2015 or 2014 riMac for Lightroom/Photoshop system?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by tycoonbob, Jun 5, 2015.

  1. tycoonbob macrumors newbie

    Jun 5, 2015
    Hi everyone. Buying my fiancee her first Mac, and not sure which one to go with. She does a lot of photography, and this will be her primary editing machine. She's a big user of Lightroom, and also uses Photoshop sometimes for additional editing (when needed). That's probably the most taxing task she does on a computer, as the rest of the time she's browsing the web or listening to music.

    Workflow-wise, she works off my server. What I mean is that after a photo session, she uploads those unedited RAW files to a network drive, and her Lightroom catalog is also backed up to the same network drive, nightly (the network drive lives on a seriously over-specced server, with a ~30TB RAID10 array). Storage space on the iMac is not a concern, nor is drive performance (for her workflow; only for the system).

    Basically, I have $600 in Best Buy gift cards, plus a card for 10% off one item. I'm looking at the 2014 Retina iMac (3.5GHz i5, 8GB RAM, 1TB Fusion drive, Radeon M290x) for $2,250, and also the new 2015 Retina iMac (3.3GHz i5, 8GB RAM, 1TB 7200RPM drive, Radeon M290) for $1,980.

    The price difference is only $270, but it's still significant enough to concern myself with. According to various reviews, the performance difference is only about 10% different, in favor to the 2014 system (CPU and GPU wise). I will be replacing the RAM myself (4x8GB kit) to either system I go with, and will probably swap out the HDD with an Intel 200GB DC3710 SSD.

    My goal is for this system to last 4-5 years before being replaced.

    Thoughts? Should I send the extra $270 and get the 2014 riMac, or should I get the newer 2015 riMac? I'm sure either will suffice, and it's not like she is doing 4k video editing or anything like that.

  2. ashe777 macrumors newbie

    May 30, 2015
    I believe iMac only has a late 2014 model and no 2015 yet
  3. tycoonbob, Jun 5, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2015
  4. Studflower macrumors member

    Dec 29, 2014
    I've read reviews that the base model (m290) shows a bit of graphical lag and struggles to drive the pixels in 5K. If I was to purchase an iMac, I'd get at least the m290x, but would probably upgrade to the m295x just in case.
    I mean, this is assuming the lag is due to incapable hardware and not yosemite optimization issues. But I'd get the highest GPU possible if m295x isn't available at best buy.
  5. fathergll macrumors 65816

    Sep 3, 2014

    Get the 2014 riMac.
  6. tycoonbob thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 5, 2015
    After more research, I think I'll go with the 2014 riMac with the m290x. I've seen some performance issues with Lightroom, but it's thought to be an issue with software, and not the hardware. May get fixed in the future, but have seen plenty of workarounds to help.
  7. AlexJoda macrumors 6502a


    Apr 8, 2015
    Take the 2014 iMac but without the Fusion Drive and get the 250 GB SSD instead for the same money. The SSD gives you a real advantage in day to day work which makes a bigger difference than the CPU or GPU. You said that you have a very good storage option for the work files, so the capacity of the internal storage is not important but the SSD speed for the LR and PS temp files and catalogs and the OS is.
  8. tycoonbob thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 5, 2015
    That is my plan, however I don't think I have the option at Best Buy to choose the SSD over the Fusion drive, otherwise I would.
  9. fathergll macrumors 65816

    Sep 3, 2014

    Good try but its Best Buy
  10. ashe777 macrumors newbie

    May 30, 2015
    Wth. I just received my imac, and it states late 2014 retina in the system. Ordered it on the phone with apple. Was I robbed?
  11. ashe777 macrumors newbie

    May 30, 2015
  12. aevan macrumors 68030


    Feb 5, 2015
    You won't see any tangible difference between the Fusion Drive and the SSD in everyday work. These forums will tell you otherwise, but the reality is: you won't.
  13. FredT2 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 18, 2009
    Particularly with Lightroom. Many good tests have demonstrated that there's no advantage to Lightroom of using SSD. Fusion drives work just fine.
  14. ashe777 macrumors newbie

    May 30, 2015
    Fusion is part SSD, that is why the read speed is primarily the same when going full SSD. However when it comes to writing to disk, SSD is faster. If you work with big files like video, SSD is the way to go. Fusion should be fine for photoshop. I prefer SSD over mechanical.
  15. Steveatesh macrumors regular


    Oct 29, 2014
    North east England
    Lightroom 6 now makes use of the GPU and performance has improved in the develop module. For her to make the most of her intended use might be a good idea to keep enough back to upgrade to LR6 if she's using an older version.
  16. tycoonbob thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 5, 2015
    To provide an update, we went with the mid-2014 riMac with the 1TB Fusion drive, and the m290x GPU. Using LR6, performance is good most of the time. However, some things stutter and lag...which is VERY disappointing for a $2,300 computer. Her previous Windows 8.1 PC (i5 4670, 8GB RAM, integrated gpu) which cost ~$700 (including monitor, keyboard, and mouse) runs so much better, which is severely disappointing.

    At this point I'm considering returning the iMac (I have 15 days to return, purchased on June 5 -- have until June 20 to return) and getting the base model 15" rMBP with the newer M370X, i7, and 16GB RAM (which is $250 more). However, I have my concerns that the m370x isn't any better than the m290x.

    So crossroads...what to do. Not spending $3k for a Mac Pro, because that would be ridiculous.
  17. slimpsy macrumors newbie


    May 26, 2015
    I have had the same one for almost 2 weeks and also use LR6 with Photoshop CC 14 and have noticed no stutter/lag that you speak of, even when applying multiple filters in batches. This may be a silly inquiry, but did you apply all the Yosemite updates through the App Store? These updates made my system buttery smooth from day one. I would also recommend considering one of Best Buy's open-box items online, you can still use the coupon and gift cards towards it. . . and you save an extra few hundred bucks from retail, and is still covered by best buy's return policy, Apple's warranty, and you can purchase AppleCare for them as well. My $.02. Best of luck!
  18. aevan macrumors 68030


    Feb 5, 2015
    The M370X is a significantly slower GPU than M290X, they are not even in the same class. http://gpuboss.com/gpus/Radeon-R9-M370X-Mac-vs-Radeon-R9-M290X

    So, no, it's not better.

    As for lag, if it's UI lag, then wait for El Capitan, it will be sorted out.
    For Lightroom, well, the iMac has 14.9 megapixels to push while the 15" retina has around 5 megapixels - three times less. It is 3x more demanding, but also offers the ability to view a whole 15Mp photo in 100%.

    Your Windows 8.1 computer probably has a 1080p screen which is incomparable in every way. Put that on a 5K screen and see if it will work without lag (most of which will be fixed by the next OS X anyway).

    The iMac 5K is worth every dollar and is currently the best computer for Lightroom, in my opinion.
  19. fathergll macrumors 65816

    Sep 3, 2014
    If her Windows system was performing good is there a reason you can't use Windows and skip an OSX? Dropping $2500 on a Apple laptop just to run Lightroom doesn't sound like a good value either if she's just going to use it stationary.
  20. xmichaelp macrumors 68000


    Jul 10, 2012
    Is that link even accurate? It says the 290x has 4 GBs of RAM when it obviously doesn't.
  21. jerwin, Jun 16, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2015

    jerwin macrumors 68020

    Jun 13, 2015
    Some m290x cards for the PC come with 4GB; the one in the iMac has 2 GB

    According to LuxMark3 (which seems to have a rather disturbing effect on my systems stability, unlike LuxMark 2), the m290 has 20 compute units, clocked at 975 Mhz.

    On luxball, my iMac (i5@2.5Ghz/290x) scores 6796-- though I an running other apps at the moment.

    http://barefeats.com/rmbp15.html reports that the macbook pro scores 5492.

    I don't have photoshop or Tomb Raider or motion, so I can't comment.

    In the world of slightly less relevant benchmarks, the m290x scores 22571 Frames (403.fps) on "T-rex Offscreen, while the macbook pro scores 164 fps. http://barefeats.com/rmbp15b.html

    And, I'll throw in LuxMark 2 Sala. 1418 KSamples/Sec versus the MacBook Pro's 667.

    I wish that barefeats had run Unigine Heaven and Valley, but beggars can't be choosers.

    But it looks like the m290x is a far more capable graphics card than the m370x. If someone with a macbook pro wants to run some standard benchmark like furmark, and unigene, I can provide the equivalent m290x scores. (Barefeats uses a i7/m295 for its comparisons-- which can be many times faster)

    Perhaps the number of stream processors can help clarify the matter--IIRC, the m370 has 640; the m290, 896; the m290x, 1280 and the m295x has 2048-- each compute unit has 64 stream processors, so the cards have 10,14, 20, and 32 compute units respectively.
  22. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    It's not a hardware issue it's a software one that happens to some degree with all retina screen toting macs under yosemite. El capitan reportedly will fix these issues.
  23. BlakeBrattina, Jun 16, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2015

    BlakeBrattina macrumors 6502a

    May 10, 2011
    Bay City, MI
    I may be able to provide some useful recommendations to this as I just started working with Lightroom 6 yesterday on my RiMac. I'm working with the 290x with 16GB/512SSD and have had zero lag issues whatsoever. This may change over time but for what I am using the machine for it is doing everything that I need it to do.

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22 June 5, 2015