Mac Pro vs. iMac: You don’t need a Lamborghini when you can buy a Lexus for half the price

“Anybody who tries to keep up with technology is familiar with this sad truth: Even the best computer will seem positively geriatric by its fifth birthday,” Geoffrey A. Fowler writes for The Wall Street Journal. “I pride myself on having future-proofed my last two computers—a custom decked-out PC I bought in 2003, and a top-of-the line iMac I bought in 2007. Last month, Apple began selling its new Mac Pro, a $3,000-and-up desktop rocket that looks like the love child of R2-D2 and Darth Vader. So I asked myself, could this be my best hope for defeating obsolescence in five years?”

“Yet after testing the Mac Pro alongside one of the best iMacs you can buy, both on loan from Apple, I learned a valuable lesson: You don’t need a Lamborghini when you can buy a Lexus for half the price,” Fowler writes. “If you buy a fancy Italian sports car to putter around the city, it may actually deliver worse performance than a more affordable car. The same applies here.”

“The Mac Pro is designed for professionals and [also] has an undeniable appeal for people like me with a nights-and-weekends hobby in photography,” Fowler writes. “But it can sometimes underperform against the iMac… My recommendation: Buy an iMac now. It is the Lexus of desktop computers, but trust me, it will handle whatever you throw at it. In two to three years, upgrade to a new one, when the technology has moved along. The price of two computers over five years will still be less than what you’d spend on one 8-core Mac Pro.”

Much more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Like a set of tools, different Macs for different jobs. Mac Pro buyers know why they’re buying Mac Pros. iMacs for the rest of the desktops sounds just fine to us.


    1. Based on what Stive said about the agrarian economy, the comparison is completely wrong. It should be comparing a truck with container and a pickup truck. More like a Mack and a F250/150 and not two cars in the luxury category.

      1. … question, a “luxury” computer. It can cost ten times what an entry-level PC costs. Five times what a mid-level PC costs. While we all (here) realize that those PCs are false economies, they are the Toyota Corollas of the industry. The iMac? Costs half (except those like my 27″-er, which cost 2/3rds) what a Mac Pro costs. Yeah … I spent twice the price of a mid-grade PC for my wife’s iMac and THREE times as much for my own.
        Both the iMacs (though they come less dearly) and the Mac Pro are “luxury” models. Even the Mac mini is not price-competative with the Corollas, Civics, or Sentras – never mind the Yaris, Fit, or Fiats, of the computer world.

        1. Like most people defending cheap PCs, you’re missing one very important part of the equation – the software. Sure, you can buy a $300 PC, but it comes with Windows. Sure, you can dump that and throw on a good Linux distro, but no matter which way you go, they will never match the overall finesse and power of OS X. Period. That’s where the value is…. the combination of hardware+software, not just the hardware OR software.

          1. Sentra all come standard with CVT “slush-box” transmissions.
            I did not buy iMacs, rather than $300-$1000 PCs because I like to give my spare change to Apple. I fully expect I got value for my extra dollars. More production, less down-time, greater security, a better (for my aging eyes) screen, longer expected useful life – need I go on?
            As 2454 said, those other companies can’t hope to match the Mac Pro, or the iMac, without going way over price.

        2. Except the Mac Pro is a professional level computer. It wasn’t meant for the regular consumer. Even then, the Mac Pro is the best deal. It has the most power for the lowest price. Other PC workstations can’t match it without going way over price.

  1. I require a Mac Pro since I use software that needs to crunch polys and a lot of rendering, I don’t need a car for the city, I need a car for the speed track, Lamborghini please!

  2. Mac Pro means Pro. iMac is prosumer/consumer.

    It’s more like buying a pickup truck than a lambo versus a lexus. The pro pickup truck features that contractor need add 1000’s to the price tag, that people who don’t use their trucks for would prob. not pay unless they want to look like a contractor. Same goes for Mac Pro.

    1. Amen Darwin Evolved.. We’ve been replacing Mac pro’s & iMacs with Juiced up Mac Mini’s with large SS drives…We’ve replaced 3 workstations and a Mac server so far…couldn’t be happier with the choice!

    2. Darwin, I use an upgraded Mac mini every day, but I think your assessment is FAR too simplistic. First of all, I can get CPU and GPU combinations in an iMac that are not available in either a mini or any MBP. Second, for some people the all-in-one form factor is important. Finally, when you compare the price of a 27-inch iMac to its other Mac siblings, it seems in-line.

      1. Hey, I’m not saying anything negative about the Mac Pro. Would love to have one, just don’t necessitate one.

        But there will come a day when you can buy an iMac with a 4K display for about 2 grand. It will happen, and it will be a great machine for me when the day comes — be that next year or a couple years from now. As MDN says, iCal it!

  3. I’m assuming that a 6-core, 32g ram, 1tb SSD Mac Pro will render and export video from Final Cut Pro X faster than the fastest iMac, which justifies the expense for me. first post ever here. I love the articles on Macdailynews!

  4. What an insightful article! So if I don’t need to go at the speeds that a Lamborghini can do, I don’t need to buy one. And, in parallel, Mac Pros are for pros. Ooookay.

  5. So much pathetic whining about the price of the new Mac Pro. I bought my first Macintosh, a Quadra 800, in 1993 for a little more than $5500 with 14′ monitor. Using the inflation calculator, that would be $8,871.14 today. Sorry, tech journalists, your constant bemoaning does not impress me.

  6. The author stated that he bought the top of the line iMac which of now, would be $3950. If I was going to spend that on a machine, I’d go with a Mac Pro 6 core.

    The point is, in the end, the Mac Pro does have some upgradable components, and currently PCI-e, and even better GPU.
    The cost difference is the iMac having a display. So figure it this way:
    27″ thunderbolt, and an entry level Mac Pro.

    I already have the thunderbolt which is plenty for me… I wouldn’t mind having another though. GI-GA-TY!

  7. The Mac Pro seems fine-tuned to run Final Cut Pro which I don’t even use. I don’t need a computer that can run 24/7 flat out for days on end. There’s absolutely nothing I do that requires anything close to a Mac Pro. A high-end iMac suits me perfectly for what I do. That’s the determining factor for my choice of computer. The most processing I need for my iMac is to re-encode about a dozen HD mkv movies from various formats per week using Xilisoft Video Converter Ultimate. Even my i7 2.3 GHz MacMini can handle that chore in a few hours while I’m sleeping. Although I can afford a $3999 Mac Pro, I’ll be getting the highest model i7 Haswell iMac which is more energy efficient in the long run.

  8. “Buy an iMac now…. trust me, it will handle whatever you throw at it. In two to three years, ”

    Although I agree the top end iMac is a beast that seems kinda BOLD.

    how the heck does he know what even other hobbyists want to throw at it?
    Maybe my hobby is doing HD video or making 3D stuff with Lightwave, Maya to share on etc?
    Lots of pro-sumers also make a bit of cash working at home on weekends etc.

    ALSO the diff in price between a Lexus and Lamborghini is like HALF a MILLION bucks the diff between an iMac and Mac Pro is like a thousand or so. (a thousand divided over a lifetime of 3 years is like less than a BUCK a DAY ).

    (typing this with my Cheese Grater Mac Pro)

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