3 possible upgrade paths

Discussion in 'iMac' started by xxmarkc, Mar 28, 2015.

  1. xxmarkc macrumors member

    Feb 17, 2011
    Thinking of upgrading my 3 year old mid 2011 27inch iMac base spec.

    The serious work I do is hobbyist use of 2D and 3D applications: adobe cloud (premier, photoshop and lightroom), Maya, Modo, Houdini, Nuke, zBrush, Mudbox, Syntheyes, Substance painter/designer. All hobby use - not professional. My iMac runs all of these (so does my MacBook Pro) but I would like to get an noticeable uplift in compute power, as I do get at times screen lag - and render times can be enormous (e.g. 8 days for a 256 frame render of a fully cgi scene I did a while ago in Modo).

    I had pretty much made up my mind to get a refurb base spec nMP - currently £2119. This seems like a good price - and I have enough peripherals to get me going (but would need eventually faster external storage). I like the fact that is is transportable as I travel every weekend.

    Then I realised that for £1999 I can get a riMac - less than the mac pro - or for £2400 - more than the mac pro - I can bump up the processor and the graphic card. I get a nice screen (probably no longer need to drive a 2nd screen), but no transportability - I would have to choose to either have the new of old iMac with me weeks/weekends.

    For the applications I have listed above, and bearing in mind that I wanted to see a performance improvement, but I am not making money from what I do some don't need the ultimate uplift: is the nMP a significantly higher performer with this type of app over the iMac either base or upgraded?

    My biggest worry though is that both have AMD cards - and that for now (but probably not forever) openCL is not as well supported as CUDA and that I am better off with a NVIDA card. Frustratingly I am worried that giving dell £880 for an XPS Desktop will get me better performance and no hardware upgrades needed as I get: 24G of RAM, and 2TB Hard drive and a 32G SSD with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750Ti 2GB DDR5. This route would cause me some licensing issues (as some of my licences are Mac only) so I would have to target a subset of the applications that really need the performance boost and move those over to windows. I would only ever use this machine for those few apps. This may or may not involve additional software costs - depending on what I move over. I have paid loads of money for a zBrush mac licence - but performance is not a problem - so I don't need to move it. Modo is a likely candidate but cross platform. I use Houdini apprentice but want to invest in Houdini Indie at some point - that is tied to OS so I would need to make a choice. And so on.

    Any useful input from Mac user of the applications I run?
  2. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I've seen some complaints about the riMac's performance with its GPU. I wonder if running the apps you have, on such a large and pixel dense display, it will not give you the performance you were hoping for.
  3. colodane macrumors 6502a


    Nov 11, 2012
    I am in a very similar situation, with a 2011 iMac that I'm looking to upgrade within the next year. I wasn't too thrilled about the last iMac announcement and am hoping for something better at the end of this year, especially regarding the 21.5 inch size. While the retina screen on the 27 is impressive, I do not want to deal with the additional acoustic noise of the fans. I like my computers QUIET!

    If I had to do something right now, it would be a fairly basic nMP with a Dell P2415Q display. I like the flexibility of not integrating the display with the processor, and at $500 or so, the display is certainly reasonably priced.

    And, by the end of the year, there should also be new announcements for the nMP. So I will wait until 1Q 2016 to make a purchase decision.
  4. robgendreau macrumors 68040

    Jul 13, 2008
    I'd check with videographers in one of the forums where they use the software most critical to you.

    The retina screen is amazing. For my uses, it trumps any slowdown I'd get for transcoding video. For my photo stuff it's actually as fast if not faster than a four core nMP, which of course can only run old school monitors at this point. I look at the screen for hours, so an occasional beachball is no biggee. But I could never go back to a non retina display on a computing device. YMMV.

    If you were a pro I'd say get the riMac hands down and a PC/hackintosh box just to render with. Or even a workflow that lets you use the old iMac since it's gonna take days in any case; at least it wouldn't bog down your daily driver.

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