The Best Computer for Creatives: A Real World Test of the iMac Pro Versus the MacBook Pro, Mac Pro, and a Windows PC

The iMac Pro is undoubtedly a slick piece of hardware with some very impressive specs, but it also comes with an equally impressive price tag. And while we can drool over specs day in and out, what really matters for most working professionals are real world results. This great video pits the new iMac Pro against a Mac Pro, MacBook Pro, and a Windows PC.

Coming to you from Colin Smith over at Photoshop Cafe, this great video examines the performance of the new iMac Pro in real world tests with apps like Premiere Pro and Photoshop. At the end of the day, particularly for professional creatives who do all their work themselves, performance is really about time, as time is money. If an investment in a computer results in significantly reduced wait times when working with large files or projects, that extra cost could very well be worth it. In the case of the iMac Pro, there are definitely times where it leaps ahead of the competition, but also times when it's neck and neck or it even falls behind. Whether that is worth the increased price tag over the other options is up to you.

[via Photoshop Cafe]

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craig john's picture

For sure. If you use FCP X, stay with Apple and be happy. That to me, is the ONLY legit reason to stay with Apple right now.

Motti Bembaron's picture

"Is Apple kind of gauging us"? It's not even a question, Apple has a price structure that separates you from a large chunk of your money in a lightning speed :-)

For Photoshop and Lightroom, I think PC's have been doing better for a long time now. Comparing my friends iPro and my PC there is no comparison, my PC kills the iMac (cost about half).

As for video editing, I bet a couple hundred dollars in memory investment would bring the Dell very close to the iMac Pro.

What exactly are you comparing?

Motti Bembaron's picture

I am comparing my one year old custom built PC to a friend's iMac. His is a bit older but I used components that were already a while in the market to save some money.

We both photographers using Photoshop and Lightroom. My PC is way faster than his iMac.

I am SHOCKED that a 4 core computer with 16 GB of ram and 6 gb video card was beat by a computer with 10 cores, 64 GB ram and 16 GB video card...... But in all seriousness, this review is nonsense. Why not use an An Area 51 PC with the 7820x 8 Core 4.5ghz, a GTX 1080 Ti w 11GB ram and 64GB quad channel Hyper XDDR4, and 512 GB M.2 SSD? That's coming in at $4,469 with 2k left for a 5k Monitor. I'm not all about PC or Mac, but this review is comparing apples to oranges. The mac will still have a Xeon W processor, but at least the specs would be a lot closer if you are really trying to see where the Mac performance stands next to a comparable PC. Heck bump up to the 7940X 14 core and there's still 1k left for a monitor. Again, I have an Imac and macbook pro personally, but even I can see right through this review.

Mirza Hasanefendic's picture

Well... I recently bought a brand new "trashcan" 6-core MacPro with dual D700 graphic cards, 512GB SSD and 32" 4K BenQ SW320 monitor. I used Apple's educational discount and after selling my classic MacPro, I invested "only" $2300 + $860 for refurbished (practically new for half price) monitor. Not a popular choice these days, but honestly, this configuration is WAY better for ME compared to brand new fully loaded 2017 5K iMac i7 quad-core I have at the office. Yes, the iMac is slightly faster while exporting from Lightroom, but overall system responsiveness and precious silence (2017 i7 iMac is super noisy, unlike 2012 i7 model I used to own) is so much better with MacPro. FCPX also flies and plays with Mavic Pro's 4K LOG files with ease, and with Capture One Pro 11, it's even faster while processing Canon's 5D MkIV RAW files :-) I just added Drobo 5C for archive and 1TB external Thunderbolt SSD for editing larger projects, and plan on adding 64GB of RAM next month. Super happy with my choice but I have no doubt that iMac Pro is a serious, super fast upgrade in every way, just a bit too expensive at the moment. And I also prefer larger matte screen with 99% AdobeRGB and 10-bit color. YMMV of course...

I love how every example in the comments is "the same, except". So many people here can build a better computer for less, except some part of the components don't match up.

So it's not the same computer as the iMac Pro, it's a computer with lesser parts, that's why it's cheaper.

The Alienware performed better on single core tasks (4 cores), because it's has a higher single core score than the iMac (8 cores). The iMac will be blown away by anything that requires single core work as the back bone. Just like the other machines were blown away by iMac's 8 core multi-core score, and 64bit Vega GPU. Different tasks, require different parts fo the computer to run well. The iMac Pro is a great computer for video, and will do better than it's predecessors at photography, but it's not spec'd for photography. It's designed for heavy lifting, and computational math, e.g. video compression, and VR design.

craig john's picture

I love how people just assume you need to compare Xeon to Xeon when comparing pricing for two computers than can perform the same tasks.

You don't. If I can build an 8-core non-Xeon workstation for $2,100 that can perform the exact same tasks as an 8-core Xeon workstation for $5,000, it's entirely valid.

There are very few photographers and videographers who need a Xeon component workstations.

You do if you want to make accurate comparisons about performance.

craig john's picture

No. If you can perform the same task on two different computers, regardless of they components, they're entirely comparison worthy. One will be faster, one will be slower, or they will both perform in a similar fashion. Photoshop, Lightroom, Capture One Pro, PhotoMechanic, FCPX, Premiere, After Affects, DaVinci.... they all work on Intel/AMD CPUs. It doesn't matter if it's an Ryzen, Threadripper, i5, i7 or Xeon.

They're all comparable to each other in terms of final performance, and especially to "price to performance" ratio.