Jump to content
Fredrik Lyhne

Which iMac 2017 for editing and grading?

Recommended Posts

I’m thinking about buying the new iMac 27 but I’m not quite sure what specs I should go for.

I don’t shoot professionally. I shoot with a GH5 and this will probably be my main camera for a few years. Most of my videos are between 1-15 minutes but sometimes longer, and I will make around 100 videos a year.

Currently I’m using a MBP 15 mid 2014 base model, the LG 5K display and a Lacie 2big 8TB set to raid 0, and backup my files on a another drive. This setup works but it’s a takes a while to transcode and render 4K.

I work in FCPX, but would like to experiment more with Resolve but that’s a bit heavy for my current setup. I can edit 4K files but as soon as I apply an effect it’s very slow so I transcode all my files.

Will I be able to edit and grade 4K files from the GH5 without transcoding with a new iMac (8TB VR version)? If not it would probably be better to save som cash and get the 4TB VR version?

I would really like to get the 3TB Fusion Drive so I could edit and store all my photos without an external drive, and would love to hear if anyone have any experience in doing this? That way I would get more storage for my video files and not have to connect the noisy Lacie when I just want to edit some photos quickly. Initially I was planning to get the 512GB SSD, but now I’m also considering 1TB SSD or a 3TB Fusion Drive. According to Larry Jordan the FD is good as long as you use external storage (which I do), but I’ve read many other places that it’s much better to get 256/512GB SSD.

 

I will install RAM myself.

 

Setup 1, 2299 $:

3.5GHz

512GB SSD / 3TB FD

4GB  VR

32GB RAM

 

Setup 2, 2399$:

3.8GHz

3TB FD

8GB VR

32GB RAM

 

Setup 3, 2499$:

3.8GHz

512GB SSD

8GB VR

32GB RAM

 

Setup 4, 2899$:

3.8GHz

1TB SSD

8GB VR

32GB RAM

 

Another option would be to keep the monitor, sell the old MBP and get a new one, but I’m not sure it’s powerful enough?

 

Setup 5, 2799$:

2.9GHz

512GB

4GB VR

16GB RAM

 

Which setup (or another one) would you recommend and why?

Thanks!

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
EOSHD Pro Color for Sony cameras EOSHD Pro LOG for Sony CamerasEOSHD C-LOG and Film Profiles for All Canon DSLRs

I am still using a Mac tower,had a look at the new imac specs and decided to wait and see what the new mac pros have to offer.

The "trash cans" have been poor sellers  so hopefully the new mac pros will be much better design.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So nobody looking to by the new iMac? 

How about the 2015 model if anyone has that one. Is transcoding GH5/G85 4K files necessary or is it possibly to edit and grade in real time? 

On 25.6.2017 at 5:24 AM, Aussie Ash said:

I am still using a Mac tower,had a look at the new imac specs and decided to wait and see what the new mac pros have to offer.

The "trash cans" have been poor sellers  so hopefully the new mac pros will be much better design.

Thanks. I know they're coming but it could be a year from now and they are probably gonna be to expensive for my needs. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It might be good to consider a hackintosh.  Here is a $70 hackintosh that outperforms a 2016 MacBook Pro and that can edit 4K video in FCP:

 

 

I am not a post-production expert, but every pro editor with whom I've worked always transcodes footage for optimal performance on their NLE -- they never edit compressed/camera files.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am also a FCP X user and I've purchased the top-tier 27" iMac with i7, AMD Radeon Pro 580 W/8Gb VRAM, 8GB Ram, and 512GB SSD. It should be delivered by 6 July and I would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

I've upgraded from the same model (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2014 with 2.5GHz i7, 16GB Ram and 512GB SSD) you currently have. Normally, I was planning to buy a 4K display and use an EGPU to extend the laptop's life. But when I calculate the total cost, it seems more logical to sell the laptop and buy the iMac. I was able to sell my laptop for £1200 and I bought the iMac with higher education discount for ~£2350.

I've had quite a bit experience with Hackintosh and I would probably easily build a killer and more powerful system with this budget but I didn't want to bother with its maintenance. That said, if you choose your parts carefully, you can easily build a reliable and more powerful PC with the option to upgrade its internal in the future should you require a more powerful machine in the future.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, tupp said:

It might be good to consider a hackintosh.  Here is a $70 hackintosh that outperforms a 2016 MacBook Pro and that can edit 4K video in FCP:

I have no experience in building PC so that's not for me. I need something I know is reliable and I wouldn't even know where to begin if something went wrong.

8 hours ago, tupp said:

I am not a post-production expert, but every pro editor with whom I've worked always transcodes footage for optimal performance on their NLE -- they never edit compressed/camera files.

This is what I'm trying to figure out, because if I transcode everything a new computer would give me faster transcoding, render and export and this is why I'm not sure it's worth getting the best (4.2GHz over 3.8GHz) processor and fastest drive (SSD over FD). If I keep all my media on an external drive and transcode everything it seems the 3TB Fusion Drive could be a good option for 500$ less than the 1TB SSD.

When I edit on my 2014 MBP the render speed is the same if I use the internal SSD or an external HDD and I can edit native 4K files on both. But as soon as I add an effect it's too slow so I transcode everything. So if I continue with this workflow (external media and transcoding) I think a FD should be fine, but it seems almost everybody buys the SSD instead so very few people have experience with this. 

8 hours ago, JBraddock said:

I am also a FCP X user and I've purchased the top-tier 27" iMac with i7, AMD Radeon Pro 580 W/8Gb VRAM, 8GB Ram, and 512GB SSD. It should be delivered by 6 July and I would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

I've upgraded from the same model (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2014 with 2.5GHz i7, 16GB Ram and 512GB SSD) you currently have. Normally, I was planning to buy a 4K display and use an EGPU to extend the laptop's life. But when I calculate the total cost, it seems more logical to sell the laptop and buy the iMac. I was able to sell my laptop for £1200 and I bought the iMac with higher education discount for ~£2350.

I've had quite a bit experience with Hackintosh and I would probably easily build a killer and more powerful system with this budget but I didn't want to bother with its maintenance. That said, if you choose your parts carefully, you can easily build a reliable and more powerful PC with the option to upgrade its internal in the future should you require a more powerful machine in the future.

That would be really helpful, thanks!

I actually prefer the Apple method you just described. Selling with a decent resell value after 2-4 years and buying new. I have used Macs for nearly ten years and never had a problem that wasn't fixed with firmware updates, and I doubt I can say the same with a Hackintosh. Although I would love to have the knowledge to do it. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 6/24/2017 at 7:36 AM, Fredrik Lyhne said:

I’m thinking about buying the new iMac 27....I shoot with a GH5 and this will probably be my main camera for a few years. Most of my videos are between 1-15 minutes but sometimes longer, and I will make around 100 videos a year....Currently I’m using a MBP 15 mid 2014 base model, the LG 5K display and a Lacie 2big 8TB set to raid 0, and backup my files on a another drive. This setup works but it’s a takes a while to transcode and render 4K....I work in FCPX, but would like to experiment more with Resolve but that’s a bit heavy for my current setup. I can edit 4K files but as soon as I apply an effect it’s very slow so I transcode all my files...Will I be able to edit and grade 4K files from the GH5 without transcoding with a new iMac (8TB VR version)?...I would really like to get the 3TB Fusion Drive so I could edit and store all my photos without an external drive, and would love to hear if anyone have any experience in doing this?....I’m also considering 1TB SSD or a 3TB Fusion Drive. According to Larry Jordan the FD is good as long as you use external storage (which I do), but I’ve read many other places that it’s much better to get 256/512GB SSD.

I have a 2013 iMac 27 with 3TB FD, a 2015 top-spec iMac 27 with 1TB SSD,  2015 and 2016 top-spec MBP 15s and am testing a 12-core nMP with D700s. This is FCPX 4k documentary editing where the primary codecs are some variant of H264.

Even though FCPX is very efficient, in general H264 4k requires transcoding to proxy for smooth, fluid editing and skimming -- even on a top-spec 12-core nMP. If you have a top-spec MBP, iMac or Mac Pro, smaller 4k H264 projects can be done using the camera-native codec, but multicam can be laggy and frustrating. The Mac Pro is especially handicapped on H264 since the Xeon CPU does not have Quick Sync. In my tests, transcoding 4k H264 to ProRes proxy on a 12-core Mac Pro is nearly twice as slow as a 2015 top-spec iMac 27. For short projects with lower shooting ratios it's not an issue but for larger projects with high shooting ratios it's a major problem.

We've got ProRes HDMI recorders but strapping on a bunch of 4k recorders is expensive and operationally more complex in a field documentary situation. That would eliminate the transcoding and editing performance problems but would exacerbate the data wrangling task by about 8x. This is especially difficult for multi-day field shoots where the data must be offloaded and backed up.

However in part the viability of editing camera-native 4k depends on your preferences. If you do mainly single-cam work, and use modest shooting ratios so you don't need to skim and keyword a ton of material, and don't mind a bit of lag during edit, a top-spec iMac 27 is probably OK for H264 4k. 

Re effects, those can either be CPU-bound or GPU-bound, or a combination of both. Some like Neat Video allow you to configure the split between CPU and GPU. But in general effects use a lot of GPU, and like encode/decode, are slowed down by 4k since it's 4x the data per frame as 1080p. 

Re Fusion Drive vs SSD, for a while I had both 2013 and 2015 iMac 27s on my desk, one with 3TB FD and the other 1TB SSD. I tested a few small cases with all media on the boot drive, and really couldn't see much FCPX real-world performance difference. You are usually waiting on CPU or GPU. However if you transcode to ProRes, I/O rates skyrocket, making it more likely to hit an I/O constraint.

Fusion Drive is pretty good but ideally you don't want media on the boot drive. SSD is fast enough to put media there but it's not big enough. Fusion Drive is big enough but may not be fast enough, thus the dilemma. A 3TB FD is actually a pretty good solution for small scale 1080p video editing, but 4k (even H264) chews through space rapidly. Also, performance will degrade on any spinning drive (even FD) as it fills up. Thus you don't really have 3TB at full performance, but need to maintain considerable slack space. In general we often under-estimate our storage needs, so end up using external storage even for "smaller" projects. If this is your likely destiny, why not use an SSD iMac which is at least a bit faster at a few things like booting? Just don't spend your entire budget on an SSD machine then use a slow, cheap bus-powered USB drive.

If I was getting an 2017 iMac 27 for H264 4k editing, it would be a high-spec version, e.g, 4.2Ghz i7, 32GB RAM, 580 GPU, and probably 1TB SSD. Re the iMac Pro, what little we know indicates the base model will be considerably faster than the top-spec iMac 27 -- it has double the cores (albeit at slower clock rate) and roughly double the GPU performance. However unless Apple pulls a miracle out of their hat and upgrades FCPX to use AMD's VCE coding engine, the iMac Pro will not have Quick Sync, so it will be handicapped just like the current Mac Pro for that workflow. Apple is limited by what Intel provides but this is an increasingly critical situation for productions using H264 or H265 acquisition codecs and high shooting ratios.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@joema Some of the first common sense I've read since Fredrik's topic got me poking around the internet looking for information about the best configuration for video editing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@joema sorry for the late reply. I am away for work and Internet here is really slow. 

Thank you very much for a detailed answer. I will definetely consider the top spec iMac as I plan to use it for a few years and make a lot of videos. I use a 8TB (2-bay) Lacie at raid 0 for my editing. Will that be sufficient to or will I need a faster drive to get full benefit of the top spec iMac? I believe it's around 400 mbs read write speed.

If you were to recommend a bugdet iMac for small singel cam work, what would what the specs be? I'm just thinkin if the top spec 2015 iMac with 4GB VR was very good AS many people report, wouldn't a mid range new iMac with 3.5GHz, 4GB VR and 512GB SSD be pretty decent?

Thanks!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, Fredrik Lyhne said:

...I use a 8TB (2-bay) Lacie at raid 0 for my editing. Will that be sufficient to or will I need a faster drive to get full benefit of the top spec iMac? I believe it's around 400 mbs read write speed....

If you were to recommend a bugdet iMac for small singel cam work, what would what the specs be? I'm just thinkin if the top spec 2015 iMac with 4GB VR was very good AS many people report, wouldn't a mid range new iMac with 3.5GHz, 4GB VR and 512GB SSD be pretty decent?...

 

The 2-bay Lacie at 400 megabytes/sec is probably OK. However that should be backed up regularly.

You will likely have to transcode 4k H264 to proxy for smoothest editing, no matter how fast the iMac is. Even on a 12-core Mac Pro with dual D700 GPUs that is often required. I personally would prefer the 4.2Ghz i7 CPU, since so much of video editing and transcoding is CPU-bound. You can save some money by getting the lowest 8GB memory config and using third-party RAM. The exact internal storage is up to you but I would not get the 1TB Fusion Drive. I have tested 3TB Fusion Drive and 1TB SSD iMacs side-by-side and for FCPX editing with media on external storage, there's no significant performance difference, nor difference in FCPX startup time. However SSD is simpler, might be a little more reliable and if you're using external media anyway, why not use SSD.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, joema said:

 

The 2-bay Lacie at 400 megabytes/sec is probably OK. However that should be backed up regularly.

You will likely have to transcode 4k H264 to proxy for smoothest editing, no matter how fast the iMac is. Even on a 12-core Mac Pro with dual D700 GPUs that is often required. I personally would prefer the 4.2Ghz i7 CPU, since so much of video editing and transcoding is CPU-bound. You can save some money by getting the lowest 8GB memory config and using third-party RAM. The exact internal storage is up to you but I would not get the 1TB Fusion Drive. I have tested 3TB Fusion Drive and 1TB SSD iMacs side-by-side and for FCPX editing with media on external storage, there's no significant performance difference, nor difference in FCPX startup time. However SSD is simpler, might be a little more reliable and if you're using external media anyway, why not use SSD.

The reason I wanted the Fusion Drive is so I can store and edit my photos directly on the iMac and backup via Time Capsule, and have more space for video files on the Lacie. 

Thank you very much for providing all this great info. If I decide to get the SSD it may be expensive now, but maybe save money in future if I can keep the iMac longer and also have better resell value. Those arguments and yours should really decide this for me :)  but it's still a little bit more than my budget. 

Thanks again!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Due to my current situation I decided to try out the new MBP instead of getting a new iMac since I already have the LG 5K display. Luckily I bought it at a place where I can return it because I’m not quite happy with the perfomance when streaming the 5K image to the LG 5K 27”.

In my test it seems that the MBP 2017 perfoms 20-35% slower in rendering times when connected to the monitor. Does this make sense?

Off all the gripes people have had with whis monitor; design, feel, connectivity, build, etc (I love it btw), this is the most important one I think and I have not seen it mentioned anywhere. Maybe there is something wrong with my test or maybe I just missed it.

Below is the numbers of some rendering test I did.

MBP 2014

2.2 GHz i7

16 GB RAM

Integrated graphics card: Intel Iris Pro 1536

256 GB SSD

 

MBP 2017 (2799$)

2.9 GHz i7

16 GB RAM

4 GB VRAM

512 GB SSD.

 

Rendering a 3.13 minute edit shot on Panasonic GH5 10 bit v-log without transcoding. Color graded + a few transistions, photos and 1 lut on 1 short clip.

HDD used on both was a Lacie 2Big 8TB thunderbolt set to Raid 0.

 

MBP 2017 - let the machine cool down before rendering

0-50% = 3.30 min

50-100% = 4.30 min

Total = 8.00 min

 

MBP 2017 - after the fan has been turned on

0-50% = 4.55 min

50-100% 4.25 min

Total = 9.20 min

 

MBP 2017 + LG 5K - lid closed (which is how I like to work)

0-50% = 5.25 min

50-100% 6.10 min

Total = 11.35 min

Loudest fan noise

 

MBP 2017 (lid open) + LG 5K - let the machine cool down before rendering

0-50% = 6.25 min

50-100% =  6.15 min

Total = 12.40 min

 

MBP 2017 (lid open) + LG 5K - after the fan has been turned on

0-50% = 7.47 min

50-100% = 6.10 min

Total = 13.57 min

 

MBP 2014 - let the machine cool down before rendering

0-50% = 8.30 min

50-100% = 7.00 min

Total = 15:30

 

MBP 2014 - after the fan has been turned on

MBP 2014 (lid open) + LG 5K - let the machine cool down before rendering

MBP 2014 (lid open) + LG 5K - after the fan has been turned on

Approximately the same time as the one above which to me means that it slows down pretty quickly compared to the new MBP.

 

I find it very disappointing how similar the rendering times are when they are connected to the LG 5K. The 2014 only upscales to 4K, while the 2017 upscales to 5K and I would guess this is the reason, still very disappointing and I have not seen any reviewers mention that it’s approximately 25-35% slower in rendering times when streaming the 5K signal.

None of the MBP’s was able to playback the graded (without rendering first) clips in real time without transcoding. When transcoded to optimized media both were able do it.

In general use the 2017 is much smoother when connected to the LG 5K, while the 2014 got a little laggy at times in FCPX and when doing heavy task, and the fan turned on much faster and louder. Fan noise when both are running on high is pretty similar. The 2017 has way better cooling and can run for a longer time without using the fan or on low fan speed.

I don’t know what’s the best way to get fastest rendering times, but it my last test with the lid close was the best. I did several test and the numbers varied a bit, so it could something else affecting the graphics card or whatever. Didn’t run any other programs off course.

The reason I wanted to upgrade is because of speed, so I’m not sure it’s worth it at the moment. I can maybe sell my MBP for 10000 NOK (1200$) and the new mac cost 31500 NOK (2800$).

Will need to do more testing and see how fluid it is in real work.

Other than that it's a great machine and I really like the new keys actually. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm doing some testing of GH5 4K video handling with FCPX trial on a MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid 2012), SSD disk, 16 GB RAM. :grimace:

The positive side is that it imported 4K 10-bit video nicely, transcoded to prores HQ, and can export to full HD.

The negative sides, well, it's kinda slow :grin:.  Also, I have no 4K display right now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

FCPX was actually fast.  I tried Resolve with the same 13-inch MBP from 2012, and importing a 4K 8-bit file took over 20 minutes, or rather making the optimized version took the time. Exporting 1080p took less than 20 minutes. Oh yes, the clip was 45 seconds long. :grin: Handling 1080P was faster, not surprisingly.

On a positive note, I think Resolve's UI makes a lot more sense, and it seems to have more functionality. And it somewhat works with sub-par hardware. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Fredrik Lyhne said:

....I decided to try out the new MBP instead of getting a new iMac...I’m not quite happy with the perfomance when streaming the 5K image to the LG 5K 27”....I don’t know what’s the best way to get fastest rendering times....

I have top-spec versions of these: 2015 iMac 27, 2017 iMac 27, and 2016 MacBook Pro. I do FCPX editing professionally. In general the new 2017 iMac 27 is much faster on FCPX than the previous 2015 iMac and also the 2016 MBP. The FCPX performance improvement (esp. in H264 transcoding and rendering) of the 2017 model is far greater than synthetic benchmarks would indicate.

The 2017 iMac 27 is the only machine I've ever used -- including a 12-core Mac Pro D700 -- that was fast enough to edit single-camera H264 long GOP 4k without transcoding. While it's about 2x the performance of the i7 2015 iMac 27 when rendering or exporting H264, and 1.6x faster on the GPU-intensive BruceX benchmark, it's not equally faster on all FCPX tasks and plugins. E.g, it's about 12% faster on Neat Video and 18% faster on Digital Anarchy flicker reduction.

In theory you'd expect the 2017 iMac to be fastest on GPU-oriented tasks since the Radeon Pro 580 is much faster than the M395X in the 2015 iMac. However in FCPX the greatest improvement I've seen is in encode/decode and rendering of H264 material. There were Quick Sync improvements in Kaby Lake but I didn't think they were performance-related on H264, rather they expanded H265 coverage, but maybe I was wrong.

Below: time to import and transcode to ProRes proxy ten 4k XAVC-S clips from a Sony A7RII, total running time 11 min 43 sec. It's interesting in this particular test the 2016 MBP was actually faster than the 2015 iMac, so a 2016 MBP is no slouch -- it just can't touch the 2017 iMac 27. Unfortunately I haven't tested the 2017 MBP. All tests repeated three times. 

2015 iMac 27: 5 min 37 sec
2017 iMac 27: 2 min 40 sec
2016 MBP: 3 min 46 sec
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 15.7.2017 at 3:16 AM, joema said:

I have top-spec versions of these: 2015 iMac 27, 2017 iMac 27, and 2016 MacBook Pro. I do FCPX editing professionally. In general the new 2017 iMac 27 is much faster on FCPX than the previous 2015 iMac and also the 2016 MBP. The FCPX performance improvement (esp. in H264 transcoding and rendering) of the 2017 model is far greater than synthetic benchmarks would indicate.

The 2017 iMac 27 is the only machine I've ever used -- including a 12-core Mac Pro D700 -- that was fast enough to edit single-camera H264 long GOP 4k without transcoding. While it's about 2x the performance of the i7 2015 iMac 27 when rendering or exporting H264, and 1.6x faster on the GPU-intensive BruceX benchmark, it's not equally faster on all FCPX tasks and plugins. E.g, it's about 12% faster on Neat Video and 18% faster on Digital Anarchy flicker reduction.

In theory you'd expect the 2017 iMac to be fastest on GPU-oriented tasks since the Radeon Pro 580 is much faster than the M395X in the 2015 iMac. However in FCPX the greatest improvement I've seen is in encode/decode and rendering of H264 material. There were Quick Sync improvements in Kaby Lake but I didn't think they were performance-related on H264, rather they expanded H265 coverage, but maybe I was wrong.

Below: time to import and transcode to ProRes proxy ten 4k XAVC-S clips from a Sony A7RII, total running time 11 min 43 sec. It's interesting in this particular test the 2016 MBP was actually faster than the 2015 iMac, so a 2016 MBP is no slouch -- it just can't touch the 2017 iMac 27. Unfortunately I haven't tested the 2017 MBP. All tests repeated three times. 

2015 iMac 27: 5 min 37 sec
2017 iMac 27: 2 min 40 sec
2016 MBP: 3 min 46 sec
 

This is great info, thanks! Looks like Max's video confirms your findings saying that the 2017 MBP is almost as fast as the 2015 iMac. 

I have tried to edit and grade some projects and when I transcode to optimized video I can play back without rendering and there is no lag. This is what I wanted, but optimally without transcoding, but I understand that I will need the iMac for that.

The thing is that I need a laptop for the next few months, and after that I could manage with a stationary machine and keep my old MBP for other surfing etc. I will keep the MBP for a couple of weeks before I decide and see if I can get a good price for my monitor. 

It seems I can do just fine with this MBP, but when the iMac is twice as fast for the same money it's very tempting. I think 4K will be enough for me and I will probably use the iMac for the next five years so I actually think it's pretty good value for a FCPX user. 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...