iMac vs Mac Pro

Discussion in 'iMac' started by mawyatt1, Aug 8, 2014.

  1. mawyatt1 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2014
    Location:
    Clearwater, Fl
    #1
    Hello,

    I am considering an iMac or Mac Pro and wanted some expert opinions regarding performance and upgrades. My main work load now is Photoshop CS6, LightRoom 4, and Zerene stacker (focus stacking program). I routinely stack as many as 500 images from a Nikon D800E and process the final stacked images in CS6 and/or LR. I am considering moving to the Adobe CC for the latest PS and LR updates.

    Does the new Adobe CC take advantage of the new iMac and Mac Pro CPU and GPU? Does Haswell make any difference in PS and LR, and does i5 or i7 CPU? I know the new iMac have improved CPU and GPU as well as other features, but do these improvements show up in improved work performance?

    What are the expert opinions on the Fusion drives? Are they really useful, I have read many conflicting reports/reviews on them. Does it make sense to get the iMac with just the 1TB HD and create your own Fusion by adding a third party (Samsung) SSD, maybe with a bigger SSD than 128G, or just pay the Apple base price? I am an EE and just upgraded my MBPr with the Transcend 720 SSD, so taking things apart and adding a SSD and more RAM doesn't bother me.

    Some reviews of the Mac Pro don't show much improvement over the iMac when doing PS related work, but some pro reviews recommend a 6 processor version & expanded SSD? Again seems like conflicting reports/reviews on the Mac Pro.

    I am sure the Mac Pro would be the pure technical Mac of choice, with the Xeon CPUs, new high speed SSD interface, dual GPUs, higher speed/amount RAM and so on, but not yet convinced it's the best overall value for the kind of work flow I am involved with. But at the same time looking into the future, this is certainly a jump forward, and one wouldn't be limited in hardware performance for some time.

    At present I have 2 Thunderbolt LaCie 2Big 4TB RAID drives, a 3TB network drive and a 3TB Time Machine FireWire HD, so external HD space/backup should be OK for both the iMac and Mac Pro. I also have the Thunderbolt Display, which would service the Mac Pro and act as a second monitor for the iMac.

    Hopefully others have similar questions and this thread may help them.

    Much appreciate your views and thoughts on these questions,

    Cheers,

    Mike
     
  2. boast macrumors 65816

    boast

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2007
    Location:
    Phoenix
    #2
    I am an EE too, but looking at the iMac upgrade videos,no way I would do that (at least not on a new machine until years later when im more apathetic).

    If youre considering the top end i7 iMac vs base entry Mac Pro, the iMac is the better choice.
     
  3. robgendreau macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2008
    #3
    You could look at this guide:

    http://macperformanceguide.com/index_topics.html#MacPro2013

    There's a MBP thrown in the comparison which would give you some point of comparison.

    The nMP would be faster for most stuff, but whether that would be good value for you is hard to tell. In general a faster processor will help with generating previews and filters, but if you're doing something very specific very often then perhaps inquire of other people who are using the nMP with that process (the stacking).

    An SSD is great. Fusion works well enough for most people, but all things considered, and if I wasn't pushed for storage space, I'd get the biggest SSD I could afford. The technical aspects of a DIY upgrade of storage on the iMac isn't the obstacle, it's the fiddly bits and detail work required. Maybe even a mini might better serve, since you've got a monitor. Maybe not as fast processor wise, but cheaper in case you need to upgrade down the line.

    Rob
     
  4. mawyatt1 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2014
    Location:
    Clearwater, Fl
    #4
    I looked at the mini but shied away due to the 16GB limit on RAM. I have MBPr now with 8GB memory which I got in 2012 when I jumped ship from Windows. Not happy with Apple utilizing solder in RAM. Had I known at the time I would have got 16GB, I get lots of page outs with MBPr which is why I am looking, figuring that the 16GB limit will soon show up in my work flow.

    Best,

    Mike
     
  5. ashman70 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2010
    #5
    Both the iMac and nMP have their limitations however I would try to determine through research whether or not the added CPU horsepower in the nMP will be worth the money or not. I just got a late 2013 iMac with an i7, 1TB fusion drive and 16GB of RAM, it flies and is fast enough for me. If budget is not a concern then go nMP, if it is, again, you'll have to determine if the multicore Xeon will add that much more value then the i7. What is your display setup currently?
     
  6. mawyatt1 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2014
    Location:
    Clearwater, Fl
  7. Nyy8 macrumors 6502a

    Nyy8

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2011
    Location:
    New England
    #7
    Hey OP,

    I've a very small photoshop editor, when I say small I mean some school projects and stuff. I am somewhat familiar with what you are saying, and I have to say for you, I'd go with the iMac. Either with the i7 or the i5 based on your budget, and I'd for sure go with the 780m.

    Why the 780m? Well it seems Nvidia/Adobe has advertised GPU Accretion pretty heavily with the new Photoshop CC.

    http://www.nvidia.com/object/adobe-creative-cloud.html

    It may be a good investment.

    I'd say either the core i5 or the core i7, both are very fast processors. It's really up to you. The core i7 has hyper threading which gives it 8 virtual cores, Bound to help in your Photoshop work somewhere. It seems from what I have read, Adobe can utilize all 8 threads.

    Here is some reading on hyper threading If you'd like:
    http://www.intel.com/content/www/us...per-threading/hyper-threading-technology.html

    Now, I'm not sure about you but I like dual monitors setups. The 27" and the Thunderbolt Monitor would complement each other completely and would look very professional and nice. Along with giving you the extra screen real estate you may need.

    As far as hard drives go, you say you have all these externals? 4TB+ of space, just go with an all flash storage on the iMac. Honestly, it would fly. The entire computer would feel much snappier. I think the 1TB Fusion cost as much as a 256GB SSD right now. (+$200)

    If you have any other questions or want to bounce ideas off of me feel free I'd be happy to help you out.
     
  8. mawyatt1 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2014
    Location:
    Clearwater, Fl
    #8
    Thanks for the help and information. I am beginning to lean towards the iMac with the SSD.

    Cheers,

    Mike
     
  9. ixxx69 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2009
    Location:
    United States
    #9
    Hi Mike,

    Lots of good advice here, but I'll just throw out a few things to think about...

    Does the iMac's glossy screen work for you? Many photographers prefer to work with a matte screen or similar "pro" display.

    Go to the software source! The software's developers know a lot about system requirements and recommendations for their own software. For instance, Zerene Stacker's website states it can take advantage of multi-cores, so a six core Mac Pro should offer better performance than a four core iMac. ZS also gives guidelines on RAM requirements, and specifically notes that the number of stacks does not affect RAM usage. They don't say anything about GPUs, so one would assume that the GPU doesn't play much of a factor, but if you don't see an answer on their website, check with support or do some googling.

    Similar with Photoshop - lots of folks will play up that Photoshop is multi-core capable and CUDA/Open CL capable, but when you actually examine what features of Photoshop can take advantage of that hardware, it's very limited and may not apply at all to your workflow.

    A faster clocked CPU is almost always beneficial for your kind of work - in that regard, the current fastest CPU iMac and the nMP are fairly even.

    Get a straight SSD of a size that will last you a while. Skip the fusion drives.

    One last thing about the nMP - it has a lot of TB2 ports. I know you can do some daisy-chaining, but all those TB2 ports might be advantageous for your peripherals.

    [​IMG]
     
  10. mawyatt1 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2014
    Location:
    Clearwater, Fl
    #10
    I wasn't sure how much of an advantage the multi cores would be in PS, LR and Zerene. Since I stack with 36MP images (D800E) then I would need ~4GB ram which is what I have set Zerene memory use to, this doesn't leave much for anything else on my 8GB MBPr. Thus my intent to get 16GB Ram or higher. The Mac Pro does make me think about things though, wish is was an easy decision. I don't have the budget for either to be honest, so getting the Mac Pro si even a harder decision.

    Thanks so much for the information and help,

    Mike
     
  11. iMcLovin, Aug 9, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2014

    iMcLovin macrumors 68000

    iMcLovin

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2009
    #11
    Good question and an important one to answer. Right now, STILL, Adobe has not yet done anything to utilise multi core processors. All of Adobes programs only use one processor, except for a few tasks (like After effects can use multiple cores when rendering, but not when working) so in essence you will actually get less performance out of a Mac Pro than a maxed out iMac today. What you need to get good performance in Adobe programs are one dedicated processor with as much gHZ as possible. So, ironically, buying the absolutely insanely expensive top cpu on the mac pro with 12 cores, you will actually get a lower performance in Adobe CC programs than on a maxed out iMac (and they don't use the dual GPU either)....Im sure some people have actually bought a maxed out Mac Pro for Adobe usage, and I pity them for that - thats a ton of money thrown out of the window for nothing.

    You should check your other programs, that you use, if none of them utilise all the cores, a mac pro would be a waste of money. Currently only a few programs really uses all of what the mac pro can offer, like Final Cut Pro X, and then of course the performance is sick!....

    Sadly Adobe has not gone out and said anything of what their plans are. But since all their programs are old software with layers and layers of features added on top, I assume optimising them across all their features would require to start over, like the Final Cut did. And Adobe is too lazy for that and have too many customers that gladly pay for what they can offer right now. And we´ve had mutlicore processors for many years now, so I don't have any hopes of an optimised Photoshop or After Effects in the next years.
    Read this:
    http://www.thepromacblog.com/the-silence-is-deafening/

    So buy an iMac! with a SSD and 32 gb of ram and a maxed out cpu and gpu - its a better choice imo.
     
  12. mawyatt1 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2014
    Location:
    Clearwater, Fl
    #12
    Do you see any real benefit to the i5 vs i7? I noticed that the older iMacs are being discounted to make room for the new iMacs. Any real advantage of the newer iMacs?

    Thanks for all the help and information,

    Mike
     
  13. ixxx69 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2009
    Location:
    United States
    #13
    Yes, there's "real" benefit to the i7 over the i5, but it's kind of difficult to tangibly quantify to your exact usage. It's not something you're going to notice just sitting down at the computer. The i7's main benefit is hyper threading, which can make a big difference in multi-threaded tasks - it might be particularly beneficial when using ZS.

    I'm not sure what you could be referring to as "newer iMacs". The last refresh was "Late-2013). The recent "mid-2014" was just a budget addition and not something you should consider. If you mean older iMacs as in "Late 2012", while they are fine machines, you're getting essentially a two year old model... I wouldn't do that unless you're on an extremely limited budget, and in which case, I'd suggest looking at refurbs/used as well. Stick with the "Late 2013".
     
  14. mawyatt1 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2014
    Location:
    Clearwater, Fl
    #14
    It looks as though Zerene stacker doesn't get any benefit from the multiple threading per core but does benefit from the multiple cores. The GPU doesn't seem to make any difference either.

    http://www.photomacrography.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=22800&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0

    Being somewhat new to the Mac world and knowing nothing about iMac or Mac Pro I wasn't sure what improvements had been made with the latest versions, and if those improvements were beneficial to my work loads.

    Thanks for the help & information,

    Mike
     
  15. ixxx69 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2009
    Location:
    United States
    #15
    Good of you to research!

    I did a quick google search just to verify that, and came across this:

    Of course hyper-threading is not a "con" in general, as has been shown in numerous benchmarks. I occasionally do large CPU-bound renderings, and hyper-threading can improve results by 25% or more (I've tested it myself). However, it's benefits are limited even within multi-threaded capable tasks. Obviously ZS doesn't benefit from it in this case (at least yet).
     
  16. Neodym, Aug 10, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2014

    Neodym macrumors 68000

    Neodym

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2002
    #17
    IMHO a big plus of the Mac Pro vs an iMac is in the heat and noise area. From what I've read so far and from my own experience with an old MacPro and a 15" rMBP:

    A Mac Pro has a lot better cooling solution in place. So while an iMac most probably will start to audibly rev up the fans after a while of sustained (higher) load, the MacPro won't break a sweat - and even if the fan eventually ramps up, it's much less noisy and disturbing.

    In the long run that is of course also beneficial for component lifespan, but for me low (to nearly no) noise under load has become a high-priority factor on its own!

    Edit: Forgot to mention the throttling occurring in hot systems, impairing the performance. Especially as Apple is known for driving their slim computers close to the allowed max. temperatures.
     
  17. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2008
    #18
    I'll get my self in trouble here (with some folks) as an ideal piece of hardware for you would more likely be a PC that sits between an iMac and a new Mac Pro. However, if you must remain in the Mac camp, probably the Mac Pro would be a better fit given that in many respects it can grow with your needs (in terms of RAM). Since you are using a high end camera and have high demands, chances are you would also be using a monitor that is superior to the iMac's screen. Perhaps an older Mac Pro might be a good fit as well (hex or octo and a good graphics card).

    While I prefer Mac over Windows, I would still seriously consider a PC for the dedicated work you are doing. It simply is a means to an end. I use a Mac Mini with CS6 and Capture 1 and certainly do wish it had a bit more power but it does work well for my usage (Capture 1 for my RAW Fuji Files) and CS6 for both my own images and for the photo restoration work that I do. I also use an NEC monitor which I consider one of my smartest purchases in the last several years.
     
  18. Dreadnought macrumors 68020

    Dreadnought

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2002
    Location:
    Almere, The Netherlands
    #19
    Just reading this thread and noticed that the RAM isn't really discussed. I think you'll benefit with the most RAM you can afford. An iMac tops out at 32 GB, a nMP can easily be upgraded to 64 or 128 GB. I think you'll be better off with at least 32 GB of RAM considering Zerene stacker and working with large and many photos. Also a 6-core nMP would be the sweet spot, it gives you cpu power to spare to also do some other things in the background without slowing down your main work.
     

Share This Page