View Full Version : Moving from G4 to new iMac

01-19-2008, 06:47 PM

I am getting ready to get a new computer as my trusty G4 just can't keep up. I want to get one of the new Aluminum iMacs with the intel chips. So I have Lightwave 9 and want to know if it's going to place nice with this machine and Tiger OS?

Obviously I am hoping to see a significant speed increase over my G4 (dual 1.25 GHz MDD). So what do you think? I am not even sure if Lightwave 9 (not 9.3) is native for the intel machines or not.


Mike Borjon
01-19-2008, 11:28 PM
Hi sublimationman,

Some things you're going to want to consider are the ability to upgrade and add-on in the future, choices of video card, and ram (iMacs max out at 4GB). $500 more will get you a MacPro Tower with plenty of space to upgrade when the time comes.

What kind of 3D are you working on? I bought a MacPro with 9 Gb and descent video card and am working on a project that has currently 7 million plus ploys in one scene and am using radiosity for test renders at 1440 x 650 with render times of 33 - 47 seconds. Another scene has roughly 4 milion plus polys with lots of animation mixed in and i'm getting render times of 25 to 45 seconds renders (1440 x 650).

In my opinion having a machine that can be upgraded from time to time is very important in this field. Just some food for thought.



Mike Borjon
01-19-2008, 11:30 PM
On top of that a MacPro now comes with two 2.8GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon (8-core) processors for that additional $500 I referred to in earlier post. Thats like having your own render farm.


01-19-2008, 11:32 PM
I am not even sure if Lightwave 9 (not 9.3) is native for the intel machines or not.

The Universal Binary release of Lightwave 9.3.1 is what you'll want to run on a new Intel Mac. Yes, it will be much faster. In fact, the Universal Binary is even a lot faster (than the PPC version of LW) when running on a PPC Mac (I use it on a MacMini G4). Some plugins have not yet been ported to the UB, but the speed increase is still well worth it.

01-20-2008, 02:42 AM
Mike, Thanks for the info. I do mostly very high res (5000 X 4000) single images for the advertising and stock photo industry. Right now on my G4 my render times range from one hour to 36 hours for a single image and this is without radiosity :-).

I do a little animation but my bread and butter are stock images. Very high polygon objects.

So it sounds like 9.3.1 is the answer for me.

A new iMac I am looking at is really pushing over my budget right now but I am looking into the Macpro. I was actually going to get a G5 but decided to see what a new machine would cost. Right now I am dealing with 2 gigs of RAM so 4 gigs will be a blessing.


01-20-2008, 05:15 AM
What is there to upgrade in a macpro exactly? Ram and hard drives?

Mike Borjon
01-20-2008, 11:48 AM
I don't know, aside from two of the biggest upgrades (ram and hard drives) perhaps a raid card, additional hard drives (up to four in the MacPro), additional video card slots (MacPro includes four PCI Express slots) for products like the Black Magic HDMI card, AJA HD, or simply for multiple displays, etc., additional optical or Blur-Ray drive, fiber card connection for XServe raid.

I know some this may seem like overkill now, but if you plan on growing your business, all of this needs to be taken seriously as an option sometime.

The best part though is the two 3.2GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon (8-core) processors.

A lot of the time we buy just what will get us by for the time being not realizing that 4, 6 or 8 months down the road we've already outgrown our machines and have to buy something new. Having the ability to upgrade is important for a small business.


02-02-2008, 05:07 PM
I hope I'm not out of line butting in here. I think all of the advice given about upgradeability is very appropriate and wise for anyone selling work. I'd just like to ask, since I'm essentially a hobbyist now, and have hardly exhausted the possibilities of my old G4, if there is any reason a new iMac wouldn't work properly with LW 9? I understand any machine might be overwhelmed with huge, complex scenes. Long renders don't bother me (oil paint takes a whole day to set! ), but unreliability does.

02-02-2008, 06:26 PM
I use an old G4 mac which I enjoy using very much, I do everything on it except Lightwave and I have no difficulty using both computers. I was just not prepared to pay twice as much money for something that is not really that easily(CPU) upgradable.
One can buy very affordable 8 cores boxes with a stack of RAM from small computer shops (as I have mentioned in recent 8 core topics), or you could buy 16 cores with a stack of RAM (2 boxes) for the price of one MAC and have a small and very upgradable render farm.
I was not using radiosity on my old PC, it was too slow, if you intend on using radiosity and are doing a lot transparent materials (e.g. glass, water and reflective surfaces) you will need to have as many CPUs as posable.
If you only want one machine for rendering buy as higher speed CPUs as you can afford. You will appreciate the power of 8 cores. I believe from the rendering aspect it is mostly about buying as much CPU power per dollar as possible.

Having said that.....
The new MAC 2.8 Ghz Base Model is very good value, but upgrade the RAM, hard drives etc from third party suppliers, the MAC upgrade prices are beyond reason.

02-02-2008, 07:10 PM
Had some experience playing with the new aluminium iMac. We are also considering purchasing for our high school labs. But there are open GL issues:

first - large, gigantic handles appear in layout that don't seem to interfere with workflow but very distracting. Also, it is on top of the move/rotation handles that are already there. To get rid of the giant handles, you have to turn off all handles.

It does render super fast, though, esp. dynamics.

Another thing: in modeler, when you put an object in the background and model in the foreground, sometimes, the polys disappear. The way to get around it to to use textured wire.

02-03-2008, 04:04 PM
Thanks for your responses, bethel and JonW. I think I'll take the plunge once again and buy into the new Mac Pro. After all, it is the latest technology and should be able to handle innovations in software for a good time. Even though the price seems quite high, its usefulness will hopefully stretch into a few years.

02-04-2008, 05:18 AM
So I have Lightwave 9 and want to know if it's going to place nice with this machine and Tiger OS?

Hi sublimationman

The new iMacs come with Leopard not Tiger so you'll have some issues with FPrime if you have it - plus you can't downgrade to Tiger.

02-04-2008, 06:37 AM
Just about anything but the CPUs needs to be replaced or upgraded on the base configuration...

I think neverko is getting a bit carried away here with his Macintosh enthusiasm!

The base 8 core Macpro is fine out of the box even with only 2 Gb ram. I'm getting a faster speed than every single entry on the "Simple Outdoor GI Test" (LW Gallery work in progress) except the last which is only 4 secs quicker.

This machine is 12 to 15 times faster than previous early single G5 so it makes it 36 to 45 times faster than the fastest G4.

The base Imac is very good value (if it comes with the 2Gb ??), but think if able to spend more the Pro model is the way to go. The big handles is a Leopard OS thing and not the machine, (we hope).

About the graphics card, don't know, but windows always seems to do a bit better (like on the same intel Mac using Bootcamp).

There's something about 'Bounding Box Threshold' which I wish someone would explain, i.e. the pros and cons of pushing this up, what is it doing? LW 8, for some reason, at the default, on the G5 seemed to perform very well for a Mac???

02-04-2008, 10:19 AM
Hi sublimationman
...plus you can't downgrade to Tiger.

Yes you can, I have done exactly that...



02-04-2008, 11:35 AM
Yes you can, I have done exactly that...

well, it depends…


02-05-2008, 01:25 AM
Well, I did get the new iMac with Leopard and the latest Lightwave. I have to tell you it's pretty buggy. Lots of display issues. In Modeler many times I see the points for an object where they should be but the lines are drawn in a different spot and sometimes a different size or even distorted. Also numbers in the bottom left indicator (position, rotation...) are often mis-drawn and can't be read.

In Layout I can't see anything while I am moving an object (no bounding box) and the position arrows and rotation lines are way out of scale and sometimes drawn way off to the side.

Luckily rendered images so far come out as expected but I sometimes model very complex objects and it's going to be near impossible to do right now. It is very hard to set up a single object correctly in layout as well so I won't be able to make any scenes with more than a few simple objects.

I can live with this for a very short time but I sure hope they get these display bugs worked out real soon.