Video-Editing Mac; Purchase advice, first mac

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Mutton, Apr 22, 2009.

  1. Mutton macrumors newbie

    Mutton

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2009
    Location:
    Australia
    #1
    Been lurking for awhile trying to draw conclusions but like clockwork I wouldn't mind having my situation addressed directly.

    Film-student, old PC laptop on the fritz, will need a new computer and due to extensive use of FCS2 programs at university etc. am opting towards a Mac product. Will be used primarily for video editing with Final Cut Pro 5 initially, eventually exceeded by Final Cut Studio 2. Will need to run all programs comfortably, ideally lasting me +2-3 years. I'm a console gamer, so computer gaming isn't much of a concern.

    Looking to spends no more than AU $2500, focusing on what I need within budget that'll see me in good stead for a couple years. Also at this time I don't believe I'd need the portability of a laptop, prefer to get more bang-for-buck with a desktop.

    Would an iMac be my best choice?

    Currently can obtain a Prev-Gen 24-inch 2.8 GHz iMac, 2GB RAM with ATI Radeon HD 2600 PRO for AU $2114. Suitable?

    Can obviously upgrade RAM to 4GB later, haven't obtained a local price for RAM etc on that yet.

    Or would either of the Curr-Gen 2.66 GHz/ 2.93 GHz iMac be more suitable? They are priced AU $2299 and AU $2799 respectively for default setup.

    Top level iMac is out of my price-range (AU $3499), and MacPros are exceedingly expensive. Currently only Macbooks and Macbook Pros available in Refurb section.

    Would also appreciate it if an experienced video-editor could break down what components and aspects of computer construction are most important with video-editing and associated programs. Big purchase, big commitment, first mac, non-computer builder, like to know that I have all my facts straight.

    Appreciate any and all responses.
     
  2. Demosthenes X macrumors 68000

    Demosthenes X

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2008
    #2
    I do extensive video editing using Final Cut Studio on two iMacs. If I recall correctly, one is a 2.4GHz model with 3GB of RAM, and the other is a 2.8GHz model with 4GB. Both run Final Cut Pro without a hitch. We've been having some trouble with the older one not recognizing the Firewire capture deck, but otherwise, no complaints about either machine. I do highly recomend upgrading the RAM, though (4GB max in the refurb you posted, 8GB max in the new ones - 4GB seems to be the sweet spot right now).

    The graphics card will not make a difference in Final Cut. It will make some difference in Motion, but only if you're doing intensive 3D stuff. So I wouldn't worry about graphics performance much. :)

    One caveat: all of my editing is done in Standard Def. I can't comment from personal experience on how the iMac will respond to High Def footage. But my Uni's film department also uses iMacs for editing, and they do routinely edit footage in HD, and I have not heard any complaints from them about the iMacs not being able to handle it. So my understanding is that even if you're doing HD the iMac will be fine. But again, that's not from personal experience, so hopefully someone with first-hand experience working with High Def on an iMac can chime in. :)

    Like you, I am presently trying to decide if I want to spend the money and upgrade to the same 24" refurb iMac you're considering. In my view, it's the obvious choice, and offers incredible value for money at clearance pricing. :)
     
  3. Mutton thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mutton

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2009
    Location:
    Australia
    #3
    Thanks for the quick response Demosthenes.

    Glad to hear that both your iMac's run FCS comfortably, and I'd certainly upgrade the RAM to 4GB if I opt for a previous generation 2.8 GHz, just wanting to get a price from a local reseller since I rarely deal with online sales, especially with tech products.

    I'm using Motion alot more this semester but nothing much beyond toying with it's avenues for a few productions, but I'd like the option to be available if I want to take it further. All the rage about the current-gen iMac graphic cards that I've read on these forums may have skewed my opinion, glad to hear it wouldn't really influence FCP.

    I guess my only real concern then between the prev-gen 2.8 iMac and a curr-gen 2.66 / 2.93 iMac is the potential need for 8 GB of RAM later down the track. Would 4GB be appropriate to last for a couple years, running FCS2 and it's eventual successor?

    Majority of editing has been in standard definition, delved into HDV footage for a couple projects but it's likely to increase in the future, and likewise would desire the option to be available.
     
  4. Demosthenes X macrumors 68000

    Demosthenes X

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2008
    #4
    The older machine should last for several years, and deal with the next release of FCS just fine. I've done some minor editing on my Core Duo MacBook with 2GB of RAM, and it handles it without any trouble. A 2.8GHz iMac with 4GB should last quite some time before needing replacement.

    FWIW, we also have an old G5 iMac in the studio that we no longer use for editing. But we do sometimes use it to capture footage, and it still runs Final Cut like a champ. A bit slower than the newer machines, but perfectly servicable nonetheless.

    RAM for the refurb iMac should be pretty cheap. IIRC, the older machine also has two Firewire ports (1 x Firewire 400, 1 x Firewire 800) versus the newer machine's 1 x Firewire 800 port. You'll appreciate being able to plug in your camera/capture deck and a Firewire external HDD to use as capture scratch, I think. :)
     
  5. yoak macrumors 65816

    yoak

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2004
    Location:
    Oslo, Norway
    #5
    I bought the first 24" iMac that came out, 2,16 with 2gigs of RAM, 256 videocard.
    That was 2,5 years ago ( Isold it because of the need for a laptop as my iBook was getting old).

    I used it a lot to edit HDV and XDCAM EX HD footage and it had FCS2. It worked great without problems, the only thing that took time was rendering, but we have a MP in the studio for that.

    I used it along side the MP to edit 4 TV programs for national TV. The footage was HDV and EX XDCAM HD mixed and then we down converted it to SD.

    My iMac was almost 2 years old when we did this, so I think an iMac will suit you fine.

    You can then sell it down the road and buy a MP when the need comes
     
  6. Mutton thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mutton

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2009
    Location:
    Australia
    #6
    Cheers Demosthenes and yoak for your responses.

    Just noticed the extra Firewire port in the techspecs list; another plus for the pre-gen. Since I haven't ever bought a Mac I like to be assured of there model longevity (particular since my currently screwy PC laptop was redundant mere months after purchase).

    Very much re-assured to purchase the 2.8 GHz iMac (add AppleCare 3yr Warranty) as it sounds it should be enough to suit my needs as my first step to crafting a basic v.studio setup. It'll come with the latest software/operating system even though it's a re-furb/discontinued old stock, eh?

    -EDIT-
    Final Question on RAM; doesn't have to be Apple original, just as long as it is compatible?
    ( DDR2-800 (PC2-6400) 200 pin SODIMM... )
    So cheaper the better as long as it's appropriate, though anything from an authorised reseller or a local reliable computer store should be fine.
     
  7. Moocher macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2008
    Location:
    NE Atlanta area
    #7
    Within reason. Buy from a good source and triple check compatibility.

    P.S. if you have a good monitor, have you considered a used pro?

    Mooch
     
  8. Mutton thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mutton

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2009
    Location:
    Australia
    #8
    I'd considered looking for a used or refurbished MacPro, but none are available through the AU Apple Store and likely to still be well outside my price-range. I'm not trusting enough of ebay or other second-hand means to take them to serious consideration. Also, I don't have a monitor of any sort. Just an old screwy laptop.

    Had time today to check various stores and work some deals against each other, and have now come to some price conclusions;

    Pre-Gen 2.8 GHz iMac, 340BG HDD, ATI Radeon 2600, 4GB RAM self-installed and AppleCare - AU $2,450.

    Cur-Gen 2.93 GHz iMac, 4GB, 640GB HDD, Nvidia GT120 and AppleCare - AU $2,900.
     
  9. Babybandit macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2008
    #9
    Mutton, I'd be getting the new one personally. It's not just about if it runs, I'd imagine speed of Render and other speed, time is definitely a factor for you. As a student, every second counts when you're editing, especially with hectic deadlines.

    Secondly, there are rumours of a new FCP / FCS coming out soon, it may not require 8 GB of Ram, but it would definitely not be a bad idea to have it. 1) For better speeds, 2), Not really directly related to 8GB, but isn't the old one DDR2?

    I would definitely go for the new one, which processor? I'd take 2.93 over 2.66. But that's just me.
     
  10. Demosthenes X macrumors 68000

    Demosthenes X

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2008
    #10
    ^ Newer is certainly better, but is the newer machine worth $450 more? In my view, no. It's not a significant enough improvement to warrant that much of a price hike.

    IMO that money would be better invested in extra storage than it would be by buying a slightly better computer. :)
     
  11. Mutton thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mutton

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2009
    Location:
    Australia
    #11
    I appreciate all your great responses guys, been helping alot.

    I'm awaiting a few final suggestions from my university reliable tech staff/media support tomorrow, should be quite influential and knowledgeable. In all honesty I'll probably be compelled with their opinion on the matter, but feedback and suggestions here have been great. Gauging my universities iMacs (Prev-Gen 2.66 GHz, 4GB RAM) they seem capable and fast enough to suit my current needs. Only mild slow-down during operation of multiple heavy-programs and moderate rendering times. Unable to test such full capacities at the moment, but it's an obvious indication that either the 2.8 or 2.93 will be adequate.

    As it stands I'll be going for the cheaper 2.8, particularly since excessive cost of eventual software to add to it (have to grab either Office or iWork, potentially FCS2 Edu discounted etc) means my above figures still aren't the final cost. Still feel mild paranoia of 'future-proofing' my needs, and in essence a 2008 demo / like-new product.

    BTW, approximate exchange rates (1=0.71) have AU $ 2,450 = US $1,735, AU $ 2,900 = US $ 2,054.
    (Nicest beaches tax)
     

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