iMac first-time buyer help!

Discussion in 'iMac' started by sk2121, Mar 13, 2018.

  1. sk2121 macrumors newbie

    Mar 13, 2018
    Hello! I am considering purchasing an iMac primarily for video editing. I am extremely amateur and only plan to do this in my spare time. I own a GoPro Hero 5, but I do not shoot video in 4k. I plan to use both Quik and Adobe Premiere CC to edit and want a machine that can manage these programs easily. (My current PC is from 2012 but has 8GB of RAM and still can't provide video playback in either of these programs.)

    I am considering purchasing the 21.5" iMac with Retina 4k with 3.0GHz.
    My primary questions are:
    1. is it worthwhile to upgrade from 8GB of RAM to 16GB?
    2. Is a 1 TB fushion drive more worthwhile than the standard 1TB Serial ATA Drive?
    3. How much video memory is necessary, if any?

    I've researched on plenty of sites but most seem to be for more serious professionals, so I'm a bit stuck. I'm hoping to buy a machine that will easily last 6+ years that will be used almost exclusively for this purpose.

    Thanks in advance for your help!
  2. Darmok N Jalad macrumors 68000

    Darmok N Jalad

    Sep 26, 2017
    Welcome aboard!

    1. If you are dead set on the 21.5" iMac, keep in mind that the RAM is non-upgradable, so what you order is what you're stuck with, and Adobe recommends at least 8GB for Premier CC. I say go with 16GB for sure.
    2. Fusion drive pairs SSD storage with traditional spinning storage. While it's not as fast as going entirely with SSD storage, full SSD costs considerably more for the same capacity. Fusion drives will "feel" faster than just mechanical storage alone (most frequently used files end up on the SSD). The 2TB Fusion drive has a larger SSD, so it's also worth considering.
    3. Adobe doesn't mention video memory requirements, so I can't say. I suspect more is better, but that's just a semi-educated guess because you're dealing with 4K video.

    Do you have the budget/consideration for the 27" 5K iMac? It has upgradable RAM, and it also offers more powerful GPUs. The larger screen might be handy as well, though they do cost more.
  3. kschendel macrumors 65816

    Dec 9, 2014
    1) I'd say yes to 16 Gb, mostly because it's very difficult to add RAM to that machine (you basically have to take it apart). 8 Gb will probably be fine for now, but in 5-6 years with OS and application bloat? questionable.
    2) Yes, absolutely, but don't stop there. The 2 Tb fusion has a larger front-side SSD and will in general do better in more situations. The base HDD is slow (5400 RPM I think), only for people who have to save every penny.
    3) Don't really know to be honest.
  4. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    I doubt RAM is your limiting factor on your PC.

    1) 16gb of RAM seems like a good idea you will be fine with 8gb but I bet you'll want to edit 4K video in the near future even if you aren't doing it now.

    2) The 1TB fusion is a bit rubbish, the 2TB fusion is pretty darn good. If it was me though I'd pay for a 256gb SSD or 512gb SSD and use external storage for files and media.

    3) The more the better with video memory if 4K is somewhere in your future.
  5. paulryp macrumors regular

    Sep 22, 2016
    One and only tip is go with an SSD probably 512GB and use an powered external for media & photo library. At the very least the larger fusion as it has the 256 partition.
  6. tomscott1988 macrumors 6502a


    Apr 14, 2009
    If you end up getting more serious down the line you may quickly outgrow a base machine.

    Premier will quickly eat through 8 even 16gb depending on your project. Even the OS doesnt work particulary well on 8gbs when your using hungry programs like any of the adobe suite you machine quickly consumes ram.

    For price per £ when you start specing the machine up the 27" is better value for money. Because the ram is not user upgradable int he 21" you have to pay apple prices and it significantly adds cost to the machine. and also make sure you have enough for the forceable future.

    The nice thing about the 27" is you can upgrade the ram later down the line if you feel the ram is become a limiting factor. Buy the base imac 27" with 8gbs of ram and you can buy another 8gb or 16gb kit later on and the prices are roughly 50% of what apple charges.

    You also get the 27" screen which gives you more real estate for production and media consumption.

    If I was honest I would give the fusion drive a miss unless you go for the 2tb version which gives you a 128gb ssd with the 2tb and 3tb. The 1tb only gives you 24gb of SSD, 24gbs is just enough for the operating system and programs I dont think its a good buy at all. The 128 is better but its pretty small really.

    If budget is really a strain the one thing I would spec is a 256gb SSD. Use it as a clean boot and have your apps and possibly the current project on this drive. This should give enough room and give the performance that will make the mac experience a really good one.

    You can then add plenty of space externally through USB 3.1 or thunderbolt as either a fast scratch SSD for current projects or higher capacity HDD that you can use to archive, then buy a bigger drive to back it all up for safety. It also means you can add this later as you grow rather than buy it all at once for much more upfront expense.

    The 21.5" with 16gbs ram and the 256gb SSD costs £1719
    The 27" base with the 256gb SSD is £1839

    8gbs of ram is £80 or 16gbs is £160

    For the sake of £200 you get a lot more with the 27". Faster graphics cards which will help with rendering, the ability to upgrade your ram and obviously the 5K display with the extra real estate.

    IMO its a no brainer.
  7. kschendel macrumors 65816

    Dec 9, 2014
    The current iMac 1 Tb Fusion Drives have a 32 Gb front side SSD, up from 24. That's better, but I'd still recommend the 2 or 3 Tb Fusion, or straight SSD if you can afford as much as you need for your active files.
  8. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    If you can swing the extra money, get the 5k 27" iMac.
    You will NEVER regret it, once you own it.

    That said, I suggest the "midrange" model, 3.5ghz (has a 7600 CPU and better graphics).

    The 27" iMacs have RAM that you can upgrade yourself. Just get 8gb to start.

    I would recommend nothing less than the 2tb fusion model.

    A better choice would be the 512gb SSD (but you have to special-order this). Then add external USB3 storage as needed.

    DO NOT buy an iMac with only a platter-based hard drive inside. TOO SLOW. You are not going to like it.
    DO NOT buy an iMac with a 1tb fusion drive. The "SSD portion" is only 32gb in size. It will quickly fill up. When it does, writes will "go to the platter-based hard drive portion", and again, things will slow down.
  9. padams35 macrumors regular

    Nov 10, 2016
    1. YES. 8GB is probably good enough today, but it isn't user serviceable so if you want to get 6+ years you should upgrade today.

    2. YES. The 1TB fusion is actually usable, unlike the 1TB 5400rpm HDD which has a reputation for taking any excuse to enter beach ball hell. The only reason to get the standard drive is if you plan to boot from an a external SSD from day 1. That said the 4K 1TB fusion is only 'fair'. Unless capacity is more important than performance consider a SSD. (Also shame on everyone suggesting a 2TB fusion which isn't actually an option on the 4K)

    3. My personal rule of thumb says video memory requirements double every 3 years. Your current usage sounds like maybe only 1GB is required today giving a 4-6 year guesstimated lifespan with a 2GB dGPU. You could probably push 6+ if you nurse it along the final years but I'd suggest going for a 4GB dGPU option.
  10. cynics macrumors G4

    Jan 8, 2012
    1. You can get by with 8gb however 16gb would be preferable.

    2. The 21.5" is a little bit limiting when it comes to options. Many people would prefer the 512gb SSD and use an external drive for extra storage. I feel the Fusion drive is fine.

    3. With the 3.0ghz model do you get a choice in video card/memory? The MAIN thing is having dedicated graphics, that will make the biggest difference everything else is an upgrade.

    Personally I would save up (or whatever) and get a 27" a bit more equipped for video editing. The reason I say that is because I recommend shooting in 4k for editing and outputting 1080p. With little effort you get better detail and colors plus have more flexibility for even simple stuff (zooming, stabilization, cropping, etc).

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9 March 13, 2018