Retina Imac Vs refurb 6 core mac pro

Discussion in 'iMac' started by gtedit, Nov 20, 2014.

  1. gtedit macrumors newbie

    Nov 20, 2014

    I was going to buy a top-spec retina iMac (CAD $3249 + 32GB owc ram = CAD$3700) but then happened to see that I could also get a 6 core mac pro with D500s for a similar price (CAD$3479 + 32gb OWC ram = $3954). I don't need the 5K screen (yet) so would happily buy a 1440 or 1080 with decent colour accuracy for $5-600. All in all, for my needs I'm looking at difference of around CAD$750-800 between the two systems once I'm ready to edit.

    I'm getting the system for pro video editing (but not pro grading or mo-graph - although I do dabble). I'm looking to be able to edit feature length projects in 4K (h264s, r3ds, dngs - but not necessarily at full rez- -1/2 would be great) with smooth playback in FCPX and premier. I'd like to have a few effects going as well (film convert, re-times, rgb curves etc). This machine is going to be used to cut indie features, commercials, trailers, events and docs.

    So which system should I get? Will the 6core nMP be worth the extra $800?

    Thanks for any info/feedback
  2. fastlanephil macrumors 65816


    Nov 17, 2007
    I would post your question in the Mac Pro forum.
  3. joema2 macrumors 68000


    Sep 3, 2013
    In general a top-spec 4Ghz retina iMac with M295X will be equal or faster on most editing tasks. On FCP X and Handbrake, the iMac will be vastly faster when rendering single-pass MPEG-2 or H.264 due to having Quick Sync. I don't know if Premiere supports Quick Sync yet:

    When doing sustained rendering, the iMac will be louder due to the cooling fan. It's not bad by PC standards but you can hear it.

    Storage is a significant factor, esp. for 4k and any uncompressed video. You will need a good size Thunderbolt RAID array, plus other HDDs to back that up. There are many options here, including the Promise Pegasus series, G-Technology and and OWC Thunderbay 4.

    Since most of your storage will be on a RAID array, an SSD iMac is better than Fusion Drive.

    The retina iMac 5k screen allows editing 4k video at 1:1 bit-for-bit while having additional screen area for editing controls.

    The 6-core nMP with D500 is a fine machine and that would work well also. If it was an 8-core nMP with D700, I'd go with that, but it's a lot more expensive and that changes the comparison.

    Typically some Macs at the Apple Store have FCP X on them. You could devise a few representative editing tasks, put the files on a USB stick and try a retina iMac vs nMP.
  4. fathergll macrumors 65816

    Sep 3, 2014
    I guess one big question would be if you are planning on running one monitor or 2 in the Mac Pro setup.

    My gut is the Mac Pro is a safer option if you're going to depend on it for real work like feature length projects but there are others who could give better answers.
  5. mdelrossi macrumors member

    Jun 22, 2005
    @ gtedit,
    I just picked up a base retina at the Apple store.
    I don't know if FCP uses multiple cores, but I do know that After effects does and is a ram hog(I do title treatments for motion picture trailers).
    I pulled up a project that took me 44 min to render on a MacPro 2008 8 core 2.8Ghz 32 megs ram.
    On the base retina iMac it took 14 min.:eek::D

    Needless to say the i7 with the threading and the 500ghz bump will probably be even faster.
    Also if you look at various benchmarks around the iMac beats the Mac Pro 6 core in single core tests, it's just faster. Add to that , the iMac has the quick sync or whatever that helps with h264 encodes, Thunderbolt2, and of course theres that wonderful screen. It's like looking at a huge iPad ;).
    Being able to run 4k let alone 1920x1080 full res whit room for timelines and bins is a no brainer.

    Remember you'll need to have some pretty fast storage and backups with either machine.

    That being said the old Mac Pro is still working away.

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