What config iMac do I need? (PS, Maya, Ableton, more)

Liffey

macrumors regular
Original poster
Feb 2, 2010
174
34
I am sick of my 2009 iMac freezing in the middle of work and just being slow in general with large files, so I am looking into a new one.

I typically use:

Photoshop (often juggling several 2GB+ files at once)
ZBrush
Maya
Unity 3D
Ableton Live
Reason
Then of course I also have Safari, iTunes and a couple other random apps running.

My current iMac is Late 09, 2.66GHz i5, 12GB DDR3, Radeon 4850 512 MB with an SSD. Even when I'm using Photoshop alone I can sense it slowing down. It crashes nearly every day. Maya can be a disaster.

What configuration would be required to run the above apps simultaneously and quickly? Rarely would I have them all open at once, but if I'm going to upgrade I want it to be worthwhile. I'm willing to wait til the next refresh but I'd rather not.

Thanks in advance for any help!
 
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yjchua95

macrumors 604
Apr 23, 2011
6,725
230
GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
I am sick of my 2009 iMac freezing in the middle of work and just being slow in general with large files, so I am looking into a new one.

I typically use:

Photoshop (often juggling several 2GB+ files at once)
ZBrush
Maya
Unity 3D
Ableton Live
Reason
Then of course I also have Safari, iTunes and a couple other random apps running.

My current iMac is Late 09, 2.66GHz i5, 12GB DDR3, Radeon 4850 512 MB with an SSD. Even when I'm using Photoshop alone I can sense it slowing down. It crashes nearly every day. Maya can be a disaster.

What configuration would be required to run the above apps simultaneously and quickly? Rarely would I have them all open at once, but if I'm going to upgrade I want it to be worthwhile. I'm willing to wait til the next refresh but I'd rather not.

Thanks in advance for any help!
A 27" with an i7, 16GB RAM (can upgrade yourself), pure SSD and an upgraded GPU. That would last you for quite a bit of time.
 

redheeler

macrumors 604
Oct 17, 2014
7,398
6,965
The Retina makes an excellent choice for graphic design. I second yjchua95's advice above with this additional detail.
 

JustFoJ

macrumors newbie
Mar 3, 2015
2
0
I think you definitely want the 27" retina, especially considering how much graphics work you do.

  • Upgrade to the i7 processor
  • If you feel comfortable, purchase the standard amount of RAM and just upgrade it yourself (much cheaper).
  • If you're going to be keeping this machine for a long time, I'd go with the 1TB SSD; it's less likely to break down (no mechanical parts) and is much faster, too. You could also get a smaller internal SSD and buy an external one later, too.
  • I'd upgrade the graphics considering how much you're doing

Just my opinion, of course. But this configuration will probably keep you running for quite a while!
 

Liffey

macrumors regular
Original poster
Feb 2, 2010
174
34
Is running intensive applications off of an external SSD a viable option? The price of the built-in SSD is the biggest barrier for me right now.

And yes I will upgrade RAM myself to 16 :)
 

yjchua95

macrumors 604
Apr 23, 2011
6,725
230
GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
Is running intensive applications off of an external SSD a viable option? The price of the built-in SSD is the biggest barrier for me right now.

And yes I will upgrade RAM myself to 16 :)
Not really, because:
1. It's not running at full speed
2. Sleeping the iMac would disconnect the ports and hence the SSD as well, so it won't switch back on from sleep.
 

kepler20b

macrumors 6502
Oct 18, 2014
376
275
get an ssd, i7, and 8gb of ram that you upgrade to 24 or 32.

you dont need to spend the extra on your gpu unless you game.


If you are worried about overpaying for SSD, you should get the lowest config and purchase a usb3/tb2 external enclosure that you can move files to and from depending on what you need.
 

yjchua95

macrumors 604
Apr 23, 2011
6,725
230
GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
get an ssd, i7, and 8gb of ram that you upgrade to 24 or 32.

you dont need to spend the extra on your gpu unless you game.


If you are worried about overpaying for SSD, you should get the lowest config and purchase a usb3/tb2 external enclosure that you can move files to and from depending on what you need.
I disagree, the upgraded GPU can really help in speeding up CUDA-assisted rendering (it'd be useful for Maya).

Besides, considering that the iMac is already so expensive, paying extra for the upgraded GPU isn't going to put a large dent into it.
 

Fishrrman

macrumors P6
Feb 20, 2009
17,182
5,537
[[ What configuration would be required to run the above apps simultaneously and quickly? ]]

Mac Pro time...
 

cltd

macrumors member
May 22, 2014
52
11

AppleFan360

macrumors 68020
Jan 26, 2008
2,186
674
I am sick of my 2009 iMac freezing in the middle of work and just being slow in general with large files, so I am looking into a new one.

I typically use:

Photoshop (often juggling several 2GB+ files at once)
ZBrush
Maya
Unity 3D
Ableton Live
Reason
Then of course I also have Safari, iTunes and a couple other random apps running.

My current iMac is Late 09, 2.66GHz i5, 12GB DDR3, Radeon 4850 512 MB with an SSD. Even when I'm using Photoshop alone I can sense it slowing down. It crashes nearly every day. Maya can be a disaster.

What configuration would be required to run the above apps simultaneously and quickly? Rarely would I have them all open at once, but if I'm going to upgrade I want it to be worthwhile. I'm willing to wait til the next refresh but I'd rather not.

Thanks in advance for any help!
If a pure SSD system is out of your budget, a 1TB or 3TB Fusion should work fine. The SSD evangelists around here love to spend other people's money. The Fusion drive is fast and a great value. BTW, the audio issue theory with Fusion drives has since been disproved. Those thread links posted are very old.
 
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cltd

macrumors member
May 22, 2014
52
11
BTW, the audio issue theory with Fusion drives has since been disproved. Those thread links posted are very old.
Yeah, very old, less than month ago... :rolleyes:

"Del Rei Feb 9, 2015 8:47 PM
Re: Massive problem with audio interface"