No viable desktop options. What to do?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Let's Sekuhara!, Mar 28, 2017.

  1. Let's Sekuhara! macrumors 6502

    Let's Sekuhara!

    Jun 30, 2008
    So if you were in the following scenario, what would you do?

    You need a new workstation for 3D graphics and video post production now, but Apple does not offer any up-to-date desktops with dedicated graphics. Buying an outdated Mac Pro is not an option.
    A dismal glimpse at the Buyer's Guide for Mac shows the MacBook Pro as the only product not in the red.

    Choices I've thought of so far:

    1. Do you buy a current MacBook Pro with an external GPU via Thunderbolt 3, then get an iMac too when one comes out and demote the MBP to travel computer status? (A very pricey option, but maybe doable for some)

    2. Do you buy an iMac now and settle, well knowing it will be obsolete in a matter of months, and get an external GPU via Thunderbolt 2 (slower), and tell yourself there was no other way.

    3. Do you buy a MacBook Pro with an external GPU via Thunderbolt 3, and give up on the iMac, hoping this machine with a slower CPU will somehow be enough for a couple of years?

    4. Do you wait it out, and try to use some older machine that might be lying around the office, and try to get by until Apple finally releases a new iMac? (Productivity may suffer in the meantime)

    5. Do you do the unthinkable and get a Windows PC, at least for now? And maybe when Apple releases a real computer the PC can still be used for rendering jobs.

    Any other ideas?

    I'm really curious what you guys would do in this situation, because I am basically in such a pinch. Sure, Apple may have great desktops in their roadmap, but the future is the future, and I have no idea what to do about right now.

    P.S. I almost opened this as a survey, but more than a vote count, I want to hear why you would go with a particular choice.
  2. Unami macrumors 6502a

    Jul 27, 2010
    5) hm... hard to say. i think for video post production alone, one can still work with the mac, but with the addition of 3d graphics i'd get a pc - depending on your software you might be able to use it as a render node to your mac - and you have more options (e.g. 6-core cpu, dual nvidia gpu) for still less money than a mac with a mobile gpu.

    1)2)3) i can't find it right now, but i've read an article about real-world performance between an internal gpu, one using tb2 and one using tb3 and it turned out that the bandwith was not really a factor when it came to using the eGPU.

    personally, i'd either wait for 4) and then decide - but looking at the benchmarks over the last years, i wouldn't expect a significantly faster machine, unless maybe in apple's own FCPX. but the top of the line 2014 and 2015 mbp still beat the 2016 model when it comes to raw power everywhere else - and cpus haven't really gotten faster since the last imac refresh, so the best you can hope for is a faster gpu.

    or i'd just build a hackintosh.
  3. Anathem macrumors newbie

    Jun 11, 2012
    I feel your pain. Mac has been my desktop of choice since System 6(!), but I am being forced to switch by Apple now. Their current desktop lineup is a museum of half-decade old technology. (5400 RPM hard drives, embarrassingly underpowered video cards, outdated processors...) in a design that makes expansion impossible

    I love OSX. I wish Apple would license it to a company that is serious about building professional computers.
  4. zaaach48 macrumors regular


    Nov 2, 2016
    How much performance increase are you REALLY expecting to see between the processor currently in an iMac vs. a newer model? How will that translate into real-world use? If you have significant data that shows just how unbelievably better that new processor is at rendering video then I'd be concerned about that.

    It sounds like you need this for a business, in which case I'd land on buying a nicely spec'd out iMac with plenty of RAM, 4GB video card, i7, and an SSD (do NOT get fusion drive). I am willing to bet if you put that iMac side by side with whatever new one comes out and rendered the same video, that new processor would translate to like 10 seconds faster render time. Is it really worth stressing yourself over?

    People get really caught up in the spec race...does Apple need to update some things? Sure, especially Mac Pro. But processor updates are usually small, incremental speed bumps that don't really make much difference year to year. FWIW I render video and run large audio projects with tons of plugins off a 2012 MBP with SSD and i7, it still runs almost as smooth as the day I got it.
  5. bluespark, Mar 28, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2017
  6. Let's Sekuhara! thread starter macrumors 6502

    Let's Sekuhara!

    Jun 30, 2008
    Yeah, part of it is definitely me trying to be a smart consumer and not invest in tech that will soon be replaced. The other part is the real concern that two or three years from now I could be working on a machine that isn't keeping up with the pace at which I need to be working, and I find myself spending more hours at the office as a result. But it's not always easy to forecast exactly what my work will demand of a computer or which specs matter most.
    Some things I'm sure of: 1. a fast external GPU will be necessary. 2. A fast CPU will be a great help. 3. Plenty of RAM is good.
    Some things I'm not sure of: How many cores do I really need? How much RAM do I need (32GB? 64GB?) Still researching about this, as I don't know that having more than 32GB will speed up render times, although will likely help with how the software handles when high poly counts or hi-res video comes into play.

    Thanks for the feedback, guys. I'm still all ears, so keep the comments coming.
  7. windowpain macrumors 6502a

    Apr 19, 2008
    My vote would be for this.
    For most people I would go with a 'real' Mac...but it looks like you have little choice.
    It's been a while since I built one but there is a lot of info online should you go this route and it is much simpler than it once was. Most of the difficulties can be avoided through careful choice of components.
    It should give you the best of both worlds, a great OS and upto date hardware at a reasonable cost.
  8. theusualsuspect macrumors member

    Jun 9, 2010
    That's what I've done. One is going on 5 years straight (Haswell i7 processor), and I just built another. Tonymac has everything you need to do it, and the learning curve isn't as bad as it used to be. Mac only for portables, but a workstation computer is a perfect candidate to hackintosh.
  9. Kcetech1 macrumors regular

    Nov 24, 2016
    Alberta Canada
    As much as I will get Boo'd I say hackintosh if you need OSX otherwise #5.

    For my workflow I started to shift back in 2011 with portable workstations ( 32GB Ram, and a super accurate wide gamut screen came in handy ). and for doing lots of 3D work I found many of the best apps and rendering units such as redshift, autodesk etc. I found used CUDA GPU acceleration making intel IGP's and AMD GPU options totally useless or far slower.

    Id say look hard at your software you use and what you want to use or upgrade to using then start to choose. Windows 7 and 10 IF you load them cleanly onto a good machine is as stable or even more so than OSX past 10.8. KP's and beachballs are really starting to suck. Your computer is a tool and sometimes you need a sledgehammer and some times you need a finishing nailer, pick the right tool and forget brands, I learned that the hard way and now spend a pile less time at the office and don't need to have spare Mac's around for when one goes down on me.

    and another sore point I now have is I found out that PC pro workstations ( desktop or portable ) have support options that make even Apple pale in comparison. last night I did a stupid thing and closed the screen of a 17" unit ontop of a pair of USB keys and broke the screen. tech was at my house at 11:00 am this am and replaced the screen for me then proceded to clean the vents and even repaste the CPU and GPU. PLEASE Apple offer us NBD onsite support with accidental, even if its in major centers we can drive to and for a nominal fee.
  10. shaunp macrumors 68000

    Nov 5, 2010
    If this is costing you money now and an upgrade would earn you money then go with whatever will give you the best result. Personally I ditched my Mac Pro (2013) and went for a PC. Lightroom, Photoshop and VMware all work fine. I have no issues with Windows 10 - in some ways it is actually better than OS X.

    With a PC you have complete flexibility with the hardware and can change components later if you need to rather than having to swap out the entire machine.

    I would now not go back to Apple unless there was a significant financial benefit to do so as their products are no longer anything special. I can get my work done quicker and more cheaply on a PC and I'm not making any horrible sacrifices with the working environment to do so.
  11. chrono1081 macrumors 604


    Jan 26, 2008
    Isla Nublar
    My almost 8 year old Mac Pro desktop still runs incredibly fast. I use it for Mari, Houdini, Final Cut, Modo, ZBrush, and a slew of others.

    Macs hold their speed very well. My current one is on Sierra and it shipped with Snow Leopard.

    You have to let go of the 90s idea of "being obsolete" if some newer chip comes on the market.
  12. kschendel macrumors 6502a

    Dec 9, 2014
    If you need the absolute latest in both CPU and GPU power, I think you're looking at a hackintosh or a windows PC (and even then, you might need a custom build to get exactly what you want.)

    If you need good but not the very fastest, a tricked-out cMP (new cpu's, SSD, new GPU) might be a good interim solution; the price will be right and you can load it up with 56 Gb ram, or 64 if you have X-series processors.
  13. 960design, Mar 29, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2017

    960design macrumors 68030

    Apr 17, 2012
    Destin, FL
    What software are you running?
    What are you rendering that the mac is slowing you down?

    You could get a MacPro ( refurbished ):

    I get a new MBPr15 ( maxed ) every three years. Just purchased a new one, should be here next week.

    I imagine if you are doing high end rendering ( 3D movies, for example ) and you move a rig a bit then render, move, render 24-30fps, then you should be using a render farm to offload the work.
  14. HDFan macrumors 6502a

    Jun 30, 2007
    On the Buyer's Guide pages MacRumors used to list the amount of time between MacPro releases. It doesn't seem to be there now. My guess is that we are approaching the historical longest period between releases of the MacPro. This really doesn't mean anything, but if you're an optimist you might infer that a release will occur this year. Looking at Intel's timelines and availability dates can also give you a clue. Lots of forum posts on this latter topic.

    You need to find a system that will allow you to do your work. Balance that against how you would feel if they really do release one this year. Since the cylinder was pre-announced at WWDC (very unusual for Apple), there's a chance that it might happen there this year.
  15. purpletalon55 macrumors member

    Apr 1, 2017
    The iMac won't be obsolete in a few months at least not the current models. And no the cpu is not outdated, its actually benchmarking faster than the U series Kaby lake by a good margin Broadwell is a powerhouse still. Even the integrated graphics are fairly fast. They are on par with a gt 740 or a gtx 950. In testing that I have done.

    5400rpm hard drives are not as bad as everyone says they are, they are fast enough to be usable otherwise they wouldn't sell. They still have a place in the computer world of today, Heck I don't really even use SSD these days because ive dealt with too many failures and frankly the speed difference isn't important to me. 7200rpm drives are cheaper fast enough and they are the best option for recording or writing video files to. SSD wear out fast if you use them for recording and will die within a year.
  16. Kcetech1 macrumors regular

    Nov 24, 2016
    Alberta Canada
    Ok I had to reread this a few times and am STILL hoping this is an April fools joke. the iMac top end integrated Graphics ( the Iris Pro 6200 ) IS on the level of the old 750m/GT740 ( bottom of mid range cards for mobile GPU's ) the GTX 950 IS substantially faster. I do agree the CPU is damn good but it is impossible to compare it to the neutered low voltage U series chips that are not meant at all for desktops but for NUC's and smaller portable units including laptops. ( and it would be damn nice if I could actually run my iMac 21 or 27 at full boost for extended periods of time without dropping back or even throttling lower than base clocks )

    5400 hard drives are fast enough to be usable, on smaller applications from 5 or 10 years ago, 7200 has been more or less an industry norm from my knowledge since atleast 2007 ( we changed entire RAID units of them for the extra performance ) SSD's also do not tend to wear fast unless you are used to older piss poor Sandforce units from a few years ago or the crappy Tosbiba ones I found in MacBook Airs and a few other models including my first 2012 retina 15. right now I have ran higher end SSD's in my production units for 4.5 years yes some have a decent amount of wear but some are also shifting upwards of 12T of data in an afternoon too.

    I am certain my needs are no where near what yours may be but even in the general consumer market 5400 drives hare as dead as floppy disks, 7200 and 10K drives are of course still around for data but the SSD is well into its prime and main stream for a couple years now.

    will any new models be far ahead of the existing ... probably not. but the existing models right now are extremely weak in everything but the display and CPU for the moment as well.

    when you mention SSD failures im curious as to which ones, I yes have had a pile of the apple proprietary ones blow up on me, and the old sandforce based ones. but have shifted to Intel, Samsung and the new Kingstons for my vital work with 0 issue in 3.5 years now.
  17. purpletalon55 macrumors member

    Apr 1, 2017
    I have killed about 6 Samsung SSD this last year with recording video so it does happen and when it comes to SSD tech Samsung is the leader in the market by a huge margin.

    Ive even killed a few Samsung NVMe PCIE sad drives.

    I use 5400rpm drives in a lot of laptops and computers around here because modern ones are fast and some can out perform 7200rpm drives because the drive has to move the head less to access the data. Trust me it is possible for a 5400rpm drive to be faster than. a 7200rpm drive in certain cases. 5400 is the standard for NAS drives though on another hand and that is why they are still around. Mostly for NAS use.

    And because 5400rpm drives are cheaper we will see them in laptops as standard drives for a long time since theirs very few 7200rpm laptop drives matter of fact Hitachi makes the only 1tb 7200rpm laptop drive you can buy.

    when I was talking about cpu power I was talking specifically about the base iMac as the basis of U series comparison I tested my friends with the 5250U versus a current gen kaby U series cpu and broad well is fast in everything. And the hd 6000 out performed a 740 gpu I have for testing. When it comes to it the base iMac is still powerful.

    I still use mechanical drives because 1tb ssd and above cost too much and its not economical or affordable yet. Mechanical drives will stay around for years for data storage in large volumes.
    --- Post Merged, Apr 1, 2017 ---
    The largest SSD you can get is like 15TB its also like $8,000.
  18. Kcetech1 macrumors regular

    Nov 24, 2016
    Alberta Canada
    Agreed on the NAS's and 5400 enterprise drives good units we shifted later on to WD 10K units. I have not actually seen a 5400 rpm laptop in a laptop in years even my daughters old 2014 consumer ASUS had a Seagate 7200 1Tb in it. the Hitachi 1T is not even close everyone has made them for years!!!

    I can hunt newegg etc for hours and find 7200's in laptops and OEM all over. yes there are still a number of 5400's but I tend to find them in discount areas and in SSHD configurations.

    I cant say on the base model iMac, ive never had one with the U/UL chips in them, to be honest I forget they were even made.

    what were you benchmarking the 6000 with??, I had a couple friends a ways back, that were always pissed off that they couldn't even close to the 720M performance
  19. purpletalon55 macrumors member

    Apr 1, 2017
    I use 5900rpm seagate drives in my Nas as of right now, because I don't need anything faster. My network is not fast enough to fully utilize the 5900rpm drives speed. As to 1tb 7200rpm ive looked and paid attention for years and only seen Hitachi Travelstar as the only 7200rpm 1TB 32mb cache laptop drive out. And its the gold standard for 7200rpm drives in laptops Sager,lenovo,and dell use them. But Lenovo still uses 5400rpm drives in a lot of their gaming laptops same with dell.

    As to the benchmarking Ill pm you the specific details.

    I have yet to see a single seagate or WD 1tb laptop drive that is anything but 5400rpm.

    I am a recent apple convert myself stuck to windows for a long time and never gave a Mac a chance until a few months back.
  20. Kcetech1 macrumors regular

    Nov 24, 2016
    Alberta Canada
    Im more or less dual platform, was Mac only from 1990 to 2011 and then started shifting to windows for my main production units. for a number of reasons. I have seen 1TB 7200s from WD, Seagate, Hitachi ( who IS western Digital ) and Toshiba.

    never played with a Sager yet, but I do run Dell and Lenovo workstations which I ordered with stock 7200's then pulled out. ( unrelated but I play with a lot of laptops as one of the supermods over at NBR for fun )

    I prob have the benchmarking from the WD / HGST boys from when they dropped by work in September to look at upgrading our drives through a distributor. as they said

    "Given two identically designed hard drives with the same areal densities, a 7200 RPM drive will deliver data about 33% faster than the 5400 RPM drive. Consequently, this specification is important when evaluating the expected performance a hard drive or when comparing different HDD models."

    but you had to compare the same drive format/platter number and densities, as they did say a NEW 5400 will run around an old 7200 but not a same generation one. and SSHD's just toss a wrench in that anyways too depending on cache sizes and how current they are.
  21. purpletalon55 macrumors member

    Apr 1, 2017
    I used to play a lot more video games that I do now, and thats why I was on windows for so long but now that Im pretty much at most editing a video for youtube and doing basic tasks such as editing word documents watching youtube videos and such I don't need anything super powerful and I decided to finally try out a apple computer.

    I really like it and am upset that I didn't switch sooner, I still keep my windows 10 desktop around for doing some stuff since some of the software that I use isn't Mac compatible and I do still play 2 games that work way better on windows.

    So ill likely keep both for that reason but having a SD card reader on my Mac is a plus for me. My windows doesn't have one and the USB SD card reader I have is slow. because its USB 2 its not the port its just the device itself.
  22. HDFan macrumors 6502a

    Jun 30, 2007
    Any reason you don't run Windows 10 on Parallels or VMware on your Mac?
  23. purpletalon55 macrumors member

    Apr 1, 2017
    Yeah, because I would rather just keep windows on the windows pc and Mac OS on the Mac. And because I have devices that Use ports that the Mac doesn't have.
  24. Steve Jobs. macrumors regular

    Feb 6, 2010
    I have the same dilemma right now. What did you end up doing?
  25. magic carpet macrumors newbie

    Apr 9, 2017
    Right now for serious video post production (4k raw, davinci resolve,...) and heavy 3d work (maya, z brush, v ray, cinema 4d,...) I would get a PC with a nvidia gpu. Take a look at the HP Z workstations.

Share This Page