Power of the iMac

Discussion in 'Design and Graphics' started by xheathen, Sep 4, 2012.

  1. xheathen macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2010
    #1
    Hey all, I was hoping someone whose been there done that could give me an idea of the power of the iMac.

    I've got a mac mini right now, 2011 mid level model.

    I've in the past just done a lot of web design professionally, so at the current moment the mac mini does excellent in this environment - PS, Illustrator, iTunes, Coda and 20 browser windows function great with no hiccups and couldn't be happier.

    However, I'm getting more and more into larger scale design projects - things that are like 6000 or 7000 pixels wide at 300 resolution. These kinds of projects really start to tax the system that can handle 1600 pixels at 72 resolution. So I'm seeing brushes and effects crawl and struggle to catch up.

    My question is: would the bottom level quad core iMac give me enough power to resolve the problem on bigger projects? At a minimum I'd put 16gb of ram in it since it's so darn cheap. Or is even the bottom level too weak to do a lot of these projects? I understand the new iMacs are hopefully coming out soon, but if the current iMac can handle it I might just buy it refurbished and save even a little more once the new ones come out.

    Just curious if anyone can offer some practical advice :)
     
  2. citizenzen macrumors 65816

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    Mar 22, 2010
    #2
    iMac should be fine so long as you max that RAM out.
     
  3. T'hain Esh Kelch macrumors 601

    T'hain Esh Kelch

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Denmark
    #3
    Since you are processing that large images, you can never get too much CPU power. But if you have the stock Mac mini with 2GB ram I would definitely upgrade that to 8 first.
     
  4. xheathen thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Aug 5, 2010
    #4
    Yeah I'm at 8gb right now. I've thought to go 16gb, but I'm not seeing many people say it makes a much bigger difference than 8.
     
  5. T'hain Esh Kelch macrumors 601

    T'hain Esh Kelch

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    #5
    No, 8 GB more RAM won't help you out then.

    An SSD might help you out quite a bit, but it depends on what exactly you do with the images? Could you describe a typical process?
     
  6. xheathen thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Aug 5, 2010
    #6
    It's not so much loading an image as more of just directly painting something. So in PS I'll set up the canvass as just start doing digital painting from scratch. SSD is an interesting route! I didn't even consider that as a way to make this more snappy but that does make more sense.
     
  7. T'hain Esh Kelch macrumors 601

    T'hain Esh Kelch

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    #7
    Yeah, in this case you'll need more CPU power, as much as possible, since you plenty of RAM.
     
  8. notsosmartguy macrumors newbie

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    May 18, 2012
    #8
    Hi, sorry that I probably should post my own new thread, but just wondering if any one knows if iMac is powerful enough for 3D software too? Even for the current iMac? (for comparison)
     
  9. fig macrumors 6502a

    fig

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    Jun 13, 2012
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    #9
    I run Maya 2012 (for character animation) and Modo on my late 2006 iMac. For everyday 3D use you should be fine.
     
  10. thekev, Sep 6, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2012

    thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

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    #10
    3d programs often depend heavily on OpenGL for viewport drawing. Under OSX, they all use OpenGL with the exception of zbrush, which just leans on the cpu. You're fine up to a certain point. What you have to remember is that much of this is limited by the hardware of a given era. People obviously animated without incredible poly counts years ago, especially via proxy models, and you can do quite a lot on an imac. If you're using enormous polycounts and 6k texture maps, do not try to move around that viewport with textures visible:p. The point is that it that once you're past the recommended system requirements which can be found on whatever developer's page, it becomes more an issue of how you use the program, not what program you use.


    You're 100% wrong here given that Creative Suite applications can be set to take as much ram as you like, and it's always faster than an ssd. It's also easier to add ram than an ssd on those silly mini designs. A year ago I wouldn't have suggested it for most people. The reason for this was the cost of ram was quite high for a mini due to a limit of two sodimms. Now it is below $100. Either way, it has to hold history, any vector points, navigator thumbnail, layer thumbnails, etc. somewhere. They either go to scratch disks or ram. Minis use a 2.5" HDD normally, and it's typical to just let these programs use the boot disk as a scratch disk. You end up with further slowing due to spotlight looking at the data as its written. On the other hand, it's possible to stuff another 8GB into ram, and if you limit spotlight access to system folders, that also speeds it up somewhat. If ram won't help, you're most likely cpu bound, but laggy brush is always a bottleneck at ram or scratch disks, and past CS5, it makes more sense to solve it at ram.
     
  11. T'hain Esh Kelch macrumors 601

    T'hain Esh Kelch

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    #11
    How on Earth does that make me wrong? He already stated that he's working on pictures that are 7000 pixels wide, so assuming a square RGB picture, he needs 147MB RAM to store it all, which gives him PLENTY of overhead for layers or other pictures, with the 8GB RAM he has already.

    Opening pictures will be faster using an SSD no matter what amount of RAM he has. Also, it will help the scratch disk, and thus further increase the speed. But that is why I asked what he was doing, and to me it seems the major limitation is CPU speed.

    A current generation SSD would be able to save such a file in a second, which would be barely unnoticeable for a user, let alone the time it takes Spotlight to add a single file to its index, it wouldn't be noticeable.
     
  12. thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

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    #12
    In recent versions, an application loads much more than just a single instance of that file. History length, every thumbnail, navigator, etc. are cached. I'm not sure to what degree it caches the layer stack, but it has to be able to turn things on and off.

    An ssd is not practical as storage given the size of many of these files. If the OP is working with enough of them, they'd be using external storage. Given the way things can be saved in the background, that's a non issue. The other part being that the bottleneck in saving wasn't necessarily the time it takes to dump a file to disk. The really long saves always came from a combination of scratch data being written to disk as a single threaded process for file compression while spotlight would take note of that prior to even writing the full file out. If you note the OP's issues, they have nothing to do with saves anyway. They have to do with laggy brush. While either would make a difference, you said that the ram wouldn't be noticeable. If ram isn't noticeable once properly configured, he's cpu bound as these functions can be addressed faster in ram than scratch disks. It's not like a few versions ago where ram past 3GB was a secondary cache. It can actually hold things such as history states there.

    My last post was probably written a bit rudely, but given the stated problems in the OP (which are specific to brush behavior), how would an ssd help more than ram? He mentioned brushes and effects. Effects are cpu bound unless they're hitting a slow disk. Brushes are about the same. It's not the amount of ram required to store background layer pixels in memory. Looking down at document sizes with everything included, I've pushed it over 2GB given many alpha channels, layers, etc. Most of the time it comes down to a need to access information more than anything.
     

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