iMac 27" i5 vs i9 Processor

Discussion in 'iMac' started by MacManiac76, Jun 10, 2019.

  1. MacManiac76 macrumors 65816


    Apr 21, 2007
    White Mntns, Arizona
    I have been looking at purchasing an iMac 27" for photo and video editing. I'm wondering if the 9th-gen Core i9 8-core processor is worth the upgrade cost compared to the 9th-gen Core i5 6-core processor? Will the i9 processor throttle heavily due to overheating under heavy load? Should I stick with the i5 and spend the money on either the graphics card upgrade or more SSD storage instead? I'm looking for advice from those with personal experience with the i9 processor.
  2. sublunar macrumors 6502a

    Jun 23, 2007
    Depends on your budget I think. I'd go SSD only for storage. RAM can be upgraded after purchase but obviously for serious video editing you can't really assume 8Gb will be ok for any length of time.

    CPU is probably the last thing I'd consider upgrading alongside the GPU even with video editing because we're into the realms of return on investment up against what Apple will charge. An 8 core i9 could cost over 10% of the price of the overall iMac and would only benefit long renders.

    Similarly with the upgrade to Pro Vega 48 which is hugely expensive.

    By the time you've thrown on the 8 core CPU upgrade, the GPU upgrade, 1Tb SSD, and lashings of RAM you're getting awfully close to the base iMac Pro which I'm sure can be found on deals and has VEGA 56, more Thunderbolt ports, and probably more capable of long renders even though the base clock appears to be lower than the i9.
  3. ridgero macrumors member


    Dec 16, 2017

    Save your money and buy an eGPU (Vega 56/64).
  4. gilby101 macrumors regular

    Mar 17, 2010
    The i9 does not throttle under load. Mine runs at about 3.9GHZ (above the base speed of 3.6GHz) with all CPUs running.

    If you are working to a budget, consider in this order: SSD, RAM (but not from Apple), CPU, video. There are lots of options for SSD - I chose internal 512GB and added a 2TB Samsung T5. And an external HDD for backup.
  5. robgendreau macrumors 68040

    Jul 13, 2008
    There are bunches of videos on YouTube of folks testing the i9 and it doesn't seem to have the throttling or heat issues of some previous iMacs.

    For some Lr and Ps work a faster processor is great. You can look at say Puget Systems websites to see some tests, or at Some actions would definitely benefit from it.

    Whether the extra SSD storage is worth it depends. How much space does your current system take up? Lr catalog and previews? you are going to need external storage in any case, and NVMe cases with say a biggish SSD inside via Thunderbolt are very fast and maybe a better use of that money, especially for video.

    The enhanced graphics might help with video as well. It seems to help in some Lr exports, but that's one of the things most of us care less about than say tool response while editing itself, and I'm not convinced the cards are that different, except in video. Again, Puget has some tests.
  6. Zen_Arcade macrumors member

    Jun 3, 2019
    It depends on your workload.

    I recently went through the same decision tree and wound up with the i9 (after buying a 3.7 GHz i5). Enough of my work is CPU intensive that the i9 makes a noticeable difference. Conversely, if your workflow depends more on I/O speed then the i9 probably isn't worth it.

    The other observation I'd make is that the i9 does not appear to throttle at all, which has been a pleasant surprise (even given the number of people in these fora who have reported the i9 doesn't throttle).

    Finally, aside from booting and app launching, I don't see much difference in day to day use with the 2 TB fusion drive and an SSD.

Share This Page

5 June 10, 2019