New Workshop - Unscripted!

Lightroom Mac vs PC Speed Test | $4k iMac vs $4k Custom PC Performance Test

April 25th 2016 10:35 AM

Our studio has grown to a point where our IT demands are quite heavy. We not only need powerful machines, but we are finding that building and servicing those machines is becoming quite costly. So, I wanted to do another Mac vs PC test to see if we could purchase pre-built Apple computers that can compete in terms of performance and price with our custom PCs which have been built by our own internal IT guru Joseph Wu.

This article documents the results.

Testing Approach

It is within Adobe Lightroom that our studio spends the majority of time, thus, Lightroom is, and will be, the focus of our testing. For a studio processing millions of images each year, image-to-image speed is absolutely paramount, so we optimize to suit.

While we are testing for a larger/higher output studio than most, our testing methodology is based on budget, and we wanted to see how two similarly priced machines fair against one another.

Prices listed are continually fluctuating and subject to change, but dollar amounts represented here were accurate at the time of purchase/build.

CUSTOM PC SPECS

Intel i7-5960X @ 3.00Ghz overclocked to 4.5Ghz ($1025)
ASUS ROG RAMPAGE V EXTREME($480)
RAM 64GB ($350)
EVGA NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti ($630)
Samsung 850 EVO 1TB ($300)
Corsair 450D Case ($125)
Corsair AX860 Power Supply ($140)
Corsair Hydro H110 Water Cooler ($120)
Windows 10 Pro ($100/$200)
EIZO 27″ FlexScan IPS Display 2560×1440 ($1000)
FINAL PRICE $4,370 (Amazon No Sales Tax *Where applicable)

*This custom PC was built by Joseph Wu almost a year ago, and it still flies. Note that Joseph did safely overclock the CPU to 4.5Ghz, the speed we run most computers in the studio. This speed and chip set configuration has been tested for long-term stability. Higher clock speeds are possible, but at the sacrifice of the system stability. Lightroom’s primary need/bottleneck is clock speed, hence faster clock speed = faster Lightroom.

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Apple iMac SPECS

27-inch iMac with Retina 5K Display
Intel i7 Quad-Core 4.00Ghz
32GB 1867Mhz DDR3 SDRAM
1TB Flash Storage
AMD Radeon R9 M395X w/ 4GB Video Memory
FINAL PRICE $4,431 (Apple Tax required)

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Image Testing Methodology

For the following series of tests, 1,121 identical RAW images from the Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 5DS were used on both machines. All image settings were held equal between machines for control, and all tests were run 2-3 times to ensure accuracy.

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Lightroom Import

Time required to import 1,121 images directly from the internal SSD drive on each machine.
Custom PC – 12.51 Seconds
Apple iMac – 26.81 Seconds
RESULTS: CUSTOM PC approx. 114% quicker than Apple iMac

Lightroom Smart Previews

Time required to generate 1,121 Smart Previews for the imported images, both machines used 2048px and the same “Medium” quality settings for their Smart Preview settings in the Catalog Preferences.
Custom PC – 19 Minutes 22 Seconds
Apple iMAC – 26 Minutes 01 Seconds
RESULTS: CUSTOM PC approx. 26% quicker than Apple iMac

Lightroom Develop Module Image to Image Time

All catalogs/previews deleted. Images re-imported without any form of previews. This test measured the amount of time it took to scroll through 114 RAW images within the Develop Module as we wait for each image to fully load on screen.
Custom PC – 114 Images in 1 Minute and 10.3 Seconds
Apple iMac – 114 Images in 1 Minute and 58.1 Seconds
RESULTS: Custom PC approx. 81% quicker than Apple iMac

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Lightroom Panorama Merge

5 Images shot full raw on a 5DS (50 Megapixels) were identically processed on both machines via the LR Preset System > 11g. HDR Natural Color, then merged into a single panorama DNG directly from Lightroom.
Custom PC – 12 Seconds to Preview, 59.32 Seconds to complete the merged DNG
Apple iMac – 28.5 Seconds to Preview, 1 Minute 31 Seconds to complete the merged DNG
PREVIEW RESULTS: Custom PC approx. 57.9% quicker than Apple iMAC
MERGE RESULTS: Custom PC approx. 35% quicker than Apple iMac

If you’re looking to learn how to create images like this in LR and optimize it and your workflow in record time, our Lightroom Crash Course is the training you need.

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[REWIND: What is an IPS Monitor? A Practical Guide to Understanding Display Technology]

Performance Conclusion

While we really appreciate Apple’s approach to their hardware quality and design, we can’t justify the price to performance difference at this time.

Speaking conservatively, a 25% difference in performance would turn an 8 hour wedding edit into 10 hours. Spread across 30 weddings a year (for a typical studio), this is a 60 hour time difference in the time spent editing weddings. For a studio like ours shooting nearly 400+ weddings, a 25% difference would require 800 more hours of editing or nearly 20 weeks of productivity.

In this Mac vs. PC test, our results showed that the Apple iMac was behind by 35% or more across the board, making the PC the clear victor.

Final Thoughts

There’s a lot of debate on what these tests actually mean, I wanted to share my thoughts.

I love Apple, especially while Steve Jobs was at the helm. They were innovative, their products screamed quality, and they were a step ahead of the game. Now, they have lost much of that step. Apple is simply adding new products and updating product lines often times without much thought it seems. This can be seen in the horrid pen solution found in the iPad Pro where charging it requires you to have a spear sticking out of your iPad.

Still, I am a huge fan of Apple. For single/small photographer studios who are not processing large volumes of images Apple is still the best solution. It’s simple, reliable and fast enough.

However, for a large studio where performance and efficiency are paramount, Apple’s product line can’t quite handle the job, at least not for a similar price to performance ratio. I will most likely do another test with a Mac Pro against my same machine. I can guess that the Mac Pro will fair much better, but it will do it at 2x the price.

When operating 20-30 machines in a studio, paying 2x the price isn’t really that feasible. Hence for a larger studio, I will say that a well built custom PC is going to be the best solution.

To those arguing efficiency and reliability in having to maintain the PCs, I would say that if users were to do the following, they wouldn’t have said issues.

1. If you are building a custom PC do your research and use only the best components
2. Stop downloading freeware, crap files, torrents, movies, software, porn and any other illegal content and much of your problems will disappear.

The honest truth is, I have spent just as much time in a Apple store at the Genius Counter getting my Apple machines repaired as I have maintaining my well built PCs.

Next Test

As mentioned, I have to do these tests for our studio anyway. I will continue publishing results for anyone that is interested. Our goals are as always to maximize performance while creating reliable systems.

Here’s the next test against our Custom PC. We opted for 6-cores versus 12 because LR isn’t designed to utilize more cores, but rather higher clock speeds.

Capture

Updated Thoughts

About

Founding Partner of Lin and Jirsa Photography, LJP Studios and SLR Lounge.

Follow my updates on Facebook and my latest work on Instagram both under username @pyejirsa.

Comments [301]

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  1. Craig John

    I stumbled across this article, as I’m looking for a new workstation to replace my 2009 Mac Pro. After Apple’s misguided MacBook Pro announcement last year, and the lack of real updates to their desktop computers for nearly 2 years (iMac) and 4 years (Mac Pro), I’m officially no longer married to the Apple ecosystem.  

    That said – it’s a bit difficult for me to throw any credence into this test, as I don’t use Lightroom – I’m a Capture One Pro user. But in some ways, crunching is crunching. To that end, I definitely have to sit up and take notice. 

    While the import and preview numbers are impressive for the PC, why did you omit the exporting numbers? That’s a fairly significant component of a photographer’s workflow.   

    Also, have you completed testing the custom PC vs.  a 2013 Mac Pro? I haven’t found a link – and I’d love to see the results – especially with an export detailing. 

    Another thing that’s changed (significantly), is Apple’s pricing. A new Black 6-Core trashcan Mac Pro is $3,000, not $4,000. And if you buy a 6-core base refurb***, it’s $2,550. With that starting point, and you upgrade the ram to 64GB ($520), and the PCIe flash drive to 1TB ($900), You’re at $3,970.00. It’s no longer a $5,500 machine. 

    I’m sure newer/faster components are available for the PC side as well. 

    I prefer to keep my boot drive clean, so the stock 256GB version is perfectly good for my needs (regardless if I opt for a PC or Mac). 

    ***Not sure why anyone would by a new Apple computer, when you can save buying a refurb, which is just as good as new – then upgrading through macsales.com.  

    Cheers.

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  2. mark arnold

    SLR lounge …. while I am a little late … here is my 2 cents.

    I appreciate your testing.  Good stuff.

    Really, the same findings on the PC side as Puget system. 

    Really interested in a Mac Pro (trash can) verses a solid PC build.

    The D500 video cards are sort of like the (2x)fire pro W7000(?).

    Long time custom PC user.  I have been interested in the trash can but the price does not make good business sense.

    Besides my own work, I edit for a wedding photographer that shoots predominately Indian weddings.  So performance, up-time, reliability are big concerns for me.  Editing 3000 and 4000+ image wedding, I don’t have time to mess around with poor tools.  The custom PC has been very good for me.

    Agree that Apple has lost its luster as of late.  It appears, as of this date, they have lost their direction in the computing arena too.

    Note: I did not see any exporting times.  will we had this in on the next round of testing?  Just curious.

    End of the day…. these are just tools.  find the best tool for the job and have at it.

    -Mark

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  3. Harri Wickstrand

    Water cooling, my ass!

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  4. Jack Jitsu

    Are you serious? Your PC does not have a 5K display. Those are expensive. This is outright cheating. The money you saved went into PC performance. Then you overclocked the PC and not the Mac? This is pure rubbish. I home build PC’s, but switched to Mac when I started doing photography. The total cost of ownership is so much lower with Mac because im not constantly dealing with Windows issues and viruses, and a shit OS.

    Your analysis is completely flawed. Please try again. Id like to see an off shelf PC, thats not over clocked, what a typical photographer would get, up against a similarly price Mac.

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  5. Motti Bembaron

    “…For single/small photographer studios who are not processing large volumes of images, Apple is still the best solution. It’s simple, reliable and fast enough…”

    I strongly disagree. I am a single photographer and if I have to spend two days on a job instead of one, it makes a huge impact on my mental health :-).

    Besides, for a single photographer, building and maintaining a PC or two is easy. What maintenance is needed anyway? I built it and it works, end of story.

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  6. J Ing

    I have used both pcs macs and built computers and worked in various studios since the very beginning when quark and the operating system were on one disk
    Really this argument about super spec pc versus mac has been the same argument since the very beginning and does not stop most production studios using macs. The many years spent with various pcs requires in house constant maintenance which far exceeded the cost of using a mac. I use mac mostly and use
    only pcs when some one wants me to fix them or a design studio with ready to go engineers to fix everything. Both types of mac based or pc based studios seem to actually have lots of both computers for different productions. Apple always has lagged in terms of specs but still is a leader. Once you have the in house engineers to build and maintain pcs then you don’t really need the perfect apple care ecosystem, this is the same for most companies big enough to maintain their own computer systems. Apple offers an alternative.

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    • Njoi Fontes

      You obviously have not spent time around pc’s in the last few years. It’s been a while since pc where actually a pain to maintain. Pc’s nowadays are much more virus free (I haven’t installed an antivirus and only use the built it defences) and much more stable (as stable as a mac).  I have built my last PC 6 years ago and, with the exception of ram upgrade last year and a graphics card update a couple of months ago) has remained exactly the same and guess what? Zero maintenance has been required.

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  7. Nhi Thai

    How can you compare like that? The pc set have 64gb of ram, cpu overclocked to 4.5ghz plus the GeForce GTX 980 Ti is a high-end desktop graphics card compare to a mobile high-end graphics card :))

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    • Nhi Thai

      Sorry – You’re right if only compare the performance based on the price.

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  8. Rob Stutton

    Let’s compare Apples with .. apples. Why did you choose the iMac with the AMD Radeon R9 M395X (i.e. the most expensive option) and compare it with a PC sporting a GeForce GTX 980? You should have chosen the middle of the 3 iMac base configs with an R9 M390 – which is the best match (and slightly better than) a 980. That change brings the iMac down to $2899. Secondly, a fairer comparison is against a commercially available PC – build-your-own is fun at home, but a business needs support and warranty.

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    • Zdeněk Šonka

      sorry man, but you are totally lost in pc specs… R9-M390=/=R9 390. This card is only laptop shit and is thousands of lightyears behind GTX 980 Ti in PC build….. firstly try to find facts and then write ok?

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  9. Bob McCormac

    I guess I’m not too surprised having seen the performance of Lightroom on my own Macs but I’m willing to trade some performance for the stability I get from a Mac. I had been a Windows user since the start of the PC revolution but in 2008 that all changed with my overflowing frustrations with the Windows OS. I switched to a Mac and will NEVER go back to a Windows machine until I see that Microsoft has changed their ways. As of this writing, that has not happened yet.

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    • Njoi Fontes

      you really need to try windows 10 (especially now with the creator’s update). It’s incredibly stable and very fast as well as secure.

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  10. Pablo Luzuriaga

    You really need to try a Hackintosh Build!

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  11. Dan Trimble

    Pye, did you finish the MacPro vs custom PC test? Don’t care about the individual benchmarks if you don’t have time, but at least curious if the MacPro significantly outperformed the iMac and whether or not it was comparable to the PC.

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  12. Joel Blackwell

    This has probably been said, but FYI, you don’t need the pencil stuck into your iPad to charge. There’s a lightning cable adaptor in the box.

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  13. Kelvin Strepen

    I like LIGHTROOM MAC.

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  14. Jacques Archambault

    Really appreciate the transparent and objective comparison based on actuel business needs . Serves to show that there is no universal answer to which is best, but rather depends on usage intent and economics.
    In an eventual subsequent (with 5K) display, I would still appreciate if the amount of RAM was comparable – often a big part on internal speed. Also I would like to understand if you use sRGB or Adobe RGB on the display for your work.
    Tx

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  15. Michael Shea

    Pye, thanks for this article. You’ve inspired me to do another build! My latest build was in 2011! Yeah, I know I’m due …long due for a new build. Question; Should I run my OS on a SSD drive, Photos on another SSD drive, and Video on another SSD drive? Would that give me a significant speed boost? Thanks!

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    • Pye Jirsa

      We’ve done a lot of tests where we try to optimize drive setups with multiple SSDs, single HDs, etc. Surprisingly, you won’t notice a huge difference. The ideal setup is probably OS SSD with a working drive SSD, two separate drives. But, unfortunately this is a costly upgrade and the performance difference is not that noticeable. Yes, an SSD will improve import/copy times, but image to image movement in LR is heavily dependent strictly on CPU clock speed. That’s the primary bottle neck.

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  16. Lee Hawkins

    The bottom line to me here isn’t that Apple is simply overpriced…it’s that they are really failing to build systems that serve the needs of professionals who need more power to do their jobs. Their design is still gorgeous, but they sorely lack the competitive performance they had in the past. They really need to beef things up or they could lose a lot of the professionals that buy their computers and the people who look up to them in purchasing decisions. M

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  17. Alex Silva

    I didn’t see the cost of an antivirus tool, nor firewall/security configurations.

    Wait, you’re not running a Windows computer without antivirus and a firewall, are you?

    For close to 20 years I have noticed how antivirus software really affects a computer’s performance so, it would be interesting to see the same test on a Windows computer running with antivirus and a firewall running. You know, something closer to everyday Windows usage :-)

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    • Brock Jolet

      I haven’t run a firewall or antivirus on Windows since XP. No issues. Don’t use anecdotes as evidence.
      (I have a 4-year old 27-inch iMac and multiple PCs. I live in both worlds.)

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    • Lee Hawkins

      Microsoft has built-in antivirus software…and I haven’t seen much in the last few years telling me that more expensive third-party antivirus software offers superior protection enough to want to pay for it, simply because modern viruses are so sophisticated…besides, who would know the OS better than Microsoft.

      Besides that, adding AV software isn’t going to change these results significantly—as much as I love Apple’s stuff, they have really fallen way behind here on performance!

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    • Joseph Wu

      I personally don’t use any AV tool other than the occasional MBAM ( malware bytes ) scan as necessary.

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    • Joey Bowles

      This isn’t XP/Vista when security was thought of as someone else’s problem. Windows has made major strides in a security first mindset. I run Win10 with no add-on tools and I don’t get any infections. My kids run Win10 with no add-on tools but in “normal user” mode — not supervisor/admin. They download mods and browse to all kinds of crazy sites. I regularly run 3rd party scans on their laptops and the worst thing they get are tracking cookies. Any computer can be infected/hacked, but it is time to update your thinking.

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    • Carlos David

      I turn off my AV when working on LR + PS.

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  18. Paul Takeuchi

    Overclocking has a huge advantage because generally speaking, LR does not benefit that much from more than 4 cores and processor speed is the biggest determinant of image crunching. While I used to own a Mac Pro, I built a hackintosh OC’d to 4.17ghz (i7-980x) and it trounces all of the current (3-year old) Mac Pros. It would be interesting to see the performance test of the Custom PC, hacked to run OSX. While I appreciate the customizability of PC hardware and the ability to OC, I much prefer OSX for daily life. I can run Win7 on my Hackintosh, but even though it is somewhat faster for some tasks, I just hate being in the Windows environment. Macs generally speaking are beautiful machines designed for reliability and style. An iMac just cannot handle hot components because it has no fans or active cooling. A desktop unit which has space for water cooling will allow some excellent over-clocking, but sadly Apple no longer builds big desktops.

    Building and maintaining a PC is not for everyone, though, and while most photographers are also tech geeks, there is a cost to the time taken to configure hardware and over clocking. Depending on how much you value the 5-10 hours it would take to build that system, I’d add that to the true cost. Still if you are a pro and time is money, then spending say $5K on a blockbuster OC’d PC system (with 5K monitor) will definitely pay for itself in time savings, even at a premium to the souped up iMac.

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    • Paul Moquin

      Hi Paul- been looking for a photographer who built a Hackintosh. I’m on the fence- I want the power of the custom PC but the thought of being in the PC environment is a little painful to ponder. How have you found the stability of your Hackintosh? Are you having to spend a bunch of time whenever an OS update comes through?

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  19. Mats Karlsson

    When reading this I assumed both machines were running latest OSX, and I wondered why the PC was “overkilled”. Some of the specs are just too good and expensive.

    Anyway, this wasn’t supposed to be a general benchmark. I’m curious about the comparison to the Mac Pro.

    When I built my cheap budget PC back in 2010 (4 core i5 @ 3.5GHz, 8GB RAM, USB3, DVI & HDMI out, SSD + HD and Bluray writer, and OSX Snow Leopard) it was _significantly_ cheaper than a similar iMac. Mac Pro was just way too expensive to even think about. I have since spiced up my PC with more SSD, RAM and better GPU.

    I think the Mac will continue to become more cost effective, maybe my next computer will be a Mac, hopefully not an iMac which I find very ugly. (Yes, not everyone likes Apples design). I hope for a new Mac Pro.

    But for now my PC with El Capitan works great. (I don’t use it professionally., but would not hesitate if that was the case)

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  20. Roberto Guadalupe

    Doesn’t seem like a fair comparison since you are comparing a 4.5 GHz, Liquid Cooled, 64GB RAM, 6GB graphic card , custom built computer to a 4.0 GHz, 32GB RAM, 4GB graphic card, factory assembled computer. A better comparison would be if you could find a similar configuration (off the shelf computer) and then run your tests again. By the way I don’t know about this person who custom built this PC computer but in my experience with Apple Support (the only time I had trouble with my previous 7 year old out of warranty previous Macbook Pro), they were extremely good and fast at servicing it. I don’t know about the service and support of your custom built unit but seriously doubt it will be as good or as fast. In addition, have I needed to replace my Macbook back then (or now for that matter), all I had to do was pick one from the store, go home the same day to continue my photo editing. That to me is priceless.

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  21. Balogh Tibor

    Cheaper PC configuration, ~2600$
    i7 4790K
    ASRock Z97 Extreme6
    32GB HyperX Beast CL9
    SSD 850 pro 256GB
    SSD 850 pro 128GB – scratch, cache
    2x WD Blk 4TB – Raid 1
    Quadro K620 2GB
    FSP Platinum 550
    EIZO ColorEdge CS270

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    • Balogh Tibor

      + Zalman FX70

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    • Balogh Tibor

      An another PC configuration with 5K monitor ~$3300
      i7 4790K ($330)
      ASRock Z97 Extreme6 ($170)
      32GB HyperX Beast CL9 ($135)
      SSD 850 pro 256GB – system ($120)
      SSD 850 pro 256GB – scratch, cache ($120)
      2x WD Black 4TB – Raid 1 ($390)
      Quadro K1200 4GB ($285)
      FSP Platinum 550 ($100)
      Dell UltraSharp UP2715K ($1570)
      Hyper 212 EVO ($30)
      Zalman Z3 Plus ($50)
      RaidSonic IB-868-B ($60)

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  22. Jeff B

    made the switch almost 17 years ago now.

    but how dare you pour a big giant bucket of water in the kool aid!

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  23. Chris Rosa

    The PC would be even faster if you used a PCI-e SSD. They’re about 5x faster than regular SSD

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  24. Brian Pendley

    You know there’ll be a lot of upset mac users in this comment thread. All other things aside, you got it right when you said you get more for your money in a PC, Custom made or not. Apple makes beautiful products and if you love them, buy them. Just know you could have spent half as much to do the same thing.

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    • Stephen Rutledge

      Very true, if cost is the key issue for your business. For me, reliability and stability outweigh the cost, as the cost is a tax deduction anyhow.

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  25. Marco Mazzocchi

    I think that’s quite unfair to compare an all in one branded product with an assembled almost no-name, lets compare Apple with Dell or other well known brands, second: add to the assembled PC a 5K monitor then we’ll what price we get for the whole. Third: resale value, a Mac even after years has a market value an assembled PC do not. Fourth: Assistance and other costs, we use macs from 15 years (average 12 machines) and in there 15 years ZERO system reinstallation and ZERO problems with the system or upgrades
    And I can go on on this tune for long, so, please, next time I’ll like to read a SERIOUS comparison.

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    • Chris Rosa

      Who buys used computers?

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    • Lee Hawkins

      While I’ve found Apple hardware to be more reliable as well as the OS, this article does raise valid questions about whether Apple is really doing a worthy job of keeping up—and I have to say that I think that they’ve fallen well behind on cost to performance. If you have a high hourly utilization of a computer in a large studio, it stands to reason that raw performance for a lower cost is going to save time—and Apple just isn’t keeping up.

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  26. Randall Huleva

    I agree with these comments regarding the lack of innovation at Apple sine Jobs passed away. However in spite of many PCs outperforming similar Macs, I am still leaning toward a Mac as my next laptop. I have been a lifelong PC user however I am not happy with the direction Microsoft is going with Windows and I have spent countless wasted hours on the phone when I have needed tech support from HP. The ONLY hope the PC market has to keep me now is the Dell XPS 15, although I’m not reading great reports about their support either. I may take a performance hit in exchange for a better product and Ameican based tech support!

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    • Chris Rosa

      I’m glad you mentioned that XPS 15. That thing is sick and can hold 32gb of ram! That will be my next laptop

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    • Lee Hawkins

      I think Apple is really lagging in the desktop and workstation market—I don’t think they used to, at least not this badly—but for laptops it’s extremely hard to feel good about a Windows laptop when you can have Apple’s durable and attractive brushed aluminum shell! MacBooks are so well designed they’re a pleasure to work on even after a few years of wear—I’m luck to make it past a year with a PC.

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    • Robert Waltman

      For what it’s worth I use Dell monitors. I’ve only had two problems but both times I had a replacement monitor the next day. The 2nd time they upgraded me to the better model in the class. I was very impressed.

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  27. Randall Huleva

    Pye, Can you compare a top of the line MacBook Pro to a loaded Dell XPS 15? They are very similar in hardware and construction, but what about performance?

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    • Chris Rosa

      The Dell will blow it away. Don’t the Mac 15″ only hold 16GB ram?

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  28. Gabe Strong

    One interesting option, can be using an old (2009-2012) Mac Pro tower. It is actually better than the iMac and even the newer Mac Pros in many respects. For example, you can upgrade the GPU to the 980Ti (which is what I have in my 2009 Mac Pro) or even a Titan X. You can upgrade the CPU’s to dual 6 core 3.46Ghz. You can install actual SSD drives (as opposed to the Fusion drive you were using in this comparison.)

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  29. Jerry Ranch

    I’m an artist. Not a computer jock. If something goes wrong with a custom built PC, who fixes it? Me. With my Mac, I drive 2 miles to my Mac store, they take it, and it gets fixed in less than a week. Service is most important to me. Now, to be fair, there is a good custom build PC store close to me as well. I suppose I could specify parts and have them assemble it. I used to run PC but switched to Apple products mainly because in the early to mid-2000’s PC monitors sucked (unless you paid out 2000-3000). Plus Windows..yuck..every version has so many changes to the GUI it takes months to figure out where they buried everything. Even my oldest MacBook (4 years) runs the most current OS. I have a Dell laptop that is 3 years old, and it won’t run Windows 10. I installed it (at MS recommendation), and it screwed up the machine so much (lost printer drivers, screen drivers, etc) that I had to take it into that local PC store and have the restore Windows 8.

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    • Mik Rodgers

      Simple, with a Windows PC, go grab any 14 year old and he can fix it. No need for a ‘genius’ at something (ridiculously) called a ‘genius bar’…..

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  30. Jayson Tanega

    Can you run a test on exporting images as well.? It would be intresting to see how long each machine takes to write 1200 jpegs.

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  31. Li Fan

    It’s funny that I had always custom build PCs for my editing needs, and had always laughed at apple products (used to work at IT helpdesk), until couple weeks ago, where my brand new custom build i7 skylake rig started to fail and give blue screens in only about a weeks of use. And the worst part is I’m trying to meet client deadline processing tons of images in lightroom and photoshop. I swapped about every single part possible on the new rig and it still comes down to the dreadful blue screen… I had to use my macbook pro (which I use for travel) to finish the job (which is of course a lot slower than the desktop PC)

    It is at that point I had finally realized that custom build PC is totally not worth it. — To scarifies tons of your time, reliability and simplicity of an iMac for some custom build PC that may have a lot of muscle (when it’s working) but breaks down in very spontaneous way… You will be totally screwed with no support from anybody (because all the individual parts you bought have to be warrantied and serviced from different vendors and usually takes weeks if not month, not to mention you have to find the receipts and spend money on shipping…)

    This article also uses an iMac that came with 1TB SSD storage and 32GB of ram (which adds $1200+ to the total cost of ownership) instead of getting an external SSD for extra storage and getting easily upgradable 32GB (even 64gb) of DDR3L ram from 3rd party vendors.

    While the iMac had a stellar 5K screen, the custom rig is only using a 1440p monitor (which is not half as good for photo editing as a 5K screen, despite slightly better color accuracy and customizability) So in reality it is not an apple to apple comparison, because if you use same spec machines, they will have almost same performance. It just happen that apple products are slightly more expensive than “build your own” type PCs.

    I’ll stick with my iMac and the 3 years of Apple Care for total piece of mind, and never have to look back at the silly me when I was a PC advocate.

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    • Mark James

      I switched to a Mac Pro about 6 months ago and would gladly return to a custom built PC. It is so much slower and I am sick of the rainbow wheel of death. It’s like working with an old PC, you can’t ask too much of it or it locks up. I guess we all have our own experiences to base our decisions off of, but this will be my last mac.

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    • Jay Huron

      That 5K screen will slow you way down in editing because it has to render such big previews (probably about full size!)

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    • Brian Hartman

      Totally Agree

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  32. Guillermo Munoz

    In calculating the “XX.X% quicker than Apple iMac”, you sometimes divide the difference by the larger (iMac’s) time, and sometimes by the smaller (PC’s) time. You should make this consistent so the percentage difference means the same thing every time.

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  33. Dass Al

    Hi Everybody,
    Im just read this yesterday and for me the price of the system its ok, I know are better ones out there. Im working on photography business for over 15 years and on my experience time always a crucial factor.
    On our studio we running all on PC / DELL Mobile Workstations Precision M4700 i7 3940XM Extreme Edition, we upgrade this year to a New Precision 7710.

    Intel i7 6920HQ,
    32GB DDR4-2133MHz
    512 M.2 PCIe NVMe Samsung 950Pro
    Nvidia Quadro M3000M w/4GB GDDR5
    4K IPS LG panel
    $2.8K

    We runnin the same test with the Canon 5DSR
    and this is the result:

    Lightroom Import 1,155 RAW images
    9.43 Seconds

    Lightroom Smart Previews
    7,11 minutes.

    I dont know how much faster we are comparition of the iMac and the Custom PC both looks we are more faster and cheaper.

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  34. Miguel Marn

    Interesting but not surprising. Most of the time it’s just the other factor – price – which is looked at. Same performance, higher cost.
    What I do not agree with is your statement about smaller studios who can “afford” longer waiting/working times.
    Honestly – is time less valuable for them? I bet it is the same. I know it is. Freelancers/self-employed and small teams have a proportionally larger organisational overhead.

    In general – buying Apple means accepting an high (over)priced strategy. It’s still a status symbol. Especially in (certain fields) of the graphics business. I have worked with both systems. Every system has it’s flaws concerning usability and reliability. And I have seen as many Apple users with problems as with PCs.
    Don’t get me wrong but I do not believe in the myth anymore.
    Thanks for adding a good piece of information with this article.

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  35. Alan Desmond

    217 comments…that must be a record…

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  36. Nikos Papadopoulos

    Adobe is highly unoptimized for OS X. This is true for all adobe products, including premiere, after effects, etc… All this boils down to Adobe’s lack of effort for optimising on the mac. Test it by comparing Lightroom on the same system, in Windows and OSX.

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    • Pablo Yanez

      This is quite true – Similar functions in Apple (optimized) but now defunct Aperture were sadly much, much speedier that on an even newer iMac and Lightroom. The review above, while seeming valid, is completely wrong in it’s conclusions because it assumes that LR is equally optimized ion both platforms.

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    • Mark James

      It’s valid if you use LR as the primary part of your work flow and being productive matters to you. Why isn’t important, results are.

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    • Lee Hawkins

      I just moved from OS X to a well-tuned custom PC, and I will have to say that I disagree that Adobe software is somehow more impaired on OS X. I don’t think Adobe writes tight code—none of their software is nimble in any respect, and it seems just as clunky on Win 10 as OS X. They don’t take advantage of multiple cores, and all their code seems to run on a framework instead of being built more from the ground up like Aperture was.

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    • Gérard Kieffer

      I agree. The comparison makes no sense, the hardware and the OS is different. So it is impossible to end up with a conclusion about what exactly makes LR runs faster.
      Adobe Lightroom running on my Mac doesn’t use the graphics card at all. The GPU is idle while working on my photos. I used iStats Menus to verify this. Lightroom runs much faster on Windows on the same hardware! (via Bootcamp) I didn’t check if LR uses the GPU acceleration on Windows but it feels much speedier. Btw, my Mac has integrated Intel Iris Graphics 6100 which is recognised as a compatible card in LR on both platforms.

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  37. Chuck Derksen

    It appears that labor to assemble, purchase and load an OS, and configuration weren’t included in the bill of materials. It would be safe to assume $50/hour.

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    • Ahmed Abu Rshaid

      if you’ve done that before, it should take you one hour to do the whole thing, or two hours at max with proper cable management.

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    • Chris Bozeman

      Building a computer is literally putting electronic LEGOs together. There’s a dozen dedicated high-traffic YouTube channels on the subject, from Linus Tech Tips to TekRepublic to TekSyndicate.

      If you can’t build a PC in 2016, with literally every possibly resource available at your fingertips, and quite literally, thousands and thousands of instructional videos made available for free on YouTube, which also include how-tos on how to install your operating system of choice, give up.

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    • Lee Hawkins

      Not every photographer is a techie. If someone isn’t a techie, I would really recommend a Mac to them over a PC—because going to the Apple Store to ge help is way better than hoping you can find a competent PC tech to turn things around quickly.

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    • Lee Hawkins

      I have to agree here…but I’m sure you could scale back a few components on the PC to account for some of this and the results would still be similar.

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  38. Konstantin Sembos

    Well, someone probably forgets that this iMac wears a Mobile GPU. And that Mobile GPU (which is actually the main part of this test) is put up against a GTX 980.
    I wonder why was this custom built rig not put up against a Mac Pro with the same price tag (which would, by coincidence, have a Workstation GPU)!

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  39. Joe Geske

    The crazy part about this test is that you really went overkill on that pc. Not saying it’s not a nice rig, but in all honestly a $1500 PC could have toppled the iMac by the same result.

    Hear me out, LR through pretty substantial testing on my end stops efficiently using extra cores as approximately 5-6 (hyper threading giving the intel cpu you tested 12). Memory usage has never exceeded about 4 gb on my end (although same can be said for OSX in all fairness). Disk access to images once they are imported is significantly less dependent on the SSD drive, so going with such a large drive might not be as practical, I suggest just storing catalogs and previews on your SSD. In terms of graphics performance, in my experience GPU acceleration still isn’t a big deal in LR so no need for a $600 card built for gaming. Finally, Eizo makes a killer monitor, one that would arguably crush the iMac in every test, but honestly they are a bit overkill for editing a wedding, personally anything with an LG ips panel and a good calibration tool and you are atleast on par with the iMac. Oh and its been shown quite a few times that your crazy $500 motherboards only show a benefit in benchmarks and can almost never be noticed in the real world. A $150 board would have still toasted the iMac.

    So all summed up: $1540
    CPU i7 4790K $300
    16 GB of Ram $120
    PSU $80
    Case $80
    Board $150
    GPU $160
    SSD $200
    Monitor $450

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  40. Jordan Russell

    Thanks for sharing the results; very interesting article!

    One thing I’ve yet to see anyone do is measure the benefits of the GPU optimisations within Lightroom CC/6. For example, on-board vs dedicated card, cheap dedicated vs something higher end/workstation-esq.

    This and in general whether certain upgrades are worth it e.g. old Intel i5 vs newer one. 8GB RAM vs 16GB etc. Would be amazing to see.

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  41. CJ Kedneb

    After this test, are you selling all your macs and switching to PC? Or are you keeping the macs? what are you going to do? would love to know…

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  42. Chris Bozeman

    Lot of interesting comments here, but the bottom line is that there’s really no longer any reason not to build a Hackintosh, at least until Apple revamps the Mac Pro line.

    A friend of mine was offloading some old (to him) PC parts. It was the Haswell-based Xeon processor, the E3-1231v3. The neat thing about this is that its 4 core / 8 thread, a GIGABYTE Z97-HD3 motherboard, and 32 GB of RAM.

    I added a GeForce GTX 970, a power supply, a cheap case, and boom. I had a Hackintosh on par with any top of the line iMac, all for around $650. I already had a nice ViewSonic monitor.

    You can pick up a 5K HP monitor for around $1100. And to be honest, this guy’s build seems overpriced.

    Check out TonyMacx86.com if you want to learn more, its where I went to get help, but turns out its actually pretty easy to build a Hackintosh.

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  43. Paul Warning

    Nothing in this article is new. Performance/$ has always been the advantage of a PC. Especially if you want to pick and choose every component to optimize that ratio. The article is flawed because the author is paying for features of the iMac that they don’t need (5k display) and diverting those dollars to the PC to increase the performance so of course the PC wins.

    Their need is to have a workhorse machine chugging out product. Apple doesn’t have a competitive product in this space.

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    • Lee Hawkins

      I think Apple used to offer more competitive hardware and now they just don’t even seem close. I agree that the PC is WAY overbuilt…and I think this oversells Windows in that you really are going to end up buying software you already get with a Mac…like good backup software for starters. Windows just isn’t as easy to jump into and be as productive in comparison to the Mac. But I do think that a custom PC can really be a great way to go for some tech-savvy photographers.

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  44. Nathanael Jerome

    the issue with this comparison is the fact that the iMac has a 5k display and the PC only has a 2K display. if you want to do a dollar to dollar comparision, you have to buy a 5k display on the PC of equavilent size etc, to “match” the iMac’s display. this would then result in a higher cost for the PC and possibly different results. maybe i’m naive but i think a higher resolution display means a more processing on the graphics card, which could result in slower performance.

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    • Chris Bozeman

      Not naive, just lacking in knowledge of what impacts performance.

      It really doesn’t take much to drive 4K and even 5K displays in terms of a video card. Even low level video cards can easily render images and video in 5K as well as a $1000 NVIDIA TITAN X card.

      Some photo applications improve performance with higher powered GPUs, but you need to verify that that’s the case with your software of choice before purchase.

      Most of the time, a jump in resolution only impacts gaming performance, not video / screen redraw performance (although these ARE impacted, they are not nearly as impacted as gaming performance).

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    • Lee Hawkins

      There is something to be said for 5k vs. 2k in LR, although the PC graphics card is equal to handling 5k. I think the preview time would increase on the PC when creating standard previews, but I don’t know about smart previews. Image to image time would be affected on the PC because the optimum standard preview size would increase with the size of the display.

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  45. Lloyd Donald

    lightroom will us the firepro card but to be honest i think it would have little beef against a 980 ti, side note the cpu in imac is a mobile cpu!!!from what i understand.

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  46. Marco Tullio

    it would be better for this value compare a mac pro input ? with a good monitor?

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  47. Adam Andrus

    First of all, this is a value comparison. Anyone familiar with hardware could look at the specs and guess the outcome. I don’t understand the clamor for an apples to apples comparison when that wasn’t the goal of the exercise.

    Secondly, they picked the most appropriate display for the PC. It’s an IPS display known to have excellent color accuracy, read photography oriented display. The effective resolution, meaning the screen real estate, is the same resolution as the 5K iMac so no extra productivity. I realize that the iMac technically has more pixels and that would matter if this was a discussion about gaming competency where rendering twice as many pixels would matter, but this is a discussion about Lightroom. Unless I’m using a Lightroom different than the detractors, the display is largely static, making all of this discussion about resolution, largely moot.

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  48. Peter King

    “how … machines fair against one another.”
    “how … machines fare against one another.”

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  49. Megan Vassallo

    Does the author not see the difference between the Mac’s high-DPI presentation and the PC rig’s 96-DPI variant?

    To my mind, that question indicts not only the intellectual honesty of this disjointed comparison, but also the author’s photographic bona fides.

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  50. Barry Levine

    Unfortunate that the comparison raised the question of the different display resolutions. While Apple does treat the “quad” screen in a “pixel-doubled” manner, there are still four times the pixels being thrashed about. Couldn’t the appropriate display be sourced? It could have made this comparison more accurate.

    As well, Lightroom seems to be somewhat picky about which video card it supports (and then provide graphics acceleration). Are you sure both the iMac and the PC had such video cards? (Just checking.)

    I’d love to see a “reasonable” build of about $2K including a 2560×1440 display stacked up against a $2K iMac. Yeah; I know I mentioned the differences in the two displays in the first paragraph but, as a Mac user who is calling the Retina display more akin to the Emperor’s New Clothes, such a $2K PC build would really provide a reasonable alternative.

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  51. Ezra Shapiro

    Great article. I think a lot of people commenting here missed a critical point. The comparison here was based on budget. He took the best Mac he could get for around $4000 and the best PC he could build for the same price. Of course the PC is going to be faster because you can put into it DDR4 RAM and more of it, as well as over clock. For all Apple’s tweaking OSX to work well with their hardware, this is still an advantage for the PC builder. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the results were so clearly in favor of the custom built PC nor should it bother people since this is a comparison based on the need to use primarily one program, LightRoom, and for the same budget. Well done!

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    • Eric Yuen

      If play by budget, why not go for a Mac Pro and a 3rd party display ?

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    • Michael Young

      Mac Pro is outdated, so the outcome is even worse.

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    • Mark James

      Yes, tests show it is slower when compared to other macs. I know, I have one and spend a lot of time waiting…

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  52. Eric Yuen

    Something I am interested to know is power consumption. How much power does the PC eat vs an iMac?

    Also for the sake of space saving, iMac definitely has an advantage. I guess that is not an issue for most offices in the States. But for Hong Kong, where a square foot costs US$2000-3000, footprint size does matter.

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  53. Christopher Vespermann

    Nice work folks!

    Now please compare a Hilti rotary hammer to squirrel.
    I know squirrels are abundant if I ever need to have it serviced, but sometimes I just want to put a hole in concrete. I’ll wait for your followup (or just turn to more relevant content providers).

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  54. Daniel Kim

    This article is both deceptive and unfair. It also saddens me to see that many people would read these kind of articles to be misled and be confused, and I can’t take SLRLounge seriously (at least for any of its technical articles).

    The greatest factor for these systems are the I/O throughput. First of all, you are comparing PC with SSD and Mac with mechanical hard disk, and the author claims iMac using flash drive, but actually it is called Fusion drive (which is still mechanical drive, and tiny bit is cached using flash memory). You can get an iMac (even those not without 5k display) that’s less than $4k with internal SSD, which is SO MUCH FASTER than normal SATA3 drive (non PCI-e type). If you had used iMac with SSD with 21″ display instead of 27″, iMac would be even less than $3k, and I guarantee that the score will be very close, despite iMac with slower CPU.

    Your use-case is a need for a grunt machine, which is a gray box that sits in a closet, and does nothing but do rendering all day. I wish we had LR on Linux, but we don’t. I have a server running Debian Linux 24/7, serving nothing but web pages. I certainly wouldn’t use iMac 4k for serving websites, either.

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    • Michael Young

      I pretty much discredited you after you said, “First of all, you are comparing PC with SSD and Mac with mechanical hard disk…” The Mac has a 1TB flash storage via PCIe. It was LITERALLY right there in the breakdown. Macs have Fusion or FLASH/SSD.

      Straight from Apple’s website:

      Flash Storage
      Flash storage delivers significantly improved performance compared to a traditional hard drive — speed you’ll notice when you start up your iMac, launch an app, or browse your photo library. Flash storage also uses no moving parts, so it operates silently. For maximum performance, you can configure up to 512GB of flash storage on the 21.5-inch iMac or up to 1TB on the 27-inch iMac.

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  55. Mike Stuewe

    Since the article factored in price in the title, it’d be nice if it was an apples to apples comparison.

    Excluding Tax from PC but not the Mac?

    How about the price of a 5k monitor for the PC?

    If the PC is custom built, why not user user-upgraded Ram in the Mac?

    Factoring all of these, the article title should be “$3500 IMAC VS $5300 CUSTOM PC PERFORMANCE TEST”

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    • Attila Iuhasz

      This is what I wrote also, they didn’t even used a 4K monitor which has an impact on the performance of any computer.

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    • Michael Young

      You’re a bit off, mainly b/c you didn’t bother reading the build. I don’t know where you live that sales tax is 26.6% The build of the iMac is $4,100 on Apple, which is a more reasonable ~8% tax. If you wanted to swap out for a 5k Monitor, you’d have to FIRST remove the 2.5k monitor already in the build, and THEN add the cost of a 5k monitor (~$1,500) onto the build, which is a difference of $500.

      You can cry as you wish…. but the PC would still outperform the Mac. It has happened in every test done vs. PC.

      You can bring up form, you can bring up ecosystem, you can bring up OS preference, but you can’t argue performance.

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    • Mike Stuewe

      $4,370 starting price. minus 1000 for 2k monitor = $3370. 5k monitor on amazon is $1570. total pre tax price is $4940. 8% sales tax on $4940 brings it up to $5335.20. Math is your friend. This also does not factor in cost of labor to build the machine.

      As far as the iMac price being inflated, why not save $500 by getting user upgraded ram? Smart enough to build a windows PC but not upgrade ram on the iMac?

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    • Michael Young

      http://pcpartpicker.com/p/mbQ9qs does that make you feel better?

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    • Guillermo Munoz

      All these complaints about apples to apples comparisons (was pun intended) miss the point that this is part of the PC advantage on price. In the PC arena, you can pick the monitor that you want, so you can build a machine that has more processing power and only the monitor you need. On iMac, not so much. The fact that this flexibility allows you to build a much faster machine for the same price is **exactly** what the author was getting at, so the complaints are moot.

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  56. Tom Cass

    The Windows machine was more powerful, plain and simple. Fo me what this boils down to is Apple computers and all their products in general are over priced. While I do own an iPhone and iPad my computer is a Dell. I have never owned an Apple computer because I get better a performance/price ratio.

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  57. Ric Omphroy

    The purpose of the comparison was for a high volume studio processing thousands of images per week. This was never a blanket “PCs are better than Macs” review. Dollar for dollar, PCs have always outperformed Macs. As a business decision, equipping file editors with the best performance per dollar is a smart decision. As noted, saving 800 hours processing images for 400+ weddings per year equates to nearly 6 months of savings and has a significant impact on their bottom line profit.

    But that’s not the full story. For those that use their machines for other tasks besides LR editing, in smaller studios, the performance trade-off may make Macs a better choice.

    One thing not mentioned is seamless integration amongst the entire Apple product line. For many, iCloud syncing is a significant consideration.

    I’m certain that Pye and his crew use Macs for many, many things, on a daily basis. However, as far as his image processing team is concerned, they’re getting super-charged PCs. Smart!

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  58. Darren Hensel

    Dollar for Dollar, a custom PC will always outperform a Mac of similar price. Be that photography, gaming, etc. But the trade off is the ease of use of a MAC out of the box. – If you know how to build a performance PC, there is no reason to go with a MAC. But you have to know what you are doing.

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    • Tom Cass

      Windows 10 is so dumbed down and easy to use that I fail to see how the Mac system is any easier. It’s really about what OS you are most used to. Because I’m a Windows user I find Apple machines harder, not easier.

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    • Harrison Jin

      I think he’s talking about actually building the computer.

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  59. Vijayakumar Mattappilly

    You are misleading the readers. Light room is not just about loading the photos. What about processing the photo with correct colour and exposure rendition. Compare the display of Mac and the custom made PC. Why did you not use a 5K display and a graphics card which is suitable for that 5K display and compare the cost versus performance.

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    • Michael Young

      It’s a Eizo Montior, I’m pretty sure it does fine with color management LOL.

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    • Jo Unruh

      I’d pick the Eizo over an imac monitor everyday. There should have really used one from the coloredge range but if they feel the quality from Flexscan range matches the imac monitor then who am I to argue.

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  60. Ken Yee

    This is a pure cost comparison and when you do that, a custom PC will always win the speed race because it’s customizable 😉
    It would go even faster with the pcix ssd drives with double the bandwidth…

    It is a good article to make business owners think though… Is efficiency important to you… More than a pretty Mac?

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  61. Константин Кистенев

    custom pc always was better and faster. l want that config

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  62. Captain Jack Harkess

    If you’re going through the trouble to run these tests, then you should at least also figure out where the bottlenecks are.
    Like this:
    1 – Does Lightroom use the GPU? Yes: Add best GPU. No: Save money and get a cheap GPU.
    2 – Does lightroom work better with more memory? Test with the PC at 32 and 64 to find out! If it doesn’t make a difference, save money on RAM
    3 – Is Lightroom dependent on SSD speed? If so, get a better / faster SSD. Well OK that’s almost certainly the case, and the Samsung is pretty fast, so that’s ok.
    4 – is it CPU constrained? Check to find out

    These aren’t hard questions to answer and if you are serious about optimizing your hardware, you should find out.

    Macs are going to be nicer… the iMac has a screen that completely buries the PC here, 5K resolution IPS panel – maybe that would improve work quality? Or make employees happier? Those are other factors.

    If Lightroom is not multi-threaded, then I don’t have much hope for the Mac Pro. Unless performance really hinges on SSD performance, where the Mac Pro should blow the competition out of the water. But single threaded CPU speed of the Xeon processors is nothing to write home about.

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  63. chris adval

    Since editing or deleting my own comment is not allowed I’ll just re-post my comment.

    Not sure the overclocking is a fair for this test. Also the 5K monitor vs. a monitor not even 4K, I’d bet a big chunk of the value of the 5K Mac is in the 5K display itself. I wish this test had a 4K monitor at least for the PC so the cost would be about $5.5k instead of about $4.5k. I’m not sure the display monitor has much real hit to the performance for lightroom but it does effect the total value from what I see.

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  64. chris adval

    Not sure the overclocking is a fair for this test. Also the 5K monitor vs. a monitor not even 4K, I’d bet a big chunk of the value of the 5K Mac is in the 5K display itself. I wish this test had a 4K monitor at least for the PC so the cost would be about $5.5k instead of about $4.5k. I know the display monitor has no real hit to the performance for lightroom but it does effect the total value from what I see.

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  65. Giovanni Cavalliere

    it would be interesting to take the same test with 2000$ machines

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  66. Attila Iuhasz

    I’m the only one noticing the resolution of Eizo monitor? How can you compare that to a 5K monitor and the impact a 5k monitor has over the performance of a computer. Another thing that is misunderstood is how the 5k IMac monitor works. No matter what resolution you chose, is changing only the interface of Lightroom but the picture is showing in 5K , so called adaptive resolution. I’m not saying that the built PC it’s not running faster but please use a 5k monitor with the PC and you will notice a dramatic difference.

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    • Alex Petrenko

      Monitor resolution will influence IMAGE TO IMAGE TIME (only).

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    • Darren Hensel

      100% correct

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    • Attila Iuhasz

      Have you tested this, do you have an iMac 5K to see how it behaves?

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    • Nikos Papadopoulos

      Wrong… Monitor resolution will affect lightroom performance, since less VRAM is available for processing and more GPU Speed is sacrificed for pushing more pixels. This is true if GPU Acceleration is on for lightroom.

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    • Lee Hawkins

      I don’t think this is significant unless you’re generating standard previews for the monitor resolution or moving image to image. The video card on this PC build would still hold up even for the most affected tasks, and I think the results here would be similar.

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  67. Jarrett Hunt

    So I have a question. Why not chose a graphic card that offers 10bit color like a Quadro?

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  68. Drew Valadez

    I don’t think people get that these systems are based off of similar prices and not similar specs. It’s not trying to figure out whether Windows or Mac does better given the same hardware. They are running completely different hardware and yet people are focused on the RAM as if 64GB would make that much of a difference but completely ignoring the leap in CPU quad-core vs octo-core and the full SSD vs the SSHD (ahem: “Fusion Drive” for you Mac Elitist)

    this is a comparison for the money and it is great to watching Mac fans squirm and justifying their purchases. There is no shame with wanting to be in the Mac OS over Winblows, I get it, but seriously stop trying to think that this test is intentionally trying to lean towards the PC over the Mac because of specs, this is, again, a comparison of “If I have $4500, what can I get on either side of the fence?”

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  69. Mark Tang

    How about the exporting time?

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  70. Warren Senewiratne

    A custom built pc over a pre-built iMac? It’s like a drag racing a stock car with a custom Tuner :) The pc specs better match the Mac Pro quad-core. That would be interesting. In a performance test, price should not be a factor IMHO. Great article Pye.
    [Mac user for over 16 years]

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    • Warren Senewiratne

      BTW here’s a fun test. On both machines have PS, AI and LR running at the same time along with Safari/Explorer open and iTunes playing in the background. Then multi-task between applications and test the performance. :D
      (This is how I work on a daily basis).

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    • Mark James

      My Mac Pro would not be able to keep up with my less expensive PC. People that have been mac users for a long time have no clue how much better a well built windows machine is. They are but sheep and slaves to their “i” image.

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    • Boyd Crochet

      It does take some effort perhaps to build a PC comparable that cost as much as a Mac. However every manufacturer has prebuillt machines and a simple design your own ordering system. Justifying your Mac cost on this basis is false. If like me you are running PS CC the platform is not relevant.

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    • Michael Young

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NDmOHU6lmRw it’s not as interesting as you think it is.

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  71. Daniel Lee

    This is actually a really great article and very interesting to read. What I wonder is, would there be an even larger gap in performance if you guys had a 1151 socket Skylake CPU like the 6700K and DDR4 RAM?

    At these high specs it’s clear the PC has won, but I wonder how they would compare in a more mid range build? I also like how Pye isn’t a Mac fanboy and is very unbiased.

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    • Riley Johnson

      The 5960X is essentially a souped up 4790K with double the cores, PCIE lanes, and uses DDR 4. The only real benefit to the 6700K is a few new instruction sets, power consumption, and native codecs if I remember. So I don’t think the 6700k would do better, but it would still do well. The other long run benefit to the 5960K is that you can have more video cards due to the extra PCIE lanes that the 6700k doesn’t have. This would help longevity a ton and perhaps even allow you to do dual video cards with SLI at x16 speeds alongside a PCIE x4 SSD with the “3500” MB Read “2500” MB Write speeds. That would really keep this machine relevant for years to come.

      I also would love to see a more mid range build with $ to $ as well as an equal set of machines running about the same performance with their prices.

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    • Riley Johnson

      P.S. Clarification since I can’t edit last post, the 4790K came out only a year before the 6700K. On most benchmarks the 4790 is better. So think two of those stacked on top of eachother with DDR4 and potential for double the video cards and faster SSDs in the mix as well.

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    • Lee Hawkins

      If you have a water cooler 6700k, you can probably over clock the CPU (native 4.2GHz) to 5GHz or better, which would be another performance gain since LR isn’t very multithreaded…and the PC would do even better against the iMac.

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  72. Lee Jester

    I have a six year old custom made PC running Win7pro, with the i7 quad core processor and it cost about $2500 in 2010.
    It was built by my local independant IT nerd. I love it!

    It replaced a brand new top of the line MacBook Pro I hated and sold at a great loss after three months of frustration and horrible experiences with Apple personnel . Apple is overrated and don’t blame their demise on losing Jobs, they have always been more about style and hype and not substance. The Apple is rotten at the core.

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  73. Mark Tolson

    I love how everyone is desperately trying to justify owning their Macs now. Relax people, your Macs are still good despite this article having been written.

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    • Alex Petrenko

      They look nice and blow wind back. They are slow, we knew it. Even on the same hardware MacOS is about 10% slower…

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  74. Sedric Beasley

    Not everyone can afford a dedicated IT person to put your hardware together and maintain it. The thing is people rather spend more time shooting pictures and less time in front of a computer. I would have to build a pc and maintain it and work a camera and deal with customers also. I rather deal with the slower IMAC that you have in your test because it is an all in one device that does not have a lot of different high end parts to keep it running.

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    • Daniel Lee

      It’s actually really easy to build a PC. I had always replaced components myslef but last year I tried building from scratch and I was shocked at how easy it really is. The most confusing part is usually when you have to plug in all your case wires that control the power and restart buttons, otherwise it’s very fun and simple.

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    • Drew Valadez

      It’s really not that hard to put together. You also mention the cost to put togther a PC when you can easily find someone to do it for you for not much more. I know you know someone who could do it for a pack of beer and $100 and it would still cost less than a Mac of equivalent specs. The thing not to forget though is Mac does have a set and leave it type of OS, which Windows isn’t exactly capable of having but it’s getting closer.

      If you ever put together your own PC, you will realize how much fun you will have doing it and how much easier it actually is than photography in many instances. You don’t need to get all buck crazy with an IT degree to build one nor to maintain one.

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    • Alex Petrenko

      Just go and by High End PC. No need to deal with assembly…

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    • Lee Hawkins

      There aren’t really any manufacturers out there I’d trust to build a reliable PC. Apple make the most reliable mass-produced computers on the market…but a custom PC with appropriate components will be the best way to go. The big manufacturers cut too many corners to cut costs—I wouldn’t trust them. Better to build your own (if you know how) or buy from a trustworthy system builder.

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    • Frankie Withers

      check out xotic pc – I had them custom build a laptop for me and been using it for 4 years now. handles 40mp raws out of the phase like a champ.

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    • Eric Yuen

      I think people just forgot about how much time they need to install Windows with all necessary drivers and software. Not to mention re-installing all necessary patches even it is installed with the latest ISO image from Microsoft.
      Another factors to consider is when upgrading machines or migrating from one to another, Apple does a great job on Time Machine backup and restore. Just painless and it works.

      ps. I am using Mac mini on a 23″ IPS, next one would definitely be an 27″ iMac.

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    • Ahmed Abu Rshaid

      so when you buy a new iMac, wouldn’t it need to install all the updates and patches that were made while it was sitting in the store?

      installing Windows 10 an a PC with an SSD could take you 10min, let’s say 30min with all the drivers and software. Although, Win10 does very well in installing all the apps and updates in its own in the background.

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    • Lee Hawkins

      OS X would still be easier. And Windows does not offer backup software as simple and robust as Time Machine—it’s a pain to configure on Win 10, it only lets you use one drive, and it doesn’t back up your entire system—Time Machine backs up everything 100% and will do it painlessly and on multiple backup drives. So there’s a considerable difference here.

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  75. Jake Stewart

    Well yeah, if you put an inferior monitor with the PC you have a lot more money left over to put towards hardware. Factor in the cost of a 5k display and a lot of that PC money (and performance) disappears.

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    • Ahmed Abu Rshaid

      That’s an Eizo display, nothing “inferior” about it.

      If you talking about it not being a 5K monitor, then you should look into getting a Dell UP2715K which a wide color gamut screen and hardware calibrated, and it would be an extra $569.

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  76. Harnanto Nugroho

    Many years i spent my life with Windows. Then when i try Mac, i never look windows back :D

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  77. Michael Andrew

    Another thing to mention is if I go buy a Ford Mustang or whatever applicable sports car, and then turn around and spend that same amount of money on a bunch of amazing parts that show up on a flat bed, who the hell is supposed to put together my amazing fantasy car? You had someone to do it for you which is awesome, I can’t build computer nor do I want to. Add that into the cost and your closer to 5500$

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    • Boyd Crochet

      All you need to do is pick the most expensive option on a web site. Tough to spend more than a Mac.

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    • Frankie Withers

      It isn’t that hard. Shops like xotic pc will let you customize the computer of your dreams at a fraction of the price for an equivalent mac. upgraded screens, drives, ram, you name it.

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  78. Fraser Smith

    So, I notice you didn’t actually post any photos of the custom PC. Anyone would think that this was a comparison between an iMac and a monitor. (Didn’t you spot that you used a mirror image of an iMac in the header photo?).

    It goes without saying that buck for buck, custom PCs have always outperformed the equivalent priced iMac. Just as, buck for buck, iMacs usually outperform equivalent priced Macbooks. With Apple, you’re not paying for outright performance.

    If you had posted a side by side photo of the iMac and custom PC (in all of its boxy ugliness) then it might be clearer why the iMac is an expensive option (design, design, design).

    Also, it might be interesting to stick a dB meter next to each machine while under load. Long term, which is the most comfortable to work with?

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    • Daniel Lee

      Clearly you haven’t seen many customer PC builds, they look amazing and prettier than any Mac :P

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    • Lee Hawkins

      I thought a little about this when I recently built a custom PC…but not everyone cares deeply about design. When building a custom PC for photography, remember that you’re probably using components also sought by many more gamers—and those gamers like cool design so that their systems look as cool as they run. As a result, my new PC has some pretty rad lights and stuff that I can see through the grille on my case. My MBP only had brushed aluminum lol

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  79. Tomás Tuno

    I agree that for this price maybe a PC is better because you can invest money in more RAM. But the question is how long is going to keep this performance the PC. All of us, we know that after 1 week working with PC the times multiply and step by step is getting more and more slowly till the blue screen come.. I work usually with both systems (not in this numbers) and Mac is 200% more efficient in long term than a Pc. Just my opinion under my experience.

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    • Mark Tolson

      200% more efficient long term?? Where is the evidence to back that up? Your point is purely anecdotal. I also have both setups and the iMac’s performance has degraded over time much worse than the PC. Both platforms have their flaws, but the point of the experiment was testing speeds in Lightroom for which PCs clearly outperform Macs.

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    • Tomás Tuno

      Take your 5 year old Mac and your 5 year old pc and try to run lightroom, adove premiere o cubase.. Later you will understand what are we talking about. Anyway as I said, it is just my opinion under my experience.

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    • Ahmed Abu Rshaid

      After 5 years, how upgrade-able is this Mac?

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    • Lee Hawkins

      I think this is a bit of a stretch, but RAM isn’t usually the problem on newer computers—usually an SSD makes the biggest difference. The other piece to this is that for LR, you want a fast CPU…and Apple right now isn’t doing a good job of offering them :-/

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  80. John Cavan

    Quickest way to start a flamewar by Pye Jirsa! :)

    I can always custom build a machine to outperform for the same price, it’s very simple, really. That’s also true of other pre-built machines, so not entirely unique to a Mac. I’ve done it many a times.

    However, I’m a UNIX guy, I’ve been that way for more than 20 years. Most of my machines are Linux, which isn’t technically UNIX, and I remain a huge fan of the platform, but for the desktop, it’s not really what I need.

    Now, if I want UNIX on the desktop and I also want Photoshop, Lightroom, etc. then there’s only one option: OS X. I could build a Hackintosh, but it’s a lot more hassle than it’s worth. So, I go with stock Macs.

    In the end, your tests measure price to performance of hardware in a slice of time, they are what they are. It doesn’t measure other aspects of personal performance in a more general way and that too is relevant. Some people will very definitely move faster in a Windows environment, some in a Mac, it’s a preference thing. I think that matters a great deal when talking about the overall productivity equation.

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    • Joseph Wu

      In this case isn’t it up to the end user to decide? Always more food for thought =)

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    • John Cavan

      It is, hence my point. The tale isn’t entirely told with just one benchmarking angle. :)

      In any event, I’m very comfortable in Windows, I’ve only been developing on it for more than 15 years, but I still prefer UNIX systems for my personal computing needs.

      However, now that I’m in a bank (never thought I would see that day!) I find it really very interesting that, in our location, the software engineering group is over 80% Mac users. We have a choice and despite my preference for working on a Mac, I did not expect that ratio. It’s not a small group either.

      It’s like DxO sensor measurements… Debate seems about the same too!

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  81. Michael Andrew

    I just signed up to make the note that Lightroom CC has been remarkably slow on Mac OSX across the board. I don’t know why that is really. You may want to verify that your video card is properly working with Lightroom, (even though this would only affect the develop module). Also the IMac is a 5k screen with a less than MacBook Pro computer glued to it. Also 64gigs vs 32 gigs of ram should have a noticeable effect on all operations.

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  82. Dean Swartz

    Not fair comparison. PC had 64GB RAM and the Mac only 32GB. Am I the only one who noticed that?

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    • Joseph Wu

      So, because iMac’s are still on DDR3, you won’t be able to get more than 32GB of RAM on it.

      Even if the PC had 32GB of RAM, I don’t think it will make a difference in LR related workloads.

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    • Michael Andrew

      Take out 32 gigs and test your thoughts.

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    • Brian Durfy

      Totally agree. I actually run LR on 16Gigs. I am however curious about the video card. I’m inclined to believe it is overkill. Isn’t the CPU the bottle neck with LR. I can easily peg all 8 threads on my older water cooled and overclocked i7-3700k. I’m fairly confident that this rig will also have the the CPU pegged at 100%. I think another approach might be to cut down the price by using a more modest motherboard, less memory, much cheaper GPU and buy a second computer to just do import routines.

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    • Drew Valadez

      Of all things you look at the 32 GB of ram? Not the 5960X or the fact it is sporting a full SSD instead of a hybrid drive (AKA: SSHD or “Fusion Drive”)

      The SSHD vs a SSD alone would be a huge difference with that much file size getting tossed around.

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    • Mark Tolson

      That’s the whole point of the experiment. It was about what you get for the same amount of money, not the same specs. Obviously with Apple you get less in terms of specs = poorer performance.

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  83. Ralph Hightower

    Apple prides itself on being elitist; they boast about their hardware and software. But they require Apple hardware for upgrades. Apple claims that they are an “open system”, but they use proprietary tactics to lock their systems down.

    I do think that the round Apple looks “cute”. RGG EDU did an Apple hardware upgrade of the round Apples, but I think they used Xeon chips which has a base price of something like $8L/

    I don’t know anything about what infrastructure Apple provides in their systems; it’s based on Unix; but I had not administered an Apple network. At home, I’ve had Windows, Unix, and Linux systems talking with each other.

    As Pye said, Windows is better suited for enterprise solutions with Active Directory.

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    • John Cavan

      Apple sells products, so of course they boast about them. One does not sell by saying they’re “okay, but others are better.” That’s how you stop having a business. However, I had to comment on the open system claim you made: where do they say that? Apple definitely does not make it’s system architecture open, they pulled the whole clone market because because they didn’t want that. I don’t think Apple has made any pretence about being an open platform.

      On the enterprise front, I work for a major US bank… I use a Mac at work. It doesn’t get a whole lot more controlled than a bank when it comes to IT infrastructure. Long and short of it, Macs can, and are, being used in some pretty major enterprise environments. UNIX, after all, is the underpinnings and UNIX has always been an enterprise grade OS, well before Windows had the ability to talk on an IP network.

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    • Michael Ryan

      I’m also working for a large banking institution on a mac, as a developer. That said, the integration with AD is kind of crappy, and a lot of times the support staff on the other side doesn’t know what they’re doing, tossing you over into the “mac queue”, the guy(s) on the mac que are great. That said, it was less than ideal, but has gotten better… the new laptops issued for devs have sudo out of the box, so that helps a lot.

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    • John Cavan

      Not because Macs can’t be managed in an enterprise environment. Enterprise != Windows, but a lot of people assume it does. I started my career in a Sun/Solaris world… Windows sucked in that enterprise environment. In other words, it’s not absolute.

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  84. Gary Ridsdale

    Thank you for doing this test. I have read comments complaining that the specs are not equal ( which was not the point as it was a dollar for dollar comparison ) and I would suggest that you could have cut the price of the CPU, motherboard and video card and still had a beast of a machine. For a further savings, a AMD CPU could also have been used. It is possible you could have lobbed $1000 – $1500 off the PC and still beat the mac.
    The apple fans get tiring, always claiming that PC have all these issues. We have both PC and Mac in our house and the fully loaded $4000 Imac is slower than the older $1200 custom build, the Imac is the only one that has had to visit the repair shop ( once for a faulty network card and once for a rogue program that Apple service refused to call a virus ) and it continues to have to be rebooted more frequently than the PC.

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  85. Stephen Rutledge

    PC is great value but I’d like to see both machines tested running the same amount of RAM.

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    • Joseph Wu

      For lightroom, the difference between 32GB and 64GB will make little to no difference. As long as you aren’t heavily relying on RAM cache due to a slow storage sub-system. ( If you have decent SSD’s you are probably in the clear )

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    • Riley Johnson

      Not going to make a difference when you’re looking at a 5960X managing that ram. The iMac most likely is using a laptop grade CPU so it can manage heat, where the PC is using the best consumer/elitist grade desktop CPU. The iMac is also using a laptop video card where the PC is using the 2nd best but sometimes better video card currently out.

      There still wouldn’t be much change if either is still taking control of the CPU and video card capabilities as Adobe has programmed and intended them to do.

      Sadly I say this as an Apple Certified Macintosh Technician who works in IT…

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  86. Abiatha Swelter

    Curious what you make of the difference in the monitors (aside from the resolution). Is the Eizo worth the bucks?

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    • Joseph Wu

      We’ve tested an Eizo internally here, and I can safely say that the monitor was the BEST factory calibrated monitor we have ever tested.

      The delta E’s were far below 1.5 at worst, and if it wasn’t for GPU differences & display drift overtime, it would have been safe to say, good to go out of the box.

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  87. Nathan Nellans

    Mac users will never have the latest technology right away. They are at the mercy of Apple and whenever Apple decides to release a product that uses the latest technology.

    Now, for my custom-built home PC, all I need to do is buy the new component that I want to upgrade and install it. Macs still don’t support DDR4 RAM, for example, and PC’s have been able to use it since August 2014. Another example: nVidia & AMD are getting close to releasing their new line of graphics cards. I am anxiously awaiting them and will upgrade to one of the new graphics cards if I want to.

    The popular VR hardware from Oculus Rift doesn’t support Mac yet because Apple doesn’t have a “good computer”. More specifically, the graphics cards are crap, even in the Mac Pro. Source: http://9to5mac.com/2016/03/03/oculus-rift-mac-support/

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    • Michael Ryan

      That’s not entirely true, there have been a few Apple releases that premier a new technology from Intel… it’s usually less than a couple months, and there’s faster/better options for home built PCs

      I run Mac, Windows and Linux every day, so don’t really have a pony in this race. I appreciate the aesthetics of OSX and mac more in a laptop… mainly the touchpad is second to none, which is huge for me. Outside of laptops, it depends on the use, I’ll either build my own, or use a brix/nuc if it doesn’t need power… my desktop is an i7-4790K and it’s plenty fast for my use, with background VMs running server software… very happy.

      I think in this case there’s a strong point for speed… in software, nothing is worse than a > 15 second disconnect in hitting build and testing what you’re working on… the more disconnect, the more recovery in getting back to what you’re working on, let alone the performance difference itself.

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  88. Brent K

    Very interesting – nice post!

    Are you sure that Adobe is running in 64-bit mode?

    * https://helpx.adobe.com/lightroom/kb/optimize-performance-lightroom.html

    Maybe Adobe products are developed on Windows then ported to MacOS, and thus will always be faster on their native platform.

    I look forward to your Mac Pro test. All of the photo/video pros I know use the Mac Pro; the iMac 5k is more of a “prosumer” product.

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  89. Mark Jordan

    Mac user will never admit. Apple is bootiful yes, but overrated.

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  90. Michael Lykke

    If you are looking at this from a business point of view, then this test is fairly worthless. First of all, everybody knows that the PC will have more raw performance, but unless your 8 hour editing session only consists of doing file conversions, and similar CPU intensive tasks, then i suspect most of the 8 hours is actual editing where you won’t feel any difference in normal use. When you factor that in to the equation the 35% performance increase over the Mac will mean very little in the end – A few percent at most. But when you then continue to factor in things such as the added administration time of Windows PC’s(and yes, it’s a fact – I speak from more than 20 years of experience), the much higher resale value of the Mac and the fact that OS X is a lot more effective in many daily tasks, then I’m fairly certain the business case turns out in favor of the Mac. For custom built pc’s you also have to factor in the time you spend on purchasing individual components, building and testing the system etc. When we are talking business, you have to look at the entire picture.

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    • Ludovit Puha

      I don’t understand the 20 year of experience. If you try organize 20 talented graphic editors you will find out that is like try to organize box of cats. You need system solution to manage all computers at once, make sure that they don’t have to worry about anything else that their work. I’m custom to manage environments 200+ user. If I have in company 5 mac its take mi same time as 195 user. Why? Because if I have new user I will create account give him password and I can forget about him. If I have mac user. Create account setup email, setup shares, setup printers, setup account on mac. If I need change some settings company wide. I will change it in Group Policy and it is done. If it mac I can go to every mac a do it on it. And down time if something is wrong with system? Run installation from network and in 15-25 minutes the pc is fully reinstall and user can work if it is fatal failure? Give him spar PC he log on and he is running in 2 min. With all his settings and files. On mac? You should now from experience. I never done full reinstall under and 2h.

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    • Jean-Baptiste Meyer

      Try to use a clean image of your system done with Super Duper. It’s done in 10 minutes. I’ve never spent 2 hours to reinstall a mac in 10 years. All is questions of tools and experiences.

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    • Ludovit Puha

      Ok so from clean HDD to fully install system with all programs in 10 minutes ok sorry. I will try it and if it is possible to work in general way and from network I will not need to buy licence for every mac I will be in your dept.

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    • Michael Ryan

      It’s not just those tasks… it’s the recovery while you are waiting for something… if something takes < 10 seconds to process, you can get back to where you were quickly… once you exceed that, and it can take a minute for your brain to get back into what you were doing.

      Every bit helps in that case.

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  91. Stephen Jennings

    I like Apple’s software and the operating system.. hardware wise, performance, power, Mac’s suck. They care more about how their product looks than how it performs. Take the Imac for instance.. they sit on desks, they don’t move, you don’t carry them with you, you’re not going say “oh, got a meeting, let me pack up my iMac” .. so why the hell is the iMac so damn skinny? For a powerful computer to run efficiently they need airflow and room to breath. The iMac, for all it’s beauty, is honestly nothing more than a laptop folded over on it’s self with a giant screen.

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  92. Wouter Oudemans

    Things you don’t want to read 3 hours after you unpacked you brand new iMac 5K…. this article. On the other hand like Pye mentions, if you are a single stand photographer this iMac does perfectly fine. So far I am very pleased with this purchase. Start editing tomorrow. ;)

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    • Pye Jirsa

      Wouter, the iMac is a fantastic machine. If you are a solo photographer, you made the right choice. Don’t worry. Just get that screen color calibrated =)

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    • Wouter Oudemans

      Got my Datacolor Spyder ready. It’s very funny switching between my iMac and macbook (2012) The macbook looks pixely. Guess there is no way back.

      No I only need to wait for my a7sii to start rocking Austria.

      @Pye. I love your photography courses very much. But I’m more into videography. Is SLRlounge thinking of doing courses for that? Would shake my world for sure.

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  93. Pye Jirsa

    I need to do this testing for the studio anyway, so my next comparison will be MacPro 6-core (since LR can’t utilize cores, but rather clock speed) vs our current setup using the same EIZO color edge display (so anyone arguing resolution).

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    • Dave Nunez-Delgado

      The Mac Pro hardware hasn’t been updated since it was launched in 2013 – it’s hopelessly out of date. Save yourself $2K and pick up the MSI Vortex G65 ‘cylinder’ computer for $4K and much better specs:

      CPUIntel® Core™ i7-6700K
      CPU Speed4-4.2GHz w/ Turbo Boost
      ChipsetZ170
      Color Aluminum Black
      GPUNVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 980 SLI
      Video Memory16G GDDR5 (8GB each)
      AudioNahimic Sound
      Memory32GB DDR4 2133MHz
      HDD Capacity256GB SSD (PCIE Gen3x4) [128GB *2]+1TB (SATA) 7200rpm
      HDD InterfacePCIe RAID + SATA
      LANDual Killer Gaming Network E2400
      WLANKiller N1535 Combo (2*2 ac)
      BluetoothBT 4.1
      USBUSB 3.0 *4
      Video PortHDMI 1.4*2, mDP v1.2*2, Thunderbolt*2
      Audio Port1/1/SPDIF OUT
      AC Power Adaptor450W Built-in
      Dimension7.61″x7.01″x10.55″
      Weight8.8 lbs
      Manufacturer Warranty2 year Limited warranty (Include 1 Year Global)
      MSRP3999

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  94. Joel Richards

    With few exceptions it has always been true that PC’s are a better value (in terms of raw speed) at any given price point but this comparison is really … odd. A 5K iMac with half the RAM? Most of the cost of the 5K iMac is the screen. If you add a 5K screen to that PC what does that do to the price? There was no attempt to actually balance the two machines. If raw CPU speed is the most important aspect then get an old Pro (for a lot less) and customize that. Pushing the ~20megapixels of the 5K iMac also takes a performance hit.

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    • Ludovit Puha

      5k display is nice feature, how ever ony if it not behind glass screen. Did you ever wander why the best monitors for Graphic never have glass on top of it? 5K is nice the question is it usable. Second question is workflow. For me 2 monitors is not nice to have. It is mast to have. BTW fully loaded MAC pro under full load for long period time is running really hot in server room. So I wander how log will survive under full load in normal environment of the office. Don’t take me wrong I have mac at home, as well as pc. The point is if I need spend the money I take the question.

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    • Andrea Daviddi

      Oh, finally :-D
      Someone that finds glossy screens unsuitable for graphics work just like I do :-D

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  95. Paula Laer

    Perhaps the salvation of OS X is to do so natively installed on any PC. But I doubt that Microsoft leave.

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  96. Paula Laer

    Today one mac is better to work as adornment, but while this.
    To make matters worse every day more in which OSX pc can be installed. It makes no sense to pay so much for a good housing.

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  97. Erik Alexander

    Curious, why didn’t you guys try the Mac Pro against this custom built PC? Wouldn’t this be a more appropriate comparison? Even though the Mac Pro is a little older. You could compare a processor that has more cores, and you can customize the Mac Pro like the PC just as well (do many of the upgrades yourself).

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  98. Ludovit Puha

    Every one is speaking about how the mac is better. Fro basic user is fine (2-3 computers in network). How ever as soon as you need enterprise solution you will find out that is unusable. The reason is that the Mac OS is not build for enterprise solution. Every one is telling about the viruses, down time about the updates, issues with system. As soon as you have enterprise infrastructure you can make sure that no one is using computer in way they should not, there for you don’t have viruses, unstable system. The updates are done automatically. You have absolute control about the files in your business. For example if you buy Dell you have almost no down time, because of the HW failure, option to customize your system as you need. This test is fine and shows the price tag on any branded solution. Some are more expensive, some are cheaper. At the end you need some thing that fulfil your needs. No madder what it is. And this article say when you are big, when you deal with large amounts the mac is not for you because of the over all price tag. It will be fun to read this in point of the IT admin and his point of view, backup, access rights, central management, emails, network shares and so on…

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    • Pye Jirsa

      You are absolutely right, and this is exactly the position we are in. All enterprise solutions are based around PC. Active Directory, etc. Going Mac is a nightmare from that standpoint.

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    • Ludovit Puha

      That is the most important point, as well when you look at storage options and backup. At he end you will and up with Microsoft sever infrastructure. So there is no point to go Apple on user side. It will course only a problems and additional money.

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    • Michael Yuen

      From an IT perspective (we manage over 9000 Windows PCs at our organization alone), Mac management is a nightmare in regards to intellectual property, patch management, and security. It can be done, but it isn’t as easy or secure as a Microsoft infrastructure (not to mention the lack of knowledgeable Apple Enterprise support.) As a company grows, having primarily Macs is quite a risk to manage, and judging from a LJP employee count, they have grown quite a bit.

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    • John Cavan

      Well, notwithstanding the results of this test, which tells you what it tells, I can tell you that at least one major US bank with > 40,000 employees offers a choice of Mac or PC to its staff. That is in what amounts to the most controlled and regulated industry you will encounter outside of pure government. So, sorry, I know you’re not correct, a Mac is absolutely manageable in an enterprise environment, it’s just managed a bit differently.

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    • Warren Senewiratne

      hmmm… I wonder how all those large Ad agencies (forget publishing houses) worldwide do it running over 20 Mac Pros… I worked in one that had 10.

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  99. Igor Socha

    + With X99 motherboard you have still pretty nice options to upgrade your PC in the future ( let´s say in two-three years better processor, more RAM, faster drives), don´t need to buy new computer. So when considering PC vs iMacs, this is another important thing when reducing the costs, at least for me.

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    • Joseph Wu

      Considering broadwell-e will bring over clockable 10 core chips, I’m excited!

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  100. Ricky Yu

    You are comparing a PC with 64GB RAM against an iMac 32GB RAM, the PC with video card 6GB against 4GB of the iMac, plus the PC is not even 5K, its graphics card can’t even handle 5120 x 2880 (that EVGA GeForce GTX 980 can only display 4096 x 2160. Not a true comparison in equal terms.

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    • Igor Socha

      he is comparing what you can get for the same price – so this is the result :)

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    • Pye Jirsa

      I’m comparing $4k to $4k =)

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    • Joseph Wu

      There is no display out there that supports 5K without resorting to MST, as the displayport 1.2a protocol, or hdmi 2.0 doesn’t support 5K @ 60Hz with a single stream.

      The iMac has a custom TCON in order to do so.

      TLDR: You can most definitely have a 5K display on a GTX980.

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  101. Jean-Baptiste Meyer

    You are not very objective Pye, as usual you are comparing what is not comparable. If Adobe does not have good performance on MacOs X it’s not Apple’s fault. Do exactly the same comparison installing Windows on your iMac and publish us the comparison. This will be objective ! I’m pretty sure your PC will be more performant but not with such a difference. I personally use capture One 9 on my mac and I’m very happy of the performance of it.

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    • Pye Jirsa

      I’m not testing OS load and efficiency, I am seeing what kind of machine I can get for $4k for the studio. Hence the comparison I ran for myself. Like I said, I am just publishing my results for those interested. Take it or leave it.

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    • Jean-Baptiste Meyer

      I’m not talking about OS load either. I’m talking about two implementations of Lightroom on two different systems. If I resume your article, you tell that Lightroom is better on PC than on Mac, booo Apple. This is exactly the same thing that telling that Flash is crappy on Mac, shame on you Apple. This is not Apple’s fault but Adobe fault that does not target anymore MacOs as their primary target for a long time. This was just my point as software engineer. However I love your other articles ;)

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  102. Glen Barrington

    Well forget it! Giving up porn for efficiency? That’s just stupid.

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  103. Damir Čolak

    Call back when you match monitors for the same price.

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  104. Mihai Buta

    This review is not accurate at all in my opinion. Its comparing 2 completly different things. Strap on a 5k or even 4k display on the custom made pc and then talk about speeds. Lightroom is so poor made that the higher resolution your display is, the worst it works. No matter what specs your pc/mac has under the hood.

    The image to image test is completly off. When making a preview for the imac 5k you need to make a preview for a monitor of 14 megapixels. Try zooming on the image and you will see that its a huge perspective difference between the imac and the 1440p display. A preview for imac 5k is like 2-3 times the size of a 1440k monitor. It’s normal its slower. People should be worried that the win pc is not 3 times faster.

    Also take into consideration the price for a 4k or 5k display when building the pc and see what budget you have left to build a competitive pc.

    The only conclusion from this article should be that a lower resolution monitor will improve your lightroom speeds.

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    • Pye Jirsa

      The next comparison will feature identical displays, we will see if the argument holds up.

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  105. Albert Manduca

    This is the most ridiculous comparison ever. A super beastly PC vs a Mac. First off the Mac has a 5k display so tack on another $1500 in value for the Mac or add that to the price of the PC. Second PC is always going to be more powerful, especially if you build it yourself and get an 8 core CPU, the fastest GPU on the market, and top level components. All of that said, I’d rather run Mac as a photographer ANY DAY OF THE WEEK. I own a water cooled PC rig for gaming and a Mac Book Pro Retina for my video and stills production work. Windows is not cut out for anthing mission critical in our field. If you’re a DIT on set and a windows update comes up while a director wants to see a daily you might get fired.. lol

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    • Jon Yoder

      If you really value a 5K screen that much, then the iMac is a better deal. But I don’t really care about that extra resolution over 2K. YMMV.

      The computers are also similarly priced, so this seems like a fair comparison to me. Also, LR doesn’t use much of your GPU, so that wouldn’t change the results much anyway.

      Also, the quote “Windows is not cut out for anything mission critical in our field.” is purely your opinion and is completely false. Pye’s studio is a perfect example of this being false.

      I don’t know much about the world of DIT, but I believe this site is more directed toward professional photographers.

      Mac or PC are both viable options, and kudos to you for preferring Mac. I also enjoy OSX, but for me right now, Windows is better for me.

      Cheers.

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    • Mark Tolson

      Maybe turn off Windows auto updates then.

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    • Herm Tjioe

      Windows Update should never be on as auto upload to begin with. LOL

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  106. Tony Guillaro

    Check out xidax.com for your custom computer needs… Best company for computers by FAR!!

    Just take a look, you will not be disappointed!

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  107. jj jabouj

    After15 years of using Macs and sick of waiting for a machine that can be upgraded I bought a PC. it worked great for the most part for a month or two. Plus it cost a lot less than a mac! Then the PC error messages started happening, then the hard drives that would change permissions and the disk writing would slow down real bad when laying off files. then finally the monitors would go white and a booming buzzing noise would be coming out of the speakers. After experiencing that 4 or 5 times I cut my loses and just last week went out and bought a mac. If you are pro, you can’t be spending hours much less days trouble shooting your edit computer. you just can’t. for the price i wanted to love the pc but i just need a computer that works.

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  108. Timo Koenig

    Comparing a 8 Core 4.5GHz 64GB RAM Pc with a 4 Core 4.0Ghz 32GB RAM Mac…. And you think thats is fair. When you compare the Performance (and not the Price) the Pc should have at least 120% more … 36ghz in total for pc and 16ghz Mac. I know thats not totally correct, but when you compare PVC and Mac, the Systems should be nearly equal…. So try a 8core Mac Pro and we will see ;0)

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    • Joseph Wu

      The mac pro has older processors and take a heavy hit in IPC ( core clock ).

      Assuming the iMac wasn’t heavily thermal limited in these tests, the iMac will probably outperform the Macpro in most tests, minus exporting.

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    • Gerdie Hutomo

      he compared it based on budget, $4k PC vs $4k Mac

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    • David Wilkins

      Read the article this is a price comparison!!!!

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  109. Trevor Dayley

    But if I have a PC, I have to spend the 60 hours I would have saved during the year on fixing my computer. :)

    Always love reading your test results Pye. Super interesting data!

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    • Pye Jirsa

      Lol, I don’t know where you guys get your PCs. I think maybe 2-3 hours of my year accounting for PC downtime/updates, if that. I spend more time in the Apple store at the Genius Counter for just my laptop and iPhones every few months.

      | | Edited  
    • Andy & Amii Kauth

      Such different experiences. Can we just get some consistency? We have only ever been in an Apple store to get a charger (we have had two bad ones that frayed). Otherwise no issues and have been using a Mac since … whenever we bought a laptop. Well, we had an Acer for a while that was a piece of junk (but we didn’t buy it and did nothing photography-related with it).

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    • Pye Jirsa

      I just added Apple Care to my Macbook Pro cause the track pad isn’t working anymore.

      Justin has taken in his MBP multiple times. Their service is great, but their machines and hardware still requires it.

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    • Liam Douglas

      Mine never have. Now my GF’s daughter has, but she beats the crap out of her stuff instead of taking care of it.

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    • Pye Jirsa

      Not sure what taking care of is. We utilize our gear a lot on location. But my hardware is always in a case, never been dropped, never gotten wet, etc. I would consider it very well taken care of, but under heavy use.

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    • Justin Lin

      Dead pixels on one, HDMI port stopped working, faulty video card…issues will arise but the nice thing is I can just drive up the street and get it fixed right away vs. dialing in. That’s the main difference

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    • Liam Douglas

      Not sure what you are doing with your Apple hardware but I have been using iPhones, iPads and Macs for years and I have never been to an Apple store for any repairs.

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    • Liam Douglas

      And I have built custom PCs for ages. Still you are not comparing a fully customizable Mac to PC. Why would you waste $4,400 on an iMac when for the same money you can get a Mac Pro which is way more powerful and faster than a PC.

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    • Andy & Amii Kauth

      Screen size? Stop making us regret our purchases … Lol.

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    • Nathan Nellans

      The newest Mac Pro is using an Ivy Bridge based processor, which in Intel-speak is equivalent to their 3rd generation Core processor. Intel is now up to 6th generation Core processors.

      Also, the latest Mac Pro uses DDR3 ram, PC’s have been able to use DDR4 since August 2014.

      Lastly, the Mac Pro uses PCI 2.0 storage. PC’s can use SSD’s based on PCI 3.0 now, which are much faster.

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    • Jo Ann Stoecklein

      Honestly, they’re consumer electronics. You’ll have machines with issues mixed in there no matter who the manufacturer is, or how good their QC processes are. Anecdotal experiences only get you so far. Whether it’s a Mac or PC (custom, off the shelf, whatever), hardware issues will likely not be a problem for most people.

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    • Gord Scott

      My previous PC ‘lasted’ me 4.5 yrs without a hiccup (still going strong as a 2nd PC). It was a 1st gen i5-750 (2.66GHz) which from day 1, I overclocked to 4GHz. I only upgraded last year to an i7-4790K (4GHz), and have both Windows 10 & OS X El Capitan running on it. Each OS has it’s own identical 500GB Samsung 850 EVO SSD, and each is using the exact same hardware (Gigabyte Z97X-Gaming 7, Corsair H100i, 32GB Crucial Tactical Tracer DDR3-1600, MSI 4GB Nvidia GTX970, + various internal HDD’s from 2TB to 8TB, plus a 4TB & 2TB external USB3 drives.
      I spend no more time faffing about with Windows issues than I do with the Hackintosh, despite what all you Apple fanboys like to think you know about how Windows is pants and suffers from all sorts of issues.

      Like for like, there really isn’t much in it either way, just use what works best for you, just don’t bullshit about which is better when you actually have no clue or any real basis to comment.

      I built my PC/Mac/Hackintosh so I could have the best of both without incurring the ridiculous Apple costs, and with regards to those whinging about comparing a $4k PC to a $4k Mac not being fair, grow up and face facts, you have no clue what you’re talking about. I built a similar spec PC/Mac for a friend recently, and saved her about £800 compared to the top-spec iMac, even including a 4k monitor. Using the GeekBench scoring, it runs about 10% faster than a true iMac using the same CPU & 32GB RAM.

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    • Michael Yuen

      I’ve been using Windows for quite some time, and while I agree that in the past, crashes and slowdowns were common, with Windows 10 they are far less common. The ability to restore your computer back to “factory default” is a welcome feature, no longer requiring a full day of formatting, re-installing Windows, drivers, updates, etc. Further, for the times where your system may have been compromised, Windows 10 also has a “time machine”-like feature that lets you revert your system back to a time. I have configured my computer to take snapshots at specific intervals for that very reason.

      With that said, here’s how I keep my system (and that of my mother-in-law whose prone to clicking on whatever pop-up shows up): I create a regular user account for her. Anything that requires changes to the system (such as software installation) will require admin rights. I do the same thing for my own computer: my daily account is a regular user, and I have a separate “adm-myuen” account to provide administrative credentials as needed. This process has saved my rear a number of times. Those of you who are keyboard shortcut people like myself (where you accidentally select an option with the keyboard without realizing what had just popped up), getting prompted for a password before a major change is made to your system can be a life saver.

      This isn’t a Windows/Mac Operating System debate though. So, I’ll leave it at that :) Thanks, Pye, for the performance comparison.

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  110. Dave Norwood

    The initial reason I went to the iMac was Windows. I wanted to get away from system maintenance and actually use the machine. I’ve been an Mac user for enough years now that perhaps Windows has improved enough to try it again.

    No argument from me on performance/price though. A custom built PC can indeed outperform the average iMac.

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    • Liam Douglas

      True an average iMac but it’s not an Apples to Apple comparison since the PC can be more customized than an iMac. That’s why I said compare a Custom Mac Pro to a Custom PC

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    • Pye Jirsa

      This will be my next test.

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    • Liam Douglas

      Now you are talking Pye! I’m not saying either Mac or PC are the end all be all, but you have to do an identical hardware comparison. At least as close as possible. I know if you research, you can find really close to the same motherboard for both PC and Mac Pro, both Intel. Then use same exact brand Memory, Video card, SSD and then compare.

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    • Hey Ya

      You’re missing the point. He’s not comparing hardware, he’s comparing value.

      Get whatever computers (PC/MAC) that fits your budget and compare between the offerings at that price point. Testing between same-hardware systems is a waste of time.

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  111. Jim Daubney

    Did they factor in all the reboots the PC will need over the course of a year? Or all the time lost due to viruses?

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    • Liam Douglas

      Amen. To do a true comparison, you need to get a barebone Mac Pro and put as close to the exact same Mobo, Processor, memory, video and SSD in both chassis and then do a comparison.

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    • Mark Tolson

      You know that Mac Pros use outdated, older generation CPUs right? And because it’s a Mac you can’t just upgrade it to use a new processor no matter how much money you throw at it. Also LR is not optimized for OSX to the same degree it is with Windows, so in your comparison Macs will almost always lose.

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    • Black Z Eddie

      Stuck in the 90’s early 2000’s are we?

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    • Pye Jirsa

      Jim, I use both systems on a daily basis. Yes, viruses are primarily designed for Windows since Windows dominates the market. Makes no sense to design viruses for a small % of the market when the makers of said viruses are out to create a name for themselves. Hence if you are downloading crap files, porn, torrents, music, movies illegally you will have plenty of issues on PC.

      But, keep your system clean, and it will do well for you. I have never had these virus issues, reboots, and all the crap people always complain about, on either operating system.

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    • | |
    • Black Z Eddie

      I’ve never had viruses and I visit a lot of porrrr………nevermind. :D

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    • Martin S

      Wah viruses wah wah… Viruses haven’t been an issue at all. Can’t remember the last time I got an alert.

      Reboots?

      PC1
      Windows 7 x64
      First boot time: 21/Aug/2014
      Total uptime: 611d15h28m
      Total downtime: 1d12h15m
      Longest up: 56d2h12m (current 51d10h59m)
      Longest downtime: 11h50m
      Total reboots: 72
      System availability: 99.75%

      A large part (at least 20) of those reboots were because of a faulty power supply causing the pc to shutdown and reboot immediately. (Like pressing the reset button). Some reboots were me troubleshooting the issue.
      ——————————–
      PC2
      Windows 10 x64
      First boot: 30/10/2015
      Total uptime: 177d20h7m
      Total down: 12h53m
      Longest up: 27d7h14m (current 13d14h24m)
      Longest down: 10h3m
      Reboots: 42
      System availability 99.70%

      the windows 10pc is the one I mainly work on. The top one is more of a file server/backup. Anyways, it’s a shame I don’t have the logs for windows 7 anymore. I built this pc in ’09 and it has had uptimes of well over 6 months.

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  112. Liam Douglas

    I am curious, if you wanted a true head to head, why not use a $4,300 Mac Pro since it is more upgradeable like the PC and from my previous Benchmarks a Mac Pro will smoke ANY PC and I have built thousands of custom PCs in my 25+ years in I.T.

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    • Liam Douglas

      I would also suspect that anything video rendering related is going to be faster on the PC you tested since it has an Nvidia video card and they are far superior to the crappy AMD cards.

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    • Pye Jirsa

      It will indeed.

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    • Martijn van Eeten

      Apparently the crappiness works the other way around when using Capture One…

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    • Joseph Wu

      AMD cards generally outperform in OpenCL ( which most of CC can leverage ) vs Nvidia cards. Only recently now that mercury playback engine has better Cuda support, as well as newer Nvidia cards are now OpenCL optimized, do Nvidia cards outperform certain AMD cards.

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    • Joseph Wu

      Since all of the mac pro chips run on old generation Ivybridge-EP Xeons, they have a significant clock speed hit.

      Which means for lightroom it will definitely be bottlenecked.

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    • Andrea Daviddi

      Why should it smoke any pc?
      It is built with pc parts and you can easily find better ones :-)
      Also being in IT you surely know that in many workloads a dual xeon can double the performance. The mac pro doesn’t offer that.
      Or for gpu rendering you can set up a 4 way sli render machine.. Can’t do that either with a mac pro.
      Truth is the mac pro wasn’t even too much overpriced.. when it was presented. It was years ago. Prices are the same, components are the same. After years :-)
      Right now it is way overpriced.

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  113. Thomas Mørkeberg

    And the same goes for laptop mac vs pc. The last 4 month I have had the fastest Macbook Pro you can get, and boy is it slow compared to a pc laptop at the same price point!

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  114. Matthew Saville

    I’d also be curious to see how this test performed on the same machine, but with drastically different size RAW files. It could produce a good article for our readers, to discuss how much time can be saved using a 16 or 20 megapixel 12-bit compressed NEF versus a 42 or 50 megapixel 14-bit uncompressed ARW or CR2. I bet the difference there would be equal or greater than this difference presented here!

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  115. Jons Junk

    I’ve had Mac for three years, and I’m not looking back. The hours and hours, over weekends and weekends fixing Windows computers are long gone. The memories of DLLs, plug-ins, extensions, etc. are no more. So when you compare productivity, don’t forget to factor in issues like that.

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    • Thomas Mørkeberg

      Never had to fix any of my PC’s. But sometimes people think that cheap pc’s should work just as well as expensive mac-systems. Try to use the same price PC as Mac, and you typically get some very stable systems.

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    • Pentafoto Tm

      I’d say you don’t know how to properly run or build your PC if you have to spend weekend over weekend fixing it. I run this windows version for a few years and I usually reinstall when it’s full of cr*p I installed or I’m bored. It never broke down on me, never lost files, never got viruses.

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  116. Dylan Martin

    That is pretty interesting, especially since I was looking at eventually getting an iMac. I guess when it comes down too it especially like you said for bigger studios that little bit of performance savings pay dividends in the long run.

    Is there a way to overclock an iMac? Or is it possible for the PC to be overclocked because of the hardware that is inside?

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    • Joel Richards

      The iMac designed is flawed (IMHO) because it is too thin and the thermal envelope is too constrained. Apple already can’t (or won’t) but in top of the line performance oriented processors presumably for that reason. That said the question is really do you want to spend your money on a 5K display or a faster CPU? There are Mac options with a faster CPU but SLR Lounge overlooked that.

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  117. Scott Mosley

    Aren’t we talking about a screen that is 4x the resolution though? Isn’t that making a difference with performance? The retina iMac resolution alone has me retouching 10x faster than it ever was before, as I don’t need to zoom-scan images for issues/sharpness checking. What happens when you add a 5k monitor to the PC? Price? Performance? I really am just curious, I’ve moved to mac a few years ago and have had a much better workflow productivity and overall experience than I ever did with my PCs.

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    • Dylan Martin

      I can agree here I like the Mac system and the simplicity of it all.

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    • Pye Jirsa

      I agree, I love the simplicity of Mac as well. The design, the look, the quality. Love it all. Just don’t love the speed performance/value.

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    • Pye Jirsa

      We were using a 2.5K Eizo vs the 5K Mac, however, to compensate we lowered the Smart Preview resolutions to 2048px on both machines, so all tests/previews were running at the same sizes on both sides.

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    • Joel Richards

      The iMac is still pushing WAY more pixels. That screen takes a toll.

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    • Pye Jirsa

      When we compare the Mac Pro we will use the same display on both.

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    • Travis Haughton

      Just don’t forget that the Mac Pro hasn’t been rev’d in almost 3 years. Anybody who would expect 3-year-old hardware to compete with current offerings is going to be disappointed.

      It’s important to remember that you aren’t accounting for the cost/hassle/time of assembling all those components and hoping it all works like it should. I’ve assembled enough of my own machines to know there is real value in getting a machine that is guaranteed to work and comes with really good support.

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    • Brandon Larkin

      The display being used is a higher-end display in regards to coverage and calibration.

      As far as a change to price, you can easily get a “good enough” 4K display around $1000 for the PC. 5K displays are fairly rare on the PC side, so difficult to find and still pricey in my experience.

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    • Joel Richards

      Right, so if you’re making a price based comparison the BIG cost of the iMac should be taking into consideration. Spec out that PC with a 5k display and the difference will be smaller. The iMac is still a flawed design but this comparison is really silly.

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    • Joseph Wu

      $550 difference according to Amazon on a UP2715K. Which is a Dell wide-gamut display with HW calibration.

      You’re also getting double the CPU cores ;)

      How’s that apple?

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  118. Pye Jirsa

    I think I was the most shocked by this comparison. I love Apple products and their designs (especially while Steve Jobs was around, I feel like they have gone down hill since then). But, I still just can’t justify the price to performance. I sat there re-running the tests multiple times just to make sure.

    | |
    • Dave Lyons

      we knew when Steve was gone or when they got more popular the hill was going to start going down. However… I’d be curious as to how other apps compare to capture one or aperture.. The reason is Adobe has never, ever built a solid OS X app, I don’t know if it’s still the way old grudge or what but not one app has been good or great on a mac in like 14 years. Not to try and sway your results because thats your real world but for the almost 15 years I believe I’ve been on a mac now still 99% of my error logs are adobe errors.

      Its one of my main reasons for getting to cut the adobe cord and go full on with capture one and affinity photo.

      Plus for me personally those results don’t make up for having to use windows ;)~

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    • Danny Burns

      I have been wanting to do the same thing for a while now. I have been playing with Affinity Photo for a year, but haven’t made the jump yet.

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    • Joel Germain

      lightroom is good… but i am wondering. what if you do the same thing but for photoshop process AND premiere pro.

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  119. Steve VanSickle

    Having only purchased my first mac ~6 years ago, I’ve always known that dollar-for-dollar, a well-designed PC will crush an Apple in performance benchmarks. But I wonder if the difference is as pronounced in the $1000-1500 line of PCs vs Macs these days.

    Although, I’m still a programmer 9-5, so Apple will usually steal my heart for being, essentially, a unix computer as well.

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    • Pye Jirsa

      Apple is a fantastic machine, especially for programming. I agree 100% with that usage. They are rock solid, stable, simple, great design, etc.

      | |
    • Joel Germain

      Well… my 5 years old custom build pc (paid 1000 CAD at that time) is overtaking my new macbook pro (16gb ram and graphic card…. the best on the apple market so far). And the Mac is 3000… plus i’ve spent more time already to repair in 7 month then my pc.

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  120. William Irwin

    For adobe products, having huge amounts of ram makes a big difference. Home build pc’s are best way to go since you can customize to your studios particular needs. When you have a home built, upgrading is so much easier. Initial expense of a PC will be similar to a pre built but upgrades will be far cheaper in the long run.

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    • Pye Jirsa

      Yeah, for LR the main thing is CPU clockspeed, hence we design our LR systems with safely overclocked CPUs. They blaze.

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    • Robin Schimko

      The 5960x has 8 cores and that makes a huge difference, not only clockspeed alone. Anyway it’s an awesome PC for editing. Thank you for the benchmarks!

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    • Pye Jirsa

      Surprisingly while cores are a big deal in most multimedia applications, last time we tested Lightroom can’t really do all that much with them. Yes they help for exporting, but not so much from image to image. We saw a huge difference in clock-speed vs # of cores.

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    • Joseph Wu

      To supplement what pye has stated, LR really only makes use of the additional cores under these scenarios.

      1) Export

      2) Import / Generating Previews.

      In most cases it is IPC bottlenecked and really only scales to about 4-5 threads.

      | | Edited  
    • David Cheok

      Im curious. How well does the pc vs mac scenario fare in multitasking while LR is exporting?

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