iMac 5k or iMac Pro 5k

I’m in the market for a new Mac. With the new iMac Pro out, which is the better (faster) machine?

i7 4.2GHz iMac 5k with 32GB ram and 580 video card or one of the new iMac Pro’s? Thinking of the 3.2GHz 8-core, 32GB ram and the Radeon Pro 64.

My understanding is that CPU speed is more important than number of cores as Rhino is not multi-threaded (yet?). Is the speed of the ram going to be much of a factor? Will GPU play much of a role?

Also looking at longevity…

Thanks in advance for the thoughts.

Interesting question. I also wonder…


i’m in this boat.

realistically, i think i’ll end up with another regular i7 iMac as opposed to iMac Pro.
i’m mostly rendering on the cloud lately so having local multiple CPU cores and/or high amounts of VRAM aren’t of a major importance to me.

Rhino is my main software and for it, i believe the regular high-end iMac is going to be better than iMac Pro. (by ‘better’, i mean it will likely benchmark a little faster than iMac Pro in areas which are important to Rhino performance)… in actual real-world use, i think they’ll be the same with one not feeling any better than the other.

interestingly enough, the benchmarks i’ve seen so far from iMac Pro (geekbench) shows the higher core count Xeons delivering better single-core performance than the base model… ie-- 10-core is faster than 8-core and 14-core bests them both at single core speeds.

anyway, if you’re doing a lot of modeling AND rendering on the machine, i think the iMac Pro is the obvious choice… if you’re doing mostly modeling/grasshopper/etc then i don’t think there will be much of an advantage if going to iMac Pro… especially if considering the additional $2-4 thousand you’ll be spending.

as far as longevity is concerned-- you can basically buy 2 iMacs for the price of one iMac Pro…
realistically, i would expect to use the iMac Pro for 5-6 years at that price…
…and it might be better to have a regular iMac now and another one in 3 years for the same price as buying an iMac Pro now.

(i get it that this type of mindset is arguable… especially to the upgrade/tinker crowd… but for me, that’s how i see it)


Hi Jeff,
That’s sort of my thinking as well, however the only thing I may like the Pro for is I still use FreeHand for my 2D work. I will be running that in a VM running SnowLeopard Server. I understand that VM’s like more cores, but perhaps the i7 will be enough. I won’t be modeling while drawing so perhaps the i7 will be the way to go.

Thanks for your insight.

interesting thoughts, jeff.

with rendering in rhino (for mac) is not yet a real option, multi-threading power does indeed not really seem to make sense when using rhino. or am i missing something?

what are your experiences with cloud rendering? what’s your workflow (from rhino for mac)?

dave: as far as i know, multiple cores is very beneficial when using vms (being able to dedicate them to the several “machines” you are running simultaneously.

hey @flor

no, you’re not missing anything… most operations in Rhino aren’t making use of multiple cores…
that said, neither are most other operations in other CAD programs or other types of software in general.

there are (relatively) very very few processes that lend themselves to CPU core saturation.

it’s fast and convenient and your computer is never bogged down.

i use Fusion360 for applying materials and rendering… they’ve made cloud rendering super easy in that program… you either click the render local button or cloud button to launch your render… and that’s it.
click cloud then a few minutes later, you’ll have it (and you’ll have it on your phone or you other computers etc.)

if you render at off peak hours / late night, you can sometimes get the finals back in a matter of seconds otherwise, yours will sit in a queue for up to 10 minutes.

my main reason for going this route is because i don’t only work at one desktop computer… i also use my laptop a lot and i really like being able to launch renders from it whenever i want instead of in the past, "i’ll have to wait until later to cook this in the macPro… overnight :wink:

so, for me, it’s speed and ease that is my determining factor in going this route…
i’ve seen better quality than Fusion gives but the tradeoff, in my case, is worth it.

five years ago, i thought we wouldn’t really be concerned with render times in 2018 but here we are… it’s going to be a longer wait than i imagined… i suppose real-time viewport rendering will be the best (and we can basically just take a screenshot) but i sort of gave up on that and will be using cloud for the foreseeable future.

Thank you Jeff!