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smoledman

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Oct 17, 2011
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I'm in the market for a new iMac in the next few months. I have my eye on this one:

3.7GHz 6-core 9th-generation Intel Core i5 processor, Turbo Boost up to 4.6GHz
32GB 2666MHz DDR4 memory
Radeon Pro Vega 48 with 8GB of HBM2 memory


My intention is to run Windows 10 using Parallels Desktop as I have been doing for the last 4 years. Does anyone here run this iMac with Parallels Desktop and can speak to the graphics performance in Windows gaming?

My planned VM configuration:

8 logical CPU cores
6GB GPU RAM
16GB RAM
 

casperes1996

macrumors 604
Jan 26, 2014
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Horsens, Denmark
8 logical CPU cores


This won't be an option. The i5 here only has 6 logical cores, each mapped to a physical core. Hyperthreading is disabled on the i5 and i7 and only available on i9. This happened as a market segmentation move as the physical core count went up.

32GB 2666MHz DDR4 memory

Just like everyone else, I'll point out the memory is very easily user upgraded and doing it yourself can save you a good chunk of change.

The Vega should perform really well generally, but I don't have it to speak to its virtualised performance.
 
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smoledman

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Oct 17, 2011
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This won't be an option. The i5 here only has 6 logical cores, each mapped to a physical core. Hyperthreading is disabled on the i5 and i7 and only available on i9. This happened as a market segmentation move as the physical core count went up.



Just like everyone else, I'll point out the memory is very easily user upgraded and doing it yourself can save you a good chunk of change.

The Vega should perform really well generally, but I don't have it to speak to its virtualised performance.

Ok so I should be able to assign 2 cores to macOS & 4 cores to the VM right?
 

casperes1996

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Jan 26, 2014
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Horsens, Denmark
Ok so I should be able to assign 2 cores to macOS & 4 cores to the VM right?

Yes. That's no issue. You have 6 physical cores, 6 logical cores. Any way you want to distribute that is fine. Intel disabling Hyperthreading on these parts is largely an anti-consumer move to create product segmentation, forcing more customers to get i9s If they want hyper threading and the performance advantages it comes with. But in certain cases, no hyper threading is actually better since one thread gets the full core and doesn't have to share. The web generally likes this, and a lot of games do too actually, though games are starting to become more and more well suited to SMT computing on high core counts.
 

smoledman

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Oct 17, 2011
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Thanks for the responses. I'm definitely going with 3rd party RAM, that will save me some serious cash and I already have previous experience swapping RAM on an iMac. Any recommendations on TB-3 RAID drives?
 

casperes1996

macrumors 604
Jan 26, 2014
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Horsens, Denmark
Thanks for the responses. I'm definitely going with 3rd party RAM, that will save me some serious cash and I already have previous experience swapping RAM on an iMac. Any recommendations on TB-3 RAID drives?

Sure :). Yeah, RAM swaps are simple and can save you a good bunch.
Regarding RAID drives, recommendations really hinge on what level of performance/reliability/capacity you're after.

I'd probably just get a RAID chassis with empty drive bays and a good controller, then fill the bays with whatever drives you'd want. I like SanDisk drives for SSDs myself, but that may just be anecdotal bias from how reliable they've been to me personally compared to other offerings, and how good service I've gotten from them in the one case something did go wrong. - Free out of warranty replacement.
 

wardie

macrumors 6502a
Aug 18, 2008
551
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I use VMWare not Parallels (on a 2017 iMac with 580 graphics card) so a bit less powerful. And I also read from reviews that VMWare is a bit less good at graphics performance than Parallels. However I would bet that the gaming performance via any virtualisation won’t be very usable at all. I tried on mine and 3D games were unplayable, very low frame rate and jerky. However booting into Windows 10 instead via Bootcamp its a different ball game, makes a pretty reasonable setup for casual gaming even in 4K I’ve found. If you really want hardcore gaming rig though just buy a PC / build.
 

casperes1996

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Jan 26, 2014
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Horsens, Denmark
I use VMWare not Parallels (on a 2017 iMac with 580 graphics card) so a bit less powerful. And I also read from reviews that VMWare is a bit less good at graphics performance than Parallels. However I would bet that the gaming performance via any virtualisation won’t be very usable at all. I tried on mine and 3D games were unplayable, very low frame rate and jerky. However booting into Windows 10 instead via Bootcamp its a different ball game, makes a pretty reasonable setup for casual gaming even in 4K I’ve found. If you really want hardcore gaming rig though just buy a PC / build.

I've never really tested their claims, but Parallels specifically market their virtualisation solution as "gaming optimised". Of course it'll be far from as good as booting Windows directly, but they do offer quite good hardware acceleration.
Though there is technically something known as PCIe passthrough that should allow near identical gaming performance to being booted directly, since the virtualised OS will be handed the GPU entirely. Don't think any user-friendly VM solution that allows this exists for the Mac though; Maybe none at all. QEMU can be set up to support it on Linux, but it requires setting up MMU groups in the BIOS and I don't know if there's any way of getting that worked out on the Mac. Plus I think the host loses access to the GPU which would likely mean you'd require a dual GPU system.
 

Khaleal

macrumors regular
Aug 24, 2013
186
80
Just use bootcamp and install Windows in another partition (or an external HDD/SSD), it'll give you far better performance than using virtualisation.
 

Fishrrman

macrumors Penryn
Feb 20, 2009
28,454
12,572
OP:

You didn't say what kind of DRIVE you would be getting (other than the size).

DO NOT get an iMac with a fusion drive. Particularly the 1tb version. It will do ok at first, but there's a good possibility it will slow down over time.

DO get one with an internal SSD.
However, I would suggest 512gb -- 1tb SSD is too expensive to be a good value.

DO get only 8gb of RAM "from Apple".
Add more RAM yourself -- easy on a 27" iMac.
 

smoledman

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Oct 17, 2011
1,943
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Should I hold off until 2020?

I'm wondering if I get the 2019 iMac now, I'll miss out on a redesign that includes 2 more TB-3 ports + Face ID.
 

ruslan120

macrumors 65816
Jul 12, 2009
1,417
1,139
Chasing the newest, best technology with regards to computers is a fruitless and costly endeavor. There will always be newer, better on the horizon.

If you need a computer now, go for it. (Exception: Apple is planning on imminently releasing a new model. i.e. timespan of 1-3 weeks, like with the new iPhones)

Purchased a 2019 iMac 5K a month ago and haven't regretted it in the least. 2 TB3 ports is future-proof.

1. eGPU
2. SSD (2TB, USB C)

Will be upgrading (2) to a TB3 Dock to add 10Gb Ethernet, a powerful DAS, and make the SSD TB3 when prices come down.
 
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J.Gallardo

macrumors 6502
Apr 4, 2017
448
157
Spain
Consider that perhaps this is the last and only mac without a T2 or similar auxiliary chip. This detail seems nice to me, towards internal upgrades and repairability...
(I know the advantages of T2... but still some disadvantages too!).
 

casperes1996

macrumors 604
Jan 26, 2014
7,488
5,650
Horsens, Denmark
You didn't say what kind of DRIVE you would be getting (other than the size).

DO NOT get an iMac with a fusion drive. Particularly the 1tb version. It will do ok at first, but there's a good possibility it will slow down over time.

I didn't see the size mentioned either, but going by the other specs, if the drive isn't manually changed in the BTO options, it's the 3TB Fusion Drive. Which in my opinion is really good. It comes with 128GB of fast SSD space, which I'd say is likely enough for what needs that speed, and the remaining as a spinner, which is fine for most archival. External SSDs can be added for more performant storage space.
 

Conutz

macrumors 6502
Oct 24, 2014
358
250
Joburg
Should I hold off until 2020?

I'm wondering if I get the 2019 iMac now, I'll miss out on a redesign that includes 2 more TB-3 ports + Face ID.
I feel the same about the design - it’s dated! The MBPs and iPPs and just so sleek in comparison...
 

ispcolohost

macrumors member
Nov 28, 2017
38
36
I just moved from a 2015-era 27" iMac with 32gb to a 2019 27" 5k with the 8-core i9 CPU. I purchased with 8gb and used two of the 2x16gig Crucial kits, part number CT2K16G4SFD8266, to bump it to 64gb total; less than $300 total on Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/Crucial-16GBx2-PC4-21300-SODIMM-260-Pin/dp/B071H38422). That part number isn't Crucial's "Mac" version of the chips but it works fine; even they want to charge an Apple tax.

I'm not using Parallels but am using Vmware Fusion 11 and this box is soooo much better than my 2015 system. With the memory bump I was able to allocate a reasonable amount to the VM, and four cores, and it runs like a native Windows system now. Keep in mind that there's no harm in allocating some or even all of your cores to the Windows VM, it will only use what it needs to like any other application. Of course if Windows is being stupid and sucking up CPU time, it could use more than you really want it to.
 

casperes1996

macrumors 604
Jan 26, 2014
7,488
5,650
Horsens, Denmark
2020 might bring the T2 Chip....

Or the T3! And I for one welcome it with open arms. Offloaded h.265 encoding, an AES engine, continuous processing of Hey Siri requests - Aside from the reports of T2 related kernel panics there are a lot of upsides with no real downsides. And those kernel panics will be resolved, if they aren't already dealt with entirely. Some people make it sound like you can't install another OS with the T-chip, but that's not the case. It just involves changing the boot security checking.
 
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swissbob

macrumors member
Apr 24, 2019
65
9
Or the T3! And I for one welcome it with open arms. Offloaded h.265 encoding, an AES engine, continuous processing of Hey Siri requests - Aside from the reports of T2 related kernel panics there are a lot of upsides with no real downsides. And those kernel panics will be resolved, if they aren't already dealt with entirely. Some people make it sound like you can't install another OS with the T-chip, but that's not the case. It just involves changing the boot security checking.
I‘am sure the kernel problems will be resolved...One day..........

It was the reason, why I‘ve got a 27 iMac instead of a iMac Pro.
 

Sooby

macrumors member
Apr 5, 2019
61
38
I have the latest Parallels and Windows 10 on my iMac at the moment. I have the i9, Vega 48, 40Gb Ram, 1Tb SSD. The gaming performance in Parallel's so far is bad. I've tried Battlefield 1, Dishonored 2, Far Cry Primal, Batman Arkham Knight, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Stalker Call of Pripyat, and Rage (the first one). Basically all the modern games are unplayable. Battlefield 1 started once but now refuses to run in Parallels. When it did start up it didn't run smoothly. Batman also won't run in Parallels - it just crashes every time. Dishonoured 2 stutters continuously and is unplayable. Rise of the Tomb Raider loads into the level but the lag is extreme, even on the lowest settings and is unplayable. Far Cry Primal lags massively as well and is unplayable. Stalker and Rage run fairly well, but still stutter a little bit and don't run as smoothly as in Bootcamp, but they are playable.

I will try a few more games over the next few days and let you know some more, but at the moment, all modern games from the last 4 years or so are unplayable. I have the system set to 8 virtual cores and access to 20Gb's of Ram btw.
 
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