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A PC to Replace 27'' Imac for After effects.

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George OvcinikovA PC to Replace 27'' Imac for After effects.
by on Oct 22, 2014 at 10:48:12 am

Hi Guys,

I have been googling and reading for ages, read a lot of opinions about this, but could not find the answer to my question, so I've come to the place i trust.

Basically, I have an 27" Imac with:

Processor 3.4 GHz Intel Core i7
Memory 16 GB 1600 MHz DDR3
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680MX 2048 MB

I work with After Effects and Premiere, occasionally dabbing into Cinema 4d, I use a lot of Element 3d and work alot with video. My iMac seems ok, maybe I am expecting too much from it, but If my composition starts to be complicated, with Trapcode particular, Optical flares, then AFX slows down quite a bit. Am I expecting too much performance from my machine?

And now the most important question. I have come to the stage where I have to be on the move, so I am in need of a laptop, which should be at least as powerful as my Imac.

I am looking at something like this:

Dell Precision M6800
Intel® Core™ i7-4910MQ Processor (Quad Core 2.90GHz, 3.90GHz Turbo, 8MB 47W, w/HD Graphics 4600)
16GB6 DDR3L at 1600MHz
256GB 2.5inch SATA Solid State Drive
2tb 7200rmp Hard Drive
NVIDIA® Quadro® K4100M w/4GB GDDR5

The above is about £2000, so I would have to sell my Imac to get this.
Would a laptop like this perform well? I understand that a desktop workstation will always be better, but I am happy as long it would perform at least as good as my Imac.

Another option I have in mind is a compact pc:

Mini ITX - BitFenix Prodigy
Intel i7 4790K - (4 x 4.0 GHZ) - Haswell
Corsair Vengeance Pro Red 16GB PC3-19200 2400 MHz (2x8GB)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 - 4 GB - (MSI) - (PCI-E)
With both a 7200rpm 2tb, and a 250gb SSD.

I have always worked with macs, so I am really scared to switch to windows, but these computers blow my Imac out of the water, according to their specs.

Is Windows possible to work with smoothly, with no lagging or handing, is it as stable and reliable as Mac OSX? Is the notion that a PC will overheat, overclog a myth? Its a very important step in my career, as I would have to sell my Imac and switch to Windows straight away...

Please advise

Thank you.
George :)

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JP PelcRe: A PC to Replace 27'' Imac for After effects.
by on Oct 22, 2014 at 4:22:25 pm

Well first of all PC/Mac fanboyism runs deep. I wouldn't necessarily trust that every person even on the COW is completely unbiased. I have nearly the same exact iMac you do, and I can tell you that it performs pretty well indeed. Yes, it can get a bit slower if you are using a lot of 3D effects and optical flares, but that is to be expected.

As far as PC/Mac goes, I have used both fairly extensively. I can definitely say that while I hate the cult that surrounds Apple, I find OSX to be a smoother, more intuitive and generally less glitchy OS than Windows. (For the sake of specifics, I have used XP and 7 quite a bit, I have not once touched 8). Having said that, Windows can be a fine operating system if you take care of it. It's important to only install trusted software and not bloatware from random websites that will install all kinds of other nonsense on your machine. If you keep it clean, it should work great. There will be crashes and problems, but that happens on OSX as well. No OS is perfect, despite what the fanboys will tell you. It seems that many production houses are switching from Mac Pros to HP workstations, and while many people were nervous about switching from Mac to PC they have done it with little to no hiccup.

As far as what machine to go with, I have built a couple computers but I am not an expert on current ratings of which processor is faster, et cetera. It seems to me that the compact PC you list is about equal in power to the laptop, and with much less portability.

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Walter SoykaRe: A PC to Replace 27'' Imac for After effects.
by on Oct 22, 2014 at 7:41:02 pm

[George Ovcinikov] "Is Windows possible to work with smoothly, with no lagging or handing, is it as stable and reliable as Mac OSX? Is the notion that a PC will overheat, overclog a myth? Its a very important step in my career, as I would have to sell my Imac and switch to Windows straight away..."

I was a long-time Apple supporter, but I started bringing PCs into my little studio about three years ago. HP sent me a demo system which I have written about here elsewhere, and I liked it so well that I've bought several more.

As I moved to PCs for my every day creative work, I was very surprised to see how outdated and inaccurate my prejudices against Windows were.

With good hardware, Windows is stable and reliable.

Will your PC overheat? It could, if you don't have adequate cooling. If you buy from a reputable builder, this will not be a concern.

Will your PC "clog?" If you install a lot of software that always runs in the background, yes. This is also true on the Mac platform.

Are PCs cheaper than Macs? If you build your own, yes. If you buy from someone else, probably not. Personally, I value support and don't care to support myself, so I choose not to self-build.

Does Windows require more maintenance than Macs? I don't think so. I think many Mac users who levy this criticism at Windows are unaware of just how often they are force-quitting applications, repairing permissions, running Disk Warrior, trashing preferences, resetting NVRAM, etc. I don't do any regular maintenance tasks on my Windows machines.

Will the be a learning curve? Of course, at least a little -- Windows is a different system. Will you run into some problem you can't solve by yourself? Probably so, just like with Macs. Will tech support be a quick Google search or CreativeCOW post away? Yes, just like it is on the Mac platform.

In some ways, I actually think Microsoft is leading Apple on design right now. My Mac-using friends think I'm gone mad, but I bought a Surface Pro 2 as my personal laptop/tablet and I love it.

In short, I think that the PC platform is totally viable for daily creative work. I still switch back and forth a bit between platforms, and for me, the biggest problem is remembering to use my pinky finger for the Ctrl key or my thumb for Cmd.

If you want to test the waters, you could always install Boot Camp in your iMac and give Windows a spin with a Creative Cloud.

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
@keenlive [twitter]   |   RenderBreak [blog]   |   Profile [LinkedIn]

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Brad MagnusRe: A PC to Replace 27'' Imac for After effects.
by on Oct 23, 2014 at 1:52:14 am

I can't say anything specifically about the iMac, because I've pretty much (with a few exceptions) always worked on a Windows machine. Like Walter said the thought that a machine is bad, just because it runs Windows just isn't the case. I run a 3 year old BOXX Technologies machine that I've been extremely happy with. You might want to look into BOXX mobile for your budget:

The main thing I think you see as far as performance boost from your description above is the SSD and the 4gb video card. If you're iMac didn't have SSD, your OS and software will feel even more smooth. If you choose to go BOXX, the support is just awesome, and they know creative workflows and software pretty well if you ever need them.

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Matthew WoodsRe: A PC to Replace 27'' Imac for After effects.
by on Oct 24, 2014 at 1:24:10 pm

My advice would be to stick with Mac, if that is what you are comfortable with. I try to keep an open mind and not be a fanboy. I am not happy with the direction that Apple has taken their mac pros. Several years ago, I thought the grass might be greener in PC land, but my foray in windows was a total disaster. Part of it may have been the fault of the hardware. We got a Pro-Max One because they are advertised on the cow, and I thought it would be well tuned for Premiere/AE. The machine was trouble prone from day one. I don't think there was adequate ventilation in it, and it had a number of hardware failures. When it was working, it was nice and speedy but not appreciatively more so than my new iMac with specs not that much better than yours. (my iMac does have an SSD, which is the best speed upgrade you can give a computer these days.) That, on top of frustration with Windows prompted us to finally write it off as an expensive mistake, and we have moved back to mac for Editing/AE, using the Pro-Max as a test machine. (anyone want to buy a used, trouble prone Pro-Max one?)

If you are looking to replace with a laptop, Apple makes some of the best laptops around. Personally I want screen space to do After Effects work. You might feel cramped on a laptop, especially coming from a 27" iMac. I haven't tried one of the apple Retina laptops, but I think I would need something like a retina display on a laptop to make it bearable.


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George OvcinikovRe: A PC to Replace 27'' Imac for After effects.
by on Oct 29, 2014 at 11:36:05 pm

Hi guys!

Thank you all very much the amazing answers!
I've decided to keep my mac, but while I have to be mobile, to purchase a pc workstation and move it permanently to my other home. So my mobility question will be answered. I will have a workstation in both locations.

One more question, will PC and Imac be ok working on the same projects if needed? Providing of course, i install the relevant codecs such as QuickTIme on my pc.

Could you please have a look at the build i've attached and let me know if I'm going in the right direction.

Thanks a million!,

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JP PelcRe: A PC to Replace 27'' Imac for After effects.
by on Nov 3, 2014 at 9:20:36 pm

Back in the CS6 (maybe even CS5) days I would take a project from back and forth from Mac to PC with no issues whatsoever. I can only imagine it has stayed equally smooth. Just make sure you have all necessary fonts on both machines and the same version of any 3rd party plugins

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