What is better for WoW: iMac or Mac Pro?

Discussion in 'Mac and PC Games' started by fernande-mac, Jul 27, 2010.

  1. fernande-mac macrumors regular

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    #1
    I have been running WoW in my dual PowerMac G5 since 2004. Everything is running fine, but the last expansion (Lich King) added some areas that seem to have heavy requirements and the FPS is lowered quite a bit.

    The degradation in performance was annoying enough that two years ago I upgraded RAM to 6GB, the OS to 10.5, and the graphics card to the best I could get for that configuration (ATI Radeon X800 XT).

    Even though things got better, it did not resolve the issues completely. The next suggested upgrade was to change to a new CPU architecture (Intel) which will improve Open GL performance as well as the opportunity to upgrade to the "faster" OS 10.6.

    I have a chance to upgrade my machine in the upcoming Holiday season. So, I was wondering about the most recent hardware.

    Is a Mac Pro overkill just to play WoW and basic photo/video editing? Or will a high-end iMac be sufficient for the next 6 years?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Huntn macrumors G5

    Huntn

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    #2
    I'd say if money is no object, and/or you use if for photo/video manipulation then the Mac Pro is always the best choice. If you are just talking about WoW, then it's overkill.
     
  3. ozreth macrumors 65816

    ozreth

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    #3
    The new iMacs will run WoW at max settings no problem. Its not a graphically demanding game.

    MacPros will run any game on the market at highest settings, obviously overkill for WoW.
     
  4. rasmasyean macrumors 6502a

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    Jul 11, 2008
    #4
    If you're planning on playing Cataclysm, they are upping the graphics and using DX10. It still won't be "state of the art realism", but it will up the scale of the requirements a bit. But WoW lets you tune down a lot so it just depends on how much eye candy means to you. If all you do is Area pvp, maybe it isn't important. If you like the "immersion" in world questing, then maybe you want something better.

    Oh...and unless you have really really low computing standards and expect them to be lower as you age...NO computer is good for 6 years. It might work...but it's a piece of junk that works.
     
  5. fernande-mac thread starter macrumors regular

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    #5
    I do plan on playing Cataclysm and I know my PowerMac will not be able to run it properly. I would love to play WoW with high settings (I am using low/medium settings right now), so I am trying to see what's the most reasonable Mac configuration that will allow me to play WoW with the best graphics/performance for a reasonable amount of time.

    I don't have low computing standards, I just like to keep things until they are no longer useful. That's the main reason I got a Mac. With a PC I found myself upgrading pieces or whole computers pretty much every 1.5-2 years.

    The arbitrary 6-year window is based on how long I have been able to use my current PowerMac. It works fine, but I am hiting limitations with certain aspects of my daily workflow.

    The main reason I got the PowerMac in the first place was the ability to upgrade internals such as RAM, HD, Graphics Card, etc. I took advantage of it and was able to get a couple more years out of it.

    Unfortunately, money may be an object as I would need to upgrade both the computer and the display because my current Apple Cinema Display is not compatible with the lastest models.

    The option of an iMac looks promising as I would not need to buy a separate display. However, I will be locked to the graphics card that comes with the configuration I purchase. Although this may be a limiting factor sooner than later, there is about a $2000 differen between the Mac Pro and iMac configurations. :rolleyes:
     
  6. combatcolin macrumors 68020

    combatcolin

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  7. apfhex macrumors 68030

    apfhex

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    #7
    I'm guessing you must have the older plastic one with the ADC connector and not the aluminum one, which is too bad. But it sounds to me like you would be much more satisfied with the Mac Pro. There's no way the iMac is going to last 6 years of usefulness, but I can see the MP maybe, IF they release some newer video cards down the line (I wouldn't count on it, but it has been true for the other models).

    If you're not set on buying Apple's Cinema display there are other cheaper IPS monitors out there, though you get what you pay for. I love my 23" Aluminum ACD and wouldn't settle for less for my main machine, but I ordered the HP ZR24W mentioned in that link for the mid-range gaming PC I just built.

    I can definitely see using my Mac Pro for two more years at this rate, but it's at its limit for video card upgrades. It's still a viable gaming machine, but I want to play future games - like Cataclysm - without having to lower the visuals (it struggled enough just with WOTLK).
     
  8. JackAxe macrumors 68000

    JackAxe

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    #8
    I'm with combatcolin... Neither of your choices fernande-mac. But instead a PC that costs less than $1k. I can spec it out for you and when it comes to games, it will not only be stable, but it will run circles around Apple's latest and greatest. ;)

    Probably not anything new, but all of the the GPUs on the Mac side are overpriced when compared to their PC counterparts and the choices are few and dated. Unless you plan on using Bootcamp, OS X takes a huge bite out of 3D performance general when compared to running the same game under Windows on the same hardware.

    Speaking of the display incompatibility... It cost me $30 on top of my MacBook Pro just so I could plug my Wacom Cintiq into it, then another $100 just so I could plug in my Apple 30". :rolleyes: Apple is getting a bit too greedy for my liking these days.

    Anyways, I moved to a portable as my primary Mac machine, where as in the past I relied on their notebooks as a secondary to my Mac workstations. For the most part I can get by just fine with my MBpro, but when I need more I go to my PC -- so for all heavy 3D work.
     
  9. rasmasyean macrumors 6502a

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    #9
    The reason why you didn't upgrade your mac the same way you did for the PC was because your piorities changed. You didn't "need" the latest and greatest game or software anymore. Or perhaps it's because there wasn't that much software on the Mac anyway that you discovered you really needed a top notch computer for. The Mac isn't a magical device, unless you're inside Steve's reality distortion aura. It's a computer too, and you just happened to get away with kludging it year after year...the same thing that can be done to a PC.

    What I'm saying is that if you DO want the options of modern computing to a decent extent, you can't expect a computer to be like a piece of furniture from your mom's house. It's a consumable. And don't even try the argument of "browser" / "cloud". That's been used already years ago...when there was no such thing as 1080p streaming and 1000-plot farmville.
     
  10. combatcolin macrumors 68020

    combatcolin

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    #10
    Gaming PC

    Without sounding too much of a troll a gaming PC is pretty damn cheap.

    You get a lot more for your money, and it will last longer - but this is a debate that has raged for years.
     
  11. aiqw9182 macrumors 65816

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    Apr 22, 2010
    #11
    The iMac's monitor costs around 1k in it of itself, so the iMacs internals end up costing around 1k as well. WoW is not that difficult to run. It's from 2004. The more resolution you have in an MMORPG/RTS game the better. The 3D performance point will soon be moot when Apple updates their drivers. If I were the OP I would get an iMac.
     
  12. I'mAMac macrumors 6502a

    I'mAMac

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    #12
    The new iMacs will run WoW at max settings and they will be great for photo/video editing. It doesn't sound like you really need a Mac Pro.
     
  13. fernande-mac thread starter macrumors regular

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    #13
    Yes, I am aware of the possibility of building a custom gaming PC that would probably cost less and run the game great, but we are a Mac household and a PC is really not in the plans.

    Also, my needs did not really change, but for some reason, with the Mac, we were able to reach steady state fairly quickly and had no need to upgrade software or hardware as often as with the PC.

    I am getting to the conclusion that although a Mac Pro is prowerful and easy to upgrade, it is overkill for the things we do and carries a hefty price tag with it.

    I will keep my eyes open for reviews and people's experiences for both the Mac Pro and iMac until I make a purchase during the Holidays.
     
  14. MattA macrumors 6502

    MattA

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    #14
    I was using a Powermac G5 (single 1.6) up until last year. It ran WoW adequately, though not tremendously well. I was using a Radeon 9800 Pro at the time.

    Since upgrading to a Mac Mini with the 9400m, I'm finding that it runs WoW better than the Powermac ever did. I can't turn the pretties all the way up, but for how inexpensive the machine was, it does a really nice job!

    Personally, I would go for the iMac, as you can get one with a pretty decent video chipset built in and a 27" display.

    On an aside, I'm using dual 20" ACDs from 2002 on my mini. I have 2 x DVI->ADC converters that work well. If you can find one of those, you can continue to use your 23" without a problem.
     
  15. rasmasyean macrumors 6502a

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    #15
    You take an odd position when you say that you're willing to pay double or more for every household computer instead of getting a cheap powerful gaming PC, but still complain that the MP has a hefty price tag.

    It's not a surprise that Mac software in general may not "advance" at the same rate as PC software because of market forces, technology, yada yada...thus being a contributing factor to your 6-year computer mentality.

    But all in all, the facts still hold that if you want to experience the latest software to a certain extent, you will have to get the MP or a cheaper gaming PC. Because games will upgrade (WoW 2004 is not WoW 2011), software will upgrade, the internet will upgrade. So if you want your new computer to last "6 years" again while getting the most out of it, your best bet is a high end computer. iMac isn't the greatest prospect for this possiblity I'm afraid.
     
  16. fernande-mac thread starter macrumors regular

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    #16
    It is not odd at all. It is more of a philosophical discussion as it all boils down to personal preference.

    I am not into building PCs anymore, trying to find all the compatible components and drivers and configuring the system for optimal performance. You save some money, but you end up paying it in amount of time you "waste" trying to get the perfect combination. And those savings do not take into account the additional cost of long-term maintenance that a Windows-based computer needs (e.g., antivirus, defragment, spyware, registry, etc.).

    Some people enjoy that. I just rather spend my time doing some more enjoyable activities. The additional up-front money I pay for a Mac already includes the leg work and testing and configuration effort that I don't have to worry about.

    You seem to be baffled at the fact that a computer may serve its owner's demands for 6 years. Whatever contributing factors allow the "need to upgrade" to be minimal for a Mac, the fact remains that a Mac in general requires very little maintenance over time for most common daily tasks.

    I have never mistaken a Mac for a gaming system. I have a Wii and a PS3 for those things. The Mac just happens to run a handful of games that I enjoy, with WoW being one of them.

    Your statement is basically the reason why I went for a PowerMac back in 2004. However, the Mac Pro nowadays seems to be over-configured for the purpose of simple image/video editing and playing WoW. But you are right, the iMac may in fact be under qualified for long-term survivability.

    I just have to decide if an up-front payment of $2000 in a commodity, such as a computer, is really worth it for the benefit to upgrade components over time. Or if I should just prepare to start a collection of Macs and have one for every room as they need to be upgraded every 2-3 years. :p
     
  17. JackAxe macrumors 68000

    JackAxe

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    #17
    Your prices are exaggerated. You're not talking to a novice here when it comes to cost of components and gaming in general, so I'm not buying into your optimism, but I always welcome it.

    For the price of your mentioned iMac, I can build a quality higher performing PC for gaming with a "retail" 27" LCD of that rez. A component screen bought in bulk does not cost as much as you state.

    I'm not as optimistic about Apple fixing this "long" time 3D performance issue as you are, their history speaks otherwise. I recall how Aspyr worked with Apple on Doom 3, but was unable to achieve the same level of performance as the Window's side do to issues with OS X itself. I heard that 10.4 would fix 3D performance for games and more importantly apps like Maya which I tried using mainly on the Mac side at that time, it didn't. Now we're on 10.6, which is supposed to be a highly optimized 10.5 with 64-bit GUI support(Which for 3D production apps is much welcomed), but yet we got a buggy upgrade that still has noticeable performance issues in 3D, but at least it's fine for other areas which is why investing in a Mac for everything but gaming and 3D is always a good choice IMO.

    It's good to be pro Mac, I've been doing so since the early nineties, but for gaming, I realized that it's not a priority for Apple and that's not changing anytime soon. If they did release a magical driver blessed by Jobs himself that makes performance issues moot, I would be shocked, but at the moment, that's more of a pipes dream.

    I hear you on this, but your thoughts on the subject are not current with the times. I've gotten fed up on PCs in the past and have even tried getting away from them, but much of what you say has been a non-issue for several years now. Especially your comment about components, which unless you're overly cheap, is something that you wouldn't have to worry about. I'm not running any 3rd party anti-virus, spyware, and so on with my PC and there hasn't been any game I've bought in the past 4 years that required I tweak the registry. Defraging is an every few month affair, but eh, the benefits of using PC greatly outweigh this task.

    Your comment on waste is highly subjective. I consider investing in a Mac for a game a major waste -- based on personal experience. I also consider the same when it comes to posting on any forum, but I still do it. ;)
     
  18. soLoredd macrumors 6502a

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    California
    #18
    Not to hijack the thread, but what is the track record for GPU upgrades on the Mac Pro? Say I bought a Mac Pro right now with the GeForce GT 120 in it, would I be more or less inclined to see a replaceable GPU upgrade within ~3 years?

    My plan is around the turn of the holidays to get a octo-core Mac Pro because of the options to upgrade RAM, hard drive, GPU. But if the GPU offerings for upgrade are pretty much crap, that doesn't seem like a great solution afterall.
     
  19. Block macrumors 6502a

    Block

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    #19
    While the iMac will suit your needs just fine, if you can afford a Mac Pro it will give you better performance.
     
  20. rasmasyean macrumors 6502a

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    #20
    BTW, defragmentation is obsolete since 2006. It's automatically built into the (Windows) OS. And although viruses are always a threat (you'd be a fool if you think OSX is imune), PC "registry edits" and stuff like that aren't generally required for normal ppl. Windows has been a lot more consumerized over the years. No one says you have to go to optimizeyourregistry.com and follow all the intructions to clober you brand new PC. And you don't have to build a PC by yourself anymore. Dell and a whole slew of companies have coustomization pages. It's just a matter of finding the right one.
     
  21. MiggsV17 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2010
    #21
    I also have a similar question as the OP however i am positive that im going to buy an imac. I am debating on getting:

    the core i5 21" with 8 gigs of ram and the better video card
    http://store.apple.com/us/configure/MC509LL/A?mco=MTg1ODA4MDE

    vs:

    The core i5 27" with 8 gigs of ram and one of the ATI Radeons...

    Besides the screen, will there be that much of a difference between video cards to justify the 27" models over the 21" models??? I love wow, but i havent played for about 2 years due to time/old computers etc.... Im looking to get back into it. Again the computers are not going to be for wow primarily, im just looking for one that will be able to handle wow the best for the foreseeable future...

    Any thoughts? thx.
     
  22. dmr727 macrumors G3

    dmr727

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    Southern California
    #22
    Holy crap - I can't believe this discussion is being had about WoW. I'm running a 2008 MBP, and I have yet to see my frame rate drop below 80fps. Buy the computer you want for whatever tasks you normally do, and I promise that WoW will be just fine.

    At the moment, I'm more concerned about the fact that I SUCK at being a mage, frame rate be damned! :D
     
  23. aiqw9182 macrumors 65816

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    Apr 22, 2010
    #24
    Lol, so you're saying you're a pro at going to newegg and pricing out a custom build when not putting the price into how much it costs to build an iMac? Get real dude. Of course you'll be able to build something cheaper than getting something from an OEM, but the iMac's monitor costs $1000 so the internals cost around that much as well. The iMac price for what you get is actually a great deal.

    Of course you can build a higher "performing" machine. You can always build something for cheaper, but the fact that you can get something better is a laughable statement when considering the game we're talking about is six years old. A 27" LCD from Dell (U2711) costs $1100 dude. Try finding a monitor with the same resolution and display quality as the iMac for lower for cheaper than $1000. I'd love to see it.

    Of course you're not optimistic. Maybe you haven't heard of Valve? A Valve developer (rbarris) has made posts hinting at the fact that Valve has a major future say in the drivers and OpenGL performance in OS X when someone was arguing that they didn't. Before Apple had no reason to improve performance. Now they do. Before Apple didn't realize how important games were because they didn't have the App Store. Now they do. Maybe you think OS X will stay stagnant with bad drivers, but that's because you're either a troll or you are truly clueless. Or maybe you are trying to justify your purchase of some custom PC dedicated solely for gaming when you could be doing everything on one computer.

    Yeah, of course it's a pipe dream to you because gaming on the Mac is still immature. Valve is at the front line now, if you don't think anything is going to get any better then you are delusional dude. The new iMac drivers for the 5xxx line already show massive improvements compared to previous gen iMacs that have yet to have a driver update.
     
  24. rasmasyean macrumors 6502a

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    Jul 11, 2008
    #25
    I think you're missing a lot of details and living in an ideal world to be honest. First of all, "building a PC" by yourself often comes out to be more expensive than configuring a mass production PC. Not always, but quite often.

    Second of all, 3D performance is not all about "drivers". It's not even just about software. Or even graphics libraries. The industry depends on gamers selecting their (hardware) video cards, and often that revolves around selecting parts for their system as well. Although Macs let you "upgrade" to a certain "Apple certified" extent, they are still highly tied into the "pre-built" mentality. In order to change this business model...if it will actually happen in your AppStore inspiration scenario...it will take years. By that time, your current computer is obsolete and you would likely need to get a new model anyway to take advantage of the customization for gaming features. And as it stands, Apple is more of a consumer electronics company than a "computing" company. So you are putting a lot of faith into this "Apple gaming market".
     

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