iMac (or iMac Pro) for software & game Dev

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Kibou, Apr 8, 2018.

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  1. Kibou macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2017
    #1
    Hi,

    My iMac gotta quite old and I wanna upgrade and purchase a new iMac.
    My main usages are software, apps and games development (using Unreal Engine 4). Thus I am using a lot xcode, android studio, unreal engine 4 editor, Autodesk Maya etc.
    I work with a lot of open software in parallel which takes at least 16GB RAM.

    Since I'm not that orientated in specifications, I really wonders if I should get a high-end iMac or iMac Pro, and if so which specification I should take for that which can match my usages perfectly and be the best value for the money.
    My requirements:
    • Great support for heavy usage (I hate lags and long compilations times). A.k.a good support for running programs (in parallel) such as xcode, android studio (and other JetBrains programs like IntelliJ, Raider etc.), Unreal Engine 4, Visual Studio for Mac etc.
    • Good games rendering performance for games programming.
    • VR games development support (thus a computer that supports VR).
    • 2TB SSD.
    I'd love to get a good recommendation! Since I'm aiming for a long-run iMac I don't mind investing the necessary money (even if it's really pricey relatively). That's being said, I obviously don't want to waste money on un-neccecery specifications.

    The specifications I've looked at:
    iMac:
    Fully upgraded 21 inch iMac (just because I don't like the 27 inch and goes for it just because of higher specs... so if it'll be satisfied its better screen size for me) (3,000$):
    • 3.6GHz quad-core 7th-generation Intel Core i7 processor, Turbo Boost up to 4.2GHz
    • 32GB 2400MHz DDR4
    • 1TB SSD (I know that it has only 1TB, but if it's a far better option, then I'll get a good external SSD... ugh).
    • Radeon Pro 560 with 4GB video memory.
    27" iMac fully upgraded except of RAM (32 instead of 64) (4,500$):
    • 4.2GHz quad-core 7th-generation Intel Core i7 processor, Turbo Boost up to 4.5GHz
    • 32GB 2400MHz DDR4
    • 2TB SSD
    • Radeon Pro 580 with 8GB video memory.
    27" iMac fully upgraded (5,200$):
    • 4.2GHz quad-core 7th-generation Intel Core i7 processor, Turbo Boost up to 4.5GHz
    • 64GB 2400MHz DDR4
    • 2TB SSD
    • Radeon Pro 580 with 8GB video memory.
    iMac Pro:

    The base model with 2TB SSD (5,800$):
    • 3.2GHz 8-core Intel Xeon W processor, Turbo Boost up to 4.2GHz
    • 32GB 2666MHz DDR4 ECC memory
    • 2TB SSD
    • Radeon Pro Vega 56 with 8GB of HBM2 memory
    • Magic Mouse 2 - Space Gray
    • Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad - US English - Space Gray
    The base model with 2TB SSD and upgraded graphics card (6,300$):
    • 3.2GHz 8-core Intel Xeon W processor, Turbo Boost up to 4.2GHz
    • 32GB 2666MHz DDR4 ECC memory
    • 2TB SSD
    • Radeon Pro Vega 64 with 16GB of HBM2 memory
    • Magic Mouse 2 - Space Gray
    • Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad - US English - Space Gray
    The second configured iMac (10 cores, 64GB RAM, 2TB SSD and upgraded graphics card) (8,000$):
    • 3.0GHz 10-core Intel Xeon W processor, Turbo Boost up to 4.5GHz
    • 64GB 2666MHz DDR4 ECC memory
    • 2TB SSD
    • Radeon Pro Vega 64 with 16GB of HBM2 memory
    • Magic Mouse 2 - Space Gray
    • Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad - US English - Space Gray

    Thanks a lot for every recommendation! :)
     
  2. casperes1996 macrumors 68030

    casperes1996

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2014
    Location:
    Horsens, Denmark
    #2
    When you say VR app, do you mean mobile VR apps/games, or desktop VR?

    The 21.5" is a no-go, but all the rest of them are probably fine if I'm honest.
     
  3. Kibou thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2017
    #3
    Thanks for the replay!
    I mean desktop apps. Can the standard 27" i shown support it without eGPU? Will the processor be good enough?
     
  4. campyguy macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2014
    Location:
    Portland / Seattle
    #4
    IMHO and in my experience I offer holding off on buying any Mac if Maya is on your short list of go-to apps. Owner of an engineering company with Autodesk apps on every PC and Mac, and owner of a new base iMP. I bought the iMP from Apple's Amazon store this past week at the $4k matched price with the intent of demoing VMs and using several Autodesk and Nemetschek apps.

    IMO you'd be overpaying for storage, the 1TB SSD is a sweet spot for storage. The extra coin should be spent on external storage - Atom RAID or Samsung T5 units are what I use, two 500GB T5 drives mounted to my iMP in a RAID 0 configuration on two ports/buses are as fast as the built-in SSD, with the Atom RAID coming in about 40% slower.

    The killer here for me is that Maya (along with several Autodesk apps) is (are) far better optimized and suited for computers with Nvidia GPUs. My 5-year-old rMBP with an Nvidia 750M dGPU renders faster in Maya than the new iMP with a far-newer AMD GPU. I'd offer that you should at least wait until Apple provides official eGPU support for Nvidia - Autodesk is all about official support. Apple's dropping eGPU support in the final x.4 update killed it for me; my PCs that have Nvidia Quadro cards in my offices blow away the PCs with AMD cards - the difference isn't even to be laughed at if you're looking at a bottom line for productivity as I am.

    If you use Maya (link) or apps that specify Nvidia GPUs, I recommend waiting until Apple offers an iMac with either Nvidia GPUs or eGPU support.
     
  5. Kcetech1 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2016
    Location:
    Alberta Canada
    #5
    I find for desktop VR and lots of Autodesk software ( I use lots of MAYA, Revit etc ) a few things to think on. at minimum you will need an e-GPU for CUDA and yes it will get bottlenecked as a high end GPU takes about a 30% hit on TB3. The mobile GPU in an iMac cant cut it. As was said above an antique 750m can beat an iMP in rendering in many pro applications as they support CUDA only,

    My dual 1080 rig decimates a cluster of 4 iMP's and 4 nMP 6.1's in rendering. ( i9 with dual 1080's and 32GB ) at home when im doing animations for video editing or for architectural walkthroughs, my daughter does desktop VR for a gaming company and her 27" iMac and iMP sit in a corner, she runs an HP Xeon workstation with a quartet of GPU's and 256GB of RAM in their game development, but im not sure which engine they use
     
  6. Kibou thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2017
    #6
    Thanks for your replays!

    Wow that's absurd! Thanks for the information. So it might be wise to wait to WWDC, at least, then? I doubt, though, that theyll release a new iMac Pro. I still wonders if theyll go in release per year/two years like the Mac Pro or with the standard iMac distribution schedule.
    Hmm and if we'll let aside Maya usage, which model you'd recommend?

    The 1TB extra SSD goes for Bootcamp since, unfortunately, I can't give up on some Windows software :(. That puts me with 500GB per OS and its definitely not enough.

    Wow, then it'd be wise to skip this iMacs (and iMac Pro) generation and wait till apple produce iMac Pro with nVidia GPU?
     
  7. campyguy macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2014
    Location:
    Portland / Seattle
    #7
    Absurd is, to me, a relevant term. I'd put the turd in Autodesk's back pocket here tho'. See this linked Autodesk document and take a minute to pore through it for a bit of background. In brief, Apple hasn't certified High Sierra (which pretty much rules out the iMP) and - more importantly, to me and my employees - Autodesk hasn't certified a GPU for OS X (HS was the first "macOS") since 2014, with the last two GPUs they certified being the same ones I own (late-2013 or mid-2014 15" rMBP), and they haven't certified a desktop-class GPU since 2012. That last bit should give you and idea of where Autodesk's head is at regarding Maya and Mudbox. I have zero plans to invest in Autodesk apps on the macOS platform mainly due to their absence in supporting this OS, but they do support Windows very well. I use my office's software on my Mac all of the time - via my VPN!

    If I were you, I'd take a few days and set up a tour of at least one makerbot shops. There's a few that I visit in either Portland or Seattle. All 4 of them have small computer workstation pods with Windows and Linux PCs with Quadro GPUs- generally connected to one or two nice 3D printers - and all of those PCs are loaded with a full Autodesk suite, including AutoCAD (not LT)/Revit/Civil 3D/Inventor/Maya/Mudbox/3DS MAX. Too many of their apps are built for either Windows or Linux, I can't and won't recommend a Mac - just the $1500 per year per seat for Maya is a bit of a waste when spending another $600 per year per suite gets you access to Mudbox/3DS MAX/Recap PRO, and for that I'd go with a dual-boot Linux/Windows box with 32-128GB of ECC RAM and a 1TB SSD (and Autodesk is giving away a free Solid Angle's Arnold 5-Pack for the Media & Entertainment Collection through their resellers, and I really like the ray tracer in that package).

    I really like my shiny new iMP, but I have 30 days to send it back to Amazon. My main reasons for buying it were to dabble in FCPX and to use Autodesk Flame (not cheap at $4k per year per seat!) Also, BC in the new iMP isn't as seamless a user experience as other Macs IMO so I'm sticking with Win 10 Pro in Parallels so I can't advise you there, mainly because I also have a dedicated Dell laptop with a Xeon processor at my side when I need it. I don't foresee any major changes in the iMP any time soon - or any other Mac at this point; Windows laptops with 8th-gen CPUs are just coming out, and I'd offer a "wait" until at least that chip refresh comes out for Macs as well. Good luck!
     
  8. xyzy macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2018
    #8
    IMHO last BTO model is best for you, if you really need to develop serious games for macOS.
    • 3.0GHz 10-core Intel Xeon W processor, Turbo Boost up to 4.5GHz
    • 64GB 2666MHz DDR4 ECC memory
    • 2TB SSD
    • Radeon Pro Vega 64 with 16GB of HBM2 memory
    I'm very satisfied with exactly the same machine now (no more crashes since firmware/macOS beta update in February). 2TB storage is fine (1TB is too small and 4TB is disproportionately expensive).
     
  9. mvcoile macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2018
  10. HDFan macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2007
    #10

    They've already said that it will be 2019 for the modular Mac. The iMac Pro has only been out for 118 days. If it is refreshed at the same rate as the MacPro you'll likely have a long wait, based upon its release history with a 609 day average:


    https://buyersguide.macrumors.com/#Mac_Pro

    But it might follow the iMac release schedule, with a 309 day average:

    https://buyersguide.macrumors.com/#iMac

    So if history is your guide, the earliest you could expect something is:

    309 days (iMac average)
    -118 days (iMac Pro age)

    191 days - October 19, a Friday.

    But using history to predict what Apple is going to do isn't a great idea.
     
  11. campyguy, Apr 14, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2018

    campyguy macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2014
    Location:
    Portland / Seattle
    #11
    Soooo, something changed in the past few days for several 3d app users - in a good way. Including Maya. I'm not taking credit, however, several architects I know have been hammering on AMD for the past 2 years about better support. AMD went public with a new solution that I've got a chance to demo with Maya/Cinema 4D (Windows and macOS) and Solidworks (Windows) with AMD GPUs and the results are pretty awesome IMHO. I love my Quadro-based PCs, but I think AMD must have been working with several companies to get better AMD optimization - I think they've nailed it... With no extra cost.

    AMD ProRender

    I got the tip from a vendor yesterday, geeked out without any sleep overnight and wasn't able to break the plug-ins. Link embedded above. My iMP turned into a screamer with Maya. Color me impressed... It finally works as advertised IMHO.
     

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