VideoEditors!! is an iMac i7 powerful enough?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by GuilleUK, Oct 30, 2014.

  1. GuilleUK macrumors newbie

    Oct 30, 2014
    Hi everyone,

    I've been menacing to get a couple of Macs for the studio for a while now. I can see us getting a MacPro at some point soon but in the meantime I think we're considering getting an iMac to do HD editing with Premiere and with a view to move to Final Cut Pro X completely next year once we have the MacPro. We will be using Photoshop and Lightroom quite intensively too.
    So we're thinking of getting a maxed out iMac 27' i7 (non 5K retina) as it would be a very good price and I don't think we need the high res screen for now.
    So the question is: I currently work with a 4 year old Windows i7 x980 6-core which it is still 'powerful', I guess the iMac will be at the very least more powerful than that? I might also add that performance (even though very very important) is not everything and we value space, stability, look, etc.....

    anyway!! thanks in advance!
  2. joema2 macrumors 65816


    Sep 3, 2013
    I edit video professionally using Premiere Pro CS6 on a 4Ghz i7-875k Windows machine with a GTX-660, also FCP X on a 2013 iMac 27, 3.5Ghz i7, 3TB Fusion Drive, GTX-780m.

    Yes a top-spec 2013 iMac 27 would do fine. However the new retina iMac is faster from both CPU and GPU standpoint. Its 4-core i7-4790K CPU is faster on both single-threaded and multi-threaded tasks than the 6-core i7-980x you currently have.

    Because of the retina iMac's extra CPU and GPU horsepower, in general I'd recommend getting that, even if you don't currently need the display. A top-spec 2013 iMac 27 would also work, but you can never have too much CPU & GPU when video editing.

    However both the i7-4771 CPU in the 2013 iMac 27 and the i7-4790K in the retina iMac both have Quick Sync video transcoding, which your i7-980X does not have. This one feature can accelerate rendering to single-pass H.264 by five times or more. FCP X and Handbrake use Quick Sync, I don't know about Premiere Pro.

    The recent Will Smith movie Focus was edited almost entirely on iMacs and MacBooks using FCP X. Here's an interview with the 1st Assistant Editor:

    Premiere, Avid, etc. are all timeline-oriented, file-oriented editors. By contrast FCP X is a database-oriented editor that uses a storyline paradigm. It is very different, so there will be a significant learning curve. I think FCP X is more efficient and faster because of the built-in media organization tools, but it's a big transition from other editing software.
  3. powerslave65 macrumors 6502


    Mar 21, 2011
    Sherman Oaks CA
  4. fathergll macrumors 65816

    Sep 3, 2014

    Curious why did you go with the fusion drive as opposed to an SSD? Do you edit internally with it or just have your files stored offline?
  5. joema2 macrumors 65816


    Sep 3, 2013
    It was mostly lack of planning. Most of my media files are now on an 8TB Pegasus R4 Thunderbolt RAID 5 array. An SSD iMac would be modestly preferable in that situation. However when I ordered the 2013 iMac with FD I was mostly Windows-based using Premiere Pro and wanted to evaluate the iMac on FCP X before I committed further.

    Closely observing the iMac's I/O during video editing shows it's not really hampered by the Fusion Drive. Most video editing tasks are CPU or GPU-bound, unless you use uncompressed raw video. The Fusion Drive's extra space vs SSD also allows more freedom to split the I/O workload between the R4 array and the FD. E.g, the FCP X library can be placed on the FD and the media files on the R4. Even a 1TB SSD is a little small for that.

    Somewhat offsetting this is you can't comfortably fill up the FD like the SSD without causing a performance penalty. SSD retains full performance up to 97% full, but HDDs (inc'l FD) slow down as they fill up.

    Given the disk array, if I get a new retina iMac I would order the SSD version. However the 3TB Fusion Drive does OK.
  6. GuilleUK thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 30, 2014
    Thanks for your comments guys! It reassures me to know that buying an iMac will be a good option! As I said, we will eventually want to buy a macpro but it might be next year when they introduce some new specs? (Likely to happen?!?!)
    This changeover PCs to Apple is quite a difficult decision for us as long time windows users.
    I was also under the impression (because of extensive online reading) that the problem with the new retina iMac is that the technology under the screen, even though quite fast, will start to feel old quite quickly in comparison with the screen and you can't use the screen as an external monitor for let's say a macpro? Is this the case with the non-retina iMac? Could you use it as an external monitor?

    Another reason to move to iMac an MacPros is thunderbolt. We would like to start working on external hard drives from now on for the flexibility they provide. So having only two thunderbolt ports on the iMac and considering that one of them will be needed for a second monitor, is this enough ports to work with several thunderbolt drives?

  7. Bryan Bowler macrumors 68040

    Sep 27, 2008
    You can use the screen for a non-retina iMac as a second monitor.

    You are correct in stating that the current 5K iMac cannot be used as an external monitor in the future. You probably read this already, but for the benefit of everyone's knowledge, the reason is because an I/O interface has not been created yet that can support the data flow that a 5K monitor requires. The new DisplayPort standard that was just finalized will support the necessary data flow, but an actual interface has not been created yet. Presumably, when Thunderbolt 3 is eventually released, it will be capable of supporting the new DisplayPort standard. Thunderbolt 3 is not expected until the Skylake processors are eventually released (estimated early 2016), but these release dates/specifications are not set in stone. Back to the new 5K iMac, an interface does not exist that can support the necessary data flow to use it as an external monitor, so that is the reason why.

    As for your question about two Thunderbolt 2 ports on the 5K long as the Thunderbolt devices you connect have two Thunderbolt ports on the back of each device, you can continue to daisy-chain Thunderbolt products two TB ports on the 5K iMac are enough to get the job done.

    Hope this helps,

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