In early 2016 my 2008 MacPro still showed no sign of aging and already had been my ‘faithful assistent’ for so many years especially when it came to processor intensive tasks when doing music or video projects. For the sake continuity it nevertheless seemed like a good idea to make the move to a new MacPro computer and keep the old MacPro on spare. This upgrade was not so easy because in a moment of corporate madness Apple in 2013 decided to axe its powerful Mac Pro’s based around an all in one model. For some time I hoped Apple would return to form with a machine that you could easily expand and exchange equipment to suite your own needs, but by late 2015 it was clear that this was not gonna happen anymore for the foreseeable future. Instead Apple offered its professional customer base in 2016 as a MacPro a strange small, rounded model with little to none possibilities of expanding inside. In my all-in-one MacPro I could typically house 4 hard drives, 2 USB cards in the PCIe slots and an Apogee PCIe card to hook up my Apogee Symphony I/O. So without a suitable all-in-one model and because being locked in to the Mac platform, because of software and hardware, I choose to go for the late 2015 iMac 27″ with 5K Retina screen. Based on reviews I read that this Mac was more than capable for heavy music and video production and the advantage of the built in screen (less cables) was also of consideration. Because I have so many devices attached to my Mac I also had to invest in:
- An OWC Thunderbolt dock, enabling me to connect more Thunderbolt and USB devices;
- An Apogee Thunderbridge;
- A G-Technology external hard drive;
- a Thunderbolt to DVI adapter to connect a second monitor to the iMac.
Because the internal memory of the iMac is 8Gb, I also bought 2 16Gb modules, ensuring that the iMac can handle the music and video tasks with ease. Upgrading the memory is a task that you can easily do yourself and gives you the power you will need for more intensive computing tasks. Other than the internal memory there is nothing else to change to your iMac. So I guess, just hope and pray all components inside will still work for years to come.
Unboxing and installing the Mac went for the better part trouble free. I manually moved the essential data on the external hard drives from the old MacPro to the new external hard drive. Then I put the Migration Assistant to work (connected the Macs over Ethernet) and counted my blessings to what would happen. On a previous occasion (moving from a 2004 MacPro to the 2008 MacPro) I had some bad experiences with the Migration Assistant, forcing me to reinstall the MacPro from scratch. But this time it all went smoothly. Strangely enough my Mail was not migrated, so I had to trace that down by searching the Mac in the system file area and manually moved it. The thing for me is that I have lots of music software all with their own protection schemes and it is just so much easier if you can transfer everything from one machine to the other without reinstalling. And that really went well: I could transfer Native Instruments Komplete, U-he Zebra, Reveal Inspire, FAW Circle, Gforce’s Oddity and M-Tron, VSL with little to no effort.
The iMac itself is a wonderful machine. The Retina 5K screen is gorgeous, sharp and very rich of detail. The iMac is really quiet, although in fairness I should mention that I have not yet been putting it on a lot of stress with processor intensive music or video projects. The placing of the external ports (4 USB and 2 Thunderbolt) on the lower (curved) side of the back is cumbersome, especially if you regularly need to change cables.
With the iMac came the new Trackpad and the new keyboard. Both work over Bluetooth and the big plus is that they do not require batteries to work but can be charged by using the same lightning connector from your iPhone. The keyboard was a step down for me from the previous one which contained an extended numeric keypad. But to keep the number of cabled devices to minimum I will give this keyboard some time to get used to. Especially the up and down keys are extremely tiny and takes some time to get used to. Also I noticed in some situations that the fingers from my left hand rested on the ‘esc’ easily causing in some cases a loss of data.
The iMac comes with Apple’s latest OS, El Capitan. I can only say it has been extremely stable for me: not one crash so far. Compared to Yosemite there have not been too many changes, so you will find yourself spending too much times on new functions. A big bummer for me nevertheless was that Aperture, the photo organising application from Apple was phased out and replaced by a new app named Photos. Photos already was introduced with Yosemite, but with El Capitan Aperture is not available anymore for download in the App Store. Although I only worked with Photos occasionally so far, it is clear that Photos is an application with a lots of features missing from Aperture. I probably will have to spend some time to see if I really can like Photos or have to search for alternatives. Another thing I do not like is that in Safari the ‘Top Sites’ option is not working anymore like it used to work in previous versions. Until I not have managed to get back the screen I came to like so much to navigate to favourite websites.
The iMac is a beautiful machine and fun to work with, largely because of the wonderful 27″ 5K screen. But I will not easily forgive Apple for taking away the choice of an all-in-one machine, because my set up has definitely become more clumsy and messy with cables going everywhere and adding an extra price tag to the computer .
==The Hague, February 14th 2016==