Fully loaded iMac or Mac Pro for Maya animation?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by wickedking94, Oct 3, 2012.

  1. wickedking94 macrumors 6502

    Apr 27, 2010
    So I'm looking at a new high-end computer to do rendering in autodesk Maya and video editing stuff (and some gaming). Im good with anything up to around 5000$ but I can decide if I should get a fully loaded iMac 27" or get a Mac Pro 12 core.

    Heres how I see it:

    iMac 27" (fully loaded):
    Pros: Cheaper, newer hardware, built in display, all-in-one is very convenient, more ram than the base 12 core pro system, thunderbolt, USB 3.0

    Cons: Less CPU cores, ram cap is 16GB, less HDD bays, Mobile type GPU.

    Mac Pro 12 core (base system)
    Pros: 12 Cores, 4 HDD bays, support for more graphics card options, support for dual GPU's, extensively upgradeable.

    Cons: More expensive (4000$ plus 1000$ for a cinema display), older hardware, not as supported, no high speed buses, its big.

    Any thoughts, opinions, or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
  2. fa8362 macrumors 65816

    Jul 7, 2008
    What are you currently using for "rendering in autodesk Maya and video editing stuff (and some gaming)?"
  3. comatory macrumors 6502a


    Apr 10, 2012
    No USB 3.0 on current iMacs without using Thunderbolt and some other devices.

    IDK, I'd go with Mac Pro. With all the rendering you'll be glad for the great cooling. Also if the software can take the advantage of all 12 cores, it will be still faster than high end iMac.
    If by "no high speed buses" you mean the older SATA standard, I wouldnt worry about it as most of the regulard HDDs still struggle to fill them and adding SSD to iMac is either huge pain in ... or way overpriced.
    You can also put USB3 card in Mac Pro very easily and get cheap storage with internal speeds.
  4. 12dylan34 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 3, 2009
    Get the Mac Pro if you have the money for it. You'll be waiting a long time for renders either way (assuming you're doing a lot of high end stuff), so might as well wait 30% or so less long.

    The Mac Pros are an unspeakably terrible value though with the 2010 CPUs and graphics cards....

    Quite simply not a good time to be a Mac user in need of a high performance machine....I'm in the same boat.

    P.S. the iMacs take a max of 32GB of RAM, not 16. Apple says it's 16, but they'll actually take twice as much.
  5. wickedking94 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Apr 27, 2010
    A mid 2010 MacBook Pro.
    2.4Ghz core 2 duo
    8GB ram
    GeForce 320M 256MB

    Kinda slow if i'm being honest. Maya takes between 5 and 10 seconds to render a 720P frame. The iMac's at my old school with core i5's managed 1-4 seconds per 720P frame. It doesn't sound that big like that, but if i'm rendering say a 1000 frame animation thats the difference between a 2.5 hour render and a 1 hour render. And those were base iMacs with core i5's.


    Oh. I forgot they hadn't updated the iMac lines to have USB 3.0 like the MacBook Pro's. I don't know how many cores Maya can use, but I've read a lot of reviews saying that the new 4 core i7's are faster than the 6 core Xeon's in the Mac Pro.

    I think i'm leaning towards the iMac, just because its newer and whatnot.


    Oh. Didn't know that. Well then that kinda makes me favour the iMac more.


    I think I might actually wait for the next iMac refresh and also see if they're ever going to update the Mac Pro. I think I might still get an iMac because Maya was pretty fast on the 2 year old core i5 models they were using at my school, so if i get one with a quad core i7, an SSD and put 32GB of ram in one, I think i'll get good performance for less than the Mac Pro.

    Unless Apple updates the Mac Pro with Ivy Bridge CPU's and newer graphics, I don't think I would want one.
  6. thekev, Oct 4, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2012

    thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    Right now the latest thing they could implement would be Sandy Bridge E5s. Appropriate ivy bridge cpus wouldn't be out until next year. The mac pro gpu options are still faster, but neither will help with offline rendering. They help when interacting with scenes. If you get laggy feedback, they help with that.

    Also I wouldn't bother with usb3 cards. I can't think of any that are entirely stable for the mac pro. Regarding your macbook pro, part of the difference compared to the imacs at that school would have been the difference in cpu generation. Core2duo is a different architecture from the i5/i7s. Intel started using that naming convention with nehalem based models. The newer models are much faster, not that I'd suggest a notebook. I'm not sure exactly what you're doing. You mentioned projects that take a couple hours of rendering, and that is really nothing.
  7. wickedking94, Oct 4, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2012

    wickedking94 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Apr 27, 2010
    Well the couple hours rendering is just an example of how much your CPU can make a difference. Basically what I'm doing is just making short animations for use in other videos (for example I made a model of the space station and overlaid that onto another video) but I do have models of the solar system and such which have lots of models and lights and textures and stuff. My MBP is good when building scenes because the 320M is a decent GPU its when I get into rendering which is CPU based that it falls behind.

    Its too bad the CPU is soldered to the logic board on my MBP otherwise I would get a newer one. (though i'm not sure the i series use the same socket anyway)

    EDIT: Okay looked into it and the only other logic board for my MBP is a 2.66Ghz core 2 duo. Not really worth it.

    Could the logic board from a newer MBP be put into mine? Again I'm doubtful but no harm in asking.

    Even a Sandy Bridge CPU would be an improvement over what they're offering on the Mac Pro right now.
  8. artbyjames.com macrumors newbie

    Aug 29, 2012
    Coming from a guy who has felt the sting from this multiple times - If you're doing a lot of 3d, get a pc. There's more compatible software, more developer support, and better hardware. Windows is the heart of everything 3d, and pro users aren't Apple's focus anymore.

    Don't get me wrong, I prefer Mac. But this is one area where putting up with the b/s is tough to justify. It's gotten better, but will never be equal. For 2d and a some 3d with a few specific apps, go for it. Overall, Macs are the superior product. For heavy 3d that might require a wide variety of software compatibility, have fun being the neglected stepchild.
  9. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    Bleh all of that hardware is ancient. I'm not even sure why it was sold into 2010. The big jump was 2011 with sandy bridge on the notebooks. The 2011 imacs are good too. It's just slightly odd hearing someone talk about switching from a Core2 era notebook to a 12 core mac pro. Perhaps I'm mistaken, but it seemed like even for a short animation, a couple hours of rendering would be a very small portion of your job time.
  10. turtlez macrumors 6502a


    Jun 17, 2012
    if you plan on rendering with that machine I would get the mac pro, tons of ram and 12 cores or more.

    iMac would probably overheat too.
  11. 12dylan34 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 3, 2009
    Naw...I've left my 2008 MacBook Pro rendering at full bore for several days in a row and it's never overheated. The iMac has better cooling than my old laptop, so I don't think overheating is much of an issue.

    But yes, I get the sentiment. The Mac Pro has the best cooling of any Mac.
  12. dmax35 macrumors 6502

    Jun 21, 2012
    I've got a Caldigit USB 3.0 card in my Mac Pro and it's been a solid performer with no issues.
  13. wickedking94 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Apr 27, 2010
    I refuse to ever pay for Windows again. I used very high end PC's once for animating and while it was all great when actually rendering the amount of errors I got while working on a project made me want to scream.


    Okay well heres the thing, right now I'm doing a render of a model of a galaxy, with lots of particles and lights and whatnot, and for a 30 second animation its going to take about 7.5 hours to complete. Now I know rendering takes a long time, but I've seen other Mac's do similar things in way less time. And thats 7.5 hours where I can't use my only computer (I'm using my iPhone to post this) because its devoting all its processing power to rendering. Its a pain in the butt.

    Thats actually another reason I hadn't thought of to get a newer computer. While the newer computer renders i can still use my MBP for other stuff.

    Also I wouldn't call it "job time" I would call it guy learning animation time. It seems silly to pay for a high end machine for learning but I am learning at a faster pace than my MBP can handle, and I am going to go to an animation school next year so I might as well have a computer that I can do my homework on ;)


    It's not really the question of should I get an iMac or a Mac Pro, its a question of should I wait for the next iMac refresh to get one?

    The Mac Pro's hardware is just too old.
  14. wickedking94 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Apr 27, 2010
    Also an iMac with everything except the RAM maxed out (300$ for 16GB for apple, or 70$ for 16GB that I put in myself) is just over 3000$, which is pretty good.

    Also found out my MBP's core 2 duo doesn't have hyper threading. :( I though all intel CPU's did since they had it on the Pentium 4. :/
  15. artbyjames.com macrumors newbie

    Aug 29, 2012

    Well it's getting better. Over time, Macs are being more accepted by developers, and pretty much all the big apps are already supported. The Mac platform is usually secondary with updates, bug fixes, etc. And when you need a more specific tool, almost all of the great apps for niche tasks are pc only. As a student, just know you are picking the opposite path of the professionals in your field. Maya goes deep, you'll probably be fine. And if needed, just boot camp windows for those other tasks like I do.

    Regarding your original question, go Mac Pro. I've been able to significantly upgrade two Mac Pros very easily. iMac is more of a consumer product with sacrifices in performance for it's design. 3d is one arena that will bring the fastest computer available to it's knees. Get the beast.
  16. wickedking94 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Apr 27, 2010
    What do you mean by upgrade? What kinds of stuff can you upgrade in a Mac Pro? Could I put better CPU's in one? Because thats my main drawback for a Mac Pro, is that the CPU's are far behind the Ivy Bridge or even the Sandy Bridge ones. Not to mention the stock graphics options from apple are out of date too. I don't want to have a computer arrive and be like "well heres my new 4000$ Mac Pro, time to go spend a few thousand more dollars putting more modern CPU's and graphics cards in it. Its just not worth the hassle.

    Besides I bet the performance bump the iMac's get with their next refresh will make them fairly competent machines.

Share This Page