What would YOU do? Top-End iMac or Baseline Mac Pro for the same price...

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by mattcube64, Mar 3, 2009.

  1. mattcube64 macrumors 65816


    May 21, 2006
    Here's the deal. I need a Mac desktop for the major I'm in. I use a good deal of iMovie, Final Cut, Logic, etc... However, I also really like to play games. The 2600 in my current iMac just isn't cutting it anymore. And so, I'm thinking of selling it and upgrading.

    Using the ADC store, I can get the baseline Mac Pro w/ 4870 for $2,259 after you factor in the cost of signing up for the program.

    Or, using the education store, I can get the top-end iMac w/ 4850 for $2,144.

    Or, finally, I can get the 2.93 iMac w/ 4850 for a bit less, at $1,879.


    Basically, they all come out to *about* the same price. Nevertheless, I am a poor college student, and every dollar counts. So, going from the cheapest option to the Mac Pro is an additional $400 or so. Which, is certainly worth debating.

    I'll be playing a good deal of current games, and I think the 4870 (and the MP in general) is more future proof, especially considering the iMac has a mobility chip.

    I'm not looking for a definitive answer, but would like to hear some of your guys' opinions. I need to be swayed! :p
  2. Rmafive macrumors 6502

    Jul 25, 2008
    Richmond, Virginia
    For the best gaming I would chose the mac pro, but it does not come with a display. If you have an extra display sitting around then I would chose it, if not go with the top end iMac (which comes with a faster processor and faster HD). Good Luck! :D
  3. mattcube64 thread starter macrumors 65816


    May 21, 2006
    Thanks for the suggestion!

    I currently have a 24" Dell display hooked up to my iMac. I'd have to live with a single display for a little while, but I think it would be worth it.
  4. 11800506 macrumors 65816


    Oct 31, 2007
    Washington D.C. Area
    I would go for the Mac Pro with no doubt. It will provide much better performance, especially in Final Cut, etc. Also, it's much more expandable and will last much longer. You will be much happier with the Mac Pro in the future than with the top of the line iMac. Not to mention that the quad core Nehalem chip will blow away the Core 2 Duo in the iMac.
  5. nilk macrumors 6502a

    Oct 18, 2007
    Well, I'm biased against the iMac, because I don't like all-in-one desktops, and I'm a Mac Pro owner, but here are my thoughts:

    Do you already have a monitor that you'll be connecting to the Mac Pro? (if not, did you factor that into the price?)

    If you're doing a lot of video you're probably going to need a lot of hard drive space. Do you already have enough storage space or will the iMac you buy have enough? If not, with the Mac Pro you can install 4 (or 5 with some effort) internal drives, which tend to be cheaper than external, but not enough to make a difference in this case. Personally, I like having internal drives. External drives cost more, cause more clutter, tend to cause more noise, and tend to be more flaky.

    The quad-core Xeons are probably going to be overkill for most tasks, but will make a difference with Final Cut / Logic, especially for encoding / rendering.

    iMac maxes out at 8GB of RAM. Mac Pro at 32GB. 'nuff said.

    I bought a 1st gen Mac Pro with the minimal specs at the time and then bought some RAM and hard drives from 3rd parties. I'm pretty happy with it, and can't see myself replacing it for a very long time. I do a bit of Final Cut and Logic on it occasionally and it handles it nicely. I have only 5GB of RAM, but will be upgrading it past 8GB because RAM for it is cheap now (but RAM for the new Mac Pro might not be cheap, I don't really know).
  6. 321estrellas macrumors 6502


    Sep 28, 2007
    Another vote for the Mac Pro. All my reasons have pretty much already been stated. Good thing you already have a 24" Dell monitor; a single display when it's 24" isn't too bad.

    You'll also want to get AppleCare (as I would recommend with all Mac computers), but you can get that within a year after your purchase.

    I do a lot of video work. I, too, was faced with a choice to get a high-end iMac or a base model Mac Pro. After noticing that they were almost the same price, getting a Mac Pro was a no-brainer and I never regretted it. The lifespan is also surely to last longer than an iMac.
  7. j5045096 Guest

    Oct 27, 2007
    I realize that 10 years ago people were saying 256mb of Ram? That's more than you'll ever need, but 32 GB of RAM? First of all, if you can afford the thousands of dollars to make that kind of upgrade that's one thing but what on God's green earth would you need that kind of RAM for...at least in the next several years!? 8 to me seems like a ton--and if you're like making Star Wars 7 on your Mac Pro (George Lucas) I guess you might have 16 GB but 32? To me it's an irrelevant number that means nothing. It's like saying you could put a Nissan GTR engine in a Nissan Sentra. Okay, yeah I guess somehow you could figure out a way to do that but are you kidding me?
  8. nilk macrumors 6502a

    Oct 18, 2007
    Well, I was trying to point out the 8GB limitation of the iMac and the fact that the Mac Pro is more future proof, not trying to imply that anyone needs 32GB for video editing. As for costing thousands of dollars, for my older 1st gen Mac Pro, 32GB is $1200 (from Crucial). That is incredibly cheap compared to a few years ago. I don't know how much it costs for the new Mac Pro, but if its not in that ball park, it will be in the coming years.

    I don't know enough about the specifics of video editing software to make accurate statements about how tons of RAM helps (but I'd imagine it does for encoding / rendering especially with multiple cores). But what really eats RAM for me is running multiple virtual machines. I do software development and use multiple VMs all the time. I am starting to feel pretty cramped with 4GB of RAM (on the MBP's I use) as I can't run all my VMs at once without a lot of swapping, and also I don't give my VMs as much RAM as I'd like. 8GB would be adequate, but still puts limitations on how much I can give my VMs.
  9. Andy N macrumors newbie

    Nov 9, 2008
    Sorry to borrow your thread...

    I was wondering if everyone's advice would be the same (Mac Pro) if it was the the top end iMac for $2500 vs. a Mac Pro 2.93 Quad with 640GB HD x2 plus ATI for $3700. My main use would be to edit HD home movies in HDV, maybe some photo editing, and hopefully stream HD files/movies to my xbox and ps3. I don't mind overkill to avoid the upgrade bug but would a mac pro be excessive?


    Sorry to the OP didn't want to start yet another thread for a similar question.
  10. 321estrellas macrumors 6502


    Sep 28, 2007
    My opinion is that you can probably get by with a high-end iMac with what you do. But if you're thinking of doing any serious video editing work, ie. paid work for clients and such, consider a Mac Pro without question (if you need monitors, add that to the budget as well).

    If you're the type that never deletes your video media, consider also the Mac Pro has 3 more internal HDD bays, whereas with iMac's you'll need external hard drives.
  11. mlts22 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 28, 2008
    Mac Pro, without question. The expandability makes it worth it, especially with regard to video cards.
  12. j5045096 Guest

    Oct 27, 2007
    32 GB of DDR3 RAM (and not cheap knockoff) is going to be several thousand dollars right now but I hear what you're saying nonetheless. I just think that 8GB of super fast RAM is an awful lot and more than the strong majority of us need or could even make use of. For all the posts I keep reading somehow the iMac seems to get shafted every time and I think it's an awesome computer and much more suitable for the majority of folks than a Mac Pro. Sure it'd be cool to own a Mac Pro but I can get two loaded 24" iMacs for the price of one and probably wouldn't see a huge speed difference based on what I (and most) would use it for.
  13. MattZani macrumors 68030


    Apr 20, 2008
    The 2.26Ghz Mac Pro is far more powerful than the 3.06Ghz iMac, end of.

    for that reason alone, i would get the Mac Pro.

    And you say the only problem with your iMac is the GPU, well, a Mac Pro is upgradable.
  14. iSaygoodbye macrumors 6502a


    Jan 2, 2009
    a boat
    id get the mac pro because its the most future proof being easily upgradeable

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