M1-iMacs – what’s next for us?
AuthorTopic: M1-iMacs – what’s next for us? Read 5425 Times
Computers & Displayson: April 22, 2021 at 3:31 am
Since the presentation of the new iMacs, I’ve been wondering what to do…
My initial situation is this: I have an iMac 27″, end of 2013, i7 and with the maximum possible 32GB RAM. Three years ago, I gave it another good boost with a 4TB SSD. But in the meantime it’s just too old and slow (the display is no longer perfect either). I have to say that I only do photography (and Lightroom) as a hobby.
I’ve been wanting to buy a replacement for a while now, but the 2020 iMac put me off with its T2 chip and soldered SSDs. And then, of course, came the vision of a super fast ARM iMac.
But the models presented are unsuitable for photographers in my opinion: only 24″ and a maximum of 16GB RAM are not enough. OK, I’m not a professional photographer and I also use the computer for other work, but the current M1-iMac is only perfect for office and home applications, I think. Apparently it needs an M2 or whatever ARM processor to address more memory. And of course a bigger screen.
So what to do? Now I’ve been thinking of buying an M1 MacMini with a good LG or EIZO display as a temporary solution.But then I noticed another problem with the new Apple models: everything is soldered and if I configure a MacMini with 16GB and 2TB SSD, it costs almost 2,000 EUR (in USD probably the same with taxes). With Apple, I pay four times the market price for RAM and SSD. I mean 230 euros for 8GB of memory – that’s ridiculous!
In the past, I would have chosen a top-of-the-line iMac with little memory and a small hard drive and upgraded it myself to 128GB and 4TB. But that’s not going to happen any more. And if I take the current Apple prices, then such an iMac with ARM processor will be around 7-8,000 EUR/USD. That’s too much for a hobby.
Another option would be to look for a 2019 iMac and upgrade it. But even then I would invest around 4,000 EUR – but then in a dying Intel technology.
So – I’m clueless!
I would be interested in your opinion. What do you think about this development? What would you advise? What are your plans for the future if you use an iMac?
Gold MemberPosts: 218Re: M1-iMacs – what’s next for us?Reply #1 on: April 22, 2021 at 11:12 am
My long-time Canadian Mac supplier MacDoc recently sent their April promo email.
It might suggest you look closely at the 2019 i9 iMac with upgradeable RAM & drive. Apparently outpowers any M1 mac for now.
I attach an excerpt from the flyer below. Prices are in C$
- This reply was modified 6 months ago by Christopher Sanderson.
Silver MemberPosts: 833Re: M1-iMacs – what’s next for us?Reply #2 on: April 22, 2021 at 11:47 am
I have been asking similar questions. I refuse to go to windows. I have an iMac Pro and it serves me well but I do believe the m1 m1 chips are the future. Now that we have seen the new iMAcs introduced the other day I am thinking we are now in a waiting game. Rumors are saying that Apple will most likely launch a 32 inch iMac this year. That’s what I would hold off on. And, if they introduce new screen technology it could be a really nice machine. And, it should last years so the investment (might) is justifiable.
In the meantime, I am hearing the new MacBook Pro will be a killer machine. It will be 16inches, a new keyboard, HDMI and SD ports, MagSafe power and the M1, and maybe an M2 chip. Hook that baby up to external monitors and it could be an all-in-one machine. External SSDs are really fast. I just took delivery of a 2TN Extreme Portable SSD by SanDisk and it is running at 1050 read and 1000 write. So, using external drives looks good on these machines.
I really plan to use this external drive on the new iPad Pro. The new iPad Pros have me very interested. The specs are pretty impressive but the cost is high.
In the end I can see this being a very expensive Apple purchase year. I justify it with knowing I’ll be helping all my Apple stock go up.
CEO & Publisher of PhotoPXL.com and Rockhopperworkshops.comRe: M1-iMacs – what’s next for us?Reply #3 on: April 23, 2021 at 12:57 pm
Hello Chris, hello Kevin,
Thank you for your answers. Chris, that’s exactly what I was thinking and I have now found a German dealer who still has refurbished iMacs with i9 processors from 2019. This is the last pre-T2 version and therefore, as described in your attachment, well upgradeable. I just have to think about how high I would equip it – ideally with 128GB RAM and 4TB SSD, then I’m sure I’ll have 3-5 years of peace. But that would be around 5,000 euros. And there again it feels painful to put that into “old” technology. But I have to take my time and get it right.
Kevin, the tip about the external SSDs is very good – maybe I can equip the iMac with a smaller internal SSD and be more flexible with the external ones.
Oh yes, I don’t want Windows any more either. But if you compare the prices of the Mac Pro with high-end AMD Ryzen machines or simply the price of a Pro display with a stand, then you do wonder what Apple is doing with us. I also don’t like the new macos versions very much. From the user’s point of view, many things are unnecessary gimmicks, while important features are lost (e.g. why can I only sort in Mail via the menu and not with a mouse click as before?) Perhaps, given this background, an i9 transition machine is just right for me. I can go back to Mohjave and watch in peace and quiet what Apple will be tinkering with in the next few years…
ParticipantPosts: 26Re: M1-iMacs – what’s next for us?Reply #4 on: April 23, 2021 at 5:33 pm
I have an M1 Mac Mini 16/1tb. It is fine for stills photography, imho, and runs Adobe CC without issue even under emulation. It runs cool and silent. Memory doesn’t seem much of an issue. My understanding is that the M1 series don’t use it in the same way as Intel systems. More ports would be better for sure and eventually it will seem too basic and limited but then eventually everything does. However by that time there should be new and more powerful M series Macs available assuming that Apple meant what they said about transitioning their whole line-up to M processors. That remains to be seen of course. In the meantime the current M series are a cheap and cheerful entry to the ecosystem for a year or two and they are much more capable than MS Office type units.
Anyway, just saying that in my experience the new Macs are fine for editing images, unless needs are very demanding in which case holding off would likely be the better way. But one does need to invest in external disks/SSDs, etc.
Re: M1-iMacs – what’s next for us?Reply #5 on: April 24, 2021 at 3:49 am
- This reply was modified 6 months ago by Mark Crean.
thanks for the practical impression with your M1! Have you already tried Lightroom on it with a larger database?
br, HeikoRe: M1-iMacs – what’s next for us?Reply #6 on: April 25, 2021 at 11:27 am
I have once again taken a closer look at the experiences with the new M1 computers and Lightroom Classic on the internet. Unfortunately, there is no clear vote: some have real problems (e.g. https://community.adobe.com/t5/lightroom-classic/lr-classic-on-m1-macbook-air-is-glacial/m-p/11619637), others do not have the problem, sometimes it is faster, sometimes slower… Overall, however, I think the positive reports outweigh the negative. Considering that this is not yet the native version but emulated with Rosetta2, this speaks in favour of the M1.
To go one step further, I tried to objectify this and checked Geekbench. My current Mac achieves the following result:
iMac late-2013, i7, 32MB RAM
971 Single-Core Score
3703 multi-core score
Interestingly, my much newer laptop is not much better:
MacbookPro mid-2018, i7, 16MB
1052 Single-Core Score
3973 Multi-Core Score
Let’s move on to the transitional iMac:
iMac early-2019, i9, 64GB
1368 Single-Core Score
8596 Multi-Core Score
That’s already a clear increase. Now let’s take a look at the M1:
Mac Mini 2020, M1, 16MB
1750 Single-Core Score
7653 Multi-Core Score
That’s faster than my previous hardware in every respect, and faster than the i9 in the single-core range (sure – it’s a RISC processor. Who still remembers the Acorn Archimedes?).
iMac 2013 i7 MBP 2018 i7 iMac 2019 i9 MacMini 2020 M1 Single-Core 971 100% 1.052 108% 1.368 141% 1.750 180% Multi-Core 3.703 100% 3.973 107% 8.596 232% 7.653 207%
Of course, you can’t read off overall system performance from CPU benchmarks. But I don’t think that, for example, the data throughput on the SSD is worse on the M1, on the contrary. So for me, I first considered the following:
- The M1 has enormous potential
- 16GB RAM in the ARM architecture is apparently not comparable with 16MB in the Intel.
- Compared to my iMac, the M1 should already be faster today.
- With the native ARM version, the lead over Intel Macs will continue to grow.
- I suspect that further development at Adobe will concentrate more and more on the ARM versions in the future.
With this in mind, I decided against an iMac with an i9 processor. I think it will be swallowed up by the ARM machines in terms of performance within the next 12 months. For 2-3,000 EUR the i9 would still be an acceptable transitional solution, but 4-5,000 EUR is simply too much money. I might invest in an M1 MacMini with an LG display instead. That would be more like 2,500 EUR for a – let’s say – experimental solution… But that’s another story.
Silver MemberPosts: 169Re: M1-iMacs – what’s next for us?Reply #7 on: April 26, 2021 at 2:37 pm
There is a lot of good info in this thread. Full disclosure – I worked for Intel from 1999 to 2006, when they first attempted, and failed miserably, to take over the low-power mobile processor market and cellular/WiFi chip market.
Intel Architecture (IA) is bloated and going nowhere. Microsoft is also rumored to be developing an ARM system for laptops and desktops. The M1 benchmarks are blowing away Intel chips of comparable size both in performance and power consumption. Intel chips have always been energy hogs, which is why don’t find them in mobile devices.
Here is one more thing to consider. Software providers want their applications to run on both mobile and desktop platforms. Today, they have to write on core engine for IA (desktop) and one for ARM (mobile) … they don’t like that. At some point in the future, they will stop supporting IA. They will figure out how to make their software run on the old IA processors, but instead of translating from IA code to ARM code (as the M1 chips do today using Rosetta for legacy software), they will translate from the new native ARM code back to IA code to run on an out-of-date IA processor. Then you’ll be stuck in a performance cul du sac. You’ve had your 2013 iMac for quite some time, and whatever you buy now you’ll want to use it for another 8-10 years. So, I’d really think hard about buying an IA system.
When I replace my 2017 iMac (which has several years of good service left), I’ll likely look into a Mac Mini with a 3rd party monitor. The Apple Retina monitors are terrific. Yet, you may want to split your monitor & processor investment and upgrade the processor more frequently. That might allow you to make a serious investment in a monitor without holding you back from more rapidly evolving processors.
Lastly, M1 includes an on-chip Neural Engine for AI. We can expect to see more AI in photography and all kinds of other applications. In fairness, don’t know if IA has incorporated neural engines yet.
PS: I do remember Acorn Archimedes! (Although rather vaguely)
ParticipantPosts: 22Re: M1-iMacs – what’s next for us?Reply #8 on: April 26, 2021 at 3:19 pm
I remember the Archimedes. Damn thing turned on like a light bulb compared to everything else at the time.
I own a 27″ 2019 iMac i9 with 48Gb Ram with 2Tb SSD on board and 4Tb SSD external for working files, the photography all goes on a RAID. Planning on keeping this machine too. You get to pick a graphics card for one thing, I chose the Pro Vega 48. Runs really well, Capture One handles 100 megapixel files with no issues.
But yeah, it cost about 5000 euro.
It’s not a time to pick up a pro Mac, if you can wait, I’d wait and suffer it out for a while. The year needs to play out, there’ll be clarity as it goes on, WWDC in June should answer a few things but my bet is that you won’t have an M2 (or whatever) to consider till the end of the year.
Silver MemberPosts: 169Re: M1-iMacs – what’s next for us?Reply #9 on: April 26, 2021 at 4:35 pm
Yup – agree completely. But you and I have relatively recent hardware. Our friend has a 2013 iMac. It is a great testament to Apple that 8 year old hardware “holds its own” today. M1, M2, … is evolving fast. You generally don’t want to jump in on the first year of a “new” technology- a luxury you and I have. But if you have a 2013 iMac – not so much.
In this case, I argue, the future is clear- IA is dying.
This is not unlike the DSLR vs mirrorless shift – except that many photographers have a huge investment in DSLR glass. Set aside that legacy investment- mirrorless is obviously the future. Legacy software is analogous to legacy glass.
Does that make sense?
ParticipantPosts: 26Re: M1-iMacs – what’s next for us?Reply #10 on: April 26, 2021 at 6:44 pm
Interesting thread. I bought an M1 Mac Mini in January, coming from an old 2013-era Windows machine. Nearly anything would be faster. However, I had also had enough of the horrifying thermal and power requirements of current Intel processors, not to mention all the whirring fans. It seemed inappropriate and woefully out of date in 2021. The M1 Macs are pretty capable but they do strike me as a stopping place on the road to somewhere else. When/if Apple come out with a second, more powerful generation of ARM processors, with more memory, better graphics and more lanes for ports, then I will trade up perhaps in the second half of next year. In the meantime, my Mac Mini 16/1tb has proved perfectly adequate for my needs. My camera produces 20 mpx RAWs. My keepers end up as very much larger .psd or .tiff files worked on in Photoshop, Silver Efex or Exposure 6. Maybe I’m lucky but I’ve not had any real issues (er, yet). Adobe In Design also works OK, albeit a tad slow, and this is important to me too. Once Adobe get around to putting all of CC native on ARM, things will improve. At present I think only Photoshop and Premiere Pro run natively. The rest run under Rosetta emulation.
To answer an earlier question: my Lightroom catalogue contains north of 100,000 images but this is housed on spinners – hard disks. It is speed-limited by the disks not by LR on M1 Mac so far as I can tell. It works a little slowly but so far cleanly. I keep the catalogue on a fast SSD which makes a difference. However, last year I grew tired of LR’s behemothic tendencies and started to split my LR catalogue into separate projects. My current project has about 5,000 images and everything is on SSD. It runs just fine. When eventually done with, I will transfer it to hard disks for longer-term storage. My medium-term plan is to move away from LR either to DxO PhotoLab or Capture One.
To anyone thinking of getting an M1 Mac, I must stress that this is just my experience and my needs are fairly modest by many standards. Do plenty of research and canvas a broad range of opinions! In the meantime, I am reminded of what I am (not) missing whenever I fire up my Dell i7 13″ laptop. You could almost cook on it.Re: M1-iMacs – what’s next for us?Reply #11 on: April 27, 2021 at 2:03 pm
Many thanks for your contributions! In a situation like this, it’s hard to make decisions and it feels good when your thoughts are confirmed. Yes, my 2013 iMac is OLD, but we’ll get along for a few more months. I think there will be an M1 moving in here soon for testing though (as a MacMini, I think).
Kevin, the German magazine Mac&I tested an external SSD from G-Data with 2.216 MByte/s write and 2.585 MByte/s read. This was the fastest so far in their renowned tests (https://shop.westerndigital.com/products/portable-drives/g-technology-g-drive-mobile-pro-thunderbolt-3-ssd#0G10311-1).
Concerning Acorn Archimedes:
ARM (Advanced RISC Machines Ltd.) was formed in 1989 when the processor division was spun off from Acorn. Therefore ARM was originally called Acorn RISC Machines Ltd. Acorn retained a 43% share in the new company and Apple held a further 43% (!). The company was sold later and is now owned by Softbank (Japan). Nvidia is currently trying to take over ARM, but the antitrust authorities have not yet given their approval. And about Silicon Valley: 100% of Apple’s cores will have British roots in the future 🙂 I think this is an exciting piece of computer and economic history!
- This reply was modified 6 months ago by Heiko Hamann.
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