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Mat Mayer

The new iMac is out, which version to get?

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The new iMac has just been announced. The 21.5 inch versions are not strong enough, so 27 inch it will have to be. That can have a 4GB AMD graphics card which I assume will breeze through 4K from a GH4. I will upgrade the RAM myself to 24GB (it can go to 32gb).  Unsure about which processor to choose between:

Option 1 - 3.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i5, Turbo Boost up to 3.9GHz

Option 2 - 4.0GHz quad-core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 4.2GHz (plus $250)

Both are Skylake. I am abroad so will be selling it in a year or so when I move, so no need to get the very best that will last longer. Just want something to smoothly edit 4k on that awesome screen for a while. The 2TB Fusion drive has 128GB SSD which sounds fine to me.

Price wise it seems to be on a par with the Lenovo P70 which would be a more logical long term choice for someone like me who moves around, but Lenovo sound like they suck at customer service and build quality, plus a 5K 27 inch retina screen versus a 17 inch laptop screen isn't even a comparison. Also selling a Lenovo doesn't sound easy to me, whereas you will always find a buyer willing to pay a fair price for an Apple.

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The new iMac has just been announced. The 21.5 inch versions are not strong enough, so 27 inch it will have to be. That can have a 4GB AMD graphics card which I assume will breeze through 4K from a GH4. I will upgrade the RAM myself to 24GB (it can go to 32gb).  Unsure about which processor to choose between:

Option 1 - 3.3GHz quad-core Intel Core i5, Turbo Boost up to 3.9GHz

Option 2 - 4.0GHz quad-core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 4.2GHz (plus $250)

Keep in mind that editing 4K smoothly on a quadcore machine means transcoding. So the higher the better. A problem might be thermal throttling : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJt3av99e8k

Both are Skylake. I am abroad so will be selling it in a year or so when I move, so no need to get the very best that will last longer. Just want something to smoothly edit 4k on that awesome screen for a while.

SSD will make a big difference for scratch storage. 

Also the machine comes with a weak sounding 2TB Fusion drive which only has 24GB SSD. Is swapping that to 256GB flash really worth it? (or upgrading to 512 for $200?). I dont mind long render times. Money is an issue as I was counting on the 21.5 being strong enough and I will be selling fairly quick, I assume extras depreciate more.

Price wise it seems to be on a par with the Lenovo P70 which would be a more logical long term choice for someone like me who moves around, but Lenovo sound like they suck at customer service and build quality, plus a 5K 27 inch retina screen versus a 17 inch laptop screen isn't even a comparison. Also selling a Lenovo doesn't sound easy to me, whereas you will always find a buyer willing to pay a fair price for an Apple.

P70 you can keep. Also the Thinkpad line has a very very different build quality and customer service than the one for consumers. If you go with the thinkpad you really want their world wide warranty with accidental damage protection. So no matter what you do to that computer, it will get replaced/fixed for free no questions asked. 

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It's good to see that new versions of iMac Retina screens cover DCI-P3 color gamut.

"The iMac's screen actually looks more vibrant than ever. Apple is using a new display tech on the 4K (and 5k) model that it says can show 25 percent more colors "

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I've edited 4K on my MBP and haven't really seen a problem with it. If anyone wants me to try like 12bit 4K shoot me a link and I'll do it right away. But like GH4 stuff is seamless on my machine.

I haven't edited 4K on a MBP, but with my laptop that has slightly better specs and Premiere, editing 4K H264 is not a smooth process. Of course it can do it but it is not as if I am editing 1080p. That means effects cause dropped frames, srubbing is jumpy and moving to a new location takes about a sec to show the image. And this agrees with what many people see too. Again, it might be specific to premiere. 

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I haven't edited 4K on a MBP, but with my laptop that has slightly better specs and Premiere, editing 4K H264 is not a smooth process. Of course it can do it but it is not as if I am editing 1080p. That means effects cause dropped frames, srubbing is jumpy and moving to a new location takes about a sec to show the image. And this agrees with what many people see too. Again, it might be specific to premiere. 

I'm also on premiere. You know you can change the resolution of the program bus to half and even lower while working as well. I'm still interested in testing my computer with higher bit 4K footage if anyone got any to share.

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I'm also on premiere. You know you can change the resolution of the program bus to half and even lower while working as well. I'm still interested in testing my computer with higher bit 4K footage if anyone got any to share.

Yeah I have it at 1/4 - 1/8 for both but still is problematic. 

In your experience does it feel the same as editing 1080p? Do you add any LUT through Lumetri color? Scrubbing?

 Maybe is a mac thing, or the XAVC wrapper cause I edit A7rII 4K H264 footage at 100Mb/s which is the same as GH4.  

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Yeah I have it at 1/4 - 1/8 for both but still is problematic. 

In your experience does it feel the same as editing 1080p? Maybe is a mac thing, or the XAVC wrapper cause I edit A7rII 4K H264 footage at 100Mb/s which is the same as GH4.  

I only have 4K footage from my LX100 available, searching online for at least 10bit 422 4K and I could do a real test right now. Could upload a screenflow clip jumping between 1080 RAW (bmpcc) and 4K once I get my hands on a clip.

 

EDIT: Found a clip shot with the BMPC 4K, downloading now. 

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I haven't edited 4K on a MBP, but with my laptop that has slightly better specs and Premiere, editing 4K H264 is not a smooth process. Of course it can do it but it is not as if I am editing 1080p. That means effects cause dropped frames, srubbing is jumpy and moving to a new location takes about a sec to show the image. And this agrees with what many people see too. Again, it might be specific to premiere. 

It's not specific to Premiere. I edit lots of 4k from the GH4 and A7RII on FCP X on a top-spec 2013 iMac. A single H.264 4k stream is mostly OK but for multi-cam, transcoding to proxies is mandatory. Fortunately FCP X has a totally integrated seamless proxy workflow. 

Re the OP question about what Mac to "smoothly editing 4k", this is a challenge on nearly any computer, esp. if multicam. But even for a single stream, remember that almost everything you do -- every effect -- is manipulating 4x the data. Applying effects that were momentary and quick on HD become slow on 4k, sometimes agonizingly slow. Some of these effects can be done on the GPU but it's up to the software and how amenable the core algorithm is to GPU-style parallelization. 

The bottom line is you want the fastest iMac you can possibly afford, and even that won't be comfortably fast for certain 4k operations. This currently means the late 2015 5k iMac 27 with 4Ghz Skylake CPU, M395X GPU and 16GB or more RAM. I'm getting one of these next week. I personally prefer a SSD boot drive but I have several Mac with both SSD and Fusion Drive. FD is OK but with 4k you will almost certainly have your media on a fast external drive, probably a Thunderbolt array. Since most of your data is external, a 512GB or maybe even 256GB SSD might be sufficient.

At least the new Skylake CPU has an improved Quick Sync on-chip transcoder which supports H.265 and VP9. In the future that will be important, esp for 4k. For reasons I don't understand Premiere still doesn't support Quick Sync, which can make a 4x difference in export and encode/decode operations. It is supported by FCP X and Handbrake. OTOH most Xeons do not have Quick Sync so no Mac Pro has that, regardless of software.

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Pretty much decided on the top spec version with 512gb SSD and upgrading RAM myself. Looked at loads of laptops today but none were right; either not as powerful or poor screen. The only ones with a decent screen are 17 inches and weigh a tonne, but had an issue like not upgradeable and poor hard drive. None ticked all the boxes. The more I read reviews, the more horror stories I see for brands like Asus and Lenovo. Its just not worth paying half price on a machine which might break when abroad. Customer service isnt UK standard out here in Thailand, laptops are bought from pretty dodgy stores.

The way I look at it is that it costs $3k for an iMac and in a year I will be able to get around $2k for it. So that's $20 a week for a beautiful machine, and I know from experience that I will be far more productive on it. The quality of my grading should be better too with the new screen color range; I have done some real crap on a laptop screen. My Premiere timelines are fairly simple, so I expect it will be smooth enough (RGB curves and some cross fades and dissolves). No idea when iMacs will be available here, but apparently the education discount is easy to blag here.

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The way I look at it is that it costs $3k for an iMac and in a year I will be able to get around $2k for it. So that's $20 a week for a beautiful machine, and I know from experience that I will be far more productive on it. The quality of my grading should be better too with the new screen color range; I have done some real crap on a laptop screen. My Premiere timelines are fairly simple, so I expect it will be smooth enough (RGB curves and some cross fades and dissolves). No idea when iMacs will be available here, but apparently the education discount is easy to blag here.

I took the same approach with a trashcan Mac Pro and a 40" 4k monitor, resale value is high and I'll get a lot out of it while I use it - I figure it'll cost about $20-25/wk if I keep it for 18 months. I can't stand the glare from iMac screens or I would have went with the retina. If they would just make a matte screen on the iMac...

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I have a top spec MacBook with the GeForce 750 1Gb and I edit LX100 4K files on it with no problem at all in FCP X. Of course, not everything is real-time and I have the viewer set to best-performance, not best quality. Color correction and some effects work realtime or enough fps. Multicam 4K I haven't tried and probably won't work smoothly!

With Macs you must get the cheapest or the more expensive. Sell it with some warranty time left and you will probably loose less than 1000$!!!

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