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iMac for development

Hello, I’m very new to Unreal Engine 4 and as my PC is too weak to run it I have to buy a new one and for a couple of reasons I decided to buy a Mac. But I’m not sure if a 2013 iMac is enough. Can Unreal Engine 4 be used on a 5K iMac (2014 and 2015)? Is a Intel Core i5 processor enough or do I need a Intel Core i7 one? Is the Intel Iris Pro Graphics 6200 or AMD Radeon R9 M390 too weak for Unreal Engine 4? Is 1TB Fusion Drive enough? Thanks in advance for any answers. :slight_smile:

You’d want to go with the most up to date hardware, the Radeon graphics card would be much much better than the integrated Intel GPU. If you want to use Mac for game development, the iMac is the best value for the power

Thanks for the answer :slight_smile:
As my budget is limited I can’t upgrade everything. :frowning:
So I have to decide: The i7 processor i stead of the i5 one or the AMD Radeon R9 M390 instead of the M380 and additionally a 256GB SSD instead of the weaker Fusion Drive.
From what I have heard so far, the difference of the processors isn’t as big as the difference between the two graphic cards. but as don’t know enough about this topic, I’m not sure what to do.

Both of those GPU’s are pretty good, if it doesn’t have an SSD then having one will give a noticeable difference, at least for loading up the OS though that’s not a lot of space to store things so you might not want UE4 on that drive since it can use a massive amount of space.

Thank you again :slight_smile:
I already like this forum!
Well, the amount of storage isn’t the problem as I can buy an external drive later, if I really need it.
If I understand your post right, then it wouldn’t matter which of the two GPU’s I take.
So my specs would be:
i5 Intel processor 3,2 GHz
AMD Radeon R9 M390 (mobile version)
256 GB SSD
8 GB RAM
Will this iMac (5K) run complexer scenes (many physics objects, etc.) smoothly?
Thank you for your time :slight_smile:

It’s hard to say how far it will go, but in general it should run very well. If you could get the i7 upgrade instead of upgrading the R9 380 to the R9 390 then I would. Physics in UE4 runs on the CPU, plus things like building lighting run on the CPU as well.
Also one thing to consider while in development, the screen is very high resolution, higher than the vast majority of people would run at, so you will have decreased performance if you run at the default resolution since it’s so big, you might consider testing at a lower resolution and see if it improves editor performance.

Also, it would be great if you could get more than 8GB memory, when building lighting it loads everything into memory so if you are doing a scene with lots of geometry and lots of textures and lots of lightmaps then it can easily fill up your memory and that can limit your capacity to do large projects.

Thanks for the answer and the additional information about how the engine works. :slight_smile:
Well, the RAM is the only thing I could upgrade later. When I buy the RAM from Apple directly, I have to pay more money :wink:
From what I have seen in tests about the performance of the two graphics cards, the M380 is sometimes far behind the M390 (20FPS or more) which is, at least in my opinion, much. Additionally the i7 is just about 2 FPS faster than the i5 one. If I remember right, the tests are related to games.
Sorry that I keep asking questions, but will the ipgrade of the processor really boost the performance/is it noticeable?

I have felt the difference between i5 and i7 and certainly recommend the i7 if you have the option to do so. It’s a nice boost especially if you’re running additional programs on your Mac at the same time.

The CPU doesn’t affect the framerate as significantly as the GPU, since the GPU is controlling the vast majority of what’s going on with the graphics in the game, but it can certainly help with game development since the CPU controls things like code compiling and building static lighting. Also, if you’re interested at all in stuff like general 3D work and rendering, (Maya, 3ds Max, etc.) then that will benefit greatly from a faster CPU.

Thank you again :slight_smile:
Would I really need this improvement as an hobbyist? I mean, of course I want great graphics, but do I really need it? I ask this because for the i7 I would have to save up extra money as it’s outside my budget. Additionally, I wouldn’t be able to upgrade from Fusion Drive to SSD.

It depends on how you use it. For the most part I set things to build/render overnight, so if it takes 8 hours or 6 hours I won’t be back to check it for longer than that so a speed improvement for that won’t matter. But other times, I’m doing renders in 3ds Max and I need a render that day (unrelated to gaming, just regular 3D rendering) then getting as much speed as possible out of the CPU is going to help.
So if you’re just doing UE4, then it won’t make a huge difference but you might find other things you want to do where it could. Just note that you’re probably not going to be able to change or upgrade your CPU or GPU after you buy the iMac while you can much more easily upgrade your RAM or hard drive later.

Yes, you’re right about that. I can’t change GPU and CPU later.
I think that my games or projects in general won’t be that demanding. I’ve just looked at the prices again and to upgrade the processor, I would have to buy the iMac with the M390 Radeon, so I think that’s just too much.
I will go for:
8 GB RAM
Radeon R9 M390 (2GB)
Intel core i5
256GB SSD

Anyway, thank you for your great help and explanation! :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

Hi, sorry to come in late on the discussion but I strongly discourage using an iMac for what you mention. Unreal Engine 4 is very demanding, even for a “non-demanding” or hobbyist project. For that price you are getting a lower-speed CPU which may throttle because of the thinness of the iMac. The GPU is a mobile GPU with 2GB which will hit its maximum very fast as UE4 is a very advanced game engine.

The resolution of the iMac is 4K or 5K depending on the model, but the way “retina” is handled on the Mac is very different. You won’t be looking at a native 4K “screen” (in the editor, AFAIK) unless you use a variety of tools or run Windows on it. Overall in my experience “retina” on the Mac with Unity 5 or Unreal Engine 4 is not optimal, not because of Unity or Unreal per se, just because of the method OS X implements high-DPI (it does a variety of upscaling/downscaling, etc).

The GPU may be very powerful but again, if you were to look at projects or play games at native 4K, being a mobile GPU with only 2GB of VRAM, you’ll only be able to play or preview projects at 2K at best.

Finally, you will only be seeing OpenGL while DirectX11 and DirectX12, I believe, offer far better visual fidelity and will allow you to explore such demo projects enjoyably, even if you don’t create such projects.

Oh, I’m glad you posted this :slight_smile:
I haven’t bought the iMac, yet. But since I want to be able to publish for iOS and I like Garage Band I would really prefer a Mac to a typical Windows or Linux PC.
I know that I won’t be able to run the editor or games in native 5K, but is this really such a big problem? Is Unreal Engine/Unity unsuable on the 5K iMac? I looked at the system requirements for the Unreal Engine 4 and as far as I know the iMac should run the editor with no problems.
Anyway, what would you recommend me to get?
I would really appreciate if you could answer again as I am completely uncertain now.

That’s what I was saying before—if you must develop on Mac, the iMac is the most capable for developing games—Macbook doesn’t get a good GPU, and the Mac Pro (trashcan mac) has Quadro graphics cards which are somewhat capable but way overpriced and don’t perform as well as gaming cards for gaming purposes. The iMac allows you to get a fairly good processor and a fairly good GPU. It’s not as good as getting a Windows PC where you’ll have tons of GPU options for cheaper, but if you want a Mac, then iMac is your best option of power for the money.

Great, thank you. Then I will go for this iMac.

Max, sorry to put more confusion in your mind but unless you are developing games specifically for OS X I discourage using the iMac. It theoretically has the GPU and CPU power (for 1080p and 2K), but if you are developing in OS X you will indeed not be able to use or run the editor and games in native 5K.

It won’t be unuseable as such, but I don’t see the need unless you are developing for OS X.

You would certainly get a lot more value, I believe, with a good desktop PC and 2K monitor.

The 5K on the iMac is more for graphic design and video editing.

I will suguest to any other one that a mac is only needed if you are developing for apple products.

But if you already have a decent imac, building one PC instead of buying can be agood option (even UE4 can build AFAIK ios games from windows… dont know if from Linux too).

And for example by the half of the price of a imac you can get a EVGA EVGA GeForce GTX TITAN SuperClocked 6GB GDDR5 384bi… or with 300 a GeForce GTX 970 4GB and use the rest for build a pc that support Core I7-6700K 4.00 GHz 8M xD… well it depends, I even know a friend who own a 48 core processor PC for rendering… (dont know how much it cost :P).

Also I dont say the products are say are the best, but you really have options on how to build your PC if you have the money, basically you only need to see that all sockets match :P.

And you can buy monitors 2k, 3k, 4k, 5k… even there are some monitors for gamming that have rates of 160 Hz.

I have no previous experience with iMacs and my old PC is a Windows one. Currently I’m thinking about buying a Mac Mini and a PC as it could be cheaper. But as I’m not the greatest artists my games wouldn’t look very well on a PC and that’s why I would like to create mobile games and iOS os still a big market. If this wasn’t the case I wouldn’t even think about buying an iMac :wink:
Anyway, thanks for your help.

If you’re developing for iOS then you only need a Mac for when you are ready to submit your final game. On Windows you can send the game to your device for testing until you are ready. So if you want the best performance and are OK with Windows then that could still be an option. Maybe get a cheap Mac later for when you need to submit it to the app store.=

Note that you’ll still need an Apple developer license to be able to do testing even on Windows.