My experience with the iMac 27 retina

Discussion in 'iMac' started by vcn, Nov 14, 2015.

  1. vcn, Nov 14, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2015

    vcn macrumors newbie

    Nov 14, 2015
    I bought a 27'' iMac with the following specs:

    i7 4.0
    512 SSD

    I'm a designer / creative coder (front-end stuff, webgl, etc) who has been using Windows for the past 15 years or so. I have an iPhone and a Macbook air and as it was time to update my desktop computer i ended up buying an iMac that i received some days ago.

    - The screen: very nice. Colors and resolution are very good, but honestly if you are used to quality 4k displays you get pretty much the same experience with them as the retina iMac. I also checked (thanks to this forums) if it had backlight bleed and yes it did. It wasn't noticeable until I upped the brightness to 100% and placed a black image on the screen. It was very minor I would say and nothing that made me think about asking for a replacement.

    - The noise: it is very very silent. I was kinda worried reading this forums that the fan would annoy me but honestly I couldn't hear it while sitting in front of it. I had to lean the iMac back and place my ear on the exhaust to be able to hear the air coming out. It was a very faint and pleasant noise. As soon as I placed it back to normal position could no longer hear it.

    - The mouse: OSX gestures integrated on the mouse are nice but my hand didn't like it after some hours of usage. It was also less precise in Photoshop and text editors than some other quality mice I have (I use zowie gaming mice even though I don't play games because they are ergonomic and precise).

    - The graphic performance: this was a deal breaker for me. As I said I don't play games but I consider myself very demanding in terms of graphic performance on websites as it is my job. I honestly think that the 5k display is too much for the laptop gpu the retina iMac has. I tested several "gpu demanding websites" (they are websites, nothing close to heavy 3D applications or games) with webgl experiments, rescaled images, scroll effects, etc, running in all major browsers on my old windows machine (gt 670 gpu), the 2013 macbook air and the new 2015 retina iMac. They were all pretty smooth on all devices except on the iMac, where some animations were noticeably choppy or jumpy. I though I was being paranoid so asked my girlfriend and she came to the same conclusion.

    I'm very disappointed, even a macbook air with its tiny screen and modest gpu handled everything better on all browsers. Hell even scrolling this forums was smoother on the two other devices.

    I'm going to return the iMac and buy a PC with pretty much the same specs but a geforce GTX 980 on it. I prefer OSX than Windows but they are just tools with options, what matters is what you can create with them.
  2. jazzer15 macrumors 6502

    Oct 8, 2010
    Interesting assessment. I have late 2009 iMac (i7 12GB RAM), which was my first Mac after years of Windows use. I have enjoyed the machine, but I remember thinking that it seemed a little slow compared to my prior Dell tower when browsing the internet. No big deal and I otherwise really liked the computer and OS X, so I just ignored my impression.

    Now I am thinking about an upgrade to the 5K iMac. I was in an Apple store playing around and I kept noticing that certain web pages were drawing somewhat slowly when coming up, including Apple's own page. I thought it was odd so I tried another iMac. Same thing. Then I tried a Macbook Pro and there was no similar issue. I scratched my head. Others talk about how fast the machine is, so I though there must be something I was missing.

    Anwyway, good luck with whatever machine you ultimately wind up with. I''m not sure what I am going to do yet.
  3. vcn, Nov 14, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2015

    vcn thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 14, 2015
    Thanks. Yeah, the skipping frames can be seen as soon as you scroll some website with big images rescaled, for example.

    Also, modern websites have animated elements that are processed by the GPU instead of the CPU so everything is more fluid and smooth (translate3d and matrix transforms for example, for those of you who know web development). On my tests the retina iMac performed very poorly, not getting 60fps constantly on websites where a Macbook Air had no problem handling according to the chrome dev tools.

    In general everything "gpu related" felt more jumpy.

    I don't know why Apple doesn't make a computer between the iMac and the Mac Pro, something with a decent GPU for the users (gamers?) or professionals who don't need the 2 GPUs the Mac Pro has but still want a decent graphic performance on high resolutions.
  4. jmoore5196, Nov 14, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2015

    jmoore5196 macrumors 6502a


    May 19, 2009
    Midwest US
    I have the identical machine, albeit the 295X, purchased this summer. I've been very happy with the machine thus far, especially since it runs Adobe CC apps without a hiccup. If the graphics issue is enough to push you back to Windows, I suppose that's your misfortune.

    As I've noted many times, retina displays on MacBooks are a study in compromise. That's why I keep my 11" i7 MBA, even though the quality of the screen is obviously lacking. Apple doesn't make an "in-between" machine because there's not enough of a market for it. I remember in the mid-1990s when Apple tried to cater to every level of professionalism and nearly went bankrupt in the bargain.
  5. twilexia macrumors 6502

    Oct 16, 2015
  6. vcn thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 14, 2015
    Adobe CC apps run just fine as in my previous machines, I doubt tho they'll go bankrupt again for a little more customization options on the Mac Pro (1 gpu, other cpu options, external 5k display, etc).

    Regarding the operating system I don't care that much, all the programs I use are multi-platform and after some minutes working I don't care if its windows, osx or linux.

    I'm glad your iMacs fit your needs, I guess I'm not one of the users they had in mind when choosing the hardware of their current machines.
  7. MrX8503 macrumors 68020

    Sep 19, 2010
    I'm a web developer and I've looked at many many monitor solutions. I've even considered getting a 40" 4K monitor. I need about 2000px in vertical real estate. 1440p is just not enough.

    How does the 5K look at the highest "more space" setting? Is text too small? How's the performance hit at that resolution?
  8. effedupstories macrumors member


    Oct 28, 2015
    I'm a web developer by trade. I haven't seen any websites that chop due to animations yet on the iMac 5k (using the m395x), but if those websites are chopping on any of the cards in the new iMacs, than they are not made for the vast majority, which most all serious websites should be streamlined for. Seriously, I have a high end custom built PC with overclocked 970's in SLI, but I know only a small niche of people have systems like that. Most people have cheap netbooks, tablets and smartphones, and if those sites are chopping on a high end imac, they arent running on those other machines either. The only other thing to consider would be if it's flash and or the html5 animations are not well optimized in the browsers for 5k because it is so new. I mean those cards can play modern games at 1440p, high settings and good frame rates - if the websites are chopping it almost has to be browser and or optimization related.
  9. Sirmausalot macrumors 6502a


    Sep 1, 2007
    I suspect it is a software issue and not a hardware one. The 395X can handle 4K playback no problem and as someone pointed out, it is much more capable than the majority of devices that people view websites without problem from tablets to phones to notebooks. El Capitain and Adobe still have graphics problems in Premiere Pro CC (and other Adobe apps) that both companies are aware of and have been addressing so I suspect it is not the power of the card but drivers that are not working properly yet. It will likely be sorted out within a few weeks.
  10. vcn, Nov 14, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2015

    vcn thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 14, 2015
    Yes, on that settings text is too small. I usually work with 2 monitors, but a 5K screen should be more than enough. You could use multiple desktops too.

    The "demanding" websites I talk about are for example some of those which win one of the two international awards (fwa or awwwards). Some of them are experimental and push a little the limits of what can be done, but even a macbook air from 2013 is able to run them at 60fps on all major browsers.

    While I agree that partially it is caused by browser optimization (or lack of, webgl on the browser is very slow compared to a native application for example) it is very sad to spend 4k on a computer that can't show properly new websites. I guess you can point at the developers for not calculating very well the image decoding/painting times or the webgl renderer size on a 5k display with a laptop gpu, but honestly I can't blame them. In my opinion a machine with a 5k screen resolution should have enough power to run properly all the content that a macbook or a non-retina iMac runs smoothly.

    To sum things up, I expected a better GPU handling the impressive 5k display the iMac has. Maybe in the future web browsers improve their performance to be on par with native applications, but I guess today the best way to have always a smooth experience on a high resolution display is with a good gpu backing it up.
  11. joema2 macrumors 65816


    Sep 3, 2013
    Exactly. If the web site requires a GTX-980 to run smoothly, they just limited themselves to tiny fraction of users. That is not a recipe for success. I wonder if their advertisers know they did that?

    So far I haven't encountered a web site that doesn't work well on my 2015 iMac 27 with M395X.
  12. effedupstories macrumors member


    Oct 28, 2015
    I can't even fathom a website needing whats in an iMac to run, never mind a 980; I honestly can't imagine what kind of code that could stream off a website that could even take advantage of a graphic card or processor like a modern game can, and even if you could, what kind of internet speed and available bandwidth would you need to stream it? The 980 runs games that have 20 - 50 gb of assets, code and shaders - surely your not streaming something like that off a website as its not possible. Websites use HTML, css, javascript, php, c sharp ( and lots of database connections etc., not c++ and direct x or open gl. The whole point of the web is to distribute information. Yes we have streaming video, audio and pics, but it needs to be accessible and optimized for as many people as possible since your trying to serve that information to as many as you can (which is especially important for advertisers and ecommerce). Really heavy websites are not only laggy to a majority of users (who will quickly leave if things are taking too long to load), but you have to consider mobile users and their data caps and costs. If I landed on a website and it streamed a gig of my monthly data plan to my phone I'd be pissed. In short my thoughts are: lag is mentioned is not hardware related (because an iMac can run games that require power that is orders of magnitude more than any website), its software related which can and will be optimized as 5k becomes more standard; I don't know of any code that can run on a website that can even use a PCs system in such a way as to tax a 5k imacs hardware; If such code could work, I don't see how anyone would have the bandwidth to stream it as games and apps like that typically have 20 - 50 gigs of data; and even if none of that applied, the website that could do all of that would only be accessible to like 2 percent of the population, thus, defeating the point of making a website to begin with. If thats the kind of code you want to work with, and as an artist I appreciated it, but your really better off making apps, not websites.
  13. effedupstories macrumors member


    Oct 28, 2015
    Also I meant to reply to the op - my bad.
  14. mabaker macrumors 65816


    Jan 19, 2008
    I am sorry I am sorry but if you are a designer and like absolute best performance then the Mac Pro is the best choice.

    This is not even a question.

  15. vcn thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 14, 2015
    I know guys, never said that. I doubt that even exist. What I said is that on my tests with "cool" websites the imac performed very poorly compared to other devices (the macbook air certainly doesn't have a GTX980 inside).

    Compare a website to a game is pointless (at least today), one is run by the javascript interpreter on the browser and the other is a native application. Of course a machine capable of running most of games should be able to run smoothly all websites, but it doesn't. And that's very frustrating. Maybe some browsers are poorly optimized for the 5k and need a lot more of horsepower than they must to show everything smooth on high resolution. Anyway try to understand my feeling, you spend 4k on a computer and it shows less performance than your previous ones because some things are yet to be optimized. It is very disappointing.

    I don't agree here. Webgl and GLSL are being run by all major browsers today. In my opinion the wider range of experiences a browser can handle the better, it is a common platform between all OSs and devices and the perfect canvas to show anything (music, video, design, 3d, etc).

    I care a lot about performance and compatibility on all devices, trust me ;)
    The retina iMac userbase is very very small yet, and honestly I think it will remain the same on the future because its price is not accesible to the majority.

    It is Sunday and Apple still hasn't picked up my iMac, I'll make some more tests and try to find an explanation to the poor performance it shows.
  16. joema2, Nov 15, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2015

    joema2 macrumors 65816


    Sep 3, 2013
    You said the 5k display is too much for the laptop gpu the retina iMac has, and your solution is getting a PC with a GTX-980. I'm not sure you can blame the M395X GPU or 5k display for this, as it does fine in most tests.

    Is there any way you could post links to these slow web sites so we could try them with various Macs? It is conceivable there is a problem unique to your specific 5k Mac. I have six Macs in various configurations and I'd be happy to test it. See attached for other benchmarks I have recently run (along with M395 tests by twilexia).

    Attached Files:

  17. iMcLovin macrumors 68000


    Feb 11, 2009
    I have the maxed out late 2014 Retina Model, and Im working with VFX using the gpu heavily in After Effects, also doing HEAVY work in Photoshop and some times Final Cut. Also Im working with demanding stuff in Unity 3D which is realtime 3D. And I have not experienced any problems or anything making it harder for this machine to run smooth than my previous late 2012 Maxed out iMac. Also Im working on a PC as well which has a 980 MX card, and to be honest all these programs I mentioned run as good, if not better on my iMac than on my PC with windows. So I dont know what webpages you are referring to, but if a website cant run well on a top of the line iMac then theres something seriously wrong with the webpages.
  18. grahamperrin macrumors 601


    Jun 8, 2007
    If the iMac is still with you (you probably tried something like this already) –

    defaults write IncludeDebugMenu -bool YES

    – from what I recall (right now, I don't have access to my archives) one or two of the debug options may result in a better experience at the expense of e.g. the page taking a little longer to initially appear.

    Can you share some of the URLs that you used for test purposes?
  19. AlifTheUnseen macrumors member


    May 17, 2014
    While I share the doubts with the OP wrt pairing a desktop aio's 5K screen with a mobile gpu, I too think that we should not be jumping to conclusions wrt the 395X…

    I too would like to see the URLs - I still have a 2010 21" iMac with the 3.2 GHz i3 and a ATI Radeon HD 5670 512MB. I need an additional good reason to upgrade it to the RiMac….
  20. grahamperrin macrumors 601


    Jun 8, 2007
    I don't have an iMac but I can empathise with that feeling: pay an excess, sense that you receive less.

    I can't disclose full details of my test environment but, loosely speaking: I habitually push(ed) things hard, with a variety of constraints, for a holistic view of how those things (or one of those things) behaved whilst heavily constrained. Some time ago I gained the impression that some of the defaults for Safari are optimised for illusions of speed, e.g. the quicker anything appears on screen, the happier the customer.

    @vcn did your tests include use of OmniWeb?

    More obscurely: when we get some of the affected URLs, I'd like to see how the content behaves in GNOME Web on OS X and on PC-BSD.
  21. vcn thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 14, 2015

    The postman just picked up the iMac, I must say before all that Apple customer service is very good.

    Well, as a developer I did my tests with the tools I'm used to: Chrome dev tools. There you can see everything, rendering and painitng times, frames per second on the timeline, etc.

    As I know not everyone is familiar with that tool, I've made a video comparison between my Macbook Air and the iMac retina. I've run on both of them three modern websites with animations. Keep in mind that this is a video, in person the jumpyness is more evident.

    Link to the video

    I hope the quality is enough. Both computers are using El Capitan and the same browser.
  22. grahamperrin macrumors 601


    Jun 8, 2007
  23. vcn thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 14, 2015
    Yes, those are the three urls I've used as an example, although I did tests on a lot more. - the then and now screen - chapters screen - main screen slider, if you scroll on the page I remember there were missing frames too

    All websites are run on chrome, its the main browser I use because their developer tools are way better than any others. On safari some websites were smoother and others even more jumpy. Anyhow the performance on the Macbook Air was superior in all browsers.
  24. joema2 macrumors 65816


    Sep 3, 2013

    The problem might be those web sites use Flash which is not optimized on some Macs. It is not isolated to the 5k display -- my 2015 top-spec retina MacBook Pro is also laggy on those web sites.

    Since those sites apparently use Flash, the presentation quality differs greatly on non-Flash devices like iPads.

    I tried removing Flash from my 5k iMac and the site still ran, although even slower. This indicates some kind of non-Flash fallback mode which is even less efficient. The fact there is any difference indicates a different code path and performance case for the Flash vs non-Flash desktop/laptop machines.

    I doubt this has much to do with the M395X GPU or the 5k screen. My MacBook Pro doesn't have either of those and it is also laggy on the screen graphics -- only on those web sites.

    So the problem is much bigger than you as a developer getting good performance. You can get a PC or a non-retina iMac which behaves smoother, despite having a weaker GPU. All your viewers cannot change their computers to obtain good performance on these web sites. They will just have a sub-standard experience. This especially includes mobile device users.
  25. whodatrr macrumors 6502a


    Jan 12, 2004
    It's the sites, and not the machine. Geez, I tried browsing two of them, form two different Macs, and they barely ran at all. Waited forever and just about gave up, especially on that 1st site.


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