iMac vs Mac Pro: workstation choice advice

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by doktormaster, Jan 7, 2016.

  1. doktormaster macrumors newbie


    Jan 7, 2016
    Dear all,
    I 've been reading lots of posts around here and this is finally my first one. Also, sorry in advance for my english. I will try to keep as short as possible because my choice is already being long...

    I need a new Mac workstation within the next 2 months, with a budget around 5k (in Euro).

    My main jobs are:
    • video work with AfterEffects (no 3D compositing, just video footage, compositions and effects)
    • 3D modeling with OSX Rhinoceros AND Win Rhinoceros with Grasshopper (which is not available for Mac yet and painfully single-threaded)
    • rendering of lots of high-res images with Keyshot (OSX again)
    • (slow) 3D video renderings with Cinema4D

    I would choose between a fully-specced iMac (i7 4GHz) OR a 6-core Mac Pro.
    I would take 32GB of ram and 1TB flash drive.

    My main doubts:
    • Which is faster with After Effects rendering? Would the double graphics card be a plus? I have a quite old video card now where Mercury Engine is just grayed out and I can't find real-life benchmarks comparing the machines. What should I expect?
    • Which one has better viewport performance in Cinema4D? Occasionally (but not rarely) I have very large scenes, taking 2+ Gigs of VRAM.
    • Also, dealing with large files, is the iMac's SSD faster in real life?
    • I have a big concern about heat and noise: my rendering sessions often last 3-4 hours. In this scenario, would the iMac throttle, becoming slower than the MP?
    • If I choose the Mac Pro, is there any OpenCL rendering engine I should spend my time learning? What about OpenCL VrayRT under Bootcamp?
    • How faster could the 2016 Mac Pro be?

    Thank you in advance!
  2. Strider64 macrumors 6502


    Dec 1, 2015
    Suburb of Detroit
    I'm more of a Web Designer/Developer, but I have dealt with After Effects in college. Myself I would go with the Mac Pro for the horse power and versatility is probably greater than an iMac. I personally went with a iMac for I do little video editing and fro what I do I just grab a drink from the fridge and wait until it finishes rendering. Just my .02 cents I'm sure someone who does heavy video work will probably give you a better answer/reason than I.
  3. fuchsdh macrumors 65816


    Jun 19, 2014
    With the caveat that at this point the next two months are a kind of cruddy time to consider either a Mac Pro or iMac (*hopefully* we're looking at six months for a long-overdue Mac Pro refresh, and the big Skylake update for the iMacs is still pending), I'd say that for your workload the Mac Pro is the better option.

    Doing work on 2008 and 2010 Mac Pros versus 2012 and 2013 iMacs, on very intensive and long renders the on-paper single-core and select multi-core benchmarks where the iMac stomps the new and old Pros didn't matter much in the real world. At a certain point they definitely cranked down a bit due to heat, and those old 8-core Mac Pros were beating out the iMac.

    At this point, After Effects is still pretty terrible for multicore rendering, but I'm hopeful that AE CC 2016 or whatever will finally make serious steps into fixing that, in which case those 12 threads on the Mac Pro will be more and more useful.

    No Adobe software makes use of the second GPU except in select tasks (and AE not at all for the most part) although again with their supposed focus on speed and rendering pipeline improvements to AE this might also improve. They support OpenCL in Premiere and if they update for Metal those AMD GPUs in the Mac Pro will definitely get a boost, so I think it's still a solid option.

    Depending on what you're coming from (like a SATAIII SSD) the PCIe SSDs are just blazing fast; I don't think you'll notice much of a difference between the Mac Pro's and the iMac's.

    The 2016 Mac Pro is of course still a theory, and I hate recommending waiting on mythical products with no firm release date, but presuming we get one the main benefits would probably be faster GPUs, possibly faster storage, possibly higher core counts (although I'm doubtful they'd drop in price), DDR4 RAM, and Thunderbolt 3.

    I haven't dealt much with third-party 3D renderers, so I can't give any recommendations on that.
  4. flat five, Jan 7, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2016

    flat five macrumors 603

    flat five

    Feb 6, 2007
    since yesterday :D

    Screen Shot 2016-01-07 at 7.54.13 PM.png

    ..pretty much the best thing that's happened to mac in about ... ever?
    ; )

    (it's borderline alpha version right now but so what.. it's here.. kinks should be ironed out over the next few months)

    if you're a licensed rhino for mac user, download the latest WIP (5C83w) ..there's a hidden command:
    ...which will launch grasshopper.
  5. bogg macrumors 6502


    Apr 12, 2005
    The iMac 5k with skylake 6700k seems to be a real stop-gap measure from apple to get at least one skylake computer on the market. I hope they plan a "real" release in may
  6. fuchsdh macrumors 65816


    Jun 19, 2014
    As do I. As I've said elsewhere, I think TB3 is enough of a thing to get Apple to update its entire line rather than let it languish, so I think another update of the Skylake models is possible this year (even if it's not much beyond infrastructure improvements rather than a new processor for those models.)
  7. thermodynamic Suspended


    May 3, 2009
    Mac Pro = desktop/workstation grade CPU and GPU.
    iMac = desktop CPU, notebook GPU.

    Xeon's added features won't add too much, unless your Mac Pro runs two Xeons in SMP.

    Regardless, After Effects will use GPU, so winner here = Mac Pro.

    Temperature - ambient:
    iMacs 2010 and newer in particular radiate a ton of heat. At college, I thought about bringing in a chicken to roast in front of it while I did my studies.

    Mac Pro = are you sitting 2 feet away from it? Probably not...

    Winner = Mac Pro.

    Temperature - internal processing:
    Both get near to 100C while heavy processing, and the thinner and more compact something is, the more heat generated cannot escape or dissipate. Pity Anandtech doesn't do internal temp readings anymore, but the last ones they benchmark did were recent enough and the pattern of new product compactness remains just as telling too -- they are not made to run cooler by any reasonable margin under load. Simple physics and I laugh at the adverts spouting how compact they are, though if one needs something compact for basic word processing and browsing then those and others are valid reasons not to make glib criticisms, but for performance and longevity for hefty applications these Macs are, sorry, not always the best designed.

    Winner = neither, TBH.

    Bonus: AppleCare might be warranted, but I suspect that even with that, the hardware will still need a little more than 3 years to show heat-related malfunctioning. Unless you're really pounding the thing constantly, at which point it becomes obvious to purchase it.

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