Retina iMac - Fusion drive suitable for 4K video editing?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Germac2014, Oct 21, 2014.

  1. Germac2014 macrumors newbie

    Oct 21, 2014
    Hi everyone,
    I currently own a 2010 21,5" iMac and as you can imagine, video editing isn't really fun on this machine anymore.

    I'd really like to buy the new 5K Retina iMac, fully upgraded CPU and GPU, but with a 3 TB fusion drive.

    I'm a freelance videographer (mainly for online video purposes) and would use the new machine primarily for 1080p editing in Premiere Pro, websurfing, occasional non-high-end gaming, light music production. I also wanna be prepared for 4K material, since this machine is supposed to last at least 3-4 years and 4K is surely becoming a new standard. We're talking about prosumer codecs (AVCHD, H265), no ProRes 4:4:4 or even RAW.

    I considered going all flash storage, but this seems to expensive cause I would also need an external RAID storage which would cost even more (going for the TB option would save 1000€ at least). Is the 3TB fusion drive really suitable for my purposes? Thanks in advance. Sorry for any errors, English is not my native language.
  2. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Apr 23, 2011
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    A Fusion Drive would give you roughly this performance:
    300-400 MB/s write and 700 MB/s read. These figures will go down when the SSD portion becomes full.

    For the sake of pure speed and reliability alone, I'd go for a pure SSD. You get better random I/O performance and also much higher sequential read/writes (700MB/s + in read/write for 512GB and larger SSDs).

    I currently operate a 4GHz i7, 32GB RAM, 4GB R9 M295X retina iMac with a 512GB SSD, and do heavy 4K work on it. All my projects are stored externally. I only move raw media and whatever I need to work on into the internal SSD and once I'm done with it, I move it back to my external drives (several 5400rpm USB 3 drives and a massive Pegasus R6 12TB array).
  3. joema2 macrumors 68000


    Sep 3, 2013
    Yes 3TB Fusion will work fine for that; I edit 4k H.264 video from a DMC-GH4 on a top-spec 2013 iMac with 3TB FD. Most of my data is on a Thunderbolt Pegasus R4, but sometimes I have used only the FD and it works OK.

    The CPU in your 2010 machine does not support Quick Sync. iMacs about 2012 and later have Quick Sync, which gives about 5x faster single-pass H.264 encoding. Believe me you will be very happy with the new machine, no matter what drive configuration you choose.

    You mentioned concerns over the price of a SSD iMac which would then force you to purchase an expensive RAID array. That is a valid point, as most of us have a budget.

    However video takes a lot of space. My crew shoots 400GB in a single weekend, and that is mostly 1080p H.264. Similarly-encoded 4k is about 3x that.

    If it is inevitable you'll run out of space on the 3TB FD, you might be better off getting a 256GB SSD iMac and whatever external drive you can afford. Just don't get a little 5400 rpm bus-powered USB drive, they are generally too slow.

    The Pegasus R4 is nice but there are less expensive options.
  4. Germac2014 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 21, 2014
    Thanks for your answers!

    I believe I can cope with those read/write speeds, Even if the speed drops, I think the main advantage is the overall improved system performance and responsiveness, thanks to the OS being stored on the SSD part of the Fusion Drive. The projects I'm working on rarely exceed 50 GB, so I think space is not the issue - but the smaller the internal drive is the more I have to worry about whether projects will fit on it or not (note that Bootcamp will also be used on the machine, so that'll use about 100 GB as well).

    So in conclusion I'd say the 3 TB FD is the biggest "bang for the buck" that I can get on a budget of 3200€ (including EDU discount). An external RAID array would easily add 600 to 1000€ to the bill and I'm afraid that's exceeding my budget.

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