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Ryan Osika
iMac or MacPro
on Apr 3, 2012 at 12:46:16 am

Perhaps this is an old, tired argument, but I'm trying to decide whether to purchase a maxed out iMac or a MacPro. The iMac is much cheaper and seems pretty damn fast, plus I wonder if expansions for the thunderbolt port will make it even more of a likely option for professionals. On the other hand, I've always used a MacPro and loved it's versatility and expandability.

The reason I ask this in a After Effects forum, is I want to know what AE users have experienced. FCP isn't a concern. I'm confident it can cut HD video just fine on an iMac. But what about AE. Am I giving up too much?

Would love to hear your thoughts!

Thanks!
Ryan


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Walter Soyka
Re: iMac or MacPro
on Apr 3, 2012 at 3:44:57 pm

[Ryan Osika] "The reason I ask this in a After Effects forum, is I want to know what AE users have experienced. FCP isn't a concern. I'm confident it can cut HD video just fine on an iMac. But what about AE. Am I giving up too much?"

In my opinion, yes. There's relatively little difference between an iMac and a Mac Pro for straight editorial, since it relies primarily on system throughput and Thunderbolt is fast enough for that, but there's a huge difference for CPU-bound applications like After Effects or 3D applications.

You can buy better AE performance. All it takes is more CPU cores and more RAM.

A maxed-out Mac Pro costs a lot more than a maxed-out iMac, but the performance difference is huge, too. (See this BareFeats benchmark [link] where a mid-grade Mac Pro beats out a maxed-out iMac.)

That said, the current Mac Pro is a poor buy. It hasn't been updated since August of 2010. Intel has its next generation of processors in the hands of manufacturers now, and other vendors like HP have announced that new workstations should begin shipping later this month. Apple hasn't pre-announced its plans for the Mac Pro, but I'd hold off on buying any workstation for a few weeks if you can.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
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Ryan Osika
Re: iMac or MacPro
on Apr 3, 2012 at 10:55:33 pm

Awesome! Thanks very much for the response. That helps a great deal. I'm definitely holding out, wondering if there might be any announcements at NAB. I'm also debating the possibility of switching to PC. The cost appears to be much lower and since FCP 7 will likely be the last iteration of that software I use, perhaps it makes more sense overall.


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Stephen Townsend
Re: iMac or MacPro
on Apr 4, 2012 at 8:45:33 am

The question is simply - do you need the extra processing power or not?

You buy what you need for the job, simple.

If you're just editing standard HD footage (1080p max) and only doing relatively low intensive processing effects then a top of the range iMac is absolutely fine which is what I worked on for a while.

However, as I progressed as an editor and motiongraphics designer I found myself working on 3D jobs and working with 4k footage (4 times the size of HD and more than 4 times the file size).

It quickly became clear the iMac couldn't cope with the jobs I was working on and even now my MacPro needs upgrading to cope.

If you don't anticipate working on anything over standard HD or doing any 3D rendering then just get the latest iMac but if you think you might work with 4K footage or do some 3D rendering then I'd hold out for the new batch of MacPros to come out with the new intel processors and hopefully thunderbolt compatibility.


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