iMAC 5K Upgrades for AutoCad, SketchUp Vray & PS.

Discussion in 'iMac' started by tovtov, Feb 20, 2015.

  1. tovtov macrumors newbie

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    Feb 20, 2015
    #1
    Hi everyone,
    I need your help, I am interested in buying an iMAC 5k and I don't know what upgrades should I take.
    I will be using it for AutoCad, SketchUp + Vray and Photoshop.
    What upgrades are necessary for it to be the most future proof and the most suitable for my needs.

    Space is also an issue for me since I need at least 3TB of space, I don't know if I should take the 3TB Fusion driver and add an external HDD if needed in the future or should I go for the 256 SSD and get an external HDD right now.
    Will I really gain a big performance Bump with the SSD compared to the Fusion in programs like I mentioned?


    Thanks in advanced,

    Ben
     
  2. ixxx69 macrumors 6502a

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    #2
    Those apps will use just about as much hardware as you can throw at it, particularly CPU and GPU, though on RAM, even 16GB (though I wouldn't go overboard on that to start with since it's relatively easy to add more a couple years down the line). If you suggest a budget, maybe we can suggest the best balance of components.

    SSD vs. Fusion really won't have that much of an effect on the apps - that's more about general system performance. I'm a strong proponent of straight SSD and using an external hard drive for data if you need it, but you can't really go to wrong either way.

    BTW, are you an arch professional or student?
     
  3. yjchua95 macrumors 604

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    #3
    Seconded.

    I'm also more biased towards SSD. Better to have a spinner fail externally than internally.

    Apple's 16GB pricing is pretty reasonable, and it's easier to upgrade to 32GB from this point since it only requires another 2x8GB sticks.

    I'd also get the i7 and M295X.
     
  4. casperes1996 macrumors 65816

    casperes1996

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    #4

    Adding to ixxx69's comment, I agree for the most part. It's not entirely true that the apps won't benefit dramatically from an SSD however. Keeping your data on fast media will dramatically speed up certain tasks, in particular import & export. Outside of those certain scenarios however, it is correct that it has more to do with general system perf, and once the data has been loaded into RAM, it's CPU/GPU that matters. The i7 is a priority over the GPU upgrade if you ask me, since I'd wager the r9 M290X will suffice for the most part. The 295 model also seems to have some worrying temperature (maybe) issues. I personally have one with both the GPU and CPU upgrade, and it does reach, as there is a forum post about, 105 degrees C if you push the GPU. For your workloads however, not all parts of the GPU will be under constant stress, and the GPU boost might actually be very helpful, so if the budget allows, don't get scared away. It will increase noise slightly under load however. The temp difference between the GPUs is well high compared to the CPUs. In fact, pushing my i7 to the very limit barely gets the fan to 2k rpm, whereas pushing the GPU, barely touching CPU workloads, other than feeding the GPU, will get the fan to 2300rpm easily, with the GPU at 105º. Again, don't get scared off of the upgrade, because it is an upgrade, and you won't see these temps with your workloads. At least not for more than a second.
    Going back to the point regarding the Fusion drive, remember that Fusion actually has a 128gb PCIe SSD. If you get the 3TB Fusion, you'll get 3.128TB of storage, .128gigs of which will be as fast as just getting an SSD. And it moves files to and from the SSD amazingly well, so it always feels incredibly fast. Yes, it's a good point that keeping external storage is better in case it fails, but paired with a backup solution, I'd honestly go Fusion, just because it's nice to be able to package it all in one box with no cables or external drives. A NAS or Time Capsule for backups and you're good.
    For RAM, well, I can easily fill 8, and I'd say you can as well. 16... It's getting a bit harder for me to fill that, but depending on what I'm doing, I certainly could fill it, and I have on a few occasions, like when working with FCPX. I'd recommend you get 16gigs, since the stick configuration lends itself better to future upgrades on the front. Pop in two extra 8 gig sticks to go to 32, rather than having to replace all four sticks.

    TLDR; SSD matters a bit more than ixxx69 said for certain tasks, but he's generally right.
    CPU takes priority over GPU if the budget doesn't allow for both
    Fusion is really good
    RAM is user upgradable, but start with 16, since it'll be less wasteful in case you want to go 32.
     
  5. ixxx69 macrumors 6502a

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    #5
    You misunderstood what I wrote. I stated that running apps off a pure SSD versus running apps off a Fusion drive will not make much difference. If the OP is using the apps on a regular basis, they'll very likely remain on the SSD portion of the Fusion drive and will perform the same as if run from a pure SSD.

    To be clear, SSD will have a HUGE impact on app loading. Personally, I won't purchase a computer without one.
     
  6. tovtov, Feb 20, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2015

    tovtov thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Feb 20, 2015
    #6
    I am an Interior Designer but everything software wise is new to me so I guess you can call me a student who intends to go pro.

    I live in Israel, so the price differences are quite high, everything is almost doubled here.
    When I convert it to USD for the US store, the budget is around 500$ not including the RAM upgrade which I intend to buy from third party.
    Its cheaper for me to buy an extra 2x8GB from third party and add it to the basic 2*4GB inside than buying directly from apple the 2x8GB upgrade (twisted I know).
    Will it be fine if I buy 2x8GB and adds it 2x4GB sticks to a total of 24GB (problem with dual channel etc..?)
    Any specific suggestions for RAM?

    Right now according to your recommendations I am looking to invest those 500$ on CPU and GPU, I'm still confused about the storage.
    If I take the 256GB SSD and buy an external HDD for storage, will 256GB be enough for system and program files?

    As I see it I have two options:
    1) Choosing the 256GB SSD and adding an extra 300$ for 3TB TB2 drive or 700$ for RAID 6TB for the extra data safety, or maybe even getting Seagate 5tb for 160$ and call it a day and the first two are just me exaggerating :p
    2) Buy the 3TB fusion driver right now and maybe adding another 3TB for backup in the future?

    Does the SSD upgrade really worth the trouble?


    Thanks,

    Ben
     
  7. yjchua95 macrumors 604

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    #7
    256GB is enough for all your software.

    For backups, I'd suggest you just get any cheap 1TB USB 3.0 drive.
     
  8. pcd109 macrumors regular

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    May 1, 2010
    #8
    Hi Ben,
    I do 3d graphics for a living(i have my own graphics shop). What i can tell you is that you need few things:

    - best DUAL cpu system you can afford to purchase(Xeon);
    - PROFESSIONAL graphics card(quadro or firepro);
    - as much RAM(ECC) you can afford

    Why? 3d rendering, static or animated(and you will want to animate those interior visualizations sooner or later to show off to your clients) is THE MOST INTENSIVE task you can throw at a computer. If you will do presentations over 1-2 minutes long, you will need a render farm. At 25 frames/second even if you manage to render at 1 minute per frame(you will soon find out that it's not going to be the case with all the lights, reflections etc) you look at 1500 minutes or 25 hours. This is for a single minute of animation. So discard all the 'advices' you received so far. Go for a classic macpro with dual 6 core cpu's, or go a base line current macpro and add a network of second hand Dell Precision(dual socket Xeons) or HP Z(600 or 800) for a small render farm. I have a workstation with dual Xeons, 36gb of RAM and a pro Quadro card. I moved from 8 core and i see 2 times faster renders. Trust me, your retina iMac will be 2-3 times SLOWER then a dual socket Xeon(that is if will not melt from 24/7 renderings). And your gaming card is a no go for professional 3d. I have both gaming and pro, and it's a day and night difference when working with medium and complex scenes. You will not be able to model, visualize your textures in real time etc on a gaming card. With other words your productivity will be under the sea level. I hope you will read my advice. Best is to try your software with two computers: a regular one and a workstation. Then you will see what i mean....
    Good luck with your business,
    C
     
  9. yjchua95 macrumors 604

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    #9
    I agree, but the OP has a limited budget.

    Myself, even on a 12-core nMP with 64GB of ECC RAM and D700s, there was once when a single frame of what I did took about 19 hours to render.
     
  10. tovtov thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2015
    #10
    Guys, I understand what your saying but the route of a sole workstation is just too much money, and a bit complicated for me.
    And I am only at the beginning, just getting to this world, don't you think an iMac will be a good start?

    Those are the final specs:
    Intel Core i7
    R9 M295X 4GB
    2x4GB (In the future i will add another 2x8GB for a total of 24GB)
    256GB or 512GB flash driver (haven't decided yet if it worth the money)
    I will start with my current 1tb external drive for storage and add more with time.


    Thanks,

    Ben
     
  11. yjchua95 macrumors 604

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    #11
    That's already a pretty good setup.

    A pure-SSD setup is worth the money.
     
  12. ixxx69 macrumors 6502a

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    #12
    That will be a great system!

    You do not need "dual Xeon workstation rendering farm", etc. It would be nearly useless to you. The issue is someone saw "vray" and translated that into "fully rendered walkthroughs", which you will not be doing. Graphic houses do those (and some of the larger AEC firms). Independent interior designers do not do those. It's currently too expensive in both time and hardware. I can guess that after playing around with vray for a bit, and thinking how "cool" it is, you'll realize it takes too much of your time, and you'll only do it for the big presentations where really accurate depictions of textures/colors are critical. The vast majority of the time, sketchup shading w/ textures is good enough for designing and visual presentation. And for everything besides vray, it comes down to the fastest single-core speed of the CPU.

    I would be slightly more concerned not with the computer, but with the software, and its implied work-flow. 10 years ago, AutoCAD + SketchUp was extremely popular. You'd use AutoCAD for your 2D drawings, and model it up in SketchUp (and then use the vray plugin if you wanted photo-realistic renderings). But it ends up being a lot of duplicate work. It's not a bad place to start if you're only doing very small little projects, and if for the next several years you're okay with that workflow, then great for you. I know there are many designers still working that way. However, most of the AEC world is moving toward Revit (Autodesk, who makes AutoCAD also makes Revit). It's basically AutoCAD + SketchUP + Vray all rolled into one. The one big downside is that Revit is Windows-only. :(

    However, all that is a little beyond a MacRumors forum post - I know you didn't ask for advice on what software to use. So, I'm going to bring this all back to the SSD. 256GB SSD (+ external drive) is fine if you're going to stay in a Mac-only software world (though I would personally still recommend the 512GB SSD if it doesn't break the bank). However, if you eventually (i.e. in the next couple of years) want the flexibility of running Windows-only AEC software, the 512GB SSD will be necessary to accommodate the space requirements of BootCamp or a VM such as Parallels.

    Good luck with your endeavors!
     
  13. tovtov thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Feb 20, 2015
    #13
    I didn't ask for advice about software but I really appreciate you did brought it up, everything is new to me and I want to know as much as possible, I will start to read about revit to understand it more, and maybe even install windows as well and try it out.
    Ok so it settled then I will go for 512GB SSD so I will have the option to install windows as well.

    One last thing, from someone that is moving to the mac world from PC can any of you point me to some kind of getting started guide for mac I mean the basics of OS configuration and maybe basic programs that I should install, for example like Chrome on windows instead of IE or VLC for watching movies instead of WMP, basic stuff for optimizing the system.

    Thank you everyone for your help, I have learned a lot :)
     
  14. ixxx69 macrumors 6502a

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    #14
    While folks may offer suggestions here, you'll probably have better luck in some of the software sub-forums for general questions about that kind of stuff.

    And there are a million articles on this topic available with a google search. A whole new batch appeared around the holidays for all the folks who just got Macs as gifts.

    The one bit of advice I will offer is stick with the Apple software (and the Apple way of doing things) as much as possible when first starting out, i.e. Safari, iTunes, Mail, Calendar and Contacts, iPhoto, etc. (this is doubly true if you have iOS devices as well). Give it a chance, and if you find anything too limited, then you can go looking for alternatives.
     
  15. casperes1996 macrumors 65816

    casperes1996

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    #15


    I agree extremely much with ixxx69 on this front (sorry for the misunderstanding earlier btw). Sticking to the software Apple gives you, for what that software is designed to do, is always a good idea on Macs if you ask me.
    I always install OnyX (http://www.titanium.free.fr), but I'm not sure you would want to. It's an app that requires some technical knowledge, and it can allow you to screw things up fairly much. It's a system customisation and maintenance tool.
    While for the most part I don't think antivirus software is necessary on OS X, if you'll be doing things that have a risk of getting infected, like torrents etc. I recommend Sophos. Mac version is free, and can take down both Mac and Windows vira. (http://www.sophos.com/en-us/products/free-tools/sophos-antivirus-for-mac-home-edition.aspx)
    That's essentially all I'd advice you to do on the software front. Everything else I do on the software front is out of personal preferences, nerdy need to mess with system level things, and video production, so I wouldn't advice you to do any of that. OS X is pretty ready to go out of the box.

    Regarding RAM, there isn't really a problem with mixing memory like that, assuming that you use the free banks, and don't move around RAM... But why would you? So no problem there. However, make sure to get memory of the same CAS latency and frequency. I believe that'd be CL11/1600. I also suggest getting 1.35 instead of 1.5V modules. Both work, and the difference in power consumption/heat is so incredibly tiny that it really doesn't matter whatsoever, but if they're around the same price, why not? There is a slight performance penalty to mixing RAM sizes, but it's like 0.5-1% so don't even think about it.
     
  16. Naileg macrumors newbie

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    May 26, 2015
    #16

    Hello Ben,

    I had just bought the same -iMac 5K, w all the upgrades - 4G Quad core, AMD Radeon M295X 4G GDDR5, 16G RAM, 3T & 4G w Paralllel & windows 8.1 installed. With the exact intention like you- I thought of having Autocad, SU &Vray and Photoshop all Mac versions. Currently I have all the trial versions of Photoshop, SU pro & vray2.0 on the iMac to see how it works out. I have been using all these Software on Win and I am worried if the Mac version would be a problem. My first attempt was to use one of drawings (previously done using SU 8 & vray) on the latest SU pro2015 & bray 2.0 - unfortunately the rendering output came out completely black...

    I was wondering if you have tested all or any of the software on your iMac? It would be great if you could share any info at all.

    Nail.
     
  17. EnesM macrumors 6502

    EnesM

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    #17
    M295X seems to be generating enormous heat and therefore fan noise, I would strongly advise against it.
     
  18. carlgo macrumors 68000

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    #18
    Isn't this the sort of use the Mac Pro was made for? It is also expandable and likely could be used for a few years longer than an iMac. Might be cheaper in the long run.
     
  19. yjchua95 macrumors 604

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    #19
    I disagree, I have an i7/M295X machine myself and it does not do such things.
     
  20. EnesM macrumors 6502

    EnesM

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    #20
    I don't own one myself, I'm just saying what I've read on these forums, a lot of people complained about it
     
  21. tillsbury macrumors 65816

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    #21
    You have to be a bit careful reading things, particularly about new apple products, on this forum. According to the messages on this board, the rMBP was laggy and unreliable with a poor screen, the retina iMac is underperforming and overheats, and the retina macbook is underpowered. None of those are true, of course, and you'll find if you read messages from people who actually use those devices that they aren't usually issues.

    That's not to say there haven't been some faulty products out there, but in general they don't do that. Take all reports, particularly from those who claim to have used and returned machines or seen them somewhere, with a serious pinch of salt.
     
  22. Roykor macrumors 6502

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    Oct 22, 2013
    #22
    Possible in the long run, but he starts with 3k without screen blabla (you know the drill) I think for a starter in his scene, the iMac will do the job easy. :)
     
  23. Roykor macrumors 6502

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    Oct 22, 2013
    #23
    Ps, just to keep in mind: There are treads on the adobe forums about performance problems in Photoshop with the 5K iMacs. For me, it is one of the hold ups to go for a new iMac (i work as a professional digital painter 60 / 80 hours a week on a 2011 3.1 ghz iMac)

    It will not hurt you, but it is a thing to keep in your mind. Adobe is not focused on OSX, but on Windows. So updates to solve OSX / iMac problems take some more time.
     

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