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I have never used Mac system before but I am considering switching to Mac Pro 8 core 8 GB model. Currently I am using Linux box based on Dell Core 2 Duo with 4GB ram (that is maximum it can have). I am running into performance issues and sluggish application startup especially Natilus file maanger. Usually I have multiple applications running at same time.

I also need to run windows virtual machines for software testing.

If I invest in Mac Pro system: Would I get much better performance? Would I be able to run Windows as virtual machine within Mac Osx? Would the learning curve be easier in terms of radically different UI on Mac Osx?

What about SSD disk on mac pro? Does it make very visible difference in performance when running applications?

One huge benefit I will get is to be able test web applications under mac osx/safari and as well as be able to develop for iphone and ipad.

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3 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

You will definitely get a performance boost by upgrading from the Linux box to the Mac Pro. However, I don't believe that you'll see a huge difference in terms of actual performance between that Mac Pro and, say, an iMac with a 3.6Ghz i5 and 6 or 8 GB RAM.
As long as you're not doing a lot of gaming or other graphics-intensive or math-intensive things, the iMac should seem to the user almost as fast as the Mac Pro.
There's no harm getting the Pro, but I think you may as well save yourself the money...

As for running a VM, that's easy. You can even, with Parallels Desktop or VMware Fusion, run Windows apps and Mac apps side-by side.
Other software to look into is Boot Camp (free, supplied by Apple, restart required to switch systems) and Sun/Oracle VirtualBox (free, no restart required, some features missing).

As for the learning curve: It's not too bad. Lots of people make the transition. IIRC, 50% of Mac purchases are first-time Mac users. Apple offers a Switching 101 guide to help you out. Also, if you're used to Linux, you'll catch on quickly. Besides, most of the CL stuff is the same, so you'll always be at home there.

As for SSDs: They're really, really fast. You can see various tests and comparisons run by manufacturer OWC here. For best shock value, watch their video where they race an SSD machine with an HDD one to boot and open apps from CS5. It's pretty amazing...

A cordial welcome to the world of Mac!

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Thanks a lot esp for the imac tip. It clears up quite a few things. I don't play any games but I do develop 3d software . I am assuming I can run latest Sun java JDK on Mac OSX because I am mainly Java developer ( forgot to mention this point). –  user4533 Mar 20 '11 at 15:51
    
The Java situation is a bit unclear - currently you have to get Java from Apple who don't always keep up with the very latest - in the future then it will come from Oracle but unknown when –  Mark Mar 20 '11 at 21:59
    
Caveat Emptor: SSDs are really fast but also not (at the time of writing) as reliable as regular HDD: codinghorror.com/blog/2011/05/… –  5arx Oct 28 '11 at 12:32
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Honestly, if you're good with Linux and Windows, adding in OS X won't be a problem and coming from Linux, you'll love terminal.

From my experience, SSD's add a ton of performance and the current Mac Pro's would be more than powerful enough for development and future expandability.

There are a few different virtual machine programs you might want to look into (Parallels/VMWare/Virtual Box), but I haven't tried a bad one.

Hope that helps!

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One of the big reasons Mac Pros cost more is because they use graphics cards certified for certain professional graphics applications (Maya, Autocad, etc.). This in mind, do you need to pay that extra premium for something you won't use, or will an iMac suffice?

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