Mac Pro or iMac?

It’s been a while since I looked into getting a new mac and was wondering if it was worth the money getting a Mac Pro or an iMac.

Comparing these links the iMac is so much cheaper for pretty much the same thing, or am I missing something?

I’d be using this for Blender, Flash, Photoshop, Illustrator, etc…

Thanks in advance.

The Mac Pro hasn’t been updated in a LONGGGG time. August 2010 was the last time they changed anything. I bought mine then and it’s a little disheartening to realize they are still selling the same machine for the same price today. Apple tends to only update them when Intel updates their line of server and workstation chips. Which they haven’t done since…mid 2010. If you want to get a Mac Pro, you might want to think about waiting awhile to see if a sandy bridge model materializes when Intel finally releases the parts.

Mac Pros are amazing as 3D workstations. Having a full tower with a *nix OS that also runs Adobe apps is something kinda special that you really can’t get with another piece of hardware. That being said, they don’t update them often, and even when they do the lower-end models are never that great of a deal. (the higher end dual-socket models tend to be priced more reasonably for what you get). Cooling isn’t as much of an issue with the iMacs anymore. They’ve gotten so large that the fans and heatsinks are like regular desktops now. There’s also 4 RAM slots in the iMac, same as the single-socket Mac Pro. Then there’s Thunderbolt, which allows you to very easily add drives and things like broadcast monitors and other such things you used to need actual PCIe slots for. The main advantage to Mac Pro these days is the fact that you can upgrade the graphics card after you’ve had it for a few years. Is that really worth hundreds more plus losing out on a really nice monitor? (Remember, the 27" iMac can be turned into a monitor with a render slave on its back once you retire it as your actual workstation)

tl;dr No, you really aren’t missing anything. The iMac IS a lot cheaper for the same or better guts and software. It’s also all strapped to the back of a VERY nice monitor. (you’d pay something in the $800-1200 range for a standalone display like that).

I would do some research on Apple’s release cycle, which is generally pretty consistent. A little patience can pay off in a big way.

Choose either model, but consider these points:

  • the iMac screens are so-so. Although Apple may lead you to believe they are first-grade screens, they are definitely not - more average than anything else - at least in color gamut. So, if colour is important for you, for a wide-gamut screen you might be better off with a mac pro, and invest in a good screen (not one from Apple).

Or invest a second quality screen for your iMac.

  • memory prices at Apple are completely ridiculous. I got 48gb ddr3 9-9-9-24 6x8gb for the grand total of $500. Purchase your memory somewhere else, save some money, and install yourself. It’s easy to do this yourself.

  • a solid state drive will really help system performance. Unfortunately, Apple’s price strategy for iMac:
    a) stay with the standard 1tb drive: $0 extra
    b) opt for 256gb ssd: $540 (relatively expensive for a 256gb drive)
    c) get both installed, and pay $650! What?!
    So: again, purchase someplace else (and get a faster more efficient sandforce 6gb ssd for less $$) and install yourself - though this is not as 1-2-3 simple as installing memory in the case of an imac. :frowning:
    Easy to do with a MacPro, though - lots of space inside, and easy to open up!

  • even installing a ssd in your current mac may be a great upgrade idea, depending on the model.

  • the iMac might have Thunderbolt, but again: prices are relatively high. If you are planning to expand your system a lot, choose a macpro.

  • the iMac only allows up to 16gb. That might be fine for now, but for more advanced work you may need more. Macpro allows this.

  • unfortunately, the best video card for Mac pros is the 5870 - not too bad (had one myself till a couple of weeks ago, and it performs very well in Blender), it is a two generation old card. Not the best of investments.

-…but then again, you can’t really replace the iMac’s 6970m one with a new one at all.

  • the current Macpro still has some potential overheating issues, which should be ironed out in the new model later this year.

  • and, as Ninja stated earlier, the Macpro has not been updated in a long, long time. At this point it is probably a better idea to wait for a couple of months, and see what happens. Rumors abound on the web, with some “sources” even expecting Apple to pull out of this segment of the market (meaning the Macpro would cease to exist). Or we will see a new, mighty new Macpro. Chances are, this will happen in Q3/4 of 2012.

…but honestly (and I am neither a Windows or Mac fan - I use both in my work), if you are in the market for a MacPro workstation, you would be FAR better off with a Windows workstation at this point in time, in my opinion.

Or wait till the end of this year for the new Macpro models.

IMO Neither, go windows or linux


Keep an eye on this Mac Buyers Guide and you’ll find info on when and what to expect to be released.
Right now i would just wait. Both the iMac and the Mac Pro is to be updated as soon as Intel’s new CPU’s are out.
Both machines will be great, the Pro will be more expensive but also more powerful, if you don’t render all day long the iMac will be more than enough.
Personally i use an iMac 24 from 2008 at work for the same work you need yours for, and an Pro from 2007 at home both are running just fine but i will update both when the new models are out, which probably will be in 2-4 months… i hope.
I have my Pro as a tripple boot machine with OS X 10.7, Windows 7 and Ubuntu 11.10 but spend 99% in OS X.

So keep cool and wait a while for the new models :slight_smile:

Say what you like, the iMac is really pretty. If you have a beautiful house with sophisticated/Ikea/fancy schmancy/airy fairy/artsie fartsie/ad agency style décor, a Windows PC will look out of place and ugly. If you squirrel yourself away in a dingy cave, piled to the ceiling with books and geek-type paraphernalia or if you are a tight-wad like me, go with a Windows PC.

Really? I think Apple machines look quite boring. Flat, with no real identity or personality - like most “consumers”, believing everything that is told to them to believe on the telly. :wink:

…in case you were wondering, I am being sarcastic and generalizing. I presume you were as well?

Agreed, wait for the next batch. Not the right time to buy a Mac.

I build my own cases from recycled material, mostly aluminium from computer-to-plate bugger ups, the corrugated cardboard boxes the plates come in and the switches/fans/connectors from dead Macs (nice large diameter fans) and Pentiums (3s, Celerons etc.) for friends. What do you think?

oops… don’t min this message

Thanks guys,

yeah I’ve been watching the “Mac Buyers Guide” site and realise it’s been a long time coming for the new Mac Pro (if they don’t drop it). I also have a pretty powerful PC sitting beside me that I mainly use for longer renders, but I find the mac’s much more smoother to work with as a all in one tool (ie 3d, 2d work etc)

Here’s the specs of my current machine

Model Name: Mac Pro
Model Identifier: MacPro1,1
Processor Name: Dual-Core Intel Xeon
Processor Speed: 2.66 GHz
Number Of Processors: 2
Total Number Of Cores: 4
L2 Cache (per processor): 4 MB
Memory: 2 GB
Bus Speed: 1.33 GHz

I dunno how much freedom I will have to buy my own memory, etc to place in the iMac since this is for a work computer.

But thanks for your help.

So in terms of Blender, I should be really picky on choosing Processor Speed, Number of Processors and RAM?

I imagine throwing some RAM into that machine could liven it up a bit.