Thread: Updated iMac 27" - Recommended Specs?

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  1. #11  
    Senior Member Blair S. Paulsen's Avatar
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    If you treat the new iMac like a workstation, you'll likely discover it isn't. OTOH, if you can accept some modest limitations...

    Related notes:

    New CPUs, the evolution of GPU decoding processes and the shift from wavelets to a DCT codec for R3Ds should reduce the strain.
    The I/O includes TB3/USB-C ports and a 10GigE option. It's fun to compare benchmarks, but on a day to day basis, fast data transfers typically have a bigger impact on productivity.

    FWIW, assuming you prefer Macs, this looks like enough computer to get all but the heaviest jobs done painlessly. I have high hopes for Apple ARM based rigs going forward, but expect it will be a couple years before we see hardware/software integration reach the point of properly exploiting the new architecture. At that point, if you have so much work that your iMac is struggling, buying an Apple silicon based workstation should be simple enough - and you will have avoided some of the headaches endemic to implementing new tech. (Yes, I know the A series chips have been around, but scaling them up for the kind of workloads RedUsers have might take a minute.)

    Cheers - #19
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  2. #12  
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrendanLeahy View Post

    I'm a bit concerned from the last video you posted, Brian, regarding the cooling issues/throttling with the Intel chips on Macbook Pros, even though I know they fixed it in 2020. From what I've read, these new iMacs have kept a very similar internal layout to previous years, so it begs the question if they're going to handle i9 10-core processors as well?
    I guess it remains to be seen with the throttling. Would have been nice if some of the cooling techniques used in the iMac Pro could have been passed down to this new iMac.

    The long view I have with the future of the Mac line is you can no longer go off just raw processor numbers to understand the kind of power and functionality that will likely be in these new Apple Silicon Macs. This is mostly because 1)they already seem to perform general processing quite well compared to Intel cpus and 2)
    they offer a lot of co-processing cores for machine learning, image processing, HVEC encoding decoding, among others that are not present in Intel chips.

    I don't think Intel Macs will age well compared to what's coming from Apple Silicon. I also think the next version of Final Cut X (which has not had a MAJOR update in about 30 months) is going leverage a lot of this new tech and perhaps be used to showcase what Apple Silicon uniquely has to offer. They already showed FCP X running on Apple Silicon at WWDC.

    If you need a system now perhaps consider a used 2010-2012 tower and throw in a Vega 56 or 5700 XT. You can buy much of this on eBay for about $1000-$1200 depending on processor count and RAM. You don't have Thunderbolt but the performance on those systems is still quite good.

    If you can hold out, consider the Apple Silicon which will have models out later this year.
    I'm not an authority this is just based on my observations.

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  3. #13  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blair S. Paulsen View Post
    If you treat the new iMac like a workstation, you'll likely discover it isn't. OTOH, if you can accept some modest limitations...
    FWIW, assuming you prefer Macs, this looks like enough computer to get all but the heaviest jobs done painlessly. I have high hopes for Apple ARM based rigs going forward, but expect it will be a couple years before we see hardware/software integration reach the point of properly exploiting the new architecture. At that point, if you have so much work that your iMac is struggling, buying an Apple silicon based workstation should be simple enough - and you will have avoided some of the headaches endemic to implementing new tech. (Yes, I know the A series chips have been around, but scaling them up for the kind of workloads RedUsers have might take a minute.)

    Cheers - #19
    You're right that it will take a couple of years for the software and the hardware though some of this is dependent on the software maker.
    Apple and Blackmagic will both likely have strong support across their applications pretty soon. Adobe and Avid historically have taken some time to fully adapt their software.

    Understand too that Apple has already guided software developers to keeping their software in line with this transition by pushing graphics to Metal and deprecating 32bit software among other things. Going by some of the developer feedback it seems like the transitions were not as hard as expected.

    The trickier part will be leveraging some of the application specific cores being integrated into the Apple Silicon.

    I fully expect some of the higher end Apple Silicon processors to have some type of Prores encode/decode functionality where the AfterBurner cards (FPGA based at the moment) are shrunk into a core of the main processor. Again, this is just conjecture but I wouldn't be surprised if it happens.

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  4. #14  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Timmons View Post
    I guess it remains to be seen with the throttling. Would have been nice if some of the cooling techniques used in the iMac Pro could have been passed down to this new iMac.

    The long view I have with the future of the Mac line is you can no longer go off just raw processor numbers to understand the kind of power and functionality that will likely be in these new Apple Silicon Macs. This is mostly because 1)they already seem to perform general processing quite well compared to Intel cpus and 2)
    they offer a lot of co-processing cores for machine learning, image processing, HVEC encoding decoding, among others that are not present in Intel chips.

    I don't think Intel Macs will age well compared to what's coming from Apple Silicon. I also think the next version of Final Cut X (which has not had a MAJOR update in about 30 months) is going leverage a lot of this new tech and perhaps be used to showcase what Apple Silicon uniquely has to offer. They already showed FCP X running on Apple Silicon at WWDC.

    If you need a system now perhaps consider a used 2010-2012 tower and throw in a Vega 56 or 5700 XT. You can much of this on eBay for about $1000-$1200
    depending on processor count and RAM. You don't have Thunderbolt but the performance on those systems is still quite good.

    If you can hold out, consider the Apple Silicon which will have models out later this year.
    I'm not an authority this is just based on my observations.

    Brian Timmons
    BRITIM/MEDIA
    This is all great advice. I will hold off for now - if the silicon iMac 24" that is rumored doesn't seem to be "caught up" to everything else (I'm assuming it will be, but there's that small %), then even in the autumn or winter, these new 27" iMacs will no doubt still be around and/or reduced a bit via the refurbished store.
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  5. #15  
    Senior Member Blair S. Paulsen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Timmons View Post
    (snip) The long view I have with the future of the Mac line is you can no longer go off just raw processor numbers to understand the kind of power and functionality that will likely be in these new Apple Silicon Macs. This is mostly because 1)they already seem to perform general processing quite well compared to Intel cpus and 2)
    they offer a lot of co-processing cores for machine learning, image processing, HVEC encoding decoding, among others that are not present in Intel chips.

    I don't think Intel Macs will age well compared to what's coming from Apple Silicon. I also think the next version of Final Cut X (which has not had a MAJOR update in about 30 months) is going leverage a lot of this new tech and perhaps be used to showcase what Apple Silicon uniquely has to offer. They already showed FCP X running on Apple Silicon at WWDC.
    (snip) Brian Timmons BRITIM/MEDIA
    Good points. Perhaps after the interminable wait for the 7,1 MacPro I've become pessimistic about Apple's timelines. I'd also note that even after the new AS Macs supplant the Intel based rigs they won't stop being useful tools.

    Perhaps the SWOP analysis on this hinges on your short term needs. If you are in no hurry, pandemic and all that, then waiting for an AS Mac is easy enough. If you have lots of projects on your docket then I still think the 27" iMac is a Goldilocks solution for OSX RedUsers. The 7,1 MP is a beast, but unless you can ROI it in 2 years... The Intel based laptops are nice but they don't have 500 nit, 100% P3, 27" 5K screens and the ability to support a 5700XT with 16GB of VRAM. IMO, the low hanging fruit for the shift to Apple Silicon is laptops where the performance per watt really counts and not needing a discrete GPU is huge.

    Cheers - #19
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  6. #16  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blair S. Paulsen View Post
    Good points. Perhaps after the interminable wait for the 7,1 MacPro I've become pessimistic about Apple's timelines. I'd also note that even after the new AS Macs supplant the Intel based rigs they won't stop being useful tools.

    Perhaps the SWOP analysis on this hinges on your short term needs. If you are in no hurry, pandemic and all that, then waiting for an AS Mac is easy enough. If you have lots of projects on your docket then I still think the 27" iMac is a Goldilocks solution for OSX RedUsers. The 7,1 MP is a beast, but unless you can ROI it in 2 years... The Intel based laptops are nice but they don't have 500 nit, 100% P3, 27" 5K screens and the ability to support a 5700XT with 16GB of VRAM. IMO, the low hanging fruit for the shift to Apple Silicon is laptops where the performance per watt really counts and not needing a discrete GPU is huge.

    Cheers - #19
    I think you’re right Blair. The Intel systems particularly at the high end will still have use going into the future.
    Apple has also been up front with a commitment to support them.

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