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Am I being a sucker for Apple upgrade?

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Ben Winston
Am I being a sucker for Apple upgrade?
on Aug 21, 2014 at 8:58:24 pm

Hi there,

Quandry - my mid 2011 iMac does run FCPX 10.1.2, but I usually spend a second or so waiting for most things to happen - clips moved in the timeline, scrolling, etc. 10.1.1 was practically unusable - I had to use Memory Clean every few minutes just to get it to work - but since updating to 10.1.2 it seems at least functional, if not fluid. I work off a firewire 800 attached drive.

Now, I'd rather not fork out for a new, 27 inch iMac, but am considering it if it makes my life faster and easier. Basically, I can get a 27 inch, Oct 12 iMac with 
8GB memory, 
1TB hard drive and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675MX with 1GB for £1300. I'd buy another 8gb ram for it so I was operating on 16gb, but I'd love some informed opinion as to whether this is worth bothering with? I'm kind of assuming that my video card is what's holding me back on my current system, but I don't understand the interplay between this, processor and Ram sufficiently to be sure that I'm not just being a sucker for Apple's marketing. Please help!

If anyone can help with any advice, I'd be really grateful.

Thanks in advance!

Ben

21.5 inch, Mid 2011 iMac, 2.7GHz Intel Core i5, 24GB ram, AMD Radeon HD 6770M 512 MB, OSX 10.9.4


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Bret Williams
Re: Am I being a sucker for Apple upgrade?
on Aug 21, 2014 at 9:45:14 pm

You need to make sure you get i7 and the 680mx if you want to see a difference. And seriously consider 32gigs instead of 16. If you cheap out, you're going to be right where you are now in 12 months. And with the New MacPro out, who knows what Apple has in mind.


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Noah Kadner
Re: Am I being a sucker for Apple upgrade?
on Aug 22, 2014 at 12:39:25 am

Yeah I'd go new Mac Pro- it's light years ahead with the (dual) graphics card. Even a top end 2014 iMac doesn't really come close for GPU heavy tasks like well pretty much everything FCPX and Resolve do...

Noah

FCPWORKS - FCPX Workflow
Call Box Training


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Joe Marler
Re: Am I being a sucker for Apple upgrade?
on Aug 29, 2014 at 11:00:18 pm

[Noah Kadner] "Even a top end 2014 iMac doesn't really come close for GPU heavy tasks like well pretty much everything FCPX and Resolve do..."

FCP X is very render-oriented. I am constantly looking at red render bars for almost any editing change. The good news is FCP does this smoothly in the background. The bad news is it happens frequently. By contrast Premiere does many of these instantly in hardware via the GPU -- they appear as yellow render bars in the timeline. Yellow means GPU implemented.

Examining FCP X in iStat Menus shows these common rendering operations are CPU-bound, not GPU or disk bound. IOW FCP spins up a pool of worker threads which effectively harnesses all available cores. The more cores, the faster it gets done. It's a good argument for 8-core and higher new Mac Pros.

It's true sometimes I see lower CPU utilization and higher GPU. However the most common case is heavy CPU activity on all cores. In these cases no matter how fast the disk or GPU, you are waiting on the CPU.

Based on these observed behaviors, I don't see how extreme GPU performance would help. I understand how it's theoretically possible using OpenCL to further leverage the GPU, but I don't see this happening very frequently in 10.1.3.

In my personal tests of a base nMP vs a max'd out 2013 iMac, I don't see the superior nMP GPU performance translating to any huge real-world advantage on common FCP X editing operations. By contrast the iMac has a big advantage in single-pass H.264 export due to Quick Sync. I know that's not Apple's fault -- it was an Intel design decision but that's how it is.

I'd be interested in any further feedback or discussion on this point. Specifically I don't see the nMP's faster GPU translating to improved FCP X performance in many common editing operations.

2013 iMac 3.5 Ghz i7, 32GB, GTX780M, Thunderbolt Pegasus R4 8TB RAID 5


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