Getting a new iMac for video editing... Need some advice!

Discussion in 'iMac' started by CatAndTie, Sep 9, 2011.

  1. CatAndTie macrumors newbie

    Sep 9, 2011
    OK, so I've waited long enough to finally get myself an iMac. I went to school for film, and have been out a couple years getting myself on my feet and saving up some money. Ultimately, I'd love to get myself a nice PC and a Mac for a video editing station.
    First comes the Mac.

    I've been researching tons, and find bits and pieces of info that help me in my decision, but I figured I'd reach out to a couple forums.

    Keep in mind, I'd like this Mac to last a decent amount of time for me (or as long as I can with technology quickly moving along). I don't want to skimp on something just for a few hundred then a couple years down the road wish that I had gotten the other option, so I'd rather suck it up now. But I don't know what is necessary for what I want and what is not. I'm going to use the system mostly for editing purposes, so it's going to need to be able to handle lots of footage importing, rendering, storage, etc. I'm most likely going to be getting Final Cut X (please don't turn this thread into should I get that or not topic) because it seems like Apple is sticking with that new format and not going back. (I might also get an older version of Final Cut just to have). Not too familiar with the specs of the new FCX either, and how it works the iMac system, but I want to be able to get the most out of my system.

    I do know that I definitely am getting a 27", I'm not made of money so unnecessary options should get weeded out.

    When capturing/editing/previewing how much difference should I expect with an i7 vs i5?
    Did anyone get the AMD Radeon HD 6970M 1GB GDDR5 vs the 2 GB and regret it?
    If I get the 4gb RAM, and want to upgrade with another 4gb myself, will it void out the warranty? Also, will the Mac come with the additional 2 slots needed if I wanted to do that myself?
    For those of you in my situation, what did you go with and do you have any regrets or praises?

    Sorry for the novel, but thanks for the help!

    tl;dr.... I want to get a 27" iMac for video editing purposes... what system specs would you recommend without breaking the bank with unnecessary hardware?
  2. Booch21 macrumors regular


    Oct 13, 2010
    Without forcing my choices on you, I'll tell you what I did and I'm a novice video person. I'm more into the audio end of things.

    I bought a 27" iMac i7 with 8GB and 1TB HD. Also have a 1.5TB external. I use Adobe products. I purchased Production Premium 4 when I was using Windows 7 but I quickly tasked that machine trying to use AVCHD. I also have the ATI Radeon HD 5750 1024 MB on my machine.

    I'm up to date on the Mac using Production Premium CS5.5. Primary programs used are Premiere Pro and After Effects. I am in Audition every day for my voice work so that doesn't count. Also comes with Photoshop, illustrator and numerous other programs for use. For comparison sake, and its all I have, I'm running the same stuff, CS5, on an i5 Windows 7 machine at work. Noticeable difference in processing time! I'd rather work at home and know that it'll get done faster.

    Not trying to change your mind, just saying what I use and having those tools is a great thing for me. I have had no issues with running these programs and making any video that I need to.
  3. CatAndTie thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 9, 2011

    This is pretty much the same direction I was headed. The 27" with 8GB and a 1TB HD. Still unsure about the i5 vs i7, but you seem to sway towards the i7.

    Do you use Final Cut at all?
  4. zarathu macrumors regular


    May 14, 2003
    OK.... Apps like light room and Photoshop are CPU dependent apps. Apple's apps like Aperture and Final cut pro are GPU dependent apps. This means that the bottleneck with Photoshop other MS related products like that will always be the cpu.

    If you want the fastest mac to run aperture and final cut, get the one with the fastest graphic card. You probably don't need 2gb ram in the card at least for the moment. And at the moment, I'm not really sure how core aware either of those two apps are. I don't have Final cut, but it doesn't look to me like Aperture or iMove is aware of more than 2 cores, so my iMac goes into turbo and boosts the processor a good bit.

    The other impact is that these apps from Apple are super memory hogs. Get two 4 gb of ram from crucial. Apple's imac book shows you how to install it, so it won't voisd your warranty. Going to 12 gb will make those apps run like a dream. I had the 4gb my iMac came with but things got so much faster after putting in the extra ram. Even startups just zipped.
  5. namethisfile macrumors 65816


    Jan 17, 2008
    well, the top top end iMac with the i7 and 2gb of vram sounds like what you want. and then expand the ram to 8gb's from somewhere else.
  6. Macman45 macrumors G5


    Jul 29, 2011
    Somewhere Back In The Long Ago

    Same spec as mine. I do the same work you want to do. A MUST is the 2gb video upgrade and 8 gb RAM.

    If you can push it, go for the I7....It's a game changer for sure. Mine eats everything I throw at it and never misses a beat.
  7. Protiusmime macrumors newbie

    Sep 9, 2011
    Video Editors

    If I hear you correctly, you imply you don't want to buy into a Mac that is not expandable or can be upgraded as technology moves along (as it always is). For expandability, I would go with Mac Pro. The tower has the room and mb ports to expand, add, etc. The iMac is upgradeable, but as you know must be taken apart (except to increase RAM which is done from the plate on the bottom of the screen).

    RAM: I use Final Cut Pro, Adobe After Effects CS5.5, Photoshop CS5, Lightroom 3, Aperture, and a slew of other apps depending on what I am working on. Do yourself a favor and get 16gb of ram, no deliberating about that. For the cost, it will make the difference on the multitasking speed and workflow. You don't have to buy the ram from Apple Store, but match the modules and make sure of the speed (1067 for 2010 model i7 quad core processor, or 1333 for late 2011).

    The second thing I would recommend is either the 256gb or 512gb SSD. If you are buying an iMac and order it with the SSD, your applications will go onto this drive. It adds a good deal of speed on loading, etc.

    The third thing is: go with the Radeon 2gb video card. I know it is a notebook card, but you are talking about some minute differences and more importantly, the room in an iMac is limited. The 2gb card is what Apple puts in if you order your iMac from them.

    Fourth: Go with the 2TB, 7200 rpm HDD. Again, the cost difference is minutely less to go with smaller drives. For video editing, it is great to have the room for your working data files. Even so, as you get into larger projects, you will end up with several large external HDs for backup and storage.

    Now as for Final Cut X: I will also say as others on this thread have mentioned, I am only giving you my opinions on your inquiry. You really need to read a lot and ask such questions from people who use the things you may be interested to buy into. Personally, I have used Final Cut and Pro series from the early times until now. I currently run version 7. Being new to FCP, you may like the version X. But I can also tell you that everybody I know in the industry hates version 10. It really is an enhance version of iMovie. Lots of eye candy, pretty buttons and icons, but they have taken away several very important features when you consider workflow. Just my 1/2 cents worth.

    The things that require a lot of memory calcs are such as when you render a heavily complex project to a .mov file or other. You need the larger RAM, fast graphics interface, and a place to write the file when you are done.

    Anyway, I hope this helps somewhat. Opinions are easy for us all to give, and you are correct in asking lots of questions. I am new to this forum but have read it for a while and there are great resources for getting answers here. Good luck with your decisions.
  8. wonderspark macrumors 68040


    Feb 4, 2010
    I can tell you that I've just been editing the exact same HD footage with CS5 on my Mom's 2011 i5 iMac (with 4GB of RAM and 6750M) as I normally edit on my own 2009 Mac Pro with 16GB of RAM and lots of other nicer bits. It absolutely sucks by comparison, but it does work eventually.

    Fortunately, I can go to the beach all day while the iMac renders, whereas the Mac Pro works fast enough that I can keep working until I fall asleep. It's a comparison between apples and hand grenades, but it's nice to know that an iMac will eventually get around to editing a video if you have a lot of time on your hands! I was pleasantly surprised it worked as well as it did.

    I have FCP X, but it hasn't worked out for me at all so far, and I'll probably try to get a refund on it. I hope you have better luck with it.

    Cliff's Notes: I think it will work, and the only variable is how much time you have to get the work done.
  9. CatAndTie thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 9, 2011
    I appreciate all the insight. This is definitely very helpful.

    Seems the general consensus is go with the 2gb graphic card, at least 8gb of RAM, and the i7.

    As much as I'd like to go with a Pro, at this point in time (financially mostly) I just can't. Down the road, yes.

    I probably will get CS5, and an older version of FCS to go along with Final Cut X. I've worked on the older versions of FCS in school, so I definitely am used to that layout. I'm hoping that Apple will release an update for Final Cut X soon (anyone hear of dates when it will be released?)
  10. apw100, Sep 10, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2011

    apw100 macrumors regular

    Jan 24, 2010
    Jacksonville, FL
    1. Get the i7. It will be noticeably faster for rendering.

    2. No offense, but the other people here are wrong. Don't spend the extra money for the 2GB 6970. For your purposes it will make ZERO difference. Spend the extra money on RAM.

    3. No, adding memory won't void your warranty and yes, there are two open slots. I added an additional 8GB of GSkill RAM from and it runs very well.

    4. I have the 27" i7 with 12GB RAM and the 2GB 6970. I also have a second monitor. I run FCP-X, Motion, After Effects, Nuke, ZBrush and Maya.
  11. CatAndTie, Sep 10, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2011

    CatAndTie thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 9, 2011

    OK, so now I'm looking into refurbished models... definitely saves some cash in the end, but is it worth it?

    Anyone feel strongly going refurbished vs not? Is it better to get a maxed out refurbished or spend the extra few hundred towards a new machine? Does Applecare apply to refurbished? And after the 3 years, can you extend your Applecare/ for how much?

    And to apw100, you went with the extra 8gb, did you notice any difference in not mirroring the RAM? I'm almost definitely getting the 4gb and adding the extra ram myself.
  12. apw100 macrumors regular

    Jan 24, 2010
    Jacksonville, FL
    It is mirrored. The original is 2x2GB and I added 2x4GB. All four RAM modules don't have to be the same, just install them in mirrored pairs.
  13. MattSepeta macrumors 65816


    Jul 9, 2009
    375th St. Y
    Get the refurbished!

    I buy everything I can refurbished or 2nd hand off craigslist or forums, and am yet to go wrong.

    A few months ago I bought a new iMac for photo/design/some video and made it work out pretty well I think. I was on the fence between Mac Pro and iMac, and think I made the right decision.

    I found a used 2010 27" i7 2.93ghz that came bone-stock. 1tb hd and 4gb ram, 1gb gpu

    I went to Micro Center and bought a 2TB wd black hdd, 120 gb vertex2 ssd and 2 more 4GB sticks of RAM.

    Took out the 1TB to use as a spare for something else and put in the WD Black and somehow managed to get the other SSD connected and fit inside as well.

    The thing can handle the video work I put it through, but I don't do any overly heavy animating or rendering. Just your normal "guy needs a video of something" video work at 1080p from a 5d Mark II and it works just fine. At my day job I use a 24" 2.4ghz c2d working on minidv SD footage and it seems SOOOOO SLOW compared to the stellar 1080p on my new 27" imac.

    Bottom line is: Don't hesitate to buy used or refurbished. Don't hesitate to take the MACHINE apart and change it. It's a tool for pete's sake, I expect to me able to modify it. I have little to no experience in any electrical tinkering or computer building, and had no problem doing all the stuff myself.

    After all was said and done, I had a iMac almoooooost as "specced out" as the top of the line 2011 iMac for less than half what Apple wanted for their identically specced brand new one. No reason you can't get a great iMac for a good price if you are willing to compromise on OEM guts and an opened box.
  14. VBall Dad macrumors newbie

    Oct 3, 2011
    Good information here. So to be clear, you don't recommend the 2GB 6970 ?...I want to use two monitors with Premier Pro and I would think the extra 1GB would be good to have...the i7 is what I've decided on with the 4GB of ram that come with it and then I have 8 more to put my only lingering question for you is, video editing, rendering etc, the 2GB 6970 is my best choice ?....thanks for the valuable insight to this point :)

Share This Page