New iMac 2017 for Unreal Engine - Architectural Visualization

Hello guys!

I am considering buying the new iMac 2017 and use it for Architectural Visualization with Unreal Engine.

The specs are these:

3.4GHz quad-core 7th-generation Intel Core i5 processor Turbo Boost up to 3.8GHz
32GB 2400MHz memory
Radeon Pro 570 with 4GB video memory
512gb SSD

Would this machine be good enough to make some hi quality work with UE?

Thanks in advance,


Hey. First and foremost, if you can afford to go with radeon 580, get that one. UE is as GPU reliant as it gets.
Second of all, if you can wait, I suggest waiting for updated Surface Studio. Keeping in mind that this is a win10 machine.

Why? I’ve made semi-scientific tests and found out that current state of rendering performance is 40% lower on my iMac in MacOSX vs win10 (around 21fps vs 30fps in some scenes, around 30fps vs 50fps in other scenes, you get the point). Same machine, different OS, wildly different results.
I particularly asked on the forums if any significant (or at least fair) improvements are to be expected with Metal2 shaders and yada yada, but Unreal Dev responded that I should not expect improvements on the machine I have in MacOs (a polite version of admitting the macos inferiority for realtime rendering).

If you are very bound to Apple ecosystem (like, you literally work in sketch3 and make money with it and it does not run in any other os, or you make movie soundtracks in Logic Pro X) than get iMac with the most powerful GPU. Those $200 that you will ‘overpay’ will go a long way in beefing up your speed and maximum visual fidelity.

If you are not bound to OSX and mostly use cross-platform solutions (like me), either wait for an updated Surface Studio – if you prefer the AIO solutions (with comparable specs it will run UE4 faster since it is a win10 solution) or just throw those $2500 at a ‘classic’ desktop and get a machine so powerful it will make you cry (with tears of joy).

PS – I find it mildly amusing that many things run better on win10 on my iMac (including Substance stuff). I also happen to own the last iMac that had nVidia GPU, because AMD solution does not offer CUDA cores for GPU rendering engines like Octane / Redshift, and AMD ProRender page has not been updated since Dec 2016, which is not that inspiring if you ask me. So, think about it. I still love my iMac, don’t get me wrong, but latest developments and decisions make me rise my eyebrows.

to echo what glitchigami said…

latest imac will run ue4… but not nearly as fast as a windows desktop.

If you can, get a desktop machine with gtx 1080 ti.

It will be literally orders of magnitude faster and cost much less.

Yeah, if you can, you can save money and get a more powerful Windows PC. I don’t recommend the Surface studio in that it’s still quite expensive and you can get a more powerful system for less. The benefit of the Surface Studio is that it looks cool and you can draw on the screen, but for game development it’s more important to have power.

Thank you for your messages guys. I am quite bonded to the mac ecosystem and i don’t mind spending a little more for a mac, also considering that keeps his value over time and in 2/3 years I could resellit.
I am now considering to get the top version with i7 4.2ghz and the Radeon 580 8gb. I guess that would be powerful enough to make some high quality architectural Visualization with unreal right?

It should be powerful enough to use Unreal.

I have the 2015 5k retina imac and it runs UE4 - I use it for building ios apps.
But to be honest, my windows machine is much much faster. To be fair it has a gtx 1080 ti, but it still cost much less.

The imac has such a high pixel density that it pushes the card to the limit just to run the desktop. They have to design it this way - the case is too small to use a gpu that requires more active cooling.

It literally is a “choose design aesthetics over performance” equation.

So you can get by with the imac, but it is like running on a sub-par windows machine and costing much more.
( BTW - I am not trying to put the mac down - I have used them for years. Just trying to give you accurate information having used both)

This is why VR doesnt work on the mac - the gpu is just to weak.

Proceed with cautious optimism.

The main conundrum of using an iMac 5k with UE4 is that it would run in retina mode, so if a main 3D view window takes 2/3 of your screen, it would run in something like 3200x1800. Imagine the mobile chip that is R 580 pushing that insane amount of pixels realtime. As complexity will grow, FPS will drop.

So to speak, having a win10 machine for visualisation and 3D stuff would be the best option. I am considering just that scenario for my setup. Will continue to use my current iMac for web design/typography/etc stuff and win10 for houdini+UE4 combo. My current iMac is quad 3.4ghz + 24GB RAM, it isn’t slow, it’s just not capable enough for things I wanna do next. Practically, we are in the same boat, but I don’t know if you already own a Mac, so in my case I would have a ‘fallback’ option for using OSX and all the perks that come with it.

PS – in any case, you could always bootcamp a win10 to get 30%-40% FPS more on the same machine.

Interesting arguments.
I was just reading earlier today that with the introduction of ‘Metal2’ osx high sierra the overwhole performances should increase a lot.

Guys also we need to consider that the Retina display is simply stunning and similar standalone monitor is priced around 700$…
As designer this has an incredible value to me, considering that we create beautiful things and we want to display them at their best.

This is very interesting! Can you please elaborate on that?
I am considering installing also windows with boot camp. Will the hardware be used at 100% of its capability?

The issue with the high resolution display is that games are generally designed for 1080p resolution, and the game development software already has a higher impact on performance than the final game so running it at something higher than 1080p will have a big impact on your performance.

UE4 doesn’t run in Retina mode. It runs low density mode on high density screen so it looks a little pixelated.

read the first 2 posts here (won’t take up much time):– Is-it-viable-or-nah

Side by side comparison results in win10 projects running as much as 30%-40% faster on the same machine comparing macos vs win10. MacOsX really is that much slower. Also, note what developer replied.

Overall, I see your point. You are about to buy a new iMac and asking if it is viable for the UE4 visualisation. It totally is. But this is a very, very poor performance/price ratio for that particular task. I would imagine if you are about to go realtime PBR solution for visualisation like UE4, you will end up using some industry standard PBR texturing and material stuff, like Substance from Allegorithmic or Quixel stuff. So, Substance runs terribly in MacOS, like, terribly terribly. And Quixel doesn’t run in macos at all.

I do appreciate iMacs (heck, I own one), their screens and MacOSX, and stuff that works within macos. But in this particular scenario, a win10 machine is prefferable. You might end up running bootcamp to get win10 on the machine, but if you are about to spend a lot of time within win10 working with 3D as fast as possible, why buy an iMac in the first place?

There’s a lot to consider, but don’t let anything discourage you. After all, you might as well get the desired iMac and later get a Ryzen rig with gtx1080 for 3d stuff.

I would simply wait to see what the actual product, price, and specs are in December. If your a mac/unix user, and you have the cash that’s great. You can run Windows, and Linux on the mac if you need to.
If your developing specifically for a mac. I would recommend you have a good mac that can handle “upgrades, and repairs.”
Anything with thunderbolt can run an external gpu. Though I don’t find it as efficient as being in a slot. I have a 2012 macbook pro with bizon box, and GTX1070 running UE4 great, but the people I know with a mac pro having similar specs runs it better.
I don’t use it that much anymore though. I bought an Alienware R4 17 for mobility, and run linux/win dual boot. Mostly Linux. I like it, but I don’t like to carry it. It weighs 13lbs, and requires a larger heavier backpack (With wheels). Maybe 20lbs bare.
It sure beats carrying a macbook pro with graphics amplifier around in a suitcase.
Know all your options, and necessities before making any purchase. When I get another mac. It will more than likely be the desktop macpro. I already have the bizon box.
I have been at a loss for getting the new macbook pro. As it’s not upgrade friendly, and performance specs, and a touch bar can’t warrant the purchase for my needs.
If the new Imac starts at $5-7k base price. Than I would want a lot of future proofing in terms of upgrading ram, gpu, and HDD. A long time ago. I felt burned by purchasing a Powermac G5 right before they switched to Intel.
That G5 became a $3500 boat anchor within one year of the Intel switch. I learned to make sure my computers are repairable, and up-gradable.
Being able to simply swap a HDD, and Ram is quickly becoming obsolete. I will not go gentle into that good night.
I really like the Idea of running a triple boot mac pro, but I have to travel. So that isn’t a very productive option.
I would like to see Apple make a gaming performance Laptop, but that isn’t going to happen very soon.

Question is: Does he care about price?
There are much better options out there like you have all said, but if he’s happy spending that cash on a worse performing computer to run unreal, well then go for it.

If price is truly no option… then the ideal situation is to get a desktop windows PC with a top of the line gpu and an imac.

Do all your work on the desktop pc, and periodically test on the imac.


I am coming from Cinema 4d + Vray background for architectural visualization.
Unreal Engine is something new for me and it it something that I want to learn because i see a lot of potential to communicate architectural projects.

Do you think the new iMac 2017 with the Radeon 580 is able to handle this level of details/performance of these videos below (either on osx or win bootcamped)?

Ideally this is just what I would like to achieve.

Many thanks

It’s not coming with a radeon. It’s coming with a vega. Which will fall in line with it’s specs. I’m sure it will run your videos fine.

I am not talking about the iMac Pro. I am talking about iMac which is already on sale now.

With 4gb of vram. You will slowly begin to feel constrained. It’s not really a great game dev machine. Unless you plan to max the ram at 32gb, and buy an external graphics amplifier, and gpu in the near future. Adds 1200$
If there isn’t a ram slot on that Imac. I wouldnt buy it unless ram was full, and i would also add the best surge protector $ can buy if the ram is not changable.
Running minimum requirements for UE4 isn’t extremely productive. If I was going to buy anything new. It would have to have an 8gb video card. Right now.
If I got a great deal on Imac with max ram. It would be fine. Bizon box, and GTX1070-80 would come within 6 months of purchase. That was the scenario with my macbook.

Ditto to what most have said. Go with a Windows 10 setup. For the money you are spending on the Mac, you can build a even faster by a larger margin win10 machine. No bias here… i care less what brand it is… I care for maximum performance. And win10 custom build by far beats any mac.

As you can see in the first video description, he runs a GTX1080, which is 9TFLOPs (of raw compute power)
The Radeon 580m (or pro, whatever they call it) in the iMac is 5.5TFLOPs (of raw compute power) – somewhat 60% of the showcased gpu in the video. These are the numbers, I don’t know how many FPS his setup had, but I suppose the iMac could handle above 30fps in windows10 with comparable quality at fullHD.