Advice on new computer for prosumer photo and video editing

cjay22

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Nov 21, 2018
2
0
Hello!

My current setup: Mac mini (Mid 2011), Intel Core i5, 8 GB 1333 DDR3, AMD Radeon HD 6630M 256MB, 500 GB SATA
Dual displays - 24” 1920x1200 (for editing), 19” 1280x1024 (for email/text/MS Office), wireless Logitech mouse and keyboard
Cameras: Canon G7XII, GoPro Hero 7, DJI Spark

Apps I currently use: iMovie, Aperture, Pixelmator, Garageband, iTunes, DJI Assistant, GoPro Studio, Handbrake, Hugin, MS Office

I love my MM (never had a problem), but it's showing its age. I’ve filled the hard drive and am in the process of switching from Aperture/Pixelmator to Lightroom/Photoshop. It’s become very obvious it’s time for a new computer and I’d like to do that in the next week or so.

My considerations:

Highest priorities: 1) high performance photo and video editing, 1A) to own this computer for 5 years

Budget Goal: $3,000, Absolute Max: $4,000 (if I can guarantee 5 years above average performance)

I shoot photos RAW and currently film in 1080p. In Lightroom, I will make extensive corrections and use Photo Merge. For video, I edit 10-12 projects a year, between 15-45 minutes each, that include stabilization, color grading and titles/effects. The only thing I’m not concerned about are exporting times (whether a final export takes 30 mins or 90 mins makes very little difference to me).

I see myself upgrading from iMovie to FCPX next year (2019).

I see myself moving to 4K in 2020 (and upgrading a monitor to 4K/5K), with prosumer cameras like those listed above (nothing too crazy).

I would love to add a 3rd 15.6” 1920x1080 (portable USB-C) display to stream TV/YouTube/etc, while I’m working between the other 2 displays.

My hope would be to make almost no other additional investments/upgrades for 5 years.

I can BYODKM - my displays, keyboard and mouse are in great working order

I do not game.

Portability - 90-95% of my use is at my desk, but 5-10 times a year I house-sit or rent a house where I’d like to be able to “travel” with the computer (to be clear, for me, this means plugging it into a wall at the destination - not using it on battery in an airport/coffee shop/hotel/etc). My current MM has been great for this. A MBP would certainly be easier, but I don’t love the thought of paying a premium, especially if it meant less performance, to keep it in clamshell almost all of the time. I would never travel with a full desktop.

After my own research, I think my two best options are:

1. 2018 MBP, 15”, Intel i7 8850H 2.6GHz, 32GB RAM, 512GB SSD, with Vega 20 graphics. I would add a SanDisk 2TB Extreme Portable USB 3.1 SSD for $400. The total would be $3,950.

2. 2018 Mac mini, Intel i7 8700B 3.2 GHz, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD. I would add Crucial 32GB Kit DDR4-2666 SODIMM for $275 (and install myself), a Razer Core X for $300, SAPPHIRE Radeon RX Vega 64 DirectX 12 21275-03-20G 8GB 2048-Bit HBM2 PCI Express 3.0 CrossFireX Support Video Card for $400 (at Newegg, which seems really low?), CalDigit Thunderbolt 3 Active 6’ Cable for $50, and a SanDisk 2TB Extreme Portable USB 3.1 SSD for $400. The total would be $2,925.

My biggest concern is whether or not the external graphics would work for me in the MM. I will be miserable if editing performance is slow.

A note on the eGPU I chose above. It costs the same as a XG Station Pro ($330) with a Radeon Vega 56 ($410 at Newegg/Amazon), so that seemed like a no-brianer. I could save $300ish by getting some combination of a Radeon RX 580 (or the new 590) and a Sonnet Breakaway 350 or the GIGABYTE Gaming Box RX 580 8G (which is nicely portable, but doesn’t have the best reviews), but the jump from an RX 580 to a Vega 64 for $300 feels well worth it over 5 years.

Any thoughts/opinions? Thank you in advance!
 

Velin

macrumors 65816
Jul 23, 2008
1,469
907
Hearst Castle
Why wouldn't you pick up a 27-inch iMac -- and get that sweet 5k 5120 x 2880 IPS monitor with a Radeon Pro 580 8GB card, with a very fast 1TB SSD? You absolutely can run dual monitors with the iMac, use your keyboard/mouse, etc.

The iMac seems to be a vastly superior solution to your other options which require upgrading and jury-rigging. Do not discount the true power and ease-of-use of an all-in-one machine like the iMac. Honestly, the top-tier 27-inch iMac with a big SSD is a very powerful machine, and unquestionably can last you five years -- and frankly it probably could go a decade if you can handle some compromises the last few years. Hell, we've got iMacs from 2008 still going strong, and they run great. You buy the specced-out iMac, you plug it in, and you're just about done as far as setup goes. Much better than trying to MacGyver your other options into the system you want.

I would strongly suggest looking at a new 27-inch iMac with the SSD. (Don't buy the Fusion Drive, too slow). Once you use the 5k screen and the excellent SSD throughput, it's hard to go back to anything else.
 

cjay22

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Nov 21, 2018
2
0
Thank you, Velin!

I do like the thought of an all-in-one solution, but I would still need to jury rig this, too.

I would add 32GB of RAM myself and a 2TB external SSD drive (to a 512GB internal) for a total price of $2,800.

My concerns are:

It’s only a 7th gen CPU and only a quad core

It only has a Radeon 570 graphics card with 4GB

It’s not portable at all

A 5K display is not super high on my priority list

Do you really think it would outperform the other two computers I listed in raw photo and 4k video editing over the next 5 years?

Thanks again!
 

Velin

macrumors 65816
Jul 23, 2008
1,469
907
Hearst Castle
Well the best-specced 27-inch 5k has Radeon Pro 580 with 8GB video memory. That's got to be better than any external GPU you intend to add. Concerning CPU, it comes stock with a 3.8GHz 4-core 7th-gen i5. You can bump that to 4.2GHz 4-core 7th-gen i7 for $200.

Also, concerning your statement about "7th gen CPU and only a quad core," dig down into some of the reviews about Intel's i9s. They're not all that. Linus has a good video on the latest i9 9880 as grossly overpriced. I'd run a comparison between the MacPro i7 8850H and the iMac 3.6GHz i7. See how much of a difference it really makes on Cinebench, or whatever benchmark you prefer.