iMac Pro / iMac i9.... Can't decide

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Craigy, May 7, 2019.

  1. Craigy macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2003
    Location:
    New Zealand
    #1
    Wondered if there are any iMac Pro users out there who went through a similar thought process trying to decide on which to get.

    So so background... Here's my main day to day uses / tasks-

    - FCPX / Compressor: TV / Film and Web delivery (2k delivery mostly but shoot in 10bit 4k - though moving to 4K soon is inevitable.)
    - Adobe suite - but mainly PS / AI / AU / ID
    - Logic Pro X - For scoring and some audio post for larger TV / Film stuff
    - RX7 Audio suite
    - Resolve / Fusion
    - I do all kinds of other print / web / digital content on a daily basis too

    My main machine at the moment (Please don't laugh!) - is a 2012 cMBP with a couple of SSDs in it. Amazed it still holding up

    So my thinking is this:

    iMac
    i9 / 40GB Ram / 1TB SSD / Vega 48

    Pros:
    - Price
    - Cheaper memory upgrade

    Cons:
    - 1 Thunderbolt Lane
    - Non EEC memory
    - Slow'ish USB3
    - No 1000 gigabit ethernet option
    - Possibly noisier and hotter than the iMac Pro

    Price in NZ going to be about $4500 NZD

    iMac Pro
    8 Core / 32GB RAM / 1TB SSD / VEGA 56

    Pros:
    - 2 Thunderbolt lanes
    - 1000 gigabit ethernet
    - EEC Memory
    - Quieter and Cooler

    Cons:
    - Price. I could put the difference towards a new MBP
    - Comes with 32GB EEC but upgrading is going to be expensive

    Price is going to cost over $8,200 here in NZ - Shame there is no refurb / discounted options in NZ easily available.

    Summary:

    Going to setting this up in a studio on a network eventually with a 1000gb Ethernet NAS etc. Currently use Samsung T5's as video project / scratch disks.

    Not really concerned about the cost as this is a work machine that pays for itself quite quickly. What I'm hesitant about / are curious about is:

    - Getting the cheaper iMac option will still be a massive performance increase over my current set up - and that would enable me to have some more funds to go towards a new MBP or even a new Mac Pro when they are released

    - I've had Mac Pros in the past and love the stability / longevity of performance - But I'm curious to see what experiences people in a similar situation have had working with the new iMac Pros

    - There may be a new iMac Pro shortly? - But I guess there won't be a massive performance gain in the next gen iMac Pro? - If they are likely to be similar in performance, then I would be less hesitant on pulling the plug on one now.

    I've not discounted the Mac Mini at the moment either.

    If the new iMac had 4 thunderbolt ports I wouldn't hesitate, but because I may add an eGPU fairly soon to the setup - together with some thunderbolt storage, I'm not sure a single lane on the new iMacs would cut-it. Anyone on a new iMac run an eGPU / Thunderbolt storage.

    Would love to know your thoughts before I place an order later this week.
     
  2. rob97ag macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2019
    #2
    Interested to hear feedback on this. I have an I9 w/ 2TB SSD and Vega the that just arrived, but keep thinking about a refurb Pro for ~$700 more. The main thing that worries me are the comments here on the T2 chip.
     
  3. Craigy thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Jan 14, 2003
    Location:
    New Zealand
    #3
    Shame it's not a $700 USD difference here in NZ :)
     
  4. Craigy thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #4
    Yep the immaturity of the T2 is a concern. Especially as I do some audio post production work and there seems to be issues with that at times. Maybe I just grab the iMac now and consider a new Mac Pro later in the year. Anything will be an improvement on a 2012 cMBP :)
     
  5. mattmower, May 8, 2019
    Last edited: May 8, 2019

    mattmower macrumors member

    mattmower

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2010
    Location:
    Berkshire, UK
    #5
    I'm on the horns of the same dilemma. Looking to replace a troublesome 2016 13" MBP (today the 4 key only responds to extreme pressure).

    The most intensive tasks I do are development work, running a custom application of my own, and audio production. From this perspective, the single-core performance of the i9 iMac is very attractive although I am concerned about thermals and noise. Then again there's that single Thunderbolt lane as I seem to have accumulated quite a few external devices). And I'd be more convinced that a VEGA64 would meet my modest gaming needs than a VEGA48.

    i9 iMac, 32GB, VEGA48, 1TB SSD => £4,004.

    The iMP has a lot of positives in terms of ports and thermals/noise. But I'd need to go 10-core to approach the single core performance of the i9 iMac. Then again there's the damn T2 chip. I've seen enough reports of Bridge OS crashes and audio glitching in these forums to concern me. We're talking about a £6+k investment. For that, I want stable 24/7 performance like I used to expect from Macs. A small point is whether the iMP is due for a proper update soon… buyers guide lists it as mid-cycle despite the CPU bump and graphics option earlier this year.

    10-core iMP, 32GB, VEGA64X, 1TB SSD => £6,249

    I'm waiting to see what is announced at WWDC then will take the plunge. At the moment I'd probably lean towards the 10-core iMP and cross my fingers.
     
  6. Craigy thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2003
    Location:
    New Zealand
    #6
    Hey Matt - yeah - similar boat. I guess we're fortunate in some ways with the dilemma as these are business tools and the payback time would be within a few weeks on paid jobs.

    I might pull the plug on the i9 Vega 48 and put the savings towards a new Mac Pro / iMP next gen. Though my workflow like yours is becoming more thunderbolt driven.... so 2 lanes vs 1 is the main issue for me - though I guess my Samsung T5s have been adequate at the moment.

    To be honest - if I go for the iMac I may be tempted to get the Dremel out and connect the spare internal SATA post to an external connector – I think SATA 6 is around 750MB/s so that would be a good option to serve a quick video scratch raid without clogging up a thunderbolt lane - leaving it free for an eGPU. Drastic - but an option.
     
  7. joema2 macrumors 68000

    joema2

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2013
    #7
    I have a 10-core Vega64 iMac Pro and a top-sec 2017 iMac, which I use daily for FCPX video editing and audio work with RX7 Advanced. I also use the latest Premiere Pro, just not as much.

    In general I'd recommend the iMac over the iMP for your application and given the NZ price difference. I like my iMP but it's not worth a nearly 2x price difference vs the i9 iMac.

    Premiere is especially sluggish when handling 4k H264 codecs. Recent versions use Quick Sync for export but apparently not for decoding. So it exports faster than previous versions but timeline performance is still laggy and sluggish, esp. if using JKL keys. Supposedly Adobe is working on performance improvements for this, timeframe unknown. If/when this ever materializes, I'd be more confident it will work better on a regular iMac than an iMP which uses the T2 or AMD's UVD/VCE for transcoding acceleration.

    When you get a 10 gig Ethernet NAS, you could use a TB3-to-10 gig adapter. Admittedly the iMac only has a single T3 bus but this will still work: https://eshop.macsales.com/item/OWC/TB3ADP10GBE/
     
  8. nerdynerdynerdy macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2007
    #8
    @joema2 are you aware of a performance penalty for doing it this way?

    I'm tempted to run a Synology NAS with 10g ethernet for my next suite so I can have the drives further away from the machine. My current lacie 8big is relatively noisy. I figured using something like the Akitio Thunder 3 means you get 10g ethernet as well as leaving the regular ethernet port available. Long thunderbolt 2 cables are very expensive, and in t3 don't seem to exist?


    To the OP, I just went through the same dilemma (although I edit with Avid); I was deciding between a 10core/64X or the I9/48 - ultimately I chose the $3k saving which will pay for a whole lot of storage, or to fund the upcoming Mac Pro if I like the look of it.

    A lot of people on this forum bang on about needing maximum performance 24/7, when realistically most of our post production day is made making creative decisions, and generally pushing the machine happens at render or delivery time.

    We've all been dealing with this aspect of post for decades now, and realistically a few minutes here or there is probably not going to derail a project.

    I think spending the money on a second machine will ultimately be more productive than a single one that renders a little quicker.
     
  9. joema2 macrumors 68000

    joema2

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2013
    #9
    This is correct, but -- if most of the production day scrubbing through material, making edits, etc, then timeline performance is critical. The OP mentioned shooting 10-bit 4k (I assume H264), which can be difficult to edit smoothly on any machine using any NLE, unless proxies are used. But some NLEs are better than others on 4k H264 -- FCPX and Resolve 15 are pretty fast, Premiere is quite slow.

    You pay the render/export price fairly infrequently, but you pay the timeline performance price constantly. Unfortunately there is no specific machine or NLE that makes this go away, but Premiere is pretty slow on this phase.

    But somehow the OP is getting this done on a 2012 cMBP, so either i9 iMac or iMP will be vastly faster.

    I totally agree. It's not even clear the iMP would be any faster at all. In fact my 2017 i7 iMac is a little smoother on some 4k H264 codecs than my 10-core iMP. The i9 iMac could enable the OP to get a 2nd machine, or additional storage, or just save the money for a later need.
     
  10. nerdynerdynerdy macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2007
    #10
    For sure. My guess would be if the OP's shooting 10bit 4k they aren't turning things around on a news deadline.

    There's a lot to like about the proxy workflow in my view, even if the machine could theoretically scrub at full res.

    Not sure about FCP and Premiere, but on Avid relinking your sequence from proxies to original media takes seconds, so it's really just the transcode at the beginning that takes a little time, and for us that's largely done at the end of the day before I head home.
     
  11. Wuiffi macrumors 6502a

    Wuiffi

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2011
    #11
    Check out this comparison. It's about FCPX, Davinci Resolve and Premiere Editing and compares the iMac Pro and the i9 model:

    Personally I think the i9 version is the much better machine for it's price, but since you can utilize things like the 1000 gigabit ethernet, the iMac Pro might just be the way to go, just to get the best performance and never look back and wonder why you went the cheap route.
     
  12. xgman macrumors 601

    xgman

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2007
    #12
    If Apple demos the mac pro next month it might be interesting to see what they have up their sleeve if you can wait. I made the 10 core move from the top end 2017 imac for audio production and it has worked out well in comparison with fewer bottlenecks. I disable most of the T2 security features to all but eliminate any T2 issues. But still, T2 is of some concern overall. I assume the MP will also have a T2, but maybe/hopefully a more mature version of the bridge os.
     
  13. messiry macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2013
    #13
    So I went through this dilemma too. I ended up with 10 core vega64x 64G RAM, here are my reasons
    1- T2 security features which is important imho, but T2 does more than that with H265 decoding so it worth the investment if you are doing some drone videos such mavic 2 pro.
    2- I want the AIO design to simplify my setup on my desk, so iMP was the best to go for such design
    3- Vega 64x gives you quite good headroom for the next 3/4 years
    4- cooling system is superior on iMP if you do long render jobs and other cpu/gpu intensive jobs
    5- faster SSD, 1tb comes by default
    6- 4 tb3 ports, I have many devices connected on tb3 and 4 ports are very welcomed.
    7- 10gbps port without losing extra tb ports
    8- and it sounds significantly lower than the other iMac’s
    9- you get higher cash memory on 10 core Xeon than i9, application performance should be better under heavy load.
    10- oh remember that apple is benchmarking the pro apps on their pro line of products...
    11- finally if you use any higher resolution than 4K (stock fottage, etc) its smoother on iMP

    I use FCPX, comperssor, Logic Pro with UAD arrow plugins, parallels, PS, LR, AE and AI all running and at same time i have safari and chrome running too. The iMP is running smooth like butter with all this apps running almost all time in background. My vote to iMP if you like the AIO design and dont want to run separate machine + monitor setup.

    I am sure the new MP would be faster, but i can live with extra 2 min for the sake of the AIO simplicity.

    I just want to add, there is no right or wrong answer, there is always what you prefer and can afford...
     
  14. nerdynerdynerdy macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2007
    #14
    Good feedback.

    I'm still keen to know if anybody has tested whether 10g ethernet through a thunderbolt 3 adaptor comes with a performance penalty.
     
  15. mattmower macrumors member

    mattmower

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2010
    Location:
    Berkshire, UK
    #15
    I've just spent some time in the 137 page long MBP T2 crash thread (with iMP & mini owners also relating their own tales of woe). I just wish there was some way to get a sense of how prevalent these issues are in the general owner population. Or that Apple was not completely ignoring it.
     
  16. Craigy, May 9, 2019
    Last edited: May 9, 2019

    Craigy thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Jan 14, 2003
    Location:
    New Zealand
    #16
    Yep - I have to pinch myself that this thing is still going! :)

    I shoot 10bit and do proxies on it and render out overnight - but not cutting it for deadlines any more. Amazing what you can churn out on those machines - still.
    --- Post Merged, May 9, 2019 ---
    Thanks for all the feedback folks - what a great community.

    I think I'm going to go with the i9 iMac with the Vega 48 and 1TB and pop another 32GB in there from crucial. The iMac with the extra RAM from crucial is going to come in at around $5,800 NZD and the iMac Pro at $8,500. So about $2700 more for the iMac Pro. The T2 is also making me a little nervous for audio work at the moment too.

    Shame the iMac didn't have a 10 GBe BTO option. Then it would have probably been a no brainer.

    --- Post Merged, May 9, 2019 ---
    Just out of curiosity - trying to see if the 1TB SSD is faster than the 512? If there's no speed difference, I'll go with the 512 for now.
     
  17. Ifti, May 9, 2019
    Last edited: May 10, 2019

    Ifti macrumors 68020

    Ifti

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2010
    Location:
    UK
    #17
    If the i9 iMac came with dual channel TB3 (4 ports) and 10GBe I would have been all over it.

    The iMac Pro is perfect for me with regards to ports - I have a 10GBe network at home and all my drives are TB3 now, but I just cant justify the cost at the moment!

    Why the iMac didn't at least get 10GBe is beyond me, even as a BTO option - especially when the Mac Mini has adopted it!

    Guess I'll wait another year to see if a redesign finally happens, and we get the ports Im after......
     
  18. mattmower macrumors member

    mattmower

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    Aug 12, 2010
    Location:
    Berkshire, UK
    #18
    This seems like a reasonable decision. It’ll either cut it for you or at least do better while something new comes over the horizon and I presume it will hold a large chunk of its resale value for at least a year.

    m@
     
  19. Craigy thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #19
    Anyone got any info on the read / write differences between the 512 and 1TB NVMe options?
     
  20. bondavi macrumors newbie

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    Sacramento, CA
    #20
    I have the 512 and it does well
     

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  21. Craigy thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #21
    Thanks pal. Wonder if the 1TB is faster? - I know they are supposed to get faster the larger capacity they are - But that looks plenty quick enough for me :)
     
  22. bondavi macrumors newbie

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  23. Craigy thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Jan 14, 2003
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    #23
    ^ This :)

    Thank you!. Not much difference between the 512 and the 1TB / 2TB it seems - so perfect, hitting the order button now!
    Thanks everyone for your input - really appreciated.
     
  24. mikehalloran, May 9, 2019
    Last edited: May 9, 2019

    mikehalloran macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2018
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    #24
    First off, if you're not in a hurry, pay attention to this thread.
    https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/i-now-have-an-imac-pro-and-maxed-out-2019-imac-ama.2180758/

    Not how things work. Really, they don't. Tests without real world tasks are meaningless. If an app uses multiple cores and the task is large enough, no single core example will be faster.

    Scroll down and look at the performance differences of some apps among various Macs.
    https://www.apple.com/imac-pro/


    The T2 issue that plagued audio interface users (USB 2 interfaces and only certain brands at that) appears to have been solved by Mojave 10.14.4. Anyone notice how few BTO iMac Pros are in the Refurb Store since that happened (ok, today there are a bunch but that's rare)? The $4,249 base model is Apple's way of lowering the price—if they were actual refurbs, Apple would run out now and then (they never do).
     
  25. Craigy thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #25

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