YetiMac

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 28, 2011
19
0
Fylde Coast, UK.
Hi all. I’m a long term Power PC Mac user, but now looking for an improved set up for illustration & graphic design. Macs owned…

Work: Vintage Apple G5 2.5 Quad / 120GB OWC SSD boot drive / 500GB Drive (Photoshop Scratch disc) / 16Gb RAM / Apple 23” Cinema & 17” Studio Display / ADC-DVI Converters x2. All files stored on external LaCie / G-Technology drives. Wacom Intuos 2 Tablet. Current work practice: Adobe CS2 Photoshop & Illustrator workflow, using multi layer high res files for print (1-3GB in size).

Home: 2012 Mac Mini, 1Tb Samsung EVO SSD / Apple 20” Cinema Display for home media server, internet, email coms etc.


My G5 based system has been pretty reliable since purchased (new in 2005), but after a recent wobble (graphics card failed, 2nd hand replacement found) I’ve decided to update to a newer Mac, especially as my work Mac is such an enclosed Power PC ecosystem! I have (sort of) kept up to date with Mac developments, but I’m unsure as to what a new Mac can handle. Would something like the a specced iMac or Mac Mini be able to cope with running creative software all day long without overheating?

Ideally I'd like a relatively future proof Mac… To be able to run Catalina and future OS upgrades… To be able to run creative software and work on gigabyte files without thermal throttling… To be able to run at least one 4K monitor, and perhaps later, two smaller 4K monitors either side of the main 4K screen (long term). I’d love a new Mac Pro / iMac Pro, but simply cannot afford either when specced. Happy to buy secondhand and upgrade internals to future proof. Options I’ve come up with…

  1. Mac Mini 3.2 GHz i7, Turbo Boost to 4.6GHz / 1Tb SSD / BenQ PD2720U 4K monitor & use my 2x Apple Cinema / Studio monitors (initially) for 3 displays (is that possible?) in total.
  2. iMac 5K 3.6 GHz i9, Turbo Boost to 4.6GHz / 8GB RAM (will buy extra 3rd party RAM) / 1TB SSD & use my 2 x Apple Cinema / Studio monitors (initially) for 3 displays in total.
  3. Mac Pro 5,1 tower, and update internal components (guidance needed as to the best upgrade options).
  4. Mac Pro 6,1 trash can, and update internal components (guidance needed as to the best upgrade options).

Apologies for the long post, but there seem to be quite few options and I’m in a bit of a funk honing choices, so any help gratefully received please!
 

oddnalo

macrumors newbie
Dec 15, 2019
10
6
Wow I'm shocked you lasted so long with a 10+ years machine. Congrats. Now this video is specifically for macbooks but it can be used as a guide for desktops to.

Mainly if you work with lots of photos and want to "future proof" the best way to go is to Max the RAM as much as you can afford. Processor won't help much in your workflow, but I'd upgrade graphics just in case (again if you can afford it) because of the multiple monitors thing.
 
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||\||

macrumors 6502
Nov 21, 2019
392
655
I am in Photoshop and Illustrator all the time for my work in print production and hobbyist photography/graphic design. That 27” iMac will be a great, compact machine for your uses. You can likely get another ten years out of it. i Mac last forever. I suggest you up the RAM to 16GB. Those 5K screens eat up RAM, doubly so if you are adding two more 4K monitors. Other than that, it should be perfect.
 
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Hazmat401

macrumors 6502
Dec 29, 2017
306
779
Delaware County, Pa
What would be your ideal budget

I’m going to copy and paste what I told another member

I have to say.... a Mac Mini with a 3.2-4.2GHz 6 Core i7 fitted with this Thunderbolt 3 Dock from Satechi and keep in mind the Mac mini is upgradable to 64GB of memory

Along with a EGPU.... you can’t go wrong with that setup... you can even wire up everything to where the EGPU is hidden
 
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||\||

macrumors 6502
Nov 21, 2019
392
655
We have a couple of new Mac Minis (base model) where I work. They are mainly there mainly for file conversion and to run our RIPs, which is not a RAM-heavy workload. I don’t Know why, but they swap out quite a lot of data to disk. They don’t seem to run as smoothly as I am used to a Mac running. I am not sure what is going on with these new machines. It is strange. Not sure I can recommend them from what I am seeing.
 
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YetiMac

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 28, 2011
19
0
Fylde Coast, UK.
Thanks for the input folks, very much appreciated indeed.

@oddnalo. I know! I still can’t believe it kept on going for fifteen years! But with the switch to Intel chips, I just got locked into a Power PC ecosystem of co-dependent items that just worked.

@Hazmat401. First stage budget is around the 2K mark, but this could expand to 3.5K (max) for the right machine (inc screen).

@||\||. Even though I really like the iMacs, I have to admit that the Mini is looking enticing, certainly as a first stage purchase I could max out the processor and RAM (purchased and fitted independently), and in the short term use my old Apple monitors while I decide on screen options (LG UltraFine vs Benq etc).

After a little forum / Youtube research, I think the old Mac Pros are getting a bit too old, even despite their upgrade potential. Still open minded though, and I’m not going to rush into a decision until well into the New Year, but it is looking like a choice between Mini and iMac.

Also need to research up to date Wacom tablets and creative software options too - may try alternatives to Adobe like Affinity Photo / Designer etc.
 
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danwells

macrumors 6502a
Apr 4, 2015
591
444
Another possibility is a 16" MacBook Pro... There is a real logjam of 8-core Macs that perform very similarly

27" iMac with the Core i9
16" MacBook Pro with the Core i9
Base iMac Pro
Base Mac Pro.

The Mac Pro is both obviously out of your budget and not a great choice (what you're paying for is the ability to run 28 cores, a terabyte or more of RAM and quad GPUs - you don't need those things for still photography).

Any of the other three could be your Mac (the iMac Pro bought refurbished - or wait and see if Apple lowers the prices when the bring a new one out in spring?)

I'm very happy with my new 16" MBP as a still photographer (entirely maxed except for 4 TB drive instead of 8 TB). That particular configuration is more expensive, but if you accept the 1 TB drive, and perhaps go with the slower i9 instead of the faster, it might fit under $3500. Remember that the RAM can't be upgraded, so be sure to get at least 32 GB, if not 64.

If you ever need or want the portability, it's pretty much a base iMac Pro in a 4.3 lb package.

Between the iMac and the iMac Pro, there is no performance reason to choose one over the other, as long as you avoid "fusion drive" iMacs and go straight for the full SSD models.

Buying both new, without sales, the price gap is too large for the feature gap - the iMac Pro makes no sense with the iMac i9 around (when the iMac Pro came out, the iMac had been stuck with quad-core chips for years).

If you can get a great deal on an iMac Pro (refurbished, or the occasional large sale), it has a couple of advantages over a standard iMac. The three important ones are:

Dual Thunderbolt buses - you mention two 4K monitors as a possibility - the regular iMac has two Thunderbolt 3 ports, which can each handle a 4K monitor (or you could use a dock to get two HDMI, two DisplayPorts or one of each while preserving one of your Thunderbolt ports), but you lose a lot of your Thunderbolt bandwidth to the monitors.

Both the iMac Pro and the MacBook Pro have four Thunderbolt 3 ports, but more importantly, they have two Thunderbolt buses. You could either plug both monitors into one Thunderbolt bus and leave the other free to run storage at full speed, or plug one monitor into each, leaving quite a bit of bandwidth for storage on both. I'm not sure which is better, and it might depend on exact configurations...

Cooling - by dispensing with the option of internal spinning drives, the iMac Pro uses that space for fans, and it stays cooler.

10 Gb Ethernet - you'll never use it to connect to the Internet, but 10 Gb NAS devices are becoming more and more common, and more and more affordable. Gigabit NAS is good enough for backup, 10 Gb NAS is good enough to work directly from.

The disadvantage of the iMac Pro is the tricky RAM upgrades. Unless you're pretty good at taking apart computers, buy what you want - maybe 64 GB (at Apple's painful prices), because it'll cost you extra to have more installed. The iMac has a hatch to pop the RAM in, while the iMac Pro involves taking the screen off.
 
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Velin

macrumors 68000
Jul 23, 2008
1,602
1,066
Hearst Castle
Go with a newer, or brand-new, 27" iMac with the 5K display. And I think the i5 6-core is going to be plenty powerful for your use case. The one place to spend money is the storage: definitely get at least the 512GB SSD, the 1TB SSD even better. Do not get Fusion Drive, they are way too slow and Apple's internal SSD blows spinning drives out of the water.

A new 27-inch iMac with an SSD gives you one of the best screens on the market, and a fast, powerful machine that will last many years. It's contained in an all-in-one design, and I've really come to like it. A lot more convenient than the extra work that comes with the Mac Mini, along with the compromises a Mini entails. Then spend a few bucks on a great mouse, good mechanical keyboard, and you are golden.

Plus iMacs have the Thunderbolt 3 port, so you can drive another external monitor with no problems. It's a much more convenient solution than having to go out and buy Benq or LG monitors, when a new 27" 5k iMac has everything you need, and it's done, and will likely be superior to whatever 4k monitor you were going to get.

Don't waste money on the iMac Pro, or the Mac Pro, and monitor you'l have to buy. In fact, save that money -- if the urge hits you, you can upgrade earlier than you normally would with another iMac a few years from now, but you won't need to.
 
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