Considering a Mac Pro

I'm earning a little bit of money at the moment, and I've convinced myself that it's time to buy my first ever desktop. Largely due to storage but also ergonomics and stability.

I've used a MacBook or PowerBook as my sole computer for around ten years; if memory serves, I went through most of uni without a computer until I received a hand-me-down in 2000 or 2001.

(As an aside, I still believe the black G3 Powerbooks—designed in the pre-minimalist Apple era—are among the most attractive notebooks ever made. I'd have to say that the recent unibody MacBook Pros take the cake, however.)

Back to desktops. Marco Arment wrote last year on choosing between iMac or Mac Pro. To take the first and last paragraph of his article most sums up the argument quite well:

Today’s overdue Mac Pro update is a welcome change, but for a computer that’s so expensive, why not just get an iMac?


While the Mac Pro costs a lot more up front, high-performance users also get a lot more value and versatility over its lifespan, which is likely to be much longer and end much more gracefully.

In fact, if you look at the Mac Pro prices on eBay, these things have mad resale value. You're looking at something like: (Australian dollars)

  • Five-year-old, dual 2.66 GHz dual-core: $1100–$1600
  • Four-year-old, dual 3 GHz quad-core: $1900–$2600

Newer models more expensive again, of course; price ranges seem largely due to varying amounts of included memory.

Current stock prices for Mac Pro models with education discount are $2949 (quad core) and $4129 (dual quad core) and up.

Current prices for iMacs are $1929 (dual core) and $2279 (quad core). For a premium of some $900 the iMac can be augmented with a 256GB SSD as well, but if you're doing that you might as well also fork out the addition $200 to get a 2TB drive over the 1TB original.

I'm not really able to afford the eight core Mac Pro, so it's only in this list to taunt me. I'd rather not get a dual core iMac, so drop that one. Which narrows the choice to two options at very similar prices at around $3400:

  • Low-end Mac Pro + 3rd party SSD
  • Top-end iMac w. bumped drivers from Apple

These are both items that Apple will be updating this year (well, the Mac Pro is less certain but still likely). I'll keep my eye on these models as the year goes by. My favoured outcome is that with judicious saving and a juicy update, I'll be able to afford the Mac Pro. If not, I'm sure the all-in-one will suit me just fine.