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Which iMac to get?

New Here ,
Jul 19, 2021 Jul 19, 2021

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Hi all,

 

I'm on the market for a new computer, and think I've finally made the decision to switch from working on PC's to an iMac. I started typing up a whole post here detailing all the different iMac options in the hopes that someone more knowledgeable than myself can assist me in choosing the right machine for me, but stopped after realizing how long the post was going to be ☺️

 

So instead I'll just ask this-if I call up Apple support and ask them to help me figure out what specs I need for my work, can I trust them to give me an honest opinion? Or will they just push me to get more than I need just so they can make a sale? I'm totally unfamiliar with Apple products and don't know enough about computer specs to know what I truly need for my work and what's unnecessary. I need someone who's familiar with how Adobe programs work to guide me in choosing my new computer. Does anyone have any experience dealing with sales reps at Apple?

 

Tia! 

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Community Expert ,
Jul 19, 2021 Jul 19, 2021

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I've never actually spoken to anyone at Apple about presales questions, so I can't help you there. But I've owned a lot of Macs so I have a pretty good idea of what is required and what the different models can accomplish. And honestly I would advise anyone to do what you're doing here -- reach out to people using the software and workflows that you're using and ask them!

 

What would be helpful is knowing what kind of work you're doing with specifics -- type of projects, footage, typical destinations, other software you use, etc. There's a big difference between the tools needed for social media projects vs broadcast production, for example. And you may need some external hardware as well so that has to be factored in too.

 

Right now is an interesting time to buy a Mac because there are two lanes: Intel and the newer Apple Silicon. I might recommend one over the other but I'd like to hear about your workflow and projects first.

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New Here ,
Jul 20, 2021 Jul 20, 2021

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Thank you, John! I definitely prefer to have input from people like you who actually work on Macs the way I do!

 

So at the moment, I am doing whatever freelance jobs come my way. I've done some social media projects, but don't anticipate ever doing broadcast production. I guess it would be safe to say that my projects are not very high-end, but I still need a machine that would make whatever work I do fast and simple. I had to turn down a job where someone was making a movie to be distributed to their school because my computer was unable to rotoscope for them without spending literally hours propogating every frame!

 

As I said before, I'm not super familiar with all the terms, but I'll just give you whatever info comes to mind and hopefully that gives you a picture of what I'm dealing with. I typically work with 1080p footage (although it is possible that I will work with 4k in the future), and the projects can range from a 30 second Amazon product video to a 2+ hours long wedding video. I only use Adobe software, such as Premiere Pro, After Effects, Audition and Media Encoder. While I usually work with and export in H.264, I have worked with still images as well. There is also a possibility that I will work with drone shots at some point. 

 

Although the work I am describing probably doesn't require much in terms of a computer, I hope to keep expanding my video editing knowledge and want to have the ability to take on any job that comes my way. I know Macs are a big investment and I don't want to put money into something that will work for the mediocre jobs I do now, but won't be able to handle bigger and more complicated projects down the line. But, of course, I don't have an unlimited budget either 🙂 

 

One last thing-I recently invested in a new LG 34" curved monitor and am loving it! Is it possible for me to connect it to an iMac? If yes, then I wouldn't be so particular in going for the 27" iMac just for the screen size. 

 

Thank you again!!

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Community Expert ,
Jul 20, 2021 Jul 20, 2021

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Moved to hardware forum.

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LEGEND ,
Jul 21, 2021 Jul 21, 2021

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Of the three currently available models of the iMac, skip the very cheapest model, the 21.5" non-Retina model, which has not been updated at all since 2017: It is still equipped with a Kaby Lake (7th Generation) dual-core i5 low-power mobile (not even desktop) CPU, and cannot be ordered at all with a discrete GPU (only the outdated integrated Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640 is available).

 

And if you choose the new 24" iMac with the Apple M1 CPU, be sure to order it with 16 GB of RAM. The 8GB models of that iMac will work for some things, but I would recommend 16 GB for that model.

 

That leaves the 27" iMac - but it is going out of production very, very soon as it still uses the 10th-Gen (Comet Lake) Intel CPUs and last-gen Radeon Pro RX 5000 series GPUs. A new 28" iMac, with either an Apple M1X or an Apple M2 CPU, will replace the current 27" models.

 

Hope this helps.

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New Here ,
Jul 21, 2021 Jul 21, 2021

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Thanks for the detailed response!

 

Would you happen to know when Apple is coming out with their 28" iMac? Is there anything to gain by waiting for it (assuming it's in the near future) other than the larger screen?

 

Also, suppose I would go with the new 24" iMac, which specs would you recommend in terms of GPU (they give a choice of either 7 core or 8 core) and SSD storage? Again, I work on both premiere pro and after effects. 

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LEGEND ,
Jul 21, 2021 Jul 21, 2021

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Either the 7-core or the 8-core GPU would suffice, with the 8-core GPU slightly more powerful than the 7-core GPU. Both of those GPUs are roughly on a par with their Windows Geforce GTX 1050 Ti counterparts in terms of performance - much more powerful than any integrated Intel graphics.

 

As for the storage, I would recommend equipping the 24" iMac with a 512 GB SSD, and then you can purchase a USB 3.2 Gen 2 x 1 external SSD if you need more storage for your projects and working media files.

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New Here ,
Jul 27, 2021 Jul 27, 2021

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Thanks!

 

Has anyone tried the new 24" iMac yet for video editing? Would love personal feedback on that one. 

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Community Expert ,
Jul 27, 2021 Jul 27, 2021

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I've heard good things about the M1 Macs in general; I think based on your workflow you'd be okay with the maxxed out model. It's hard to know when Apple will release new models; it's a given that new Pro laptops are coming out soon but no one knows if they'll announce a larger iMac with more RAM options. If not in September then maybe later in the year before the holidays. If it was me and I was doing a lot of After Effects work I would hold out for more RAM; keep in mind that with these models you can't upgrade the RAM after purchase and the 24" only goes up to 16GB.

 

The good news is that a lot of the Adobe video apps are now fully M1 native on the latest release. After Effects is the main holdout but support shoudl be in the beta pretty soon.

 

JVK

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Community Expert ,
Jul 30, 2021 Jul 30, 2021

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What is your budget?  You can spend as little as $1,300 and as much as $8,730, not counting external high-speed storage.

 

If going with the 24-inch M1 iMac, I'd go with 16GB RAM and 1TB Flash storage.

 

If going with the 27-inch iMac, I'd go with an i7 or i9 with 8GB of RAM, 1TB of Flash storage, Radeon Pro 5500 XT, and add after-market RAM from OtherWorld Computing (https://eshop.macsales.com/shop/apple/memory/iMac) or Crucial (crucial.com) to get to 32GB of RAM or more.  It's super, super easy to install RAM into the 27-inch model (https://support.apple.com/guide/imac/install-memory-in-your-27-inch-imac-apdd768f6349/mac).  I'd also consider getting a certified refurbished 27-inch iMac (https://www.apple.com/shop/refurbished/mac/27-inch-imac).

 

All that said, an i5 27-iMac handles Premiere Pro, Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Audition, Media Encoder, and After Effects well.  It just doesn't do it as quickly as the i7 or i9.

 

Of course, if you can wait, Apple will announce and eventually be shipping the Apple Silicon replacement for the 27-inch Intel iMac.  It's just a question of when.

Regardless of which iMac you go with, consider a ProRes 422 LT workflow.  You'll be taking advantage of Smart Rendering in Premiere Pro and everything will go faster.

It's important to note that 1080p ProRes 422 LT requires about 700MB per minute of footage.  Be sure to factor that into what you allot for storage.

 

 

And yes, you can connect an external display to an iMac.  Here are two helpful articles:

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New Here ,
Aug 08, 2021 Aug 08, 2021

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Sorry for the late response, but wanted to say thanks for the detailed reply!

I find myself at a crossroads now. I was thinking of holding off until the release of whatever is going to replace the current 27" model, since I do want After Effects to run extremely smoothly and I'm hearing that waiting might be beneficial on that end. But now my computer has officially died. While I don't currently have any projects to work on, I don't want to have to turn down any potential work because I don't have a machine. At the same time, I'm so done with making poor computer choices and wonder if it's worth the wait for the newest possible iMac so that i won't regret jumping and buying the new 24" in a year.

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Community Beginner ,
Sep 14, 2022 Sep 14, 2022

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I'm curious as to what you ended up doing. In a similar situation. I've been holding off for the new iMac "Pro" and it is still in the rumor mills. Now they are saying possibly 2023. Did you end up doing anything?

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