Mac Pro or iMac for Final Cut Pro X?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by macaddict23, May 10, 2011.

  1. macaddict23 macrumors 6502


    Jun 20, 2006
    MacVille, USA
    Regarding the current line of Macs, which of the two is best for Final Cut Pro X? The cheapest Mac Pro with a 27" display ($3499) or a fully-tricked out iMac ($3649)?
  2. jnash macrumors regular

    Apr 26, 2007
    an iMac is a nice computer but if your serious about video editing, its not even worth considering it for the job. Its a desktop with laptop internals so your better off getting an Macbook Pro and adding a 27" display... My next purchase will be a Mac Pro im not a proffesional videographer but after working on one ill never use an iMac for rendering/editing..let alone purchase one.
  3. aramosc macrumors regular


    May 4, 2011
    San Diego, CA
    Also the resale value of mac pros vs. imacs is very large. you will be able to sell your mac pro in a few years for pretty good money and the imac will be worth around 1000. That being said before I switched to a Mac Pro I had an iMac 24" that used and loved for 2 years. The imacs are great computers and are a pleasure to work on. and with the addition of thunderbolt it makes it a much more tempting purchase.
  4. Soura2112 macrumors 6502

    Jun 26, 2008
    A lot depends

    IMO it's how much editing will you be doing, such as size of the projects and if you will be working on many jobs at the same time. I only say this due to hard drive space. I was in a similar situation recently. I needed to upgrade my G5 and looked at all options. What sold me was cores and mainly hard drive bays, plus I really liked my G5 over an IMac we have, though an IMac is a great machine don't get me wrong. I keep a lot of info on my hard drives so I need the bays and internal drives are cheaper and faster, i just trust internal drives over external in life span (just in my experience, I'm sure others have different views). Though for a iMac it certainly takes up less room and looks very sleek.
    Also we really don't know everything about FCX yet, as long as your at 64bit then your good, which you are with both machines. Though I recall hearing in the FCX demo the cores in a Mac Pro will be used well, correct me if I'm wrong cause I'm not 100% sure.
    Again I really think it comes to hard drive space. My 1Tb first drive is down to 200GB because I have tons of pictures, music, movies, etc, the other bays run my large FC projects.
    Though I can only really talk about Mac Pros and my 2008 Mac Book pro for I only have edited on those 2 machines, I never installed FC on the iMac in our house, which is why I advice on Hard Drive space (well I edited on the old iMacs in 2005 at school, except those were very small hard drive days), Everything about the new iMac looks amazing, especially the model your speaking of.
    I love my Mac Pro, I have the newest model and if I were you I may want to wait a bit from the rumors going around, such as size of the machine to Thunderbolt, if that's a big deal for you. Last year I was getting fed up waiting for a new Mac Pro and almost just went with an i7 iMac, then at last the new Mac Pro came out and I got the 8 core. I also prefer 2 DVD bays.
    IMO it's all about hard drive space, since both machines your looking at are very fast. I feel your frustration in making the choice, it can be a hard choice especially at those prices.
    Feel free to ask questions, and I will try to help....While others may have much better advice, people here helped me a lot in pretty much the same problem.
  5. zblaxberg Guest


    Jan 22, 2007
    FCPX hasn't been released yet so no one really knows the spec requirements just yet :rolleyes:
  6. elisedriver macrumors newbie

    Jun 23, 2010
    ^ this is probably the most sensible reply I've seen on this board.

    The tech specs are unknown - with some people saying FCPX is more like FC Express, some people saying it far exceeds FCP 7. Until the facts are out, nobody knows.

    Of course, which future proofs the most is a common question :

    Basic entry level or top end specification?

    What's your driver - cash flow ? Productivity ? What's your timeline for replacement / ROI ? Is money really not the object ? Is bragging rights over having something the underlying reason ?

    What do you use currently - and regardless of which system you purchase, would you be happy still using that product until FCPX has been out a while and all the bugs and issues are ironed out ?
  7. nealgillis, May 12, 2011
    Last edited: May 12, 2011

    nealgillis macrumors newbie

    May 12, 2011
    In defense of the iMac

    I've been thinking about this a lot too, and while we have no idea what the requirements will be for FCPX, I'm confident the iMac will be a great machine for running it.

    Aside from the obvious multi-processor speed benefits offered by the Mac Pros, one of the reasons editors gravitated towards them has always been their expandability. The addition of Thunderbolt ports to the new iMacs almost makes this a moot point. Sonnet, Matrox, LaCie, and other pro-grade hardware makers are adopting Thunderbolt, and have some pretty nice things on the way.

    There's a good thread over on CreativeCOW about this very debate:

    I'm doing a lot of video work on a 17" MBP right now, and had always planned on upgrading to a Mac Pro this summer. More and more, I'm thinking that a pimped-out iMac may actually be the better way to go.
  8. andrei.barbuta, May 12, 2011
    Last edited: May 12, 2011

    andrei.barbuta macrumors regular

    Jul 26, 2009

    What I have heard regarding to your questions is this:
    1. FCP X will be able to run from a Mac mini to a Mac Pro the difference will be made by the sources that you use. For example if you edit a 720p or even 1080p on a Mac mini (i'm taking into account a 2011 update with Sandy Bridge) I think it will be ok. But if you have ambitions for 2K or even 4K then obviously the hardware will need to meet those demands.
    2. I read in a iMac 2011 review (Engadget i think) of the 27" high-end stock model that they threw at it 2K and it performed pretty decent enough, but obviously he who NEEDS to edit 2K and beyond will buy Mac Pro first of all because he affords too, and will probably go for the 12-core version too.

    My conclusion is that the iMac will do just fine from a consumer to semi-professional editor up to and including 1080p clips and on occasion that you will need to edit 2K and beyond material then you'll probably wiggle through. But when you reach that stage, you'll probably have the money to buy a Mac Pro anyway.

    The resale value of the iMac is pretty good. Who knows maybe you'll hire an assistant editor if your business works out, and he'll be able to work on your "old" iMac without any problem in the next 2 years.

    Just my thoughts.

    Update and correction, it was 4K not 2K so basically WOW:
    This is from the Engadget review:
    "In fact about the only the only thing that really caused a stutter was trying to edit a 4K video clip in REDCINE -- it was still workable, but we had to view it at half-res to get the preview render looking smooth. Hardly a deal-breaker." can read the whole thing here:
  9. LethalWolfe macrumors G3


    Jan 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    As a couple of other people mentioned, ThunderBolt closes a lot of the gaps between the iMac and the MacPro. Sure the MacPro will be faster, but that doesn't mean the iMac won't be fast enough for your needs.

  10. Soura2112 macrumors 6502

    Jun 26, 2008
    Not till june

    Yes the best answer so far is we really don't know what the specs for FCX will be, and I can't wait to hear more, all I know is from the video and blog. Though I have been waiting so long I will probally buy it day 1.... Well I like to research apps so maybe day 3, lol.

    Also it depends on what you throw at it. I was in the middle area, it's a serious hobby and a side business. Of course everything I use with my Mac Pro is not just FC, so I guess that also depends your purchase.

    Basically the same from my last post, I love expandability, that simple. Though I wish they would have had thunderbolt out for 2010 Mac Pros. it's not huge for me but the option is nice.

    I know this doesn't help much, just being in your shoes not long ago I want to help like others did for me.
  11. Feynman macrumors member

    Oct 2, 2005
    I know I am going to be purchasing one of the new iMac 27" machines to be running Final Cut Pro X.

    A quad core, 3.4 GHz i7 with 8 GBs of memory, 2 TB drive with a 256 GB SSD, will be a pretty sweet editing station.

    Until our needs grow, this machine will be more than enough horsepower :D
  12. TigerT macrumors newbie


    May 12, 2011
    Re: iMac having laptop internals

    I think it's important that we dispel this continuing myth that iMacs have laptop internals. This may have been the case with the earlier iMacs, but since the iMacs Late 2009 time frame they run the same processor, chipset etc. as a PC desktop would. The only remaining parts that would be considered "Laptop parts" is the graphic card, DVD drive and memory. The only one of these that would effect performance would be graphic card. All else would not. (even though its laptop memory the speed is identical to desktop memory) And base off another about Engadget testing 4k files on a iMac that didn't even have the i7 core processor. Of course there will be workloads that the Mac Pro will excel at over the iMac. But with this current of iMacs as well as Macbook Pros, that gap has shrunk significantly. And with the professional video and audio vendors supporting thunderbolt in the future, there will be fewer reasons for the extra cost of a Mac Pro.
  13. Feynman macrumors member

    Oct 2, 2005
    You mention that the graphics card is that of a laptop but what about the AMD Radeon HD 6970M 2GB GDDR5 chip? Is this still considered a laptop chip? Not that it matters to me personally, just wondering what your take is on this card.
  14. sl1200mk2 macrumors 6502

    Oct 17, 2006
    Yes, it's specifically a mobile graphics solution, albeit a higher end one targeted at laptop gaming machines. It's still a powerful chip, but about half the raw capability of the current generation (single chip) high end desktop cards. That said, it's more than powerful enough for "most" users needs outside of hardcore gamers, intensive 3D rendering, etc.
  15. sth, May 12, 2011
    Last edited: May 12, 2011

    sth macrumors 6502a

    Aug 9, 2006
    The old world
    Not really. As already mentioned, the only real laptop components the current iMacs use are the graphics cards, DVD-drives and the RAM modules (which are the same speed as normal ones, though). In the 27" model, you can get the fastest consumer CPU Intel currently makes and the machine can be upgraded to 16gigs of RAM for as little as $200.

    Anyway, I totally agree that the Mac Pro is still the best choice for anyone who does video production for a living.

    It's the fastest mobile graphics chip AMD currently makes, mainly targeted at "desktop replacement laptops".
    Performance-wise it's about as fast as some of the upper-mid-range desktop graphics cards, so it's actually quite powerful.
  16. Celtic Chick macrumors newbie

    May 12, 2011
    Final Cut Pro X looks amazing...can't wait for that.
  17. macnews macrumors 6502a


    May 12, 2003
    jnash since you are not a professional videographer would you mind taking advice from some one is? Save your $$$ and buy a new iMac and then buy the new Final Cut. I edit on both iMacs, MacBook Pros and Mac Pros. All can do the job and yes, a Mac Pro can do somethings faster. But for a lot of what I need and based on the new specs of the iMacs, they appear to be able to handle FCP (old version) rather well. When the new version of Final Cut comes out, while we don't know the official specs I would be VERY surprised if it didn't run just as well on the newly released iMacs. That is my opinion.

    Regarding hard drive "upgradability" - if you are a true video editor then forget buying a computer because you can upgrade your hard drive. This is now more true than ever with Thunderbolt. With video you burn through hard drive storage and the last thing you want is changing out hard drives all the time OR having a drive fail and you lose a project. I just looked up and a base Mac Pro runs $2400 but I would want it to have at least 4GB of ram and 2TB HD. That puts me around $2800 (not buying RAM from Apple) and no monitor. An iMac, upgraded to core i7 2.8Ghz comes stock with 4GB of RAM, upgrade to 2TB and I'm at $1850. Buy an additional monitor for $170, then add in a Drobo FS with 4TB of hard drive space (2 drives) for $850 puts me at $2870.

    So lets review:

    1. Mac Pro with some basic RAM and HD upgrades - $2800

    2. 21" iMac with core i7 upgrade, same HD upgrade as Mac Pro, standard ram, additional 21" monitor and a Drobo FS with 4TB additional storage and I'm at $2870

    I'll take option #2. I did leave off the $299 price of Final Cut X since that is the same for both.
  18. zblaxberg Guest


    Jan 22, 2007
    I edit in Final Cut Pro 7 on a quad core 27" iMac. 1080p HD video is not an issue. In all honesty the only thing anyone should be saying right now is that the Final Cut Pro X program will be utilizing multiple cores so the more processing cores you have, the better off you will be but I don't understand why anyone can pass judgement on this question because Final Cut Pro X is just an incomplete program right now. Apple has not finished it and there is no way anyone can choose the best specs for it. Just know that it will be taking advantage of multiple cores and I'm sure it'll be utilizing any extra ram so that it can render video in the background. Mac Pros are nice, I have one at work but for days when I edit from home my iMac does the job. Point being- spend a lot more money on a mac pro (don't forget you have to buy a monitor and speakers or) or buy an iMac with a built in monitor and fairly decent quality speakers for a lower price. Don't base it off of Final Cut Pro X. There are no specs released for it yet. Buy knowing that you will want it to last you the next few years. These computers have been able to edit video for years now it's just down to which one can do it faster.

    Was this post really necessary? The OP asked a question looking for an answer.
  19. mBox macrumors 68020

    Jun 26, 2002
    Future Proof

    You also have to ask yourself where you will be in a year or two.
    MacPro is always an obvious choice if you have to consider tech such as eSATA, SAS, graphics card upgrades, FC, etc...
    Our oldest MacPro 1,1 is still working with Avid and Protools.
    Our oldest Macs are G5s and their doing fine as print/media duplication workstations.
    I personally would get an iMac if Thunderbolt peripherals were out no later than summer. But my only concern is attaching another 27inch to the iMac due to the graphics card offerings. For FCS/FCX not a concern, but I also deal with After Effects and Maya.
    For offline and field we use a 2010 MBP. Runs Avid MC 5.5 flawless considering we use Avids DNxHD220 as base format.
  20. handsome pete macrumors 68000

    Aug 15, 2008
    First off, I want to echo what others have mentioned by saying that the original question is virtually impossible to give a qualified answer at this point since so little is known about FCPX.

    Having said that, it really comes down to personal preference and the scope of video work you will be doing.

    An iMac might suit you fine, but I cannot fathom using one for the work I do. The connectivity and expandability alone won't allow it, despite what Thunderbolt brings to the table.

    As for FCPX, I think I'll probably be an early adopter seeing the price and I don't do as much freelancing anymore. But for my full time gig I imagine I'm going to be on FCP6/7 for a while to come.
  21. FreshKosose macrumors newbie

    Jun 16, 2011
    Guys, I use FCP on location on my MacBook Air 2.13 core duo w/ 4GB - mostly for the built in SD reader because I shoot on my Nikon D7000. So I'm working with 1080P footage. It works fine. The render can be slow, but not much slower than my 2006 Mac Pro. Saying this, the iMac i7 would blow this out of the water. I too am looking to upgrade my Mac Pro to the new 8 core... but the iMac i7 looks so scrumptious....
  22. arjen92 macrumors 65816


    Sep 9, 2008
    Below sea level
    I agree, Final Cut Pro doesn't need that much power. You guys are all talking about 3D etc, but as far as I know (yes, I didn't read the entire thread, so I'm sorry if I'm giving a stupid answer) he only asks about Final Cut X. Even though we don't know the specs yet I assume it will run just as fast as Final Cut Pro on my 13.3" macbook pro.

    So the only problem with buying an iMac would be the hard drives. I edit in prores, which is not that intensive on the processor, but takes up a lot of hard drive space. So maybe you wanna go for a cheaper iMac but a huge thunderbolt external hard drive (preferably a RAID one).
  23. Zwhaler macrumors 604


    Jun 10, 2006
    If the question is whether the top iMac is better than the bottom Mac Pro then I would probably answer yes the iMac will be better just because it is a great machine. The Mac Pro would be better if you maxed it out but that is too expensive so the bottom line is I would research benchmarks and pull the trigger (gut instinct tells me the iMac will be better 3.4Ghz). That's coming from a 2x2.93 12 core user btw.
  24. mBox macrumors 68020

    Jun 26, 2002
    In the long run the iMac is not going to last as long as a MacPro specially a recent one. You cant upgrade what you want with the iMac. Were still using the G5 cheese graters at work along with a dozen MPs. One single iMac for browsing since the video card cant handle what it used to be for. If your looking at serious video editing, dont waste your time on the iMac.
    Great for home or admin staff ;)

Share This Page