Which *new* iMac best for HDV editing/Final Cut? (getting my first Mac)

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Kid A, May 1, 2008.

  1. Kid A macrumors regular

    May 1, 2008
    Hello all,
    I know HD editing has been discussed already here: http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=474045&highlight=video+editing
    but I am looking for a specific recommendation.

    Which of the NEW iMacs should I get if I plan to do HDV editing?? I will be editing some shorts, but also feature-length videos. (I'll be shooting on Canon HV20s, in case anyone cares).

    I'd like a machine that can very comfortably and gracefully handle HDV editing (No, a Mac Pro is not in my budget) in iMovie and, more importantly, Final Cut. I will probably get FCE to start out, but would like a machine that can also run FC Studio/Pro easily, if my needs should outgrow FCE.

    I don't want a machine that can merely "handle" HDV editing, but with a lot of slow, painful contortions. I'm willing to pay extra for an iMac that can do it effortlessly, but at the same time, I need to be sensible, and I don't want to overbuy.

    I'm sorta leaning toward either the...
    20" 2.66 GHz w/ATI Radeon HD 2600 PRO with 256MB memory for $1499 (it seems a shame to get the low-end with the puny gfx card),
    24" 2.8GHz for $1799...
    but I haven't completely ruled out the lower or higher end models.

    In either case I'll bump up the RAM to 4GB via Crucial.com or wherever.

    I'm sorta leaning toward the 24", but then you get into the whole thing where for just $150 more you can get the NVIDIA gfx card w/ 512MB (so, hell, why not?), and for just $200 more, hell why not bump the processor up to 3.06GHz? Bump the HDD to 500GB for a reasonable $50 and then you are at the top-end specs/price-point.:eek: And I'm wondering if that ends up being overkill?

    I don't plan on doing ANY real gaming, so is the NVIDIA gfx update even relevant (for HDV editing)? Would the processor bump from 2.8GHz to 3.06 be noticeable?

    Also, for reasons too boring to mention, I NEED to bring home an iMac FRIDAY evening, so it looks like I'll be heading to the brick & mortar Apple Store. Will that limit my options? (vs. ordering online and building-to-order).


    And PS-This will be my first Mac, not counting my gf's G3 iMac.:apple:
  2. MattZani macrumors 68030


    Apr 20, 2008
    I would suggest the 24", choose the 2.8Ghz, but upgrade to 3.06Ghz in options.

    But if your going to the store, then go for the top end.
  3. ukmacmonster macrumors member

    Apr 29, 2008
    First, and most importantly, you MUST get a 24" model. The 20" uses a much lower quality display panel and it will not be good enough for photo/video editing.

    If you've got an eye on the cost, I'd go for the 2.8 GHz with 4GB RAM and a 500GB HD. You'll kick yourself later if you run out of storage for the sake of $50. You can do without the fancy graphics card if you're not gaming. But it will certainly hurt the resale value without it. Remember, unlike the memory, it's not upgradable later on.

    Ah, you need it by Friday!!! So you can forget custom options. Your choices are limited to the full monty 3.06 GHz with bells and whistles or a stock 2.8 GHz with a 320 GB HD. Given that choice I'd get the 3.06 GHz for sure. Either way you'll need to upgrade to 4GB RAM, but that's an easy add-on later. The standard 2GB will get you going over the weekend.
  4. beast macrumors member

    Sep 13, 2007
    just get the best that you can afford :D

    It'll work out cheaper in the long run.
    For HD editing:
    Get the 3.06GHz (HD is very processor intensive)
    Get a large hard drive or a large firewire 800 external drive
    Max out the ram from a third party.
    Get the 24 inch (better pannel than the 20 inch and the extra real estate will be useful, especially for Final Cut Studio)
  5. ukmacmonster macrumors member

    Apr 29, 2008
    Resale values alone will justify the Nvidia 8800 GS, whether you actually use it or not. As custom options are out of the question for your Friday deadline I think it would be a mistake to buy the stock 2.8 GHz machine for your needs. I doubt the processor speed is a big deal, but the 320GB disk is really marginal for storing large HD video files. Even 500GB is marginal in the longer term and upgrading later will be much more costly. I've just ordered the flagship 3.06 GHz model with a 750GB disk so I don't have to worry about space for a couple of years.

    You should also think about your back-up strategy. I'm looking at a 1TB back-up disk, probably a Time Capsule.
  6. Kid A thread starter macrumors regular

    May 1, 2008
    Hey all-- thanks for the ideas so far.

    Are you all sure that the high-end iMac would be worth the price jump? (For someone not trying to overbuy that is; I realize having the newest/fastest always has its appeal).

    I definitely think I will have to talk my gf into letting me buy the 24"er.:D It seems like a good value when compared to the 20"er for $1499. You get the processor bump (slight) AND the extra screen real estate AND the better quality screen (although I know many would say there's no problem with the 20"er and I'm in no position to argue). Seems decent for an extra $300 ($1799)

    The next model up though is $400 more ($2199)... and you get a .26GHz processor bump (will I notice?) and the better gfx card (will I need it?). (OK, and a bigger HDD. But I'm sure I'll get an external firewire "scratch" drive in a few months anyway.) So does it really make sense for me?

    Also, This thread has me worried about the 3.06GHz proc running too hot and possibly dying prematurely --> http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=477628

    Regarding the gfx card, if it will only really benefit me when I resell... well, let me put it this way: I usually run a machine until it is DEAD. Unless my financial sitaution changes significantly in the next three years, I will probably never resell my iMac. So, am I right thinking the gfx card won't help with HDV editing?

    I take it the b&m Apple Store can't upgrade the gfx, HDD, proc in-house (like on Apple.com)?? I'm not certain regarding the proc and gfx just yet (more feedback please!), but it would damn sure suck to have a 320GB HDD when I could've had a 500GB for $50 more. But if that's all they got, I guess I can make do, seeing as I'll be adding external HDDs.
  7. Kid A thread starter macrumors regular

    May 1, 2008

    Regarding a back-up strategy, I am also thinking of (eventually) a 500GB or 1TB Time Capsule. And I'll probably get a 3rd part 1TB firewire HDD for my "scratch" video files. For the weekend though, I think I can make due w/o these two items.
  8. islandman macrumors 6502

    Sep 13, 2006
    Definitely go for the 24" model with 4GB of RAM. The video card, as others said, isn't that important if you're not gaming, but I say go for the NVIDIA anyway.

    My 3.06GHz is arriving Friday.

    As for your original question regarding whether the iMac is adequate, the answer is YES. I currently edit on my MacBook Pro with 3GB of RAM and I rarely have any frustrating times with it using FCE.
  9. Snoopsha1 macrumors newbie

    May 1, 2008
    This has me nervous

    I bought a 24" IMAC in March of '07...It's an investment for when I start my own production company. in college now; can only afford one big item every year and a half :-( The 1GB I can upgrade (around how much is that anyone?), but what do I do about the 2.16 GHz? Do I just walk into a Mac store and say ..."ummm...upgrade me please like Beyonce." And how much more would all this cost me?:eek:

    Do I need to/Can I upgrade my FireWire speed (800mb/sec); (is it obvious I'm a novice yet?):confused:

    And I hadn't even thought about a back up system! Geez..too late to change the dream now, I guess!

    I plan to buy a Canon xh a1 this fall if that matters at all.

    Please HELP! :eek:
  10. Gregory macrumors member

    Oct 1, 2001
    Detroit, MI
    Im a Professional Editor with FCP Studio 2, the best idea option is to get the fastest machine possible and as much ram as possible as far as the hard drive inside the machine 320GB is plenty, remember that the system drive shouldn't be use as a scratch disk for video editing. Always use an extra hard drive, one with 7200 rpms or higher and a large cache like 8mb or higher. I would go with a good firewire 800 drive for ext. storage with an iMac. I have two iMac work stations with that setup, for offline editing and it works great, But our two 8 core Mac Pros do all the heavy lifting. The graphic card does play a role in Motion, but the HD2600 pro in the iMac does a better job with motion than the nvidia 8800GS as of now, maybe nvidia will improve there graphics driver, but who knows and as far as the screen goes the 24 inch is the wiser choice for two reasons more screen for FCP and a higher quality screen as well. Good Luck. . .

  11. smoking monkey macrumors 65816

    smoking monkey

    Mar 5, 2008
    You Only Live Twice

    I just want to confirm this...

    Motion 3 works better with the 2600 pro (@256) GPU in the 2.8GHz 24" machine compared to the 3.06 with it's new and spunky 8800 GPU...???

    If that is the case then I should go for the 2.8 with 4gig ram???

    My situation background...
    I plan on using motion 3 a fair bit. I am still on motion 1 and my poor old 17" 1.5ghz powerbook is way too SLOW. It's beyond a joke now. I have to upgrade. and Mac Pro is impossible for me as space is a big issue. I thought about the newest 17" MBP but my eyes aren't what they used to be and 24" gives so much more screen real estate...
  12. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    Feb 12, 2007
    Neander Valley, Germany; just outside Duesseldorf
    I'd go with the 20" and buy a 24" second display for the 1080 work.
  13. ukmacmonster macrumors member

    Apr 29, 2008
    If you're going to use external drives for your video files, I guess the bigger internal HDD is much less important. But personally, for home use, I think it's more cost effective to spec a larger internal drive. From my experience, what seems like a gigantic HDD now, will be too small in 3 years time. My current 3 year old iMac has a 160GB HDD stuffed full to the brim.

    If you plan to run the machine into the ground, it will be more cost effective to get the highest spec possible. It might seem over-specified at the time, but it certainly won't in 3 years time. Remember you can't upgrade the CPU or GPU on iMacs, only the memory.

    Gregory - Out of interest, why shouldn't you use a system drive for video editing providing it's big enough to cope? I'm talking for non-pro work of course.
  14. ukmacmonster macrumors member

    Apr 29, 2008
    Yeah, that's going to be a massively cost effective solution. So let's see, you save $300 on the iMac and then spend $1000 on a second display.
  15. sfroom macrumors regular

    Apr 30, 2008
    Similar to the poster above that mentioned the HD 2600 PRO is a better card for Motion 3, I read an article which indicated that the ATI cards are faster for CORE ANIMATION EFFECTS, which Final Cut, iMovie, etc. most definitely use.

    For 3D performance, there is no comparison, the Nvidia cards blow the current ATI options from apple out of the water (with the exception of the FX5600).

    That beign said, if you're doing video editing, and you're on a tight budget, may I recommend the following.

    REFURBISHED 24" iMac 2.8Ghz, 500GB, HD 2600 PRO

    It's approx $600 cheaper (plus taxes) ($1599 vs. $2199 US) than the 3.06Ghz 8800GS.

    Buy expedited shipping, $43, and 4GB ram from OWC, $92, for a net savings of $465 plus the tax differential. I'm pretty sure next day shipping will get it to you by tomorrow. The refurbs ship from California vs. China. The refurb we bought last week made it to eastern Canada in 2 days.

    You get 2.8Ghz vs. the 2.66 of the 20", a better screen and more HD space.

    Then again, if you're going the external storage route, and are committed to picking it up at a b&m store, go for the stock 24" 2.8Ghz, 320GB, HD 2600 PRO for $1,799
  16. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    Feb 12, 2007
    Neander Valley, Germany; just outside Duesseldorf
    WTF are you talking about? You can get a 24" DVI display for $400. That way you have the entire display for 1080 viewing, and the 20" iMac display for clips and tools.
  17. cherry su macrumors 65816

    cherry su

    Feb 28, 2008
    24" 2.8GHz with RAM from Newegg.com (inexpensive & good quality)

    if you can pony up, go for the 3GHz with the nvidia
  18. smoking monkey macrumors 65816

    smoking monkey

    Mar 5, 2008
    You Only Live Twice
    2600 v 8800


    I read on a site a day or two ago about the ATI 2600 destroying the 8800 nvidia in motion.


    They were Mac pro GPU's.

    I'm pretty sure they are not the same cards even though the names are similar.

    There is no way they would have the same cards in their pro and consumer computers.

    anybody can clarify this?
  19. sfroom macrumors regular

    Apr 30, 2008
    I'm fairly certain that the old iMac 2.16 and Mac Pro's used the same GeForce 7300 GT, but not absolutely certain.
  20. D4F Guest


    Sep 18, 2007
    Planet Earth
    Mac pro uses 8800 GT while iMac is claimed to have the 8800M GTS installed. Two different cards.
    So I would be carefull stating that the 2600 will destroy it as nobody didn't even test them side by side.
  21. sfroom macrumors regular

    Apr 30, 2008
    If the ATI HD 2600 XT in the Mac Pro blew the Nvidia 8800 GT out of the water, I think it's likely that the HD 2600 PRO in the iMac would similarly outperform the 8800 GS in applications that rely on core animation (of which I understand Motion 3 is one?).

    As far as I understand, the PRO is a lower clocked XT, and the 8800 GS is a lower clocked GTS.

    Regardless, from what I read on barefeats, the performance disparity in applications using core animation has less to do with the hardware, and more to do with the drivers. This could be remedied over time.
  22. Battlefield Fan macrumors 65816

    Battlefield Fan

    Mar 9, 2008
    Well from reading your post this is too late butttt...
    Screen: if your into video editing then go with the 24" (we are moving into the HD era so the 24" supports the full HD resolution)
    GPU: Since your going to be working with video choose the 8800 GS. It WILL help with final cut performance. NOT just video games.
    processor: the 2.8 ghz is a really nice processor but the 3.06 ghz is a nice upgrade(consider buying if your going to be applying advanced filters to video or other intensive 3D menu or motion projects)
    RAM: Apple dropped the price on its RAM but i would suggest just going with 2 GB of RAM and then you can upgrade to 4GB from a 3rd dealer(cheaper but reliable) in a year(give time to save money and you may want more performance)
    Hard Drive: go with the 500 GB and you can always add hard drive through fire wire 800 or usb

    what ever way you went you'll enjoy it because the iMac is a sweet machine and it comes with the most stable and reliable operating system in the world. Congrats!:apple:
  23. trip1ex macrumors 68000

    Jan 10, 2008
    If I was doing serious movie editing I would get a Mac Pro.

    You don't need a 8000gt or gs to do video editing so save yourself some money.

    The reason to get a Mac Pro is simple.

    Memory capacity, hd capacity and 8 cores.

    Video editing likes memory afaik right? Well you start with a few gigs of ram on a Mac Pro and go up to 16 if not more.

    hard drives are easily added to a Mac Pro also. No need to bother with more expensive external drives or a time capsule. Just pop in a new one. I think you can put 4 in a Mac Pro.

    8 cores are going to be great for encoding purposes and will give you the horsepower you need to deal with hi-def video.
  24. smoking monkey macrumors 65816

    smoking monkey

    Mar 5, 2008
    You Only Live Twice


    that was my question!

    and actually, yes, they have tested them side by side. AND the 2600 DOES destroy the 8800. of course this is Mac Pro cards I'm talking about as I stated in my previous post, but I wanted clarification that there were indeed not the same cards in the Imac. obviously I suspected they wouldn't be the same but thought that maybe this "destroying" carries down to the Imac... I have no idea hence the question!

    But don't take my word for it because my word is worth about as much as a B&W G3 450MHz tower when it comes to GPU's.

    I'm specifically talking about motion btw.

    thanks to SFROOM for the good advice. That is what I was thinking too.

    I spoke to an apple dude and he reckons the size of the card is more important...therefore the 512mb Geforce GPU is much better than the ATI 256mb GPU. ???
  25. tommychan macrumors newbie

    May 1, 2008
    Please correct me if I am wrong:

    Why should worry to get a 24" model for a "full HD" view, you do not edit the movie in a full screen mode. Final Cut has all other parts such as timeline, bin and effects window. The actual area you can see for the video is just a tiny box on the top-right corner. I believe dual-screen is a better option so go and get a 20" and a second screen for bigger editing area. Then get a usb or firewire output device to connect a full-hd display for full screen full quality rendering preview.

    With the new introduced Final Cut Server you should not worry about the CPU speed too. just distrubute all your cpu intensive job to your other old computer or PC with XEON or Core2Quad which are all much cheaper to build.

    I would get a 20" 2.8Ghz iMac and add as much RAM as possible and save the $$ for those I mentioned above

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