We pit Apple’s new workstation against its older and less powerful siblings to see how much more juice it packs for creative tasks.
The iMac has long been a favorite all-in-one of designers who spend their day in the Adobe suite thanks to a big, high-quality integrated display, a comfortable operating system, and reliable performance. The new Apple iMac Pro steps up the processing power, squeezing workstation-class Xeon computing power into the same chassis.
We put the new system to the test using the Adobe Creative Cloud suite and some high-resolution video and images. Our current testing system in the PC Labs, a 2014 iMac with an Intel Core i5 processor, 16GB of RAM, and AMD Radeon Pro 580 graphics, is a few years old now. It simply can’t handle some of the latest video formats—the 5.2K HEVC footage recorded by the GoPro Fusion is a prime example. For photo editing in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop it crunches away at 100MP Raw images, but requires some patience.
In side-by-side testing with our iMac Proreview unit, we saw what a few years of improvements from Apple, AMD, and Intel can do. We see silky smooth video playback on the iMac Pro’s 27-inch display, where the older iMac only rendered choppy results.
Render times are also cut significantly. The same project that took five hours on the older iMac finishes in two hours on the iMac Pro. If you don’t want to sit around waiting for projects to render out for upload, the Pro is a big time saver. (We also tested the project on the top-end 2017 iMac configuration, which took 3.5 hours.)
We also saw some general improvements when working with images in Lightroom and Photoshop. Previews render much more quickly, a big plus if you’re going through a big shooting session and need to make a first cull to throw out shots that aren’t perfectly focused, something you won’t know until a preview is rendered at full-resolution. Exports to Photoshop, and actions in Photoshop, are also noticeably faster.
You can check out some of the real-time performance improvements in the embedded video. If you’re mulling an upgrade from an older iMac and want to see if the iMac Pro will speed up your workflow, you can find our full set of benchmarks in our review.
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