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iMac 5K (Late 2015) vs Mac Pro: Real World Photoshop Performance

Last updated 2015-11-19 - Send Feedback
Related: Macs, 4K and 5K, Mac Pro, software, iMac, Photoshop, Mac

Get iMac 5K at B&H Photo and see also MPG’s computer gear wishlist.
See also diglloyd-recommended performance packages for iMac at OWC.

MPG recommends this iMac 5K: 27" Retina 5K Display, 4.0 GHz Intel Core i7 (Skylake), 1TB Flash, 8GB memory, AMD Radeon R9 M395X GPU (4GB GDDR5) + 32GB or 64GB OWC memory.

See the note on 64GB memory. This test runs fastest with 64GB, as do other everyday jobs that MPG diglloyd runs.

This test is as real world as it gets: it is MPG Lloyd’s most performed job, and one that idles further activity while it runs*. The task is long-running (minutes), so it is the #1 bottleneck to your Lloyd’s photographic workflow, that is, preparing multi-resolution image series in a layered Photoshop document, typically aperture series or ISO series or similar.

This scripted task creates a range of output JPEGs of varying resolutions for each layer, typically to 8 layers, with a dozen image sizes for each of those layers, from 432 pixels to 6048 pixels.

Photoshop is not good at using more than one or two CPU cores for general tasks, and this shows: the 4.2 GHz Turbo Boost of the late 2015 iMac 5K trounces the fastest Mac Pro you can (cannot) buy: the 3.3 GHz 8-core Mac Pro. Here we have a ~$4K iMac 5K trouncing an ~$8K Mac Pro. For the Mac Pro user (your author), that hurts! Every other Mac Pro would be even slower than the MPG custom 3.3 GHz 8-core, which makes the iMac 5K look even better.

* Photoshop is badly implemented for scripted jobs, being unable to run in the background without glitches, and constantly forcing itself to the foreground. Running a script in Photoshop essentially idles the machine for other uses while the job run.

Make multi-res output image series in Photoshop, iMac 5K vs 8-core 3.3 GHz Mac Pro
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