Time to Upgrade my Desktop

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Thought I'd post about this here, as the pieces are still on their way to me but I thought folks might like seeing it.

Basically, I'm currently using an M1 MacBook Pro as more or less my main computer, but it has some serious shortcomings, not the least of which is too little RAM.

In addition, I have a few pieces of software that still need a 32 bit OS, so my old 2012 MacBook Pro never got retired. I just more or less use it as a glorified desktop now, driving a pair of Apple Thunderbolt Displays. It still does fine, and for some things it having 16gb RAM makes it faster than my otherwise much faster M1 with 8gb RAM.

Still, though, that has its shortcomings. For one thing, even though that case is decent at getting heat out, the dGPU still throws out a lot especially driving that many pixels(there's no way to disable it with an external monitor). Basically all the Intel laptops with discrete GPUs can handle hitting the CPU OR the GPU hard, but tend to get backed into a thermal corner if you're hitting both and will end up throttling quite a bit.

I've finally settled on a workable configuration, and have finally put the pieces together.

Central to it will be a 2019 27" 5K iMac with an 8-core i9. The one I've ordered has 8gb RAM, but I have a 64gb(2x32gb) kit on order. As these have 4 slots, I'll be able to keep the existing 2x4gb for a total of 72gb.

For the time being, one of the Thunderbolt displays will continue to be parked next to it. In the near future I'd like a second 4K display, but that will do for now, and the Thunderbolt display does give me a Firewire port(something I occasionally use).

The one on its way to me has a 1tb "Fusion" drive, which consists of a 32gb NVMe blade(Apple proprietary interface) and a standard 1tb 3.5" 7200rpm desktop drive. I will be installing a 1tb Samsung EVO 970(simple passive adapter needed) and a 3tb 3.5" drive.

The 2019 iMacs have decent GPUs-this one is a Radeon RX570. Still, though, the i9s are hot CPUs and, again, I have some thermal concerns. Fortunately, though, there's actually an easy fix for this. Thunderbolt 3 Macs natively support eGPUs(external GPUs), and already on hand I have a nice Sonnet enclosure with a Radeon RX580 in it. That's a respectable bump over the 570, will let me keep the GPU heat out of the case, and the GPU can easily be upgraded down the road.

As I said, pieces will be arriving over the next week, and I'll post the full set up once completed!
 
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Don't be surprised if the i9 under load still causes the fans to rev up, even with the eGPU. Less frequently than the top configuration 2017s and 2015s, but not completely silent either.

As one of, if not the, last Macs lacking a T2, the 2019 was free from the hassles associted with it, though at the cost of FileVault performance.

The Fusion drive was novel in 2012, but a joke in a close to $2k, or above, 2019 model. I skipped straight to a full SSD configuration.

But the real question is when Apple will pull the plug on Intel support. I'd give it another three or four years max, given that they still haven't replaced the Mac Pro with an AS model.
 

bunnspecial

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Don't be surprised if the i9 under load still causes the fans to rev up, even with the eGPU. Less frequently than the top configuration 2017s and 2015s, but not completely silent either.

As one of, if not the, last Macs lacking a T2, the 2019 was free from the hassles associted with it, though at the cost of FileVault performance.

The Fusion drive was novel in 2012, but a joke in a close to $2k, or above, 2019 model. I skipped straight to a full SSD configuration.

But the real question is when Apple will pull the plug on Intel support. I'd give it another three or four years max, given that they still haven't replaced the Mac Pro with an AS model.
Thanks!

The lack of T2 was actually a big factor in swinging me toward the 2019 iMacs specifically. I'm not ignorant of the advantages(especially since I've used File Vault on every Mac I've ever owned stretching back 10 years now).

I'd have skipped the Fusion drive entirely as well had I not planned to upgrade right away. For me in this situation it's an advantage since it gives me access to plentiful inexpensive storage that I don't necessarily need to be high speed.

We will see on Intel support. PowerPC only got one OS release after the transition, although it happened much faster(barely over 6 months) and OS releases were on a slower cycle then. IIRC, the last PowerMacs, the G5s, were discontinued in summer 2006 and 10.6, which was the first to not support them, shipped August 2009.

Ventura cuts a LOT of Intel systems and there's talk that patching on a lot of long-running systems like the Mac Pro 5,1s is at its end. Hopefully a 2019 iMac will last through the end of Intel support, although I could see them cutting off anything without a T2 in a another year or two. Still, though I'll get my use out of it.
 
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Wow. What are you using these devices for? I have a Macbook Air, M1, 16GB RAM as a personal device and it is plenty fast. I have a Macbook Pro with an i-5 and 16gb RAM as a work computer (I work in IT), and it only slows down noticeably when I'm running several tasks at once.
 

bunnspecial

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Wow. What are you using these devices for? I have a Macbook Air, M1, 16GB RAM as a personal device and it is plenty fast. I have a Macbook Pro with an i-5 and 16gb RAM as a work computer (I work in IT), and it only slows down noticeably when I'm running several tasks at once.

My big need for RAM is with photo processing. I use Adobe Lightroom and mostly handle RAW files that originated from 36 or 45mp cameras, and those can go a little bit nuts with memory.

My M1 would probably be fine with 16gb, but 8gb was all I was able to get(long story) and I find Lightroom basically unuseable if I have any other programs like Firefox even running in the background. IMO, it's shameful that Apple is still selling computers with 8gb RAM.

I'd probably be more than fine with 32gb in anything, but on computers where it's user upgradeable, it's not that expensive to go beyond there.
 
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My big need for RAM is with photo processing. I use Adobe Lightroom and mostly handle RAW files that originated from 36 or 45mp cameras, and those can go a little bit nuts with memory.

My M1 would probably be fine with 16gb, but 8gb was all I was able to get(long story) and I find Lightroom basically unuseable if I have any other programs like Firefox even running in the background. IMO, it's shameful that Apple is still selling computers with 8gb RAM.

I'd probably be more than fine with 32gb in anything, but on computers where it's user upgradeable, it's not that expensive to go beyond there.
Ahh yes, that makes sense then. Photo processing takes a lot, and any kind of Adobe program is a HUGE memory suck. Adobe also runs their updating service immediately upon start-up, so it makes any computer running their studio programs seem to start much slower. Add-in any kind of enterprise security and the computer comes to a stand-still. We have a lot of faculty at the university where I work who run Adobe and some landscape architecture design programs, they usually need some heavy duty computing power. One professor has a Dell running an I-9 and 128GB of RAM.

I agree that Apple shouldn't offer 8GB of RAM. I guess they market that towards college students doing note taking or something, but it isn't great for anything heavy duty. Probably their business model to encourage people to buy the higher end models which come with a significant price hike.

As a side note, I'm not sure why but I've noticed Firefox has lately been a huge drain on memory. We've had a lot of problems with it here at work, and running Chrome is noticeably faster. This is coming from someone who used to only use Firefox.
 

bunnspecial

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Computer has arrived here. It came Thursday and I've been working with it on and off.

Unfortunately I've run into a hitch. I ordered the computer from OWC, which I liked since I could basically option it as I wanted.

The CPUs on these are socketed, and the SN on this one indicates it shipped as an i5 and they upgraded it to an i9. No problem on that front-I got the CPU I wanted and I don't care how it got there.

With my consent, they "upgraded" me to a 500gb SSD. It is Fusion drive model, so I can still install an HDD in it.

Here's the issue, though. It's a known bug that the firmware update needed to run macOS 12.x can't be installed if there's a 3rd party SSD in the system. This isn't iMac specific, but happens also with the 2015 MacBook Pros and 2013 Mac Pros.

This one has an Apple SSD in it. System Profiler indicates it's what you'd expect to find in a 2015 Air or MBP. It's NOT the 2017/2019 iMac drive, which is the same form factor/connector but is an NVMe drive(the others are AHCI). Unfortunately even though it's an Apple drive, it's still wrong enough that the firmware refuses to update.

So, in the mean time, I'm waiting on a cheap 128gb correct-for-the-model drive to arrive.

Of course too opening this up requires destroying the foam adhesive that holds the screen on. I have a replacement kit and they're not but a few dollars each, but there's no point in wasting it either since I'm likely going to be opening this a few times. I'm thinking that it will likely get put back together with masking tape while I'm doing the firmware update, then not get a new tape kit until I'm satisfied with it.
 
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