Exchange 2017 27" i5 iMac for 2019 i9 model

nihil0

macrumors regular
Original poster
May 19, 2016
249
99
I currently have 2017 27-inch iMac with i5-7600K, R580, 2 TB Fusion drive and 24 GB RAM. I am a photographer and mostly shoot weddings so for batch RAW exports (around 1000 unedited photos) I use Lightroom. I also use Photoshop and Luminar 3 for post-process (retouching, color grading, etc.).

My question is whether it is worth selling it and buying top tier model with i9, 512 GB SSD and R580X. Will this save me time with LR exports and if yes, how much? I know that in benchmarks the i9 beats my i5 because of cores and threads but I would like to justify the buy for myself (and my wife) and maybe even save money if it is not worth replacing.
 

AlexJoda

macrumors 6502a
Apr 8, 2015
757
579
I currently have 2017 27-inch iMac with i5-7600K, R580, 2 TB Fusion drive and 24 GB RAM. I am a photographer and mostly shoot weddings so for batch RAW exports (around 1000 unedited photos) I use Lightroom. I also use Photoshop and Luminar 3 for post-process (retouching, color grading, etc.).

My question is whether it is worth selling it and buying top tier model with i9, 512 GB SSD and R580X. Will this save me time with LR exports and if yes, how much? I know that in benchmarks the i9 beats my i5 because of cores and threads but I would like to justify the buy for myself (and my wife) and maybe even save money if it is not worth replacing.
To give you some hints I found a review with benchmarks comparing different CPU's/# of cores with Lightroom:

https://www.pugetsystems.com/labs/articles/Adobe-Lightroom-CC-6-Multi-Core-Performance-649/

Especially in the last graph with the actions sets you see that the number of cores does't really matter if you have at least four (only JPEG exports improves with the number of cores. If that is your main job go for the i9). Enough RAM and a quick storage is more important. That fusion drive is really a performance killer. If you work with big RAW images the internal drive might be too small anyway so you should invest in a fast and big external Thunderbolt 3 SSD/NVME drive or at least a USB3 SSD drive.

You should also put the camera RAW cache on the SSD and set it large enough. You can find some hints is this document:

https://helpx.adobe.com/lightroom/kb/optimize-performance-lightroom.html

If exporting JPEG images is your main job the i9 iMac might make sense, otherwise upgrade your existing iMac....
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: BigBoy2018

nihil0

macrumors regular
Original poster
May 19, 2016
249
99
To give you some hints I found a review with benchmarks comparing different CPU's/# of cores with Lightroom:

https://www.pugetsystems.com/labs/articles/Adobe-Lightroom-CC-6-Multi-Core-Performance-649/

Especially in the last graph with the actions sets you see that the number of cores does't really matter if you have at least four (only JPEG exports improves with the number of cores. If that is your main job go for the i9). Enough RAM and a quick storage is more important. That fusion drive is really a performance killer. If you work with big RAW images the internal drive might be too small anyway so you should invest in a fast and big external Thunderbolt 3 SSD/NVME drive or at least a USB3 SSD drive.

You should also put the camera RAW cache on the SSD and set it large enough. You can find some hints is this document:

https://helpx.adobe.com/lightroom/kb/optimize-performance-lightroom.html

If exporting JPEG images is your main job the i9 iMac might make sense, otherwise upgrade your existing iMac....
From this article most useful for me is chart 2 - Export to disk. I see that with 8 cores it would take half time to make half the time than with 4. Adding SSD instead of Fusion would help as well. But the question is whether it is really worth it. In real world I export 1000 photos around 90 minutes so with 8 core it would take around 45.
 

AlexJoda

macrumors 6502a
Apr 8, 2015
757
579
From this article most useful for me is chart 2 - Export to disk. I see that with 8 cores it would take half time to make half the time than with 4. Adding SSD instead of Fusion would help as well. But the question is whether it is really worth it. In real world I export 1000 photos around 90 minutes so with 8 core it would take around 45.
How do you export your images to disk? Did you convert them to JPEGs or to DNG? JPEG esports are benefiting from more cores a lot, RAW conversions not so much...Another idea might be also to do these exports to a NAS on a separate computer (might be a powerful but cheap Windows PC as a kind of render server) and work in parallel with the iMac on the already exported files....
 
Last edited:

nihil0

macrumors regular
Original poster
May 19, 2016
249
99
How do you export your images to disk? Did you convert them to JPEGs or to DNG? JPEG esports are benefiting from more cores a lot, RAW conversions not so much...Another idea might be also to do these exports to a NAS on a separate computer (might be a powerful but cheap Windows PC as a kind of render server) and work in parallel with the iMac on the already exported files....
I import RAWs to Lightroom, do some edits and then export them to JPEG using resize to lower px count and 70% quality.
 

AlexJoda

macrumors 6502a
Apr 8, 2015
757
579
I import RAWs to Lightroom, do some edits and then export them to JPEG using resize to lower px count and 70% quality.
If you need to edit the files before exporting them and you do a lot JPEG exports a new i9 iMac makes sense (if you can "sell" the earned 45 minutes...). But go only for a SSD/NVME, no spinner or Fusion drive. It is a shame that Apple still offers that in 2019! To save some money you can choose a smaller internal one (maybe at leat 512GB also for the Photoshop and Lightning caches) and buy an external bigger SSD/RAID/NAS.
 

nihil0

macrumors regular
Original poster
May 19, 2016
249
99
If you need to edit the files before exporting them and you do a lot JPEG exports a new i9 iMac makes sense (if you can "sell" the earned 45 minutes...). But go only for a SSD/NVME, no spinner or Fusion drive. It is a shame that Apple still offers that in 2019! To save some money you can choose a smaller internal one (maybe at leat 512GB also for the Photoshop and Lightning caches) and buy an external bigger SSD/RAID/NAS.
Alternatively, I was thinking of keeping my current iMac and buying Samsung X5 TB3 external SSD for system and Ps/Lr and current project files and using internal drive as library but I don’t know whether it will make such difference.
 
Last edited:

AlexJoda

macrumors 6502a
Apr 8, 2015
757
579
Alternatively, I was thinking of keeping my current iMac and buying Samsung X5 TB3 external SSD for system and Ps/Lr and current project files and using internal drive as library but I don’t know whether it will make such difference.
The X5 is a very good external drive as it is using TB3 and not only USB. You can buy it and try how much your performance will improve. If you think you need the i9 regardless you can still use it with the new iMac....
 

nihil0

macrumors regular
Original poster
May 19, 2016
249
99
The X5 is a very good external drive as it is using TB3 and not only USB. You can buy it and try how much your performance will improve. If you think you need the i9 regardless you can still use it with the new iMac....

So I checked the same webpage and differences between SSD, NVMe and spinning drive were negligible so its either upgrade if time saves is justifiable or leave everything as it is
 

AlexJoda

macrumors 6502a
Apr 8, 2015
757
579
So I checked the same webpage and differences between SSD, NVMe and spinning drive were negligible so its either upgrade if time saves is justifiable or leave everything as it is
Even when exporting the files are limited by the CPU the whole handling of that many images (e.g. importing...) is much quicker with the NVME. You will notice it immediately. Changing to an SSD/NVME will improve the performance of a computer more than anything else....
 

adamk77

macrumors 6502a
Jan 6, 2008
510
149
I currently have 2017 27-inch iMac with i5-7600K, R580, 2 TB Fusion drive and 24 GB RAM. I am a photographer and mostly shoot weddings so for batch RAW exports (around 1000 unedited photos) I use Lightroom. I also use Photoshop and Luminar 3 for post-process (retouching, color grading, etc.).

My question is whether it is worth selling it and buying top tier model with i9, 512 GB SSD and R580X. Will this save me time with LR exports and if yes, how much? I know that in benchmarks the i9 beats my i5 because of cores and threads but I would like to justify the buy for myself (and my wife) and maybe even save money if it is not worth replacing.
On the technical side, the biggest bottleneck you have is the hard drive. I would purchase a fast external SSD and test that out first, which will be much cheaper than the alternative below.

On the economics side, I can shed some light because I just sold my 2017 iMac with plans to purchase the 2019 model. I don't know where you are located and how you'll be selling it, but I'm located in the USA and sold my 2017 27" iMac (Core-i7, 512 GB SSD, 40 GB RAM, 580 GPU) on eBay a few days ago. It sold for almost $2000. After the Paypal, shipping and eBay fees, I had $1700 remaining.

The machine you have will sell for hundreds less. The 2019 iMac you're considering is $2800 before taxes. So you're looking at having to put in an additional $1500 or so (likely more).

It was the same decision I was facing (I was looking to buy the same configuration as you except I wanted the Vega GPU, too). I could not justify the extra cost. I ended up purchasing the 2018 Mac Mini (i7 6-cores, 512 GB SSD, self upgraded to 32 GB of RAM) and a large 43" monitor. The total was $2300 (so I had to put in an additional $500). That still left me with $1000 for whatever I needed (eGPU, etc), which I do not need.

I'm guessing the iMac's screen is an important factor as you are a photographer, so I know your needs are different. If I was in your shoes, I would definitely try the external SSD first. If you decide to purchase the 2019 iMac, you can still use the external SSD.
 

propower

macrumors 6502a
Jul 23, 2010
719
112
^^^ Yes count me in the club as well!
I have 2017 i5 3.8 1TB SSD 40G Ram 580 AppleCare to 2020. Been a perfect machine for music production and light YouTube/music video editing. Only regret is not going for 2TB internal. The attraction for the 2019 is upping the cores from 4 no HT to 8 with HT - huge plus going forward.

If I can recover 2.5K in a local sale then the $4200 to get the new one (with RAM and Apple Care) looks doable. But the reality is - there is nothing my current rig isn't doing quite well and $2.5K may be more than market can bear! LOL

To the OP - I think the X5 for OS and photo work would be a very big gain! Alternate you could split the fusion, run OS on the 128G flash and use any 1TB SSD external for data and workspace...
 
  • Like
Reactions: AlexJoda

jerwin

macrumors 68020
Jun 13, 2015
2,473
4,455
To give you some hints I found a review with benchmarks comparing different CPU's/# of cores with Lightroom:

https://www.pugetsystems.com/labs/articles/Adobe-Lightroom-CC-6-Multi-Core-Performance-649/

Especially in the last graph with the actions sets you see that the number of cores does't really matter if you have at least four (only JPEG exports improves with the number of cores. If that is your main job go for the i9). Enough RAM and a quick storage is more important. That fusion drive is really a performance killer. If you work with big RAW images the internal drive might be too small anyway so you should invest in a fast and big external Thunderbolt 3 SSD/NVME drive or at least a USB3 SSD drive.

You should also put the camera RAW cache on the SSD and set it large enough. You can find some hints is this document:

https://helpx.adobe.com/lightroom/kb/optimize-performance-lightroom.html

If exporting JPEG images is your main job the i9 iMac might make sense, otherwise upgrade your existing iMac....
speaking of imports (JPEG or otherwise), some SD card readers are faster than others.

https://fstoppers.com/originals/are-expensive-memory-cards-and-readers-really-worth-price-336716

If Apple was generous, the built in reader won't be the limiting factor. If it skimped, a better reader could well be a better investment than the i9.
 

nihil0

macrumors regular
Original poster
May 19, 2016
249
99
On the technical side, the biggest bottleneck you have is the hard drive. I would purchase a fast external SSD and test that out first, which will be much cheaper than the alternative below.

On the economics side, I can shed some light because I just sold my 2017 iMac with plans to purchase the 2019 model. I don't know where you are located and how you'll be selling it, but I'm located in the USA and sold my 2017 27" iMac (Core-i7, 512 GB SSD, 40 GB RAM, 580 GPU) on eBay a few days ago. It sold for almost $2000. After the Paypal, shipping and eBay fees, I had $1700 remaining.

The machine you have will sell for hundreds less. The 2019 iMac you're considering is $2800 before taxes. So you're looking at having to put in an additional $1500 or so (likely more).

It was the same decision I was facing (I was looking to buy the same configuration as you except I wanted the Vega GPU, too). I could not justify the extra cost. I ended up purchasing the 2018 Mac Mini (i7 6-cores, 512 GB SSD, self upgraded to 32 GB of RAM) and a large 43" monitor. The total was $2300 (so I had to put in an additional $500). That still left me with $1000 for whatever I needed (eGPU, etc), which I do not need.

I'm guessing the iMac's screen is an important factor as you are a photographer, so I know your needs are different. If I was in your shoes, I would definitely try the external SSD first. If you decide to purchase the 2019 iMac, you can still use the external SSD.
I wanted to try Samsung X5 but tests on Puget Systems website for export from RAW to JPEG show that the difference between spinning drive and NVME is roughly 7-8% which is not that big difference than having i9. Or is there anything else I am missing? See: https://www.pugetsystems.com/labs/articles/Adobe-Lightroom-2015-8-Storage-Performance-Analysis-875/#BenchmarkResults

I am from Europe and I bought my current iMac for 2599€ VAT included. I thought I could be able to sell it for 1800-2000€ and get new one with financing - the cost of 2019 i9 I wrote in OP is around 3300€. So there is a question whether 1300-1500€ difference would make up for saved time.
[doublepost=1554063602][/doublepost]
^^^ Yes count me in the club as well!
I have 2017 i5 3.8 1TB SSD 40G Ram 580 AppleCare to 2020. Been a perfect machine for music production and light YouTube/music video editing. Only regret is not going for 2TB internal. The attraction for the 2019 is upping the cores from 4 no HT to 8 with HT - huge plus going forward.

If I can recover 2.5K in a local sale then the $4200 to get the new one (with RAM and Apple Care) looks doable. But the reality is - there is nothing my current rig isn't doing quite well and $2.5K may be more than market can bear! LOL

To the OP - I think the X5 for OS and photo work would be a very big gain! Alternate you could split the fusion, run OS on the 128G flash and use any 1TB SSD external for data and workspace...
Isn't splitting the fusion drive process where I would have to remove partitions and lose all my data? I have Time Machine backups, but still... :eek:
[doublepost=1554063671][/doublepost]
speaking of imports (JPEG or otherwise), some SD card readers are faster than others.

https://fstoppers.com/originals/are-expensive-memory-cards-and-readers-really-worth-price-336716

If Apple was generous, the built in reader won't be the limiting factor. If it skimped, a better reader could well be a better investment than the i9.
I don't have problems with built-in SD card reader in iMac - the speeds are very fast - I am using Sandisk Extreme SD cards.