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. 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? 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.