Imac or NEC PA271w-bk 27-Inch ++++

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by moi|1, Oct 9, 2013.

  1. Good evening All,

    As the title states, I am contemplating either getting an Imac with the specs below for about $3,500 OR an NEC
    PA271w-bk 27-Inch( which I read is about the best monitor for the money) with calibration gizmo for $1,300 with
    another laptop / desktop (Any suggestions as far as either would be greatly appreciated but it has to be Apple)

    A little background...
    I am an amateur photographer and been doing post (Photoshop / Lightroom 4) work using mainly an 13" Macbook with
    8 gigs etc... but recently acquired a D800 and the file size is bringing that baby to a very slow crawl.

    So,any advice as to what some of your guys in my shoes would do will be greatly appreciated
    Thanks for your time...


    3.5GHz Quad-core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 3.9GHz
    32GB 1600MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 4X8GB
    3TB Serial ATA Drive @ 7200 rpm
    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M 4GB GDDR5


    NEC PA271w-bk 27-Inch + ?
  2. but what is it that you *want* ??
    On one side, you're talking about a new computer which will vastly speed up your D800 processing but not give you the ultimate in display but they are very good.
    On the other, you get to waste your life waiting for the Macbook to do it's thing but you have a slightly better display.
    You're going to need a calibrator anyway so get the i1Display Pro which works w/ anything (and get the Spectraview s/w for $90)
    If I was in your shoes, I'd get the iMac in a heartbeat
  3. I have my PCs built by Puget because I need both power and silence--they do an amazing job. My present one is about a year old, so I don't know the current prices and models, but I'm sure one of their PCs will do nicely with a new NEC monitor.
    My wife is on her second or third IMac and about to purchase her next one. If you decide on the IMac, don't bother with the NVIDIA upgrade unless you plan to play games. Do, however, either get an SSD and use external drives for much of your storage or get a Fusion drive. It will make a big difference, probably more than the choice of CPU. If these drives put the purchase over your budget, consider the Imac with less RAM and then add it yourself.
  4. If you decide on the iMac, save your money on the 3TB internal drive. Why? Because you need to start thinking "outside the box" for storage. External drives are where you want to be. Use only Thunderbolt or USB3 connections, though, if you want transfer speeds matching your iMacs capabilities.
    Also, with the 27", since you can add RAM yourself, DO NOT pay Apple's exorbitant price for the 32GB... $600 for 32GB? That's insane. OWC ( will sell you that much for $378. You could even buy an extra 16GB for now, installed into the two empty slots, giving you 24GB, and only buy the second 16GB if you really feel the need (and you probably won't).
    My main photo setup is a 15" retina MacBook Pro, with 16GB RAM, 512 Flash storage (aka SSD). On one Thunderbolt bus are two LaCie eSATA-TB hubs where I have 4 2TB drives connected, along with my 23" Apple Cinema Display. I have an additional 2TB drive on USB3. Speed wise, they run about the same, mostly because the drives are not up to the capabilities of either TB or USB3.
    No photos get stored on the rMBP. They go onto at least 4 drives:
    • Aperture Library drive
    • Archive of the Originals
    • Aperture Vault #1
    • Aperture Vault #2 (swapped out with another 2TB drive kept off-site)
    This way, any one can fail, and I still have several backups.
    Were I in the market, I'd get the i7, 8GB RAM and the 512GB SSD. That is $250 cheaper (whether or not you upgrade the video) than getting the 3TB and 32GB option, more than enough to add 16GB from OWC. External 2TB drives are under $200.
    The Video card might be a good thing to upgrade for photo work, though I really haven't see all that much talk the it is strictly necessary. But, you never know what the next version of Aperture, Photoshop or Lightroom may bring, so... I'd probably upgrade it...
  5. digitaldog

    digitaldog Andrew Rodney

    I'd go for the better display (I have that NEC and it is excellent). If getting a great screen to print match is important to you, spend the money on the display. There's nothing at all special about an iMac display. I'm currently running the NEC off a Macbook Pro maxed out with a Retina which is great on the road. For 'real color work' in the studio, the NEC is the way to go.
  6. I am going to both agree and disagree with Larry West: yes, you want to get an external storage solution for D800 files. This alone is going to speed things up. However, I would look into something like a G-Tech G-Raid drive. Without going into the expense of a dedicated RAID system, these external drives are much faster than your typical set up. Merely saving a layered PSD from a D800 file can take some time. The slowest will be using the internal computer drive. A bit faster will be using an external drive. And using the G-Raid and you can be back to normal save times! Of course these are two drives in a RAID configuration so you will want a solid back up plan.
  7. digitaldog

    digitaldog Andrew Rodney

    +1 on the G-Tech's. Got probably a dozen different configurations and they are excellent and fast. You do want to put all your image assets on a dedicated drive if possible, especially if you use something like Lightroom. Then cloning (backing up) to multiple drives all the images, catalog and other assets is fast and easy. Leave the boot drive for applications and other data. Put the images on the biggest external drive you can afford.
  8. >>> I am contemplating either getting an Imac with the specs below for about $3,500 OR an NEC
    PA271w-bk 27-Inch( which I read is about the best monitor for the money) with calibration gizmo for
    $1,300 with another laptop / desktop

    How important is being portable with a laptop? If not, I'd get the iMac with SSD internal drive and an
    external drive setup. Don't sweat not having the *best* display, especially if your living is not made from
    your photography. 32GB of RAM? 16GB will be fine unless you are slogging multiple huge MF scans with
    photoshop and its associated multiple image buffers. Since you're not, go with 16GB (the 2nd 8
    purchased elsewhere) - even then, using Activity Monitor looking at RAM usage, I bet you will not exceed 8 in actual use.
  9. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    Such a shame Apple doesn't cater to its desktop market.
    How great it would be to buy a simple box containing a
    cpu, ram, and room for a few hard drives that are
    actually reading/writing at their potential.

    I like Larry's set up; laptop and a great external monitor.
  10. Upcoming MacPro, Eric. I like the idea of having an external crate of drives over a fast interface that will not limit disk performance. For many people, like myself, a more modest iMac approaches that potential, with no loss of disk performance. Plus you get a decent display. Will probably go that way in the future, even though my current home machine is a 2008 MacPro loaded with disks.
  11. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    I'm thinking more like the Mac Mini but twice the height
    to accomadate a couple more drives.
  12. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    I also like the idea of a crate of drives, Brad. I'm hoping
    to somehow find the time and learn about "free nas", an
    open source Linux system that will store all my media
    and images and have access to it from anywhere and
    with anything. The Western Digital Red 4TB drives seem
    like a likely candidate.
  13. I might say that if the OP is using layered PS files of D800 images, then they will certainly use all of 16GB of Ram and more. I have 16GB or Ram working with D600 files and I use swap.
    Off topic... the new Mac Pro looks like a very interesting machine. But we will have to see what price point in comes in at. Speculation is abounds... and most of it not very good!
  14. digitaldog

    digitaldog Andrew Rodney

    Speculation is abounds... and most of it not very good!​
    I'd then dismiss it since it's speculation and who outside Apple has one? That said, I was interested in getting one but didn't want to wait till fall so I decided to go with the top of the line MacBook and let the first generation of this new tower hit the market. Not sure if version 1 is the best approach, there IS a ton of new technology in this new tower.
    As for drives and such, since my new MBP does support Thunderbolt, I'm thinking seriously of one of these:
    Very good reports on this little guy.
  15. >>> Speculation is abounds... and most of it not very good!

    I don't think people are thinking it through. As far as a potential BOM goes, it will be significantly less
    compared to a current gen MacPro - i.e. a *much* smaller "chassis" with no drive bays, no card cage, no DVD, better thermals, and
    power supply requirements a fraction of the current unit. Even final assembly in the US, a good thing,
    should not influence much on overall assy costs as assembly time should be much quicker via a clever design. OTOH, it's an opportunity to generate premium margins,
    which is the big unknown. Will be interesting to see which way it goes. I'm predicting it will come in under the current MacPro, maybe even by 10 to 15%.

    >>> Very good reports on this little guy.

    I'm looking at that too (would be especially nice for a mix of HD and SSD). As well as much less expensive USB 3 equivalents - again, as one who doesn't
    need "the best/fastest"
  16. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    I'm predicting it comes in 15% more than the most
    expensive iMac configuration. I'm not really sure who's
    going to buy it, either.
  17. I'm just wondering where you got that price on the iMac. I just priced it and it is $400 less. I have a hard time imagining you need 32GB of RAM, and 16GB is $400 less than that.
    That said, either you want a Mac or you don't. I, personally, would not buy anything else, but that is because I despise Windows. It is what I use in my work life, and will not let it into my home. But that is me. It is completely possible that you would reasonably come to a different conclusion, and would the be right choice for you perhaps. I just don't think someone else is going to be able to answer this for you.
    One final comment, I do everything on a Retina MacBook Pro with a i7, 16GB RAM, and a 500GB SSD. I also use a D800. I have never seen the system bogged down by memory issues. Ever. I value the speed of the SSD but didn't opt for the very pricey 750 GB option. What I use for long term storage is a farm of 3TB WD HDs on my wireless network. I have them all plugged into my Airport Extreme through a USB 3 hub, and if I want to do anything in a hurry, I just go upstairs to where they sit and plug them hub directly into my MacBook Pro. That's what works for me. I find it extremely user friendly - the best setup I have ever had.
    Good luck.
  18. If you get your ram from elsewhere like OWC you can save a couple of hundred. I'm not sure if spending 200 for the 3.5 is worth it. I'm not sure how your getting a bottom line of 3500 it seems 27-2800 would be more like it. But unless you are doing the most careful color correction, you can do fine with the iMac. Its a good screen. If you want to go to the Nec which is one of the best monitors out there, maybe you could pair it with a mac mini? That might be an effective combo. Well within the 3500 you stated.
  19. Thanks to all of you for some sound advice...
    I'll make a decision in coming weeks and share the outcome.
  20. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    Agree with Barry. The iMac screen is above average and
    might suit you just fine. I'd also look into a 2011 used
    mac mini with i7, 16gb of ram, and your NEC panel

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