iMac Pro vs iMac 5k question.

Discussion in 'iMac' started by iNewbie, Jun 6, 2019.

  1. iNewbie macrumors regular

    Aug 25, 2006
    I'm looking to get a new computer from work. My Mac Pro 2013 is giving me some problems. Right now we're looking at the iMac's.

    I could get this :

    3.6GHz 8-core 9th-generation Intel Core i9 processor, Turbo Boost up to 5.0GHz
    64GB 2666MHz DDR4 Memory
    1TB SSD storage
    Radeon Pro Vega 48 with 8GB HBM2 memory

    OR some flavor of the iMac Pro. Not sure those specs yet.

    I'm mostly going to be going web development with it - Java, etc. VM's... But there will be Lightroom work and some Handbrake. I have 2 external DELL P2715Q to hookup and a thunderbolt Lacie 2big external drive. With only 2 USB-C ports on the iMac 5k I'm not sure the how to hook up 2 external monitors plus the Lacie. And I'd rather not fall back to USB 3.0 for the Lacie.

    I know the 5k has the newer chip and supports Quick Sync but the iMac Pro is more expandable, and has this T2 chip. Also I'm a little worried about the 5k fan and noise I believe the iMac Pro is quieter but maybe the 5k it's a problem.

    I've been starting to see some comparison videos and I'm not sure what to make of them. I'm not sure how to value T2 vs Quicksync for instance or extra ports vs latest chip etc... things like that.

    Any advice on the pros and cons would be appreciated. Ideally this will last another 5-6 years.

    If push comes to shove I could wait a bit also, but who knows when they will bump up the iMac Pro...

    Thank you
  2. codernova macrumors member


    May 13, 2019
    iMac Pro for better cooling under sustained/heavy use, T2 chip for security, ECC ram for reliability.

    If none of that is important to you, get the iMac 5k you listed, love mine. :)
  3. mountain_feeling macrumors newbie

    May 4, 2019
    Whatever you do, don't upgrade to 64 GB ram from apple. Save hundreds and buy the ram yourself.
  4. iNewbie thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 25, 2006
    This is being bought by my company so that's not an option. Whatever I get will be configured and shipped straight from Apple. If buying personally I totally agree with you.
    --- Post Merged, Jun 7, 2019 ---
    Does your fan kick in under heavy workloads? Handbrake use? Rendering videos? If so how loud does it get?
  5. Silencio macrumors 68020


    Jul 18, 2002
    The 5K iMac is more constrained on the Thunderbolt buses: it only has one bus for the two ports, whereas the iMac Pro has two buses covering the four ports. If you're looking to connect two 4K displays and a fast external drive, then you should gravitate towards the iMac Pro.

    The cooling system on the iMac Pro is vastly more capable than the iMac 5K. I haven't tested one under heavy load myself, but every anecdotal report I've seen indicates it stays quite quiet under sustained load, with minimal or no CPU throttling.

    For iMac Pro CPUs, I think the 10-core hits the sweet spot between single thread and multi-thread performance.
  6. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    You can daisy-chain a display off pretty much any Thunderbolt peripheral that has a second Thunderbolt port.

    Two USB-C to DisplayPort adapter cables.
    One goes straight to the iMac.
    The other goes into the second TB3 port on the back of the Lacie.

    You might want to double-check with someone else who has done it, but unless there's something seriously duff about the Lacie it should work. (If its an older TB2 Lacie then it should still work except you'd want a MiniDisplayPort cable instead of USB-C).

    iMac Pro is way overkill for web development and "some" Lightroom/Handbrake (esp. if its for 'web quality' work and not 4k/print quality) - in fact, the i9 will quite likely be faster at transcoding short MP4s than the iMac Pro (unless you go for 12+ cores the Xeon is more about stability and I/O bandwidth than processing speed).

    Frankly, don't tell whoever pays the bills, but the i5, hex core iMac would be more than adequate for what you want.
  7. iNewbie thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 25, 2006
    I get it's overkill, nicely that's not a problem in this particular case. I just have to live with which ever I pick for then next 5-6 years. Heck my 2013 Mac Pro is still decent except it's starting to cause some lockups here and there and I'm getting high temp warnings from the SSD.

    Ok so it's the better bus and expandability of the iMac Pro vs the better speed/chip of the new iMac 5k.

    Sure would be nice to know when they might bump up the iMac Pro. But I don't think I've seen any rumors with with the new Mac Pro coming out I kinda think it will be a while...
  8. codernova, Jun 7, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2019

    codernova macrumors member


    May 13, 2019
    Under heavy loads it will for sure kick in at an audible level. My Apple Watch says 40dB ambient (with cars going by, the A/C running, my cat wanting attention, etc. so pretty loud in here at the moment). Manually setting the fan to 2700rpm (max) at my ears my watch says 43dB, if I hold it near the bottom of my iMac where the noise is coming from it indicated 53dB.

    Edit: So far only gaming or stress testing has forced the fan to kick up the rpms, for my primary use (Logic Pro X), it's essentially silent. I can only hear the fan idling at 1200rpm very very late into the evening when there is zero other background noise, and it's not annoying.

    Edit 2: I can't answer the handbrake question or render question as I do neither. However, I'll say that if the rendering didn't take more than say 5 minutes, the fan would likely not turn on. The iMac innards have a bit of "heat sink" in the air and metals that can be absorbed before the fans seems to kick in.
  9. robgendreau macrumors 68040

    Jul 13, 2008
    I was researching this recently as well.

    First, note that in the US there was an iMac Pro in refurbs for $4200US. Note that the RAM is 32GB, 1TB SSD.

    Second, all the reviews I've seen of the iMac you're considering seem to show they've made a ton of progress on any fan noise issues. See eg . And there are other examples as well.

    Third, a nice thing about the iMac vs iMP is that you can buy and install third party RAM. And apparently that iMac can actually go up to 128GB. The i9 might actually be faster for some tasks, like in Lr, than the iMP.

    Fourth, but Thunderbolt. Only two ports on one bus on the iMac vs double on the iMP. Yes, you could use hubs or passthrough on some devices, but I think you'll have trouble doing that with two Dell monitors. Already some have issues just with cables from Thunderbolt 3 to DP for at least the 24" version of that 4k monitor (I don't think Apple adapters work, but some other non-Dell cables do—check Dell's forum). And I don't think one can daisy chain from one monitor to the other on macOS. Again, I know more about the p2415q version. But maybe an external hub would solve that problem; given the price difference might be worth it.

    Fifth, look at and other sources for info about the bump from the 580x to Vega 56 graphics. Not sure it gives that much bang for the buck, at least for Lr. Maybe in your line of work though. But check. Puget Systems has a bunch of tests on cards, and although they build PCs it's a good point of comparison.

    Good luck!
  10. iNewbie thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 25, 2006
    Ok well they're sending me an iMac Pro. Thanks for all the advice. I appreciate it!!

    • 3.2GHz 8-core Intel Xeon W processor, Turbo Boost up to 4.2GHz
    • 64GB 2666MHz DDR4 ECC memory
    • 1TB SSD storage
    • Radeon Pro Vega 64X with 16GB of HBM2 memory
  11. mmomega macrumors 68030


    Dec 30, 2009
    DFW, TX
    I went with the iMac Pro also.

    The 2019 I wanted spec'd to what I would buy was close to $4K.
    Went with a refurb iMac Pro 18Core with Veterans discount + Apple Care.

    I'm good if anything should go wrong through 2022 but definitely bet this machine will last well beyond.
    I'll gladly revise this thread if it doesn't.

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10 June 6, 2019