Best Mac (Macbook or iMac) platform for Lightroom and FCP?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by crashwins, Dec 28, 2012.

  1. crashwins macrumors member

    Sep 11, 2009
    Hi folks. So, with about $1400 to spend what's a good option for Mac computer where I'd need to do FCP work, Lightroom, and some video rendering? I was thinking the Macbook Pro 15 quad-core. Thoughts? I'm more inclined to keep things mobile than buy an iMac, but willing to consider the iMac if it's that much better of a performer. Thanks!
  2. switon macrumors 6502a

    Sep 10, 2012
    RE: screen real estate for video/photo editing...

    Hi crashwins,

    Personally, if I were doing much LR and FCP work, then I'd get the iMac if for no other reason than having the extra screen "real estate" makes this kind of work so much easier for me, but then this is me and it is the way I work. I find it much harder to do FCP type work on a small screen since on the small screen I can't see very much of the video clips.

    ...just my two cents worth of free advice (pun intended)...

  3. crashwins thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 11, 2009
    Thanks. Good advice. My workaround for that has always been an external monitor - I have a nice apple display. I guess my question is will the quad core be necessary or is a 13" dual core enough? Thanks!
  4. runebinder macrumors 6502a


    Apr 2, 2009
    Nottingham, UK
    For what you want to use it for, definitely get the quad core over dual. Video work can make decent use of hyper threading so the QC would give you a lot better performance.

    Also if you are going for MBP over an iMac, keep in mind the 15" quad core MBPs also have a discrete GPU which sounds like it'd be an advantage to you.
  5. macuserx86 macrumors 6502a


    Jun 12, 2006
    I work in LR4 and PS on both a dual core 13" MBP and a octo-core Mac Pro and my advice is to go for the best processor you can. LR is very processor intensive. Working with 35MP D800 RAW files (~70MB a piece!) really tax both the little dual core and the octo-core.

    That said, LR is not very multi-core optimized. If you mostly use LR, I would go for the fastest clock speed that you can. More GHz. Also get lots of RAM.

    If you go for the fastest 13" MBP you should be fine. I use my "slow" 13" every day for LR.

    Hope this helps!
  6. niteflyr macrumors 6502a

    Nov 29, 2011
    Southern Cal
    If you have a good monitor, you might consider a quad core mac-mini.
  7. joshualee90 macrumors member

    Mar 12, 2009
    For video work get the best processor you can. I leanred that lesson when i bought the base mbp before starting school. It fell behind in terms of power pretty quick and since its something you cant upgrade after you bought it i was SOL. Ram and stuff like that you can upgrade later so spend the money on the processor.
  8. switon macrumors 6502a

    Sep 10, 2012
    RE: CPU speeds...

    Hi crashwins,

    Okay, so you already have an external Apple display, so this satisfies the screen "real estate" criterion, which in my experience is of major importance.

    Then I'd have to agree with the others: if you are doing photo and video editing, your next most important consideration is CPU/GPU speeds. Some of these editing programs can utilize the GPU, some can't, some of these programs run well in parallel, others do not. Most of them can use more work on their parallelism, and I suspect over time all of them will get faster through better parallelization and greater GPU (openGL) utilization.

    Using current editing programs, I think everyone that does this type of work finds that the bottleneck resides with the speed of the CPUs. Rendering, modeling, 3D motion, textures, lighting, just take an immense amount of CPU time. We all wait on the CPUs to finish their rendering tasks.

    Given this state, then obviously you need the fastest CPU/GPU combinations. If your work is really intensely and nearly exclusively photo/video/motion/rendering editing, then the fastest CPU/GPUs make the most sense. Now with the new Ivy Bridge processors and the fact that the quad-core i7s have been included in the Mac minis, I actually like the idea of getting one or two Mac minis to act as rendering servers, and then perhaps an Air for when you require portability. You won't be giving up much in terms of CPU speeds for the Mac minis over either a rMBP or an iMac, although of course you will be giving up the fast GPUs in the rMBP and iMac.

    Of course, it also goes without saying that you must have large amounts of RAM for this type of work. Currently, the MBPs allow for 16GB while the iMacs allow for 32GB. If you are doing video editing, the more of the video that resides in RAM the faster you will be able to edit it. SSDs and Fusion Drives partially alleviate this requirement, as the SSD/FUD is roughly 4-6 times faster than a standard HDD.

    So, to summarize:

    (1) iMac: Fastest GPU, fastest CPU (quad), largest RAM, FUD, reasonable price

    (2) rMBP/uMBP (+your Apple Display): Faster GPU, fast CPU (quad), good RAM, SSD, expensive

    (3) Mac mini (+your AD): Fast CPU (quad), okay RAM, FUD, reasonable price

    (4) 13" uMBP/MBA (+your AD): Slower CPU (dual), okay RAM, SSD, reasonable price

    In my opinion, option (1) is the best in terms of the capabilities you need for the least amount of money; it supplies the best bang for the buck even though you aren't using your Apple Display (maybe later you could add a Mac mini to your system to both utilize your AD and act as a rendering server). Unfortunately the FUD adds a lot to the prices, but I feel that for photo/video editing having either a SSD or a FUD will be important to your throughput.

    Good luck,
  9. niteflyr macrumors 6502a

    Nov 29, 2011
    Southern Cal
    After re-reading the thread starter and given the $1400 budget, and you have a good monitor, it's hands down the Mac-Mini.

    2.6 quad-core Mac-Mini $899. DIY 16 gb Ram upgrade under $100. DIY 256gb SSD/Fusion Drive around $300.

    Total: $1299.

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