Buying an iMac for work / school

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by JavaBlend, Jul 2, 2017.

  1. JavaBlend macrumors newbie

    JavaBlend

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2017
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    #1
    Hi everyone,

    I joined these forums because I need some help deciding on which 27" iMac I should get.

    Currently, I'm pursuing a degree in journalism, which involves a load of writing, some photo editing in Adobe Lightroom, as well as a bunch of video editing (in 4K). This will be my first Mac, so I'm not sure which specs to prioritize.

    Since I'm in college, I can get Apple computers with a pretty substantial discount. I can get the base model 27" iMac (i5/570, 8GB RAM, 1TB Fusion Drive) for €1,899, the i5/575 model for €2.089, and the i5/580 model for €2,349. All prices are after tax. To me, the i5/575 model seems to be the most attractive option. I'll probably add 16GBs of RAM myself later on.

    However, since I'll also be editing videos in 4K (with LUTs etc.), I'm not sure if I should upgrade to the i7. Traditionally, I'd think that CPU should be prioritized over GPU for editing, but as far as I know, FCPX mainly utilizes the GPU. Keeping that in mind, the i7/575 model will cost me €2,442.99, which is even more expensive than the i5/580 model. Also, I'm not sure if the Radeon Pro 570/575 will struggle driving that 5K display during heavy load.

    Of course, I'm trying to spend as little as possible, but since I'll be using this computer for at least 4 years, I'd rather not spend a bunch of money and end up regretting it later down the line.

    What do you think? Budget-wise, I'd obviously prefer the i5/570 model, but I don't mind stretching my budget if it means better future-proofing. If I do need to upgrade, should I get the i5/580 or the i7/575 model? Thanks in advance!

    P.S. I don't mind using optimized or proxy media in FCPX when editing 4K videos if that makes any difference.
     
  2. MRrainer macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2008
    Location:
    Zurich, Switzerland
    #2
    There's probably going to be an equally big impact from ditching the Fusion Drive and going SSD-only.

    The i7 makes the iMac super expensive. An SSD-only i7 would be > 3000 CHF here (list price, from Apple).

    I'd think about:
    - going for the "cheapest" 27 5k
    - but paying the upgrade to 256G SSD-only (it's 110 CHF here).
    - maxing out the RAM as the need arises and money becomes available (the limit is now 64 GB)
    - larger files will need to live on an external enclosure or NAS. You can buy cheap SATA SSDs for that, too.
    - as it's an iMac and not a MacBook, the portability (or rather the lack of) of the external devices is not an issue

    Unless you also need to run lot's of VMs.
    Then the i7 is almost a must (the i5's Apple sell don't do HyperV).

    If you decide to sell the iMac at one point, you can keep all the external disks etc.
    Chances are, after four or five years, i5 or i7 won't make much of a difference.
     
  3. JavaBlend thread starter macrumors newbie

    JavaBlend

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2017
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    #3
    Thanks for the reply!

    I'd honestly never considered getting an SSD over a Fusion Drive, very interesting. I'll definitely be looking into that. I've seen a few good deals on 3TB external HDDs which I could probably edit off of for the first little while. Those aren't SSDs, but should be adequate for archiving footage and school stuff. Plus, I already have a 1TB OneDrive account to backup really important files.

    Do you think the base model iMac will be able to handle a full 4K timeline in Final Cut Pro? I'm slightly concerned about the horsepower needed to drive that 5K screen. The Radeon Pro 570 seems slightly underpowered, especially considering the fact I'll be using LUTs too. The base model i5 is slightly slower than the mid-range model, too, but I don't see that making a huge difference in terms of performance. A mid-range iMac with SSD is somewhat pushing it in terms of the budget (the prices I mentioned above are from a third-party reseller who don't sell built-to-order machines, and Apple's education prices are a bit higher).

    I definitely won't run virtual machines, and I won't sideload Windows either. Won't do a lot of gaming on the iMac either (maybe some Civilization, but other than that it's gonna be used for productivity only).
     
  4. kazmac macrumors 601

    kazmac

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2010
    Location:
    Stuck in an early 70s giallo
    #4
    Pardon me for butting in here, but according to Apple's specs the mid-tier and high tier 27" are officially upgradable to 64gb of RAM, the base maxes out at 32gb.

    OP, you pose some very good questions insofar as i7 for rendering 4k video, I would not know (as I still deal with 1080 and under. I do know that my i5 struggles with 1080 (but then I have a 2013 27" so much less processing power)

    Perhaps, you could pose these questions in the iMac forum too?

    Please do not take my usage case as something you can use to compare the brand new 2017 iMacs.

    Good luck with school.
     
  5. MRrainer macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2008
    Location:
    Zurich, Switzerland
    #5
    Can you go to an Apple store and try your use-case?
    --- Post Merged, Jul 2, 2017 ---
    An (ex) co-worker got a Fusion Drive iMac (i7) a while ago (two years maybe).

    He was disappointed and bought the iFixit-kit to open it up and replace the 2TB drive with a 2TB Samsung SSD.

    I have no idea about FCP or video editing.
     
  6. CatherineVeraGat Suspended

    Joined:
    May 6, 2017
    #6
    The 27" iMac with i5/570 or i5/575 should be good enough.

    I think you should go towards the i5/575 model.
     
  7. JavaBlend thread starter macrumors newbie

    JavaBlend

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2017
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    #7
    Thanks for all the replies, everyone.

    As far as I know, the base model iMac will still accept 4x16GB memory kits, but Apple just doesn't offer the option themselves. I might be wrong on that, though. Then again, I don't see myself needing more than 32GB within the next few years, anyway.

    I'll definitely make a thread about this in the iMac subforums, too. I'm not too concerned about render speeds. While fast renders are nice, a smooth editing experience (fast timeline scrubbing/preview playback) is a lot more important to me.

    I could go to the Apple store, but it's quite far away from where I live, and I'm not sure if I can just walk through the door with a USB drive and start editing videos on the show models. I do think an SSD with external storage is the way to go.

    Personally, I'm leaning towards the i5/575 model, too. The i5/575 is quite pricey when you add an SSD, though. I also just realized I could just add an external GPU later on thanks to High Sierra.
     
  8. MRrainer macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2008
    Location:
    Zurich, Switzerland
    #8
    I believe you can call them to ask if trying out your use-case is possible.
    It's a big investment, so it's reasonable to do some research. And the Apple Stores were IMO built for this.

    The only problem is 3rd-party software. AFAIK, they format and load the OS-image every day and the staff does not have the authority to install e.g. the VMWare Fusion trial.
     
  9. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2013
    #9
    If real time smoothness is more important to you than render times then an SSD and the best GPU are more important than the i7.
     

Share This Page