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What is the best graphics card for me?

Singin Hobo

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jan 16, 2008
153
22
Texas
I’m a photographer and I’m going from a 2013 MacBook Pro to an iMac.

I’m bumping up most of the settings but I’m not sure about the graphics card. I do some small video editing, making 3-5 minute real estate videos. I will have a few layers of audio, some text or logo overlays and some motion tracking 3-D.

My question is, with those needs and given that I’m not a videographer and my needs are not likely to change a good deal in the next five years do you think the standard Radeon 560X 4GB of GDDR5 is more than sufficient for those tasks, or will the Vega 20 w/ 4GB HBM2 be a significant upgrade for doing those things?

I’m happy to spend the additional $300 for a 5 year machine, but I’m trying to avoid any pointless upgrade and this is the first machine I’ve bought that’s not just for still photography.

Thanks for your input.
 

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mikehalloran

macrumors 68000
Oct 14, 2018
1,900
513
The Sillie Con Valley
Any current iMac will do what you want although I would not recommend the Mini.

Photograph and video editing, however, are the two tasks that benefit most from (a) more RAM and (b) a GPU upgrade.
I do some small video editing, making 3-5 minute real estate videos. I will have a few layers of audio, some text or logo overlays and some motion tracking 3-D.
This takes time to render. The better your GPU, the less time you will need.

I would be looking at the iMac Pro. The base model is quite powerful and has a Vega 56 GPU. The Refurb Store has a large number of these right now.
https://www.apple.com/shop/refurbished/mac/imac-pro

Since effects and graphics like more RAM, too, this one with 64GB would be my first choice for what you want. In the Refurb Store, it's still $410 less than the regular price on the base model.
https://www.apple.com/shop/product/...82088ce7e3dc1ae450cc370518ed11209e9e16617d468

Do you neeeeeed an iMac Pro? Well, no... unless Time=Money, then, yes, really you do. Read all about it here.
https://www.apple.com/imac-pro/

If you have questions about the Refurb Store, here's a recent thread:
https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/refurb-store-experience.2189583/
 
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Zen_Arcade

macrumors 6502
Jun 3, 2019
333
422
If possible, go for a 27”, order the RAM separately (it is easily user-upgradable on the 27”), and get a 2 TB fusion drive (larger SSD portion makes it run faster).

For your uses, an iMac Pro is overkill. The base 27” comes with a 570x GPU, an improvement on the 560x in the 21.5”. You don’t need the Vega GPU based on your use case.

Also, look at the refurbished store - I saw the base 27” for $1376 (with the military/veteran discount on top of the refurb price).
 
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Singin Hobo

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jan 16, 2008
153
22
Texas
Thanks for the input y'all. I priced the 27" and buying my own RAM, but it was just less to stick with 21 and pay for it. I've always worked on a 15" MBP so it will be like working on an IMAX. Stuck with the Fusion drive as I will likely be mostly working off of a USB-C Flash Drive.
 
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Zdigital2015

macrumors 68030
Jul 14, 2015
2,689
3,291
East Coast, United States
Thanks for the input y'all. I priced the 27" and buying my own RAM, but it was just less to stick with 21 and pay for it. I've always worked on a 15" MBP so it will be like working on an IMAX. Stuck with the Fusion drive as I will likely be mostly working off of a USB-C Flash Drive.

I would really recommend stretching to the baseline 3.0GHz 27” iMac, upgrading to the 1TB SSD, adding 32GB DRAM and calling it a day. That should be more than sufficient for what your wanting to do with the iMac. The larger SSD will allow you to have plenty of storage without hanging your system drive off of a Thunderbolt 3 port, plenty of CPU and GPU power to work on both the photos you need to and to create your short videos. Total cost would be about $2499.
 
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Ledgem

macrumors 68000
Jan 18, 2008
1,891
723
Hawaii, USA
My question is, with those needs and given that I’m not a videographer and my needs are not likely to change a good deal in the next five years do you think the standard Radeon 560X 4GB of GDDR5 is more than sufficient for those tasks, or will the Vega 20 w/ 4GB HBM2 be a significant upgrade for doing those things?
I think the Radeon 560X will be fine for you, while the Vega is likely to be overkill.

I use my computer primarily for the same - photography and making videos (although I usually go for 15+ minute videos). I have an older iMac, late 2015 but with a Radeon M395X with 4 GB. Looking at graphics tests, the M395X scores better than the Radeon 560X that you're considering, but not by much. However, I've also used a 2017 Macbook for the same tasks, and while I had to disable some settings in Final Cut Pro to have it run smoothly, I was surprised by how little difference I actively felt between the iMac and the Macbook. (For photography I use Capture One Pro, hardware accelerated on both Macs.)

My thought is that, for videos lasting no more than five minutes (and assuming your videos are about the same as the average home walkthrough videos I've seen), the 560X will do you just fine. And if your needs change in the future, you'd theoretically be able to advance your graphics performance by getting an external graphics card through Thunderbolt 3, which could extend the life of your Mac further or at least provide a performance boost without needing to swap out the entire system.

With technology as it currently is, more performance advancement probably came from moving my image libraries onto a fast SSD and away from a traditional HDD than from changes in processor or graphics cards. Despite going for the Fusion-based system, it sounds like you already have that one covered with plans for a SSD to work off of.
 
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