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New hardware: iMac 27" 3.4 or Mac pro Xeon quad 3.2?

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Christopher LevinNew hardware: iMac 27" 3.4 or Mac pro Xeon quad 3.2?
by on Mar 28, 2012 at 2:14:13 am

Hello folks,

first time posting here -

I am a motion graphics student with some video editing experience. I work mostly with After Effects and maya, so I use Premiere for editing because of Adobe dynamic link. Lately I have been getting a lot of people asking if I can do editing jobs, but I keep having to pass them up because my current work station can't handle dslr footage. I am looking to upgrade hardware so I can at least be working towards my field while in school.
Could anyone offer advice or experience here? I am looking at either a

Mac Pro Xeon 3.2Ghz or a
27" iMac corei7 3.4Ghz.

I am thinking to have a solid state boot for whichever one I get, and get about 16G of ram from the Crucial website rather than directly from Apple. The Mac pro is so much more expensive, especially because it doesn't have a monitor. I wonder if it would be worth it in the long haul especially since I am wanting to work for a production house rather than pursue freelance as a career.
Anybody work with either one of these machines? Both? How do they respond to adobe dynamic link? 3D programs like Maya?

currently working on: matthewruns.com (filming, editing, VFX)
some student work: vimeo.com/blackjavachris
more student work: youtube.com/user/blackjavachris


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Al BergsteinRe: New hardware: iMac 27" 3.4 or Mac pro Xeon quad 3.2?
by on Mar 28, 2012 at 3:30:50 pm

Hi Christopher. While I will let others with specific knowledge of in depth use of these programs on these machines answer, it really comes down to whether the graphics card will do the job, and whether you will be able to get by with the limited expansion capabilities of the all in one unit. On my Mac Pro, I'm able to easily add eSata, which at this moment is cheaper and more varied that Tbolt. Having the ability to put in a really high end card with CUDA capability is also pretty important for special effects. But if you really are only editing HDSLR without a lot of fx, then the lower cost unit would likely be enough. I tend to 'trade up" when I need it, and consider the lost cost as a *rental cost*, rather than beat myself up over it. I bet you could make do nicely with the lower cost all in one, if you are doing so today. It's a shame Apple has not updated the Pro. I did buy mine used on Craigslist. Haven't had any problems with it, have had it two years now, saved a lot of money. But these units are now quite antiquated, and as such, shouldn't be worth what is being asked. I'd negotiate hard on one.

The other option, as much as I hate to say it, is that you can get the performance of i7 in an expandable system by using Windows 7. Windows desktops are dirt cheap, and though they have limited power supplies, you can put a high end card in them if you don't stuff it full of other stuff, and they usually include an esata port on the motherboard. (my Dell does). Dell's XPS systems have pretty good power supplies for a bit more money. I use both Mac and PC now because the rendering on the Mac Pro was pretty slow (odd how speed is relative), and I could buy a very high powered machine for a lot less than Apple. As much as I like the Mac interface (I use a MacBook for my laptop), when it comes to Adobe, they are doing a good job of making it cross platform. I find I don't use the Mac Pro as much as I used to. I have multiple eSata drives hooked up to my W7 system, and don't have less problems in general than on the Mac. Might be a good intermediate method of working, though you might find a lot of 'clients' demanding or needing ProRes input or output. You'll have to check that out in your area. I don't find I need it.

Al


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Kevin CampRe: New hardware: iMac 27" 3.4 or Mac pro Xeon quad 3.2?
by on Mar 28, 2012 at 4:06:21 pm

for your situation i'd probably go with the imac, unless you feel the work that you will be getting will justify the cost of the mac pro.

the main 'pro' of the imac is the cost, the 'pros' of the mac pro are more processing power and expandability (though no thunderbolt). the graphics card won't matter in ae, but will help with premiere and maya, so you might want to check out the imac's gpu with the recommended specs for those.

however, i would look around at used mac pros. they haven't been updated for nearly 2 years and you may be able to find some for a good price, and you don't need an expensive apple monitor, but you do need a monitor that will work with the display connector on the card -- newer mac pros have mini-display ports (1 or 2) and a single dvi port, and adapter cost more money, just keep that in mind if you want more than one display.

also, both the imac line and the mac pro line will likely be updated this year (intel is releasing updated ivy bridge (imac) and xeon (macpro) processors soon), so you might keep that in mind too.

as al points out, if you don't need osx, then you could save some money with a pc, and software will often run faster on windows (even if windows is running on a mac). all the software you have mentioned is multi-platform, so i don't see an issue there -- adobe will do a cross-platform software switch, it used to cost about $20, but you would need to check into that.

Kevin Camp
Senior Designer
KCPQ, KMYQ & KRCW


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Christopher LevinRe: New hardware: iMac 27" 3.4 or Mac pro Xeon quad 3.2?
by on Mar 28, 2012 at 6:33:21 pm

Thanks guys - I think the work I will be getting for now will mostly be editing for the time being. I am indeed leaning toward the iMac. Like you said, Al, I would consider the loss a "rental" cost if I trade up in the future. Kevin: you are right, there is not much of a price difference even if I buy a used Mac pro. I assume if I get a job at a post production house here in Minneapolis I might not need a workstation at home, and if so it would be easier to justify and upgrade a year and a half from now with that fat paycheck I'll be gettin (insert sarcasm).

To be honest, I have been a bit torn considering the Windows option, but I've been through it once before, and came up with an HP laptop with a corei7 (although less than a gig processor speed), 8g of ram, and even an Nvidia gfx card which is cuda enabled, but it just can't give realtime playback on a multi-camera edit in premiere pro. I've watched it go from a nice machine to a space heater in the 2.5 years I've had it. Now that I've had a taste of the Mac workstations at the school labs I'm afraid its too late for me: once you go Mac...
Well this just got awkward.
Thanks again for your input, guys!

currently working on: matthewruns.com (filming, editing, VFX)
some student work: vimeo.com/blackjavachris
more student work: youtube.com/user/blackjavachris


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Kevin CampRe: New hardware: iMac 27" 3.4 or Mac pro Xeon quad 3.2?
by on Mar 28, 2012 at 9:01:10 pm

i just saw this article:

http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/2012/03/first-ivy-bridge-based-macs-could...

obviously, this is still speculation on the possible update of the apple computer models, but if apple does update their lines within a month or two you'd like to get in on that (either to save money on the current line or get the latest).

Kevin Camp
Senior Designer
KCPQ, KMYQ & KRCW


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