Need to upgrade my mid 2010 Mac Pro for 4K video - How do new iMacs stack up?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by rossgrant, Feb 11, 2017.

  1. rossgrant macrumors newbie


    Jun 7, 2016
    Hi guys!

    I'm sorry if this is noob-like, but I'm not too knowledgable on processors for video editing, so could do with some pointers.

    I currently use Final Cut X to edit 4K video on my mid-2010 Mac Pro (big silver tower).

    I have a Quad Core Xeon 2.8GHz with 16GB RAM and a Radeon HD5770 graphics card.

    I can't edit 4K without proxy files - which take hours to create.

    I'm aiming to edit more and more 4K footage this year - I shoot multi-cam interviews.

    Each shoot is around 150GB of footage, so I need a Mac than can deal with this in the most efficient way.

    Any ideas on how much performance improvement I'm gonna get with a new iMac - particularly if there is a refresh coming?

    I'm also after advice on RAID storage solutions for dealing with such MASSIVE amounts of footage.

    I have 3 1TB drives in my Mac Pro currently, and I'm down to the last 150GB.

    What do people do to store old FCX projects and footage efficiently?

    I'm looking at stuff like the Lacie 2Big setups - but really need some help.

    I'm fortunate to have a pretty big budget for this - new iMac and storage up to £4000-ish, so I'm open to anything decent, that scales.

    Thanks so much for your time!

    Ross :)
  2. joema2 macrumors 65816


    Sep 3, 2013
    I'm a documentary editor and we frequently shoot three-camera 4k H264 interviews. Unfortunately there is no easy answer. I use a top-spec 2015 iMac 27 with media on multiple Thunderbolt RAID arrays, including a 4-drive 8TB Thunderbolt 2 RAID-0 SSD. Despite how fast FCPX is, I still have to transcode 4k multicam for smooth editing performance.

    For H264 the main limitation is CPU, not GPU or I/O. Your Mac Pro is even worse off since Xeon doesn't have Quick Sync to give hardware decode/encode:

    Even though you have a Mac Pro it's only a quad-core and the HD5770 GPU is not fast. The GeekBench 4 numbers are:

    CPU single core: 2600
    CPU multi core: 8000
    GPU: 10200

    By comparison my 2015 iMac 27 numbers are:

    CPU single core: 5126
    CPU multi core: 16277
    GPU: 85101

    And the iMac is still not fast enough to edit 4k H264 multicam really smoothly without proxy. However it is considerably faster than your Mac Pro, plus it has Thunderbolt 2 which your Mac Pro does not have.

    In general I'd suggest waiting for the next iMac 27 update which should be fairly soon, then evaluate that. The CPU will probably only be a little faster, likely using the 4.2Ghz i7-7700K but the GPU should be considerably faster.

    Another option is getting a top-spec "New" Mac Pro (2013 or later model) with D700 GPUs. However that will also likely be replaced soon, so it's not a good time to buy.

    You can build a Hackintosh with performance similar to the current D700 New Mac Pro for about $1000. Using a standard "recipe", this is fairly straightforward. However if you haven't built any systems, maybe you shouldn't try:

    From an I/O standpoint (assuming you get a Mac with Thunderbolt), I'd suggest the OWC Thunderbay 4, plus SoftRAID: Or Thunderbay 4 Mini with your own SSDs:

    Of course all that requires backing up so whatever storage you get, you need at least 2x that for backup.

    £4000 (about $5000 USD) really isn't that much for a robust editing machine plus storage plus backups. A top-spec 2015 iMac 27 with 3rd party 32GB RAM is $3339, so in theory you could almost get that plus two 8TB Thunderbay 4 arrays (one primary, one backup). However you'd need SoftRAID which is $180:

    At a minimum I'd suggest waiting to see how the new iMac 27 looks. Editing multicam H264 4k is just plain hard, and there is no easy or cheap way to do it. Doing it without transcoding is even harder and would require the fastest possible machine, and not a 4 or 6 core New Mac Pro, much less a 2010 Mac Pro.
  3. rossgrant thread starter macrumors newbie


    Jun 7, 2016
    THANKS SO MUCH for such a detailed reply Joe - massively appreciate it.

    I can probably stretch the budget a little further if necessary, but I'm definitely thinking the next refresh of iMacs would be a good fit for me, with an external cage of HD's for storage.

    Those benchmark scores leave my current Mac Pro quite far behind.

    I just need Apple to hurry up and release them!

    Will keep you posted on which way I go. :)

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