Agreed on all points!
My comment was only to say that I found the previous render to be more convincing. As you said, totally subjective, and I hope to clarify it was unbiased (i.e. I am not blindly saying "Corona is the best, everything else is garbage!").
I really cannot stand that kind of fanboy behavior. It's the one thing that turned me off from Octane, for example, and third-party renderers altogether (but especially Octane) for a while... up until recently, when I decided to take an unbiased look at a handful of the new (exciting!) batch of renderers coming out.
Based on my experience so far, I think there's no such thing as a perfect renderer out there. They all have their pros and cons, mainly related to workflow and feature compatibility. They can all put out beautiful renders. It's all up to how you use them.
Looking forward to more! Thanks for the comments on mine. I'm always learning and, as you said, this is a great community to learn from.
PS: they are currently working on a Mac port for Redshift! Too bad I wound up switching. Got tired of waiting for Apple to start making good PRO hardware again. :(