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Best iMac configuration for 1080p editing in FCPX

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Jason Ferris
Best iMac configuration for 1080p editing in FCPX
on Nov 12, 2015 at 9:09:33 pm
Last Edited By Jason Ferris on Nov 12, 2015 at 10:02:29 pm

I hope this is the right forum for my question. I am upgrading to a new iMac in order to run FCPX 10.2.

I'm looking for the best power/cost ratio and want to avoid items that I won't use. (Like a 4K monitor.)

I shoot/edit minidocs that are distributed exclusively on the web. I shoot 1080p, not 4K, and don't foresee going to 4K for the next 3 years, at which point I would be upgrading both my cameras and computers.

My plan is to get a 21.5" non-retina iMac with the following specs: 2.8GHz processor, 1TB Fusion drive, 16G RAM.

I've read that the non-retina iMacs are not powerful enough for video editing. I also know that this model maxes out at 16GB of RAM. But if I'm editing 1080p only, do I really need more than what I've outlined here?

I appreciate any feedback!



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Craig Alan
Re: Best iMac configuration for 1080p editing in FCPX
on Nov 13, 2015 at 12:39:20 am

Any iMac will run FCP X.

you'll get more life out of the more expensive models and the upgrade to i7 is worth it.

USE OWC to max out ram and save the original ram for warranty issues and as trouble shooting back ups.

Get a thunderbolt raid for a media drive and a dock for bare hard drives for back ups.

The retina display is a great monitor regardless of using 4K footage or not.

Upgrading to a SSD drive will speed up booting and opening stuff.

You get what you pay for.

But any of the models will run FCP X.

Better models remain current longer.

The longer you keep your current one, the better the tech becomes. Always a new faster machine around the corner. Rumor has it Intel's new CPU chips will arrive in Macs next year. And Thunderbolt/USB-C will be much faster.

Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Canon 5D Mark III/70D, Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV40, Sony Z7U/VX2000/PD170; FCP 6 certified; FCP X write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Craig Seeman
Re: Best iMac configuration for 1080p editing in FCPX
on Nov 13, 2015 at 5:03:40 am
Last Edited By Craig Seeman on Nov 13, 2015 at 5:09:06 am

"Best" would be the top of the line with all the best BTO options.

27", Quad i7, 32GB RAM, 1 TB Flash Storage (SSD). AMD Radeon 395x. That woud total about $4099.
Add the Thunderbolt RAID as per the rest of your budget to use as a media drive.

Top 21" would be Retina, Quad i7, 16GB RAM, 512 GB SSD, But only has integrated Iris Pro GPU. That would be $2399.

The non Retina 21" models only have i5 processors so I wouldn't consider them. You can certainly edit FCPX on them but they may have a shorter usable lifespan as camera codecs demand more CPU processes and certain features push GPU resources as well.


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Joe Marler
Re: Best iMac configuration for 1080p editing in FCPX
on Nov 13, 2015 at 10:36:31 am

[Jason Ferris] "upgrading to a new iMac in order to run FCPX 10.2.

I'm looking for the best power/cost ratio and want to avoid items that I won't use. (Like a 4K monitor.)

I shoot/edit minidocs that are distributed exclusively on the web. I shoot 1080p, not 4K, and don't foresee going to 4K for the next 3 years,"


Virtually anything can edit modest amounts of 1080p. I do that on my 2013 MacBook Air. However even at "only" 1080p, certain FCP X effects are very slow and computationally-intensive, e.g, stabilization, noise reduction, etc.

You don't need a retina screen for 1080 or even 4k editing. However retina screens are much nicer -- even text is far more crisp and clear.

FCP X can usually edit camera-native H264 fairly well. GoPro video can be a bit laggy. If you will ever be editing multicam material that stresses the hardware a lot more. You can transcode to proxy or optimized media in FCP X but that uses more space, maybe 8x the space for optimized material vs H264 camera native.

My group distributes only in 720 or 1080 but we now shoot exclusively in 4k because of the advantages it provides: shot reframing in post, zoom/pans in post, more cropping margin for digital stabilization, each frame is an 8 megapixel still usable separately, etc. The tradeoff is editing 4k takes the highest end hardware you can possibly obtain. OTOH a top-spec iMac 27 is quite expensive and if you positively will not be editing 4k (meaning no 4k cell phone video) and only modest amounts of 1080p for three years, a lower-end iMac might be more cost effective.

Here is a good summary of 4k benefits for lower-res distribution:







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Jason Ferris
Re: Best iMac configuration for 1080p editing in FCPX
on Nov 13, 2015 at 4:01:15 pm

Thank you for the replies. Native H264 editing would be new for me. I'm currently transitioning from FCP7 to FCPX and have been transcoding to pro res for years, so I don't mind this extra step. But based on your feedback I'm leaning toward the 21.5" retina so that I can upgrade to an i7 processor. It sounds like this is worth it.

Followup question: best cost/speed configuration for hard drive? Again, my main activity is video editing. 1TB Fusion, 2TB Fusion, 256 SSD, 512 SSD? I already keep most of my media on external drives, so am mainly concerned with speed.



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Craig Seeman
Re: Best iMac configuration for 1080p editing in FCPX
on Nov 13, 2015 at 4:15:05 pm
Last Edited By Craig Seeman on Nov 13, 2015 at 4:24:34 pm

[Jason Ferris] " have been transcoding to pro res for years"

If you're doing docs or long form, you'll be saving lots of time and drive space. FCPX does Optimize and create Proxies internally if you set it to so even if you have to do that, it'll be faster than FCP7. You'll be able to start editing while it transcodes. Not having to do it can be best if your system can handle it.

[Jason Ferris] "best cost/speed configuration for hard drive?"

Fusion is less expensive but SSD booting and starting FCPX is faster. Fusion, because of the way it's managed, is reasonably fast given how it manages the use of it's small SSD like space. Keep in mind that your media should still be on an external drive. SSD primarily impacts boot time and speed of program access. If you need to save a little or need more internal drive space this is one area you can compromise and go with Fusion if need be. SSD would be preferred though.



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Noah Kadner
Re: Best iMac configuration for 1080p editing in FCPX
on Nov 13, 2015 at 4:57:40 pm
Last Edited By Noah Kadner on Nov 13, 2015 at 4:59:10 pm

I'd also look into the external drive. A faster Thunderbolt RAID will really make a ton of difference in perceived speed vs. say a run of the mill external USB3 drive. For example:

http://www.g-technology.com/products/g-speed-studio-xl-thunderbolt-ev-serie... is pretty speedy. Or

http://www.promise.com/Products/Pegasus/Pegasus2

Also load up on the fastest GPU as that's where FCPX pushes the hardware the most.

Noah

FCPWORKS - FCPX Workflow
FCP eXchange - FCPX Workshops


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Craig Seeman
Re: Best iMac configuration for 1080p editing in FCPX
on Nov 13, 2015 at 5:18:42 pm

[Noah Kadner] "Also load up on the fastest GPU as that's where FCPX pushes the hardware the most.
"


That may be the Achilles Heal of the 21" iMac. The top of the line is only an integrated Iris Pro. As more things move into greater GPU use, it's going to become more important. If one's FX compositing and rendering needs are light the Iris Pro can be OK though. It depends on the type of post work you do in producing the Docs.



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Jerry Hofmann
Re: Best iMac configuration for 1080p editing in FCPX
on Nov 13, 2015 at 6:05:28 pm

Mama always said you can't have too much iMac when running FCP X. It uses every bit of the computer's power... so adding RAM, CPU speed, etc and certainly screen space all matters. You get what you pay for for sure here.

Jerry



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Craig Alan
Re: Best iMac configuration for 1080p editing in FCPX
on Nov 14, 2015 at 3:25:31 am

True but 4 grand for a non update able computer which will be old in three years seems a bit pricey. And unlike with a Mac Pro, the monitor goes down with it. Is there one configuration that is the relative best bang for the buck?

Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Canon 5D Mark III/70D, Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV40, Sony Z7U/VX2000/PD170; FCP 6 certified; FCP X write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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