iMac vs Mac Pro

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
alex1fly
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iMac vs Mac Pro

Post by alex1fly » Sat Oct 08, 2011 1:10 am

It's about time to upgrade the cpu. My MacBook is a 2008 model, which means only 30 gigs of storage and not nearly enough RAM and processing power to handle all the VSTs and plugins that I want to use.

I'm looking at new iMacs and Mac Pros. Mac Pro obviously has a lot more horsepower, but I'm wondering, is it worth it? This computer will be used only for audio production with Ableton Live and Cubase. Will the Mac Pro's extra cores get put to work, or is this computer designed for more complex processing?

I'll get a Mac Pro if its worth it, outside of being a tad bit faster than an iMac. If a new iMac will give me the ability to use a reasonable amount of VSTs and plugins on up to, say, 30 tracks, then I see no need to invest in a Mac Pro.

Please no comments on Macs vs PCs, or that I should get an external hard drive, or the benefits of freezing/bouncing tracks; I know all about these :)

Khazul
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Re: iMac vs Mac Pro

Post by Khazul » Sat Oct 08, 2011 1:13 am

I wouldn't buy a mac pro at the moment - they are overdue for a refresh.
Nothing to see here - move along!

lapieuvre
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Re: iMac vs Mac Pro

Post by lapieuvre » Sat Oct 08, 2011 1:30 am

Khazul wrote:I wouldn't buy a mac pro at the moment - they are overdue for a refresh.
+1

Be patient, Mac rumors speculates around mid november for the new MacPro
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2be
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Re: iMac vs Mac Pro

Post by 2be » Sat Oct 08, 2011 1:32 am

Always take a look at http://buyersguide.macrumors.com/ before buying an Apple product.
As you can see, there might be a Mac Pro refresh just on 15th November. If you don't need the processing power right now and you can live with your current setup for 1 month, you really should wait.

taoyoyo
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Re: iMac vs Mac Pro

Post by taoyoyo » Sat Oct 08, 2011 1:40 am

2be wrote:Always take a look at http://buyersguide.macrumors.com/ before buying an Apple product.
As you can see, there might be a Mac Pro refresh just on 15th November. If you don't need the processing power right now and you can live with your current setup for 1 month, you really should wait.
Plus there's always the option of buying a cheaper refurb of the current models after the new line comes out...
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Late 2011 15" Macbook Pro | 10.8.4 | RME Babyface

alex1fly
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Re: iMac vs Mac Pro

Post by alex1fly » Sat Oct 08, 2011 2:30 am

Thanks for the heads up on the new Mac Pros coming out soon.

Any thoughts on iMac vs Mac Pro?

southsounder
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Re: iMac vs Mac Pro

Post by southsounder » Sat Oct 08, 2011 3:03 am

I've used both with Live and for me there are three main workflow issues which would determine which one might be better for you.

First, how much CPU power do you really need for your projects? If you're a heavy plug-in user and you tend to use multiple instances of CPU-intensive synths, then a Mac Pro will will give you a bit more breathing room before you've got to start worrying about freezing and/or rendering. If you tend towards simpler projects or tend to work mostly with audio a newer iMac would be just fine. Not knowing which or how many plug-ins you use or what sample rate & latency you need to work with it's hard to judge one way or another on this.

Second, do you use a lot of 3rd party plug-ins where you want to see their floating windows open at all times? This was the deciding factor for me, as I wanted to run dual monitors because I like to monitor the levels on multiple tracks' plug-ins when mixing. Plus I also use Logic, which is quite happy spread across two monitors. Yes you can add an external monitor to an iMac but matching monitors are kind of cool. On the flip side, if this isn't something that's important to you a 24" (or bigger) iMac makes a pretty stellar Live machine - especially considering the current either/or interaction between the session and arrangement views.

Third, what kind of audio interface do you have/want? PCIe is still probably the king as far as bandwidth and stability, but I'm running 24 channels on the stock FW port with no issues at all. As long as you don't want or need the PCIe bus for your interface, either will work just fine.

Most of the other differences are also relatively moot. Mac Pro's do allow for massive internal storage but FW drives are almost as cheap. The ability to run multiple graphics cards isn't really an advantage for audio work. Bus speed is a bit better on the Mac Pro, but again it's splitting hairs unless you're really pushing the envelope.

Honestly, if I hadn't been hung up on the dual monitors I'd have keep my 24" iMac. But I admit the seemingly unlimited CPU headroom is kind of nice too... :)

Good luck with your decision!

lapieuvre
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Re: iMac vs Mac Pro

Post by lapieuvre » Sat Oct 08, 2011 3:14 am

It's hard to know the exact processors in those computers, but check this out:

http://www.cpubenchmark.net/high_end_cpus.html

The iMac's processor (i7 2.8 Ghz) scores 7582

Mac pro 8 core 2x E5620 Xeon processor (according to Wikipedia) (one scores 4647)

According to this, Mac Pro are way behind. don't forget that the hard drives are still Sata 2... not sata 3

Overpriced computer for now...
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freshdrumma
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Re: iMac vs Mac Pro

Post by freshdrumma » Sat Oct 08, 2011 8:26 am

got an imac in the home studio, and just got a used 2 years ago macpro in the main studio, it make the imac look amateur, really stable and smooth operation even with the biggest load.
sometimes we mix soundtracks with 60 / 70 tracks, 10 different hi quality reverbs... then we need power

raw
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Re: iMac vs Mac Pro

Post by raw » Sat Oct 08, 2011 8:47 am

Hi,

I hesitated for the same thing, finally I bought an iMac on the refurb (21" Core i7 2,8Ghz, 8Go 1400€), it's perfect! With a Firewire 800 drive. There will be great things on the Thunderbolt ports, hard drives, expansion chassis with PCIe slots..
If you really need a Mac pro for more power, take the 12-core or wait for the new models..

Best,

kooperativ
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Re: iMac vs Mac Pro

Post by kooperativ » Sat Oct 08, 2011 11:25 am

or there is always the option of building a hackintosh. If you're not scared to put the machine together yourself and buy the right parts it is almost plug and play nowadays. You'd probably end up with a machine that tops the coming mac pro at the price of an imac.

steko
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Re: iMac vs Mac Pro

Post by steko » Sat Oct 08, 2011 2:42 pm

Rahad Jackson wrote:My Awesome Mix Tape #6

Khazul
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Re: iMac vs Mac Pro

Post by Khazul » Sat Oct 08, 2011 5:07 pm

Interesting set of benchmarks - old 12 core is still a beast then for Logic :)

Top of range MBP and iMac looking respectable too.
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Khazul
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Re: iMac vs Mac Pro

Post by Khazul » Sat Oct 08, 2011 11:38 pm

southsounder wrote:Mac Pro's do allow for massive internal storage but FW drives are almost as cheap.
These days you can get RAID boxes that connect via thunderbolt, so I dont suppose the old speed advantage of internal vs external storsge really matters anymore - though I havnt read any reviews of the few available thunderbolt drives yet.

Edit - after having a look for some - there is a good reason for that - apart from the Promise RAID box which is very expensive (and quick) - there arnt any yet :?
Nothing to see here - move along!

Earwax69
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Re: iMac vs Mac Pro

Post by Earwax69 » Sun Oct 09, 2011 4:56 am

You dont need 8 or 12 cores to run Ableton and if you have to get a quad, get an i7, not a Xeon. Xeon only make sens in dual configuration.

Problem with apple is that you only have underpowered (imac, nice screen but i5 and low upgradability)or overpriced (mac pro, not faster than imac if you dont shell >5000$) options. No middle option (a 1000$ i7 desktop).

That said, i5 are not bad at all, almost as good as i7. I would take the big ass imac with the nice screen and fastest Ghz.

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