Video: iMac Pro vs 2013 Mac Pro (Part 4) - 3D rendering and thermals

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in Current Mac Hardware edited May 2018
In the last installment of our four part series, we put the $5,000 iMac 5K to the test against one of the most popular Mac Pro configurations to see how both machines perform from a 3D rendering and thermal perspective.





In our first three videos, we talked about specs and upgradability. We also ran a variety of benchmarks and tested performance using photo and video editing applications. Today we're moving to 3D rendering and thermals.

Apple iMac Pro with Adobe After Effects and Maya


Kicking off today's comparison, we're going to start with Adobe After Effects where we tested performance using a benchmark sequence created by EQUILOUD that is 30 seconds long with a wide range of effects. Rendering to ProRES 422 our Mac Pro finished the task in six minutes and 13 seconds, whereas our iMac Pro was 20 percent faster.




Next we tested the BMW benchmark scene with Blender, and the iMac Pro came in 35 percent faster rendering with the graphics, and 40 percent faster rendering with the processor.







For our last 3D application test, we're taking a look at Maya 2018 and rendering the "Model Village" scene from SolidWorks using the Arnold engine. Our iMac Pro came in almost 40 percent faster, taking 27 seconds to complete versus the Mac Pro's 37 seconds.




Compared to video editing, 3D programs run a lot more linear, so the percentage of speed improvements will apply to much larger timelines or scenes. We didn't see the kind of improvements that we got in our video editing tests, but 20 to 40 percent gains are still quite respectable given both systems are using 8-core processors.

These results are also in line with our first set of tests in our benchmarking video.

Lastly, for our mini series comparing these two high-end professional Macs, we wanted to take a look at thermals. Both machines are basically silent while doing the majority of work, and only ramp up their fans when they're under very heavy load compared to a standard iMac that will get loud a few seconds after you ask it to do a fairly basic task.

To test out how the machines behave under 100 percent CPU load, we ran Cinebench R15 consistently for 10 minutes and recorded the results.

After 30 seconds, our iMac Pro jumped up to 75 degrees Celsius where the Mac Pro stayed at a very low 58 degrees Celsius. At one minute, the cylindrical Mac only gained 4 degrees Celsius where our iMac Pro's temps went up by 10 degrees. At the three minute mark, our Mac Pro was still under 70 degrees Celsius, whereas the all-in-one hit a really hot 94 degrees Celsius, which caused the CPU to momentarily throttle down from the maximum 3.9GHz to 3.6GHz.




This isn't because the iMac Pro's cooling system isnt capable, but because Apple programed the fan to stay as silent as possible, even under load. At the five minute mark, our iMac Pro was running at 95 degrees Celsius with the fans finally spinning up but nowhere close to max speeds. The Mac Pro was still at only 71 degrees Celsius.

At around seven minutes, both the iMac Pro and Mac Pro settled down to consistent fan speeds and temps, with the Mac running much cooler at 76 degrees Celsius and the iMac Pro at 94 degrees Celsius with CPU speeds slightly throttling -- typically running at full speed 3.9GHz with the occasional short dip to 3.63 GHz.

Since both of these systems are very compact, we decided to push their cooling systems to the limit by working both the CPU and graphics cards to the extreme.

While the graphics cards stayed cool enough, the CPU in both machines did end up throttling after one minute of use, and both systems' fans kicked up to full speed. The Mac Pro did stay cooler and quieter long-term.




To wrap up our four part series, the iMac Pro is a great value when compared to the cylindrical Mac Pro, especially if you consider the gorgeous 5K display and accessories. In terms of raw power, we have up to 50 percent more raw CPU power and 65 percent raw graphics performance -- but like we've seen in this series of tests, it really depends on how the programs make use of that power.

For video editing, we see very good improvements ranging up to 20 times faster if you work with H.265 footage in Final Cut, or if you edit RED 8K footage. For photo editors, the difference is smaller, but still significant if you're working with lots of high resolution images, and the same thing goes for 3D rendering.

For a full overview of the iMac Pro's performance, please check out our comprehensive review.

Where to buy

If you're ready to pick up your own iMac Pro, Apple authorized resellers are knocking up to $500 off the desktops. Details can be found in our 27-inch iMac Pro Price Guide.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 18
    This makes me wonder why Apple are replacing the cylinder form factor due to “thermal issues.” It doesn’t seem to have thermal issues.
    baconstangxzuwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 18
    94? Thats nuts! You're practically begging to melt your cpu with extended usage.
  • Reply 3 of 18
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 2,314member
    Thanks a lot for running these tests. This answers a lot of the questions and concerns I had about the iMac Pro.

    If you could do one more test, it would be really neat to have a sound meter involved so the noise levels could be compared.
    But, great job!

    This makes me wonder why Apple are replacing the cylinder form factor due to “thermal issues.” It doesn’t seem to have thermal issues.
    I think they mean the problem was that they would't be able to keep using higher and higher end dual GPUs in that design.
    dysamoriawatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 18
    jblongzjblongz Posts: 147member

    This makes me wonder why Apple are replacing the cylinder form factor due to “thermal issues.” It doesn’t seem to have thermal issues.
    I think they mean the problem was that they would't be able to keep using higher and higher end dual GPUs in that design.
    Exactly.  This iMac Pro is a buffer until Apple can put together a better thermal design for the nMP. 

    10 years ago I was hoping Apple would introduce a water cooled system, but thats a pipe dream.
  • Reply 5 of 18
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,232moderator
    This makes me wonder why Apple are replacing the cylinder form factor due to “thermal issues.” It doesn’t seem to have thermal issues.
    They just have no way to make it faster than the iMac Pro in order to justify it remaining in the lineup. They typically don't sell multiple computers with the same spec in the same category. They managed to increase the thermal capacity of the iMac by 80%, which makes the cylinder redundant. The only option to keep the Mac Pro at all is to redesign it, even beyond the cheese-grater because the power limits in the cheese grater were similar to the iMac Pro and cylinder.

    The Vega 64 GPU is 250-300W, the CPU is 140W. The iMac Pro was designed to handle 500W (the display uses some power too). The cheese grater only had 300W on the PCIe slots so they'd have to double this allocation for the GPUs. For software that can only use one GPU, a dual GPU Mac Pro will perform the same as the iMac Pro but it allows one to be maxed out while running displays smoothly and software that can use more than one GPU will benefit. Upgradeability will be a benefit too if they offer a choice of GPUs (Nvidia).
    bb-15watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 18
    jblongz said:

    This makes me wonder why Apple are replacing the cylinder form factor due to “thermal issues.” It doesn’t seem to have thermal issues.
    I think they mean the problem was that they would't be able to keep using higher and higher end dual GPUs in that design.
    Exactly.  This iMac Pro is a buffer until Apple can put together a better thermal design for the nMP. 

    10 years ago I was hoping Apple would introduce a water cooled system, but thats a pipe dream.


    Buffer is definitely the wrong word. When they started designing the iMac Pro they had really no intention of continuing the Mac Pro lineup -- if they would not have "just found out" they had an issue with the design last year.

    There has been a consistent drum beat from many people saying that the current design of the Mac Pro does not meet their needs. Apple (like normal) was deaf to those sounds on the belief that they were right and the critics would eventually come around. There are a significant number of video professionals that gave up and migrated during the last year leading up to the decision... If you are not using applications that are only native to the Mac ecosystem, and you can run them on other platforms -- you can move even if you have a preference for macOS. After all -- you are typically in one or two applications -- the OS becomes less noticeable or important. Apple was betting on that the industry would move away from one large GPU to multiple, but the industry is not.... in addition there is additional requirements which may drive even more powerful and more card platforms going forward.

    The Mac Pro should be the catch-all for those that are not best served by the existing platforms. It should be both configurable and powerful. The current trends driving the GPU / compute needs are both video, machine learning and other science related fields (for those that would rather have local and not cloud resources to perform compute). Ideally (IMHO), the Mac Pro should return to it's dual Xeon configuration which should double the available bandwidth throughput for things like PCIe / memory etc. It should have at least 4 useable PCIe slots (the cheesegrater had maybe 2 at most 3 useable -- yes it had 4 total, but that last one was crippled and if you had two video cards in there that last crippled slot was all you had for anything more. It should have at least 8 memory slots capable of holding 256GB of memory. It should be able to handle 4 full 16 lane PCIe cards (2 full power graphics cards, one tensor speciality card, and another available). It should have the option for 2 low cost Xeons up to near top of the line for dual CPU configurations (ranging from $3,999).

    The trashcan design is an interesting design but -- more for something like a Mac Mini plus (i.e. i7 + GPU) -- not for the Mac Pro.

    Most important is they should not be too cute, it should be able to be updated every 18 or so months without having to go back to the drawing board -- just replace the components and motherboard with new options available at that time.
    edited January 2018 cgWerksdysamoriawatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 18
    mobiusmobius Posts: 378member
    jblongz said:

    10 years ago I was hoping Apple would introduce a water cooled system, but thats a pipe dream.
    I see what you did there.
    dysamoriafastasleepxzuwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 18
    jblongz said:

    This makes me wonder why Apple are replacing the cylinder form factor due to “thermal issues.” It doesn’t seem to have thermal issues.
    I think they mean the problem was that they would't be able to keep using higher and higher end dual GPUs in that design.
    Exactly.  This iMac Pro is a buffer until Apple can put together a better thermal design for the nMP. 

    10 years ago I was hoping Apple would introduce a water cooled system, but thats a pipe dream.
    As long as their design aesthetics don’t water down the raw hardware specs.
    xzu
  • Reply 9 of 18
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,460member
    jblongz said:

    This makes me wonder why Apple are replacing the cylinder form factor due to “thermal issues.” It doesn’t seem to have thermal issues.
    I think they mean the problem was that they would't be able to keep using higher and higher end dual GPUs in that design.
    Exactly.  This iMac Pro is a buffer until Apple can put together a better thermal design for the nMP. 

    10 years ago I was hoping Apple would introduce a water cooled system, but thats a pipe dream.
    Agreed on the buffer or stop gap I'd rather call it, (not so much another water cooled system).  The next generation Mac Pro should be worth the wait judging by the gains in technology these last four years.  These tests results are fun for iMac fans but I look forward to the same tests with a fair comparison, the latest Mac Pro versus the iMac Pro.
    edited January 2018
  • Reply 10 of 18
    jblongz said:
    10 years ago I was hoping Apple would introduce a water cooled system, but thats a pipe dream.
    They did - there was a water cooled G5 tower. It often failed spectacularly. Many many failures due to pipe leaks amongst other things. 
    dysamoriaxzu
  • Reply 11 of 18
    jblongz said:
    10 years ago I was hoping Apple would introduce a water cooled system, but thats a pipe dream.
    They did - there was a water cooled G5 tower. It often failed spectacularly. Many many failures due to pipe leaks amongst other things. 
    Most people don't want the maintenance headache of dealing with water cooling -- especially when a descent design can sufficiently cool most CPUs (except maybe if you extreme overclock it).  For my linux boxes I just use the Noctua DH-D15 cooler - which works great.  For a company that is designing and installing the specific components -- the ability to design far superior air cooling -- given that they can design how all the supported components go together -- including compartmentalized cooling.  My linux boxes had to rely on generic designs for cooling components.
    chia
  • Reply 12 of 18
    ElleKenwoodElleKenwood Posts: 1unconfirmed, member
    Just an FYI ...

    iMac Pro + Sonnet 550/RX-580 eGPU, mining ethereum crypto ... standard software, no betas.  

    Using OS X, getting only 7.5 Mh/s with internal Vega 56 and only 4.5 Mh/s using eGPU for a combined total of ~12 Mh/s (US$1.50 per day).  Using Boot Camp, getting 21 Mh/s with internal Vega 56 and 17 Mh/s using eGPU for a combined total of ~38 Mh/s (US$4.72 per day).  No beta software and no overclocking.  Seems like Apple needs to get to work updating the MacOS Radeon drivers as I am sure the speed disparity is being felt in professional apps as well ... and, I hate using Windows!  

    Internal Vega hovered around 80C, eGPU 74C.  Absolutely ZERO noise from the iMac Pro even after several hours ... this thing is FREAKIN' QUIET!

    PS - I did this just to see if it would work ... I'm not setting up an iMac Pro mining operation.

    PPS - Still working on getting HTC Vive and WMR to work in Boot Camp on iMac Pro (Both work on MBP w/ eGPU).  Both headsets are recognized, tracked, and controllers work ... unfortunately, both screens remain black.  Back to work ...



    edited January 2018 chiaxzuwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 18
    Jony Ive is designing these iMac Pros to fail prematurely which is something I really don't like. Trying to stuff all that high-end processing power into some skinny case is just asking for trouble. Then on top of that, not allowing the fans to give maximum cooling but minimum fan noise is just stupid. Even so, I would definitely like to own an iMac Pro because I'll never actually tax it to its limit. I like the compact design and the beefy internals, so it should easily last me five years of non-stop use.
    dysamoriaxzu
  • Reply 14 of 18
    It was a nice series you put together AI, although I would have liked to see a head-to-head using Logic and Pro-Tools, etc.
    It is reasonable to assume that the iMac would have similar performance gains with audio apps as well. 
    dysamoriawatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 18
    tipootipoo Posts: 1,058member
    Definitely one thing I hope the next Mac Pro can retain, a 24/7 would only make it rise to a murmur and still stay rather cool.

    (Wasn't perfect of course, since one side getting hotter than the others wasn't handled that well and there were a slew of GPU failures)
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 18
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 2,314member
    Marvin said:
    The only option to keep the Mac Pro at all is to redesign it, even beyond the cheese-grater because the power limits in the cheese grater were similar to the iMac Pro and cylinder.
    It would be pretty easy to up the wattage of the power supply in the cheese-grater design though. But, given the types of components used these days in high-performance computers, it could be *much* smaller than the cheese-grater, but still have that kind of flexibility (if Apple went that way). I'm kind of doubting they will though.

    bkkcanuck said:
    The trashcan design is an interesting design but -- more for something like a Mac Mini plus (i.e. i7 + GPU) -- not for the Mac Pro.
    If they made the trash-can into a prosumer machine with i7 and reasonable GPU, the thing would sell like hotcakes. It's an awesome design for the non-iMac user who doesn't need to go full-out pro.

    darwiniandude said:
    They did - there was a water cooled G5 tower. It often failed spectacularly. Many many failures due to pipe leaks amongst other things. 
    No doubt. Water-cooled is just a bad idea. Water + electronics = fail.

    ElleKenwood said:
    PS - I did this just to see if it would work ... I'm not setting up an iMac Pro mining operation.
    Heh. Yea, spending $10k to make $4 per day probably wouldn't work out too well. :)
    dysamoriawatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 18
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 2,349member
    hexclock said:
    It was a nice series you put together AI, although I would have liked to see a head-to-head using Logic and Pro-Tools, etc.
    It is reasonable to assume that the iMac would have similar performance gains with audio apps as well. 
    Actually, audio work is harder to parallel process, so I think it would be an interesting comparison.
  • Reply 18 of 18
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 2,349member

    cgWerks said:
    If they made the trash-can into a prosumer machine with i7 and reasonable GPU, the thing would sell like hotcakes. It's an awesome design for the non-iMac user who doesn't need to go full-out pro.
    I've been thinking this for a while myself. 
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