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Lutefisker
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p.1 #1 · New iMac to upgrade from old Mac Pro


Now that the specs for the 2013 iMacs and Mac Pro are out, I'm about to upgrade my computer. I use it mainly to process large RAW files from a 1DX using Aperture and Nik plug-ins.

I'm currently running a 2007 Mac Pro with an OS that can not be upgraded beyond 10.6.8, and thus I can not upgrade to the newer versions of Aperture either. The Mac Pro is also painfully slow, but a recent upgrade of memory to 8GB at least keeps it from crashing repeatedly.

For a variety of reasons, I've limited my choice to a iMac. I'm considering a 2013 iMac with the following specs: 3.5GHz i7, GT780 graphics with 4GB, 16 GB of RAM (that can be augmented up to 32GB in the future if necessary), and a 3TB fusion drive. I would use my current monitor as a second monitor on the iMac, and would soon acquire external storage.

Given that I'm a terribly impatient person, does this seem reasonable for my needs? Thanks for any advice.



Oct 30, 2013 at 12:34 AM
ngc7789
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p.1 #2 · New iMac to upgrade from old Mac Pro


I don't think the video card upgrade is necessary for photo processing. Also I would get your ram from OWC (macsales.com - no I don't have any affiliation). You can add 16GB to the base 8 for about the same as Apple charges for 16 so you get 24GB for the price of 16. Personally I would get internal flash drive over the fusion (maybe spend the money saved on the video card to go to 512GB). Use it for system, apps, and scratch. With Thunderbolt or USB 3 external drives should be fine for storage.


Oct 30, 2013 at 01:09 AM
OntheRez
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p.1 #3 · New iMac to upgrade from old Mac Pro


Lute,

(Been a long time since I tasted lutefisk!) Actually it is possible to run Mavericks on the 2007 MP though it takes some serious jiggling (and at least 16GB RAM). This forum post http://forum.netkas.org/index.php?topic=1123.780 shows how to do so. I faced the same choice recently and stuck with an older MP though it is the 2010 model.

I second ngc's suggestion to get the minimum RAM and drive from Apple and use OWC - www.macsales.com RAM and drives. I've dealt with them for years and highly recommend them. I recently got my significant other the top of line 3.7GHz 27" iMac and stuffed it with OWC RAM. There are a number of operations in which it is faster than my maxed out Mac Pro. Do be advised that in the latest iMacs, Apple has implemented an odd way to read HD temperature so that if you install say a 3rd party SSD in the extra bay, the fans will run continuously. There are a couple of relatively simple shareware programs already available to make the iMac treat these drives as if there were Apple branded devices so it's not a huge problem. Again, if you're handy at all, using non Apple peripherals will save you a lot of $$.

As for whether or not it will cure your "terribly impatient person" status, not likely. Until they develop machines that are as quick as I think, I'll still be growling at how "slow" things are

Robert



Oct 30, 2013 at 03:53 PM
Ian.Dobinson
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p.1 #4 · New iMac to upgrade from old Mac Pro


Love my Imac 27" that I got a few months back .

got the top i7 version with 1tb Fusion drive (recomend this if you dont go full SSD) . (i actually doubt i really needed to go for the i7)
mine came with the video card upgrade which in truth I dont need .
I just got the basic 8gig memory as the 27" has the ability to upgrade the memory yourself . I was fully expecting to add another 16gig but so far ive not needed to do it (i will at some point though)

I run LR5 and CS6 and it works my 7D & 5D3 files plenty fast enough
its much faster than my previous win7 i5 2500k with 16gig of ram and 128SSD drive



Oct 30, 2013 at 05:47 PM
markye
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p.1 #5 · New iMac to upgrade from old Mac Pro


Ian.Dobinson wrote:
I run LR5 and CS6 and it works my 7D & 5D3 files plenty fast enough


I'm thinking of this upgrade as well as i have a 2008 macpro. when you say it's 'plenty fast enough'.. a few specific questions.

1. when you move between photos in develop mode of LR, are there any lags at all to render the full image?
currently i get a slight (1/4 to 1/2 second) lag where the photo is blurry then sharpens.

2. when you use the spot removal, spot adjustment tools - are there any lag in rendering the results?
if you move the cloned spot etc does it take a while or is it instant?

3. any beachballs at all during any operations? - such as HDR, opening files in CS6 etc.. how long is the delay?

Thanks!!



Oct 30, 2013 at 11:07 PM
Paul Mo
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p.1 #6 · New iMac to upgrade from old Mac Pro


IMHO, do not buy an iMac with a large internal drive. Simply buy an iMac with an SSD and run fast external media drives.

Or a top-spec MBP.



Oct 31, 2013 at 03:42 AM
Lutefisker
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p.1 #7 · New iMac to upgrade from old Mac Pro


Thanks all for the comments.

It makes sense to go with the 8GB of RAM and then add 16 aftermarket.

ngc7789 (sorry, I don't know your name) and Ian Dobinson, why do you recommend against the video upgrade. My understanding is that Aperture soaks up all it can--is that not correct?

Robert, thanks for the advice. It's been a long time since GOOD lutefisk for me as well. My grandmother was an immigrant from Norway and I grew up with lutefisk every Christmas dinner--it was very good!

Paul Mo, why do you recommend against the large internal drive? Is there a down side or just cheaper to have the large hard drives externally?

Cheers!
Rick



Oct 31, 2013 at 04:34 PM
OntheRez
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p.1 #8 · New iMac to upgrade from old Mac Pro


Lutefisker wrote:
Thanks all for the comments.

It makes sense to go with the 8GB of RAM and then add 16 aftermarket.

[snip]

Paul Mo, why do you recommend against the large internal drive? Is there a down side or just cheaper to have the large hard drives externally?

Cheers!



Rick,

Not sure what Paul's reasoning will be, but for me having critical data (e.g. my pix database) on an external drive means greater survivability. If your iMac decides to go TU then your pix are still safe. In my Mac Pro I have an internal pix work drive but it is redundantly backed up to external drives. Also, the time Aperture takes to fetch the image from a mechanical hard drive is trivial to it's cached image on say an internal SSD while it is being worked on. If you have enough RAM, a pix can be altered with the entire thing in RAM thus massively speeding up your work. Also, I would recommend biting the bullet and putting the full 32GB or RAM in the machine. Quite often the entire image can rest in RAM while it is being altered. That makes I a lot faster.

Robert



Oct 31, 2013 at 04:49 PM
 

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Lutefisker
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p.1 #9 · New iMac to upgrade from old Mac Pro


Thanks, Robert.


Oct 31, 2013 at 11:47 PM
Paul Mo
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p.1 #10 · New iMac to upgrade from old Mac Pro


Lutefisker wrote:
Paul Mo, why do you recommend against the large internal drive? Is there a down side or just cheaper to have the large hard drives externally?



It is faster. If you buy an iMac with a 256GB internal and run USB3, or even TB externals, I think you'll enjoy it a lot more than a 1TB or 2TB internal - they are big, slow drives.

And as Robert mentions, externals for images.



Nov 01, 2013 at 01:50 AM
Ian.Dobinson
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p.1 #11 · New iMac to upgrade from old Mac Pro


OK Let me answer a few of the points above (ive been away for a few days)


to markye
Speed :
1. As I say my imac is more than up to the job. there may be a tiny (i do mean tiny) delay between images but once LR has built its previews its pretty much non existant.

2. I dont notice any lag when using brushes

3. Beach balls are very rare at all on this machine . cant say ive noticed any when opening CS6 (either from LR5 or on its own) I dont do much HDR so i cant really say . but I would guess big HDR files and Panos would put more of a strain on the system .

Dont get me wrong I wont say this is the fastest machine around . I know I could have speced up a windows machine for the same money that could have blown this out of the water . but thats not why I bought the imac .
but as I say its plenty fast enough

to Lutefisker

Video card :
I dont know , maybe Aperture does soak up the card and the better card would help . but having used Aperture I can say I dont like it (too used to LR i guess ) although I do use it sometimes (I like that it shows the focus points) . I bought my imac straight out of the apple store rather than speccing online . so I got the better card in the machine anyway . Had I specced it online i would have left the upgrade of the list . the way i look at it is its in there but for all i know its pretty redundant at the moment (maybe i will find something that benefits it later )

to Paul Mo

Hard Drive:
I agree I would not stick just the basic large hard drive in there . but as I said thats not what I have .
I went with the fusion drive (1tb) which is a 1tb 7200rpm hard drive plus a 128gb SSD drive . the mac takes care of all the managment . It keeps the OS and other well used stuff in the SSD so boot up and program loading are prtty much instant .
yes I would have normally chosen the straight SSD route but the SSD option was expensive and I would have had to add yet another external disk to the cost .
I do use externals for my images and Time Machine backups (seperate hard drives) USB3 is more than fast enough . I was looking at a couple of thunderbolt drives but these cost too much for the very small performance gain when using spinning disks .
however The 1tb internal is used for the current images I import and other current data as I do find there to be a slight performance increase when using the internal drive (ie imports to the internal drive are quicker than to the USB3 drive)



Nov 04, 2013 at 09:48 AM
Bifurcator
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p.1 #12 · New iMac to upgrade from old Mac Pro


Lutefisker wrote:
Now that the specs for the 2013 iMacs and Mac Pro are out, I'm about to upgrade my computer. I use it mainly to process large RAW files from a 1DX using Aperture and Nik plug-ins.

I'm currently running a 2007 Mac Pro with an OS that can not be upgraded beyond 10.6.8, and thus I can not upgrade to the newer versions of Aperture either. The Mac Pro is also painfully slow, but a recent upgrade of memory to 8GB at least keeps it from crashing repeatedly.

For a variety of reasons, I've limited my choice to a iMac. I'm considering
...Show more

FYI, All MacPro machines can run OS X 10.7.5 with the only models limited to that being the 2006 (MP1,1) and the early 2007 (MP2,1). And actually those can run both 10.8.x and 10.9.x just by using a boot loader to load in the 64bit kernel - easy enough to do!

The early 2007 (MP2,1) can accept 64GB of RAM which is pretty cheap right now. I got 32GB for my MP2,1 for about $240 off ebay and that's pretty common. You do NOT need those massive heat sinks for DIMMs over 1GB in size - so most server RAM works just fine with no temperature differences at all.

Turning the machine into an 8-core 2.67GHz machine takes about $60 or so and the CPUs just slide right in (with a little thermal paste). It's about double that for 8 cores of 3.0GHz las I looked six months back.

GPUs of any speed can be added but both the 2,1 and the 1,1 have only PCIe version 1.1 so their top performances are throttled just a little bit. Multiple streams of 1080p is out of the question for example but typical 1080p editing is doable - and with a few filters on too. I'm using a Gigabyte GTX 570 (3 fan) GPU I got off ebay for $90 - and that's a fairly typical price right now ($80 ~ $120) for a PC card you can just drop in place. You don't get a boot screen unless you keep your old Mac specific GPU in place with a monitor on. It hasn't bothered me yet in 6 months - I don't keep the old GPU connected but in a box and handy if I ever do need it. I can play all current Mac games at very playable frame rates on my little $90 GTX 570 and it does quite well with OpenCL and CUDA capable apps too!

Photo editing on a machine like this is awesome. Add an SSD or a RAID0 of 3 or 4 3TB HDDs and you can rip through images at very close to the same speed as the newest 2012 MP6,1 machines by the time you factor in user induced operation waits. If you're batching hundreds of images at a time then these upgraded 2006 and 2007 machines are about half the speed of the newest fastest $6k 2012 MP 6,1 models. Still damn good IMO.

You don't really need a faster machine unless you're processing 100s of photos every day or unless you're getting hot & heavy into video.

If someone is looking to buy an older machine such as this I would recommend the MP3,1 but if you already have a 1,1 or 2,1 you're still OK.

PS: I would totally recommend getting the newer 1TB per platter drives. They're MUCH faster and you can get about 195 ~ 210MB/s out of them over your SATAII internal ports. For a two drive RAID0 you get about 400MB/s and for a three drive RAID0 you get about 550MB/s. The ideal setup for these machines is a new fast 128GB SSD and two or three of those 1TB per platter drives in RAID0. Add a single massive 4TB via USB or eSATA Drive Dock as a Timemachine backup drive and you've got a very complete solution. Later if you upgrade to a different machine the drives will go along for the ride and so will the GPU card.



Nov 04, 2013 at 01:43 PM
Alan321
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p.1 #13 · New iMac to upgrade from old Mac Pro


But... if you do insist on opting for a new iMac then be aware that the tb interface can sustain very speedy external storage options with SSD, or a PCIe case + SSD, or multi-drive HDD, and so there is no longer any pressing reason to spend big on internal drives from Apple.

From what I've read the Fusion drives are only impressive until the SSD part fills up and then it's like a HDD, so why bother with it?

Thanks largely to thunderbolt you could even run an iMac entirely on speedy external drives and use a large internal drive with a backup boot volume and a TM backup volume. The backup boot volume, apart from actually being a backup, will let you make bootable clones of your main external boot volume and any other volumes.

I recommend that you get a modern Voyager Q drive dock (or similar) so that you can drop in any large HDDs one at a time to make backups (more than backup one per drive) and then put the drive away so that it will not be affected or afflicted by whatever happens to your on-line drives.

The biggest downside of a modern iMac is paying for a screen when you might prefer a better one (anti-glare, wide gamut, etc.) for photo editing. It's just like a laptop without the portability. I suppose you could save some money and desk space by getting an iMac with a smaller screen but then you probably lose the flexibility of adding your own RAM.

- Alan



Nov 07, 2013 at 09:05 AM
Ian.Dobinson
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p.1 #14 · New iMac to upgrade from old Mac Pro


Alan321 wrote:
But... if you do insist on opting for a new iMac then be aware that the tb interface can sustain very speedy external storage options with SSD, or a PCIe case + SSD, or multi-drive HDD, and so there is no longer any pressing reason to spend big on internal drives from Apple.

From what I've read the Fusion drives are only impressive until the SSD part fills up and then it's like a HDD, so why bother with it?

Alan , the OS is ALWAYS in the SSD part and the fusion system learns the stuff that you use most so prioritises those for storage in the SSD as well .
why bother with it ? well it was a much cheaper and nearly as a good alternative to the SSD upgrade . Full SSD is better i grant you but fusion is very good . although I do note now that the 256gb SSD upgrade is the same price as the 1tb Fusion drive . that wasnt the case when I got mine . I think they were chargeing waht the 512 SSd costs now .


Thanks largely to thunderbolt you could even run an iMac entirely on speedy external drives and use a large internal drive with a backup boot volume and a TM backup volume. The backup boot volume, apart from actually being a backup, will let you make bootable clones of your main external boot volume and any other volumes.

I recommend that you get a modern Voyager Q drive dock (or similar) so that you can drop in any large HDDs one at a time to make backups (more than backup one per drive) and then put the drive away so that it will
...Show more

actually I was worried about the shiny screen on the new imac . but the anti glare they have on it is very effective .
my PC desk is in a room with a skylight above me . and my previous Matt screen was pretty much unusable for parts of the day (when the sun was shinning thru the skylight) but the imac handles it very well .
My wife works from home (and uses the same desk space) and sometimes has to retreat with her Laptop to another part of the house because she cant see the stuff on her (specially provided) anti glare screen .

having seen a couple of weeks ago 2 27" imacs next to each other at a friends house. 1 was the old version and 1 the newer one there is a marked difference in the anti glare abilities of the newer screen .



Nov 07, 2013 at 09:31 AM
Alan321
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p.1 #15 · New iMac to upgrade from old Mac Pro


Thanks for that info, Ian. I didn't realise that the OS was always on the SSD part of the fusion drive - I that would only happen if the OS was being used more than the data.
Unfortunately my needs are strictly portable for the foreseeable future and so I continue to wait for an anti-glare IPS retina MBP with more of the speedy I/O ports. Apple is clearly not particularly interested in producing such a beast on a pro laptop so just think of all the money I'm saving

I've got two 480GB SSDs in my 17" MBP. It's no slouch but it will never run as fast as a 3.5GHz i7 iMac which has all of the good fruit in it or attached to it. My primary reason for wanting a newer MBP is that the non-IPS screen on mine has too much tonal change between the top and bottom of the screen just with the normal viewing angles, and I'm too often away from my high-end external monitors for too long. Trouble is that a new retina MBP with the same amount of RAM and storage will cost me $4,500 at the rip-off rates that Apple charges here in Australia. The new Mac Pro will be upwards of $6k. An upgraded second hand MP would be nice to have but I have already invested in thunderbolt accessories, which leads me back to a new iMac or a retina MBP.

The best way to break this computer upgrade cycle is to sell my cameras

- Alan



Nov 07, 2013 at 10:39 AM
Lutefisker
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p.1 #16 · New iMac to upgrade from old Mac Pro


Thanks everyone for the replies--I really appreciate your time and expertise. I did order a new iMac and thankfully it arrives tomorrow. Processing has slowed to a painful crawl after Google auto-updated Nik software (which I use to provide a little color contrast &/or B&W conversion). I ended up with: 3.5GHz i7, GT775 graphics with 2GB, 8 GB of RAM (which will be augmented with another 16GB from OWC), and a 512GB SSD. I'll connect to a 4TB external drive with USB3 for day-to-day, and another 4TB external drive for older Aperture libraries that I still access on occasion. Per Alan's advice, I'll look into a Voyager Q drive dock (or similar) for creating back-ups.




Nov 07, 2013 at 03:18 PM





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