iMac or Mac Pro? Whats best for me? Graphic Designer

Discussion in 'iMac' started by ctross, Feb 21, 2014.

  1. ctross macrumors newbie

    Jun 10, 2010
    Alright finally saved enough money to replace my macbook pro from early 2007 (2.4gz Intel Core 2 Duo, 4GB 667mz DDR2 SDRAM, 160GB 7200rpm hard drive, NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT 256 MB)
    currently running Mavericks.

    I have fallen so behind on computer technology I'm not really sure what I NEED.

    I've saved $5000, but dont want to spend it all if I dont have to. What I want is all my daily tasks to just be quick. I do graphic design, photography, and film editing and waiting is the thing that kills me the most. Also, I want to "future proof" myself for at least another 4 years assuming my work remains the same below, so take that into consideration.

    Typical tasks that are kiling me right now.

    -Large format print documents in Photoshop CS6 (300 ppi, 100''x40'') the program all but shuts down on me.

    -Editing 1080p (4k soon im sure :( ) video in Premier Pro & After Effects CS6 (Scrubbing is a joke, RAM previews take way too long, and can generally only preview once when the program opens, once I start working, my RAM seems to disappear. Also, would love to be able to render films faster, but not nessacary as I usually lets this happen while I sleep anyways.)

    -Movie format conversions (again, just take forever)

    Overall, I use quite a few of the CS6 programs and dont want them lagging AT ALL.

    Will a current gen. iMac (3.5 i7, 32GB RAM, 3TB fusion drive, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M 4GB GDDR5) cut it for a while? and are there any known issues I should take into consideration with this generation? (image retention, screen issues, etc.?)

    Or should I go with Mac Pro, and can you reccomend specs for me?

    I appreciate the wisom of hese forums so much, thank you all!
  2. klukkluk macrumors newbie

    Jan 11, 2013
    I would choose a 27" 2013 iMac from the refurbished store, with 3 years Apple Care. No 4GB graphic card, if you're not gaming.
    Buy aftermarket memory and fill the iMac up to 32GB. Maybe buy an extra usb 3.0 (superspeed) drive for backup and or external storage.

    Spent the rest of the money on a nice vacation! :D
  3. ctross thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 10, 2010
    I like the way you think! I will definetly get the RAM aftermarket, just want to make sure that the processer will be fast enough & for some reason thought Mavericks made the GPU's more able to take advantage of certain tasks that might be used in design and editing programs. No?
  4. klukkluk macrumors newbie

    Jan 11, 2013
    I don't think you will find any benefit using your Adobe suite with the nMP.
    Maybe the nMP is better for your video editing. But I doubt it will be a big difference vs the iMac.
    If you already have a GOOD monitor, I would consider the nMP. But I would be swayed by white sandy beaches.

    Anyway. Where you come from, both iMac and nMP will be unbelievably fast!

    Enjoy your holiday :)
  5. Truthfulie macrumors regular

    Dec 18, 2013
    You may (or may not) see the difference in editing videos depending on which GPU option you go with for nMP, but I don't think extra performance will be enough to justify the extra cost since you aren't a video editor but a graphic designer as you put it.

    iMac would probably be sufficient enough for what you are doing. But with that said, I would warn you about iMac's display. While it's great when you get a flawless unit, It's been noted by many that most of them have yellow tint issue towards the bottom half of the display. I've heard people going through 3,4 or even 5 units before settling or simply giving up on getting a unit without the tint. I personally have went through this and simply gave up due to getting them replaced took at least two weeks at a time. (I don't have enough budget to order two at a time, so I had to wait for my return to be processed and re-order, and repeat. It drove me crazy.) So in the end, if you need (and I am pretty sure you will) perfect display, going with nMP might just be worth it. I am also a designer, but it drives me crazy during my work. I try to block it out of my brain when I am not working.

    As for future proofing the system...(I'm sure you know, but there isn't such thing as future proofing by the way) If you go with an iMac, it probably won't see any major update until mid or late 2015 or even early 2016 when Skylake chipset hits the market with DDR4 RAM and hopefully higher PPI display.

    If you do go with nMP, you are looking at DDR4 sometime late this year when Haswell-E platform launches. Choice is yours, but I'd go with an iMac with plan of replacing in about two or three years depending on when Skylake comes.
  6. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    No. I've tried to get this across to as many people as possible. There are no libraries that allow fully transparent leveraging of the gpu. It comes down to specific parts of specific applications. The developers will indicate if something takes advantage of a gpu framework and what frameworks are in fact supported. I think Premiere may have added OpenCL support, but you would have to check. After Effects uses OpenGL for a few things. Its raytracer uses CUDA. If you don't use the raytracer, that part is irrelevant. Mavericks added OpenCL support to HD 4000 graphics found in the Mac Mini and 2012 macbook pros. As for core 2 duo hardware, anything from the current generation will be an enormous step up. You are doubling the cpu cores with faster cores. Any imac gpu should be an improvement as well. The 780m may be several times faster.

    The nature of your problems suggest ram, although you should keep an eye on activity monitor to see if the cpu is also saturated. 4GB is absolutely awful for that list. I suspect you'll see a significant difference no matter what hardware you choose. As for ram, I would probably buy a 2 x 8GB kit. Install that along with the base amount. I don't think there are any problems with installing different sizes on that. Note that it uses sodimms, not standard dimms. That puts you at 20GB. If you still find yourself running low, replace the other two. That applies to either the mac pro or imac.
  7. ctross thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 10, 2010
    Sounds like the iMac is right for me at the moment, although I was worried it was this gen. I have read display issues about.

    I know anything will be a step up and I cant future proof, just would like the machine I buy to be able to handle 1080p editing with ease. As I havent upgrade in quite a while or even used a newer computer for work, I'm just so lost on what will do the job here. While I primarily work in graphics, video work is becoming more prominent by the week.

    I've always known the amount of RAM I have has been horrible, and my processer is def. over saturated as well. Also, great to know about the GPU's!

    Thanks again for all the input!
  8. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Apr 23, 2011
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    There isn't any problem with installing different-sized chips, but the sticks won't be able to operate in dual-channel.

    I only install RAM in 2^x configurations (8GB, 16, 32, 64....etc)
  9. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Apr 23, 2011
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    On second thoughts, maybe you may want to consider a small internal SSD and invest in external storage instead. This way, you get pure speed.

    The 128GB SSD in the Fusion drive is a joke, it's way slower than a pure SSD. Even if the 128GB SSD was operating in a pure SSD environment (I tested it with a 13" base rMBP that had a 128GB SSD), it's nowhere near the 256GB's performance. 512GB performs better in writes though (at around 700+ MB/s)

    Besides, as the Fusion has a HDD sector, it's about as reliable as a regular HDD too. When the HDD breaks down, the entire Fusion goes kaput (it can't work off the SSD sector only).

    SSDs may have limited lifespan, but they'll far outlive the computer itself. As the PCIe SSDs in Macs are based on the Samsung XP941 (which uses MLC NAND like the 840 Pro), the drive can last under heavy use for at least 6-7 years.

    I've uploaded a shot of a 256GB SSD in my 21.5" iMac.

    Fusion read/writes are normally 500MB/s / 350MB/s respectively, on average.

    Attached Files:

  10. torana355 macrumors 68030

    Dec 8, 2009
    Sydney, Australia
    Get the imac, it not even close. The nMP is way overkill. The design house in my print company all use 2012 imacs with the 500gb SSD's and 680mx, they do the job and some.
  11. accountforit macrumors 6502a

    Jan 22, 2014
    You will read about display issues with every generation, and every Mac computer Apple makes. This yellow tint thing has been going for 5+ years now.
  12. joema2, Feb 22, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2014

    joema2 macrumors 65816


    Sep 3, 2013
    I do professional 1080p video editing using CS6 on Windows and FCP X on an iMac. My iMac is the same spec you mentioned. It is very fast -- significantly faster at most things than my custom-built, overclocked Windows PC with 4Ghz i7-875K, 10k rpm system drive, RAID 0 data drive and 2GB GTX-660.

    For a few commonly-used video formats, the iMac's Haswell CPU has a huge advantage over older i7 and Xeon-base CPUs. It has Quick Sync which is a hardware transcoder for single-pass H.264 and MPEG-2. For these formats it can be over 5x faster in final export or transcoding. However your software must use Quick Sync. CS6 does not but FCP X and Handbrake do. There are some 3rd-party add-ons which supposedly let CS6 use Quick Sync, but I haven't tested them. Most are Windows-based, but there may be some Mac versions. I don't know if CC uses Quick Sync -- you'll have to investigate.

    You will be very happy with the iMac you spec'd. It is much faster than your old system. The only *possible* change you *might* consider -- as yjchua95 said -- is SSD.

    In general video editing is not I/O-bound, especially with recent high-compression codecs. It is CPU-bound. Fusion Drive has plenty of speed for this. But there's no question SSD is more consistently fast for I/O bound operations. Whether you need that vs the storage capacity is your choice. It's not about producing the highest disk benchmark number -- it's whether your disk is fast enough to not impede your work.

    You don't want to get a small SSD then have to use slow external drives because your internal storage was so small. That's no faster overall than FD, and may be slower. Moving files back and forth between internal and external storage is also a hassle.

    That said, if you now or ever plan on using a Thunderbolt RAID array, then a smaller SSD might be a good option. In my case I use the 8TB Promise Pegasus R4, so I really could have used a 256GB SSD iMac. However the 3TB FD is still quite fast and saves me the hassle of running out of internal storage.

    Another suggestion: for external storage use only the fastest available USB 3 drives (or Thunderbolt). Your old Mac did not support USB 3, and you may have some USB 2 thumb drives and portable drives laying around -- do not use them. The performance difference between the slowest USB 2 storage and the fastest USB 3 storage is gigantic. I have a new Lexar Triton USB 3 thumb drive which I tested at 35 times faster than an old USB 2 thumb drive.

    There is one bus-powered 7200 rpm USB 3 drive, the 1TB Hitachi Touro Mobile Pro. It is pretty fast, but I still wouldn't edit off it. They are good for archiving projects, and moving data around.
  13. iMcLovin macrumors 68000


    Feb 11, 2009
    THere is absolutely nothing to gain from spending all that money on a nMP if you are a graphic designer. Especially if Adobe is your main software package. None of Adobes programs hardly use any of modern technology hardware such as multiple cpu cores or two GPU´s. Which means 90% of your nMP would sit in idle mode.

    Also, if you are a graphic designer, you dont need powerful hardware of todays standards. I have a late imac 2012 maxed out. For graphic design the machine doesn´t even need to sweat. I can sit with images of hundreds of layers and a size of 20k pixels and the machine won´t even break a sweat.

    If you are working with motion graphics and 3d on the other hand, you would of course want the best hardware you can buy, always. Though, you need to make sure the programs actually take advantage of all that cores and power.
    If Final Cut Pro is your main tool, then Mac Pro is awesome.
    If After effects is your tool.....getting the MOST expensive BTO Mac Pro that cost about 10k$ will actually perform WORSE than a maxed out imac...even if you pay 3-4x the amount.

    That´s worth thinking about before you pay out all those cash.
    ANd btw, I work professionally as a illustrator and Motion graphic designer. And my iMac performs really well and the monitor is awesome.
  14. theSeb macrumors 604


    Aug 10, 2010
    Poole, England

    Last time I read that's because of a bug in After effects and not because of the imac's awesomeness.
  15. Susansmac macrumors newbie

    Feb 19, 2014
    I'm also a graphic designer trying to decide on an iMac. I was planning on a fusion drive, but others seem to be pushing the flash drive, I am having a hard time deciding what would be best for my design needs (print and web only--no video or 3d rendering--and no gaming). I have a tight budget so I can't get much space if I go with the flash. Not sure if the small flash drive would be fine with an external. I'm also concerned about the fusion not being fast enough, or for my usage would it would be perfect. Can you help clarify?
  16. fig macrumors 6502a


    Jun 13, 2012
    Austin, TX
    Just mentioned on the other thread, but the Fusion drive is very usable for design work. I wanted the benefit of the SSD while keeping the storage capacity of a traditional drive and I've got no regrets.
  17. iMcLovin macrumors 68000


    Feb 11, 2009
    That is wrong. the reason is that After Effects isn´t mutlithreading. After Effects usues one 1 core, except for when rendering.

    iMac top model, has 4 cores up to 3.9 GHz per core. BUT, after effects uses only one of that. So, that means you have 1 core with 3.9 GHz active while working. if you buy the top cpu for the Mac Pro of 3.000$, you get 12 cores of 2.7 GHz per core...which would be great if the program actually uses all the cores. But since AE still only use one, you end up with 11 cores in idle and 1 core of 2.7 running instead of the 3.9 that the iMac has. So in fact lower performance for an extremely expensive cpu. This is why you MUST make sure the tools you are using actually benefit from the stuff you pay for.
    There are rumors that Adobe will change this, but it hasnt happened for all the years we had multicore so far, so don´t get your hopes up and don´t buy a machine for that.


    If you are going to buy ram from APple, I would not do that and spend those money on a SSD. I have 768 GB of SSD and I love it. Its super fast and responsive. You will get somewhat the same result with a fusion drive, but if you can at least afford a 512 SSD and have an external drive for mass storage I think its a better option. (i wouldnt buy the 256, since the imac cant easily be opened) But of course its not a must. The fusion drive will make sure to keep the os and frequently used softwares on the SSD and you will get a responsive system. the most negative reason for me not to buy a fusion is that you have two drives fuzed together, one optical and one static, and both can crash. If one crash you are doomed on both. But its not a bad package, and MOST pc builders today have a small SSD which they keep the OS and software on. Keeping all your work on an SSD as well, is a luxury situation most people really don´t need - but its nice :)
  18. joema2 macrumors 65816


    Sep 3, 2013
    Fusion Drive is plenty fast enough for graphic design work and HD video editing. It is generally much faster than a pure HDD, which people did OK with for years. I recently edited a large high-def video on a 2011 iMac with HDD (no SSD, no FD) and even that was usable, although I'd have preferred more disk speed.

    There's no question SSD is consistently faster than FD, especially on write speed. FD is not slow, but SSD is faster. But consider this:

    (1) You don't care how high some artificial benchmark is. This is not the benchmark olympics -- you are trying to get a job done. If the performance difference between FD and SSD is not readily apparent in your normal workflow, then it has no practical difference.

    (2) Given a limited budget, you may not be able to afford a high-capacity SSD or it may not be big enough.

    (3) If the limited size SSD you can afford forces you to purchase and use slower external HDDs in your main workflow, this could be slower overall. The management hassle of identifying what files are on what drive, what % of use each file gets, and constantly moving them back and forth introduces workload and possibility of error. Typical bus-powered USB 3.0 drives are about 1/3 to 1/6th the performance of FD, and about 1/6th to 1/10th the performance of SSD. AC-powered external single-spindle drives are faster, but still significantly slower than FD.

    If you can afford it and it meets your space requirements, SSD is the best. It is fastest, and likely more reliable than FD (although both can fail and backups are needed in both cases). If you need even more space and have the money, get a Thunderbolt RAID array.

    Given a limited budget, FD gives significantly more performance then a HDD, and in some cases approaching a SSD. It also gives much more storage per dollar.
  19. fig macrumors 6502a


    Jun 13, 2012
    Austin, TX
    I figure that in a few years, when I'd normally be replacing a drive anyway, SSD will be more than cheap enough for me to go to a bigger capacity drive.
  20. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    When it comes to the ability to work on things without lag, you'll probably get the most value from ram, especially with the 27" where it is user serviceable. For your uses a mini + a nice display is also a viable option. There are a few great display options on the market.
  21. FlyLight macrumors newbie

    Jan 28, 2014
    iMac display

    Thought I'd chime in with my thoughts.

    I'm a photographer / graphic designer / pre-press manager for a high-end niche magazine. I have a 2009 iMac 27" (glossy screen) which is great, but I couldn't get the colour accurate enough for our standards (too rich and saturated to match print output) so we got an Eizo 22" which can be manually calibrated (eye-one) to match our print exactly (and I mean EXACT!)

    It works perfectly: I do most of my layout and web-based stuff on the iMac screen, and use the Eizo for colour pre-press and colour-critical design work (like setting colours for cover banners etc).

    Love the set-up.

    My 09 machine has 2.8 i7 and 16GB with 1.5TB HDD and handles everything ok. Don't do video stuff often so not much I can offer there, but I'm sure the new iMac will be far better.

Share This Page