Best Option for Extensive Video Editing?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by AnonymousPerson, Sep 30, 2008.

  1. AnonymousPerson macrumors newbie

    Sep 30, 2008

    I have read various threads about Imac vs Mac Pro and I need to make a decision about what type of Mac (or non-Mac) to get as soon as possible, so any help would be greatly appreciated.

    I do extensive video editing with Final Cut Studio and am moving on to it professionally

    I deal mainly with HDV and also intend on using Motion and Color extensively. Also would like to start burning with an external Blu-Ray drive.

    Some projects I work on are over an hour long.

    I would like to build my own machine, but am hesitant about the risks involved.
    I have a lot of work to get caught up so I want to make a decision by the end of the week.

    I was hoping to spend no more than $1600, but have decided to expand my options a little. Maximum now is around $2500, but less is better.

    These are my current options and what I see as the pros and cons for each as well as some questions:

    1.) 24" Imac 3.06 GhZ, 4 GB ram

    I was going to purchase this today but decided today to do some research before I shell the money out. I'm glad I did.

    I was reading about the problems with color correction due to the glossy screen. This has made me very hesitant about getting this. I am very fussy with color correction and this is a big concern for me.

    My plan was to get this computer, use it for the work I need to finish up for a month or two and then resell it and get something better. I would purchase it with the education discount. Is getting the Apple Protection Plan worthwhile as far as resale value? What are the chances that I could resell (I would be happy selling it for $1800+).

    2.) Refurbished Mac Pro

    Between these two:

    I've read the recommendations about getting a refurbished Mac Pro and considering the difference between the price of the Imac and these are negligible, I may prefer to get a refurbished Mac Pro. I could get a monitor cheaply and would probably upgrade the RAM to at least 4 GB per now.

    What kind of RAM would I need and where would I get it?
    How much should I expect to pay total for a RAM upgrade and a decent display?
    Would upgrading the RAM myself void the one year warrant and should that be a concern?

    3) Hackintosh

    This is the most attractive option for me as far price and flexibility.

    But I have never built a computer before (but I know plenty of people that could help me). I like the idea of having my own machine customized the way I want. Problem is that I know that this is a very risky move. I have read many tutorials on this and time is also a factor. I suppose it would take about a week to get all of the parts, but am still considering it.

    Entire machine would probably cost around $1500.

    I want to do this but don't wish to waste the time if it's not going to work properly. I'm worried about what I would do if it it doesn't boot up. Maybe it isn't the right time to do this yet.

    4) OSX on prebuilt PC

    (Alternative to Option 3)
    I saw a Gateway PC at a store the other day for $999 (it comes with a very nice 24" display).

    This is it:

    Intel Core 2 Quad QX6700 / 2.66 GHz

    Would I be able to get Mac OSX and Final Cut Studio running on this machine at all (or one similar to it)? If so, would it everything run smoothly? (I've read that Final Cut can't run on Integrated graphics, I would be willing to get a better Video card if it's necessary).

    If anyone knows any desktops that I could get Final Cut running on, please let me know.

    Anyway, time and price are the most important factors, but if option 3 or 4 could work well, I may be willing to spend an extra week to get these together. This is starting to stress me out. I'm trying to be very careful with this decision.

    I appreciate any feedback. Thank you.
  2. andrewsd macrumors 6502

    Sep 27, 2008
    mac pro

    at work so i have to make this quick... but mac pro for storage wise ande you can sorta upgrade it plus i think it is a better machine for what you need. Also I've been reading these forums for about 3 or 4 years now but just recently started to post and I know there have been several post on this sorta topic before just do some looking around and you might find what you are looking foor. good luck
  3. AnonymousPerson thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 30, 2008
    Storage is not much of an issue. I have everything backed up and stored and External Hard Drives and would only have one project at a time on the internal drive. I don't like cluttering up the main drive. (I usually edit straight from the external unless it's something complex).

    Yes, upgrading is important, but I may be able to get a better Mac Pro in a few months and that makes me hesitant to purchase one of those refurbished models.

    Is it feasible that I would be able to upgrade the processors themselves
    in the future?

    And is the refurbished Mac Pro Quad 3.0GHz Intel Xeon system worth paying $300 more over the Quad 2.66GHz system? Or would the latter suffice for now based on what I need to do? Which is edit a bunch of films some minor Motion work. If I am free to upgrade these anyway I wish in the future then I may just settle for the 2.66 system. I am on somewhat of a tight budget and I am not too familiar on the flexibility of upgrading Mac Pros.

    Thank you.
  4. akm3 macrumors 68020

    Nov 15, 2007
    Get the refurb Mac Pro.

    Any other choice you will likely eventually regret.

    You use it for the things it is designed for, and you rely on it professionally so you need reliability.

    Get the Mac Pro, use one of your current monitors, then upgrade to a high quality monitor when you can afford.

    You can probably get away with the 4 core Mac Pro, but I'll bet for the $400 difference, you'll regret not getting the 8 core at some point.

    This is coming from someone who WANTS a Mac Pro, but really don't need one. An iMac meets my needs very well. I'll probably end up with a Macbook Pro.
  5. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

    Dec 23, 2006
    In my imagination
    What else do you want to do with the machine? Editing on Final Cut, Premier, or Avid?

    Curious to know since that will determine which machine you want, either a Mac Pro or an HP or Dell workstation.

    Bottom line would be price/bang for your buck.
  6. AnonymousPerson thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 30, 2008
    I am a semi-professional at this time. All of the work I need to get done now is personal work for myself? (some short films, demo reels, tests, etc.) Which would take about two months. I've been editing at friends houses prior to now, but that isn't feasible anymore since the amount of work I have to complete is vast (and I severely need my personal editing space).

    I was hoping to find a cheaper alternative to get this stuff done now before making bigger purchases in the future. I considered getting a mid-range Imac for around $1500 and that should be a temporary solution, but at the same time I don't want to end up stuck with something that I don't necessarily want.

    The PC option would work because I'm looking for a new PC anyway, but the more time I spend experimenting with running FCP on it (which is a big gamble), the more time I am postponing the work I need to do.

    Option 2 currently looking the best to me, but this is a very tough decision.
  7. AnonymousPerson thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 30, 2008
    I need the machine for Final Cut based editing with HD and HDV, maybe some minor special effects (After Effect or Shake, not very important right now) and Color Correction with Color, and Motion.

    I have tried many PC based editing programs (Vegas, Premiere, Avid) and I'm not comfortable with any of them. Final Cut is the only editing option for me.
  8. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

    Dec 23, 2006
    In my imagination
    Funny thing is, almost all NLEs are Mac based and PC based. Premier and Avid are both dual platform, and Avid runs A LOT smoother on the Mac.

    Either way, I'd say since you are of course needing to cut on FCP, the MacPro is your best bet.
  9. AnonymousPerson thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 30, 2008
    Yes, I'm aware of that. I did say trying to run Mac OSX and Final Cut on a PC was one of my options in my original post.

    There doesn't seem to be too much of a difference between Mac and PC hardware if the parts are right though. I just need that excellent software.
  10. AnonymousPerson thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 30, 2008
    Well I still haven't made a decision.

    Someone is selling a used G5 (Dual Core 2.5 Ghz, 2 GB ram, SATA 150 GB hard drive, ATI RV360 w/128 MB ram, no monitor) for $850. This should be fine for what I need to do. I could add more RAM and a bigger HD, not sure about that video card though. How is that for a price?
  11. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

    Dec 23, 2006
    In my imagination
    It's not a bad price, but you wan't be able to run Motion or Color, but that may not be too important.

    That is a slightly old machine, so I would try to work the price down to about $600. For that $850 you could still find an intel based 20" iMac which would perform a lot better.
  12. AnonymousPerson thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 30, 2008
    Well, I do need to use Motion and Color. They won't run properly because of the video card correct? How much should I expect to pay to upgrade the video card and is this feasible to do with this machine and could I just install it myself? What video card is recommended ( I know it needs at least 256 k of vram).

    I'm also going to upgrade the machine to 4 gigs of RAM.

    I'm really trying to save some money here. $800 (or less) for the core machine is fine (and will spend a little more for RAM, Video card and monitor). Or I may just go get the middle grade Imac (20", 2.66 GHz, 4 gb ram, Radeon HD 2600 XT with 256MB - new or refurbed) and use an external monitor for now.

    I''ve recently finished a videography program and am trying to start getting some work going so I can upgrade to a better machine in the future (without putting myself into a hole). I've realized that the $2K MacPros and IMacs are not within my budget. I really appreciate any help.
  13. AnonymousPerson thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 30, 2008
    Ok, didn't see that last part.

    So you would definitely recommend an Imac over the G5? The Imac may end up being my final choice. I'm not very comfortable with buying a used machine with no warranty.

    Building my own machine is starting to look more and more attractive.
  14. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

    Dec 23, 2006
    In my imagination
    You won't be able to find ANY good prices on the old G5 Towers. I can barely find one myself and I have the late Oct 05 model with PCI-Express.

    If you are looking to add the monitor and GFX card later, you are definitely better off grabbing a new or refurbished current gen iMac. You can stick 4GB of Ram in it, grab an external HDD, and still hook up an external monitor for reference or extended desktop.

    Plus the current gen imac, the model you are looking at, can run Motion but not Color. You'll have to move up to the high end 24" iMac for Color. Unfortunately, Color is a graphics HOG!

    By the time you start talking about high end 24" iMac, you might as well consider a previous gen Mac Pro to get the expandability.

    But if Color can be left behind, get the 20" 2.66GHz iMac.
  15. AnonymousPerson thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 30, 2008
    Yes, prices for G5s (used or refurbed) seem to run $1400 and up at all of the
    sites I looked at.

    Yes, was going to upgrade the RAM myself but I was told in the Apple Store that that would void my warranty. Don't know if that is true or not or if it's just something they're supposed to say.

    Really? The ATI Radeon HD 2600 PRO with 256MB isn't good enough?

    I've been reading about the glitches with NVIDIA 8800 card though. Has that been straightened out or no? So to run Color properly I would have to go for the NVIDIA card? Yet I constantly see recommendations not to get that one.
    Woe, what am I to do?

    Yes, I've been trying to avoid that. So now I'm basically back to where I started.

    What exactly is previous Gen considered? Quad core?

    Kind of really need Color. I need to learn (and implement) the program for various reasons.

    So basically a refurbed 8-core is the best bet no matter what it seems. At the school I went to, they used G5s and Color ran fine. Not sure what type of Video card they had.

    I'm really tempted to build a machine. Very tempted. All of this is just too expensive.
  16. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

    Dec 23, 2006
    In my imagination
    For cheaper G5 prices, check who has a few for around $700 and up, but they are old first gen models. I did mean to say G5 GFX cards too, that was my mistake; you won't find any of those for your model nowadays. Either way I wouldn't go any further down the line than the late Oct 05 models.

    They won't void the warranty if you upgrade the RAM. And it's the easiest thing to do on either a Mac tower or the current iMacs. I was surprised about the card in the 2.66 iMac too. I just pulled the info from Apple's site though. I run it on a Quad 3.0 Mac Pro (GFX card escapes me) and it's pretty smooth even with 1080p HD.

    The previous gen Mac Pro that you listed in the original post is the one I'd grab if I had $2000 lying around. Even though for $300+ I could get an up-to-date 8 Core Mac Pro.

    It's still going to be your choice no matter what I or anyone says. The benefit of the PC world and their desktop class CPU based towers (not server class like the MacPro) is their price. Quad core starts at $1200 or less for them and GFX cards are plentiful. I wouldn't go the hackintosh route if you plan on running Final Cut though, since the apps rely heavily on the stability of not only the OS but the system as a whole.
  17. AnonymousPerson thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 30, 2008
    Both refurbished Macs in those links are no longer available.

    There was another $2399 8-core that popped up a couple days ago. It was gone within 24-hours. These things go fast.

    To hack or not hack...

    So a minimum of $2000 to run Color...

    This is going on a three week+ deliberation for me now.
  18. AnonymousPerson thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 30, 2008
    I'm not understanding something.

    The default 8-core Mac Pro comes with a ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT 256MB

    How is that much better than the ATI Radeon HD 2600 PRO 256MB that comes with the Imac?

    Is it just attributable mostly to the processor(s) for the 8-core and not the video card? Would Color run smoothly with this Video card in the 8-core, or would I want to get the NVIDIA 8800? Or multiple Radeons?

    The requirements for Color are: "The standard graphics card in any Mac Pro, 17-inch MacBook Pro, 24-inch iMac, or 2.5GHZ or faster Power Mac G5 Quad.
    # For 32-bit rendering: a graphics card with at least 256MB of VRAM."

    The 24" Imac 2.8 GhZ model seems like it should suffice (ATI radeon 256) and it would save me about $800 ($1699 w/student discount, I could work with the standard monitor temporarily) over getting a refurbished 8-core ($2399 + monitor). (I would upgrade either on to 4 GB ram). Or I would get the NVIDIA card with the latter if that would work better (still saving me about $650).
  19. joaoferro37 macrumors 6502


    Jul 31, 2008
    Vogon Planet Destructor
    You need to consider the available slot for
    capture card, RAID card, and available memory for rendering, effects...
  20. AnonymousPerson thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 30, 2008
    Ok, my decision seems to be winding down to 24" Imac 2.8 GHz.

    I will most likely get refurbished with ATI Radeon 2600 PRO 256.

    Or, if necessary I will get brand new with student discount if I need the NVIDIA 8800.

    Will the NVIDIA be better for Color? Or do the cons of the NVIDIA glitch outweigh this? Or will the ATI Radeon be suitable for Color?

    Someone please let me know.

    I will be upgrading to 4 GB of RAM after purchase.

    I don't need the perfect machine at this time. Just need to get by.
  21. yoak macrumors 65816


    Oct 4, 2004
    Oslo, Norway
    I have both an iMac and a MP. The iMac is now exactly 2 years old and I still use it for HDV and XDCAM EX footage. It works fine, although motion is very slow.
    The biggest draw back compared to the MP is rendering time, if that´s not an issue the iMac works well.
    We bought the MP when we had to deliver a show to NRK (national TV in Norway) with very short deadlines. With the iMac we wouldn´t have made it.

    So I think you are doing the right thing as you are semi-pro.
    When the time comes and you get a paying job and you feel you need a better Mac, go for it then and it will pay it self off quickly.

    Happy editing
  22. ibigiba389 macrumors newbie

    Oct 6, 2008
    you can also consider getting icy dock enclosure, either tray or trayless version. Instead of buying new firewire drive or firewire enclosure, you can simply just buy the tray from them and save some money. I personally prefer tray version, but some of you might consider go for the trayless one to save even more money.
  23. AnonymousPerson thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 30, 2008
    I've posted this over at the Digital Video Forum, don't know if this is proper but I'm trying to get as much feedback as possible. This is what it's coming down to. I appreciate everyones help:

  24. AnonymousPerson thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 30, 2008
    I have had some paying gigs and will probably have more soon. I'm also trying to save up for a good HD camera also, so I'm willing to postpone getting an 8-Core for now.

    I'm going to have to sacrifice some speed. I've used Motion with an Imac before (made some fancy titles) and it was getting clogged up pretty quickly. Rendering times were extremely slow and the program would sometimes crash. I would just have to do all of this in smaller segments, but that is fine for now until I can afford a better system.

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