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Which Intel iMac would be best for orch. libraries, and how important are # of cores?

Vik

Senior Member
I want to migrate to ARM Macs ASAP, but meanwhile (since I have a 2.7 Ghz 2010 Mac Pro (with low single core performance), it seems that using an intel iMac until M1 iMac can run all least 64 gb RAM could be a good idea. But I have no first hand experience with iMacs. What's most important for VI use – number of cores or processor speed?

I'm mainly looking at either the 8-core (3.8 Ghz i7) or the 10-core (3.6 Ghz) i9 - both from 2020. Since I don't plan to keep it for a long time, maybe even a lower spec'd iMac could be an option.

The Geekbench results for the 2020 iMacs are:

8-core i7 (3.8 Ghz): 1252 (single) / 8107 (multi)
10-core i9 (3.6 Ghz): 1247 / 9003
6-core i5 (3.3 Ghz): 1178 / 6096

2019 iMac:
8-core (3.6 Ghz): 1236 / 8264

(Lowest end 2019 Mac Pro, 8 cores: 1019 / 7995)

Which of these would you have bought for use with orchestral libraries (mainly string libraries)?
 
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Marsen

Senior Member
Go for the 8 core i7.
The formula is a mix of single processor speed and cores.
Since it's an intermediate thing as you say, i would not aim for i9 but also not for i5.
The i7 has both, enough single core speed and cores. And can be maxed out to 128 GB Ram.
 
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gst98

Senior Member
I have the new 10 core. I think it's amazing how little a difference there is between this and the Mac pro - it really punches above its weight. In fact, the iMac has a higher single-core than the Pro, which is what is going to throttle performance with VI's.

If you need power, get at least the 8 core. 10 core for a bonus. The iMac runs very cool (and quiet) which is a big bonus.

The number of cores vs performance per core depends on how parallel your workload is. In Logic, a single track cannot run across multiple cores. If you have lots of tracks, the load will be spread over all of the cores.
 
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Vik

Vik

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I have the new 10 core. I think it's amazing how little a difference there is between this and the Mac pro - it really punches above its weight.
I just checked the Geekbench numbers for the lowest end 2019 Mac Pro (8 cores):

1019 / 7995 vs. 1247 / 9003 for the 10-core iMac (2020)
 

gst98

Senior Member
I just checked the Geekbench numbers for the lowest end 2019 Mac Pro (8 cores):

1019 / 7995 vs. 1247 / 9003 for the 10-core iMac (2020)

Yeah but no ones is buying the Mac Pro for anything lower than the 16 core. Maybe a few 12 cores.

Also should mention that benchmarks aren’t always representative of real life. Every other component of the Mac Pro is superior and will translate to improved performance.

Nevertheless, the 10 core iMac is incredible.
 
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Vik

Vik

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Nevertheless, the 10 core iMac is incredible.
Sure, but an M2 mini or iMac with 64 gb RAM would probably be incredible-r. :) I'm looking for a comfortable waiting room which handles what I do much better than my ageing 12-core.
 

gst98

Senior Member
Sure, but an M2 mini or iMac with 64 gb RAM would probably be incredible-r. :) I'm looking for a comfortable waiting room which handles what I do much better than my ageing 12-core.

Yep, I think the Apple Silicone Pro is going to make current users cry lol.

The only way I can get mine to struggle with playback is when I irresponsibly layer 30 perc tracks to all hit on the downbeat. I’m sure the 8 core will be more than enough. The only downside is resale of intel macs won’t be good
 

Jett Hitt

Active Member
You didn’t give a lot of information about your current Mac Pro, but I would think about upgrading that processor to a 3.46 12 core and adding some RAM. Worst case scenario, run VEP to spread the usage more evenly across the cores. Buy yourself some time until the ARM Mac Pro comes out.
 
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Vik

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You didn’t give a lot of information about your current Mac Pro, but I would think about upgrading that processor to a 3.46 12 core and adding some RAM. Worst case scenario, run VEP to spread the usage more evenly across the cores. Buy yourself some time until the ARM Mac Pro comes out.
Thanks! This is a very relevant comment. My Mac is a 2010 12-core which can't run anything newer than High Sierra without a new Metal-compatible graphics card and some hacking. It has 64 gb RAM (minus 8 gb right now). It needs more internal SSDs (I have two), and in general: it isn't tempting to spend time and money on investing in a a graphics card that recently have become very pricey, in SSDs that aren't NVMe / M.2 and so on. The process takes time, money, and there requires many steps. M1 (M2) Mac or not, I'm ready to move onto the current MacOS and Logic versions now, after having been stick with High Sierra and Logic 10.4.8 for a while. I generally agree in your suggestions, but it feels kind of too late to go that route now when most of us will have external storage which is 5 times faster than my internal SSDs and so on. I actually don't even want internal drives any more – it's so much easier to have external NVMes that I simply can plug externally into my future Macs whenever there's need for a new Mac: for instance, with external M.2 disks I can put all my libraries in my pocket, and access them from my next MacBook Pro even if I mainly work on a desktop Mac (for now).

Maybe I could replace just the 2.66 CPU and not the whole tray (half price), I haven't checked what the downsides of that possibly could be. But with a Metal card, CPU/3.56 Ghz tray, the work a– nd the need for more/faster storage, my feeling is that this would be a too high investment for maybe just a few months of usage. The whole process with firmware update, maybe reformatting drives, need for a procedure I never have done before, finding a Metal card I won't have any problems with etc kind of scares me, and I don't even know if the dosdude solution is the best way to do it.
 
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Jett Hitt

Active Member
@Vik I just looked at the price of metal graphics cards. Holy moly, they've gone crazy! That makes my idea obsolete. However, there is another option that you might consider. Buy a Mac Mini and slave your old Mac. You have 64GB of RAM, and it is pretty easy to set up as a slave. It wouldn't have to be an M1 Mini, though it could be, depending upon which plugins you rely on. It just seems like a shame to spend all that money on an Intel iMac at this point. Just a thought.

I have a 5,1 12 core myself, and I have been considering my options in the short term, but the best strategy for me seems to be to just wait.
 

Pianolando

Active Member
Usually I’d argue that waiting for next computer generation is a fools game and that you always should buy what you need when you need it, but this time I would at least think about if you can work with what you have until M2 chips (or whatever they will be called) are released this autumn. Then you will have new iMacs and MacBook pros that will hopefully be much cheaper for the same performance.
EDIT: reading again I guess you have already thought of this.
 
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