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  1. #1


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    pro photogs: imac vs. mac pro
    I am finally switching to Mac from PC but my first decision is to go IMac or Mac Pro. The main problem I'm finding with the IMac is that it only has enough room for 4 gigs of memory. I run Lightroom and Photoshop together. Is this enough memory to run fast enough, or should I just go with the mac pro.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2

    Dysfunction's Avatar
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    Way... way too many specs to list.
    I run them together just fine on a macbook pro with 4gb's.
    mike
    This machine kills fascists
    Got # ? phear the command line!

  3. #3

    pigoo3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tucker44 View Post
    I am finally switching to Mac from PC but my first decision is to go IMac or Mac Pro. The main problem I'm finding with the IMac is that it only has enough room for 4 gigs of memory. I run Lightroom and Photoshop together. Is this enough memory to run fast enough, or should I just go with the mac pro.

    Thanks in advance.
    I also agree that 4gig of ram should be ok for photoshop.

    I'm not sure what your computer budget is...but there can also be a BIG price difference between an iMac & a Mac Pro.

    If you are only considering new computers...and you have a small $$$ budget...then forget about the Mac Pro. The Mac Pro (4 cores) starts at $2299...iMac's start at $1199.

    Hope this helps,

    - Nick

  4. #4


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    my budget matters in the sense that I don't want to overpay for what i need, if an imac would be fast enough then that's great and i will max it out, but if not than i should just bite the bullet and buy the mac pro.

    p.s. on another note, people are telling me to wait to buy till spring because of rumors of new versions. Do you think there is any truth to this?

    Thank you

  5. #5

    pigoo3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tucker44 View Post
    my budget matters in the sense that I don't want to overpay for what i need, if an imac would be fast enough then that's great and i will max it out, but if not than i should just bite the bullet and buy the mac pro.

    p.s. on another note, people are telling me to wait to buy till spring because of rumors of new versions. Do you think there is any truth to this?

    Thank you
    As far as Mac Pro vs. iMac.

    Overall, Mac Pros are much more expandable, iMacs can be upgraded...but realistically only the ram is upgradable to 4 gig. You can upgrade the internal hard drive in the latest iMac...but this is not a project for the average user.

    iMac's have 2 ram slots, and max out at 4 gig of ram...Mac Pros have 8 ram slots, and max out at 32 gig of ram.

    Mac pro's can have up to at least 4 internal hard drives, iMac's one. Of course you can get external hard drives for either computer.

    Another consideration is the graphics card. You can upgrade the graphics card in a Mac Pro...with an iMac you're stuck with what it came with!

    The graphics performance from the latest iMacs is pretty respectable...but what about in 6-12 months??? Who knows...this is where the more expandable Mac Pro is a better choice.

    Also, since you are using Photoshop..your future computer needs may grow faster than the average user.

    Another thing, with the iMac you are getting 2 cores...with the Mac Pro you're getting either 4 cores or 8 cores.

    So what's faster 2, 4, or 8 cores!!!

    You also seem to have the budget...so again, the Mac Pro is probably the better choice.

    The bottom line is, with an iMac, what works for you today, may not work for you tomorrow.

    Regarding Apple & rumor's that they may be releasing new models. This is always a rumor...and until it actually happens, in most cases we won't know until it actually happens.

    If you need a computer now, then you need to buy a computer now...not wait 1-6 months.

    I hope this helps...of course just my humble opinion!

    - Nick

  6. #6

    lovebubest@sbcg's Avatar
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    For me, I definitely had the same problem to choose between them also. At last, I bought the imac the price is more reasonable. Also, I don't want to spend couple more hundred for the monitor. I am a designer and also Photographer. i run Adobe Design Premium suite on it. I concurrently running almost 3 adobe products together and several others software like mail, safari, MSN, etc... The speed is great and so far no problem at all. Of course, Mac Pro is definitely more expandable and faster. But as long as you are not always doing heavy and extensive design works, you don't need the Pro. imac is more than enough for me.
    Don't Worry! Be Happy!
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  7. #7


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    I was always a PC user. I built my own business workstation PC's for photo editing for years. This past fall I totally switched to MAC and I will never look back. Nick summed up basically what I would say. I just went with a Mac Pro in December. I went for the basic dual 2.8 quad with 2g of ram. I have since upgraded to 10gb of ram from OWC. I also added more hard drives. Adding internal HD's on the pro is a snap. I keep all my images on the second drive, so photoshop does not even blink when I open 200 RAW files from the D3. The Mac Pro just gives you so much more in options. Don't get me wrong, the imac is no doubt a fine machine. You are though, basically locked into one monitor with the imac. If you are like me and strive for perfect color balance in conjunction with your labs, then the imac screen is OK, but you have more options with the pro to go with a wider gamut monitor. I just ordered an NEC 2690 monitor which will give me 98% of Adobe RGB color. Main thing is, you are making an excellent decision either way. Macs are awesome for graphics/photography. Be sure and budget for a good monitor calibration system like the X-rite i1 display2 if you don't already have a system. If you are a business, check with Apple, they have a business department and offer business discounts. I was fortunate enough to have an Apple store 10 minutes away. They also took my tax ID info. I am a wedding and portrait business. I shoot all RAW and process in CS4.
    Best of luck, you are headed in the right direction with Mac.

  8. #8


    Member Since
    Feb 25, 2009
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    thanks for all the great advice! No doubt that the Mac Pro is worth the money, but I'm just still a little unsure whether it is more than i need.

    I am a wedding photographer shooting about 30 weddings a year give or take.
    I run lightroom with raw files (roughly 4000 images per wedding). I design my own albums in photoshop so I like to work between photoshop and lightroom and are both open a lot of the time. Also, I have been working off of external drives, but might want to start working off of an internal hard drive and then move the files to the external when I'm finished with them.

    My main concern is speed in lightroom moving through the images.

    I hope this helps clarify and any more suggestions will be much appreciated.

    sorry, just such a hard decision!

  9. #9

    aj-uk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tucker44 View Post
    I run lightroom with raw files (roughly 4000 images per wedding).

    My main concern is speed in lightroom moving through the images.
    If your main concern is speed, and you are talking about working with large numbers of images at once, you might benefit from a system which you can expand the RAM beyond 4GB.

    I'm not sure how Lightroom handles loads of very large images open at once, but I can only think that more RAM will be an advantage when it comes to this.

  10. #10

    pigoo3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tucker44 View Post
    thanks for all the great advice! No doubt that the Mac Pro is worth the money, but I'm just still a little unsure whether it is more than i need.
    tucker44,

    I'm willing to bet that you have already made up your mind on which computer you are going to purchase (sounds like the iMac to me).

    I will throw some more thoughts at you, just in case you haven't made a final decision:

    - What happens if your wedding photo business grows dramatically, and you need to turn these wedding photo jobs around more quickly?
    - What happens if software programs in the near future have higher hardware requirements...that "may" be more than the iMac can handle?
    - What if you only need better/faster video hardware (can't upgrade an iMac)?
    - What if you want to run more than 2 monitors (can't do it with an iMac)?

    Also remember that iMac's are basically laptop computers on "steroids"!!

    Laptop computers have come a long long way in terms of performance compared to desktops from years ago...but desktops still hold a performance advantage...and definitely an upgradability advantage!

    AND like laptops...iMac's still have the LIABILITY of limited upgradability...WITHOUT the advantages of the portability & being able to run "off the grid" (batteries) like laptops.

    So with iMac's you get the liabilities of a laptop (limited upgradability)...without the advantages of laptops (portability). Of course the advantage of iMac's is lower cost.

    If your budget absolutely-positively eliminated the possibility of purchasing a Mac Pro...then I would say go for the iMac.

    But it sounds like your budget can handle a Mac Pro..and COME ON!!!...your a photography professional!!! Your actually going to use the power & performance of a Mac Pro to earn money...unlike a lot of Mac Pro owners who just want a fast computer or just want to run GAMES faster (put me in this category)!!!

    Here's one more thought for you...why not purchase a used Mac Pro??

    I bought my Mac Pro used...2.66ghz quad core processor, 2.5 gig of ram (upgraded to 5 gigs), and a mid-level performance X-1900 video card...all for $1050! This is admittedly a very good price, but you should be able to get one similar to mine on your local Craig's List or E-Bay for about $1400-$1500.

    The current iMac's (last years models as well), are VERY good & capable computers...and if you decide on an iMac you should be fine.

    I'm primarily looking towards the future, when an iMac (just like a laptop computer)...will start to show it's "age" a lot sooner than a desktop of the same "vintage" (actually my Mac Pro is 3 years old, and still out performs many of the currently offered iMacs)!!!

    Good luck with your purchase decision,

    - Nick

    p.s. One additional thought to consider. It's rumored that the next OS update (Mac OS 10.6) will be written to take full advantage of Intel Processors and take better advantage of processors with multiple "cores". So like I mentioned previously...what's going to be faster...an iMac with 2 "cores", or a Mac Pro with 4 or 8 "cores"!

    Even if the rumors around Mac OS 10.6 are not completely true...you can almost bet that Mac OS 10.7 will include these improvements!

  11. #11


    Member Since
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    Quote Originally Posted by tucker44 View Post
    I run lightroom with raw files (roughly 4000 images per wedding). I design my own albums in photoshop so I like to work between photoshop and lightroom and are both open a lot of the time. Also, I have been working off of external drives, but might want to start working off of an internal hard drive and then move the files to the external when I'm finished with them.

    My main concern is speed in lightroom moving through the images.
    !
    OMG......4000 images a wedding. WOW... I thought 600 was a lot for me. That many in RAW and you should definitely be thinking dual quads in the Pro.

  12. #12


    Member Since
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    okay guys, you are VERY convincing. You have all officially talked me into the Mac Pro.

    Thank you so much for all of your insight.

  13. #13

    aj-uk's Avatar
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    Great! Enjoy the Mac Pro, I'm SURE you will!

  14. #14


    Member Since
    Mar 10, 2009
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    Good Thoughts
    Thanks for the thoughts people. I am between this decision too, and I wish Mac's had coupons.

  15. #15


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    Keep in mind you are very limited from a scalability perspective with the iMac. I had the same decision as you did last year, and buying my Mac Pro was one of the best purchases I made in 2008...

    For example, I picked up a 1TB WD 7200RPM sata drive last week and just popped it in to expand on the 1TB I already had in there.. Good luck with that on a iMac..

    Also, you are capped with memory on an iMac.. 32GB on a Mac Pro should give you plenty of growing which could lower your total cost of ownership down the road.

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