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Author Topic: 27" iMac as replacement for Mac Pro and 30" ACD on location and main computer  (Read 12575 times)
Ed Taylor
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« on: March 05, 2013, 09:49:27 AM »
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Hi,

I shoot a lot on location and require a larger monitor. Currently we drag my aging 2008 3.1 Mac Pro 2.8 Quad, (16Gb, 4x2Tb HD) and 30" ACD with us which is a pain.

I'm considering switching everything over to one of the new iMac 27" units with 3.4GHz Quad-core Intel Core i7, 32Gb Ram 3TB Fusion Drive and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680MX 2GB GDDR5.

I've demo'd the unit at the Apple store with large working files etc, and it's clearly faster. I will have to go from having working files on a separate HD and lose PS scratch disk. That said, Working in PS in the store still seemed very snappy, (and that unit only had 8Gb ram). Monitor seemed fine to work with. I'd back using two USB 3.0 external HD's with SuperDuper and Chronosync as I do now.

My work is lifestyle/portraiture. I shoot primarily with 5Ds Mk3, occasionally P65. Don't shoot a lot of setups per day. No catalog. Do retouch, and sometimes create layered work files up to 4+ Gb.

Clearly it seems a downgrade, but will make my location work, etc, much less stressful and faster.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Anyone think I'll have "buyer's remorse"?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

Best,

Ed
« Last Edit: March 05, 2013, 02:54:56 PM by Ed Taylor » Logged

Best Regards,

Ed Taylor
www.edtaylorphoto.com
kikashi
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« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2013, 01:51:10 PM »
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I've just upgraded (yes, definitely upgraded) from my Mac Pro, which was a 2006 model with dual quad-core processors and 10Gb RAM, to a 27" iMac with the kind of spec you're talking about. I have "only" 24Gb RAM: I bought it with 8 installed and added two 8Gb modules from Crucial, which saved about £500 on Apple's charge; I have a 1TB fusion drive, which is enough for me, and I didn't upgrade the graphics card. I'm delighted: it's a huge speed boost. I use mostly LR.

I'd imagine it will be a hell of a lot easier to cart around than your current setup, too.

Of course you'll have "buyer's remorse". It's virtually impossible to buy a computer without it, since a better machine than whatever you buy is just round the corner. We all just have to live with that.

Jeremy
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Ed Taylor
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« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2013, 01:53:17 PM »
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Hi Jeremy,

Thanks for your thoughts!

Care to weigh in on the screen? What were you using with the MP?

Thanks,

Ed
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Ed Taylor
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« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2013, 04:55:36 PM »
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A pretty crappy, but cheap and reasonably functional, Dell 24". Needless to say, the iMac screen is an enormous improvement, particularly since I also bought an i1 Display Pro for calibration (I was using a Huey Pro). Now I can adjust the brightness so that I have some chance of matching my prints to my screen!

I continue to use the Dell as a secondary screen, to hold palettes, email and the grid view in LR. The Thunderbolt / mini Display Port to DVI adaptor cost £25.

Jeremy
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george2787
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« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2013, 05:22:10 AM »
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I've been using a 2010 imac, 16 gb, 1tb for this task for 2 years now, 5d mkII files that weight the same and file size between 2-3 GB, just installed a SSD and haven't got time to play with it but seems fine Smiley

A friend of mine who does a lot of pano work just moved from a 2011 mac pro to an imac with similar specs and claims that the imac is slightly faster for what he does (32 GB RAM in both machines, imac with fusion drive)

The worst part I'd say is the screen when working with sun. For color critical work just plug in yur 30 or one of those new nec/eizo 27" and you're good to go at a fraction of a new mac pro.
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Ed Taylor
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« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2013, 07:53:36 AM »
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Thanks for your reply George.

Anyone have any thoughts as to whether the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680MX 2GB GDDR5 upgrade is worth the additional $135.00?

I currently don't do any video.

Thanks
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Ed Taylor
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« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2013, 08:19:45 AM »
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Thanks for your reply George.
Anyone have any thoughts as to whether the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680MX 2GB GDDR5 upgrade is worth the additional $135.00?
I currently don't do any video.
Thanks

The basic videocard is already much more than you need - I you do games or video it could be interesting.
They put very fast videocards in iMacs - not in the Macpros
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Ed Taylor
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« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2013, 08:43:22 AM »
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Thanks Kers!

Ed
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Ed Taylor
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george2787
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« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2013, 10:04:52 AM »
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My friend asked me the same about the graphics card... considering programs like capture one benefit from a faster graphics card in exporting and rendering I'd get the big one, after all 135$ is not a lot compared to the whole budget and cannot be upgraded later Wink
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Ed Taylor
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« Reply #9 on: March 06, 2013, 10:25:39 AM »
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George,

Thanks, didn't know that C1 leveraged the video card. And yes, $135 isn't much.

Thanks,

Ed
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Ed Taylor
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« Reply #10 on: March 06, 2013, 03:44:51 PM »
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Here are some benchmarks comparing a late 2012 27" iMac with a 3.4 GHz i7 CPU to a mid 2010 Mac Pro with a 3.33GHz 6-Core Xeon CPU.

The iMac scores 10% - 25% faster than the Mac Pro on most tests. Also taking into account that the iMac's built-in screen is light years ahead of your old Cinema Display in terms of brightness, contrast, evenness of illumination and color gamut, I say it's a no-brainer. Get the iMac.

http://barefeats.com/imac12p1.html
« Last Edit: March 06, 2013, 03:46:48 PM by Doug Frost » Logged
Ed Taylor
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« Reply #11 on: March 06, 2013, 05:40:38 PM »
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Thanks for the link Doug.

And given that my MP is early 2008, the difference is much larger as measured by Geekbench.

Ed
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Ed Taylor
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« Reply #12 on: March 08, 2013, 12:36:30 PM »
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You'll need a case of course. Check out http://www.ilugger.com/ unless you need a flight ready case.
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Ellis Vener
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Ed Taylor
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« Reply #13 on: March 08, 2013, 01:34:02 PM »
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Thanks Ellis, already on my shopping list. Most of my shooting is local. Past that, it's just the MBP…

Even considered a new MBPr, but there's no new monitor yet with the reduced reflectiveness, and all of the cables, reduced storage space, etc…

Hope all's well,

Ed
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Ed Taylor
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Graham Clark
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« Reply #14 on: March 09, 2013, 04:29:18 AM »
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Hi,

I shoot a lot on location and require a larger monitor. Currently we drag my aging 2008 3.1 Mac Pro 2.8 Quad, (16Gb, 4x2Tb HD) and 30" ACD with us which is a pain.

I'm considering switching everything over to one of the new iMac 27" units with 3.4GHz Quad-core Intel Core i7, 32Gb Ram 3TB Fusion Drive and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680MX 2GB GDDR5.

I've demo'd the unit at the Apple store with large working files etc, and it's clearly faster. I will have to go from having working files on a separate HD and lose PS scratch disk. That said, Working in PS in the store still seemed very snappy, (and that unit only had 8Gb ram). Monitor seemed fine to work with. I'd back using two USB 3.0 external HD's with SuperDuper and Chronosync as I do now.

My work is lifestyle/portraiture. I shoot primarily with 5Ds Mk3, occasionally P65. Don't shoot a lot of setups per day. No catalog. Do retouch, and sometimes create layered work files up to 4+ Gb.

Clearly it seems a downgrade, but will make my location work, etc, much less stressful and faster.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Anyone think I'll have "buyer's remorse"?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

Best,

Ed

Hello Ed,

For your use case a 27" iMac certainly seems like a better solution than the Mac Pro. The only real advantage of the Mac Pro over an iMac used to be the modularity of the enclosure, and the striping of SATA drives in a RAID-0 configuration, however the fusion drive effectively caches data in an SSD which has a realworld throughput of 450mb/s. The performance of the fusion drive SSD speed is equivalent to 3x 3.5" 7200RPM Seagate Barracuda drives in a RAID-0 configuration, and with the first Mac Pro sled for the OS, that means they're all full.

With Thunderbolt support on the iMac (Mac Pro doesn't have) you can attach a Thunderbolt RAID setup for block-level striping (I prefer) or mirroring. I use Aperture libraries on an external LaCie Thunderbolt RAID and see extremely fast throughputs on both read/write. Most of the files I work with are TIFF16BIT 100+ MB, so this is important to my workflow. In addition to drives, you can attach multiple Thunderbolt Displays for a total of two, or three displays including iMac display. You can even daisychain displays to hard drives 6x times without degradation of the link.

With USB3 (Mac Pro doesn't have) you can use a drive sled, like the one from OWC, and move towards modular storage for client or project-based data. Buy 2TB 3.5" drives in bulk and you can use a labeler to organize them all properly.

32GB of RAM certainly futureproofs your machine as components are soldered onto this unit, however most 64-bit applications can't address memory beyond 4GB - it's an architectural limitation. Also, keep in mind that OS X will set aside a swap space (which it uses to store all active processes when in sleep) on the hard drive. If you have 8GB of RAM, you lose 8GB of HD space. So 32GB of RAM means you lose 32GB of HD space. Not an issue but something to be aware of! : )

With all of that said, I personally have a Mac Pro with 32GB of RAM. I removed the optical bay and installed 3x OWC Mercury Electra 3G 120GB SSD's in a RAID-0 configuration for an effective throughput of 800MB/sec on the read/write. This has the OS on it and I use it for processing foreground projects. All the 3.5" drive sleds have 2TB drives in a RAID-5 configuration. I backup to a Synology NAS using CCC. In addition I have a 2.0GHz/8GB/512GB MacBook Air + Thunderbolt that I use with the above mentioned LaCie Thunderbolt RAID.

Graham
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Ed Taylor
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« Reply #15 on: March 09, 2013, 02:25:12 PM »
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Graham,

Thanks for your well thought out and informative reply.

I didn't know that about the Fusion's throughput. Or the HD use for swap space as well.

Currently, I have 4 - 3Tb Hd's in the MP. It allows me to keep most files for some years back online. The truth of the matter is that I rarely if at all, need these. So as you say, they would be better in a separate enclosure. I currently use external HD's for backup and store these in a safety deposit box. So raw drives in cases would be equally as easy.

I use SuperDuper to clone my boot drive and Chronosync to backup my working drives.

Can you tell me how you like the Synology NAS? It would seem slow to my way of thinking, but clearly your system is all about speed.

Again, thanks.

Best,

Ed
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Ed Taylor
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« Reply #16 on: March 09, 2013, 06:23:12 PM »
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I ordered the exact same specifications for my BTO iMac 27" about 3 weeks ago. It didn't arrive yet.

I'm replacing an early 2007 MacPro 8-core with 32GB RAM, an OWC 240GB SSD boot drive and 2x3TB raid and 2x4TB raid internal set up. This set up drives an Eizo ColorEdge CE240W (24") monitor. It works well, but I really want to run Mountain Lion like I have on my 2012 Macbook Air 13" i7 with 8GB RAM.

Anyone want to but my MacPro?

Cheers,
Bud
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Bud James
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Graham Clark
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« Reply #17 on: March 09, 2013, 08:59:35 PM »
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Graham,

Thanks for your well thought out and informative reply.

I didn't know that about the Fusion's throughput. Or the HD use for swap space as well.

Currently, I have 4 - 3Tb Hd's in the MP. It allows me to keep most files for some years back online. The truth of the matter is that I rarely if at all, need these. So as you say, they would be better in a separate enclosure. I currently use external HD's for backup and store these in a safety deposit box. So raw drives in cases would be equally as easy.

I use SuperDuper to clone my boot drive and Chronosync to backup my working drives.

Can you tell me how you like the Synology NAS? It would seem slow to my way of thinking, but clearly your system is all about speed.

Again, thanks.

Best,

Ed

Hey Ed,

Sounds like your backup solution is pretty solid! The Voyager S3 drive sled is USB3 and I highly recommend it with 2.5" SSDs and 3.5" spinners.

The speed of a RAID-5 NAS is really dependent on your network connection as it's going through CAT5 ethernet, but the read/write speeds are definitely higher than 100mb/s, so no real degradation of speed. The only real advantage of doing a NAs/network volume over a physically connected drive is that you can have it stored in your basement or attic and not have all the hardware near your workstation.

Graham
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Ed Taylor
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« Reply #18 on: March 10, 2013, 03:24:20 PM »
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Graham,

Thanks for the reply.

I'm pretty confident with my BU system. I would like to have two more iterations of Chronosync BU drives, but I'd need a larger SD box and there aren't any currently available. Switching to raw drives or those WD Passport USB 3.0 drives will allow me another. I also keep quarterly BU's at a relatives house in another state.

If God wants my data after all that, he probably wants me to switch careers…

I have the USB 2.0/eSATA Thermalake version of the Voyager you use. Very, very handy.

I really like your idea of the NAS. I have my router/modem combo in a secluded part of the house. If I leave the iMac on 24/7, it can back up on the overnight and not slow anything down. Also, I won't have to worry about attaching/removing too many cables when I take the iMac with me. Thanks for that.

Best,

Ed
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Ed Taylor
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Graham Clark
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« Reply #19 on: March 10, 2013, 03:30:46 PM »
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Graham,

Thanks for the reply.

I'm pretty confident with my BU system. I would like to have two more iterations of Chronosync BU drives, but I'd need a larger SD box and there aren't any currently available. Switching to raw drives or those WD Passport USB 3.0 drives will allow me another. I also keep quarterly BU's at a relatives house in another state.

If God wants my data after all that, he probably wants me to switch careers…

I have the USB 2.0/eSATA Thermalake version of the Voyager you use. Very, very handy.

I really like your idea of the NAS. I have my router/modem combo in a secluded part of the house. If I leave the iMac on 24/7, it can back up on the overnight and not slow anything down. Also, I won't have to worry about attaching/removing too many cables when I take the iMac with me. Thanks for that.

Best,

Ed

Sure! Something I forgot to recommend with the 27" iMac is a display hood. I like these ones as they're foldable and easy to transport: http://www.photodon.com/p/112-TB27.html

Due to the glass glare can be an issue if the shooting/working environment has lots of light (hopefully it does! Smiley

Graham
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