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Good iMac for video editing?

editing post speed computer help

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#1 David Edward Keen

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 02:18 PM

 

27-inch iMac with Retina 5K Display

 

Is this a good move? The base model is about $2300 and while I am doing full HD now, I plan to upgrade to 4K at some point. It's not for a job, but I want a powerful processor and if I can use the cloud and/or a seagate external HD for storage, Perhaps this will do nicely?

3.4GHz quad-core Intel i5 and an AMD Radeon Pro 570 with 4GB video memory.

Comes with 8GB of RAM as standard, upgradeable to 32GB.

Comes with 1TB hard drive on the base model; up to 2TB Fusion Drive on the high-end model.

 

Thanks!

 

dk


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#2 aapo lettinen

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 04:27 PM

you will need at least 16GB ram to do anything with it, preferably the 32GB at least. memory is relatively cheap and you can change them by yourself, very easy to do. 

 

I have had a lot of problems with iMac hard drives, they tend to break about every two years, possibly because of the high temperatures inside the machine when in use. A ssd would be better for this type of machine I think. 

 

If doing editing, you will need a complete backup operating system on a separate EXTERNAL hard drive so that you can boot from there if the main operating system crashes down or the internal hdd fries. 

a Time Machine backup is not enough, you really need a full identical bootable copy of the system hdd so that you don't need to reinstall anything and will lose only minutes instead of hours or days if anything goes wrong or for example software/hardware change prevents the machine from booting up correctly (driver updates for example can do this sometimes). 

 

I personally use Carbon Copy Cloner for making this type of bootable backup system drives, I can just boot from external and all the software is working just like with the internal drive.

the best thing is that I can boot from external, and if the internal hdd is changed to new empty drive, I can format it with the now running copied external drive's Carbon Copy Cloner and use it to clone the external drive to the internal hdd and then boot from the internal. no need to reinstall anything unless there is some software compatibility problems present


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#3 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 11 August 2017 - 01:54 PM

Are you willing to consider anything other than Mac? With the new Ryzen Threadripper processors out, AMD is really putting Intel chips to the wringer, especially multi-tasking and video editing. With the new top-of-the-line RX Vega 64 GPU's coming out soon as well, an AMD hardware based Windows machine might well be a much better investment at this point.

 

While Apple is nice for its plug and play ability, it also comes with issues like the inability to upgrade, and the increasing worse Apple support that now relied on replace rather than repair techniques. With a PC-based system, you can upgrade the system when needed, and repair parts as they break down.

 

Oh, and the whole iOs vs Windows thing is long over - both OS's are perfectly comparable, safe, and reliable. I use a Windows based PC daily and have never so much as had a hard drive failure. 

 

But a core i5 is not going to work comparably to an i7 or even an AMD Ryzen 1800x chip. I believe i5 are 4 core max, where Ryzen is 8 core, and threadripper is 16 or 32 cores. The Radeon Pro 570 is okay, but it's a workstation class card - which sounds fine, until you realize that most workstation class cards are underpowered compared to their gaming counterparts - both AMD and nVidia do this.


Edited by Landon D. Parks, 11 August 2017 - 02:00 PM.

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#4 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 12 August 2017 - 02:30 PM

It really depends on your definition of video editing. I do it as my livelihood, so for me I need not only a fast system, but a stable one as well. An iMac wouldn't cut it unless I was doing very small projects with few to no effects. If you're cuts only, using small files like h264, you can get away with an iMac no problem.

When you start using commercial formats like Pro Res, XAVC-I and RAW in 4k, you actually need more CPU and GPU power then any iMac can deliver. The machine will just be at it's maximum capacity all the time and that's not where you want it to be.

In terms of building the best Mac system, I use a 2012 5,1 Mac Pro tower. They are phenomenal bases to work from, 4 PCI slots, 6 drive bays, 8 memory slots, 2 CPU slots, 1333mhz bus, I mean they're no joke. Sure, you can buy a PC that will be just as fast, but you kinda loose a lot of the 64 bit codec speed, especially with industry standards like Pro Res and such.

I bought my tower with 2 3.45ghz 6 core processors, 32gb ram, 1tb SSD boot and GTX 980 graphics card for $1800 used on craigslist. I installed 3 4TB WD black drives and raided them zero, so they get around 450Mbps, which is kinda on the low end for online stroage, but it works well. Total, I've spent around $2300 at most... something like that and it's a REAL computer that doesn't over heat, that works 24/7 perfectly and I can play Red Code in 6k in real time without even gumming up the works. Pro Res XQ 4444 12 bit 4k in real time, smooth as butter. Even XAVC-I 4k works fine after a lot of tweaing with things.

So if you want a real computer, PM me and I can get you in touch with my guy. :)
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#5 AJ Young

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Posted 12 August 2017 - 02:38 PM

If budget is your concern, then I recommend building your own Mac.

 

http://nofilmschool....editing-machine

 

A DIT friend of mine built his own and has been using it for the past few years.

 

NOTE: GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) is the most important part for any video editing system. DaVinci, in particular, relies heavily on a powerful and specific set of GPU's.


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#6 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 12 August 2017 - 05:39 PM

Building a Hackintosh was way cool around 4 years ago, but it seems a lot of the modern boards now don't have driver support. Plus, for every Mac OS software revision, you have to fix the drivers and prey they work. With over a dozen patches and hacks to make the machine work, once it's stable, you basically never update anything again.

Two of my closest friends swear by their Hackintosh's, but neither one can run the most recent software. So give it a year or two when things like web browsers stop working and that's the end of that.

The nice thing about Apple hardware is that, well... it's pretty much compatible for life as of around 2006. Once they went to true 64 bit hardware, it's easy to upgrade and make things work. The only caveat would be graphics card drivers, which nVidia just announced they will continue supporting on Mac OS.

This is why I personally recommend the older Mac Pro tower idea, because it's a tried and true machine with enough power to kick most new computers ass.
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#7 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 13 August 2017 - 12:46 AM

My biggest concern with investing in older hardware, especially older Apple hardware, is lack of upgrade-ability. How 'modern' is the Mac Pro from several years ago really going to be? Yes, for the time they ran very good hardware, but does it have expandable PCI-e 3.0? Does it support the latest processor socket?

 

I can't speak for how this might run on a Mac, but I recently completed an upgrade to my PC (Ryzen Threadripper 32-core, 2 x 1080ti GPU's, 65GB Ram), and I can say that I have experienced no issue playing back real-time. On this short I am working on for a colleague, I am editing DNxHR 444 4k footage. I'm currently, right now, playing back 2 streams of that in real time - not a single dropped frame. Could probably playback more without issue.

 

Conceivably, you could build my setup from scratch for about $3,000 - which is about what you are going to pay for an older Mac Pro tower running older-gen Intel CPU's, and most likely ATI/AMD graphics. Not trying to put you off looking at Mac, but I'd also just as highly consider a PC-based system. For the price, the performance cannot be beat by any off-the-shelf Mac Pro. Many people will say 'choose a Mac - it just works', as if to assume a Windows-based computer does not 'just work'. Having used PC's for over 20 years now, I can say that I have never experienced the issues that most Mac-enthusiasts say PC's suffer from.

 

The only real disadvantage in my mind is the lack of ability to export in ProRes on a PC (there are workarounds to this, but it's not pretty). But the reality of the matter is, no film was ever declined because it was not in ProRes format. You can just as easily export DNx format, and that can also be opened on Mac's. It's not as backward as it might seem on the surface. If you REALLY need to export ProRes, buy a cheap Mac book or something and export on that.

Just some food for thought....


Edited by Landon D. Parks, 13 August 2017 - 12:49 AM.

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#8 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 13 August 2017 - 02:25 AM

I mean there is absolutely food for thought on Windows, no doubt. Again, it really depends on what you're doing and what industry you're in.

If you're just editing for fun, it don't matter what you use or do. For professionals who edit commercial product all day, who have to be compatible with everyone, every codec, every camera, every connector type, every drive format, I mean literaly everything... ya need a computer that can work with all of those devices and software.

So that's what really separates the 'iMac' consumer editing system, with the "professional" world.
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#9 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 13 August 2017 - 02:44 AM

My biggest concern with investing in older hardware, especially older Apple hardware, is lack of upgrade-ability. How 'modern' is the Mac Pro from several years ago really going to be? Yes, for the time they ran very good hardware, but does it have expandable PCI-e 3.0? Does it support the latest processor socket?


Yea, but... those Mac Pro towers are amazing. If you owned one, you'd understand how good they are. I've never owned a "custom" PC that gets remotely close to the level of stability over the long term. We use to replace Dell and HP workstations every other year, but the Mac Pro's lasted us until the companies went out of business or the leases ran up.

Now yes, in 2017 they're getting long in the tooth so to speak, but they're so damn cheap and price vs performance using Mac OS, not much beats it, not even the newer Mac Pro trash cans. There are only benefits to running Mac OS, specifically things like Final Cut X, Pro Res integration and the plethora of other "issues" that always work their way into a windows enviornment. What always kills me about Windows is that at some point, I need to fix something that goes wrong. Not a big problem if you're experienced, but a huge problem if all you're trying to do is edit.
 

I am editing DNxHR 444 4k footage. I'm currently, right now, playing back 2 streams of that in real time - not a single dropped frame.


Yea, but that's easy, especially with double 1080 GPU's. I mean very few people run that kind of a setup, even for DaVinci. I honestly can't afford to do that, I have other I/O boards eating up my 4 PCI slots, I'd rather have 12 bit 444 4k monitoring and playback one 12 bit 444 4k stream, then have no monitoring and playback 2 or more streams.

Try transcoding your DNxHR 444 4k file to .h264, that's when you'll really start to use the power of the machine.
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#10 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 18 August 2017 - 06:23 PM

Just an update on a video I ran across. If you want Mac OSX, and are willing to do some work to get there, check it out: https://www.youtube....h?v=IAut2VGpDvo. It's basically a Hackintosh using Ryzen CPU's and AMD RX graphics cards. It's cheaper and better performance than more traditional Apple offerings. Once it's working, it works 100%.... Getting it to work can be a chore though, so warnings...


Edited by Landon D. Parks, 18 August 2017 - 06:23 PM.

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#11 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 18 August 2017 - 10:32 PM

It's cheaper and better performance than more traditional Apple offerings. Once it's working, it works 100%.... Getting it to work can be a chore though, so warnings...


It's actually lower performance then the Mac Pro tower that I run, by a fair margin. This is mainly due to the fact there aren't double processor boards available for this hack.

Getting it to work is a nightmare as well, I've done it and it's no fun. Plus, Apple constantly updates the OS, like monthly. So eventually you'll run and update and have a non-working computer. Where if you were on apple hardware, it would be a seamless update that would happen in the background.

The other problem that nobody talks about, is that when you build a Hackintosh, it has zero value. You're basically throwing your money into the trash because nobody is going to buy one used, so when you wanna upgrade, you will loose most of it's value. Buying a used Apple, you can resell it a few years later for not much less money.
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#12 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 19 August 2017 - 02:47 AM

I agree with most of what you're saying - except for the processor stuff - You don't need a dual core with Ryzen and Ryzen Threadripper (no reason to think thread-ripper wouldn't work if Ryzen base does), the thread-ripper has up to 32 processor cores, which exceeds even top of the line Intel Xeon dual processor configurations. Personally, if I was to ever want the OSX operating system, I would most assuredly go through this route. Apple hardware is just too expensive in the dollar to performance range.

 

Not that I'm in the market or anything, but since the original poster mentioned looking for something comparable to a top of the line iMac (not mac pro), this is a fair option if he is willing to do the work. Linus does say, in the video, that it outperforms the top of line iMac at less cost. This setup could just as easily outperform a modern Mac Pro replacing the Ryzen base with a Threadripper CPU, allowing access to 32 cores - which is vastly more than Intel even offers in its dual Xeon configurations. 

 

Yes, it's more work - and might not even be up OP's alley - but it does work and is stable once you get it setup. And the cost to perform ratio just skyrocketed. A system like this, dual booted with Windows, Linux, and MacOS would be a great combination. You could switch over to Mac when you needed it (although I'm not real sure when that might be - maybe for iTunes delivery or something that requires Mac software to encode). 

 

Edit: There is also another article which displays some alternatives to the current Mac Pro configurations. The comments are particularly interesting, and the entire article is worth a read. https://www.redshark...ple-workstation


Edited by Landon D. Parks, 19 August 2017 - 02:51 AM.

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#13 aapo lettinen

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Posted 19 August 2017 - 03:41 AM

Hackintosh systems can be extremely unstable depending on the specific system you are running. as far as I have seen it may be partially just bad luck if your specific hackintosh is unstable and the origin of the problems may be untraceable, you can never know if a system is stable or not until you have actually built it and tested it even if some other person has got good results with exactly similar setup with all the same components. My friend for example has a hackintosh which freezes dozens of times a day without any particular reason and theres nothing one can do about it, it seems.

 

I personally do the editing mostly from either proresLT or hq fullhd offlines (made usually via resolve to save hdd space so that I can use mobile drives for editing when not at office) or original XAVC or Prores files (4k or UHD) if the camera can record them directly. 

I can usually do all the editing with a slower mac, even a off the shelf one but for conversions and larger amounts of raw material and LTO backups I need to have lots of fast RAID drives (I am mostly using 6-drive Thunderbolt Raid arrays, the Pegasus2R6 ones) , normally two 10TB or 15TB raids per computer.

 

That said, if you really need to have a very fast computer so that you can edit natively whichever hard-to-decode camera format there is, you will also need lots of very fast hdd space to be able to read the data steam fast enough from storage in the first place. and that kind of material tend to take up  A LOT of hdd space so you will need both very fast RAID space for editing and you need A LOT of it: THAT will be expensive, even more so than building up the best cpu+gpu power editing computer possible


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#14 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 19 August 2017 - 06:09 PM

Aapo is 100% accurate and the AMD processor "hackintoshes" are a REAL issue because there is NO OS graphics support.
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