This may be of no help at all, but I'd be curious - if you are willing - can you try an export with the Renderer in Media Encoder set to Software Only?
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You bought a $12,000 computer with 18 creepy-crawling cores? Did I read that right ... 2.3Ghz?
Processing most media especially H.264 in Pr takes a moderately decent number of FAST cores, between 8 and 10. Each with as close as possible to 10GB of RAM per core as possible.
By fast we're talking 3.8Ghz or better. Many of those cores are probably sitting near idle, and the ones in use aren't working fast enough to max you RAM use either.
That's a dog. Ship it back!
Thanks for the response. More like a sick dog - even watching videos on the timeline was jittery (like always) - seriously its mind blowing how the performance is so dull given the specs and price point.
The funny thing this is a $2,400 upgrade - their literal best and most expensive upgrade for the iMac Pro processor:
Here's a screen grab from the Apple Store configure page showing the +$2,400 upgrade for 18-core - no bigger GHz processor available. What a sham.
Their fastest base CPU is only 3.2Ghz? Huh. That's ... sad.
Especially as we've had comments from Mac folks here that the cabinets are not necessarily setup for massive cooling airflows, so over-clocking is rather risky. I don't really know them well, but ... from first glance, the 14 core IF it could be safely OC'd to say 3.8Ghz would be what I'd look into ... but I know near diddly of Mac details.
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The Mac you have is a decently specced machine BUT what you didn't take into account is that the number of cores is less important than the processor speed.
So many end users make this mistake its crazy.
Your iMac is set up to get the best out of software that supports multithread processing i.e.. parallel processing.
Premiere, AE etc do not run instructions in parallel. They move along a que system much like a conveyor belt. So instructions go to the RAM and then to the CPU "ONE AFTER THE OTHER".
So even if you had 50 cores it won't matter.
A faster single core processor will outperform a multicore Mac any day in Premiere and AE.
Unfortunately you will need to wait until Adobe decides to optimize their software for multithread ability but I don't know when or if this will ever happen.
So for now I am afraid the only way to get more speed is to...well theres real not much more you can do besides roll back to High Sierra if you are in that horrible Mojave OS.