2017 5k Imac or Imac Pro

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Bixxy, Jul 4, 2017.

  1. Bixxy macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2017
    Location:
    London
    #1
    Hey there,

    I wonder if I could ask for a little advice on the suitability of the Imac 2017 or the Imac Pro.

    I am a Freelance Graphic Designer working in London. I work mainly in CC versions of Photoshop, Illustrator and Indesign.

    The most taxing projects I work on are large events, so stage sets and wall sized posters things like this. Large multilayered Illustrator and Photoshop files. And large multipage Indesign documents with plenty of high res imported images. The largest files can sometimes hit 3 or 4 GB +. I usually have Multiple apps running, all of the above plus MS PPT, Excel and Word, flicking between all these constantly.

    I am toying with pushing the button on a fully loaded 5K IMac now or an IMac pro when they arrive. I think I know the answer but wanted to fully confirm it with people who know their stuff far more than I.

    The main Q here, or at least i think so is, would the 8 Core Imac pro be significantly better than the full fat i7 5K IMac 2017 in these apps or not. I am finding it tricky to get detailed definitive sourced information on how many cores Illustrator, Photoshop and Indesign use these days. I don’t mean some odd filters here and there but real world day-to-day use of the programs.

    I have the budget for either, cost isn’t the issue, however I don’t want to waste my budget for little gain.


    Thanks for all your advice in advance.
     
  2. joema2 macrumors 65816

    joema2

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2013
    #2
    These are good questions but it is hard to get a definitive answer due to the widely varying workloads each app imposes.

    The two big advantages of the iMac Pro are (1) More cores, and (2) Much faster GPU. How many more cores and how much faster the GPU depends on the model.

    If you evaluate your current usage of those apps and use iStat Menus or Activity Monitor to watch your CPU cores, that is one indication. E.g, in Activity Monitor do View>CPU Usage or View>CPU History while running your most time-consuming tasks. If the CPU cores are consistently high and evenly distributed, then maybe more cores would help.

    If the CPU cores are low, that could be due to waiting on I/O or GPU, or just inefficiency from multi-thread synchronization. Those are harder to identify. iStat Menus has a GPU processor utilization meter plus a frames/sec meter, but I don't know how accurate these are.

    Oftentimes within a single app your exact usage will cause great variation in whether it's CPU or GPU-bound. E.g, in video editing, import and export are usually CPU-bound. Effects are more often GPU-bound. If using a low-density codec like ProRes and multi-cam, it can be I/O-bound. That's all using the same app.

    Very roughly an entry-level iMac Pro is probably about 1.5x-1.7x faster on the CPU side and maybe 2x faster on the GPU side. It's hard to say since the exact part numbers and frequencies have not been announced. A higher-spec iMac Pro could be considerably faster assuming the app could use those threads. The top GPU might be 2x faster again or maybe 4x a top 2017 iMac 27. These are just very rough guesses. These are just equipment specs -- how much faster the real-world app performance for your exact workload is difficult to predict.

    For H264 video editing the iMac Pro uses Xeon so will not have Quick Sync so (like the Mac Pro) that's a significant limitation. However you apparently won't be doing that.

    Depending on what machine you have now, a top-spec 2017 iMac 27 could be a considerable improvement. However the iMac Pro will be yet faster. This is a Mac forum but all your apps are available cross platform. Another option is run that on Windows. That said a Windows workstation that meets all the iMac Pro specs (inc'l Xeon CPU and high quality 27" 4k or 5k monitor, equal size and performance SSD) is likely no cheaper or not much cheaper.
     
  3. paulryp macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2016
    #3
    Whats your budget? Can you afford £6000. if yes then get the Pro. :p
     
  4. Bixxy thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jul 4, 2017
    Location:
    London
    #4
    Thanks for your detailed reply!

    I didn't want to confuse matters by mentioning the Mac I am using now is very old 2011 version and so trying to investigate core usage based on this machine wouldn't be very accurate comparing to today. It can barely handle anything taxing!

    It's not really about the amount of improvement compared to my old Mac, the amount of difference isn't a factor me. It will be huge whatever I go with. It's more about how huge comparing the two choices.

    Going PC is not an option, while i have a powerful one for gaming, personally i find the Mac environment far quicker for my workflow (personal opinion).

    I did find an article somewhere which mentioned that these apps don't really use anything above 4 cores but i can't locate it. I guess that's my reason for heading here. I did ask on the adobe forums a while back but the mods just bat you over towards minimum specs page.
     
  5. paulryp macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2016
    #5
    2017 i5 iMac with 512ssd and 16gig ram. Mid GPU. More than enough power for photoshop. But you MUST MUST MUST go for a minimum of 512ssd. If you run into bottlenecks you can up the ram.
     
  6. Bixxy thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jul 4, 2017
    Location:
    London
    #6
    I am not just running Photoshop though, I am running all 3 apps simultaneously. I am not sure it would be more than enough power to have the mid range mac with 16gb ram. I would go for a 2TB SSD i7 version anyway, i would max the ram but 3rd party. I am thinking long term also, CC apps this year are different in 5 years time, more than enough power now can sometimes be not enough in a few years. It's more about bang for buck, if i invest more will I get something faster and more future proofed or does this reach a ceiling at some point and where does this lie between IMac and IMac pro using these 3 apps.
     
  7. jclardy macrumors 68040

    jclardy

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2008
    #7
    If he is working with 4GB PSD's the first thing he should up is the RAM. If that is the on disk file size the in memory size is going to be much larger. Personally if the iMac Pro was in the budget, I would go for the top 5k iMac now (upgrading RAM to 64GB myself) and spend the rest on fast external storage (Like a TB3 RAID enclosure with a few SSDs)

    If you are using a 2011 mac right now this will be a quantum leap in performance just from improved architecture and GPU's, faster bus speeds and SSD's.

    The iMac Pro will of course be faster, but I really don't think any photoshop workflow will push it to its limits. I'd say you'd need that if you are trying to edit 8K video out of a RED weapon.
     
  8. Jaffaman27 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2010
    Location:
    Tampere, Finland
    #8
    I'm in a similar situation in many ways as I'm also updating from an old iMac (2010) and want to have a new system that lasts for quite some time.

    I'm also working with the same set of apps with quite big and complex files simultaneously. Hard multitasking.

    I was also originally looking for the iMac Pro but it turned out to be totally overkill in many aspects.

    The Pro will unlikely be hugely faster for your use (or mine). Photoshop, Illustrator or Indesing are not taking advantage of all the cores and can actually work slower on the Pro as higher clock speed is more important. On the GPU side of things, even the 575 on the regular iMac would be plenty. These apps hardly take advantage of the faster GPU. And even tho RAM can be updated all the way to 128GB, it will not be user upgradable and there for even 64GB of Apple RAM will cost you an arm and a leg.

    So if you are not doing 3D or video or such. Just forget the Pro.

    I am personally planning on buying the i7 iMac with the Radeon 580 + 512 SSD (SSD is a must have). Will start by upgrading the RAM to 40GB myself.
    This should be a huge update to my workflow and I think it sounds like a good setup for you too. If you have the budget, spend it to bigger SSD and fast external scratch disk.

    The only worry with this setup is the heat and fan noise but fingers crossed it will not be a huge issue.
    If it does turn out to be a problem, I will probably return it for the i5+575 which should provide good speeds and silent operation. Hopefully there is no need for that tho. As I think the i7 with the Hyper threading would be useful in the multitasking (even if the apps themselves wont take advantage of this in a meaningful way).
     
  9. c0ppo macrumors 6502a

    c0ppo

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2013
    #9
    Keep in mind that current iMac has noise problems wen equipped with i7. Heat is also an issue.

    I would wait for iMac pro. After user reviews of the iMac pro, then I would decide.

    But since you use macs for 5+ years, I would definitely go for pro.
     
  10. joema2 macrumors 65816

    joema2

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2013
    #10
    There is no credible basis the 2015 or 2017 iMac 27 has "noise problems" if equipped with an i7. Where is this idea coming from? I own three iMac 27s -- a 2012, a 2013 a 2015, all with i7, and will be getting a 2017 iMac 27 with i7 next week.

    There were some problems with the 2014 iMac 27 thermal throttling but the 2015 did so only slightly and when under extreme loads. The only credible test thus far of the 2017 says it hardly throttles at all under severe loads; it's even better than then 2015 model.

    Re noise, as a professional video editor I frequently do extensive transcodes and on my 2015 iMac 27 I can hear the fans spin up but it's no louder than the RAID arrays sitting nearby. For normal video editing I never hear it. It is vastly quieter than a 2015 i7 MacBook Pro -- those spin up at the slightest touch.
     
  11. JVNeumann macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2017
    #11
    Photoshop mostly just needs memory and good read/write speeds with plenty of space. Yes, GPU and extra cores won't hurt, but I've been running multi-gigabyte PSD files (as well as having the entire Creative Suite open) on my Macs for years. Saving the files is usually the biggest variable, which again comes down more to disk speed. Honestly, Illustrator and Indesign are basically not even worth discussing; unless you're working on some ridiculously baroque vector file, Photoshop is the heavy hitter.

    Unlike, say, video editing, which is undergoing a big 4K reformation, graphic design simply hasn't had any major overhaul in its technical demands for years - the file types and sizes haven't changed much, and the apps are mostly as efficient if not more so than they were 5 years ago. The idea that you need a workstation class machine in 2017 is a bit crazy, I think, unlike 10 years ago when a G5 was pretty much mandatory for that line of work.

    Unless you wanted to run in 8K, which I suppose is understandable, in which case you'd hold out for the rumored Mac Pro next year.
     
  12. Bixxy thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2017
    Location:
    London
    #12
    Thanks for all the input it's really great to get such a helpful responses. Going on the general consensus you have confirmed my own thoughts in which the Pro would be overkill and likely to be marginally faster in real world usage in these Apps but far more pricey. I think ultimately I will go for i7 5k Imac with 2tb SSD and fully loaded ram 3rd party.
     
  13. propower macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2010
    #13
    Always a subjective topic but I had the 2017 iMac i7 with 1TB SSD for 2 weeks and just returned it. It runs hot in general. I have 2 displays (adds 10degC by putting the GPU to work) and mostly do Audio. Even with a 25% kind of load on this one it was at 70 to 80degC. Any simple Video encoding I did (imovie 1080P to 720P for youtube) quickly sent the CPU to 95degC+ and fans to 2600RPM. If one needs the cores then one needs an i7. If those fans came on any more than once in a while - it wouldn't work for me. As an audio guy - had to let it go.

    The i5 3.4GHz machine never exceeds 70degC even at 100% load.
     
  14. Luxtrau macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2017
    Location:
    Germany
    #14
    I read somewhere that photoshop doesn't take huge benefit from more cores than 4. So I think i7 would be fine. If you work with large files a lot of RAM is needed. Or a fast SSD. So I guess fully loaded iMac would be enough. Also Radeon Pro 580 should be powerful enough. I'm graphic designer too and I'm quite happy with the iMac. But I don't work on that large files, the largest I had was 1GB.
     
  15. JVNeumann macrumors member

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    Mar 23, 2017
    #15
    If you're an audio guy, didn't you need those cores?
     
  16. EugW macrumors 68000

    EugW

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    Jun 18, 2017
    #16
    A friend of mine is a freelance web designer who works with many large companies. He uses a 2015 i5 and it's fine for him and he saw zero need to upgrade to the 2017. He uses CC with InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop. He only has 24 GB which is OK for him, but his files are more like 500 MB to 1 GB, not 3 GB.

    Judging by what he has saidalong with my own biases, I might suggest even considering an i5 with 40 GB RAM and SSD. The i7 would be fast, but more so for 3D rendering and video encoding, and not so much for 2D design. More importantly though, the i7 under any sort of sustained CPU load will go into max fan mode, which is annoying.

    I had the i7 and returned it. Granted I didn't really need the speed, but wanted it for the encoding speed. But I ended up returning it because of the fan noise. I re-ordered the i5-7600 and it's silent.
     
  17. driftless macrumors demi-god

    driftless

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    Sep 2, 2011
    Location:
    Chicago-area
    #17
    I have read the same for CC apps but I am guessing that will change slowly going forward. Don't forget that the iMac Pro has a new screen, it will be interesting to read the early reviews of it. The iMac Pro will also have greater GPU power which will help CC apps. I am going to upgrade to the iMac Pro, either 8 or 10 core, but I edit 4K a lot.
     
  18. INoctilux macrumors newbie

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    Jun 25, 2017
    #18
    If you are the number of cores is relevant for your usage, it would make sens to consider the Mac Pro line for heavy and constant work : we don't know the cooling system of the IMac Pro but for sure the Mac Pro is a cooler and quiter then the IMac (there is a thread about the noise level of the IMac 5K with the i7 and the top i5 processors).
     
  19. JVNeumann macrumors member

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    Mar 23, 2017
    #19
    I really don't think it does. He can get an SSD and upgrade the RAM in a conventional iMac, and the GPU in the iMac is formidable enough that you'll get minimal if any noticeable wait times, and the added cores won't have much impact on the software he's using. Only certain filters and 3D in Photoshop ever push above 4-6 cores; you'd literally have to try to make a Photoshop file ever fully utilize an 8 (let alone 10-12) core machine. The virtual cores of the i7 will give enough additional headroom for those infrequent occasions.

    As I noted above, graphic design workloads haven't gotten drastically more demanding in the last ten years, meaning that a job that once required a workstation class machine now just really doesn't. Unless OP is also running Maya in the background, he/she will experience only the most menial benefits from upgrading.
     
  20. hifoo45 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2010
    #20
    The noticeable performance difference between a fully spec'd 2017 iMac and the theoretical base model of the Pro would not be beneficial to you (Unless you see yourself doing 3D work or a lot of video rendering). If it was me, I'd spec out the 2017 with a 1TB SSD and buy 3rd party 32GB (or even 64GB) of RAM it would still be a killer machine and save $1500 over the base PRO. Which would pay for 2 years of Adobe CC.
     
  21. JasonMovieGuy macrumors regular

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    Jan 11, 2010
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    #21
    I just ordered the top-tier iMac with the i7 processor, and now am starting to worry. Apparently it has noise and heat issues. Is this going to be a problem? My order is still processing, and if need be I can retract it and reorder with the i5. I edit a lot, including future Final Cut Pro X projects. But I want this machine to be quiet and not overheating. This is a huge blow, because I was under the impression the i7 was the best way to go - especially with the work I do. On top of that, I invested in the expensive 1TB SSD. I hope it works out.
     
  22. EugW macrumors 68000

    EugW

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    Jun 18, 2017
    #22
    I'm not sure I'd worry about the i7 dying from heat, since it has safeguards in place to protect itself against precisely this, along with the iMac's cooling system. The main issue is if you will max out or near-max out the CPU on a regular basis, because if you do, you will hear significant fan noise.

    ie. The chip will be fine, but you may be annoyed at the noise.
     
  23. JasonMovieGuy macrumors regular

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    Jan 11, 2010
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    Chicago, IL
    #23
    I won't mind the noise as long as it's not going to break the machine. Not sure if Im going to max out the CPU right away, but as my workflow increases I could. Thanks for the quick response.
     
  24. joema2 macrumors 65816

    joema2

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2013
    #24
    There has been a lot of discussion about this which apparently gave you the impression the 2017 iMac 27 i7 "has noise and heat issues". That is not representative of general real world behavior. As a professional video editor I use FCPX many hours each day, and transcode a lot of 4k material. My 2015 iMac 27 has a 4Ghz i7 and I wouldn't describe it as excessively noisy.

    However since I do professional work I have over 80 terabytes of media on several local thunderbolt arrays. Those all make some noise, as does my Windows PC, as does my HVAC system. If I am transcoding terabytes of 4k content to proxy, I can definitely hear the fan on my 2015 iMac 27 and the 2017 model is probably no different.

    If you only have an SSD iMac with no AC-powered external arrays, and are sitting in a quiet room, I can understand how the iMac fans might sound loud by comparison. However my Windows PC also gets loud if it's under stress and it has a Noctua NH-D14 CPU cooler, Noctua case fans and several 200mm slow-turning case fans attached to a fan controller. The idea that the iMac 27 would be nearly silent if the case was slightly thicker is not correct.

    The i7 is *much* faster than the i5 on some common FCPX workloads -- about 40% faster on rendering and export. My biggest concern is video editing and FCPX transcoding performance, not noise. Other people with different priorities workloads may accept lower performance to obtain less fan noise. They can get the i5 iMac or possibly could try disabling hyperthreading on the i7 with the 3rd part CPUSetter utility.

    Anyone with a 2014 or 2015 iMac 27 i7 will not be surprised at the 2017 from a noise standpoint. If anything it is a little quieter and it's much quieter under load than the MacBook Pros so many people use. But do not be mislead -- if you are expecting a totally silent computer under high load, this is not it. The Mac Pro is a better choice from an acoustic standpoint but I just tested a 12-core Mac Pro D700 and it was slower on some FCPX workloads than my 2015 iMac 27.
     
  25. JasonMovieGuy macrumors regular

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    Jan 11, 2010
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    #25
    Thanks joe- I appreciate the detailed breakdown.

    By the way, how is iMovie now in terms of exports of 1080? I'll be using it until the fall, when I get FCPX. I am used to using iMovie '11--- has anything changed? I understand you're a pro, so you might not even dabble with it. But just curious. I would assume the export speeds are still stronger on the Mac Im getting vs the one I currently have (21.5 2009 entry level)
     

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