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iMac 5k or Mac Pro

  • Imac

    Votes: 16 84.2%
  • Mac Pro

    Votes: 3 15.8%

  • Total voters


macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 2, 2016
Greetings all,

I'm deciding between the following of what to get:

2010-2012 Mac Pro Tower (Grey)
(2) 3.46 GHz Westmere Processor 12 Core
64GB Ram
GTX 970 Nvidia 4GB Graphics Card
512GB PCIe Flash Storage
(4) TB of storage (1TB in each bay)
USB C & USB 3.0 PCIe Expansion card
(2) Dell P2715Q 27" 4K Monitors


Late 2015 27" Retina 5K IMac
4.0 GHz Quad Core i7 processor
32GB Ram
AMD Radeon R9 M395x 4GB Video Card
512GB Flash Storage
4 TB external Thunderbolt Storage
(1) Apple Thunderbolt Display

I do photography and work a lot with Photoshop and Lightroom. I also do music production using Ableton, Pro Tools, and Logic Pro. I render video at times but not too much.

I know the Mac Pro is a later model but with all the upgrades it looks like it can still hold its own as regards to speed and power. This would cost me $4000.

I also know the IMac is newer and the processors are faster and it also looks like it can hold its own in regards to power and speed. This model would cost me about $3200.

Money isn't an option. I just wanted to see what your opinions on this are.

Thanks in advance.


macrumors 65816
Nov 17, 2007
if you were just working with photography the iMac would be a good choice but the Mac Pro has a big advantage when it comes to video and audio work. Of course being more current, the iMac will have more longevity when it comes to OS and software upgrades so that is another consideration.


macrumors 6502
Sep 3, 2010
If mainly for Lightroom/Photoshop get the iMac.

12-core/24 threads is a lot, but unless you can keep them busy which Lightroom/Photoshop hardly can (except batch editing). For interactive work single-threaded performance is way more important and the iMac is at least two times better there than those ancient CPUs. In fact even my small Macbook would probably trounce it.

On the other hand one thing to reconsider is Apple Thunderbolt display which is no fun for photo (glare, low res, poor gamut) compared to iMac 5k display (native 30bit) or the Dell 4k options you are considering for the Mac Pro.

Logic Pro or video rendering might actually benefit from the horsepower of these extra cores depending on what you do. However if photo is what you are mostly doing, I would get the high-end iMac with decent secondary 4k display.


macrumors 604
Oct 24, 2013
I couldn't care which computer you get they will both do what you want, however an apple thunderbolt display is a waste of money when much better and cheaper 4K monitors are out there.

To be honest though as you are doing photography over, 4K video editing I'd go with the iMac myself it will handle it fine and can take up to 64gb of RAM if desired.


macrumors Penryn
Feb 20, 2009
DO NOT buy an Apple Thunderbolt display.

It's "dead technology".

Many 3rd party displays as good or better, for far less $$$.

If your main usage will be for still photographs, the iMac may be better.

DON'T waste your $$$ on thunderbolt external storage.
USB3 is as fast, or faster (for single drives).
There will be no discernable speed difference.

Then again, I'm guessing you have money to burn, or don't care about how much you spend… ;)


macrumors 6502
Jul 20, 2009
I know you said money isn't an option (problem?), but if you're willing to consider the iMac, which has zero internal expansion, then why wouldn't you consider the nMP?

The 6-Core machine is on Apple's clearance page for $2,500. Load it up with 64GB of RAM for another $520 (set it and forget it), and add the 4TB Thunderbolt storage, and voila!

I do a lot of photography work, use Capture One Pro 10.1, and this is the machine I'm leaning towards. I already have the external storage, so not a big deal, and will be dropping a 2015 MBPr 512GB flash drive in the nMP for 1300-1400 Mbps read/write speeds, and running with it.

The 5,1 12 Core machine isn't going to gain you anything in Photoshop, and Lightroom doesn't take a huge GPU benefit. Some filters utilize several cores, but nothing I'd be using anyway.

I have no idea how the GTX would compare in this older Capture One Pro test, but the 6-core keeps up with the 3.3GHz 8-Core machine very will here...

...and how much faster is the GTX than the Sapphire HD 7950 Mac Edition? I'd love to know if anyone has ever compared the two.

The 6-Core machine would run neck and neck (negligible difference) with a decked 2015 5K iMac in photoshop tests...


Lloyd didn't test Capture One Pro, but I have to think it would be faster for both the Mac Pro and the 2015 iMac than what you see above. I have no idea about the current Lightroom offering.

The 2014 5K iMac did edge the custom Mac Pro in a Capture One Pro test... but really not enough for me to care considering the other edges the Mac Pro has over the 5K iMacs - especially when you consider the cost of the final machines. And cost at this point isn't something I can totally ignore when the 6-core black Mac Pro is only $2,500.

Just seems odd people automatically skip the 2013 Mac Pro, which is still workhorse, if they're willing to consider the current iMac - or even the 2014 iMac.
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