Consult with Lloyd to determine the ideal setup for your particular workflow including CPU cores, GPU, memory, SSD, internal and external storage, backup and fault tolerance, color management, whether for video or still photography, including what is best for Photoshop, Lightroom, Capture One, focus stacking, panoramas, etc.
I (Lloyd) am deciding on whether to buy a 2019 Mac Pro in spite of the likelihood that the 2019 iMac 5K is probably the fastest 8-core Mac you can buy as of early 2020. Therefore, a Mac Pro would have to be 12 cores or more, and most likely the 2019 Mac Pro will be slower on tasks not involving intensive GPU usage and tasks not using more than 8 cores (or requiring more than 128GB memory).
For everyone except those doing really demanding stuff, the top-end 2019 iMac 5K will be faster on many if not most things, and a lot cheaper. And it has a gorgeous built-in display. The 2019 Mac Pro had better have at least 12 CPU cores or it is not likely to be competitive, though the difference might not be much (20% or less).
These reservations about Mac Pro performance aside, the Mac Pro is a true workhorse whose engineering is two pay grades above the 2019 iMac 5K. One of its many potential benefits is running faster because more memory can be installed. Thus a key decision point is how much memory to install.
Smart way to buy memory — save 50% or so
- Memory for 2019 Mac Pro comes in RDIMM and LRDIMM modules. Unless you need 512GB or more of memory, stick with RDIMM modules, which are much less expensive than LRDIMM modules.
- Plan ahead if you have a 12/16/24/28 core Mac Pro: RDIMM and LRDIMM modules cannot be combined.
- For optimal performance, buy memory in sets of six modules since the Mac Pro uses 6-channel memory.
Here is the smart way to do it which makes use of a baseline 32GB bought with the Mac Pro:
- Order the Mac Pro with only 32GB of memory. It will arrive with 4 X 8GB modules according to Apple’s sales page.
- Save a ton of money: buy a set of six matching OWC memory modules, such as 6 X 32GB RDIMM modules (192GB) or 6 X 16GB RDIMM modules (96GB). Optional: also get 2 X 8GB RDIMM modules to add to the four existing ones.
- Install all modules appropriately
Adding the two 8GB modules is not necessary (the four 8GB modules can be used as-is), but because Mac Pro memory is 6-channel memory, adding two modules completes the set and yields full 6-channel performance. Will it matter in a measurable way? Probably not.
In general, OWC memory is about half the price of what Apple charges, so you can get twice as much memory for the same and sometimes less money!
$2250 SAVE $270 = 10.0% OWC 384GB (12 x 32GB) PC23400 DDR4 ECC 2933MHz 288-pin RDIMM Mem… in All Other Categories
$1195 SAVE $65 = 5.0% OWC 192GB (6 x 32GB) PC23400 DDR4 ECC 2933MHz 288-pin RDIMM Memo… in All Other Categories
$649 SAVE $71 = 9.0% OWC 96.0GB (6 x 16GB) PC23400 DDR4 ECC 2933MHz 288-pin RDIMM Mem… in All Other Categories
$440 SAVE $28 = 5.0% OWC 48.0GB (6 x 8GB) PC23400 DDR4 ECC 2933MHz 288-pin RDIMM Memo… in All Other Categories