Apple’s new Mac Pro makes iMac the power user’s desktop

“As impressed as I am with the new Mac Pro, if I put aside my Mac Pro lust and think rationally, it’s no longer the ideal computer for me — and, I suspect, for many other ‘power users,'” Dan Frakes writes for Macworld.

“Though I certainly wouldn’t refuse a new Mac Pro if Macworld’s IT staff placed one on my desk, if I was given $3000 to spend on a desktop Mac, I’d be hard-pressed to pick the entry-level Mac Pro instead of a 27-inch iMac with 3.5GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, 32GB of RAM, a 3TB Fusion Drive, and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 780M GPU,” Frakes writes. “Given my daily computing needs, the iMac would be competitive in performance, would include a great 27-inch display, and would occupy even less space on my desk than a Mac Pro with a separate display.”

“This all might sound like I’m disappointed with the new Mac Pro, but that’s not the case at all,” Frakes writes. “On the contrary, I’m just especially impressed by the rest of the Mac line.”

Frakes presents his rationale in the full article here.

Related articles:
The Verge reviews Apple’s new Mac Pro: Unlike anything the PC industry’s ever seen – December 23, 2013
Engadget reviews Apple’s new Mac Pro: In a league of its own – December 23, 2013
The first 24 hours with Apple’s new Mac Pro and Final Cut Pro X 10.1 (with video) – December 20, 2013
T3 Mac Pro review: Unboxing, hands-on, and first impressions – December 20, 2013
Apple’s powerful new Mac Pro a good value; far from the most expensive high-end Mac or high-end PCs – December 20, 2013
CNET hands on: Apple’s radically reimagined Mac Pro is a powerhouse performer – December 20, 2013

26 Comments

  1. I love the new Mac Pro, but I’ve thought the same. The 27″ iMac with i7 and a Fusion drive offers great performance at a competitive price. And in the refurb Apple store, you can get one for less than $2000.

      1. Yup, I’ve talked to the SolidWorks CEO at SolidWorks World.

        It comes down to all the 3rd party application addins that work seamlessly with SolidWorks.

        SolidWorks could rather easily do its own UNIX port to MacOSX, but getting the 3rd party developers on board is real tough.

        I use Solidworks on Win7 in Boot Camp and look forward to an upgrade to the MacPro.

    1. I just got the mid-2011 2.5 GHz i5 Mac mini as a “certified Apple reburb” for $539. It’s the one and only Intel Mac mini model that has had discrete graphics (AMD Radeon HD 6630M 256 MB), instead of integrated graphics. It still has a FireWire port, along with a Thunderbolt port. The USB ports are 2.0, but that’s fine because I don’t own any USB 3.0 devices.

      This Mac mini (that is already two years old by design) is a VERY good value for me. It even has a place internally for adding a second drive at some point, which will be an SSD, and I can set it up with the existing internal drive as a Fusion Drive (if desired). Basically, all Mac models, even slightly older ones, provide excellent value, for a long time.

  2. I agree. I replaced my five year old iMac with a new top of the line loaded iMac last spring with a second 27″ Thunderbolt Display, and absolutely love it. The new MacPro is gorgeous, but for my non-video editing needs my loaded iMac meets my every need. I’m set for the next five years.

  3. Ditto. Had never bought an iMac (used Pro’s for years) but had to upgrade and got a tricked out late 2012 iMac. I’m glad I did because this is really a nice machine.

  4. I can tell you we tried it (iMacs) and it was problematic for us. I figured we have a render farm (essentially a rack of servers) to do all the heavy lifting (bulk rendering) so why have all that equipment on desktops both $ and space wise, particularly considering how fast the i7 iMac’s are.
    Problem was (for us) that we are constantly checking small segments of our work (rendering snippets) to ensure that the segment is ok before we load a batch to the farm. running an iMac’s CPU (and ofttimes GPU) at 100% load for extended periods heats them up like Atlanta blacktop in july. Compounding this is that the warehouse nature of our building makes it difficult to keep the temps much below 78° in the warmer months.
    So I would say yes we found the iMac’s nearly as usable, however if you keep your computer completely maxed for more than half the day, you likely should consider a workstation as they are designed to take that level of use 24/7 whereas the iMac is not.
    (let me add (before the apple haters jump on this point) neither is any desktop PC we ever tried. (one of the reasons dell and hp workstations cost 2-4X what a their “desktop PC’s” do.))

  5. There’s nothing unreasonable about these thoughts, but then, it all comes down to the actual usage model, the software that’s available, and considerations regarding expansion.

    IF your usage model is mainstream consumer apps, which usually benefit the most from a faster single/dual core processor (rather than multiple slower cores), and IF you don’t value a wide gamut display for photography or prosumer/professional video, then the iMac is clearly the best value and most convenient. I just gave my 2013 iMac to my daughter for her and her boyfriend to use, and they’re thrilled with it.

    OTOH, the new Mac Pro has a clear value proposition and enough flexibility in available configurations to be very interesting to both prosumers and professionals. It will be some time before a lot of software is available that supports the 2nd GPU for use as an Open-CL processor, but as the new update to Final Cut Pro shows, some amazing things can be done in this mode. Personally, I thought the base 2nd level offering was fairly ideal off the shelf, apart from SSD capacity. The six core version offers pretty much the same speed as the four core for single threaded tasks, with Turbo Boost of 3.9GHz for both models. The six core total is about the max that programs like Photoshop actually use effectively in the real world these days. Video renders and similar applications? That’s another matter- pile on the cores!

    The number of wide gamut displays from Viewsonic, NEC, Dell, and others offer a wide range of price points and resolutions, depending on needs and budget- I’m thinking along the lines of two 24″ 4K displays to use instead of my 30″ NEC, which would give me retina desktop displays for the first time. I hope Apple is listening….

    What about storage? 256GB screaming fast PCIE SSD is nice, but on the surface rather limiting. But, with OSX’s flexibility, it is no problem at all to keep all the boot system, library, and application files along with an admin account on that size drive, and relocate the user accounts to Thunderbolt storage, such as a Promise Pegasus J4, which I’ve setup that way and have already been using with my 15″ Retina Macbook Pro. With 4 7200 RPM HGST 2.5″ drives, it’s both very fast and quite reliable to date, at a cost much lower than a substantial SSD. It’s another way to accomplish tiered storage, on any system running OSX- my Mac Mini bedroom system is setup the same way.

    Don’t underestimate the things you can do with the new Mac Pro, and it’s amazing flexibility. I got lucky, and mine was scheduled to ship Dec 30. But yesterday I got an email from Apple saying it has shipped and I’ll have it today.

    1. Hey john I think you have some misconceptions about Open CL
      You don’t have to dedicate a GPU to running it, as a matter of fact it runs well on single CPU systems (and on a dual GPU systems like the Mac Pro both graphics processors would be used (both for screen rendering and for Open CL) It interleaves the computational execution (openCL) with the graphics normally handled by the chip much like your CPU handles tasks simultaneously

      Adobe’s software doesn’t work (at least for now) because they entered into an agreement with nvidia to support their proprietary CUDA standard (openCL is an open standard that can run on everything)
      Also this is not some future tech, many pro applications (and a surprising number of prosumer & consumer apps) already support open CL.
      It is rumored that adobe will be forced (by their customers) into supporting the (open) Open CL standard in addition to the proprietary CUDA but the terms of adobe’s agreement with nvidia are not public.
      In any case it is doubtful that Adobe will update the now EOL’d CS6 suite and that OpenCL will only be available on the creative cloud suite. (if at all, again depending on the terms of their private agreement with Nvidia)

      For pro’s and prosumers (and perhaps even well heeled consumers) I think the new mac pro will be a big winner. We are going virtually “all in” on them.

      1. Oops… on re-reading I mistyped;
        You don’t have to dedicate a GPU to running it, as a matter of fact it runs well on single CPU systems

        should be:
        You don’t have to dedicate a GPU to running it, as a matter of fact it runs well on single GPU systems

  6. Apple’s strategy to focus only on the premium end of the market has been hugely successful. As a result Apple can bring high-spec machines to the market at a very competitive price. At the same time the move from SD to HD over the past 5-6 years meant that the film industry began to require significantly greater grunt to handle all those extra pixels, widening the gulf between the requirements of other creative user applications and those editing video.

    The current iMac range sits in the premium desktop space as expected. The new Mac Pro is something else. While video editing is undoubtedly the target app for this new machine, I suspect that it will find its way into other areas, including database and financial applications where large amounts of data and serious number crunching is required.

    This is not the first article where someone realises that they are never going to utilise this level of performance and opts for the iMac instead. The Mac Pro has outgrown the “power user” market and created a new market for “ultra power” users.

    The Macbook and iPad have put the squeeze on Windows in the portable market, for home and business users alike. The Mac Pro now applies a similar pressure from the high end. This slow “squeeze” from Apple is forcing Microsoft into a niche, albeit a large one, of cheap desktops for untaxing business applications – a market where HP, Dell, Lenovo et al compete to supply large numbers of machines, at low margin.

    The move away from Windows-specific business applications to those which use HTML for the user interface is gradually eliminating the hold Microsoft has on the business desktop and the future here is probably an Apple desktop powered by iOS. For the most part, home users are headed in the same direction.

    Microsoft offers no answer to any of this, because there is no answer.

    There is another tidal wave threatening to engulf Microsoft though: all those iOS developers. When business IT wakes up to what is happening, there will be an army of experienced developers to migrate Windows business application to either iOS or Mac OS/X.

    The new Mac Pro is a shot across the bows of SS Microsoft. It says “We have all bases covered.”

  7. Great. Writers are having a white christmas.

    I never owned a top-end Mac and never will. I always bought in the middle, because I skate to where the puck will be and not where it was.

    I’ve never worked a Mac to death, I couldn’t afford it. My current iMac 2.8 GHz Extreme is six going on seven and has been around the world twice.

    When I upgrade to a 27-inch Quad, it will be like getting a Mac Pro to me.

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