27-inch iMac with Retina 5K display w/ 3.3GHz Processor vs. Mac Pro Quad-Core and Dual GPU 2TB Stora

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by eagle1990, Mar 22, 2017.

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Which Machine?

  1. 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K display

    4 vote(s)
    66.7%
  2. 3.3GHz Processor vs. Mac Pro Quad-Core and Dual GPU 2TB Storage

    1 vote(s)
    16.7%
  3. Macbook Pro

    1 vote(s)
    16.7%
  1. eagle1990, Mar 22, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2017

    eagle1990 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2012
    #1
    First off, I'm not well versed in the ins and outs of mac computers. I know how to use them... and that's about it. So please excuse any incorrect verbiage.

    I know that it's not the ideal time to purchase a new system, but I actually need one ASAP. I am growing my freelance business and the computer I was borrowing while I started up is no longer available to me. So I'm a bit ****ed.

    I have about $5,000.00 saved up and need to purchase a machine that can run programs like pixelmator, adobe design suite (both video and graphic design/photography programs), etc. I deal with large RAW files and video files and need something that is able to handle a heavy workflow once I have more than one or two programs windows open and running. I deal with banner design as well and need a machine that can handle the large file size with ease.

    Is it worth purchasing a mac pro right now since there are so many unknowns, or should I stick to the highest grade iMac I can get and call it a day? I know the MacPro is the stronger system, but is it even necessary for what I need to do?

    I should also ask, if you recommend the mac pro tower, can you please* recommend affordable monitors that would still keep me under my $5,000.00 budget (if that's even feasible)?

    TL;DR: I have to do a lot of graphic design/photo and video editing and I need a new system that can handle this and that will hopefully last a while. Do I even need the Mac Pro or should I stick with the iMac?

    Thanks for your help!
     
  2. casperes1996 macrumors 65816

    casperes1996

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2014
    Location:
    Horsens, Denmark
    #2
    Top of the line 5k iMac:

    The Mac Pro is now starting to get quite old. If you get the Mac Pro with two D700s, it could be worth it, maybe? But the fastest GPU you can get in an iMac outdoes, at least for some things, the dual D500 setup. And honestly, GPU is the most important (Not to say CPU doesn't matter). I have the top-end 2014 iMac 5k, i.e. i7 4790K+R9 M295X and for my Final Cut Pro video needs, it does well, but at times I could desire a little more. That said, video is probably the most intensive multimedia thing you can do, and I have a lot of effect layers at work, and libraries that are near 900GBs in size, with hour long projects. In general, the iMac holds up extremely well.
    I recommend buying 16 gigs of RAM, and if you need 32, upgrading yourself. It's extremely easy, takes a few seconds and is a lot cheaper.
    Also, the iMac's display is going to do you extremely well
     
  3. eagle1990, Mar 22, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2017

    eagle1990 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2012
    #3
    - bows down - thank you, sir. I really appreciate the response and I'm really glad you were also honest about its capabilities. It sounds like the perfect computer for what I need.

    Would you mind looking over this breakdown of the machine I plan on getting and giving some feedback at which will be the better option? I think I'd like more memory from the get go so I don't have to worry about fudging up my computer.

    I'm between just heading out to Best Buy and purchasing the Apple - 27" iMac with Retina 5K display - Intel Core i7 - 32GB Memory - 2TB Fusion Drive

    OR

    ordering this custom machine online

    2. 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K display
    • 4.0GHz quad-core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 4.2GHz
    • 16GB 1867MHz DDR3 SDRAM - two 8GB
    • 3TB Fusion Drive
    • AMD Radeon R9 M395X with 4GB video memory

    Thanks again for your response, this is really helping a computer illiterate like me out!
     
  4. casperes1996 macrumors 65816

    casperes1996

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2014
    Location:
    Horsens, Denmark
    #4
    The GPU and exact model of i7 isn't specified so I'm lacking a bit of info, but there is one massive, glaring issue. On the new 5k iMacs, the 2TB Fusion Drive... Is a piece of ****. the hard drive is the same speed as with the 3TB model (though obviously slower), but the SSD part of the Fusion Drive, is only, if I remember correctly 64GB, maybe even less, as compared to 128GB on the 3TB Fusion Drive, and older Fusion Drives. Not that actually makes quite a massive difference, especially when working with larger files. Fusion Drives work on a block level, so you don't need as much capacity as you might think to significantly speed up operations, but the 2TB Fusion Drive pretty much only gives enough space for system files and a little bit extra, but not very much of your own data.

    This is pretty much exactly what I would recommend you, if you asked me to go configure you a system. Then you can buy two 8GB DIMMs off Amazon to upgrade the 16 to 32GB (advantage with getting 16 from Apple instead of 8, is that you only need to add two DIMMs, instead of replacing 4). And if you need more fast storage, there are Thunderbolt ports, which will give you the possibility for storage speed roughly equivalent to PCIe 2.0 x4, as well as USB 3.0/3.1 gen 1, so you can add external SSD at will, and with the knowhow (guides on these forums), even add said SSDs to your existing Fusion Drive array. Expandability options going forward, but brillant to begin with.
     
  5. eagle1990 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2012
    #5

    Sounds good, so I'm definitely going with the second option. Just a question that kind of confuses me - since you mentioned that the 2tb fusion drive is crap, should I switch out the 3TB fusion drive for the 512GB SSD since it will give me more than what the 3TB offers in terms of SSD storage*? Or is the 128gb component of the fusion drive good enough?

    Thank you again for all of your help. This info has been invaluable!
     
  6. casperes1996 macrumors 65816

    casperes1996

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2014
    Location:
    Horsens, Denmark
    #6
    Th 512GB SSD will be faster, but the Fusion Drive offers significantly more storage space. I have the old 1TB Fusion Drive, where it's the same 128GB SSD combined with a 1TB hard drive, and whilst I do notice occasionally that there's a hard drive in the machine, for the most part, it honestly feels like it's running pure SSD. The Fusion Drive is really smart about what gets placed in the SSD and what gets placed on the hard drive, such that you get optimal performance. And as I said, it works on a block level, not a file level, so if let's say Photoshop is an often opened app, the Fusion Drive is smart enough to not necessarily put all of Photoshop on the SSD, but put the parts of Photoshop that need to be read continuously while in use on the SSD, whilst keeping a lot of the "only load once" parts on the hard drive and so forth, such that you always get optimal performance with what you have.
    So, the short version is this: If you think 512 is enough for you, and the speed is super important, yes. A 512GB SSD is probably the best. If more storage would make your life easier, the Fusion Drive is still rather fast and in day to day usage, I'd say offers 75% of the speed of the SSD. At least the 1TB option I have. May be different if you fill up 3TB with still only 128GB dedicated for SSD. But as I said, you can use the peripherals to expand it later on if you'd like.
     
  7. eagle1990 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2012
    #7
    That makes sense, I think I am so paranoid about not having enough power to do my work that I'm focusing intently on the difference in just speed as opposed to the overall picture. Thanks for clarifying. I'm glad I have the option of beefing it up in the future, it saves me more money in the long run. I know what I'm going to buy now. Thank you for the help!
     
  8. casperes1996 macrumors 65816

    casperes1996

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2014
    Location:
    Horsens, Denmark
    #8
    RAM and storage are easy to fix going forward. Anything else is locked down
     
  9. monokakata macrumors 68000

    monokakata

    Joined:
    May 8, 2008
    Location:
    Hilo, Hawai'i
    #9
    I came to a 5k iMac from a classic Mac Pro, which I had stuffed with 3 and 4 TB drives. I already owned a 2014 Macbook Pro.

    So I realized that I should go all-in on external Thunderbolt storage, and that's what I did. I got the OWC 4 bay unit, and configured the iMac with a 1 TB internal drive.

    For what I do, I already knew that the 512 SSD, which I have in my MBP, was going to require me to be careful, prune stuff down constantly, etc. but that the 1 TB would be a lot easier to maintain. The price was stupid, but I paid it anyway.

    Obviously external Thunderbolt storage is expensive, but the benefit is that I can put a fast SSD in one of the bays, and access it at very high speed as a working/scratch drive. The others are spinners: Time Machine volume, and two for specific storage requirements.

    OK, money. But if you sink some $ into T-bolt external, then you can use that with any Mac you have that supports T-bolt. In my case, sometimes I just eject the drives from the iMac, connect the cable to the MBP, and woo hoo! There's 14 TB of spinners and 1 TB of SSD connected to my laptop.

    What I'm saying is that if you're going to go for the iMac, you should be thinking about how you're going to handle external storage -- because you're going to have to use something. And if you decide you need external storage, then I don't see any reason for a Fusion drive, if your budget will support fast external storage. Keep the spinners out of the machine.
     
  10. danielwsmithee macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2005
    #10
    I think you made a good choice for your workflow the 4Ghz i7 will perform very well. Also external thunderbolt storage is a great option.

    I'd go with the 5K iMac maxed out processor and video card. After market upgrade of RAM to 32GB, a 512 GB internal SSD, and an external OWC Thunderbay mini loaded with SATA SSDs for your external storage.

    Of course their could be an iMac upgrade coming soon...but you never know with Apple.
     
  11. eagle1990 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2012
    #11
    Oh dear... I'm a bit confused now. I went to the mac store yesterday to speak with an apple rep and they told me that the storage was not upgradeable (although the RAM is?) :( I am going back to the drawing board and was hoping you could look it over - I was thinking that I will just get the 1tb SSD and purchase an external thunderbolt drive.

    The only good news about this, is that I get to purchase this via a business account and write it off as an expense at the end of the year. So even if there is a new system in the near future, I can recoup the losses at the beginning of tax season next year and upgrade to an even newer system. Unfortunately, I need a new computer (like, yesterday) and I need to make the best of a bad situation atm.

    I am thinking of this set up instead (since, according to the apple rep, I can't upgrade storage) -

    27-inch iMac with Retina 5K display
    • 4.0GHz quad-core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 4.2GHz
    • 16GB 1867MHz DDR3 SDRAM - two 8GB
    • 512GB Flash Storage
    • AMD Radeon R9 M395X with 4GB video memory
    I plan to purchase two external drives - one for video and one for design files.

    One thing I will say - I about died when I saw how big and beautiful the 27-inch display was. It's PERFECT for having two full size windows open at the same time.
    --- Post Merged, Mar 23, 2017 ---
    Thanks for the response! I took into account what you said about getting the 512 GB internal ssd. I looked at the thunderbay mini and it's also perfect for keeping at my desk. Question though, sometimes I'll travel with my data, so do you know of any thunderbolt external drives that are more for "rugged" usage? I used to use the lacie rugged drive, but I'm not sure if they do do thunderbolt.

    I mentioned in an above post that this is a business expense, so I thankfully get a write off on it. This will give me the wiggle room financially to potentially upgrade if I find this system is not cutting it by the beginning of next year.
    --- Post Merged, Mar 23, 2017 ---
    This is REALLY great advice - I will be purchasing an external thunderbolt storage because of this and I am switching to the 512 GB internal flash storage (I will have to skip out on the 1tb flash in order to afford a decent thunderbolt external drive).

    Someone above mentioned a thunderbay mini and I think I'm going to invest in that.

    All of you have been so helpful. Thanks for making this a less nerve wracking experience!
     
  12. monokakata macrumors 68000

    monokakata

    Joined:
    May 8, 2008
    Location:
    Hilo, Hawai'i
    #12
    Eagle1990 -- if you go for the Thunderbay Mini, you're going to be limited to 2.5" drives (SSD or spinners).

    This means that the world of 4-6-8 TB drives (and higher, in the future) will be closed to you until the drive manufacturers increase capacity in the 2.5" form factor.

    The larger Thunderbay can take both 3.5" and 2.5" drives, which means that you can install some high-capacity drives for your video work and Time Machine.
     
  13. casperes1996 macrumors 65816

    casperes1996

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2014
    Location:
    Horsens, Denmark
    #13
    What I meant was that storage was upgradable externally.
    If you have the guts to pull off the display, also internally, but I meant via Thunderbolt and USB.


    Yep - It's bloody amazing ;)

    There's a LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt SSD. In fact, it's one of the fastest external SSDs I've seen tested, in spite of it being a bit old at this point. It is however also a fair bit expensive.

    I don't think this will be a massive problem for our OP. These days most drives are in the 2.5" form factor, and you can always daisy chain Thunderbolt and you've got two TB ports and four USB 3.0 ports for storage. That still leaves a lot of potenital.
    Besides, you can actually get a 6TB SSD in the 2.5" form factor:
    http://gizmodo.com/this-is-the-worlds-first-6tb-2-5-inch-ssd-1703557780
     
  14. monokakata macrumors 68000

    monokakata

    Joined:
    May 8, 2008
    Location:
    Hilo, Hawai'i
    #14
    I loaned you 70,000 krone a few years ago, casperes1996. You must have forgotten about it.

    You can settle the debt by getting me that 6 TB drive. I'll PM you my mailing address.

    Thanks very much.
     
  15. danielwsmithee macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2005
    #15
  16. adamjackson macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2008
    #16

    I have this machine + I went to Crucial and bout 32GB of RAM. Have a Thunderbolt drive attached to the iMac for scratch files for FCP. Most of my non intense storage is on a synology NAS and iMac is hard-wired to the router. So Lightroom does just fine editing files across the network. FCP needs them local.

    I've had that machine for a year, zero issues editing 4K video files but I don't do any effects or crazy layers just linear cutting for YouTube. and RAW photos from the Canon 5D. a

    My mobile workstation is a late-2013 2.6Ghz MBP w/ Discreet GPU. it handles itself well enough but the iMac is easily twice a fast at everything.
     

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