Why Pro?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by nitro912gr, Mar 1, 2012.

  1. nitro912gr macrumors member

    Oct 3, 2010
    Athens, Greece
    Hello there.

    I am completely confused lately. I remember a time when there was a big difference in performance between a workstation and a consumer level computer so there was no question, the workstation was faster, end of story.

    Now I see an iMac with a consumer grade i7 to stand against server grade xeons like no problem, for way less money.

    And because of that a lot of questions rise in my head.

    For months now I search all over the internet to find out what is that big difference (expect the price) between a consumer computer against a workstation and all I see are differences that in the end are not gonna make any difference for many usages out there.

    So in the end I realized that I can do just great with a consumer system.

    But do I?

    What I do? I work as graphics designer and as of that I mostly work on adobe suite but I do some 3d graphics for a personal game project alongside that mostly in Vue and I try to learn blender now.
    I do realize that there are things like expandability and the ability to add your monitor of choice but:

    1) Do I need ECC memory?

    2) Do I need something a xeon can do that an i7 can't?

    3) Isn't the ability to have a 12 core system evaporated when they are more useful on end calculations like a final render, where a cheaper farm can take the load for the same result?

    My questions of course are not mac only sided, they can apply on the other side as well, but as a long user of both worlds I plan on full switch at mac sometime lately and as of that I ask for mac pro vs imac.

    So to finish, is there something a mac pro can offer to me over a much cheaper iMac, something that I miss here?

  2. BrianAllan macrumors newbie

    Mar 1, 2012
    Doing what? Where?

    1,2: I can use my 3 year old MacBook Pro for most of the stuff I do in InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator, but is it efficient? No. It all depends on if the iMac i7 is fast enough for what *you do*. Maybe you render really simple models. Maybe you do highly complex work that takes 24 hours to render. Maybe you batch process 200 22mp with color corrections in to multiple formats.

    You have to define that in order to determine which system works best for you. Then once that performance gap is defined, you can calculate if spending an extra $2000 is going to be worth it in time saved over 2 years.

    3: I only play with 3D work so I can't really tell you this.
  3. nitro912gr thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 3, 2010
    Athens, Greece

    As I see here the 4 core i7 is higher than a much more expensive mac pro with the 4 core xeon.

    You know this is the problem there is not a source for that.

    I can't see the gap, because I can't find anywhere simple answers like "The xeon will do that in X time, while the i7 will do the same at Y time".

    All I found are some nonsense info (at least for me) which conclude in something like "it cost more, it must be better"...

    So because of that lack of information, I am completely lost.
  4. Zwhaler macrumors 603


    Jun 10, 2006
    This is why Apple offers the top i7 iMac model, for those people who need a fast computer without some of the other (expensive) perks of the Mac Pro. These perks include more memory slots, greater storage expandability, multiple super drives, better GPU, ECC memory, tower form factor instead of all-in-one, and of course server grade processors with the option of dual CPU.

    The iMac is a more recent product than the 2010 Mac Pro, which is why the 3.4GHz iMac is faster than the bottom end quad core Xeon. This does not mean the iMac is faster than the Mac Pro on the whole. If you find that the features listed above are not worth investing in and you only need a fast consumer grade processor, then the Mac Pro is not for you.
  5. wonderspark macrumors 68030


    Feb 4, 2010
    To me, the difference in a Mac Pro and iMac are not about the CPU at all. It's about how you interface with the whole package.

    For example, I have an 8-bay RAID tower and several external devices that all need to be able to connect. For the RAID, I have an Areca mini-SAS RAID card in a PCI slot. For my Voyager Q and all my LaCie external drives, I connect via eSATA or USB 3.0 via my Caldigit FASTA-6GU3 card in another PCI slot. I also sometimes (but it's been a long time, I admit) switch between two GPUs, an HD5870 and a GTX285. I also swap out internal HDD / SSD drives now and again. I also use two monitors, and might want to connect three someday.

    Would/could I do that with an iMac? No way. You only get four USB 2.0 ports, one FW800 and two Thunderbolt ports. So do you shell out your money for Thunderbolt devices, or keep switching that one FW800 connection for all your devices, or suffer the pains of slow USB 2.0? Mac Pro has whatever you connect via PCI slots, plus four FW800, plus five USB 2.0 ports. In my case, I've added two USB 3.0, two eSATA and four mini-SAS ports to that list.

    If you don't need more than an iMac in terms of disk space, GPUs and connectivity, along with the superior heat dissipation of a Mac Pro, then all you'd need is that iMac. My buddy has a MacBook Pro, and he constantly fights the ports issue alone. He's fed up, and has decided that he needs a Mac Pro. My mother, on the other hand, is happy to buy an iMac every so often as her older ones die off, since she doesn't connect more than one or two things at a time.
  6. ActionableMango macrumors 604


    Sep 21, 2010
    At this moment, price/performance is a blowout in favor of the iMac.

    But the current MP is seriously out of date. You're comparing the iMac, which is relatively new, to the MP, which hasn't changed much since 2009 and hasn't changed at all since 2010.

    Best thing to do is wait, if you can, for the new MP to come out. Then the comparison will be with current processors and GPU.
  7. gusmahler macrumors member

    Mar 17, 2011
    Agreed. The Pro's expandability is why I bought it, not performance. I have 3 TB of hard drive space now, but I can easily upgrade it to 12 TB of internal space. I can easily add an SSD. I can easily upgrade graphics card. I can attach 3 monitors to my graphic card. All of this will be much more difficult on an iMac, at least until Thunderbolt becomes more widely used.
  8. zephonic macrumors 65816


    Feb 7, 2011
    greater L.A. area
    My standard reply:

    if you have to ask why, you probably don't need a MacPro.
  9. TheStrudel macrumors 65816


    Jan 5, 2008
    Agreed. If you're asking yourself why, then you don't need the Mac Pro's features enough to bother buying one.

    Before I left for work this morning, I set one of my 2 TB internals to clone over to a 3 TB internal for an upgrade. Got back, switched it in in about 5 minutes.

    That's an example of a feature most users will never need, and an iMac will never have.

    I also run two graphics cards with display outputs to a maximum of four monitors (one is a TV) at once. Again, almost nobody has a use for that, but a Mac Pro can do it.
  10. nitro912gr thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 3, 2010
    Athens, Greece
    Thank you everybody for the answers.

    I ask because maybe I missed something while I was doing my research about that, so I just don't want to buy something and realize afterwards that something from a mac pro could be useful for me after all.

    Also I ask because as I said I'm a user of both worlds and I'm used to have the expandability of mac pro since forever on my windows desktop, but I really want to switch to OSX for a lot of reason who are off topic here.

    Anyway I believe I got my answers here, I just wish there was a headless iMac out there, between mini and pro. A tower with consumer grade internals, this could be an instant buy for me.

    Thanks for your help. :)
  11. prvt.donut macrumors 6502a


    Jan 1, 2008
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 5_0_1 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/534.46 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.1 Mobile/9A405 Safari/7534.48.3)

    If you ever get to poke inside a Mac Pro, you will understand.

    If apple just sold the cases empty, they would retail for around $500 considering the quality of design and build, compared to cooler master cases for example.

    Some day I will buy one for myself! Someday!
  12. jasonvp macrumors 6502a


    Jun 29, 2007
    Northern VA
    They do sell them empty and they're less than $100 for the case per my local Apple store. But that's literally empty with no PSU or anything.

  13. ActionableMango macrumors 604


    Sep 21, 2010
    Whatever you do, don't buy before March 7 keynote is over. We might see a new MP that day, either announced or a silent update.
  14. Maury macrumors 6502

    Mar 25, 2008
    What's the GPU story like? I've gone through three GPUs in my Pro over the years (it's the only thing that dies, they're all crap) to get to my current 4780. Are the iMac cards more powerful (which I assume they are), but importantly, *when* it overheats and dies, what happens? New mobo?
  15. linuxcooldude macrumors 68020

    Mar 1, 2010
    You could find a used one for that price. I think new one is $209.00 The price for an Apple power supply is $289.00. So $500.00 is not too far off the mark.
  16. derbothaus macrumors 601


    Jul 17, 2010
    Really? I call BS. Where are you located? I'll ring them up. The aluminum is worth easily 100.00 without a form of any kind. I have seen similar cases from boutique PC manufacturers and they are OVER 500.00. The regular aluminum case are 159.00+ and are like sheet metal in thickness. You could make 3 of them if you recycled the Mac Pro case.
  17. nitro912gr thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 3, 2010
    Athens, Greece
    i'm really interested in a mac pro case if they can be found that cheap, I do still have a strong windows desktop which can appreciate a better case.

    I will make a few calls from Monday here to listen what the local shop have to say.
  18. ssgbryan macrumors 6502a


    Jul 18, 2002
    The iMac is way less money, but, no, it isn't in any way a better machine than a MacPro.

    Clock-speed isn't the issue anymore. It hasn't been for some time. What matters today is how much memory can you throw at your applications. This is one of the many places that the iMac falls down. Not to mention I would need to buy an extra monitor, an external box for my runtimes, an external box for my backups, an external box for my iTunes library, etc......

    If all of your programs are single-threaded 32bit apps, then an iMac is all you need. The thing is, multi-threaded 64-bit apps will use every bit of ram you can throw at them. And these are not necessarily expensive programs either.

    I do 3d artwork as a hobby. The software is inexpensive (Poser 2012 - $450 new, $249 upgrade. - Vue 10 is $199 new). It is also fully 64-bit. I could run these on an iMac, but I couldn't run them at the same time, because I would run out of memory on an iMac.

    I can have Vue rendering in the background while I work on setting up the next scene in Poser. I can't do that with only 16Gb of ram. To go over 16Gb of ram will put me in MacPro territory. If I am going to spend that much money, I might as well get the most bang for my buck.
  19. Neodym macrumors 68000


    Jul 5, 2002
    I don't think it would be featured during the keynote, taking away attention from the new iPad. I also doubt they'll bother holding a media event at all for a revamped MacPro. So it'll probably be a silent update, maybe accompanied with a press information.

    But i don't think it'll be around the keynote - even though i would be glad to be wrong there :)
  20. ActionableMango macrumors 604


    Sep 21, 2010
    You are defending a computer setup that has personally failed you three times now? I'd be pissed. But you don't have to talk me into it, I am a Mac Pro guy all the way and look forward to a video card upgrade soon.

    You are probably 100% right, but I still think it would be stupid to buy a MP this close to it even if the odds are very low.
  21. jasonvp macrumors 6502a


    Jun 29, 2007
    Northern VA
    Call BS all you want, I'm merely reporting what the tech at the Apple store in Reston, VA told me as he was looking through his price list. My used 5,1 wasn't packed well when it was sent to me, and the rear handle is bent. I was curious what a replacement case would run me if I decided to fix it up, so I went and asked.

    Perhaps he read the wrong number. Call them up and ask.

  22. Neodym macrumors 68000


    Jul 5, 2002
    I fully agree! Would even recommend to wait a few weeks more, as we should have confirmation of either revamp or axing by sometime in April...
  23. highdefw macrumors 6502

    Apr 19, 2009
    Not true. A lot of 3D applications make use of all cores on the fly. I know for a fact Nuke does. Vue I believe works with all cores every time the viewer is updated as well.

    With this, my octocore is well worth that extra $800 over the highest end iMac.
  24. derbothaus macrumors 601


    Jul 17, 2010
    Nope. They are not. The 6870m (a 6850 desktop) is 5% faster than 5770 which is 5% slower than your 4870. Toss up. The 5770 will beat a 4870 in DX10. The 4870 will beat the 5770 in DX9. The 5870 is 2x as fast as either one of those. The 4870 was not known for it's stability or "silence". It has an incredibly loud fan.
  25. wallysb01 macrumors 65816

    Jun 30, 2011
    And if nothing else, we'll have performance comparisons of SB-E vs Westmere, so you can at least make a reasonably informed decision to buy the current Mac Pro, or wait it out another month or two for the (possible/probable) update.

    I suspect that once any prospective buy sees the performance gains, they will wait.

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