2 Replies Latest reply on Nov 25, 2014 9:30 PM by melf3182

    Which $3.5-4k editing desktop? (iMac, refurb 6 core mac pro)

    melf3182 Level 1



      First of all, thanks for taking the time to read this post and provide any feedback. I am looking to buy a new desktop editing machine for creative editorial work (purchase any time from now until feb - sooner is better, but not urgent). My projects a re pretty wide ranging (events, docs, indie features, film trailers, video game trailers) and I'll be editing everything from animatics to features. However I only dabble in mo-graph (maybe some titles/lower 3rds) and don't do much heavy colour grading. Mostly in-NLE.  Having said that, you never know what the future holds and I'm sure I'll be working with Davinci/Speedgrade more in the future.


      I work with a lot of DSLR 4k and HD material (e.g. GH4, C series, Sony etc) as well as plenty of Red R3Ds, Blackmagic etc. I don't necessarily need to be working at full res. I guess what I'm looking for is a system that I can edit native 4K without any drop frames at a resolution that is acceptable at the creative stage of an edit (If I'm working with a director they'll likely be sat 6-10 feet behind me). It would also be great if I can get smooth playback with a few filters on too (speed changes, motion changes, a few RGB curves, film convert, masks - that kind of stuff).


      BTW I work with thunderbolt drives. I'll be using TB2 raids on what ever system I move to.


      I know that in terms of running Adobe CC, I'll be best off building a X99 PC. However I am a freelance editor and work with a variety of studios and directors and therefore need to be flexible in the solutions I provide. There are enough studios running FCP 7 and X for me to make the decision that I need to be able to run OSX, even if it means it'll cost me more $$.


      These are the options I believe I have (all in CAD $$):


      1) Maxed out iMac Retina 2014 -   $3600 ish w/ 1tb fusion drive and 32GB aftermarket ram

      2) Refurb 6 core mac pro with D500s - $3479 + aftermarket ram and decent-ish 2.5k monitor = $4400


      I guess a 3rd possible solution is to wait it out and see if a X99 hackintosh becomes an option. If I went the hack route I'd build the PC and take it to a Hackintosh specialist who'll charge $100-140 to install OSX on another boot drive. I should also say that if I do this I would run pretty much everything in windows and just have OSX with final cut 7 and x on another boot drive.  However, when I really think about it I don't really think this is an option. It might be better face value, but in the end when you take into account the hours of building/fiddling, lower resale value and less piece of mind it really evens out. Or just becomes plain bad value especially for client projects where one f**k up can really cost you. 


      QUESTIONS! (sorry it took so long to get to the crux - just wanted to provide all relevant info)


      1) Am I correct in thinking that the iMac will give me what I need right out of the box?  I'll be buying it close to its launch date and it features newer technology including a 5k display (not that I need that right away). Its also going to be cheap - I can finance it interest free over 2 years so I'm barely going to notice that I've bought it. However it'll be the slower than the MP, not upgradable and basically feature laptop parts.


      2) Will the mac pro 6 core w/ D500s be much faster for the work I'm doing than the iMac? Is it going to be worth the extra $800? It seems like a pretty good deal, but its nearly a year old now and I could be buying near the end of a cycle (albeit with a discount). I also worry about the D500s. I'll be able to use all 6GB for rendering/exporting but only 3GB for playback vs 4GB in the iMac. Will this make a lot of difference?


      3) How well are the mac pros working with CC2014 now? I read about a lot of issues earlier in the year. Is everything running smoothly on Yosemite now?


      Of course I can just wait and see what unfolds over the next 2-3 months (updated mac pros?). But if either of these are going to work for me then it'd be great to get going right away.


      Anyway, if anyone has been in a similar positions recently it'd be great to hear your thoughts. And of course any input from exports is greatly appreciated!



        • 1. Re: Which $3.5-4k editing desktop? (iMac, refurb 6 core mac pro)
          ECBowen Most Valuable Participant

          No the nMPro's will not be updated any time soon. Last I heard your looking mid next year at the earliest if even then. That was the problem with Apple taking so long to release them. They have to clear what they had to order component wise for the MoQ before they can even consider a change in platforms. The D500's are really not what I  would suggest for 4K work. Adobe only uses both GPU's on export with Premiere and Media Encoder. Realtime playback will only use 1. Davinci would use both however the performance for both Adobe and Davinci is significantly less with AMD cards versus Nvidia cards. The Nvidia cards are now updating to the 900 series which has HDMi 2.0 as well besides the better specs. The coming new 900 series Titan card is going to be a monster. If you have to go the nMPro route I suggest you get the D700's or don't bother with that option since the performance will already be lower with the AMD cards.


          The 5K Imac is the way to go if you plan to sell it in a year and get a Haswell E system whether X99 or updated nMPro at some point when those move to Haswell. It will give you the ability to edit some base 4K though your performance with realtime playback and 4K will be somewhat limited especially in Davinci. The X99 over all is the best choice right now both for performance with 4K + media especially Red, DNG, and Sony Raw. DDR4 makes a huge difference on GPU acceleration applications. The platform also gives you the most upgradability as well. The 5960X can easily playback 4K and 5K media full resolution preview with a 900 series Nvidia card and 32GB of ram. The 5930K can playback 4K media at full resolution preview and 5K at half resolution.  All in all this makes it the best solution for the investment long term.


          4K Blackmagic DNG media requires significant HDD bandwidth. That means a Raid 0 bare minimum and really an SSD drive to play it back well. If you going to use Thunderbolt drives then you better make sure they can handle atleast 350MB/s which is bare minimum. Even a 2 drive raid 0 cant do that. Keep that drive consideration in mind unless your going to convert the DNG to Cineform or Pro Res.




          • 2. Re: Which $3.5-4k editing desktop? (iMac, refurb 6 core mac pro)
            melf3182 Level 1

            Hi Eric,


            thanks for the reply and apologies for the late response (just had a baby). I understand that the X99 system is the most future proof in terms of technology (I have read a lot of your posts across the forums!) and I haven't completely discounted the idea of building a PC. I'll definitely be updating my macbook pro in 2015 and that may be enough to run the odd FCP7/X job that I get in. I really need to weigh that up though…...


            Either way I'd like to work off external RAIDs (sometimes I need to work on location with my laptop) and I was planning on getting an OWC Thunderbay 4 and either running RAID 0 with another backup drive or RAID5. This seems like a great solution for Mac, however SoftRaid (the software that enables you to run RAID5, or a faster RAID0) isn't compatible with Windows - you're stuck with base speeds. If I do a PC build I'll be adding a TB2 card, but are there better more PC friendly solutions for external RAIDs? And in general are thunderbolt transfer speeds slower on PCs?