iMac or MacBook Pro for video editing?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by LOLZpersonok, Nov 2, 2014.

  1. LOLZpersonok macrumors 6502a


    Aug 10, 2012
    Calgary, Canada
    I want to get myself into the world of video editing and I need a powerful Intel based machine to do it. My HP Envy, which is based around an AMD APU, simply doesn't cut it, and will not be enough for programs such as Adobe Premiere and After Effects, and especially Blender 3D. I have plans in place to buy a new computer for this.

    In particular, I need two computers, a Windows machine and an Apple machine, each for particular reasons. This Windows machine will be based around a 6 core i7-5820K Haswell-E processor and DDR4 memory, but I've come to the conclusion that I'd benefit more from buying a Macintosh first. If you're curious, the reason I need both a Windows machine and an Apple machine is this:

    The Windows machine will be a powerhouse and will be used for running the Adobe Creative Cloud and for playing games. The Apple machine will be used for the same things (except for playing games), but it will also be running Mac-exclusive software like Final Cut Pro X with Motion and Logic Pro X. So, I will be getting the Mac first. But, I don't know whether I want to get the iMac or the MacBook Pro.

    Let me clarify a bit: I need one which has a quad core i7 and dedicated graphics. I won't go any less, unless the Intel Iris GPU is admirable when it comes to applications such as Blender 3D. I'm also looking for the most cost effective of the two.

    I did some configuring and it seems that getting a 21.5" iMac would be more cost effective in terms of power to price. What I've configured is a 21.5" iMac with a 3.1GHz quad core i7, 16GB of RAM and a regular 1TB hard disk. This model has the NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M GPU in it, and it costs $2,050. The MacBook I configured has a 2.0GHz quad core i7, 16GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. This machine, of course comes with the Intel Iris graphics and costs $2,100.

    This may sound stupid, but which of the two would be better for video editing, particularly rendering in Blender 3D? I've heard that Blender can be a harsh program on the hardware, but I've also seen benchmarks that the Intel Iris graphics are good for rendering.
  2. RCAFBrat, Nov 2, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2014

    RCAFBrat macrumors 6502

    Jul 10, 2013
    Montreal, QC
    Have you considered an i7 27" iMac?

    You'll be looking at $350 more brand new but only $10 if you go refurbished - that's what I would do if I were you.

    Blender is an awesome program but you need a decent Nvidia graphics card for rendering. The 775m is substantially better than the 750m in the 21.5" iMac and Cycles GPU rendering needs CUDA which is proprietary to Nvidia (Iris Pro gets you nowhere).

    Other big pluses:

    (1) more real estate when editing

    (2) add more RAM when you need it or can afford it - you need to max out the 21.5" iMac since what you BTO is what you have to live with forever but the 27" iMac are easy to add memory to (add 16 GB for a total of 24 GB when you get the chance)

    (3) the CPU is 10% faster (not counting turbo) and the HDD is 7200 rpm vs 5400 rpm

    As for the PC, build your own obviously but I would suggest spending more on GPU than CPU; I am building a PC for my son (will probably use Linux Mint for OS) and am looking at a Pentium or maybe i3 CPU paired with a new GTX 970 GPU and motherboard that will accommodate a second GTX 970 if my son needs more rendering horsepower. He has a Late 2012 21.5" iMac with i7 CPU and 16 GB RAM but is limited to Cycles CPU rendering since the installed GPU cannot handle the project he is working on in Blender.

    Best of luck!


    Edit: by the way, Blender does not officially support the new GTX 970 & 980 yet (coming in 2.73 I believe) but results with the 750ti (also Maxwell) have been impressive; while there is a way to get the 970 & 980 working and despite already very good benchmarks, I think the consensus is that these new GPUs will be awesome when Blender and the drivers are updated
  3. Zwhaler macrumors 604


    Jun 10, 2006
    I would wait for the next iMac revision. I'd wait for the new chips in the retina iMac to come to the non retina models. Expect better GPUs as well. If you're budgeting for an actual MacBook Pro with a dedicated GPU that will set you back about as much as a decked out 27". If you plan on seriously using FCP X I wouldn't recommend a display smaller than 24".
  4. LOLZpersonok thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Aug 10, 2012
    Calgary, Canada
    Thanks for the response. I have not actually considered a 27" iMac out of mere oversight. I will definitely be considering a refurb because they're cheaper and still good even if they aren't brand new. Let me go and check it out right now...Okay, so I'm looking at the 27" model you're talking about. Absolutely - When the time comes, that's probably the one I'll go for. More than likely, there'll be something else, but similar. That was one thing I was worried about with the 21.5" iMac, the RAM is very difficult to upgrade, and on the low-end iMac (which I wasn't even considering in the first place) it's impossible.

    With the custom build PC that I'll be building, I did not mention the GPU that I have planned for it. I'll be coupling the Haswell-E i7 with a GTX 980 as a single 980, for me, is better than having two 970s due to the case I'll be using being unable to accommodate two GPUs and I don't want to spend any extra on a new case. I'm sure by the time I actually do build this PC and actually learn Blender it will support the 970 and 980 GPUs. I knew right from the get-go to go with an NVIDIA card because of the CUDA cores in the GPU. Another reason that, even if I had the money, I probably wouldn't buy the 5K iMac because its GPUs are AMD based. I'm not saying AMD is bad; I have no issues with their GPUs, and for playing games, they're excellent. But I need the NVIDIA card for Blender rendering. This build, I must mention is going to cost about $1,900 and I want to keep it below $2,000. I'm already a little unnerved at the fact that I'll be spending $2,000+ on a Macintosh.


    By the time I have the money to buy a new machine I'm sure Apple will have already released new non-Retina iMacs.

    I realized that while I was typing out my initial post that it's better to buy an iMac. And I could totally see not wanting a small 15" screen for running Final Cut Pro X. When I use Sony Vegas on my HP Envy's 15" screen I have to hook it up to my 21.5" LG monitor to keep going. But as suggested by RCAFBrat there's a refurbished 27" iMac that is well worth the price when compared to the other systems.
  5. dianestory2 macrumors 6502

    Sep 16, 2014
    I would go with the iMac. The laptop format is a little too small for editing, in my opinion.
  6. Unami, Nov 6, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2014

    Unami macrumors 6502a

    Jul 27, 2010
    you might also want an nvidia card for after effect's gpu raytracing

    i would not count on any new non-retina imacs - except for maybe a low-specced 21.5" version. i expect them to follow the lead of the non-retina mbp - keeping the non-retina ones, but not updating them, until the whole imac line got a retina display. plus, the gpus on the new retina imac (and on the mac pros) are from ATI. (so, no gpu raytracing in after effects and no gpu rendering in blender on those machines). god knows what they were thinking when they made that decision.

    either way, one screen is not very much for video editing - if you want to preview your fullhd-video in 100% while editing, you'll need an extra monitor. and you probably want to see your video "big" while editing. it gives you a better idea what the final video will look on a big screen.
  7. rei101 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 24, 2011
    Get the 27" iMac, you will need it for 3D. Then, you can run PC software just fine.

    What I would do in your case is to get and smaller internal drive, probably between 256 and 500 GB, just because you use the internal drive for OS and software, the data will be external with a Thunderbolt drive.

    For video editing you will be fine, for 3D you will see you are just there, the more power you have the more complex your 3Ds you will create, there is never something called "fast enough" for 3D rendering.
  8. ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Feb 10, 2008
    Just to reiterate that at least a 27 inch screen will provide sufficient real estate, so you would want to add that to either. Its also best to have two screens when editing, one devoted to editing (the larger) and the other to everything else. The laptop will get quite hot to the touch when driving a bigger screen and rendering. I now use my rMBP with 27inch screen routinely for video editing, but if I have some heavy lifting to do I go back to my old trusty MacPro as its 15% faster and the heat doesn't bother it.

Share This Page