Comparison: iMac 24" v MacBook Pro v Basic Mac Pro

in Current Mac Hardware edited January 2014
Assuming they were specced up or down to be similar prices -


MBP 15" - £1419

2.16 C2Duo


160GB Hard Drive

SuperDrive 6x

128MB ATI Mobility Radeon X1600

Bluetooth and Airport

iMac 24" - £1429

2.16 C2Duo


250GB Hard Drive

Superdrive 8x

256MB NVIDIA 7600 GT

Bluetooth and Airport

Mac Pro - £1489

2 x 2GHz Dual Core Xeon


160GB Hard Drive

Superdrive 16x

128MB NVIDIA 7300 GT

Bluetooth and Airport

This is the best I could get the 3 machines to be similar in spec and price, and is something like the next Mac I'll be getting, though it will probably happen for me when Leopard is released. I have a Dell 24" screen (so the iMac or MBP would give me a dual screen setup), and at the moment use my machine for MP3's, Internet, and some photoshop and design work, though soon I may be setting up by myself doing freelance design work. With a new Mac I would also be interested in getting an Elgato with it and setting up a nice little media centre though. So the iMac and MBP are basically the same machine in different enclosures and screen sizes, and the Mac Pro has been brought down in spec to nearer their level.

Any opinions on the pros and cons of any system would be appreciated, I know things can change between now and Leopard as far as the systems go, but I'm having trouble working out which Mac would suit me best, and anyone else who is considering a mac in this kind of price range.


  • Reply 1 of 6
    It it were my money, and I already had a 24-inch monitor, I would get the Mac Pro.
  • Reply 2 of 6

    It it were my money, and I already had a 24-inch monitor, I would get the Mac Pro.

    same with me, because the expandability of the Mac Pro for later is priceless, and it will last you very very very long
  • Reply 3 of 6
    mac voyermac voyer Posts: 1,292member
    I am an iMac man all the way. I have a 24" and there is nothing you want to do that this machine can't handle with power to spare. The second monitor is priceless. There is no such thing as too much screen real estate in design work. By the time you upgrade a MP with new processors, assuming there is an upgrade path through the next few generation of processors, graphics cards, and hard drives, you will have more than paid for a brand new iMac with more up-to-date technology. Buy the iMac and resell it every year or so and pay the difference for a new one. This assumes that portability is not that important to you. If it is, you shouldn't even be considering desktops.
  • Reply 4 of 6
    gongon Posts: 2,437member
    Since it's work, you should get whatever you need to do your job better. Then again, your requirements don't sound like you need much. No use paying $3000 for a computer if you don't notice the difference to a $1000 one.

    Question 1: portable or not. After that the choices are greatly narrowed.

    Laptop: I have long experience of using that very same 24" Dell with an iBook. If it's a laptop, don't expect to even glance at the laptop screen while you're at the desk. They're from a different world, with size and brightness and all. Because of this, keep the Macbook non-pro option in mind. It's nicer to carry and at your desk it's the same, except graphics, but if you don't do 3D accelerated stuff like Motion or modelling, the graphics shouldn't matter any.

    Desktop. You might even be fine with the mini right now. However, going to 17" iMac is an important step forward in processor and especially graphics for very little cost. Definitely worth it for futureproofing over the mini. I'd say iMac 17" is the very best value you can get in this situation. The Mac Pro is too expensive, but it's the other choice. I wouldn't buy a 20" or 24" iMac, because improvements to your second display do not matter much. The Mac Pro enables you to go to 30"-24" when you want. Seriously, unless you expect you want more power or display than 24"+17" iMac before 2008, do not get the Mac Pro.

    Consider how things play out if it's Jan 2008, and you have gotten new demanding tasks and new software and you deem your iMac to be too sluggish. You have used it for a year so if you eBay it your buy cost plus upgrades (memory) minus eBay cost is likely around $400-500. Another option is that you use the machine somwhere else, I can't imagine a better spare machine than a one-year old 17" iMac with iSight, whether the purpose is a second machine for your house or a web-email-word workstation for relatives...

    So you pay $400, get a new warranty and get to buy the Mac Pro at that point when it's probably quad core and has twice as fast graphics at same price.

    It can only get better if you are fine with the iMac for a couple years, which you probably will be.

    Just my value-oriented view.

    PS: You didn't tell what you are using now.

    PPS: Figure a minimum of 2GB memory (whether build to order, or self bought and installed) into your cost calculations.
  • Reply 5 of 6
    Thanks, my current machine is a 5 year old G4 867MHz Quicksilver.
  • Reply 6 of 6
    eckingecking Posts: 1,588member
    I agree with gon if you don't need portability the 17-20" imac is best. None of the work you listed you'll use it for is insane. Sure photoshop is a little sluggish right now but it actually runs pretty well, My gf uses it on her macbook has no real complaints sort of slow starting up but after that it's stable on a macbook. On my mbp I have no complaints with PS either so a 17-20" imac would be fine.

    And within six months all adobe apps will be intel native and you'll be flying on you imac and you most likely won't regret your purchase and the money you saved one bit.

    Then in a year from now technoogy will be better and cheaper if you need it and you can sell and upgrade or keep and upgrade, but for what you listed you probably won't need to.

    After the second year the imac should have more than paid for itself and you'll probably be looking to get a new machine that will have new graphics, cpu and hard drive technology that aren't available today even on a mac pro.

    In my opinion that's better then buying an expensive machine you need to keep for another 5 years.
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