January 6, 2013

Still Waiting on a New Mac Pro? 2012 iMac Beats Mac Pro in DaVinci Resolve and Premiere

Oh where, oh where is Apple's "Pro" line of products going? Okay, I admit the words don't work as well with the song as the actual lyrics, but it's still a fair enough question to ask. There's speculation that Apple is slowly but surely consolidating its professional products line with its consumer one -- in terms of both software and hardware -- but whatever the reason for the delay, the fact is that the Mac Pro has been 'on hiatus' for two years at this point. If you're a Mac User looking to upgrade, what are you to do in the mean time? You've got a few options. Bare Feats has recently performed a number of benchmark tests on the new 27" 3.4GHz Core i7 iMac, with some impressive results.

First, here's CNET with an introduction to the newest 27" iMac:

As always, you'll have to filter these findings by your own applications -- performance sufficient for some of us may simply not cut it for those of us running or rendering the most hardcore of tasks -- and concordantly, you may require even less brainpower of your machine than the tests performed for these benchmarks. Keep in mind that these tests were balanced between CPU and GPU-stressful activities, split right about half and half.

In their two-part test, Bare Feats pitted the late 2012 27" iMac 3.4GHz Core i7 (with 32G RAM and a GeForce GTX 680MX GPU) against five other recent Macs in shootouts by both Apple and Adobe & Blackmagic Design -- among the competitors is the 'mid 2012' Retina display Macbook Pro and the latest (mid 2010) Mac Pro -- the latter of which, by the way, still performs admirably, and even the best in some cases. In the first part of their test, Bare Feats found that the iMac 3.4GHz performed the best out of all machines in a number of tasks, including an automated Aperture export of 50 RAW stills to full-res JPEGs (CPU intensive), rendering FCPX's 'Directional Blur' effect on a 30 second 1080 ProRes 422 HQ project (GPU intensive), and a test which forced Apple Motion to RAM preview a project (in which the '12 iMac won out, able to render up to almost 41 FPS for this preview -- GPU intensive, pictured above-left).

In the second test, Bare Feats found slightly different results amongst the same machines (adding an additional Mac Pro sporting an alternate GPU) running third-party Adobe and BMD tasks. The Mac Pro used excelled over the iMac in a multiprocessing benchmark in AE (CPU intensive) and noise reduction of a high-res photo in Photoshop (also CPU intensive) -- but the iMac defeated the MP in rendering a 30 second Unsharp Mask (by one second of render time, CPU intensive) and Gaussian Blurring and a fast CC in Premiere, and performed at a greatly high real time FPS playback of a three-node correction in DaVinci Resolve (all GPU intensive).

BOTTOMLINE: The newest, fastest CTO iMac, the 'late 2012' 3.4GHz Quad-Core i7 (Ivy Bridge) with the NVIDA GeForce TX 680MX, wins one out of three CPU intensive tests and five out of five GPU intensive tests. Its main rival is the Mac Pro 6-core.

Bare Feats also put the HDD, SSD, and Fusion drives available for the 27" iMac in the running against each other, and though their findings here were a bit less surprising (the SSD was the fastest, as expected), there is always the caveat of price to go along with optimum performance. While the Fusion drives performed exceptionally as well, Bare Feats includes something to keep in mind on that score:

A FUSION REALITY CHECK: Though the Fusion Drive is impressive, just be aware that it has its limits. In a test we conducted on various Fusion and cached storage products, we found that the speed dropped dramatically if the transfer size exceeded the unused space on the flash module "fused" to the hard disk drive. In the case of the 1TB Fusion Drive, the drop in speed was triggered when we attempted to transfer 88GB of HD video. That is an extreme test and hopefully won't affect the average user.

They also recommend considering external storage options -- meaning you can compromise price against storage speed if you want good performance but don't want to spring for the all-out internal drive package (no oxymoron intended).

What do you think about the tests? Might this have you springing for an iMac, rather than waiting for a new Mac Pro? Or have you stopped waiting, and either built yourself a Hackintosh or gone over to the Windows side?

Links:

Your Comment

56 Comments

Would be great to know if those machines were all running on ssd or hd, since the transfer speed of the drive might affect the processing time

January 6, 2013

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Daniel Rico

Doesn't really say much, considering the Mac Pro is basically a 4+ year old architecture. Why anyone would buy one new today is incomprehensible.

January 6, 2013

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Swested

Apple opperates like a piece of shit considering how much money they have

January 6, 2013

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Nick

I misspelled operates

January 6, 2013

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Nick

And you misspelled "normal corporation" too. Apple-hating is like a pastime these days, isn't it?

January 6, 2013

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Swested

Maybe I'm missing something but I don't see where he said "normal corporation" :/

January 7, 2013

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"piece of shit"

January 7, 2013

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Max

Without a doubt. It's just a company making products. You don't have to buy them, love them or hate them.

January 7, 2013

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On a related note, I just figured out how to encode to ProRes on my PC! I don't see myself ever buying an Apple product at this point. They're well-designed and shiny, but I just can't justify what they're charging when I can build it myself for a fraction of the cost.

January 6, 2013

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Derik

Which recipe did you use? Have you tested it cross-platform?

January 6, 2013

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For desktops, I'd totally agree. But I've yet to find a notebook anywhere that even remotely approximates the build quality, weight, form factor and speed of my MBP (non-retina). I purchased it slightly used and did most of the upgrades myself, so I avoided the Apple premium.

January 6, 2013

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Swested

ProRes encoding on a PC please tell.

January 6, 2013

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sam

I used ffmbc. The command-line interface was a bit daunting, but once I read through some of the documentation it wasn't hard to figure out. I haven't tested it cross-platform, but I just delivered it to a client so I REALLY hope it works! I'm sure I'll hear back if it didn't. ;)

January 6, 2013

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Derik

You got balls.

January 7, 2013

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moebius22

Sounds cool!
Its prores or Dnxhd as work formats these days, isn't it?

Any links to a guide?

January 7, 2013

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Here are a couple of links to the Reddit threads I started on the topic.
http://www.reddit.com/r/Filmmakers/comments/1618g5/whats_the_easiest_way...
http://www.reddit.com/r/editors/comments/161efv/cineform_avi_to_prores42...

Update: The client loved it and was none the wiser that it was all done on a self-built PC.

January 7, 2013

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Derik

What's the point? Adobe and Avid both run on PC, and if you're not hard up for all things Apple, you get more performance for less money on PC, plus better upgrade options.

January 6, 2013

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moebius22

I used the Hackintosh guide found right here on NoFilmSchool to build an editing super beast.
Before that I was leasing a new 27" iMac, but when my Hackinstosh was complete and stable it was as good as gone. The only part I miss is the cinema display!

So, thanks Koo and the NoFilmSchool team!

January 7, 2013

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Jules

I just priced a Mac Pro at $12.000.00. Yes the zeros are correct.

I then priced the best components to build a PC. That came to just over $2,000.00.
The PC has more storage, more horse power and is faster than the upgraded MAC.

I currently own both and the both run Adobe CS6. There's no difference. I need to upgrade to begin to edit my own video work. I can but a really nice camera for the $10 grand difference.

The PC wins.

Regards,

Rachael

January 11, 2013

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Rachael

How come it doesn't have a Firewire? That's too bad...

January 6, 2013

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Brett

Thunderbolt to Firewire 800 cable costs like $20.

A decade old I/O is hardly reason enough to be disappointed...

January 6, 2013

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Tom

how Dump is it to compare new Computer with old computer. You know now ur iphone can beat computer use by nasa to launch space craft.

if you want fair competition compare it with latest dual CPU HP z800 or latest workstation.

Don't try to destroy hope for real professional who need actually power for 3D content creation from scratch.. Not just photographer / videographer who just need encoding & simple task.. and call them PRO's.

January 7, 2013

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eltaurus

You are missing the point: the comparison was amongst Apple products only - and because there are no newer MacPros available, they tested the old MacPro against the new iMac. Nobody said it was a "fair" test, it was just a test in the reality of what Apple delivers.

January 11, 2013

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Heiko

For me, Hackintosh is still the way to go! The practicality of a Mac with the flexibility of a PC. Went that way myself and I couldn't be more satisfied.

January 7, 2013

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Nej

+1 - I'm editing a highlights show for broadcast on a Mac Pro right now. The only difference I notice day to day from editing on my own Hackintosh is the appearance of the box by my knee, and the extra weight in my wallet. That said, you do need half-decent IT knowledge to make it viable.

January 7, 2013

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Davinci Resolve needs CUDA for . the test uses an ATI card in a Mac Pro without CUDA...

January 7, 2013

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I think I'm missing something here. Why couldn't the Mac Mini run DaVinci Resolve?

January 7, 2013

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Nick

Insufficient GPU power, I think.

January 7, 2013

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Again with this downscaled keyboard. One of the pains in the ass about editing with an iMac is this smaller keyboard. I suppose if it's your only editing machine you could customize the layout in FCP, but it's still an extra step.

January 7, 2013

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DIYFilmSchool.net

why can't you use another keyboard with an iMac?!

January 7, 2013

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Or get an extended keyboard for $20.

January 8, 2013

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Tulio

When I bought my MacPro 3 years ago, the iMac you mention here wasn't around. LOL.
I have no regrets whatsoever about buying a MacPro back then.
Adding extra video outputs, having plenty of Firewire 800 ports (there was no Thunderbird 3 years ago) and being able to swap hard disks and archive within minutes is a godsend.
I'll probably use it for another 3 to 4 years, depending on what happens on the codec side of things.

If I had to buy a new computer today, I might be tempted by an iMac, but I'd still worry about having everything in the same enclosure. That's fine for a family computer, but for a workstation I like to be able to access parts in an easy way.
Second hand MacPros are really cheap nowadays too, a lot cheaper than either building one yourself or buying a new iMac.

January 7, 2013

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---Apple:

January 7, 2013

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Arnold C.

Looks to me like the Mac Pro used in this article wasn't even a top spec Mac Pro. Hex core versus twelve core, very different.

Also no Nvidia GPU installed, no evidence of a raid installed, no SSD as a boot disc? If you get a Mac Pro (especially for Adobe and Da Vinci) you should really install all those things!

January 7, 2013

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Will S

So I did a "CMD+F" on here and didn't find the most aggravating word regarding these computers: GLARE. If there is any source of light in your room, it's going to show up on that screen and turn into a mirror. I would never seriously color grade on these for that reason alone. Forget the performance numbers, when you can't see serious color shifts because all you can see is the broccoli stuck in your teeth, there is a real problem.

January 7, 2013

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Nikki

True, but then the iMac's monitor would (or should) only ever be your GUI monitor anyway...

January 7, 2013

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Will S

Yes, a confidence monitor should be used. The iMacs I'm referring to are used for building tutorials, not broadcast work. That's what my workstation and confidence monitor are for. Even still, it's difficult to see my UI keyframes, and generally anything. It's frustratingly blinding.

January 8, 2013

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Nikki

The new iMacs have a lot less glare...

January 8, 2013

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avatar
Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

Yes, I believe they state about 75% less. Would still prefer a matte IPS panel. To each their own I suppose.

January 8, 2013

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Nikki

Looks like I need to eat my shirt on this one. We just got a new iMac in and I sat the two next to each other earlier. It's a major improvement on glare. I haven't worked on it yet, but the difference is quite dramatic.

January 10, 2013

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Nikki

Apples and oranges.
The iMac is a nice machine, but I priced out an iMac as a workstation and even though these days more functions can be handled with peripherals (like video monitoring and disc burning) the MacPro had serious advantages when you consider that you can create an internal RAID and install an SSD (even as a fifth drive in the optical bay), swap graphics cards, and add RAM easily. A cheap eSATA card and dock lets me do quick backups of huge amounts of video to other HDs for a fraction of what a single Thunderbolt drive would cost.
The iMac just wasn't going to cut it once you consider that the graphics card is not upgradeable. After Effects ray tracing 3D needs at least a GT570 which thankfully can be had fairly cheaply.
After weighing the options I picked up a used MacPro 4,1 8core and made a couple upgrades with RAM, SSD, and graphics for less than a comparable iMac would have cost.
The MacPro still wins for customizability and flexibility. Wouldn't have it any other way and hopefully the new MacPro that Apple's CEO promised shows up soon.

January 7, 2013

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Andrius Simutis

That's exactly what I did and I feel the same way. You can find used 4,1 Mac Pros for $1500 and then load em up!

January 8, 2013

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I just got my 27" iMac a week ago. It's the fully specced model with internal SSD. It was pricey ($4,300) but I figured, even if Apple releases a new Mac Pro later this year, it will be significantly more expensive. Where I am at right now, I don't think I need quite THAT much power.

All that said, this new iMac preforms amazingly. Coming from a 2010 MPB that was fully upgraded, there is a HUGE difference. Could I have gone cheaper with a Hackintosh? No doubt, but I'm not savvy enough to troubleshoot all the issues that might arise, nor do I want to spend the time figuring it out when I could be creating content. Maybe I'm stupid, but I'm willing to pay a little bit more to have something I know will just WORK like I need it to.

January 7, 2013

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Brendan

I see the comments here and I have to agree that for some geek people, moving to a PC or a Hackintosh makes sense. BUT most people just want something that WORKS straight out of the box, doesn't cost you time with setting up, firewall / viruses etc.
For that the iMac 27" is a godsend. It just works, it is a production machine, not just a PC.

January 8, 2013

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Tulio

I have a 2008 Intel Mac Pro with dual quad cores and am hoping that Apple doesn't abandon this market. I want the tower form factor and configurability. I use all four drive bays and also have an external 8 TB array as my main video storage. I really hope that Apple comes up with a new Mac Pro soon. I have the budget and my Mac Pro is due for swap out. I can't believe that Apple would think that iMacs can replace the Mac Pro. I have a 27" at home and do some editing on it, but I need a real workhorse at work and the Mac Pro form is it.

January 8, 2013

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Using a Mac for desktop development will soon become a dead-end road. Despite Apple's tiny surge in popularity, Windows still overwhelmingly dominates the market* at 91% vs. Mac OS X at 7%.

*Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usage_share_of_operating_systems

January 8, 2013

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Razor

This test isn't fair to the Mac Pro. Anyone running Premiere or Resolve heavily is using a nVidia card, not the stock Radeon card. I bought a used 4,1 Mac Pro, loaded it up with 64GB of RAM, SSD, internal RAID and a GTX 570. Even though its 3 years old, I would rather have this machine for my work in Resolve, After Effects and Premiere, than a new iMac.

January 8, 2013

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I just got the new iMac comes with nVidia GeForceGTX 680 upgrade option with Cuda to drive the Mercury playback engine. I don't use Resolve, but Premiere and AE work beautifully with the new system.

January 9, 2013

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Paul Larche

How can you upgrade the graphics card to a GTX680? These are not made for mac.

Can you just install PC graphic card in a mac and they work now?

January 10, 2013

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Toobs

The new iMac 27" can be configured with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680MX with 2GB of GDDR5 memory when you buy it. The upgrade costs $150.

January 11, 2013

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Paul Larche

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