Mac buying advice...

in Genius Bar
Mike mentioned some time ago that I should post my dilemma here and see what advice I get back. So, here goes...

My computer needs are quite varied. Most of the time, a pretty basic machine will do the job, but sometimes I need some power (both GPU and CPU). And, I like to contribute to stuff like Folding@home if I have spare computing power... but that's more a want than need.

Even that basic use is more than writing and email, but a 2013 MBA is currently getting the job done (a bit uncomfortably, but doing it). I previously had a 21" iMac with quad-core and miss it. I sold it at a point when I needed a bit of cashflow in my business (a client shut down their business just as a huge expense was coming up for me), anticipating replacing it with a MacBook Pro.

Unfortunately, I haven't been happy with the MBP offerings, as many of you have probably witnessed in other threads where I post. But, because I've actually damaged MBPs in the past running renderings, I'm leaning more towards a desktop/laptop combo, and possibly even a desktop/iPad combo as my work needs are changing a bit soon. We'll see.

But, what I need advice for, is on the desktop front... or, if the consensus is that I'd actually be happy with the right laptop.

The dilemma is that Apple really has no reasonably priced desktop for a semi-pro/prosumer. I'd *love* and iMac Pro aside from it having no video inputs (general problem for me with iMacs). I could get a more entry level Mac Pro, but I'm a bit scared of buying it and then having Apple drop OS support within the next few years.

I work in a pretty small space (a small home-office carved out of a pretty small apartment/condo). Basically, I have a 29.5" square table for everything, and would like it to look neat. Even my MBA with USB hub and multiple connections starts to look a bit crazy, IMO. Silence is also quite important to me, as I'm often video-conferencing or recording screen tutorials, etc.

The reason I'd like video input, is that I want to be able to connect another computer when necessary and/or hook a PS4 up for some gaming with my son. I don't want two monitors (i.e.: iMac + another monitor). That said, if the iMac is the only solution that makes sense, I might have to budge on that want.

As for the heavy use, it involves mostly video-encoding, along with 3D rendering and CAD. And, as noted, I love to run stuff like Folding@home if I have some extra cores laying around. :)

The lighter stuff involves a wide variety of office/business type work, including video conferencing, audio recording, screen recording, research, multiple browsers, multiple apps, etc.

I also house our collection of home videos, photos, and such from my machine via Plex, AirVideo Server, and Dropbox. This isn't optimal given limited internal storage, but I kind of make it work in a kludgy manner (if I pay for high-end Dropbox, this gets fixed, but is kind of pricy and I think you lose features).

Internal storage needs to be at least 256GB and I'd prefer SSD. RAM should be in the 16GB+ range preferably (I could usually get by with 8GB, but that isn't optimal for rendering or multiple apps along with VMs like Parallels). VMs are the other factor, as I'd like to be able to run a couple at once or more... like a Windows + Unix, possibly multiple and maybe Mac too. This need might be changing, but I don't want to limit it out... and it could possibly increase depending on jobs.

Are the new laptops (if Apple fixes what I currently don't like well enough in June) up to such a task? Can you run them relatively heavy w/o:
- fans going crazy all the time (noise)
- damaging internal components (I've had most of my issues with GPUs)
- eGPUs make this interesting, but after buying a 4-core 15" plus eGPU gets pretty pricy.
- another downside is that if I take the laptop, then there's no machine remaining to serve movies, etc.

Would I be safe buying a Mac Pro cylinder? I know it isn't the best bang for the buck, but I think it would otherwise be a good fit. Will Apple drop OS support in a couple of years, or do you think I have 5 years left? I think the GPUs would be OK, but I could potentially add an eGPU there as well if needed. It eliminates the need for USB hubs and centralizes the wires. It can work with my existing monitor and solve the video input issue, as my monitor supports that.

What about the iMac? I know I can get a pretty fast iMac 4k or 5k for the money. It would probably be faster at video encoding or things like that, as it's a newer Intel CPU, but I worry about noise and damaging it by running it hard.

Any suggestions or tips? I just don't know what to buy, but want to make a decision after I see what Apple has coming in June.
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