iMac 2020 i7 vs i9 processor

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jobinho
Posts: 75
Joined: Fri Oct 25, 2013 5:18 pm

iMac 2020 i7 vs i9 processor

Post by jobinho » Sat Aug 15, 2020 10:56 am

I'm about to upgrade my 2013 3.5 quad core i7 to the last intel iMac. I've decided not to wait for Apple silicon for a number of reasons.

My decision mainly comes down to the 3.8GHz 8 core i7 or the 3.6GHz 10 core i9.

I'm looking to get 64GB of RAM and one of the better GPU cards for my visual work.

I run many tracks and instances of quite intensive instruments and plugins so want as much performance as possible.

I've read that for Ableton, clock speed is as important––if not more important––than the thread/core count?

If anyone has any experience or knowledge of which processor would suit my needs best, it'd be much appreciated.

Thanks

TLW
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Joined: Thu Aug 23, 2018 2:37 am

Re: iMac 2020 i7 vs i9 processor

Post by TLW » Sat Aug 15, 2020 4:18 pm

I received my i9 2020 27” iMac a few ways ago. I decided that the very slight speed difference between the i7 and i9 clock rates (the i7 is clocked 0.2GHz higher than the i9) is probably offset by the i9’s extra 2 cores. I’ve put 32GB of compatible Kingston RAM in it and went for a 1TB SDD (as usual for Apple the SSDs are NVME).

It’s early days and I’m still installing things, but so far indications are it runs everything I’ve thrown at it without any problems at all. Compared to my 6 year old i7 MBP it’s like going from driving a Volkswagen Beetle to a Maseratti.
Live 10 Suite, 2020 27" iMac, 3.6 GHz i9, MacOS Catalina, RME UFX, assorted synths, guitars and stuff.

jobinho
Posts: 75
Joined: Fri Oct 25, 2013 5:18 pm

Re: iMac 2020 i7 vs i9 processor

Post by jobinho » Sat Aug 15, 2020 8:02 pm

TLW wrote:
Sat Aug 15, 2020 4:18 pm
It’s early days and I’m still installing things, but so far indications are it runs everything I’ve thrown at it without any problems at all. Compared to my 6 year old i7 MBP it’s like going from driving a Volkswagen Beetle to a Maseratti.
Thanks for chiming in! I'm interested to hear what you make of it. Maybe you could post your performance once you're up and running?

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=239381&start=30

btw which GPU did you go for?

TLW
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Re: iMac 2020 i7 vs i9 processor

Post by TLW » Sat Aug 15, 2020 10:37 pm

GPU’s a 5700, the mid-range option. Purely because I want to run a few moderately graphics-intensive games and because it can boost Photoshop/Lightroom performance a bit. The screen’s the “standard glass” - I don’t need the sort of wide viewing angle matt glass can provide and I certainly aren’t about to hand over that much money to get it unless the need is overwhelming.

I think the stock 8GB RAM isn’t really enough, as with just that fitted there was a tiny amount of swap file used, which I’ve never seen on my 16GB MBP.

My only gripe on the Mac side of things is the Catalina Books application’s refusal to let me put my 150GB of audiobooks anywhere but on the internal drive. Though I’m still hoping to discover or work out the necessary magical incantations and sacrifices to persuade symbolic links to let me work round that. I’ve been experimenting with a boot camp installation of Win10 Home which has pretty much convinced me of two things. One is that Catalina runs far more smoothly and responsively, and the other is that Win10 is still capable of being the mess I thought it was when I first tried it years ago.
Live 10 Suite, 2020 27" iMac, 3.6 GHz i9, MacOS Catalina, RME UFX, assorted synths, guitars and stuff.

TLW
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Re: iMac 2020 i7 vs i9 processor

Post by TLW » Sat Aug 15, 2020 11:10 pm

A run through the Live 1- Suite demo song with my RME UFX set to 32 samples latency (5.56ms round trip`) is glitch-free and has Live's meter averaging around 16% with a couple of momentary readings of 20%. Activity Monitor shows cpu usage, system and user combined is around 6-8% once Utility Manager stops showing the cpu time needed to load itself. Disk pressure is basically nil. Almost no fan noise, though software that works the gpu hard can have the fan kicking in. Still nothing like as bad as some gaming PCs though.

Adding Waves' Abbey Road Plate reverb, which is a resource hungry plugin, increases Live's load meter by around 10 percent. It was unusable at 32 sample latency on my old MBP. So far, so good, though computer audio being what it is there's probably a lurking issue somewhere or other waiting to be found.
Live 10 Suite, 2020 27" iMac, 3.6 GHz i9, MacOS Catalina, RME UFX, assorted synths, guitars and stuff.

jobinho
Posts: 75
Joined: Fri Oct 25, 2013 5:18 pm

Re: iMac 2020 i7 vs i9 processor

Post by jobinho » Sat Aug 15, 2020 11:34 pm

TLW wrote:
Sat Aug 15, 2020 11:10 pm
A run through the Live 1- Suite demo song with my RME UFX set to 32 samples latency (5.56ms round trip`) is glitch-free and has Live's meter averaging around 16% with a couple of momentary readings of 20%. Activity Monitor shows cpu usage, system and user combined is around 6-8% once Utility Manager stops showing the cpu time needed to load itself. Disk pressure is basically nil. Almost no fan noise, though software that works the gpu hard can have the fan kicking in. Still nothing like as bad as some gaming PCs though.

Adding Waves' Abbey Road Plate reverb, which is a resource hungry plugin, increases Live's load meter by around 10 percent. It was unusable at 32 sample latency on my old MBP. So far, so good, though computer audio being what it is there's probably a lurking issue somewhere or other waiting to be found.
Thanks for the info, it seems promising. Would you consider carrying out this test performance test? It gives instructions in the first post. We could then benchmark your new iMac against other systems, and selfishly it would help me decide whether to buy one :D

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=239381

TLW
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Re: iMac 2020 i7 vs i9 processor

Post by TLW » Sun Aug 16, 2020 8:12 pm

Ok. I'll copy the data into the performance test thread as well. This is without adjusting the WindowServer refresh rate using an options.txt file - which often seem to improve Live 10's performance on Macs. Interface RME UFX, though the Mac's sound system gave identical results at 16 tracks.

Tracks Meter
16 18
32 20
64 26
128 40
256 66
512 Rose to peak at 120 near the end, sound started getting a bit weird....
Live 10 Suite, 2020 27" iMac, 3.6 GHz i9, MacOS Catalina, RME UFX, assorted synths, guitars and stuff.

jobinho
Posts: 75
Joined: Fri Oct 25, 2013 5:18 pm

Re: iMac 2020 i7 vs i9 processor

Post by jobinho » Mon Aug 17, 2020 1:31 pm

TLW wrote:
Sun Aug 16, 2020 8:12 pm
Ok. I'll copy the data into the performance test thread as well. This is without adjusting the WindowServer refresh rate using an options.txt file - which often seem to improve Live 10's performance on Macs. Interface RME UFX, though the Mac's sound system gave identical results at 16 tracks.
Looks pretty speedy, thanks for contributing your performance.

Are the fans very noticeable?

TLW
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Re: iMac 2020 i7 vs i9 processor

Post by TLW » Tue Aug 18, 2020 9:13 pm

There is obviously some fan noise as the load increases, but it's never as intrusive as many tower PCs can be. At "tickover" it's less noisy by quite some margin than an external USB 5,200rpm HDD. On the other hand it's louder than some PC DAWs I've built using carefully selected cases, Noctua coolers, fanless gpus two big, low voltage slow fans and SSDs instead of HDDs. Which probably cost as much as this Mac allowing for inflation- I recently tried to spec out an i9 quiet PC with a good 4K or 5K screen and decent gpu, it ended up around the same price with the disadvantage of (a) running Windows (a matter of taste but I built and used Windows DAWs for 20 or so years and came to prefer Macs for the job because I no longer find fighting an OS entertaining or enjoyable) and (b) I would have to do any fault-finding myself and having had laptop PCs with mysterious apparently undiagnosable faults that even their manufacturer's couldn't fix before now that's somewhere I'd rather not be at the moment.

I don't know but would imagine the stock gpu and i7 might stay a little cooler. The iMac's fans aren't so noisy that pointing the least sensitive end of a mic at it and using an acoustic screen behind the mic would probably result in very little noise being recorded by the mic. My old i7MBP's fan got noisier much sooner if that's anything to go by.

I might take some readings the next time my wife brings her UK government issued very expensive and accurate dB meter home from work to try and put some numbers down.

Noise from computers is difficult to judge - some people find objectionable what others don't seem to even notice. Walking round a PC store (my nearest Apple store is nearly 30 miles away) or my mate's son's place while his monster over-clocked gaming rig is running with its 11 fans all whirring away always makes me a bit amazed at how much noise some people appear able to tolerate. The ideal DAW solution is a dedicated computer/serve room fitted with air-con and not audible from the studio or control room, but that's not alway possible of course.
Live 10 Suite, 2020 27" iMac, 3.6 GHz i9, MacOS Catalina, RME UFX, assorted synths, guitars and stuff.

Tone Deft
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Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2006 5:19 pm

Re: iMac 2020 i7 vs i9 processor

Post by Tone Deft » Wed Aug 19, 2020 3:23 am

jobinho wrote:
Sat Aug 15, 2020 10:56 am
I'm about to upgrade my 2013 3.5 quad core i7 to the last intel iMac. I've decided not to wait for Apple silicon for a number of reasons.

My decision mainly comes down to the 3.8GHz 8 core i7 or the 3.6GHz 10 core i9.

I'm looking to get 64GB of RAM and one of the better GPU cards for my visual work.

I run many tracks and instances of quite intensive instruments and plugins so want as much performance as possible.

I've read that for Ableton, clock speed is as important––if not more important––than the thread/core count?

If anyone has any experience or knowledge of which processor would suit my needs best, it'd be much appreciated.
confirmed on thread count, search on this forum, there were discussions on this, maybe I'll dig it up.

I talked to gamer recently, online microphone gaming... he builds gamer PCs but has a friend that does what we do in college and builds PCs for that. gamers and audio people both rely on GPU power for processing. he likened a GPU to a 'sound card' albeit he's a luddite with audio, SOLID on custom builds for games.

you said the CPUs are 8 core, doesn't matter, which chips do they use by name?, we can sort out the details for real here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple-designed_processors
and talk nuts and bolts of your choice of processors. there's a reason those uP were designed different, by the generation they were built on and the variation they were built of off.
In my life
Why do I smile
At people who I'd much rather kick in the eye?
-Moz

Tone Deft
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Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2006 5:19 pm

Re: iMac 2020 i7 vs i9 processor

Post by Tone Deft » Wed Aug 19, 2020 3:30 am

TLW wrote:
Tue Aug 18, 2020 9:13 pm
Noise from computers is difficult to judge
if my microphones and my wife can't hear the fans, that's quiet enough for me.

got me thinking... I checked OSHA for their studies on the matter, found the CETEC
https://www.cetec.com.au/services/office-noise.html

Recent research suggests acoustics can have a large impact on occupant performance and productivity is often the major complaint of building occupants in open plan office environments. In an office building AS2107 recommends sound levels be between 30 and 65dB(A) and reverberation times between 0.1 and 1seconds depending on the use of the space (e.g. open plan office, breakout area, meeting room, undercover carpark etc). For open plan offices the recommended levels are 40-45dB(A) and 0.4-0.6 seconds.
In my life
Why do I smile
At people who I'd much rather kick in the eye?
-Moz

TLW
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Re: iMac 2020 i7 vs i9 processor

Post by TLW » Wed Aug 19, 2020 8:20 am

Tone Deft wrote:
Wed Aug 19, 2020 3:23 am
you said the CPUs are 8 core, doesn't matter, which chips do they use by name?, we can sort out the details for real
That’s a bit tricky. The i9 looks a lot like the Intel i9-10850K in terms of speed and number of cores except it has a turbo maximum of 5GHz rather than 5.2 and a TDP of 95W rather than 125W. This wouldn’t be the first time Apple has used “mystery” Intel cpus.

The only major Apple silicon I’m aware of in the current iMac is the T2 chip, which has been in the MacBooks and iMac Pro for a few years, and handles low level OS and disk security/encryption, USB functions and a few other odds and sods.

GPUs are from the Radeon Pro or Vega Pro ranges.
Live 10 Suite, 2020 27" iMac, 3.6 GHz i9, MacOS Catalina, RME UFX, assorted synths, guitars and stuff.

Tone Deft
Posts: 24155
Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2006 5:19 pm

Re: iMac 2020 i7 vs i9 processor

Post by Tone Deft » Wed Aug 19, 2020 3:42 pm

TLW wrote:
Wed Aug 19, 2020 8:20 am
Tone Deft wrote:
Wed Aug 19, 2020 3:23 am
you said the CPUs are 8 core, doesn't matter, which chips do they use by name?, we can sort out the details for real
That’s a bit tricky.

it pains me to see you sell yourself short TLW, you love this stuff, you get it. you guys are smart and have well thought out posts, I believe in you!! :lol: but seriously...

I'm feeling you on Apple mystery, I don't see it yet but I'm sure once again hubris is gonna smack me upside the head, I'll learn while I go and have peer review here.

so... I'd start with these links and drill down from here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_I ... processors - 2008 - " intended to be used by high-end users."
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_I ... processors - 2017 - "high power draw, high thermal output, and high performance, they are intended to be used by enthusiasts."'

edit - I wrote i9 earlier but I'd go i7. this reads to me that i9 pushed that core's limit to the point of being a heat hog. I'd need more info on the i7 to see if that particular model was a similar spinoff that lead to a dead end, or inspired more spinoffs.

just another day looking for jobs, I'll put this on my to do list and see what I can learn.
Last edited by Tone Deft on Wed Aug 19, 2020 5:11 pm, edited 2 times in total.
In my life
Why do I smile
At people who I'd much rather kick in the eye?
-Moz

Tone Deft
Posts: 24155
Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2006 5:19 pm

Re: iMac 2020 i7 vs i9 processor

Post by Tone Deft » Wed Aug 19, 2020 4:38 pm

the "10850k" seems to be an i9 CPU, not i7, if that was a typo here's a quick hit on why that particular processor exists, where it fits into the marketplace and how well it does that. (it's an unremarkable variation of other products, probably more re-use of fab fallout parts.)

https://www.anandtech.com/show/15929/in ... hip-lineup

anyway, probably overkill for the OP, he just wants to verify that he's buying a good box. it always feel great to have your big purchases verified first. one thing I noticed is that these are VERY EXPENSIVE uPs!!! you're getting the good shit man, very cool.

all this assumes that box computer cases etc themselves offer the same
- ease of opening
- upgradable
- usable speakers
- screen refresh, resolutions etc, you're a VIDEO guy, you get that. what about display latency?
- fan noise was brought up, I think it was an observation and nothing to be concerned about, right? point made but it's all good?
- what kind of CASE etc are you investing in?
- do you just have links to these computers you can post? surely you've looked at web pages of these. dunno why people don't just post their own research here to get us up to speed. half this forum is playing 'read my mind, answer my question'.

I don't shop Macs so I sound like an idiot describing them. :P
In my life
Why do I smile
At people who I'd much rather kick in the eye?
-Moz

TLW
Posts: 757
Joined: Thu Aug 23, 2018 2:37 am

Re: iMac 2020 i7 vs i9 processor

Post by TLW » Wed Aug 19, 2020 7:19 pm

Tone Deft wrote:
Wed Aug 19, 2020 4:38 pm

- do you just have links to these computers you can post? surely you've looked at web pages of these. dunno why people don't just post their own research here to get us up to speed. half this forum is playing 'read my mind, answer my question'.
If you’d bothered actually reading this thread you might have notified I’ve put up a benchmark of the 2020 27’ i9 IMAC THAT I OWN.
Tone Deft wrote:
Wed Aug 19, 2020 4:38 pm

I don't shop Macs so I sound like an idiot describing them. :P]
You don’t say. Goodbye.
Live 10 Suite, 2020 27" iMac, 3.6 GHz i9, MacOS Catalina, RME UFX, assorted synths, guitars and stuff.

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