbly a little excessive for my needs, and that I wouldn't notice much (if any) difference in the kinds of applications I run.

    So what is the difference between 1x2.8 quad and 2x2.8 quad? Will I notice any performance difference. There is certainly a price difference which could be a deciding factor.

    Ram is so cheap nowdays that it is affordable to stick in as much as it can handle. Would there be any issues I should consider with throwing in 32GB of third party ram (apple ram is expensive).

    I already have 2 x 21" standard VGA monitors. Can I use these on a mac pro (is there an adaptor or something?). Running dual monitors is certainly a priority.

    Perhaps an Imac is all need? I definately need to run 2 monitors - Can an Imac do this?

    At the end of the day, I certainly don't want a machine that is sluggish in dealing with my work. Those days are almost over for me..

    thanks in advance for any advice anyone can give me

  2. stainlessliquid macrumors 68000

    Sep 22, 2006
    A mac pro is too powerful for graphic design. A 24" imac would offer more value. Graphic design programs arent the beasts they used to be, processors have progressed so fast that Adobe cant keep up so even low end processors are perfectly fine for professional design work. Ram is really all that matters, and unless you are working with super large raw camera files then 4gbs is more than enough. If you do get a mac pro I wouldnt get anything more than the absolute lowest end one possible (including older refurbs), also normal laptop and desktop ram is cheap, mac pros use a special kind of ram that is more expensive.
  3. jroller macrumors regular

    Jul 24, 2008
    Charleston, SC
    I'd have to disagree, personally. Speaking as someone who does work in a similar vein as you, I would recommend the Pro.

    You are someone who is going to hold onto this machine for awhile, you consistently use the machine for more demanding tasks than the average user, and you, well, it's really what YOU want.

    The iMac is a great machine and it can do all the things you want to do, no question, but it is still consumer-level hardware. Keep in mind you are buying the tower AND monitor when you buy an iMac, and still it is less expensive than the Mac Pro tower alone, sans monitor. Why is that? Well, because it is made with cheaper components -- not bad components, just less expensive.

    When you buy a Mac Pro, you are getting great quality. You are future-proofing as well. This machine will serve you well for the next 5-8 years, at least, and still be as valid as it is today.

    I have several iMacs in my lab and love them. I also have two Mac Pros in the lab. For someone doing the work you do, there is no question that the Pro is the best choice.

    Now, to answer your questions: Since, like most of us, you are cost sensitive, I would recommend the base model Pro -- four cores are plenty. While RAM is cheap today, the Pro does use a special RAM module, and is probably a bit more pricey than standard; however, you are right.... do NOT purchase it from Apple, but do purchase from a reputable third party (Crucial has 4 gig kits (2x2gig) for $189). Frankly, I think 32 is overkill; I would recommend 4 or 8, at least initially. The Pro has eight slots (but RAM must be installed in pairs), so plan accordingly for future additions. Yes, you can use your monitors. Mine came with the appropriate adapters, but you will have to confirm if this is still the case.

    My .02...
  4. shanDB thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 30, 2008
    excellent. 2 very different responses to consider. I appreciate the feedback.

  5. jaduffy108 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 12, 2005
    I think the previous posters make some valid points, but I think an iMac with 4GB of RAM is plenty of power and a FAR, F_A_R better value.

    What about this?.... Add a 4GB RAM kit from OWC for $100 and voila!
    Refurbished iMac 24-inch 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
    24-inch glossy widescreen display
    1GB memory
    320GB hard drive
    8x SuperDrive (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
    ATI Radeon HD 2600 PRO with 256MB memory
    Built-in iSight Camera
    Learn More

    • Save 26% off the original price
    Original price: $1,799.00
    Your price: $1,349.00

    Go to barefeats.com to see benchmarks. If you feel spending TWICE as much for a Mac Pro/monitor for a 15% increase in *rendering* times makes sense...more power to you. :)

    Also...imo..adding 32GB of RAM is a waste of money. 8 GB in a Mac Pro would be more than sufficient.

    Too much of this stuff is for bragging rights rather than "needs" imo.

    Lastly...if you really feel the Mac Pro is for you...then **definitely** wait for Nehalem!!! Those chips will very likely show up in *Mac Pro* machines at MWSF, Jan. 09. Nehalem is going to be a big boost in performance.

    Good luck!
  6. AdiosVista macrumors 6502

    Sep 10, 2008
    Definitely do NOT buy the iMac as a previous commenter suggested!! It's a great machine and all, but the panel quality alone is not suitable for any kind of serious graphics work. I too am a web and graphic designer, just bought my Mac Pro this month and LOVE it. You could easily get away with one 2.8, I got the 8-core but there really is no need to run design apps. Also, you will be able to run more RAM with a Mac Pro and I firmly believe 4GB is not enough. I have 10GB right now and with XP running in Fusion, all my test browsers open, and Adobe apps running, code editor, and other usual stuff like mail and iCal, I use around 8GB. As far as waiting for Nehalem, I didn't see the point since the current processors are way overkill already for a graphics designer.
  7. the mac geek macrumors member

    Oct 20, 2008
    While the current CPUs are "overkill" for graphic design. The gains that will be add from the integrated memory controller will manifest itself in multi-tasking and RAM intensive application like Photoshop, etc.

    The performance gain is more than raw speed. The Mac Pro is well into the middle of its' cycle. However, given the length of time for the last update, it could be awhile before Apple releases a new Pro. At this point, I would wait until after Macworld and then buy.

    On the topic of iMac vs. Mac Pro. It depends on what you want and what is value to you. Some of the posters are saying the iMac offers better "value," however, this seems to be based on the specs for the price. Which is of course one possible conception of "value." However, consider things like the four hard drive bays, eight RAM slots, dual superdrives, ports, PCI-E slots. All of these things make the Mac Pro much more expandable.

    In other words, the Mac Pro is a machine you can grow into, whereas the iMac is generally a machine you grow out of in a short amount of time.

    Some will say, "you can get external drives!" Sure you can, but I for one have enough on my desk for design work and I would rather not have external drives covering my desk. (Granted I also have a server for storage.)

    The question is: Do you want enough for right now, or enough for the future?

    To counter one point made against the iMac, the panel in the 24" iMac is an H-IPS panel which offers better blacks and color accuracy than the technology used in the current cinema displays (not LED, in fact the LED probably uses the same panel as the 24" iMac.)

    Good luck to you OP.
  8. Grimace macrumors 68040


    Feb 17, 2003
    with Hamburglar.
    Too powerful for graphic design? :confused:

    That's hogwash. Photoshop, Illustrator, Quark, etc. -- these all like lots of CPU power and RAM.

    Skip the top level CPUs and go with a 2.8 or 3.0GHz chipset (don't skimp and get the single 2.8 chip).

    Then, toss in 6-8GB of RAM. OS X will eat a lot of your RAM no matter what, and multiple (hungry) apps open at the same time will make it worthwhile.

    Good luck!
  9. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604


    May 28, 2005
    as someone who does web design work on the side, I actually would recommend an iMac with an attached external display.

    a few reasons:

    First off, the iMac is probably more then enough power, just max the ram.

    Secondly, even though I would never recommend using the iMac panel to design on, sometimes it's handy to have a second panel that you can set to see how others view the web (uncelebrated).

    Thirdly, it's more fun to get a new iMac today, and another new iMac in 3 years then it is to get one Mac Pro and keep it for 6 years.
  10. AdiosVista macrumors 6502

    Sep 10, 2008
    I use a 24" iMac at work and the screen lighting is very uneven, not to mention, the biggest draw back for any designer, it's GLOSSY. If you're serious about your work, the iMac screen can't compare to a good ol' matte cinema display.

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