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What To Buy? - Photographer/Videographer


macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jul 6, 2020
Niagara, Ontario
I desperately need to upgrade my computer. I’m a freelance photographer and videographer—dedicated FCPX user, doing lots of work in Lightroom and Photoshop.

I’ve been considering buying the impending Intel iMac, but I have some hesitations with the upcoming transition to Apple Silicon. I’d love to wait it out for the 24” AS iMac and spec it out, especially to see the benefits in Final Cut. But my current machine is suffering (and so am I), with much work to be done.

I currently use a Mid 2011 21.5” iMac, 2.5GHz Core i5, 16GB RAM, SSD, and a measly 512MB VRAM on an old AMD Radeon card.

I bought it when I was a budding hobbyist, and frankly I’m amazed it’s held on this long. But even working in proxies, 4K workflows are murder... editing RAW photos is getting harder and harder to manage.

I need to upgrade ASAP. Should I settle for the impending Intel iMac? I’m clearly not on a three year refresh cycle with my hardware, but could I hope to get even five years out of this last gen of Intel, as FCPX's development will be pushing into the AS ecosystem? Will the performance difference be that significant between a 2020 Intel and an the Apple Silicon?

My alternative consideration is buying a Mac Mini for the time being, then using it to run my home theatre once I can upgrade to an AS iMac. I wouldn’t want to spend much on a stop-gap Mac Mini. I’d prefer to go base model and bump the RAM aftermarket.

Obviously anything sounds better than what I’m using now, but is the Quad Core i3 Mini really going to cut it for potentially the next year or so of photo/video work? I know the GPU is not great. I could get an eGPU, but now I feel like I’m getting off track… I also don’t want to upgrade to a 6-Core i7 on a Mini if its ultimate purpose will be to stream movies and run old console emulators.

I've even considered just ordering the 2019 21.5" iMac (Bumping up to the 6-Core i7, Vega 20 GPU, SSD, and 64GB of aftermarket RAM), and just calling it a day.

I’m feeling lost and uncertain.


1 - How awful is the Mac Mini GPU for FCPX 4K workflows?
2 - Will a 2020 Intel iMac really hold up so poorly to Apple Silicon in the next five years?
3 - I'm editing in 4K on a 2011 single-core iMac with 512MB VRAM. 😂

Thoughts? Opinions? Prayers?


macrumors 6502a
Aug 1, 2010
The True North, Strong and Free
I’m into photo and video too , now as a hobby only, but I also want to upgrade my iMac. it’s a 2017 5k, but I want more power for 4K and hdr.

if they release a speed bump I’ll pick it up and keep it until the arm replacement comes out. if there’s no spec bump I’ll build a 24-core ryzen system with 128gb of ram and an rtx 2080 or 3080 with DaVinci resolve. or if they release fcpx for iPad Pro, I’ll look into that
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