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2019 5K iMac – Five takeaways from an iMac Pro user



Recently Apple provided long-awaited updates to its iMac series, and although there are no cosmetic changes in the 2019 iMac, these machines have remarkable CPU and GPU improvements under the hood. In fact, CPU options start on 6-core processors for the 27-inch base, a noticeable boost over the strict 4-core configurations of the previous update. If you want more processing power, the new iMacs, with their updated Intel CPUs and AMD GPUs, provide a significant performance upgrade.

With the new upgraded processor options, it's no wonder people are quick to compare the 8-core model to the iMac Pro input level. But as you will see in this video, it is more than just processor performance that makes the iMac Pro the animal it is. On this latest episode of Back to Mac, we discuss five takeaways from Apple's 201

9 iMac update.

Synology RT2600ac: AirPort Extreme Replacement.

1. More of the same

The 2019 iMac update is all you can expect from an iMac. It has the same known design, with the same beautiful 5K screen. The 5120 × 2880 5K screen and all-in-one form factor are still some of the best things about the iMac – it's a compelling package that still uses users well after all these years.

The base model, the 27-inch iMac starts at $ 1799, and remains a pretty good value considering one of the best high-grade 5K displays on the market. It's just a shame that you still can't use these 5K machines as stand-alone monitors that you could with iMacs back in the day.

Back to Mac 013: 2019 iMac – Before You Buy …

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2. Fusion drives are far beyond their prime

The $ 1799 model contains mostly respectful specifications: a 3.0 GHz 6-core Intel Core i5 that turbos to 4.1 GHz, Radeon Pro 570X with 4 GB of GDDR5 memory and 8 GB 2666MHz DDR4 memory. Unfortunately, these input machines are still supplied with Fusion Drives, which means there is still a mechanical spin hard drive inside the computer.

The 5K iMac loan unit I've tested has the upgraded 8-core CPU, but I cautioned that everything else should be the same because I wanted to test out the least expensive configuration with an 8-core CPU. This configuration, which forces you to go with a small GPU speed stop (Radeon Pro 575X), costs $ 2499 – half the cost of the iMac Pro.

Fusion Drives, while not as bad as the slow 5400 RPM, still runs Apple (!) Contains within its 21.5-inch iMac bases, is not nearly as fast as the clean, solid state media available in the base model iMac Pro. Of course, Apple lets you upgrade to an SSD (up to 2TB on the 27-inch top model), but you pay well for the privilege.

Transferring large amounts of data with Fusion Drive is terrible

Facts that there is a spin disk inside the 5K iMac means that there is a large bottle neck in the chain that attenuates machine performance greatly. For example, I would copy a 500 GB Final Cut Pro X library to an external SSD and it took nearly an hour to do so. The performance, in this case, was obstructed by the Fusion station.

IMac Pro SSD provides much better performance

But it doesn't stop with basic file transfers. Almost everything is affected by the inertia of the fusion driver, from exporting videos with Final Cut Pro X, to transfer files via a 10GbE Thunderbolt 3 dongle.

Any significant size file that needs to be read from or written to the machine's internal Fusion Drive is subject to severe slowdown, which is disappointing given the otherwise rapid components of the 2019 iMac. If you want performance that is closer to an iMac Pro, choose a 5K iMac with an SSD and you can avoid Fusion Drive at any cost.

2019 iMac Final Cut Pro 4K Export

I To understand the real world performance of the 5K iMac, I compared it to the iMac Pro in a Final Cut Pro export test. This simple test involved exporting an approximately 10 minute 4K project to an H.264 video with a bit rate of 45,000 kbps. 8-core 2019 iMac with Fusion drive performed near a real-time 11-minute and 5-second transport. Testing the same export on my base model iMac Pro gave a much better time of 6 minutes and 23 seconds. In this case, the long export time of the 2019 iMac was heavily influenced by Fusion Drive.

When paired with a real SSD, 2019 performed the iMac much better

When I moved my library to a much faster OWC Express 4M2 external SSD, the results were much more in line with what you would expect from such a powerful machine. The export time for the same project fell to just 5 minutes and 27 seconds, which is even faster than the iMac Pro. This illustrates how Fusion Drive prevents machine performance, which acts as a critical bottleneck.

GPU History of Fusion Drive Export

The slow Fusion Drive results in total system inefficiency, as the machine does not have access to the data fast enough to process it as quickly as it is capable . This is well illustrated by comparing the GPU history of the AMD Radeon Pro 575X when exporting video from Fusion Drive versus the previously mentioned Thunderbolt 3 SSD.

GPU History of export from an external SSD

3. Impressive iMac Pro-like CPU performance

iMac Pro (8-core base model)

One of the most impressive things in the 2019 iMac is that for half the price of a $ 5000 base model iMac Pro, you gets CPU performance that goes toe to toe, and even orders the iMac Pro in some way, especially in single-core performance. Comparing pure CPU performance, 27-inch 8-core 5K iMac delivers impressive numbers.

2019 iMac (8 core)

2019 iMac GPU performance

The GPU options on the new iMac, while an improvement over its predecessors, are still behind the powerful Radeon Pro Vega 56 inside the base model iMac Pro. And Apple has recently updated the iMac Pro building to order options with a Radeon Pro Vega 64X, which provides even more computing power.

iMac Pro (8-core base model) with Radeon Pro Vega 56

As you can see, the Radeon Pro 575X on my 2499 $ iMac is no match for the Radeon Pro Vega 56 GPU in the base model iMac Pro, which can be expected given the price difference. That's not to say that the 575X is bad, because it's not, but if you regularly engage in activity that is particularly GPU-intensive, it may be worth considering upgrading during the build-to-order process.

2019 iMac (8 core) w / Radeon Pro 575X

Fan noise is annoying

As an iMac Pro user who runs for two years, I tend to forget how great This machine is when it comes to its limited fan noise. I can edit videos in Final Cut Pro X and record voiceovers without the fans spinning up to be high enough for the microphone to pick it up.

With 5K iMac, almost as soon as I start recording a voiceover in Final Cut Pro X, the fans spin up. The fans are much more likely to get acquainted with the 2019 iMac than the iMac Pro.

4. DIY RAM Upgrades

Although the iMac Pro RAM can be upgraded by an Apple Certified Repair Store, 2019 iMac RAM upgrades can easily be performed by the end user. The new iMac can address up to 128GB of RAM, as demonstrated in our latest iMac RAM upgrade task.

5. Inferior I / O Options

As impressive as the fast performance numbers of the 8-core 5K iMac, it's still subordinate to iMac Pro in a few key ways. Outside of the above storage differences, the largest differential is the amount of Thunderbolt 3 I / O found on the iMac Pro.

Thunderbolt 3

The IMac Pro has four Thunderbolt 3 ports, which share two separate Thunderbolt 3 buses. The 27-inch 2019 iMac has only two Thunderbolt ports, which share the same bus. You can often work around the physical port limitation by utilizing thousands of runs, but because there is only one Thunderbolt 3 bus, you are still limited from a bandwidth perspective.

Bandwidth comes into play when using high performance devices such as RAID SSDs and eGPUs. For example, with the iMac Pro, it is possible to connect two OWC ThunderBlade SSDs – one on each bus – to harvest some really great performance figures. It is also possible to connect two eGPUs to the iMac Pro in the same way. With the 2019 iMac you will notice performance bottlenecks when trying to replicate the same setup.

iMac Pro has much better I / O

UHS-II SD card reader

In addition to the differences with Thunderbolt 3, discerning users will also find a slower SD card reader. IMac Pro supports UHS-II SD card, while 5K iMac does not. The speed difference between UHS-II cards and standard cards is definitely noticeable when importing large groups of RAW images or 4K videos.

10 Gigabit Ethernet

The latest large I / O differential has to do with Ethernet connection. The standard iMac has a standard Gigabit Ethernet port, while the iMac Pro has a faster 10GbE port. I use personalized 10GbE to connect to a Synology NAS on my network that acts as an intermediate and media storage backup device for my editing workflow. The lack of 10GbE at 2019 iMac means I have to connect to a 10GbE Thunderbolt 3 adapter, which we've considered from Akitio, which uses a free Thunderbolt 3 port.

9to5Mac's Take

5K iMac provides great processing power, and for regular daily use, it has more than enough power under the hood. However, it is assumed that you choose the SSD upgrade and stay away from the Fusion drive.

I recognize that the merger station is suitable for those who do nothing more than browsing and emailing, but has a mechanical disk drive inside the iMac, when literally every other product that Apple sells, comes with flash – storage, feels wrong and outdated.

But at least, users have the opportunity to upgrade to flash storage. For I / O, the maximum version of the 5K iMac cannot compete with the iMac Pro. The lack of a UHS-II SD card reader, the lack of 10 GB of Ethernet, and most importantly, the limited Thunderbolt 3 I / O, can prove to be a real hindrance to certain creative workflows.

All that said, 2019 27-inch iMac provides a good value if you make sure to avoid Fusion Drive if your workload requires you to do so. Although it just means booting from an external USB SSD, you will still be better than you would when using Fusion Drive.

What do you think of 2019 5K iMac? Mute in the comments below with your thoughts.


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