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Buy new iMac or Mac Pro for AE ?

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Alexis Vx
Buy new iMac or Mac Pro for AE ?
on May 24, 2013 at 2:47:22 am

Hi all,
I need to buy a new computer for my wife who uses AE. She will be using it to create small animations (3min) for youtube as well as Photoshop. She does a lot of previewing and rendering. She is starting out but wants to make animation a career so we want to buy the right machine.

Ideally I would have liked to get a Macbook Pro, but from my research it seems it will not be powerful enough (unless you tell me otherwise!). So I am wondering if I should go for an iMac or a Mac Pro. Price, of course, being the main concern.

I am considering:

iMac
CPU: 3.4GHz Quad-core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 3.9GHz
RAM: 16GB 1600MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 2X8GB
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680MX 2GB GDDR5
Storage: 1TB Serial ATA Drive @ 7200 rpm

Mac Pro
CPU: One 3.2GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon processor
RAM: 16GB DDR3 ECC SDRAM
GPU: ATI Radeon HD 5770 1GB or Two ATI Radeon HD 5770 1GB [Add $250.00] or ATI Radeon HD 5870 1GB [Add $200.00]
Storage: 1TB 7200-rpm Serial ATA 3Gb/s hard drive

For the Mac Pro, the 3.33GHz 6-Core Intel Xeon processor is $500 more so I am not sure it is worth it. Also I am not sure if it is worth spending $200 or $250 for the upgrade on the cards.

I might add an SSD to both rigs for cache and previewing

thank you.
Alexis


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Todd Kopriva
Re: Buy new iMac or Mac Pro for AE ?
on May 24, 2013 at 9:28:14 am

Definitely add the SSD.

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Todd Kopriva, Adobe Systems Incorporated
After Effects quality engineering
After Effects team blog
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Ridley Walker
Re: Buy new iMac or Mac Pro for AE ?
on May 24, 2013 at 4:15:22 pm

Choosing between a MacPro and an iMac for After Effects work requires some knowledge of the work to be produced. There are the obvious cost differences, and some not so obvious hardware considerations that may or may not impact your future ability to expand and upgrade the computer.

The iMac is less flexible going forward, you can add more drives and devices vis USB and Thunderbolt, but there are fewer options for expansion. The MacPro can take 5 internal drives, additional PCIe cards and much more RAM. If the animations are all created in After Effects and Photoshop, the iMac and 32GB should be more than adequate. If you're planning to edit HD video, additional hard drive(s) may be necessary.

In any case, the ATI cards available for the MacPro don't support 3D Ray Tracing, the nVidia in the iMac does. You can purchase an nVidia card for the MacPro but currently Apple does not have a BTO option with one. I consider an SSD for the cache essential, if you get the iMac, the SSD would need to be external in a USB3 or Thunderbolt case.

The current MacPro design is nearly 3 years old (I have one) though the processors got a speed bump last year, nothing else has changed, no Thunderbolt and no USB3 on them. Last year Tim Cook promised "Something for the professional market" in 2013, many are anticipating a new MacPro with more bells and whistles or something better to replace it.

You might consider waiting a few weeks until after Apple's developer conference in June, typically one of the occasions when they announce new products.


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Paul Stevenson
Re: Buy new iMac or Mac Pro for AE ?
on May 24, 2013 at 4:31:50 pm

As Ridley says, you really need to go NV over ATI at the moment.

Have you tried looking at a PC instead of a MAC? You could save yourself a small fortune and in turn you can put this money back into the computer and get a much better specification...or a monitor or two.

If you can find a small, competitive, local PC builder (or do it yourself it's not difficult) then your quids in.

I built a PC for around £1k, it blew the socks off everything Apple had and for half the price. I then overclocked it and it's still faster than anything Apple produces and it's nearly two years old.

Just an idea anyway.


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Ridley Walker
Re: Buy new iMac or Mac Pro for AE ?
on May 24, 2013 at 5:07:45 pm

[Paul Stevenson] "I built a PC for around £1k, it blew the socks off everything Apple had and for half the price. I then overclocked it and it's still faster than anything Apple produces and it's nearly two years old.
"


Just out of curiosity, what is its Geekbench score? I'm considering building a PC.


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Alexis Vx
Re: Buy new iMac or Mac Pro for AE ?
on May 24, 2013 at 7:50:22 pm

Thank you all for your replies.

Ridley, I would wait for the conference, but after the announcement how long does it usually take for products to come out? I sort of need to buy the computer now, my wife is working off a Macbook Air right now...

Paul, Is the price difference that big? Could you please give me rough price estimate and rough build in terms of CPU/GPU/RAM? I can definitely build a PC, I have done it before. Do you know of a good resource where I could find recommended specs for PC and AE?

The other thing to consider is that my wife is really not very tech savvy, she can use AE and Photoshop with no problems, but beyond that not much else. I found her using Apple creates less issues for her. But if the price difference was big enough it might be worth it.

Thank you for your advise
Alexis


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Alexis Vx
Re: Buy new iMac or Mac Pro for AE ?
on May 24, 2013 at 8:17:10 pm

I had a quick look at the PC builds and they are almost half price to Macs...
Can I then go back to my original question, if I decide to go for Mac it looks like an iMac with an external SSD would do the job more than enough, what do you think?

Alexis


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Ridley Walker
Re: Buy new iMac or Mac Pro for AE ?
on May 24, 2013 at 8:42:43 pm

[Alexis Vx] "Can I then go back to my original question, if I decide to go for Mac it looks like an iMac with an external SSD would do the job more than enough, what do you think?
"


I think it would.

BTW the Geekbench score of my MacPro is 21439.


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