iMac for Davinci Resolve?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by charlie.w.richards, Sep 18, 2016.

  1. charlie.w.richards macrumors newbie


    Sep 18, 2016
    I'm looking into buying a new iMac for editing/coloring/etc, but I'm pretty technologically clueless and have trouble wrapping my head around most of the info out there. I want to be able to run Davinci Resolve 12.5 (the free version for now, but eventually I'd like to buy the full version, or maybe Red Giant's Magic Bullet Suite instead) as smoothly as possible, so I wanna make sure the specs for the 27inch iMac I'm looking at is sufficient:

    4.0GHz quad-core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 4.2GHz
    32GB 1867MHz DDR3 SDRAM - four 8GB
    1TB Fusion Drive
    AMD Radeon R9 M390 with 2GB video memory

    Most specifically I haven't a clue about the graphics card, and I wanna make sure there's NOTHING in any of the programs I mentioned above that I find my computer struggling with. As for the rest (processor, memory), am I overcompensating? Could I go with less? I'd love to save a bit of money, but never at the expense of performance.
  2. Hank Carter macrumors 6502

    Oct 1, 2015
    Get the 4GB M398x.

    That said just be aware that the ventilation on the iMac is pretty mediocre ever since they removed the vents from the top of the case. Resolve is very GPU intensive so expect the machine to be running at full blast and the built in fans will kick in all the way to keep the CPU/GPU from overheating.

    Depending on how many layers you are putting in your resolve script the iMac should be able to handle uncompressed HD and certainly Prores. A friend of mine just graded a short on his iMac that was shot on a RED with Redcode, but it was a pretty basic grade. Don't expect to do heavy grading on 5k and 6k footage on an iMac and forget about ArriRAW. It's running a mobile GPU, not a 1080.

    You may want to wait until October to see if there is an update to the iMac or Mac Pro.

    If there is an updated Mac Pro in October even the basic model would probably be a better choice. You'll get much higher GPU performance and better thermal handling, although the trashcan is nothing to write home about in regards to the later.
  3. IngerMan macrumors 65816


    Feb 21, 2011

    1TB Fusion has 24GB of SSD where the 2TB/3TB has 128SSD, minimum get 2TB. At those specs above why not get M395 or M395X and 2GB Fusion or better yet 512 SSD.
  4. !!! macrumors 6502

    Aug 5, 2013
    Also, get the cheapest amount of RAM possible from Apple, because you can buy 32GB of RAM for a lot cheaper than what Apple sells it for.
  5. NostromoUK macrumors regular

    Sep 21, 2014
    Hey Charlie,

    Im an Editor and Colourist who uses both an iMac and nMP with Resolve.
    It depends on what sort of work you will be doing. 4K, VFX and lots of nodes will definitely need the top graphics chip Apple offer on the iMac.

    I would wait until October to see if Apple refreshes the iMac!
  6. joema2 macrumors 68000


    Sep 3, 2013
    In terms of software efficiency on common tasks, FCPX is the most efficient, followed by Premiere CC, then by Resolve. To to perform a given task at certain responsiveness, you'd need faster hardware for Premiere then faster yet again for Resolve, else modified workflow. Dave Dugdale recently moved from Premiere to Resolve and he describes some of these, along with the benefits of Resolve:

    On a PC you can buy or build whatever amount of computational horsepower you need. With Macs is you are very limited on this.

    If you are only editing 1080p and will never edit 4k, then a top-spec iMac 27 might be OK for any of these editors. If you will be editing 4k or multicam 4k, then even FCPX is marginal unless you transcode to proxy. Fortunately proxy or optimized media is now part of all three editors (Premiere just added proxy). However this takes considerable additional time and disk space to ingest. Relative to camera-native files, proxy can be about 50-70% that size (in addition) and optimized media can be 5x to 8x that size. So if you shoot 200GB that can take 1 terabyte after import and optimization.

    I use Premiere CC some but usually FCPX. My doc group has shot only 4k for over a year. FCPX can handle that although it requires transcoding to proxy for smooth editing, and it's mandatory on 4k multicam.

    If I was doing heavy-duty editing with Premiere or especially Resolve, I'd have a custom-built Windows machine with an 8-core or above CPU, a GTX-1080 GPU and a large RAID array.

    If I wanted to stay with Apple, as of today I'd get a New Mac Pro or build a Hackintosh. Hopefully in the near future Apple will update both iMac 27 and Mac Pro and more options will appear. If they double the iMac GPU performance (which is conceivable given new 14/16nm parts from AMD and nVidia) that would help. However many tasks cannot meaningfully harness GPU-style parallelization such as encode/decode of H264 content. Other compute-intensive plugins such as Neat Video only support some GPUs, and some plugins like Digital Anarachy's Flicker Free use only CPU (not GPU) processing:

    I cannot overemphasize how demanding 4k is on the editing platform. This should only make sense -- it is 4x the data per frame as 1080p. You'd need a computer with 4x the performance to provide the same editing responsiveness as 1080p. So much of your decision hinges on whether you now or will ever during that machine's lifetime be editing 4k.

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5 September 18, 2016