Entry level iMac and FCPX

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Cloudsurfer, Apr 16, 2014.

  1. Cloudsurfer macrumors 65816

    Cloudsurfer

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2007
    Location:
    Netherlands
    #1
    Hi all,

    I'm looking to buy a new Mac to get some better performance in FCPX. I'm currently running FCPX on a 2010 Mac mini, which is still a Core 2 Duo machine. It runs, but once I start adding some effects the age of the hardware really shows. Multi-cam editing, which I do use a lot, also drops frames like mad. On top of that, transcoding and exporting is a real pain as it can take many hours to complete.

    I'm not a professional videographer, it's a hobby of mine and as such my projects are not that complicated. On average I would say my projects are about 30 mins in length with some effects added (mostly transitions and titles). I only edit 1080p/30fps, nothing fancy like 4k or anything.

    The model I had in mind would be the base 21 inch model (Iris Pro) with 16GB RAM and 256GB flash drive (I run my library off an external FW800/USB3 drive so I don't need massive internal storage). I would love to go for the i7 model, but at 500€ extra that's a rather steep step up. So I was wondering, is the i5 up for the job or does 500€ justify the extra horsepower of the i7?
     
  2. mossy macrumors regular

    mossy

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2013
    Location:
    Ireland
    #2
  3. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2011
    Location:
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    #3
    The i7 has double the number of threads in the i5. As FCP X supports hyper threading, the i7 will come in useful.

    Also, since you're going to be rendering frames as well, the Iris Pro might not cut it. The GT750M will do a much better job.

    As seen here, the 3.1GHz i7 iMac is 30.6% faster than the 29GHz i5 iMac in hyper threaded tasks (3361 points faster).

    Oh and since you don't need massive internal storage, I suggest getting a 256GB SSD for speed and reliability reasons. A Fusion drive is much slower if you're using the internal drive as a scratch disk (FD: 500MB/s read, 300MB/s write. 256GB SSD: 720MB/s read and 670MB/s write). As the FD still has a spinning HDD, it's about as likely to fail as a regular HDD too. If the HDD part goes kaput, the entire FD is toast (think of it as a HDD and a 128GB SSD in an RAID0 configuration).
     
  4. Cloudsurfer thread starter macrumors 65816

    Cloudsurfer

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2007
    Location:
    Netherlands
    #4
    Sorry for the late reply, been a little pre-occupied with work. Thanks for the response. I realize the i7 option would be faster. It scores about 14k in GB3 while the i5 model scores 10k. But how does that translate into real-world performance?

    The only thing I want is to cut down my exporting times, preferably by more than half. My current Mac exports a 1 minute 1080p file in 7 minutes, which means I have to wait almost 3,5 hours for a 30 minute project to finish. And I hate to wait.

    Of course an i7 would decrease my exporting times compared to an i5, but is the difference worth 400€? I know that for the money, I also get a dedicated chip but considering I'm after decreasing transcoding times the dedicated chip won't make much difference. The Iris Pro is really quick enough for me.

    If there's anyone here who's using FCPX on an entry level iMac, please speak :D
     
  5. Cloudsurfer thread starter macrumors 65816

    Cloudsurfer

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2007
    Location:
    Netherlands
    #5
    Sorry for the double post, but I feel my question is solved and would like to elaborate on that for future iMac buyers seeking a similar answer.

    I had the opportunity to visit an Apple Store today, so I decided to check out the performance of the Haswell Macs myself, in particular the Iris Pro model.

    Once there, I opened up FCPX on three separate Macs: The Iris Pro model, the base 750m model and a high end 775M with i7 chip. I opened the standard project that's preloaded on all Store Macs and edited them down to exactly 1 minute in length and exported them to the desktop in H.264. There were some interesting results here:

    Iris Pro: 23 seconds
    750m: 23 seconds
    775m: 22 seconds

    What amazed me here is that the top of the line i7 was only a second faster than the i5 models, considering it's a much more powerful chip. Of course for highly complex projects, with a lot of multicam scenes and effects, the difference will be a lot bigger, but for an enthusiast like me the base i5 performs beyond fantastic. A 15 minute clip should only take 5 minutes to export with this thing, as opposed to 1,5 hours on my current machine.

    I believe the entry level Mac doesn't get enough credit since it seems like a pretty capable computer.
     

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