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Apple Desktops Discussion of Apple's desktop machines including Mac Pro, iMac, Power Mac, and mini

Mac Pro - 1st gen Mac Pro or new iMac?


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rustproofFish

 
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I'm looking to make the jump from PC to Mac but am having some difficulty choosing my dream machine! I'm a keen amateur photographer and will be using CS4 and Lightroom concurrently, usually with 2-3 images open at 16bit colour depth. I do a little video work (mainly AV slideshows) which requires some rendering ability if I don't want to be waiting 5yrs for a DVD!

I was originally looking at a Apple refurbed iMac (2.93Mhz) which lies within my budget of 1300 but found a company that sold older refurbished Mac Pros, specifically the 2.66MHz Quad Core version (based on the 51xx series Xeon). Now although this is now a few years old and a relatively dated design, it should still hold it's own quite comfortably against the new boys on the block according to the guy at MacKing. It's exactly the same price as the refurbed iMac.

So, I'm having difficulty deciding between the two and was wondering if anyone with more experience in this area could help.

In the iMac's favour:
1. Lots of photogs use them and seem very happy
2. Tidy! No big box to worry about
3. I get a nice new monitor thrown in (current model a 17" 7yr old Iiyama so it's a big improvement)
4. Brand new machine with full 1yr warranty

Against iMac:
1. Adding hard drives involves external daisy chained FW800 units for scratch disc use so guess an extra 200 for another couple of drives
2. No user servicable parts (aside from RAM)
3. Read some worrying reports about screen brightness issues which my Huey Pro won't sort out - I'd like monitor calibration to be fully automatic rather than having to find a work around
4. RAM upgrades hideously expensive at present (only two SO-DIMM slots so 4Gb sticks needed - ouch!!)

For the Mac Pro:
1. Quad core and wider memory bandwith. Snow Leopard will only improve matters
2. Can scavenge drives for backup and scratch from existing PC
3. Can upgrade graphics card if required
4. *May* be able to upgrade processors later (although at Xeon prices a new machine may be cheaper!)
5. Can choose my own monitor -> matt finish and no problems with brightness calibration

Against the Mac Pro:
1. Older machine and no information available on real world performance vs modern iMac that I can find
2. Only has a 90 day RTB warranty (although can extend to 6mths for another 70)
3. Will need to upgrade monitor eventually
4. Bulky
5. No idea what lifespan I can reasonably expect considering the machine is at least 2-3yrs old already


So..... what d'ya think?
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pigoo3

 
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You said that the refurbished 2.93 iMac & the used Mac Pro at roughly the same price at 1300 pounds.

Here in the US a refurbished iMac 2.93 24" monitor is selling for $1549 at the Apple Store, and here in the US a 1st generation Mac Pro will sell on e-Bay for about $1500.

So what I'm basically is...using US pricing as a reference...the 1300 pound pricing for either the iMac or Mac Pro you're looking at seems to be fair...because they are similarly priced...just like here in the US.

As far as Pro's & Cons...a logical way of looking at it...but I think that you're making it too complicated.

I would mostly focus on the fact that the iMac has 2 cores (although faster at 2.93ghz than the 2.66ghz of the Mac Pro)...versus 4 cores for the Mac Pro.

With Snow Leopard coming out...and using software that is optimized for multiple cores...4 cores will really fly.

Other plus's for the Mac Pro:

- internal hard drive expansion (internal hard drives are less expensive than external hard drives)
- Mac Pro can hold up to 32 gig of ram...the iMac can only hold 8 gig.
- Mac Pro has 8 ram slots, iMac has only two.

If you wanted to upgrade to 8 gigs of ram...the iMac would need 2 x 4gig sticks, costing $659.97. For the Mac Pro, 8 x 1gig sticks would cost $269.99!* US pricing of course.

- And obviously the graphics card in the Mac Pro can be changed...the iMac cannot.
- finally...to the best of my knowledge...there is no processor upgrade path for the Mac Pro. Doesn't mean there may not be in the future. Of course, the iMac CPU cannot be upgraded either.

Here is also a MacWorld article with benchmarks (link below). It includes a 2.66 quad core Mac Pro, a 3.06ghz iMac (no 2.93), and other newer Mac's. The iMac actually does pretty well in most tests.

Quad-Core and Eight-Core Mac Pros (2009 editions) Review | Desktop | Macworld

Personally, I would still lean towards the Mac Pro with 4 cores, rather than the 2 core iMac.

Hope this helps,

- Nick

*Ram prices from Find the latest Performance Upgrades, Firewire and USB Hard Drives, SATA, Memory, Laptop Battery, and more at OWC
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rustproofFish

 
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Thanks Nick - that's very helpful.

What graphics card upgrades are available for this model? (I know there were some problems with the 8800GT not being compatible) Any idea of rough costs?

Alternatively, I could always save a little more and go for the new Quad...very tempting!

Cheers,
Adrian
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rustproofFish View Post
Thanks Nick - that's very helpful.

What graphics card upgrades are available for this model? (I know there were some problems with the 8800GT not being compatible) Any idea of rough costs?

Alternatively, I could always save a little more and go for the new Quad...very tempting!

Cheers,
Adrian
The 1st generation Mac Pro came with the NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT, the ATI X-1900 was an upgrade (I have this in my Mac Pro), and the NVIDIA Quadro FX 4500 I think was the top of the line card at the time.

I also heard someone on this forum installing an ATI Radeon HD 4870 card. It being a newer card I wouldn't have thought that it would work, but the MacForums member said it did.

So your options are:

- NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT 256mb
- ATI X-1900 512mb $399.00
- NVIDIA Quadro FX 4500 512mb
- ATI Radeon HD 4870 512mb $349.00

These are the graphics cards I know will work in a 1st gen. Mac Pro. Prices that are missing I do not know...you could check e-Bay for used prices.

Hope this helps,

- Nick
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rustproofFish

 
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Thanks again Nick. Looking at pricing of the RAM upgrade (currently at 1Gb so I need at least 4Gb although 8Gb would be better), an Airport card and a replacement graphics card I'm almost looking at the price of a new Mac Pro Quad. Perhaps saving up might not be such a bad idea! Alternatively, I could get the iMac and see how I get on with it.... the resale values are surprisingly good and I'd only lose a couple of hundred quid if I did decide to upgrade.

Cheers,
Adrian
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didymus

 
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The killer for me is that the Pro is already 2-3 years old, which probably means it has another 2-3 years before things begin to go pear-shaped.

I moved from the PC to the iMac just a few months ago and have not regretted it. I, too, am a keen photographer and the iMac has been entirely satisfactory, particularly as I run Windows as a virtual machine under VMFusion (means that I don't have to shell out for Apple variants of Photoshop and EssentialHDR).

As for added hard discs - you can use Firewire or USB to run an external hard disc - I have a 1Tb external disc for back-up (currently only about 70 pounds), but there's plenty of room there to divide it and use half of it for other purposes.

My choice would be the iMac.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rustproofFish View Post
Thanks again Nick. Looking at pricing of the RAM upgrade (currently at 1Gb so I need at least 4Gb although 8Gb would be better), an Airport card and a replacement graphics card I'm almost looking at the price of a new Mac Pro Quad.
Yeah...if you feel the need to upgrade the video card...or the computer you're looking at needs one...then that's a big chunk of money on top of the purchase price. I was pretty much assuming that the Mac Pro you're considering was complete & ready to, and maybe just needed some extra ram.

BTW...I purchased my 1st generation Mac Pro about 8 months ago for $1050 (636 pounds). It came with 3 gig of ram, and I purchased 2 more gigs on e-Bay (4 x 512mb) for $34.00 (20.50 pounds).

So my Mac Pro setup (1st gen. Mac Pro, X-1900 video card, and 5 gigs of ram for $1084 US (656 pounds).

So what I'm saying is...I got my Mac Pro setup for half the price your considering (1300 pounds)...so if you keep looking, a better deal may present itself!

Good luck,

- Nick
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macwannabe

 
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i personally want a mac pro as well the thing tha appeals to me is that you can configure whatever you want in it to make it your own. i am a amateur photographer and a graphic designer.

it seems you are planing on spending 1300 pounds right? that is 2100 dollars and the new mac pros are 2400 dollars so i am sure you could find a deal on ebay or something for 300 dollars cheaper, and with the new mac pros if you needed to update the everything on them.. ram, 4 cores to 8 cores, graphics card/s.

but in the same price range you could get a brand new imac top of the line model which is the all in one you are looking for..

so my question is why are you looking at used things

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"learn the basics, learn the rules, and then learn how to break them creatively.." - Phototini
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Quote:
Originally Posted by macwannabe View Post
it seems you are planing on spending 1300 pounds right? that is 2100 dollars and the new mac pros are 2400 dollars

so my question is why are you looking at used things
Items in the UK tend to be more expensive!

If you go to the "UK Apple Store"...the new entry level "Quad-Core" Mac Pro starts at 1899 pounds...that's $3133 US dollars...quite a bit more than the US price of $2400.

So the original poster is looking at 1300 pounds for a used Mac Pro versus 1899 pounds for a new one ($2145 vs. $3133 in US dollars).

- Nick
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