Do I need an I7 retina Mac?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by senseless, Dec 6, 2014.

  1. senseless macrumors 68000

    senseless

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    #1
    I have a 2009 27" iMac with the i7 processor upgrade. I use it with final cut x to edit video, but strictly amateur. It's still very fast, but the new retina is enticing. Will the base model Rmac be a significant upgrade or will I regret not going with the I7 again? I plan to max out the ram.
     
  2. yjchua95 macrumors 604

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    #2
    Better if you buy an riMac with i7 and go with 8GB of RAM, you can upgrade RAM yourself. Apple's RAM pricing is daft.

    Considering that you're going to spend quite a bit, I recommend the 4GHz i7/8GB RAM/512GB SSD and 4GB 295X variant.

    Note that desktop i5s don't have hyper threading, while the i7 does.
     
  3. breiti, Dec 7, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2014

    breiti macrumors newbie

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    #3
    I disagree with the previous poster.

    You want the i5 (as it's still fast enough) but the R9 M295X video card, as Final Cut Pro X uses OpenCL to render (meaning it's using your graphics card for computing). So to you the graphics card upgrade will be more noticeable if you want better performance in final cut pro x.

    Your i7 vs. retina i5: http://cpuboss.com/cpus/Intel-Core-i7-860-vs-Intel-Core-i5-4690#performance

    Your i7 vs. retina i7: http://cpuboss.com/cpus/Intel-Core-i7-860-vs-Intel-Core-i7-4790K#performance

    Source of CPUs: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IMac_(Intel-based)#Slim_Unibody_iMac

    You should study this site: http://www.barefeats.com/imac5k5.html

    For Final Cut Pro X this benchmark is interessting:

    [​IMG]

    Final Cut Pro X will offload as much as it can to the GPU, but not everything can be handled by your GPU (we wouldn't have CPUs anymore if that would be true, right?).

    So if it's okay for you and your money, go with M295X + i7, otherwise M295X + i5. But please don't to M290 + i5 for your usage pattern.

    However, to get a good picture of the "upgrade" of your rendering time, you should run the same benchmark as they did (LuxMark 2.1 OpenCL - Scala Scene (might be referred as 'medium workload') and compare the Ksamples/sec from yours with the picture above.

    If you have working tasks which require much CPU power, the upgrade to i7 will be noticeable. See:

    I don't know how much workload Final Cut Pro X spreads over your CPU as i don't use it. If it's much, you certainly will see a boost in Final Cut Pro X compared to the base-retina-model. Maybe one of the other guys here can tell you that.

    TL;DR: As you'll already max out the RAM, you should prefer the GPU over CPU when upgrading if you want a better rendering performance in final cut pro x. Getting the i7 will certainly not hurt you, so if you can afford, you maybe should do that too.

    Have fun.
     
  4. senseless thread starter macrumors 68000

    senseless

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    #4
    Interesting comparisons! I was surprised that my 5 year old iMac is still fairly quick, but the lack of usb3 and retina makes it time to upgrade.

    I didn't consider upgrading the graphic card since I'm not a gamer, but if final cut will take advantage of that, I will reconsider.
     
  5. phpmaven macrumors 68040

    phpmaven

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    #5
    Since the difference in price is a mere $250, it seems silly not to go with the I7. if we were talking about another $800 or something, then I could see hesitating, but this is a no-brainier decision IMHO. All of the benchmarks that I've been looking at since I ordered my maxed out 5K show a significant difference running the I7 over the I5.

    We can argue about how significant the difference will be in real world use, but with the amount you're spending already, the price difference is negligible.
     
  6. entropyfl macrumors regular

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    Oct 12, 2009
    #6
    I also can't make up my mind.

    I have mid 2010 iMac with quad i5 and am very tempted with the retina.

    I just use mine for email, excel and word. I use to use final cut pro x quite a bit when editing family movies together etc but the novelty has worn off now and only do that a couple times a year now.

    The biggest thing that bugs me about my 2010 iMac is the hard drive and slow FW ports.

    My wife has the retina macbook and the SSD makes a huge difference in the day to day performance I think.
     
  7. antman2x2 macrumors 6502a

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    #7
    In my opinion if you're not editing 4k video or photos, its a waste of money.
     
  8. entropyfl macrumors regular

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    #8
    But I want it!! ha yeah I know its overkill but just tempted by the screen..

    I've thought about just updating my 2010 iMac to SSD and see if that will make me last longer.
     
  9. senseless thread starter macrumors 68000

    senseless

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    #9
    Well, not really just $250, because it has to be special ordered at list price. I've seen the base model discounted by up to $200. So, we're talking $450 extra, just for the I7.
     
  10. joema2 macrumors 65816

    joema2

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    #10
    I'm a professional video editor and use FCP X every day. Many common FCP tasks are CPU-bound, not GPU or I/O-bound. Anyone with FCP X can see this for themselves by doing those activities while monitoring CPU, GPU and I/O with iStat Menus or similar apps. Frequently all CPU cores are busy.

    This assumes the most common video codecs such as H.264, etc. If you're editing non-compressed or raw video then the I/O load will be greater. However most casual users don't do this.

    GPU is not unimportant, in fact I'd recommend getting the M295X. It's just that CPU is more important for most common FCP X tasks. Each new version of software leverages the GPU more, so getting the top GPU is a good future investment.

    Re i5 vs i7, the retina i7 is 14% faster than the i5. The i7 *also* has hyper-threading which in my tests accelerated rendering to final H.264 output by 30% vs the same CPU with HT disabled. However the HT improvement is highly variable. E.g, it does not help LightRoom import/export at all. By contrast the CPU speed improvements help almost everything.

    The CPU in the OP's 2009 iMac does not have Quick Sync. That alone can accelerate single-pass rendering to MPEG-2, H.264 and MPEG-4 by about five times (500%).

    Besides the above improvements, each newer Intel CPU has Instructions Per Cycle (IPC) improvements. They are generally modest, say around 5%. However from 2009 to the latest Haswell CPU is several generations -- you might pick up another 15% or so just from that.

    Since all retina iMacs have Fusion Drive as a minimum, there will also be HDD speed improvements vs a 2009 machine, no matter what disk configuration he chooses.

    Just a plain base retina iMac would be a lot faster than he has now. However I'd suggest the upgraded CPU and GPU. For HDD, even the 1TB Fusion Drive is a lot faster than what he has now. Depending on remaining budget he could consider SSD vs FD and the size/cost tradeoffs of that.
     
  11. Cape Dave macrumors 68000

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    #11
    If it has a hard drive in it, it is not a real computer anymore. GO FOR IT!
     
  12. phpmaven macrumors 68040

    phpmaven

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    #12
    To me $450 is a no brainier for as long as I'm going to own it, but that's just me.
     
  13. senseless thread starter macrumors 68000

    senseless

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    #13
    Since it's nearly impossible to DYI a new hard drive when it fails, my thought is to go with the internal 256 SSD instead of the fusion drive. I assume it will be more reliable and generate less heat?
     
  14. yjchua95 macrumors 604

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    #14
    More reliable and much faster writes, yes.

    Less heat...maybe.

    But either way, as I've posted earlier, you might as well as save up a bit more, get an i7/8GB RAM/512GB SSD/4GB R9 M295X configuration.
     
  15. Chippy99 macrumors 6502a

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    #15
    I don't see much point in the 512GB SSD to be honest.

    512GB is never going to be enough to store everything you want on it. Whilst at the same time, 256GB is plenty for an OS (or two) all your programs and some temporary storage space.

    So I don't really know what the 512GB SSD brings to the table. You'll need some external disks for storage and backup, whether you choose the 256GB or the 512GB SSD. So I'd go for the 256GB and save the difference.
     
  16. Sirmausalot macrumors 6502a

    Sirmausalot

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    #16
    For video editing, i7 and the 295X. You'll be much happier as the programs take advantage of it. People keep talking about Fusion drives having a higher chance of failing. But if they really did fail with any regularity, you'd hear people screaming about it on this boards. So go for the i7 and 295 and the fusion drive. Everything else you can upgrade later. You an even get by on 8GB of RAM for a while if money is tight.
     
  17. yjchua95 macrumors 604

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    #17
    It's for the scratch space while working on huge files.

    Take 4K video editing, for instance. I can use up about 350-400GB on scratch space alone, and doing it on the internal SSD gives the best performance.

    I also have a Promise Pegasus R6 RAID array, but the performance isn't as fast as the internal SSD (sequential performance may be almost the same, but random I/O isn't).

    And one more thing.A 256GB SSD is a bit lacking if the OP intends to run Boot Camp on it.

    And Boot Camp on a Fusion Drive will only work off the HDD side.
     
  18. Chippy99, Dec 8, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2014

    Chippy99 macrumors 6502a

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    #18
    I run bootcamp on an external SSD personally, but I think there would still be ample room on an internal 256. After 2 years of daily use, my 256GB internal SSD has 97GB used and of that 30GB is a Windows7 VM image!

    I get it about 4k video editing, but given your illustation above, that might not fit on the 512GB SSD either! Which kind of illustates my point perfectly. The 256GB is really big enough provided all you want to do on it is store programs, scratch files and a few downloads and things like that. And if you want to use the SSD to store other things - videos, music, pictures, then even 1TB is perhaps not enough. I certainly could not manage with only a 1TB SSD, let alone a 512GB one. And once you have realised that you need external storage then, how big the internal SSD is, probably doesn't matter for most people.

    Don't get me wrong, 1TB is better than 512GB is better than 256GB. Because bigger is better, right. Well it just is. But at what cost and what actual value? An additional £240 for the 512GB rather than the 256GB would pay for an i7 instead of an i5. Or an M295x instead of an M290X. Both of those are far better use of your £200, imho.
     
  19. senseless thread starter macrumors 68000

    senseless

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    #19
    I think this is right. The less going on the internal, the better. If a drive is going to fail, I'd rather it be on an external than the internal.
     
  20. yjchua95 macrumors 604

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    #20
    You're right that it might not fit, that's why I have a Pegasus R6 RAID (set up in RAID 10) array for such situations.

    But then, I only have FCP X and Adobe CC in my retina iMac, and nothing else. I removed iWork and iLife from my iMac to save up some space too. So I normally have 450GB free when I'm not working on anything.

    And when I'm working on something, I always tend to have around 50GB of free space by the time I'm done. Still plenty of room for error :)

    I do realise the need for external storage even before I bought it, hence the Pegasus sitting behind my iMac. All my media and documents are stored there.

    External storage does what its name is - for storage of apps, documents, media...and that's about it (for me, that is).
     

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