« on: December 01, 2013, 10:34:33 AM »
I mentioned earlier that the time has come for me to upgrade my primary home/studio desktop computer. My original Mac Pro no longer supports the latest versions of Mac OS and while it works fine, and accomplishes everything I need it to do, it's been a long run. I'm ready to set this machine aside and get a new one.
Like Paul, I briefly considered a Mac Mini for my new machine, but the RAM maximum is 16GB and I wanted 32. I also considered a Macbook Pro 15" retina (which can be upgraded to 32GB), but much of the price of those devices is due to the portability, which I don't need. I already have a laptop (actually two, one for work and one for home) and just need a fast, stable machine to sit on the desk in my studio.
I had planned to wait until the new Mac Pro was released and check the reviews and tests, then make my decision between the Mac Pro and the top-of-the line existing iMac. I thought about it, though, and decided that the maxed-out 27" iMac is already more than powerful enough for my needs, not only today but for the coming years. What would the Mac Pro be capable of that would be worth the extra $1,000 or $1,200 or more, for a similar specification (other than the Mac Pro being faster still)? It would be fun to have the coolest, fastest new machine, but that isn't my reason for buying a new computer. I can use the money I'll save to purchase a second 27" Thunderbolt display to match the iMac.
That was the direction I was leaning, and then I read some tests and benchmarks of the 2013 iMac, on Barefeets and elsewhere, which made clear that the new iMac (particularly the i7 option, and the SSD or Fusion drive option) was actually quite a bit faster than the most recent Xeon Mac Pro in most tests. That was enough for me. The new 27"iMac is so dramatically faster than the machine I'm using that I can't imagine I'll find myself wishing I had purchased the new Mac Pro instead. The only reason I would recommend someone seek out a used cheese grater Mac Pro would be if they needed PCIe, which I don't. My devices are all firewire, USB, ethernet and bluetooth, all of which will work fine with the iMac.
Other than the usual, low-processor computing (email, web browsing, text editing), the only apps I'm using that take up much RAM or CPU are Photoshop, InDesign, Ableton Live, Logic, Studio One and the various Native Instruments Komplete apps. All these run just fine on my existing Mac Pro, which is about 8 years old, and 5 revisions behind the 6-core Xeon model the 2013 iMac bested in all the benchmarks I just saw.
I upgraded the processor to the i7, upgraded the internal storage to the 3TB Fusion drive (a nifty hybrid of SSD and hard drive), but did not upgrade the video card from the standard. I will upgrade the RAM from 8GB to 32GB using third party RAM - Apple's price of $600 for this upgrade is too high. I can purchase 32TB of RAM for under $400, and sell back the 8GB for $38 or something.
I'm not posting this to try to persuade others to buy the new iMac, just explaining my own thought process in selecting one machine rather than another. This will be the first time since the 1990s that I won't have one of Apple's "Pro" desktops at the center of my studio, but of course the switch from old Mac Pro to new iMac will represent a significant increase in capability, and that's what really counts.