iMac Pro DECISION: iMac Pro MicroCenter Basic or Maxed out iMac 2017

Discussion in 'iMac' started by SurJones, Mar 5, 2018.

?

Which would you choose

  1. Basic iMac Pro

    78.4%
  2. Maxed out 2017 iMac

    21.6%
  1. SurJones macrumors newbie

    SurJones

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2016
    Location:
    Los Angeles & Portland Maine
    #1
    I have the money for one or the other (stretching a little for the iMac Pro)

    Both are basically upgraded if I tear it down. (voids warranty) Im confident tearing down and not worried, but how upgraded is the iMac Pro if I get teh basic and want to max out in the laster future.

    Needs: Video Editing 4K/8K + Motion Photo: Medium Format Files: GraphDesign. etc.

    thanks
     
  2. ThatSandWyrm macrumors regular

    ThatSandWyrm

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    Oct 30, 2017
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    Indianapolis
    #2
    Maxed-out 2017 iMac will beat the basic iMP for your use case, purely due to having more RAM.
     
  3. SurJones thread starter macrumors newbie

    SurJones

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    Jul 9, 2016
    Location:
    Los Angeles & Portland Maine
  4. ThatSandWyrm macrumors regular

    ThatSandWyrm

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2017
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    Indianapolis
    #4
    Not sure what you mean by that.
     
  5. spyguy10709 macrumors 6502a

    spyguy10709

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2010
    Location:
    One Infinite Loop, Cupertino CA
    #5
    Honestly, I'd pick iMac pro every day of the week. 8 core vs 4 core, Vega 56 vs Radeon 580 alone...

    I'd be surprised if you'd notice the difference between 32GB vs 64GB disadvantage as much as the core and GPU advantage.
     
  6. Darmok N Jalad macrumors 68000

    Darmok N Jalad

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    Tanagra
    #6
    The iMP runs higher performance components, as evident by its higher capacity cooling system. The SSD write speeds on the iMP are also considerably better, which might be rather significant for you regarding your video editing demands.
     
  7. ThatSandWyrm macrumors regular

    ThatSandWyrm

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    Oct 30, 2017
    Location:
    Indianapolis
    #7
    The GPU is better on the iMP, but more cores is not automatically faster. If your software is single-threaded or only optimized for 2-4 cores, performance can actually be worse on the pro.

    RAM is key. If you're paging to disk, it doesn't matter how fast your CPU is, because it will never be fully fed. I have software that runs faster on i7 chips, but since my processing runs can use 160GB or more of RAM, my 128GB iMP will finish days faster than the machine with the preferred (25-50% faster) CPU that's limited to 64GB.

    So yeah, the iMP is theoretically the better 8K editing machine, but unless he increases the amount of RAM, he won't see much, if any gain over the standard model.
     
  8. SurJones thread starter macrumors newbie

    SurJones

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2016
    Location:
    Los Angeles & Portland Maine
    #8
    Thanks - Im gonna hold off I think for now. Microcenter has the great deal, but no cusomizing option which means I cant even have them upgrade the Graphics Card to max that out. I guess we'll see what the Mac Pto will be this year! Thanks for all the help so far!
     
  9. joema2 macrumors 68000

    joema2

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2013
    #9
    The exact details of your software and workflow are what matter. If you're editing 4K H264 using FCPX, in many cases the 8-core iMP won't be any faster. OTOH if you're editing 4K or 8K RAW, the iMP will be a lot faster.

    If you're using Premiere you might see a bigger % improvement on the iMP (vs Premiere on an iMac) because Premiere is less efficient, more CPU bound and the higher core count helps compensate for this.

    When I process 42 megapixel raw stills from a Sony A7RIII in Lightroom 7.2, my 10-core iMP is about 30% faster than my top-spec 2017 iMac at import and 1:1 preview generation but it's not faster at most other things.

    The iMac Pro is definitely quieter than the 2017 i7 iMac when under sustained load. If noise is an issue and if you're comparing a top-spec 2017 iMac vs a $4k 8-core iMac Pro, it might be worth the few hundred $ difference for noise alone.

    Re whether memory makes a difference, you can evaluate the memory pressure parameter in Activity Monitor on your workflow right now. If memory pressure isn't high, then more RAM won't help.
     
  10. fathergll macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2014
    #10

    I've pondered the same thing just because the MicroCenter deal is so much of a discount. Really though the price difference is pretty large if you get the iMac from B&H(and you don't pay the use tax) or if you end up getting a iMac refurb. You're probably talking about a $1000 difference between the 2 computers when all is said and done. iMac Pro probably has much better resale long term but again it's $1000 more.

    iMac $3300(assuming no tax and you buy additional 32GB ram for 40 GB)
    iMac Pro $4300 (with tax)

    If you really want to save grab this refurb with the 512 GB SSD for $2,289.00

    https://www.apple.com/shop/product/...uad-core-Intel-Core-i7-with-Retina-5K-display
     
  11. Chancha macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2014
    #11
    The only thing that's short on the iMac Pro is the 32GB RAM. (which is actually upgradable as you say you can tear it down later, but all 4 slots are occupied by 8GB DIMM sticks)

    What Macs are you currently using? If you can, do a stress test with the most demanding job files, and see the amount of real/virtual memory that's used, are there paging out etc. I myself have worked with 42MP+ images before and I know it can eat as much RAM as I give it, but different software and different workflow varies.
     
  12. Bryan Bowler macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2008
    #12
    SurJones,

    Don't forget to keep an eye on the AppleInsider B&H deals that are sometimes available for the iMac Pro. The last run of deals could have netted you $500 or more off the price of nearly every possible configuration of 8-core and 10-core iMac Pros. One could have easily chosen an iMac Pro with 64 GB of RAM and/or an upgraded GPU...and still gotten the discount. And considering that you would not be paying tax from B&H, then the savings comes very close what you would get through MicroCenter. (With MicroCenter, you save approximately $200 more, but you are limited to the base model.)

    Keep in mind that you cannot return opened computers to B&H (unless they are faulty out of the box or damaged during shipping), so make sure that you are happy with the configuration you choose of you ever order through B&H.

    And lastly, the deal I mentioned at B&H is currently not available, but it has basically been offered twice now, so I would not be surprised if it surfaced again.
     
  13. spyguy10709 macrumors 6502a

    spyguy10709

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2010
    Location:
    One Infinite Loop, Cupertino CA
    #13
    For 2-4 cores, you have to look at the turbo boost. On the highest end iMac that's 4.5GHz. On the iMP that's 4.2GHz on a newer architecture, which brings single core performance to basically a wash. The iMac pro also has RAID NVME SSDs which will greatly improve paging performance vs the equivalent consumer Mac pro which has a single SSD or (worse) a fusion drive.
     
  14. joema2 macrumors 68000

    joema2

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2013
    #14
    For something like an iMac Pro, a lot more is involved than making sure you're happy with your chosen configuration. Performance testing, application compatibility testing, etc. are complex and cannot be done in an Apple Store because they can only get the base machine. They are also not configured or prepared for serious, professional testing and evaluation in their store.

    I'm not talking about returning an iMac Pro for a frivolous reason such as "I didn't like the grey color". Say you're a professional video editor and when testing your company's post-production FCPX workflow you immediately discover that the iMac Pro is 35% slower than an iMac in certain cases because of inefficient H264 hardware acceleration on certain codecs. That cannot be determined ahead of time by reading casual, frivolous reviews by vloggers.

    This happened to me, but I am generally otherwise satisfied with the iMac Pro and don't need to return it.
    It's very quiet, generally very fast and a good fit for our film post production. Apple will probably improve transcoding efficiency in the future as they optimize use of AMD's UVD/VCE hardware. However -- just out of curiously I discussed with B&H if it could be returned -- they said no.

    They then said they might possibly make an exception and charge a 15% restocking fee. Fortunately I didn't really need to return it, but had it been a little slower in a slightly wider range of conditions I would have wanted to return it.

    I strongly recommend anyone contemplating purchasing expensive Apple hardware such as an iMac Pro consider seriously the return policy of your retailer. The potential tax or shipping savings if buying from B&H are much less than paying 15% restocking and insured return shipping on an $8,000 (or more) computer.

    It currently appears Apple Store, Best Buy and Micro Center permit returns with no restocking fee. The other retailers either do no permit returns of Mac computers at all, or charge a 15% or 20% restocking fee.

    Abt Electronics: 15% restocking fee
    Adorama: no returns of computers permitted
    Apple Store: returns permitted, no restocking fee
    Apple Refurbished Store: returns permitted, no restocking fee
    Best Buy: returns permitted, no restocking fee
    B&H: no returns of computers generally permitted; on a case-by-case basis they may permit returns with a 15% restocking fee
    MacMall: returns permitted, discretionary restocking fee
    Mac Connection: returns permitted, minimum 20% restocking fee
    Micro Center: returns permitted, no restocking fee
     
  15. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2011
    #15
    I think it really hinges on your actual RAM needs and multicore performance of the applications you use. If you have an existing system you can look at Activity Monitor to see if you're using all the cores/threads and whether the 'Memory pressure' or 'Swap usage' is high ('Memory used' is less helpful).

    Remember, the best like-for-like price comparison with the base iMac Pro is the iMac with maxed-out CPU/GPU but "only" 32GB RAM and 1TB SSD: there may be special cases, but in general anybody who needs 64GB RAM/2TB SSD on an iMac i7 is likely to need those specs on an iMac Pro, too. Plus, if you're spending your own money it probably makes sense to get an 8GB iMac and 64GB of third party RAM. That really widens the price gap between the iMac and the Pro.

    For the work you're doing I'd guess you're going to need a serious external storage solution, so 2TB SSD might be an overkill.

    As for waiting - I still think there's a chance that the top-end i7 & GPU options might vanish in the next re-design of iMac, in favour of cooler 6-core i5 systems allowing a smaller body (that could potentially have comparable performance to the current quad i7) leaving a clearer distinction for the entry iMac pro.

    Plus, if the next iMac re-design still has the easy-access RAM flap then woo-hoo, but... who are you and what have you done with the real Tim Cook?
     
  16. Bryan Bowler macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2008
    #16
    This is definitely great advice and it is something people should very carefully consider!
     
  17. fathergll macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2014
    #17

    Did you know the return policy from B&H prior to ordering and if so will you be buying Apple products from them in the future? I don't see any upside if you are running a business where the computers are critical for the following

    1. Can't test your workflow and have an option to return the computer like you said
    2. If you're running a business I'm assuming you are paying the Use Tax since the chance of an audit is much higher.
     
  18. joema2, Mar 7, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2018

    joema2 macrumors 68000

    joema2

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2013
    #18
    My documentary team has probably purchased $50k from B&H the past two years. Most of it was camera equipment and the few times we needed to return something there was no problem and no restocking fee. We've purchased at least 10 Macs the past two years, maybe some from B&H -- I can't remember. It is rare for us to return something.

    Since B&H says in bold letters "Shop with confidence" and "Easy 30 day return -- for any reason", I didn't think about the fine print that says computers are excluded.

    In my case it didn't make much difference -- I was mostly satisfied with the iMac Pro, and returning it was not vital. However I could easily envision cases where I needed to return it, which would have been (a) impossible if B&H refused, or (b) the two-day evaluation would have cost $1,500 due to a 15% restocking fee.

    For this reason I definitely will never purchase an Apple product from B&H or any other retailer which does not have a similar return policy to Apple or Best Buy, and I've recommended this to all my colleagues in the filmmaking community.

    It's not a big deal if you're buying a Mac Mini for $500. But if you're a creative professional and Apple cannot get the hardware in their store for performance and compatibility testing, the only choice is buy it. This is not a casual thing but a serious, focused evaluation for a short period.

    If Apple had better support for professionals in their store, we could just test it there. I explained I was a professional documentary filmmaker with a good-size editorial team and needed to test a 10-core iMac, but they could not get one in stock, nor did they seem interested in trying to. B&H had a good selection in stock so that was superficially attractive since I have a 20 terabyte 4k film in post production.

    For me it's not a big deal, the iMac Pro is working for us and we might get another one -- but it won't be from B&H or any other retailer which does not allow returns or imposes 15% restocking fees on $8k or $12k computers.

    Microcenter (like Apple and Best Buy) supposedly allows returns of Mac computers without restocking fees. However it's always best to make specific inquiry beforehand, no matter what their web site says.
     
  19. rjtiedeman macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2010
    Location:
    Stamford, CT
    #19
    The return policy at B&H is very good. information. To buy a $$$$$ expensive computer based on a small saving is a risk not worth taking. It’s like waking up after a parity with a tattoo on your face. (Dummy}
     
  20. zm15 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2015
    #20
    I'll add in that Adorama has a new VIP 360 program that's $50/year, in which you can return any purchase within 60 days and they'll pay return shipping. Plus it covers if the item is damaged up to a year, seems well worth it.

    https://www.adorama.com/g/VIP360
     
  21. joema2 macrumors 68000

    joema2

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2013
    #21
    That is not correct regarding computers. Adorama's VIP 360 program will NOT allow you to return Apple Macs, not even after one day, much less 60 days. This is spelled out under the fine print of the VIP 360 return policy: https://www.adorama.com/g/VIPTerms

    So it's no different than B&H's standard policy in this regard.
     
  22. anticipate macrumors 6502

    anticipate

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2013
    #22
    The 32GB limit was an issue for me in the end (editing FCPX compressed 4K with filters with a 2nd 5K display attached). Or maybe it was the video RAM - I was saturating something. Large swap file, some stuttering when pushed. Based on the B&H sale, which got me $700 off, I sold that and upgraded to the 10 core, 64GB RAM, Vega 64 (16GB) model. No more problems and I never max out the RAM (video or otherwise). It's much faster than my old 8 core D700 Mac Pro in many tasks.
     
  23. zm15 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2015
    #23
    I reached out to the VIP department via email, and here is a screenshot of their reply. So either they don't really know the fine print, or they just don't enforce it... (and yes she said laptop when i asked about the imac)
     

    Attached Files:

  24. riggieri macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2012
    #24
    I upgraded from a 2017 Maxed out iMac to an iMac Pro from micro center. In Premiere and FCPX you can tell a huge difference. In Resolve it is 100% night and day. It depends on your use case. If you want to run more than one stream of 4K h264 or H265, then I would choose the iMac Pro
     
  25. Azeroth1, Mar 24, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2018

    Azeroth1 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2010
    #25
    I picked up an open box iMac Pro from microcenter for $3600 plus tax. Confirmed it was eligible for a return if had issues. Seemed fine and was eligible to add AppleCare (which I did). A crap shoot but decided was worth it for the savings and much closer to the iMac 2017 specs I was looking at which even refurb was around 3k.

    A lot of this comes down to the individual. I knew passing up the Pro would needle at me in the long run at this price just because of my nature. That and the cooling/noise appealed to me. I try to get at least 3 years out of my machines before upgrading and felt this a better investment. That’s just me though. My needs aren’t as heavy as some.

    Most people overestimate their needs and everyone’s needs are different. The pros and cons of both have been covered, both a very nice machines. You lose and gain some things with either. Ultimately go with your gut - and really think about the difference between “need” and “want”.

    Also, if you are one of the folks that can actually take advantage of the highest end hardware then you probably need it for part of your livelihood so that’s a different story and the costs of higher specs make sense. Otherwise really think about what you are doing it for. For some reason I thought of the giant F350 trucks or whatever. If you are contractor and need to haul stuff ok that makes sense, but if you are just a regular person who hauls stuff the extra power is just gonna be wasted on you.
     

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25 March 5, 2018