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#1
Hans van der Maarel

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Somebody recently asked me whether to get an iMac or Mac Pro and I'm not certain I know the definitive answer. Looking at the Apple (Netherlands) site within the budget they specificied (4000 euro's) there's 2 options:

 

Mac Pro, €4049

  • 3,7-GHz quad-core met 10 MB L3-cache
  • 32 GB (4x 8 GB) 1866-MHz DDR3 ECC
  • 256 GB PCIe-flashdrive
  • Two AMD FirePro D300 GPU’s with 2 GB GDDR5 VRAM each

Or...

27-inch iMac with Retina 5K-display, €4069

  • 4,0-GHz quad-core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost to 4,2 GHz
  • 32 GB 1867-MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 4x 8 GB
  • Fusion Drive 3 TB
  • AMD Radeon R9 M395X with 4 GB video memory

Which would be the better machine for Adobe Illustrator cartography work?


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#2
David Medeiros

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The specs on either are going to be more than enough to do most design/cart/GIS work. The real differences will be in things like portability (iMac's are not know for fitting in backpacks!), or screen size.

 

I use my now 3 year old Mac Book Pro for all my design work, but almost never with the native screen by itself, I always need the extra space provided by a 2nd monitor except when I'm forced to make quick edits on the road. My Mac Pro is a retina display though and that makes a big difference in what you can see on a 17 inch screen.

 

I'd want a bigger HD on the Mac Pro but understand that may be out of budget for a flash drive. Flash drives make a big difference in wait times for apps to start so I'd go for that in either machine. The fusion drive is suitable substitute (hybrid flash and spinning).


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#3
Hans van der Maarel

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Thanks Dave,

 

I agree, both options would be for an extremely well-specced machine. I think it also partly depends on whether or not the end-user already has a good display that they want to keep on using (combined with available desk space), existing hardware environment (NAS or other external storage?). 256 GB is not a whole lot, a couple of big carto projects can quickly eat away at that...


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#4
Mike Boruta

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I use a late 2014 iMac Retina that is similarly spec'd. Aside from a nagging Illustrator problem that cropped up when I got the machine and have yet been able to resolve (see here if you're curious), I love it! I went with an SSD internal drive since you can always attach external storage and keep all applications running on the SSD, and I have two older monitors flanking the beautiful retina display, making plenty of room for Illy/MAPub palettes and browser windows.

I would steer your friend away from the Mac Pro, solely for the reason that it hasn't been updated since December 2013. Three years is a long time in the computer industry, so either Apple isn't investing much in the Mac Pro, or there is a refresh around the corner. Unless one can afford to upgrade computers every couple years, my approach is to get the newest and most powerful one I can afford at the time, and hope it stays relevant for several years. So far I've been happy with the iMac Retina, and I think they have refreshed its specs one or two times since my purchase. 



#5
frax

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Wow, that is quite some budget!


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#6
Bogdanovits

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I have edited few pages in AI for the Earth Platinum with a Mac Mini 2011 (8gb , i7) and I didn't had any issues. However I still prefer OCAD for Cartography for my maps.

In your option the ECC memory looks better in a configuration. The other parameters are better too.

I would go with the first option if the Mac is the only option. If not I would recommend the HP Z1 G3 All-In-One Workstations

I higher price for a good workstation worth it. 



#7
Adam Wilbert

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the 5K monitor on the 27" iMac is absolutely stunning, and the fact that it's included in the price makes it easily the option I would go for. The Mac Pro comes sans-monitor, so you'd be shelling out another $1500-2000 for a comparable monitor from Dell or someone else since Apple doesn't make a standalone 5K. Otherwise, the specs between the two seem so similar that I doubt a difference would be noticed in Illustrator's performance. (meaning that Illy is still going to crash when it wants to, no matter how tricked out your machine is! :)  )


Adam Wilbert

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#8
ProMapper

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Illy is still going to crash when it wants to, no matter how tricked out your machine is!  :)

 

 I absolutely agree  :D

 

However I am really amazed at the investments that you are making in just one system, 4000-5000 Euros and software would be additional. I had invested in two machines (one Desktop and one laptop, both Windows 7) almost five years back and two licences of Illustrator and one license of MapPublisher with Label Pro. The total costs came roughly to $4000 and that includes the cost of the software too. The machines are okay, Intel i7 but the RAM is less just about 8 GB in both. Only once I faced serious issue of RAM when I was working on a large map for a client, so I had to work on the map layer wise. Rest of the time the maps were small and never faced any issue.

 

The other major factor here is the ROI or return on investment. Believe me, I spent $4000 which is the capital expenditure, the working expenditure like the maintenance contracts for the hardware, software and running costs like provision for air-conditioner, electricity charges and other peripherals are additional. Now after adding all that in the last five years, on an average I have earned approx $7000/- per annum. And right now I am sitting idle for the past five months, the last job I did in March and that was it. There are hardly any jobs forthcoming now-a-days. The good period was about four years back with cartography work, even some GIS tasks, totalling well above $15000 mark but then the things started slowing down. The way this year is progressing, I don't think I will reach even $1500 mark this year.

 

So overall, is it really worth spending so much on just one machine and that too just the hardware part. The basic minimum software that one needs for cartography work would add roughly $3500 more, namely $700 for Illustrator, $2000 for MapPublisher with Label Pro, if you want to add Imager another $700, then you will need either FME or Global Mapper to do a bit of conversions quickly add another $400, you will also need the MIcrosoft Office Suite, well we have been working on Word, Excel, Outlook for a long time, so add another $200-300. Now these are absolutely essential software, so practically you cannot start a GIS Cartography shop unless you have an investment of around $10000. Such sums of money are tough to find in the developing world.

 

Also if you have invested $10,000, then you should be able to earn at least $20,000 in the first year and increasing subsequently if you want to live off it. But such earnings are just not possible in Cartography today. Any contrary views on the scope of cartography / GIS, especially the home based or off shore or freelance type of work.

 

Anu

http://www.mapsandlocations.com






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