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macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 1, 2010
I work in After Effects for work almost everyday. (Just upgraded to CS6!) We do a lot of illustration in Illustrator and animation in AE.

Currently I am working on a mid-2011 27" iMac 3.1Ghz (I think...) i7 processor. Standard graphics card that came with it. Upgraded to 16gb of RAM. This setup handles my After Effects work just fine and renders out scenes without frustration. It takes about 3-4 minutes to render out a 90 second composition.

I do know that these graphics cards that the iMacs use are not compatible with the Mercury engine that supposedly speeds up AE like a charm, by sending processes to the GPU instead of the CPU.

So, my main question is -- Should I be considering a Mac Pro for my next rig? The processors are more powerful, but more importantly (i think...) would be the better graphics card that can handle the Mercury engine.

Would the base Mac Pro be better than a super up iMac for my purposes? Or would I need to upgrade to an 8-core machine?

We all know that Apple may be unveiling some new computers here in a couple weeks with the new Intel processors, so keep that in mind with any recommendations you guys have for me...

Thanks for any input!

ZZ Bottom

macrumors 6502a
Apr 14, 2010
I believe that based on the current Mountain Lion builds, there is a good chance Apple will be offering NVidias in the next Mac Pro. My suggestion is that you definately should wait until July/August until buying one, considering your current setup is doing the job comfortably.

I will let someone else comment on specific performance differences between the potential Sandy Bridge Xeons in a new Mac Pro vs your current iMac. But also remember that you have better I/O with the MP. Having dedicated system/software/scratch HDDs can be beneficial to a professional like yourself. If you work with some kind of networked storage solution then I suppose that matters less.

Lastly, even though the iMacs have desktop CPUs, they use mobile GPUs. Still very capable, but some lost potential for someone like you.

Again wait until after WWDC at least before considering to buy a MP.


macrumors 604
Aug 5, 2010
There's nothing to make the current models that compelling if you already own a 2011 imac with a strong configuration. I get that it's sometimes difficult to determine if it's worth the sharp price increase to take a real step up (as in 6 core, upgraded gpu, ram, discrete display, etc.). I would suggest you look at up to the minute stuff when the new ones hit. I'm pretty sure After Effects is using OpenCL, which should make the imac's card valid.

Here is photoshop CS6

This is After Effects CS5.5

The raw hardware of the 6 core is more powerful. It's just that Adobe and Apple don't always take full advantage of these things so you have to look for application based testing. Even then I'd read what functions they're testing. The photoshop one addresses liquify which is nice. I'm wondering if it does the same with warp/puppet warp. I think they're still on the old OpenGL which sucks. It would be immensely helpful to have up to date OpenGL drawing for smoother redrawing with large brush strokes and transform adjustments. I wish they expanded on 32 bit as well and made spherical hdri adjustment in photoshop more practical. They introduced more 3d elements and an IBL function, yet editing a spherical hdr in PS still sucks.

Anyway I'm getting off track here.. I'd wait for the new mac pros and see what you get at what cost. The gpus should be newer designs if that's a selling point for you. Do take a look at the Adobe forums too before choosing hardware in case of bugs. The Apple discussion boards can be good for this as well.

So far much like the OpenGL implementation in photoshop, After Effects OpenCL sounds horrible.

Note Creative Cow

and here on the adobe forums.

I couldn't find anything on the other models. I'd also expect this to improve but nothing is a guarantee.


macrumors regular
May 2, 2006
In addition to what was just said above, I would specifically check the Adobe Premiere Sub-Forum section for Hardware:

Adobe Forums > Adobe Premiere Forums > Hardware Forum

People on there such as Harm Millaard, Bill Gehrke, and the guys from ADK are very knowledgeable about hardware issues and can offer some sound advice.
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