iMac 5K for photography

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Patbil10, Jan 19, 2015.

  1. Patbil10 macrumors newbie

    Jan 19, 2015
    Hi guys, I'm new to this forum and will soon be purchasing my first mac ! My uses are mainly for photo editing using Lighnroom,web browsing, youtube and some spreadsheet work. No gaming.

    The Mac I want is the Imac 5K with following specs:
    - i7
    - 32GB RAM (3rd party)
    - 512GB Flash storage
    - AppleCare

    Big question is regarding the graphics card. Since I don't game at all, is it really necessary to get the 4GB GPU ? I was at the Apple store yesteray and saw the base iMac 5K and seemed quite OK with lots of apps open and running a 4K demo video.

    I am planning on keeping this mac for 5-7 years and really want to make sure I'll be happy with it. I'm concerned with 4GB GPU running hot (even idle) and reducing overall reliability. I would hate to have a failure right after AppleCare expires.

    Thanks in advance for all the advice.
  2. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Apr 23, 2011
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    Best is to get the 4GB GPU, considering the pixels the 5K display has to push.

    I've got the i7/32/512/4GB M295X variant, and it's pretty quiet.

    If you take a look at the refurb store, you can see that all the retina iMacs there are only in the M290X configuration. Which probably means that all M295X variants have been snapped up by consumers, or the M295X variants face very low return rates for Apple to refurb them.
  3. Patbil10 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 19, 2015
    Well, the base rImac at the Apple store had no issues displaying high res photos including all the other apps opened during the day.

    Probably most people buy the M290X, which would explain the higher number at the refurb store. Heat is what's scaring me a little.

    Can anyone with the M295X run a temp test while photo editing ? Thanks again. :)
  4. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Apr 23, 2011
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    Correction: Most people probably buy the M290X, then return them for the M295X. The returned units will then become refurbs.

    I get around 65-70ºC when working with multiple layers in PS CC.

    Of course any Mac can display high-res photos, but once you delve into multiple layers, that's a different story.
  5. andy9l macrumors 68000

    Aug 31, 2009
    England, UK
    I don't think that's the case. I have a feeling there's another reason for its absence in the refurb store. It seems to be the only component consistently missing from all refurbs. No-one bought the i5/M295X and returned for the i7...?

    I returned my i7/M295X, for one.

    The M295X runs hot. Quite often, very hot. This is either by design, or a limitation of the iMacs heat dissipation capabilities. No-one knows until the same GPU is available in another machine. Either way, that's the way it is. There are numerous threads on here with concerns from users, benchmark results and examples of GPU throttling.

    It will run hot when you're doing intensive tasks, and the iMac fan will spin up. It's widely documented that this iMac spins its fan up earlier than previous models due to the heat from the GPU. Doing photo editing, however, I can't see it being a major issue. Gaming or video editing, maybe.

    If you're really hoping this Mac will last 7 years, you've got little choice than to max it out.
  6. Patbil10 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 19, 2015
    I do about 95% plus of all my photo editing with LR. For the rare layer work, I have Paintshop Pro.

    Anyone out there with the M290X rImac working with LR ? If so, what's your experience like ? Thanks.
  7. robgendreau, Jan 19, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2015

    robgendreau macrumors 68040

    Jul 13, 2008
    I use the 295 with LR and PS. Rarely get the fan above 1200RPM, and I doubt it was either of those applications.

    LR is meh; there are a few complaints about stuttering during image refreshes as you manipulate say contrast or exposure; I've seen that but it is only a bit annoying since the complete refresh to the end point seems the same or a bit faster than my last 4770 mac. The increased sharpness is amazing; it's far easier to cull and rate big bunches of images since now you don't have to zoom around as much.

    I'd go with the card, but that's just because I figured at that cost, why not? I don't see it making tons of difference right now, but maybe in the future. I might go for it over AppleCare, but that's me.
  8. Steveatesh macrumors regular


    Oct 29, 2014
    North east England
    I have the base model RiMac and I have just bought LR5 standalone version after the 30 day trial. Personally I find it ok as a hobbyist but there is a lag with some actions, eg the crop and the gradient tool. By lag I mean it's not instant response but it's not horrendous. Most functions are fine, so painting with the adjustment brush etc are great, even with my tablet.

    Having read through this issue on the Adobe forums it is also apparent on all versions of the RiMac, no matter what CPU or GPU is in the imac. Apparently Adobe have it on their radar and are working to fix it it as it is a LR problem rather than an RiMac problem. Some people experience it and others not, so you could buy the full inn system and it still be a problem. According to what I've read on Adobe forums anyway.

    To support that view I also trialled Corel Aftershot 2 Pro which makes full use of the GPU. It was lightning fast even using the layers. No lag. I also trialled Capture One pro 8 which also use the GPU and it too was quick.

    I went ahead with LR on the balance of performance and price - Corel was not in the same league and Capture One is almost twice the price and upgrades are far more expensive too. I am hoping LR6 will address it if and when it is released, but in the meantime I'm really enjoying it. Good software but amazing computer, and not just for photography.

    Hope that helps.
  9. Antipode2012 macrumors newbie

    Jul 15, 2012
    Not sure about your specific question, but I have the i7, 295, 1tb and 32GB of ram and it's great for photography.
    To get the fan loud enough to hear in my very quiet office I needed to have a 50 photo photomerge in photoshop and two 200+ photo exports in lightroom going at the same time. Still only used 50% of the ram. The fan came on but 10 second after the exports finished it was silent again. Amazing.
  10. roadkill401 macrumors 6502


    Jan 11, 2015
    I just picked up my RiMac i7 and went with just the M290x. it works fine with CS6 with as many layers as you would like. Quite obviously yjchua95 has not really bothered reading up on Adobe Photoshop to realize that the functions that PS uses the GPU does not really benefit from stepping up the card from all that much.

    Take a look at and you will see that the move from many of the different GPU's tested resulted in a negligible increase in speed. And that is only for doing the functions that actually can benefit. If you are not doing Liquidify and some zoom functions, but really you might gain a second to two.

    However, you have to weigh that small performance gain against the increased problems of heat and fan sound.

    I have used CS6 with projects containing 50-60+ layers as it allows for proper blending modes in photographs to maintain realism, and there is no feeling whatsoever of lag or it not being snappy to repspond to me. And I just have 16gb of ram and really wonder if going full bore with 32gb would give any real benefit

    I have a 22mp Canon 5D3 camera shooting in RAW
  11. Patbil10 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 19, 2015
    Thanks, that really helpful as I'm also looking at the i7 option for riMac. Glad to see it's working well with the M290X. Heat is a concern and if there's no real benefit to the M295X, then I'll pass on it. :)
  12. Gator Bob macrumors regular

    Aug 3, 2011
    We are waiting for revision 1 of this imac with its gorgeous dusplay.

    For the time being we're using a late 2013 retina macbook pro in clamshell mode driving a not-quite-as-gorgeous 24" Dell UP2414Q display.
  13. roadkill401 macrumors 6502


    Jan 11, 2015
    What i have learnt from past experience and many years of buying a new computer, you can never time the market for when is the best time to buy the newest technology.

    I have found that i buy based on my needs. I know there will always be a better or faster computer coming out in the next 6 months. I won't ever know how much better or how much more it will cost. Apple is very good at the small increment upsell, so just buy what you need.

    But to simply say i will not buy now to meet my need as something better will come out in the future is also a folly. Who knows if the next iMac retina may have soldered in memory and no option to upgrade it yourself. Then you might be paying more for your memory upfront where current models you can do it yourself for much less. Then you will be saying, Oh I want the older model and they might not be available. Only time will tell
  14. Patbil10 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 19, 2015
    Totally agree and that's why I'm going to get the maxed out rImac minus the furnace R295X ! :cool:
  15. AlifTheUnseen macrumors member


    May 17, 2014
    You may want to check the RiMac articles over at the macperformanceguide site - when the RiMac arrived, and we all were merry and happy and singing in blissfull excitation, this photographer was not (in fact, this site and the MacRumors forums were imho the first to express some skeptical bits wrt the iMac 5k).

    Not being a photographer myself, I only read most of the stuff diagonally, but maybe it's worth looking through his experience. and
  16. skinnfell macrumors newbie

    Jun 14, 2011

    I am a professional photographer, and have the base edition (only with SSD instead of fusion). I use Lightroom 4 and Photoshop CS5 (old, I know, but they do the job and I loathe going to 'the cloud').

    First off, as you probably know, the screen is absolutely marvellous. I have never seen anything better. There is no need anymore to zoom in and out of images to check sharpness - it's readily visible.
    I have not calibrated it but it seems its very near perfectly calibrated already from the factory. I have none of the artifacts or bleed that some users report. The brightneess range is very useful as you can go from a dark grey dim to a an almost eye-blistering brightness (although I don't see why one would need to do this).
    All text and icons are ultra-super sharp meaning much less eye strain if you read and surf a bit.
    I have never noticed the fans get loud, and my office is pretty quiet so I would notice if this was the case. I sometimes play music while I work and the sound system is really impressive from such a flat unit.
    Processing Raw file exports from lightroom is very fast indeed, impressive processing power from even my base unit.

    All good in most regards then. I have but one complaint: in certain situations there is a lot of window lag, especially in lightroom and finder. Not to the extent that it is unusable, but it certainly is annoying. We are talking slower finder and window refresh rates than my 10 year old 12" powerbook.
    It's easy to point the finger to the GPU here, but at the same time it plays 4K video smooth like butter and without a hitch. This leads me to believe that the problem is based on a software or firmware bug somewhere. So I am crossing my fingers for a downloadable fix in the near future. But that is usually the price of being an 'early adopter'.

    bottom line: in my opnion 5K iMac is THE computer for photographers now.
  17. Steveatesh macrumors regular


    Oct 29, 2014
    North east England
    I agree with you, as I have mentioned above trying other similar programs such as Corels Aftershot Pro 2 and Capture One Pro 8 - there were simply no problems on the base RiMac suggesting to me that this is not a fundamental hardware problem but one of software - and its Adobe Software.

    Lightroom and Photoshoot are of course the industry standard which is probably why everybody focuses on them, but there are other similar programs that don't have the problems.

    I agree anyway, the lag on some parts of LR is only slight and absolutely liveable with in any case, until Adobe sort it out.

    I have absolutely no regrets about buying the base RiMac for photography.
  18. odedia macrumors 65816

    Nov 24, 2005
    I have none of these issues on the upgraded iMac 5k, so perhaps it does have something to do with the GPU. However I use Lightroom 5. Finder should be identical performance though.

    I can definitely confirm that the lag in Expose that I saw at the Apple store does not happen in the upgraded model, unless I have a ton of windows open.
  19. fathergll macrumors 65816

    Sep 3, 2014
    I've read about various lag issues on all models, though less on upgraded models. On the flipside i've read a ton of reports of the upgraded GPU running extremely hot and the fans kicking on much more than the user would like.

    Given what we know my thoughts are unless you can specifically think of a case to go with the upgraded version you are probably better off saving money and getting a setup that runs much cooler since iMacs have historically had heat issues. If you're editing a 4k feature obviously by all means go with upgraded specs. Photography is a different beast so you can get away with much more many times.

    One thing I will say is the 5k screen really can reveal things in your files. Take using the film simulation on Fuji X100t series cameras which have been getting rave reviews. Sorry but the 5k reveals the over-processing of the files big time as well as shots that are not truly in focus. Let me put it this way. High resolution full frame cameras start to shine over the aps-c and micro cameras when viewing files on the iMac. Not that aps-c looks bad by any means...but you can see the differences in the files especially when comparing micro to full frame.
  20. unclegit macrumors member

    Jan 10, 2008
    FWIW: I picked up the i7 32gigs/512 SSD and the faster GFX card.

    It's a lovely machine and looks stunning - the only issue I've had is the screen isn't particularly great color gamut wise - my old NEC 3090 blows it out of the water in the reds and greens, though the rImac has the edge in the blues but only slightly. If you've not worked on a color calibrated wide gamut display before I doubt you'll even notice it.

    The resolution has to be seen to be believed though - for day to day use it's by far a better crisper display - but for color critical work I move to the NEC which I've connected via Dual link.

    Both displays are calibrated via an xrite i1photo pro 2 system.

    All in all it's a fantastic machine for a photographer.

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