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Buying iMac for FCPX...Have???

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Dwain Williams
Buying iMac for FCPX...Have???
on May 25, 2015 at 5:15:03 am

Looking to buy a new iMac and my primary reason is to use FCPX. I will primarily be using FCPX for a videography side business. My primary business will be weddings, corporate, and music videos. I haven't purchased a Mac in a while so I need some opinions. (my current iMac is 2.93 Intel Core Duo/4GB Ram and using old Final Cut Pro HD).

Here are my options:

27" Retina
3.5 GHz i5
8GB
1TB Fusion Drive
AMD Radeon R9 M295X 4GB

27" Retina
3.3 GHz i5
8GB
1TB Serial ATA @7200
AMD Radeon R9 M290 2GB

From these two options, there is a $425 difference.

Questions:
- Is the better GPU worth the difference in price?
- Is the Fusion Drive or Serial the better option?
- The non Retina 27" iMac only has a 1GB GPU but obviously much cheaper...should this be an option?

From my reading, it seems that the GPU is the most important but I wanted to ask those who actually know.

Thanks in advance.


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Oliver Peters
Re: Buying iMac for FCPX...Have???
on May 25, 2015 at 11:55:43 am

FCPX does best with max RAM and GPU and an i7 processor over an i5. The drives are less important, though the fusion will probably get you better performance. If anything, in your options, I'd go for more RAM. At least 16GB. Are your choices based on available machines or budget?

Oliver

Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
Orlando, FL
http://www.oliverpeters.com


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Rick Lang
Re: Buying iMac for FCPX...Have???
on May 25, 2015 at 1:11:37 pm

Dwain, if you are not constrained by budget, I'd recommend you max out the iMac to extend its useful life by a few years for your video use. In other words, buy the largest GPU you can, and select the most internal flash storage you can (the whole machine will run faster with 1 TB of internal flash storage, faster than even 512 GB of flash). You can't upgrade these items in the future so best to max them out when you order the new machine. Memory, as Oliver mentioned, will be used by FCP X so 16 GB is the minimum but 32 GB would be an improvement. Again, you will greatly benefit from the fastest i7 processor, not so much from the fastest i5 processor; always go for i7 for any serious use such as video.

Rick Lang

iMac 27” 2.8GHz i7 16GB


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Gary Huff
Re: Buying iMac for FCPX...Have???
on May 25, 2015 at 2:02:32 pm

[Rick Lang] "Dwain, if you are not constrained by budget, I'd recommend you max out the iMac to extend its useful life by a few years for your video use. In other words, buy the largest GPU you can, and select the most internal flash storage you can (the whole machine will run faster with 1 TB of internal flash storage, faster than even 512 GB of flash)."

I definitely second Rick's suggestion here. Back in late 2013, I purchased a 15" MacBook Pro Retina display and maxed it completely out (i7 2.6GHz, 16GB RAM, 1TB of SSD space, the 750M with 2GB). Now Apple has refreshed it and yet mine is still quite viable as the new one has the same processor family and AMD GPU tech from 2012 (remains to be seen if it performs significantly over the 750M in FCPX).


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Dwain Williams
Re: Buying iMac for FCPX...Have???
on May 25, 2015 at 3:41:38 pm

Thanks so much for all your replies.

I forgot to mention that I am definitely upgrading the RAM. I plan on buying through Other World Computing due to price compared to Apple. Is this a good choice?

Oliver/Rick, I guess my choice is based on both but more so on budget. I also need to purchase software, external hard drive, etc. Looks like I can upgrade to the i7 for $225…do you think that is a good investment for the price?

Gary, I’m probably in the minority due to actually enjoying editing on a laptop. Would it be wise to go this route even if portability isn’t my number one need?

Thanks again. I’m looking to order tomorrow so I appreciate your quick responses to my first post.


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Rick Lang
Re: Buying iMac for FCPX...Have???
on May 25, 2015 at 4:15:22 pm

If the only updates you do are the memory and the fastest i7 processor, it will help FCP X.

Rick Lang

iMac 27” 2.8GHz i7 16GB


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Andy Neil
Re: Buying iMac for FCPX...Have???
on May 25, 2015 at 4:28:10 pm

[Dwain Williams] "Looks like I can upgrade to the i7 for $225…do you think that is a good investment for the price?"

You should absolutely get the i7. There is a significant speed boost between those two chips. Significant. Having had both, I would even go as far as saying that the i5 is ill-suited for FCPX.

There's not much of a speed bump between 3.3 gHz and 3.5, but there's a big one between the i5 and i7 chips.

Also, never worked with the fusion drive, but an SSD on your system drive is going to make a huge difference in app loading times for FCPX over a standard ATA drive.

Andy

https://plus.google.com/u/0/107277729326633563425/videos


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Dwain Williams
Re: Buying iMac for FCPX...Have???
on May 25, 2015 at 4:43:09 pm

Thanks, guys.

Andy, please forgive this terrible novice question but, is the fusion drive considered a SSD drive?

Thanks again


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John Rofrano
Re: Buying iMac for FCPX...Have???
on May 25, 2015 at 6:44:05 pm
Last Edited By John Rofrano on May 25, 2015 at 6:48:03 pm

[Dwain Williams] "... is the fusion drive considered a SSD drive?"
Yes, combined with an HDD. The Fusion drive is like tiered storage (which Apple calls Core Storage). It's an SSD and HDD combined into single file system. To you it appears as just one drive but the system is smart enough to keep the core OS files and files that are accessed often on the faster SSD drive and moves the files that are less often used to the slower HDD. What you get is the speed of an SSD with the storage capacity and cost of an HDD. Obviously, when you access files that are on the HDD is will take longer but the idea is that most of the time you'll be using the SSD storage. So it's not as fast as a pure SSD solution but not as slow as an HDD either.

I agree with others that a Core i7 is minimum for FCP X and get the fastest GPU you can afford.

~jr

http://www.johnrofrano.com
http://www.vasst.com



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Bret Williams
Re: Buying iMac for FCPX...Have???
on May 25, 2015 at 8:24:22 pm

The fusion is a 1TB sata drive, with a 250GB SDD attached which caches the most used files. In the case of a FCP X user I don't find it does much except launch your most used apps quicker and launch the OS quicker. Once those are launched they're in RAM so the fusion shouldn't be doing much. Quicker file access would be great but as an X user youre not going to use it much because your files should be somewhere else.

That said, once you e decided i7 is the way to go, and it is, so then Apple has painted you in a corner. You basically have little choice but to get the more expensive retina 27" that you can bump to i7. Fusion is the only choice. I'd just leave it at the 1TB is fine. 2GB will do for the GPU if you have to cut corners. But honestly once you've gotten to this point you really might as well bump the GPU for only $200. It's probably the most important ingredient. I've got a 2GB card and if I have FCP open and open AE, it will often tell me I don't have enough GPU. And if you want to use Resolve, it sucks up GPU like nothing else. Motion too. And Crucial RAM is a bit cheaper than OWC and should be fine.

You've got little choice. Apple has tiered it that way.


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Rick Lang
Re: Buying iMac for FCPX...Have???
on May 25, 2015 at 10:00:12 pm

Bret, I don't understand why you've said Fusion is your only option with the i7. You have the option of up to 1 TB flash storage, forget Fusion. Your overall machine will be much happier with the 1 TB flash storage. Using the term SSD instead of flash storage can be confusing. I find flash storage easier to conceptualizer as it's just a few chips on the motherboard rather than a typical SSD that plugs into a SATA connector on a daughterboard.

Rick Lang

iMac 27” 2.8GHz i7 16GB


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Bret Williams
Re: Buying iMac for FCPX...Have???
on May 25, 2015 at 10:53:20 pm

I meant you can't get a regular sata drive. Of course you could go higher, but he's obviously on a budget, but on the other hand there are some things you really will kick yourself for doing without. A good GPU and an i7 and minimum 16gig RAM would fall into those categories. So once he's made the jump to i7 then he can't get a standard sata. I didn't even imagine an SSD was even in the running. Unless you're putting your media files on the SSD I don't imagine it's going to speed much up. What files would be accessed while your playing back a timeline? Library, files, renders, they're all on an external Raid for me. And the app is loaded in RAM as well as the OS. Shouldn't fusion's SSD of 250GB SSD cover the most used files anyway? That's what Schiller was touting.


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Rick Lang
Re: Buying iMac for FCPX...Have???
on May 25, 2015 at 11:03:57 pm
Last Edited By Rick Lang on May 25, 2015 at 11:04:51 pm

Bret, you're right that 1TB internal flash storage may be beyond his budget and that's fine as you describe. I was just saying it can be a great option. Don't know his workflow and size requirements but if they are small projects that he does one or two at a time, then you can put everything internal on the flash and archive externally when completed. For larger tasks, putting the FCP X Project on the flash while the files are external may help. Anything temporary might work best on the flash if it fits. Of course this is true with the Fusion approach but you aren't so cramped for available space if you have 1 TB flash versus 256 GB.

Rick Lang

iMac 27” 2.8GHz i7 16GB


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Dave Gage
Re: Buying iMac for FCPX...Have???
on May 25, 2015 at 6:34:31 pm

[Andy Neil] "
Also, never worked with the fusion drive, but an SSD on your system drive is going to make a huge difference in app loading times for FCPX over a standard ATA drive."


I upgraded my 2011 i7 17" MBP a couple of years ago with a fusion drive as a media/edit drive by replacing the optical drive with a kit from OWC. I also moved the fusion drive to the faster boot drive position to get the faster connection. It's faster for FCPX than a standard spinning drive, but of course no where near an SSD. (At the time,I posted the benchmark results here at the COW, but I'd have to search for it you are interested).

I didn't buy the SSD because of the price back then, but I would today as the prices have come down so much. (Just watch out for that whole "TRIM" thing).

Dave


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Dwain Williams
Re: Buying iMac for FCPX...Have???
on May 25, 2015 at 8:33:11 pm

Thanks again, everybody.

When we are talking about SSD drives, we're talking about external drives...right? I assume you guys advise that I should edit from an external drive if I have multiple, large projects..


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Dwain Williams
Re: Buying iMac for FCPX...Have???
on May 25, 2015 at 8:36:15 pm

Not sure if I should start another post but here's another issue...

The last time i was doing videography, I was using FCP HD and using DVD Studio Pro to create DVDs, What are my options to create DVD/Blu Rays?


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Rick Lang
Re: Buying iMac for FCPX...Have???
on May 25, 2015 at 10:03:29 pm

Dwain, SSD drives can be internal or external. When Apple sells you the option to have up to a terabyte of flash storage, that's internal. But you would typically be editing from an external RAID that could use traditional spinning disks (HDD) or SSDs.

Rick Lang

iMac 27” 2.8GHz i7 16GB


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David Mathis
Re: Buying iMac for FCPX...Have???
on May 25, 2015 at 11:11:40 pm

Strongly recommend you go with external storage. There are plenty of options out there. You will need to consider what format and resolution you will be working with. I would go with G Technology, very good luck with those so far. I would recommend looking at what B and H Photo has, they offer a wide range of storage solutions that should fit your budget.


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Kristen Lambrecht
Re: Buying iMac for FCPX...Have???
on May 26, 2015 at 4:52:29 pm

Dwain, I am not certain if the information I received is valid, but I was told that only apple could upgrade RAM on the newer machines. Perhaps confirm that you are able to before purchasing.


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John Rofrano
Re: Buying iMac for FCPX...Have???
on May 26, 2015 at 5:51:40 pm

[Kristen Lambrecht] "I am not certain if the information I received is valid, but I was told that only apple could upgrade RAM on the newer machines."
There is what Apple wants you to think... and then there is "reality". It all depends on whether the parts are soldered in or have a socket. For example: Apple will tell you that you cannot upgrade the SSD in a MacBook Air. That's because it's not meant to be user changeable. However... I purchased an upgrade kit from OWC and swapped out the 128GB SSD in my son's MacBook Air for a 256GB one. You need special tools (e.g., a pentalobe screw driver) which OWC includes in their kit. So if OWC sells a kit to upgrade something, forget what Apple tells you and believe OWC.

~jr

http://www.johnrofrano.com
http://www.vasst.com



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Martin Curtis
Re: Buying iMac for FCPX...Have???
on May 28, 2015 at 12:18:33 pm

If someone was telling you that about the 27" iMac, you have been misled.
Apple even tells you how to do it.

Just buy the right RAM, and make sure it's quality RAM.


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