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Michael Hadley
mid-2017 iMac vs iMac Pro
on Dec 18, 2017 at 8:55:23 pm

Folks:

Currently running a 2013 nMac Pro and an updated cheesegrater.

Considering a new box. Yes, would love the iMac Pro but wondering if it's more horsepower than we need for our mainly HD and 4K workflows. Sure, I'd love the iMac 10-core model, but the maxed out mid-2017 iMac seems like a good deal. Does anyone here have any thoughts about this--and if you have the 2017 iMac, how is it working out for you?

Thanks as always.


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Joe Marler
Re: mid-2017 iMac vs iMac Pro
on Dec 18, 2017 at 10:20:05 pm

I have a top-spec 2015 and 2015 iMac 27 I use on large documentary projects with FCPX, mostly with 4k H264 material. The 2017 is very impressive -- about 2x faster than the 2015 at ingest and creating proxies or optimized media, about 2x faster at encode to H264, much faster at scrubbing an H264 timeline. I don't know why it's so much faster -- I assume the Kaby Lake Quick Sync is improved.

Overall it is not 2x faster at everything vs the 2015 -- the GeekBench CPU and GPU numbers are a better reflection of the overall difference (which is generally modest). But for H264 it is hugely faster. If you have an all-ProRes workflow from acquisition to delivery, a 12-core D700 nMP still isn't too bad. But for H264 on FCPX, the 2017 iMac is about 2x faster than the top-spec nMP on several key areas such as ingest, proxy creation and export to H264. With 4k ProRes the nMP is still about 2x faster on certain effects like sharpen and add noise than the 2017 iMac, so there are lots of differences based on what codec is used.

I have about 128TB of Thunderbolt arrays hooked to the iMac. FCPX 10.3.4 so far is handling 20 terabytes (about 300 hr) of documentary footage OK.

However there are cases where I still need more performance. Fast as FCPX is on the 2017 iMac, I still must generally transcode 4k H264 to proxy for multicam and the most fluid editing performance. If you have a high shooting ratio, that's a lot of transcoding time.

During the early phases of editing, you don't need the performance as much. But during the later phases, you end up rendering the project over and over, almost countless times. You are also adding very compute-intensive effects such as stabilization, Neat Video, Imagenomic Portraiture, Digital Anarchy Flicker Free, and hundreds of editing refinements -- all those slow down the render and export. As delivery deadlines approach, it becomes critical how rapidly you can repeatedly render, export, and incorporate changes -- on a timeline that is bogged down with lots of effects.

I had a 12-core nMP for a while and I really liked how quiet it was. But if your desktop is full of rotating Thunderbolt arrays, the computer noise is just one element among that. That said, when my iMac is transcoding for several days, I wish it was a bit quieter. It has been totally reliable but I wonder how running with all CPU cores pegged for days will affect long-term reliability and longevity.

A top-spec 2017 iMac 27 is pretty nice, esp. for H264. For 1080 material the 2017 iMac seems about all most people would need, at least on FCPX. 4k is another story, and especially H264. If you will ever edit HEVC material you'll need hardware acceleration of some type which means Kaby Lake or later or whatever trick the iMac Pro uses (maybe AMD's UVD and VCE hardware). The base level iMac Pro isn't that much more and it will probably be considerably faster. How much so, nobody yet knows because the early reviewers (except Vincent Laforet) didn't do any meaningful video performance testing, and that was on the 10-core Vega64 version.


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Peter DeArmond
Re: mid-2017 iMac vs iMac Pro
on Dec 18, 2017 at 11:35:05 pm

Hi Michael,

I have the mid-2017 27-inch iMac, and it’s working great for me. My setup has the 1 TB SSD and of course the core i7 processor, but I chose to get it with the minimum 8 GB RAM, because buying an extra 32 GB was much cheaper and simple to install (and this doesn’t void the warranty). For my purposes the 40 GB RAM is plenty.

I’m also using an 8 TB RAID 0 array connected to one of the Thunderbolt 3 ports. Although I’m doing mostly 1080p projects, the 4k stuff I’ve played with so far hasn’t been a problem. In fact, I would say my system is overkill for what I need. As much as I would love to have the new iMac Pro, I couldn’t justify getting one on my budget. Overall I’m very happy with my setup, and I love using FCPX with it.



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Michael Hadley
Re: mid-2017 iMac vs iMac Pro
on Dec 18, 2017 at 11:47:50 pm

Thanks for the input.

One question: I wonder what kind of speed boost one would get adding an AMD Vega to the 2017 iMac via an eGPU?


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Lance Bachelder
Re: mid-2017 iMac vs iMac Pro
on Dec 20, 2017 at 8:24:30 pm
Last Edited By Lance Bachelder on Dec 20, 2017 at 8:25:21 pm

I wonder what kind of speed boost I'd get adding this (10 times more powerful than the Vega):

https://www.nvidia.com/en-us/titan/titan-v/?nvid=nv-int-tnvptlh-29191

It was at a Vegas premiere that I resolved to become an avid FCPX user.

Lance Bachelder
Writer, Editor, Director
Downtown Long Beach, California
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1680680/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1


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Bob Zelin
Re: mid-2017 iMac vs iMac Pro
on Dec 20, 2017 at 11:03:06 pm

Hi Lance -
I will never forget that I owe my current career to you !!!!!

But please don't give people false hope that they will buy a Titan X from NVidia, pop it into an Akitio or Sonnet eGPU box, and BOOM, it will just work. Even the AMD Vega at this moment is having issues. By spring 2018, we should see a stable AMD external GPU working - but as for NVidia without all sorts of hacks and terminal commands - well, I would not hold my breath.

Please correct me if you feel I am wrong.

Bob Zelin

Bob Zelin
Rescue 1, Inc.
bobzelin@icloud.com


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andy patterson
Re: mid-2017 iMac vs iMac Pro
on Dec 21, 2017 at 12:09:58 am

https://www.nvidia.com/en-us/titan/titan-v/?nvid=nv-int-tnvptlh-29191

Will it hit a bottle neck with Thunderbolt 3? If not will Volta hit a bottle neck with Thunderbolt 3? Volta should be the focus at this point considering it should launch in 2018.


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Lance Bachelder
Re: mid-2017 iMac vs iMac Pro
on Dec 21, 2017 at 6:36:03 am

Hey Bob no I was being kind of a wise ass with this post. Everyone's so excited to run out and buy a $13,000 iMac I thought it was kinda funny that nVidia launches a $2999 card that literally 5 to 10 times more powerful than the most expensive iMac!

I would never even think of throwing one of these into a Thunderbolt box - just plain silly.

Happy Holidays!

It was at a Vegas premiere that I resolved to become an avid FCPX user.

Lance Bachelder
Writer, Editor, Director
Downtown Long Beach, California
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1680680/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1


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Eric Santiago
Re: mid-2017 iMac vs iMac Pro
on Dec 21, 2017 at 1:08:37 pm

[Lance Bachelder] "it was kinda funny that nVidia launches a $2999 card that literally 5 to 10 times more powerful than the most expensive iMac! "

Its too bad this was an actual computer system price :)


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Chris Kenny
Re: mid-2017 iMac vs iMac Pro
on Dec 21, 2017 at 9:42:29 am

[Lance Bachelder] I wonder what kind of speed boost I'd get adding this (10 times more powerful than the Vega):

https://www.nvidia.com/en-us/titan/titan-v/?nvid=nv-int-tnvptlh-29191


That crazy 110 TFLOPS number is for the specialized deep learning hardware, which isn't useful for general video editing tasks. For the sort of graphics processing apps like FCP X and Resolve do, the relevant number is the single precision performance of 13.8 TFLOPS (per AnandTech) vs. 11 TFLOPS quoted by Apple for Vega 64 in iMac Pro.

--
Digital Workflow, Nice Dissolve.

You should follow me on Twitter here.


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