I can't decide which new Mac to get!

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited November 2014

I currently have a 2008 unibody MacBook, 2ghz Intel Core 2 Duo. I want a new Mac but want to make the right decision and investment. I don't necessarily need a laptop, since I feel my iPad can replace most things I can do for portability. 

I was waiting for the new Mac Mini to come out, but that turned out to be a huge disappointment. I can get the top of the line mini with 3 ghz dual core i7, 256 gb ssd drive, 16 gb ram, Intel Iris for $1399. Or I could get a refurbished 2014 MacBook Pro retina 15" with 2.2 ghz quad core i7, 16gb ram, 256gb ssd drive, Intel Iris Pro graphics for $1,699. That gives a more powerful computer and portability for $300 more. 

Also looking at the iMac retina, but seems pretty expensive and I'm not sure how powerful and long lasting that machine will be. That's a ton of pixels to have to push. When the iPad with retina display came out, it worked great, but video still stuttered and wasn't up to it's potential until a couple generations after that. That's how I feel about the iMac retina, but at $2500, it's quite an investment for a computer that may not last that long and be powerful enough for full screen video games or 5k movies that play with no hiccups. 

Then I'm looking at the refurbished Mac Pro, 3.7 ghz quad core Intel Xeon E5, 12GB memory, 256 GB SSD drive, dual video cards AMD Fire Pro D300 2GB for $2,549. I feel like this machine would be a great investment, even though more expensive up front, it would last longer than the others because of the superior specs. 

I currently have a 27" LED Cinema Display so I don't need an All In One. I like to play moderately graphic intensive games (Civilization, Sims, Sim City 4...) and I dabble in video production as a hobby. Not sure if a Mac Pro would be a waste of money and power for what I would use it for.. I can't see myself ever needing the 6 Thunderbolt ports. I just really want a fast, powerful computer that can keep up with the times. 

Which would you choose? I'm kind of in a rut and bummed that Apple didn't release a more substantial Mini!

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 16

    I would personally no doubt go with the MacBook Pro 15.4" Retina (and Im not just saying that because I already decided to get that myself :)

     

    The machine is super powerful, lightweight (lighter then the Non-retina), and will last you a good 5 to 6 years, depending on how you use it. My only recommendation is that you MUST get the AppleCare Warranty, its a must! Especially with the Retina models. The LCD assembly on those units are ridiculously expensive and could be a real bummer to have to pay for the repairs out of pocket. In general, all of the repairs on the MacBook Retinas are ALOT more complicated then the other models. 

     

    So in short, if you were to NOT get the Apple, I would definitely NOT go with the Retina model, most important reason being the repairs will be super expensive.

     

    As for the Mac Pro or the Mac Mini, those are more stationary computers, and its tough to compare that to a portable. 

     

    If you don;t really use the computer for any heavy applications or games, I would just upgrade the memory on your 2008 Unibody, Install a 256GB SSD and you would have an awesome machine! 

     

    Good luck with your decision and hope you love whatever you get (that are all awesome computers). 

  • Reply 2 of 16
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member

    I don't think the extreme res of the iMac will be a performance problem. The thing you want with games, is for it to look as realistic as possible. Think of a drawing of a stick figure on a computer screen. If you pump up the res, does it look any more realistic? No, it's still just a crap drawing, only sharper.

     

    To make games more realistic you need to turn on all the effects: lighting, shadows, etc, not pump up the res. So the question of whether the Retina iMac will be a good gaming box is whether you can use Ultra or High settings at a decent res, such as 1440p. The M295x is basically the equivalent of a Radeon HD 7970 desktop, which is only one generation before the current R9 290x, so it should be able to play most new games at High.

     

    The only caveat is, having a 7970 equivalent in that thin case, I don't know how they did it. I owned a 7970 a few years ago in my gaming PC and the fans would still spin up loud even in a fully ventilated PC tower. So if you buy an iMac for gaming be prepared for some fan noise. 

     

    But really, Apple is best known for their amazing laptops. If you are basically happy with your MBP then just wait for the next MBP and upgrade it (I say wait because the last MBP generation was really a bit of a stopgap update). The Mac Pro is really for digital content producers, not general use.

  • Reply 3 of 16
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,195moderator
    tyler82 wrote: »
    <p style="color:rgb(0,0,0);margin-bottom:5px;margin-top:5px;">Which would you choose? I'm kind of in a rut and bummed that Apple didn't release a more substantial Mini!</p>

    The MBP is a good option to choose instead of a mini but laptop GPUs are not great for gaming and you get more fan noise. You can compare Iris, iris Pro and a 780M here (the Mac Pro D300 will be close to the 780M and you can potentially use both D300s but not always):

    http://www.notebookcheck.net/Intel-Iris-Graphics-5100.91977.0.html
    http://www.notebookcheck.net/Intel-Iris-Pro-Graphics-5200.90965.0.html
    http://www.notebookcheck.net/NVIDIA-GeForce-GTX-780M.88993.0.html

    The Mac Pro would handle pretty much any game you wanted and would stay quiet while playing. There's a fan noise test done here:


    [VIDEO]


    The only thing with the current Mac Pro is that it is stuck at 4K support so if they do bring out a Retina TB display, you probably won't be able to use it. It's also due for an update as there are new parts out. This would likely lower the refurb prices at least. The new Haswell chips have been tested here:

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/8584/intel-xeon-e5-2687w-v3-and-e5-2650-v3-review-haswell-ep-with-10-cores/3

    Going by the Cinebench multi-core scores, it looks like a ~20% improvement with the chips there, which you'd expect moving to 10 cores from 8 cores. They still make quad versions on the entry level and they don't look to have changed much at all:

    http://www.cpubenchmark.net/[email protected]+3.50GHz&id=2409

    They lowered the clock speed from 3.7 to 3.5. They won't want people going for those entry chips but it's pretty much screwing people over having the same performance from one year to the next at the entry point. They could have at least moved to 6-core at the same price and left quads behind. They might do this with Broadwell.

    I expect that Apple will update the MP when they get a 5K TB display ready. The 5K iMac only has a $300 premium over the 1440p iMac (once you add a Fusion drive) so I doubt the standalone 5K display will be over $1499. $1299 would be a feasible price point. It can work in upscaled mode for older machines so that people can still buy them now but they'd only be able to run at upscaled 4K (3840x2160) and 5K on next year's Broadwell machines.

    The MBP won't be updated again until next Summer so if you bought one now, you wouldn't feel like you'd bought at the wrong time. The MP can be updated at any time so there's a good chance you would buy it just as the new one arrived and even though you might not buy the new one anyway, you'd miss the discount on the refurb and you'd be stuck with the 4K output. The MBP is 4K too but it's a lot cheaper.

    The 5K iMac is an ok option when you weigh in selling your old display but I think it's a good idea to hold off on the Retina there as it's the first gen and neither supports 5K output over TB nor running it as a display like the 1440p models.

    If I was buying it, I'd get the refurb MBP, sell the old MBP and use the new one with the display you have and just use it for 1-2 years to see what happens with the MP and then get one of those at a later date. I think the MP would be a good fit for your setup but now isn't a good time to get one.
  • Reply 4 of 16
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post



    The only thing with the current Mac Pro is that it is stuck at 4K support so if they do bring out a Retina TB display, you probably won't be able to use it. 

     

    I am hoping Apple will support this one on the current Mac Pro:

    http://accessories.us.dell.com/sna/productdetail.aspx?c=us&cs=19&l=en&sku=UP275K3

     

    It needs 2 DisplayPort 1.2 cables. They already explicitly support the Dell UP2414Q and UP3214Q 4K monitors 

    http://support.apple.com/en-au/HT6008

     

    So adding support for the UP2715K would not be a totally new thing. The only question is, this is dual MST (4 tiles over 2 ports). How hard is that to code? Is it part of the MST spec to synchonize across multiple ports? And/or have AMD already written the code and can just hand it to Apple. Anyway, it would be a nice gesture to the Mac Pro owners seeing the new iMac. I don't think Apple would use a dual cable system in their own 5K monitor, it would go against their aesthetic, but they might slip a software update under the radar.

     

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post



    The MBP won't be updated again until next Summer so if you bought one now, you wouldn't feel like you'd bought at the wrong time. 

     

    The new Macbook Pro may be a ways away, but it will be such a big upgrade I think it may be worth waiting. The Geforce GTX 980M is an amazing mobile graphics card, a real leap forward. Apple usually uses the 50 variant in the MBP, e.g. GT 650M (2012), GT 750M (2013, 2014). The 950M is not out yet, but assuming it is not too much worse than a 980M, and that a 2015 MBP uses it, it will be a major leap over the current gen. And the thing about a 15" screen, is that you can set the res to 1440*900 and it still looks really good. With a 1440*900 res and that GPU, we might see Ultra gaming on an MBP for the latest titles.

     

    The danger of course is that the new Macbook Air is rumoured to be ultra-thin and maybe even fanless. This may inspire Apple to make further cuts to the size of their other notebooks too, giving even less cooling headroom in the next gen MBP.

  • Reply 5 of 16
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,195moderator
    ascii wrote: »
    I am hoping Apple will support this one on the current Mac Pro:
    http://accessories.us.dell.com/sna/productdetail.aspx?c=us&cs=19&l=en&sku=UP275K3


    It needs 2 DisplayPort 1.2 cables. They already explicitly support the Dell UP2414Q and UP3214Q 4K monitors 
    http://support.apple.com/en-au/HT6008


    So adding support for the UP2715K would not be a totally new thing. The only question is, this is dual MST (4 tiles over 2 ports).

    Yeah that would be an option for current Macs - 3rd party 5K should work ok. I think it's just 2 tiles over 2 ports.

    http://www.techradar.com/news/computing-components/peripherals/dell-s-new-27-inch-5k-monitor-packs-as-much-details-as-7-monitors-1264376

    "Dell engineers have managed this feat by joining two 2560 x 2880 pixels tiles to deliver a 5120 x 2880 pixel resolution"

    Each port can handle 3840x2160 so that should work but it might need some software update to do it.
    ascii wrote: »
    The new Macbook Pro may be a ways away, but it will be such a big upgrade I think it may be worth waiting. The Geforce GTX 980M is an amazing mobile graphics card, a real leap forward. Apple usually uses the 50 variant in the MBP, e.g. GT 650M (2012), GT 750M (2013, 2014). The 950M is not out yet, but assuming it is not too much worse than a 980M, and that a 2015 MBP uses it, it will be a major leap over the current gen.

    The 980M vs 780M is here:

    http://www.notebookcheck.net/NVIDIA-GeForce-GTX-780M.88993.0.html
    http://www.notebookcheck.net/NVIDIA-GeForce-GTX-980M.126692.0.html

    It looks like it's around 50-100% increase from 700 series through 800 series (which Apple skipped) to 900 series. Broadwell Iris Pro is expected to improve around 40% and currently is close to the 750M so it should be short of the 950M but not much and Skylake will go up another 50% or so.

    There had to be a reason Apple skipped the 850M, I reckon it points to dropping dedicated GPUs from the MBP and I personally don't think that's a bad thing. They will have 16GB DDR4 memory so plenty of video memory is possible, even up to 4GB and they can cut down the power. Dual GPUs are annoying because they switch color profile when they jump from one to the other so you either leave dedicated on and lose battery life or have to put up with the color switching.
    ascii wrote: »
    [The danger of course is that the new Macbook Air is rumoured to be ultra-thin and maybe even fanless. This may inspire Apple to make further cuts to the size of their other notebooks too, giving even less cooling headroom in the next gen MBP.

    I'm ok with this as long as it doesn't lag too far behind. If Iris Pro sits at half the performance of an equivalent NVidia chip then it's too much but if it's like the Iris Pro 5200 vs 750M where there's almost no difference between them, there's no need for the 2nd GPU IMO. You lose out on CUDA but the same is true with the MP and 5K iMac and Iris Pro is faster for OpenCL than NVidia.
  • Reply 6 of 16
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post



    There had to be a reason Apple skipped the 850M, I reckon it points to dropping dedicated GPUs from the MBP and I personally don't think that's a bad thing. They will have 16GB DDR4 memory so plenty of video memory is possible, even up to 4GB and they can cut down the power. Dual GPUs are annoying because they switch color profile when they jump from one to the other so you either leave dedicated on and lose battery life or have to put up with the color switching.

    I'm ok with this as long as it doesn't lag too far behind. If Iris Pro sits at half the performance of an equivalent NVidia chip then it's too much but if it's like the Iris Pro 5200 vs 750M where there's almost no difference between them, there's no need for the 2nd GPU IMO. You lose out on CUDA but the same is true with the MP and 5K iMac and Iris Pro is faster for OpenCL than NVidia.

    Gah, I will be disappointed in they go that route. I have a dream of one day getting rid of my dedicated gaming PC and just doing everything on the Mac.

  • Reply 7 of 16
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,195moderator
    ascii wrote: »
    Gah, I will be disappointed in they go that route. I have a dream of one day getting rid of my dedicated gaming PC and just doing everything on the Mac.

    It depends on the threshold. The current IGPs are faster than some older dedicated GPUs, it really comes down to what games, what quality settings and what resolution is the aim. When you compare a desktop 980 to current Iris Pro, the 980 is around 10x faster:

    http://www.notebookcheck.net/Intel-Iris-Pro-Graphics-5200.90965.0.html
    http://www.notebookcheck.net/NVIDIA-GeForce-GTX-980-Desktop.128942.0.html

    A 680 is around 5x faster:

    http://www.notebookcheck.net/NVIDIA-GeForce-GTX-680.92915.0.html

    The desktop 680 can play most games at maximum around 60FPS. The game Watch Dogs looks to be one of the most demanding games and visually, it's about as good as graphics need to be for an enjoyable experience.

    If the aim for a laptop is to play at 1440x900, high quality above 30FPS for all games then half of a desktop 680 should suffice. This is only 2.5x the current Iris Pro so if Skylake (2016) manages 2x Haswell Iris Pro, that's pretty close.
  • Reply 8 of 16
    >>Yeah that would be an option for current Macs - 3rd party 5K should work ok. I think it's just 2 tiles over 2 ports.

    Thinking about getting the UP2715K. What do you mean by 2 tiles over 2 ports on the Mac Pro?
  • Reply 9 of 16
    sequitursequitur Posts: 1,901member

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    Some of this year’s best Black Friday offers from Best Buy include discounts on video game console bundles, smartphones, and HDTVs. You can view the whole ad here, or read on to see which deals we’ve singled out as the best of the best Black Friday deals at Best Bu5-inch iMac for $899.99image

    Best Buy has taken $200 off the price of Apple’s entry-level 21.5-inch iMac. This computer has an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 500GB hard drive. Do note that this is the entry-level iMac, and it doesn’t have the amazing display of the new iMac with 5K Retina display.

  • Reply 10 of 16
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,195moderator
    >>Yeah that would be an option for current Macs - 3rd party 5K should work ok. I think it's just 2 tiles over 2 ports.

    Thinking about getting the UP2715K. What do you mean by 2 tiles over 2 ports on the Mac Pro?

    The iMac uses a single panel (hard to do at this resolution because of cross-talk and bandwidth) but the Dell joins two together. When they do it at the panel-level you don't see any seam but to the computer, it shows up as two displays and you need two separate cables to run it at full resolution.
  • Reply 11 of 16
    Thanks for the clarification. That's what I understood, but very concerned about the following post.

    As I read it, the UP2715K connects two ports, but would effectively render another two disabled on the Mac Pro, leaving two TB2 ports. Yikes! That would put my Mac Pro on par with the usability of the 5K iMac--only with a wider gamut screen. I can't seem to get registered in their forum to clarify. Still waiting for a human to review my request.

    Called Dell and their technical support was S c a R Y! Did the chat twice and called in twice. The best I could get was someone reading the spec sheet to me. If their support is >that< bad, I'd be better off with another panel or take a hit on the Mac Pro and get a 5K iMac.

    ________________________________________________________________________________
    http://www.reduser.net/forum/showthread.php?124057-Dell-5K-Panel-Pre-Order-UP2715K/page2
    11-05-2014, 09:26 AM

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Santiago View Post
    With the new Dell 5K can we just use two of the shared ports or do I have to use one from each bus?
    One from each Bus. :(

    This is why the new Mac Pro can only run 3 x 4K monitors. Even though DisplayPort bandwidth and TB data bandwidth are separate, they must pass through the 20Gbps gate on each header. The split into dual ports happens past that gateway. So if you connect the Dell 5K to a new Mac Pro cylinder, it will put two TB2 headers, or 4 TB2 ports, out of service.

    - Jeff Kilgroe
  • Reply 12 of 16
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by insider_enthusiast View Post



    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Santiago View Post

    With the new Dell 5K can we just use two of the shared ports or do I have to use one from each bus?

    One from each Bus. image

    The fact that it will take 2 of the 3 busses to feed the monitor isn't even the greatest concern in my humble opinion. We still don't know whether OS X will support this monitor *at all*. I would wait for confirmation of that before buying.

     

    How will PCs feed this monitor anyway? Do you need two separate graphics cards?

  • Reply 13 of 16
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ascii View Post

    We still don't know whether OS X will support this monitor *at all*. I would wait for confirmation of that before buying.

     

    How will PCs feed this monitor anyway? Do you need two separate graphics cards?

     

    That's what was so outrageous about my technical support call with Dell. She told me not to worry.

    Never mind many 4K monitors did not originally work with OS X. She says that the monitor will work with any computer. I got silence when I explained that not all graphics cards can output that kind of resolution. Even if the monitor scales to 1024x768, my question was if the Mac Pro / OS X could handle it's native resolution in 1024x768.
  • Reply 14 of 16
    Originally Posted by sequitur View Post

    Best Buy has released their Doorbusters ad for Black Friday 2014.



    Okay, what am I missing here... A 50” LED LCD for $200? That seems like a great deal. Oh, it’s Panasonic, so it will have ads on the volume popup. Not even joking.

  • Reply 15 of 16
    marvfoxmarvfox Posts: 2,275member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

     



    Okay, what am I missing here... A 50” LED LCD for $200? That seems like a great deal. Oh, it’s Panasonic, so it will have ads on the volume popup. Not even joking.




    Incredible deal. Wish I was living there in the states now.

  • Reply 16 of 16
    relicrelic Posts: 4,735member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

     



    Okay, what am I missing here... A 50” LED LCD for $200? That seems like a great deal. Oh, it’s Panasonic, so it will have ads on the volume popup. Not even joking.


    Wave of the future for TV's that connect to the internet, you can easily turn it off though Tallest. Menu > Setup > Display customization > Viera Connect Banner > Off

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