Considering iMac as third computer

Discussion in 'iMac' started by revelated, Dec 26, 2010.

  1. revelated macrumors 6502a

    revelated

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2010
    #1
    This computer will be added to my currently developing family.

    I have a 17" MacBook Pro that is my heart and soul - I couldn't do my job as effectively as I do without it. It also currently serves as my hub for all things recording and editing - audio, video, photo, etc. I want to change that, because I want the 17" to be strictly for business and casual non-intensive purposes. I considered just getting the high end 17", but I don't think I can justify over $3k for a laptop. I could trade my current one to someone, but I figure I'd only get about $2k at the most, and I'd have to do some drive swapping to keep what I've got. Plus there's no telling how long it would take to get the old one sold and recoup some of my money, additionally I just don't like the experience of trying to do all of this editing on my portable.

    I have a 11.6 MacBook Air. It serves as my on-the-move computer. Even though I still take the 17" along to serve up my VMs when needed, the Air allows me to continue writing or taking notes or doing whatever. It also has a smaller form factor that fits nicely in my notebook.

    I've been looking at the various iMac flavors and I am at a slight loss as to which to choose for my purpose. Here's what it will be doing:

    • Running VMs on occasion if/when needed. The VM will be a migration of my existing Windows 7 media server where I do all of my advanced media editing and downloads. Right now I have an Acer AspireRevo there doing the work and while it's a solid machine, it's starting to get bogged down with all that I'm putting it through.
    • Front Row, out to my 52" TV. The AspireRevo does this currently, using XBMC and/or Windows Media Center. Both work decently, but the machine is not powerful enough to keep up.
    • Audio recording and editing in GarageBand. The MBP does this currently but it's not perfect. There are delays in picking up the microphone and headphones and every now and then the microphone won't pick up at all even though it's attached. So I want to offload this to a desktop where it will never need to be unplugged.
    • Video editing in iMovie and/or Final Cut Express. Again, do this now on the MBP, but while iMovie isn't too bad, Final Cut Express seems to be too much for the MBP. It's not so much the chopping and editing, it's the exporting. As an example, I'm attempting to export a 720p video, 23 minutes long, and it's quoting me 5 hours. That's not going to work. *This is the largest reason I'm considering a desktop...I need faster exporting of videos!
    • Storage, sharing and backups. I thought about getting a Time Capsule and marrying it up with my Airport Extreme so I can start doing incremental backups of my works. Haven't lost any data yet, but there's always the chance. Anyway, if the iMac can act as a backup destination, this increases its value to me.

    So I need to know the following.

    1. Will the 21.6 iMac do all that I am asking (A) faster than my 17" MacBook Pro and (B) on the lower end model? Meaning the most intensive of tasks (the video exporting) is maybe an hour or two instead of 5 for a 22 minute video?
    2. For the iMacs, what sort of real world PERCEIVED performance increase would I see if I were to opt for the i5, or even as high as the i7 on the 27"? I don't need that large of a screen, but I need horse power and am not willing to fork over money for a Mac Pro.
     
  2. zedsdead macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2007
    #3
    Just an FYI:

    Currently, Final Cut does not use more than one (maybe two) cores for exporting from the timeline. You will not see much of an increase in this regard outside of the clock speed difference. Fnal Cut is a horribly outdated app that needs some serious aypttention when it comes to performance.
     
  3. revelated thread starter macrumors 6502a

    revelated

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2010
    #4
    Quite informational. Thank you for that.

    It's clock speed I'm thinking of which is why I'm trying to figure out if the low end iMac, being a desktop chip, is going to crank out the export better than my MacBook Pro even though it's an i5. It's not necessarily that my Pro can't do the stuff, it can...I just need something that does it better.

    I actually have Adobe Premiere Pro - and it's a VERY UGLY application. Just horrific looking compared to Final Cut. That's the only reason I prefer FC. In fact all of the Adobe apps are just downright ugly.
     
  4. zedsdead macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2007
    #5
    I agree with you, but just beware FCP will not use the horsepower available in the current macs.
     
  5. revelated thread starter macrumors 6502a

    revelated

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2010
    #6
    Well, there's got to be something I can do. As I begin to ramp my business back up again I intend to use what I know to get traffic...and I need to make most efficient use of my time. 5 hours to cut a 23 minute video just doesn't work, there's got to be a better way without sacrificing quality.
     
  6. zedsdead macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2007
    #7
    What is the speed of your current setup? Also, you can use all cores/threads when using compressor (if you set up a cluster).
     
  7. revelated thread starter macrumors 6502a

    revelated

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2010
    #8
    MacBook Pro 17", 2.53GHz i5, 4GB RAM.

    I did more research on Bare Feats, and it's basically consistent that video processing in general is a superior experience on the i7 iMac or the Mac Pro compared to even the highest end MacBook Pro. That's Handbrake, After Effects, etc. So I just picked up the highest end iMac and I'll run it through its paces. Worst case it can do everything else I need it to do.
     
  8. zedsdead macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2007
    #9
    Handbrake is multi-core/thread aware and is amazing on the Quad i7 iMac. Final Cut isn't, so just don't be surprised (I was when I upgraded from my 2.8 dual core to the i7 quad and found little performance difference...it's pathetic that Apple still hasn't addressed this considering they say 12-core systems now).

    Either way the highest end iMac is a great machine though, and it will be faster than what you have.
     
  9. revelated thread starter macrumors 6502a

    revelated

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2010
    #10
    Well, it's future proofed at least. Even if Apple releases a new iMac next year it really can't go much stronger based on today's applications. At that time I'll evaluate if they include a SSD without increasing the price, and then decide if I want to upgrade. That's the only thing the iMac doesn't have - is a SSD. Based on what limited exposure I've had to it, doesn't seem to need one, either. Though I know it would be even faster with one.

    It's already impressed me in the ways that count - it got the video remastered and uploaded. Now I have to finish configuring the apps that will turn it into my replacement media center.
     
  10. zedsdead macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2007
    #11
    The SSD makes a world of difference (not in encoding, but in everyday uses). I don't have one in the iMac, but based on the Macbook Pro's that I've had, and now the Air, I never want anything but solid-state storage again. I plan to upgrade my iMac next time around.
     
  11. Icaras macrumors 603

    Icaras

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2008
    Location:
    California, United States
    #12
    I'll just add a comment to this bit.

    Time Capsule is a great idea. I have one and it's been very helpful in keeping my machine always, continously backed up. Now I can't live without a Time machine solution.

    However, I am curious as to why you would want to pair a TC with an Airport Extreme? The TC doubles as both the Airport router and a wireless HD so you wouldn't need the Airport Extreme, unless of course you wanted to expand the range of your network.
     
  12. revelated thread starter macrumors 6502a

    revelated

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2010
    #13
    Here's the deal. I just got an Express to extend the network. If I did get a Capsule, it would be as another extender - though I think the Capsule has to be the primary and the Extreme be an extender, but whatever. That's why I would prefer to just use the iMac as a backup destination as I don't intend to use its internal drive for anything. All of my media is on external drives. I just needed the raw horsepower of the RAM and processor. If I could put this 80GB SSD in there it'd be the perfect powerhouse.
     

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