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Hardware choice


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I need some help evaluating my current two choices for Mac based hardware to run VW2011 Architect/RW.

I'm currently simply trying to decide between these two choices.

Choice one(from Apple):

Refurbished iMac 27" - 2.66Ghz Quad-core Intel Core i5

(one year limited Apple warranty)

4gb ram

1Tb hard drive

ATI Radeon HD 4850 graphics with 512MB memory

Choice two (from very reliable power-user source):

Mac Pro 3,1 Tower with 24" apple monitor. Both are approx. 2 years old. (no warranty - but source is reliable with well maintained hardware, etc. I bought his used mac gear in the past with a 100% reliability record).

2 x 2.8Ghz Quad-core Intel Xeon (8 CPU's)

L2 cache share: 12mb

6gb ram

1.5Tb hard drive

ATI Radeon HD 2600 w/ 256mb of vram.

Both choices are within $100 of each other, so the cost is non issue.

Thanks for any guidance that anyone may be able to give!

Edited by Chris Fleming
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I'm also in the market for new mac hardware, and trying to decide between an imac and mac pro.

These are the questions I'm asking myself and comments in regard to which makes more sense. Hopefully someone can provide answers or guidance on the first 2 below:

1. # of CPU's. I've read that Vectorworks really doesn't take advantage of multiple CPU's. Does that mean 4CPUs vs. 8 doesn't really matter? Will the speed of the CPU make a big difference?

2. Graphics card choices: This only really affects OpenGL rendering, not renderworks or other rendering modes. Correct? Those are processed by the CPU I believe.

3. More ram is a no-brainer. Just don't buy it directly from Apple.

4. After working on a 30" monitor for 4 years, I've been forced back to hacking away with my current 20" G5 imac recently. This is nearly intolerable, and will be moving up to a 27" screen with either the imac or mac pro. The less zooming/panning I do, the better.

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Chris, My personal choice would be to go to the tower,you have more there and easy to add to, especially ram.

But either will do quite well.

The bigger the monitor the better, as you can tell by my signature I have a tower with 2 30" monitors I WILL NEVER GO BACK (I had the opportunity so I took it)

And Jake, I found that Crucial was fantastic for memory, I also believe that is where Apple memory comes from.

I will be adding more RAM this winter, I found massive improvements when I added the first time.

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An office that I work at is debating this issue right now. There are two things that seem to be tipping us back in favor of towers:

-The consistency of Imac screens seems to be questionable. There are lots of reports out there about screens not being consistent in color across it's width, showing color shifts, etc.

-Based on above, one can immediately become nervous about the idea of having an all in one box. What happens if the screen goes bad on you? You have to give up your whole system while you fix the problem.

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I agree with Grant, I had a laptop and when something went wrong you are completely down (ie hardware, monitor, wifi, anything) with the tower you have some separation. I do however feel that the imac is a fantastic product (APPLE IS THE BEST!) ha ha. but for $100 difference tower may be a better choice. Besides you can always improve monitor or add more if you need. EBAY is a fantasic resource for cost saving quality.

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Aloha, Grant:

We have several iMacs at our facility. We haven't had any issue with the color. Hope we'll never have to deal with it. It is all depends on what you are doing. If the reports are correct and you are in desktop publishing then you are in trouble when you do your color corrections.

You can hook up one additional monitor on the 27" iMac. However, I don't know if it will still work when the first monitor dies.

While it is true that if you have to fix the monitor the entire iMac will be down. Using Mac's for nearly two decades?in my experience?it is very rare for the monitors to fail first.

Whether you choose the iMac or the MacPro tower?how can you go wrong with a Mac?

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I've been using a 27" i5 iMac for almost a year now and it is AWESOME.

I considered buying a tower but the price difference was much greater than the performance difference.

I'm not sure that I'd be in a big hurry to buy a 2 year old machine that is probably not going to be noticeably faster than a new iMac. The only place that you're likely to see any performance increase with the Mac Pro (when using VW) will be rendering - 8 cores are better than 4.

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Aloha, Bill: Same here?using it since this March and I love it!

The idea of getting a monitor that would otherwise cost me $1800 or so... with the iMac made it easy for me to decide. It seat so neatly on my desk next to a 30" Apple Cinema Display and feels just right. I don't do significant amount of rendering, so 4 cores seems to be sufficient, but I did load it up with 16GB of memory!

Edited by Yoginathaswami
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Alright, i'll buckle on the great debate (somewhat). I do get what they are saying and I did say Apple is the best. I feel no ill will toward iMacs, they are a work of art and quite frankly in my opinion any Mac is better than a PC (thats another fight altogether) (for the PC users that was a joke).

No really either would treat you very well for quite some time, I think we all have weighed in on this so the real question is which model do you tend to gravitate to, that is the model that would be best for you.

Keep in mind, I would love to have a new 12 core Mac Pro fully loaded (ARGH,ARGH, ARGH) but my lowly old Machine in reality is working fantastic. Anything beats Crayons!

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Chris,

I have been using VW on a 27" I mac for about 6 months at the office and it runs great. Our big silver G5s are starting to die one by one and they are being replaced with Imacs. As for being down with out a computer well you have to consider "TIMEMACHINE". If you keep your CPU backed up you can run out and buy a new Imac while you wait for your machine to be fixed. You can buy 2.5 Imacs for the price of one low end Mac Pro. Now that I have said that. I bought a 27" i7 for my home computer and It made a mess of my back up RAID and portable firewire drive. After several weeks of back and forth with LACIE and applecare. I was never able to pin down the firewire failure on 2 seldom used expensive hard drives. I gave up and sold my Imac to my daughter. Now I am in the same boat again (using my aging G5) but now I know I need flexibility and connectivity which the Imacs lack. Go with the Mac Pro. There is a lot of new technology coming which will pass you by if you are using a Imac. USB 3.0 and SSD drives are 2 happening right now. eSATA has been out for some time now and that is only available on the pro as a 3rd party add on. Enough Yakkin for now.

Bob

Industrial Designer

VW & FormZ

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Chris,

I would go with the 27" iMac.

You get a built in great monitor. And the ones currently available have 1gb of video memory. The more memory the better! Also, go for the i7 Quad-Core. Buy the iMac with the lowest amount of RAM, and then buy an upgrade kit from MacMemmory.com, you can buy a 16gb upgrade kit for $500.

The above config provides a lot of bang-for-the-buck compared to a Mac Pro.

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I think I can close this out now. We went with the tower and a 24" Apple Cinema display. You can see the final config in my signature. It really came down to our history with the good folks selling the MacPro Tower. Final price for all was $1,500, so a pretty sweet deal. I liked the idea of having expandability/upgrade-ability. I will be dropping another internal drive in soon for mirroring. I knew neither machine would would be a bad choice, and simply pulled the trigger.

Next up is my VW upgrade!

Thanks for input everyone!

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