Depends on how powerful you want to go, as well as how much you're wanting to spend. Mac Pro 1,1's (2x Dual Core Xeon CPUs) at either 2.0, 2.66GHz or the Mac Pro 2,1 models which are 2x Quad Core Xeon CPU's 3.06GHz for a total of 8 cores. It's said by Apple that the 1,1 models only support 16GB RAM but in truth they support up to 32GB, same as the 2,1 8-core models. If you can afford the 8-core model, is definitely a faster machine, question is do you require that much power? Will the apps you run take advantage of the additional CPU cores? If so, the 8 core model will do you much better, if not, than 8-cores are wasted. The 8-core can be had for appx. $2,300 or less on eBay, and the Quad core (Mac Pro 1,1) can be had for considerably less than $2,000 on eBay, appx. 1,500. Both are excellent machines with LOTS of life in them. I upgraded from a PowerMac G5 and have been extremely happy.
The only "downside" of the 1,1 or 2,1 models is that they will NOT boot a 64-bit KERNEL, however, they WILL fully run 64-bit applications. This is due to the 32-bit EFI in these models, but I don't believe that is a dealbreaker for you.
$2100 for 4-core 2.8GHz
If you want to you can yourself replace the cpu with W5670 $600 (6-core 3.2GHz) and sell the OEM 2.8 ($300+).
I would not bother with anything but a 2010 model.
Thanks for your replies.
I think that I asked the incorrect initial question.
The better one would have been: Do I need a fullsize desktop, or would an iMac suit my needs?
Back in the days of my beige G3, desktops were the most adaptable to changing needs; peripherals were always a conpromise in speed or utility.
Now, most laptops outclass most desktops, and can be "upgraded" (after RAM and bigger HD's) through the use of peripherals - with no loss of usability. Ditto for iMacs.
Therefore, what special uses would require a Mac Pro over an iMac these days?
My expected uses are high quality scanning and printing, non-critical CD/DVD burning, and home photo restoration/archiving.
Thanks for your continuing time!
Sorry but the only 'outclass' is in aesthetics and how it looks not in how it works unless you don't need a workstation and won't be pushing your laptop or iMac so it runs so hot.
I'll take my workstations.
That has a number of tests - MHz and RAM matter and 24GB RAM for CS5.x matters too.
Then hit Barefeats test results.