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2019 Mac Pro: Most likely Slower than 2019 iMac 5K Unless Gobs of Memory or GPU or CPU Cores are Used

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.

MPG will be doing an extensive cross-testing comparison of the 2019 Mac Pro vs iMac Pro vs 2019 iMac 5K in mid-January 2020, with a focus on professional photography tasks with programs like Photoshop, Lightroom, Capture One, Zerene Stacker, etc. Stay tuned.

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.

In other words, the 2019 Mac Pro is likely to be slower than the 2019 iMac 5K for most tasks performed by most people, even demanding photographers. The Mac Pro is a video-centric machine that shines only when 12+ CPU cores and/or more than 128GB memory is needed and/or when gobs of GPU cycles are needed. And of course it is a industrial grade machine, not a consumer grade machine like the iMac 5K.

It’s looking like the 2019 Mac Pro would have to be 12 CPU cores or more to beat out the 2019 iMac 5K, because most tasks just do not demand more than 8 cores and 128GB memory. Thus for most still photographers just looking for the fastest everyday machine, the 2019 iMac 5K is still a very strong contender.

Of course there will be exceptions. For example, Zerene Stacker and Helicon Focus will use all CPU cores, and things like Adobe Camera Raw Enhance Details use the GPU intensively. Photoshop and Lightroom are also increasingly adept at using CPU cores, and Capture One uses the GPU intensively.

The question however is this: how much of the time using the machine actually benefits from the higher core core count and/or faster GPU, and what percentage of the workflow time is it? And how does that balance against interactive usage, where high clock speed with a few cores matters most?

The top-end 2019 iMac 5K is a lot cheaper, and it has a gorgeous built-in display. Dual displays is very helpful for my photographic work. The lower pixel density of the NEC PA311D is advised for still photographers because of its lower pixel density.

See also The Good Stuff for Your 2019 Mac Pro.

Apple Pro Display XDR aside, pros should take a good look at the NEC PA311D 31-Inch Color Critical Wide Gamut Display.


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