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Michael Garber
To iMac or not to iMac...
on Dec 1, 2012 at 1:38:17 am

So, this is interesting. A lot of us 'round these parts are on an upgrade path from the Mac Pro towers. I'd guess a lot of us have Kona or Decklink cards and monitors ready to go. In addition, many of us use eSATA cards. So, assuming you are on this upgrade path, I've priced out the difference between the new iMac 27" (fairly decked out) along with the base 2.4GHz 12-core Mac Pro.

I posted this primarily because I think it makes a strong case for waiting for the new Mac Pro (and not necessarily buying one right now). But please read the fine print - this is assuming you don't absolutely need a computer right now for work or personal needs. I think the new iMac is a beautiful looking system and should be plenty fast for most of our work, especially with extra ram and the 2GB video card. Also, I've read posts from people on the Cow who say the 12-core is smoking fast.

The risk I'm taking by waiting is that I have no idea what the PCI situation will be. If I'm out of luck, and my K3 and other cards are not compatible, then I'm better off investing now in Thunderbolt. With that...

iMac 27"
Core i7 3.4GHz
16GB RAM
1TB SATA HD (no fusion)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680MX 2GB
AppleCare
SUBTOTAL FOR IMAC: $2718.00

Additions to bring parity with Mac Pro:
Thunderbolt to FW: 30
Thunderbolt to eSATA: 200
Thunderbolt Cable: 50
AJA IO XT: 1500 (I went with the more expensive AJA since it has Thunderbolt throughputs)
SUBTOTAL: 1780

TOTAL FOR IMAC & ADDITIONS BEFORE TAXES: $4498

Mac Pro 2.66 12-core:
16GB RAM
1TB Drive
Radeon 5870 (upped from 5770)
Moving Kona 3 over from old tower
Moving RocketRaid over from old tower
TOTAL FOR MAC PRO BEFORE TAXES: $4398

A Need for Speed:
Geekbench score for the 12-core is just over 20,000.
Geekbench score released today for the iMac: just over 12,000. (correct me if I'm wrong on this. I read a story this morning that I thought had this number. Not sure if it was for the core i7 though)

I know Geekbench scores can be controversial. The way FCPX coded, I'm sure it can potentially work better on one system vs. another. I'm not an engineer, just a consumer doing his research.

There you go. Tawk amongst ya'selves...

Michael Garber
5th Wall - a post production company
Bloggy Blog: GARBERSHOP


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Walter Soyka
Re: To iMac or not to iMac...
on Dec 1, 2012 at 2:24:46 am

[Michael Garber] "I know Geekbench scores can be controversial."

Synthetic benchmarks don't always test a machine the same way real-world applications actually use it.


[Michael Garber] "The way FCPX coded, I'm sure it can potentially work better on one system vs. another."

FCPX runs better on a 2011 iMac than it runs on any Mac Pro, because it exploits the new AVX instruction set (found on the Sandy Bridge processors in the iMac, but not in the older Westmere processors in the Mac Pros).

See Andrew Richard's thread Why FCPX Seems Faster on Thunderbolt Macs [link] for more.

Things like Ae or 3D rendering still benefit from a fully-loaded Mac Pro (though performance there would be better on a PC with more modern CPU).

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Bret Williams
Re: To iMac or not to iMac...
on Dec 1, 2012 at 5:47:33 am

AE wouldn't in the new 3D mode unless you had a nVidia. Which the new iMac has. If only it had FW800 and a freakin DVD.

I Have a LaCie with FW800 and USB3. Perhaps it would loop through. Doubt it.


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Walter Soyka
Re: To iMac or not to iMac...
on Dec 1, 2012 at 4:24:31 pm

[Bret Williams] "AE wouldn't in the new 3D mode unless you had a nVidia. Which the new iMac has. If only it had FW800 and a freakin DVD. "

True! But the classic 3D renderer (where I'd say the huge majority of Ae production happens) benefits greatly from stacks of sizzle cores and piles of RAM.

A 2012 Mac Pro with 12 cores and 24 GB of RAM renders Brian Maffitt's Total Benchmark AE in 45 seconds. A 2011 iMac quad-i7 3.4 with 16 GB of RAM takes 101 seconds. (A 16-core Xeon E5 PC workstation with 32 GB of RAM like the ProMax ONE does it in 24 -- and that's why a modern Mac Pro would be important for creative pros on the Mac platform!)

http://barefeats.com/sandy01.html
http://barefeats.com/macs11_01.html

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Bret Williams
Re: To iMac or not to iMac...
on Dec 2, 2012 at 2:14:53 am

It's al about perspective. My 2006 MacPro was smokin when I got it. But I certainly don't upgrade every year. So going from a 2006 MacPro to a 2011 iMac was a jump ahead light years. And at iMac prices I can afford to get a new one every year.

I'll be swapping mine out for a nVidia version and not putting any faith in seeing a new MacPro that is going to satisfy anyone anytime soon.

Although it is a good sign to see them in the stores again!


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Soren Skriver
Re: To iMac or not to iMac...
on Dec 4, 2012 at 8:12:36 pm

1) Can anyone here enlighten me about what is most important the GPU or the CPU when it comes to video editing, rendering and 3D in FCPX and Motion?

2) I'm looking to upgrade my iMac, but I'm not sure how to spend my hard earned money best. I do some 3D, but mostly just editing in FCPX. Will the 21" with the following specs "suffice": 16gb ram, 3.1QC i7, NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M with 512MB.
... or should I opt for the 27" with the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675MX 1GB or NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680MX 2GB.

Any thoughts?

Ps. If I had all the money in the world, I would naturally opt for the 27" , but I am wondering if it is worth the extra cash.


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John Davidson
Re: To iMac or not to iMac...
on Dec 1, 2012 at 7:54:41 am

I ordered mind today! FCPX is awesome on my current 2011 iMac. Should be awesomer on the new one!
Excited about the fusion thing too.

John Davidson | President / Creative Director | Magic Feather Inc.


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Chris Harlan
Re: To iMac or not to iMac...
on Dec 1, 2012 at 8:56:53 am

[John Davidson] "I ordered mind today!"

Where can I get some. I surely need it.


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John Davidson
Re: To iMac or not to iMac...
on Dec 1, 2012 at 9:20:39 am

Errr. Oops! Here in Cali we can get a prescription for it!

John Davidson | President / Creative Director | Magic Feather Inc.


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Chris Harlan
Re: To iMac or not to iMac...
on Dec 1, 2012 at 9:29:32 am

LOL. We still have to have lunch. Or a late breakfast! Do they still have that amazing egg place over on Newhall Ranch Road? I can't remember the name of it, but there is one in Ojai too.


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Gary Huff
Re: To iMac or not to iMac...
on Dec 1, 2012 at 2:39:11 pm

[John Davidson] " Should be awesomer on the new one!"

The most amazing thing in the history of ever!


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Jason Jenkins
Re: To iMac or not to iMac...
on Dec 1, 2012 at 7:27:32 pm

[John Davidson] "Excited about the fusion thing too."

I'm not sure about the Fusion drive. How is this better than a discrete SSD for the OS & applications and a second internal HDD for media?

Jason Jenkins
Flowmotion Media
Video production... with style!

Check out my Mormon.org profile.


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Chris Harlan
Re: To iMac or not to iMac...
on Dec 1, 2012 at 9:31:11 pm

[Jason Jenkins] "[John Davidson] "Excited about the fusion thing too."

I'm not sure about the Fusion drive. How is this better than a discrete SSD for the OS & applications and a second internal HDD for media?
"


I think its intriguing, if it works as advertised. I wouldn't pay an extra $1300 for 250 GB less space, and the idea of paying only $400 more for a 3TB system drive would be a real incentive for me, fusion or no. I think its a terrific idea.


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John Davidson
Re: To iMac or not to iMac...
on Dec 1, 2012 at 10:04:12 pm

It's perfect for me. Most of the benefits of an SSD without the limitations on space. I think it's a great compromise until SSD's prices come down and can completely replace spinning disks. I did get Apple care because this is somewhat new (for apple) technology. If we find the drives have issues a year down the line, I'm covered.

John Davidson | President / Creative Director | Magic Feather Inc.


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Rick Lang
Re: To iMac or not to iMac...
on Dec 7, 2012 at 8:15:43 pm

[Jason Jenkins] "I'm not sure about the Fusion drive. How is this better than a discrete SSD for the OS & applications and a second internal HDD for media?"

Just conjecture until we get more experience with the newest 27" iMac, and just running the system as you suggest may be perfectly fine. I lean towards the high-end Fusion, 3TB HDD with 128GB SSD (wish it was 256GB for $250), though because it may be the smartest "it just works" disk management option ever (even easier than Time Machine). The OS manages what is on the SSD and what is on the HDD according to its use. Initially on a new system, everything is loaded on the SSD which would be the OS and your applications and other data, but as the demands exceed the capacity, data is loaded to the HDD. Then as data is used by you over time, the rarely used material (including OS and apps) migrates to the HDD and data you use frequently goes from the HDD to the SSD.

Sure it takes some time for the OS to learn what belongs where, but apparently it learns after a couple of accesses to the data. So the OS does potentially a better job than the user would of maximizing performance in the internal system. And you don't waste too much empty space on the SSD because the OS and your apps only took up 75GB for example.

Of course when we have more experience with the Fusion drive, the theory may have its quirks in practice. If it proves to be a winner, it's such an elegant way of benefiting from an SSD while retaining high capacity on the iMac's internal volume. Much better than simply using the SSD/Flash on a hybrid drive as a temporary cache.

Rick Lang

iMac 27” 2.8GHz i7 16GB


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Paul Jay
Re: To iMac or not to iMac...
on Dec 3, 2012 at 9:23:17 am

Ofcourse anyone that buys extra ram at Apple is throwing away money.
You can add 32 gb ram for 200 bucks in the 27'' iMac.


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