Need help with my buying decision (5k)

Discussion in 'iMac' started by hifimacianer, Oct 23, 2015.

  1. hifimacianer macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2015
    Location:
    Germany
    #1
    I am going to buy a new 5k iMac soon, but I'm actually undecided which model I should chose.

    The iMac is just for private use, to edit my photos in CaptureOne pro 8 (16MP RAW Files) or Apples Photos App as my main Library. My photo Library is about 250GB in size, and is actually located on a external 1TB SSD.
    Sometimes I do some edits in Pixelmator, or convert my Blu-Rays to mkv, to store them on my NAS and make them available to my media Player.

    I don't play any kind of games, or do any video edits in iMovie or FCP.
    Actually I'm using a 2008 iMac, 20", 4 GB RAM, 128MB Video Card, internal 128 GB SSD, external 1TB SSD. 3 TB NAS (Raid 1), where I store my documents, Music, Movies etc.
    And besides some lags in the photo Edits (especially RAW), the General Speed is quite OK for it's age.


    With the 5k iMac I want to stay under the 2500€ price range, and I want to use it for at least 7 years again.


    I have the following Options in mind:

    3,2 GHZ base model
    Radeon R9 M380
    + 512 GB SSD
    = 2491€


    3,2 Ghz mid range model
    Radeon R9 M390
    + 4Ghz Core i7 processor
    + 256 GB SSD
    = 2490€


    3,3 Ghz top range model
    Radeon R9 M395
    + 512 GB SSD
    = 2524€ (slightly more than 2500, but would be OK)


    Since I have a 1TB external SSD, I would't really need huge internal SSD space, but because the internal SSDs are substantially faster than the external SSD, that could be a factor in 4 or 5 years. AND, I could have my entire photolibrary on the internal drive with maximum Speed for quite a long time. On the other hand, even 450MB/s read/write speeds on a external drive are really fast, and there may be even faster SSDs in 4-5 years that could be used via thunderbolt.

    So the main bullet points are:
    • are the low end or mid range GPUs fast enough for my usage?
    • does the i7 processor improve my workflow by a huge factor? (10-20% higher clockspeed AND HyperThreading)
    • Would you prefer 512GB SSD OR the i7 processor? (both isn't in my budget)

    What do you think?
     
  2. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2013
    #2
    Buy anything you want for that usage, I can't see it will matter either way anything you get will be a massive upgrade and speed improvement.
     
  3. AlexJoda macrumors regular

    AlexJoda

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2015
    #3

    I am using a 2014 5K iMac with 256 GB SSD and the 290X GPU for nearly the same tasks. I added an external Thunderbolt Raid with two 512 GB SSDs as a 1 TB RAID 0 to that with over 900 MB/s R/W performance. It is not true that the internal SSD is substantially faster if you can combine more than one SATA controller on the Thunderbolt bus.

    I do all my editing on that external SSD Raid and that is easily expandable in the future. So the main factor for me was the speed and flexibility of the external Storage. The internal 256 GB SSD is big enough for the OS and the applications.

    I use the i7 CPU but i think for your purpose the i5 should be sufficient too. The GPU is not a main factor for photo editing, even with Lightroom, which uses the GPU "a little bit". The 290x was a that time the best compromise in regard to performance, cost and heat. It is somewhat similar to the M390 now.
     
  4. fa8362 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2008
    #4
    Your needs are modest. The base model with flash storage is more than fine.
     
  5. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
    #5
    I like this option and I think that's the one I'll be going with, though the lower end model you posted is quite capable. I guess the bottom line is, do you want more internal storage or a faster GPU?
     
  6. AlexisV macrumors 68000

    AlexisV

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2007
    Location:
    Manchester, UK
  7. hifimacianer thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2015
    Location:
    Germany
    #7
    The internal SSDs now have read/write speeds of 1800 MB/s, so they are even double as fast as your TB RAID.
    Anyway, I'm also fine with my current internal SSD, that has aprox. 300 MB/s. And it's good to know, that I'm able to expand my fast storage in future with TB.


    I'm even fine with my internal 128GB SSD for OSX and Apps, so that won't be a problem for me.
    But it would also be a nice option to work on my Photos with an internal 512GB SSD with these crazy read/write speeds. I also want to Keep my desk as clean as possible, with no additional external cases etc. Thats why I mount my external SSD on the stand of the iMac.


    Yeah, I think even the M380 would be fine for photo editing.
    But in case I'll use the new iMac for a longer time, there should be enough power to process larger RAWs in future too. I heard that i7 processors help a lot to fastly built the image previews of RAWs. And on the 5k Screen there are a lot of pixels to process I think.
     
  8. hifimacianer thread starter macrumors member

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    Feb 5, 2015
    Location:
    Germany
    #8
    Even in 5-7 years, when >36MP RAW files will probably be the standard?
     
  9. hifimacianer thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2015
    Location:
    Germany
    #9
    The question is what will I need in 5-7 years?
    What is essential for RAW processing? GPU or CPU?
    At the Moment even the base model will probably be fine for everything. 16MP RAWs are not that demanding. But I think in 5 years 36MP RAWs will be the Standard, and the iMac should process them too in a decent speed. Unfortunately there is no i7 option for the base model, that would be my sweetspot.

    I don't have too much concerns with the internal storage, since there will be plenty external solutions in a few years (even faster 2,5" SSDs than today, maybe a faster interface than SATA3 for external drives, that can be used via Thunderbolt? Thunderbolt Raids with lower prices than today. I think that fast storage will not be the main problem.
     
  10. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
    #10
    No one knows where we will be in 5 to 7 years. I can say that my 2012 rMBP has been holding up very well, and my point here is that the current state of computers is such that I think any of these models will be more then sufficient in that time frame.

    If you're looking to fully "future proof" your computer purchase, I'd say to max out the ram, storage and gpu.
     
  11. T'hain Esh Kelch macrumors 601

    T'hain Esh Kelch

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2001
    Location:
    Denmark
    #11
    I'd go for the base model with large SSD. It will do the work just fine, and the larger the internal SSD, the less likely you are for getting external storage, and the easier it will be to sell in 5 years.
     
  12. AlexJoda macrumors regular

    AlexJoda

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2015
    #12
    From my experience the r/w speed is not the most important improvement with SSDs, but the IO/s is. Is this regard the performance of the different generations of iMacs and of external SSDs are not so much different.

    I am also putting my external SSD Raid to the stand of the iMac. It is not that big.

    The M380 has only half the pixel rate of the M290x. Event the M390 is slower than the M290X but much faster than the M380. This can be interesting for photo editing on a 5K screen.
     
  13. fa8362 macrumors 65816

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    Jul 7, 2008
    #13
    If you buy today based on what you might need in 5-7 years, you are wasting money.
     
  14. fa8362 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2008
    #14
    So what? Buy a new computer if that's the case. His iMac could fail by then anyway. There's no such thing as future proofing a computer.
     
  15. hifimacianer thread starter macrumors member

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    Feb 5, 2015
    Location:
    Germany
    #15
    I don't know if you all have cash cows in your backyard, but I just don't want to spend thousands of $/€ every few years to buy a new Mac. Especially if I don't use it for work.
     
  16. Coldmode macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2010
    #16
    I don't really follow photography, but is there some technical breakthrough on the horizon that would cause you to have super giant RAW files? If that was the case, I think even the top of the line 4.0 GHz i7 with M395X would suffer. All of these models are within a few percentage points of one another with regards to speed. Since your current 2008 machine has lasted this long, unless there is some breakthrough in photography I expect processing needs would increase more or less at the same rate as they have for a while now. I would recommend the 4.0 GHz i7 with M390 model. That seems like the best compromise. Expandable storage through Thunderbolt 2 is really fast, and you can always modify your desk to mount the drives behind or something so you don't have to look at them.
     
  17. hifimacianer thread starter macrumors member

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    Feb 5, 2015
    Location:
    Germany
    #17
    36 MP RAWs are already there today if you buy a actual Full Frame camera. And it won't take too long that smaller formats will have 36mp too.

    When I bought the 2008 iMac I started with 3-6 MP jpg, and if I wouldn't had upgradet with a internal SSD it would be unusable today. And 16 mp RAWs are a pain to work with. Jpg are still quite OK.
     
  18. Cody1992 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2015
    #18
    I just think that they are skeptical, as am I, that the computer will definitely last 7 years. Don't get me wrong, that would be awesome and I want the same thing for my new iMac, but I wouldn't expect it to last that long unfortunately. I expect at least 4 to 5 years usage.
     
  19. hifimacianer thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2015
    Location:
    Germany
    #19
    Thanks for your help in my decision.
    I think I will go with this option.

    Yes, it would be nice to have more internal SSD storage with this incredible speeds, but even 512 GB won't be enough for my photo Library in a few years. And then I would have to handle with external storage anyway. And I also realised, that even my external 7200rpm FireWire HD is fast enough to load my photos library with decent speeds.

    So I will go with the 256GB SSD for the OS and Apps, and will use the fast speed for certain Projects where the speed is really needed. For everything else my external 1TB SSD via USB 3 is really fast enough for the things I do.

    I will opt for the 4Ghz i7, because I read that CaptureOne Pro (similar to Lightroom) is able to use all available Cores (Hyperthreading) to speed up things. It will need quite some power to display, render and process RAW files if you want to watch them in full resolution on the 5k screen. The GPU (390 vs. 395) won't make a huge difference for my needs, but will probably be a tad cooler.
     

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