8 Replies Latest reply on Apr 5, 2012 8:39 AM by Scott Chichelli

    27 inch iMac for editing and After Effects

    dh91 Level 1

      Hey everyone. I'm a student who does heavy video and After Effects work. Right now my core 2 duo macbook pro is not cutting it when it comes to performance and render times.


      Luckily, my budget is around $2200-2300 thanks to money I should have leftover from my college fund (thank you, mom and dad).


      I was looking at the MacBook Pro 15 inch until I discovered the 27 inch imacs that are in the library multimedia center. The screen size is great because there's so much space to work with and details come out a lot clearer.


      But from a hardware and price perspective, the 27inch imac with a quad core 3.1 ghz intel core i7, 1 tb hdd, and a 2gb AMD Radeon HD 6970m is around $100 LESS than the MacBook Pro with a quad core 2.4 ghz, 750 gb 5400 rpm, and 1 gb 6770m.


      The only tradeoff is portability, but given the difference in spec, i'm starting to say its worth it.


      I know that a lot of AE is dependant on CPU and lots of RAM per CPU. Upgrading to 16 gb of ram is getting cheaper and cheaper (it also helps that the imac has 4 ram slots). The iMac can actually support 32 gb of ram, so when that becomes available that is another nice plus.


      So just doing the math, with 16 gb of ram that would be a 3.1 ghz quad core intel i7 with 4 gb of ram per core. 8gb of ram when upgraded to 32 gb of memory.


      I'm not sure what Apple is gonna do with the next iMac refresh, so I will probably wait until then to make a decision.


      Does anyone have experience with AE on the 27 inch iMac with similar specs?


      Many thanks,



        • 1. Re: 27 inch iMac for editing and After Effects
          RjL190365 Level 4

          Several other drawbacks to the iMac or any other all-in-one computer system:


          1) The GPU cannot be upgraded at all (at least not internally). In fact, iMacs cannot have their AMD (formerly ATi) GPUs disabled at all. And Premiere Pro CS5.x supports only NVIDIA CUDA GPUs for MPE GPU acceleration. (The current iMacs cannot be equipped at all with any GPU besides AMD/ATi.) Premiere Pro is thus forced to run in MPE software-only mode, which is much slower than with GPU acceleration.


          2) No iMac has any room at all whatsoever for more than one single fast internal hard drive. Unfortunately, the interface that the iMac employs, SATA, is only a half-duplex interface (which means that data transfers can only move in one direction at a time). But video editing requires a disk system that does simultaneous reads and writes - but with only one disk connected only by a half-duplex connection, the system must wait for a given block of read operations to be completed before any writes of a given data can even begin at all. This slows down overall editing and encoding performance substantially.


          3) Additional hard drives can be added externally - but the current external hard drive options available for the iMac are either very expensive or very slow. That's because the iMac has absolutely no USB 3.0 or eSATA capability whatsoever. The iMac has only USB 2.0 and Thunderbolt ports - but external Thunderbolt hard drives still cost nearly twice as much money per GB as other external hard drives, and USB 2.0 is limited in sequential transfers to only around 35 MB/s - far slower than the drives themselves are physically capable of (140 to 188 MB/s). Plus, of course, USB 2.0, like SATA, is only half duplex.

          • 2. Re: 27 inch iMac for editing and After Effects
            Chuck A. McIntyre Level 3

            This has been addressed a couple of times before.  Try doing a search in the forum for iMac.

            • 3. Re: 27 inch iMac for editing and After Effects
              Bill Gehrke Most Valuable Participant

              Why don't you do what the big boys are doing.  Go to ADK and have them custom configure you a laptop PC computer custom designed to run Premiere and After Effects   They are the number 1 expert that I know of in this field and their support is outstanding. Incidentally they sell both Mac and PC and can answer questions on performance of both systems.

              • 4. Re: 27 inch iMac for editing and After Effects
                dh91 Level 1

                Thanks for the link, but this ADK seems to be more overpriced than Apple. A MacBook Pro with specs less than the one I was looking for starts at almost $1000 more! That just doesn't seem right.

                • 5. Re: 27 inch iMac for editing and After Effects
                  Harm Millaard Level 7

                  For that  budget, you can get a much more powerful PC, that is at least 30 times faster. Look here: Adobe Forums: What PC to build? An update...

                  • 6. Re: 27 inch iMac for editing and After Effects
                    Scott Chichelli Level 3

                    HI DH i beg to differ..


                    Apple 17" MBP

                    1) 750G 7200

                    2.4GHz Quad

                    8 gig ram (only becuase thats all you can put in an apple)

                    3yr warranty




                    ADK speced the same (has the ability for 16 or even 32gig ram and up to 3 internal drives) a nvidia 560 Video card



                    thats a rather LARGE difference

                    for the price of the Apple you can get one of our 9000x which has the newer 670 and desktop X79chipset/ processor



                    oh and a 15 the same way


                    Apple $2798/ ADK $1958




                    • 7. Re: 27 inch iMac for editing and After Effects
                      dh91 Level 1

                      Hi Scott,


                      Thank you for the reply. If you could, could you please post the links to ADK speced MBP and the 9000x?


                      It's actually extremely easy for a typical MBP 2011 owner to upgrade to 16 gb of ram, even 32. Many users at the macrumors forums have done so easily. Right now the only thing holding back 32 gigs is price and availability of 16 gb ram sticks since the MBP only has 2 slots (unless the 17 inch has 4).


                      I also know it's possible to put 2 hard drives in the MBP, but that requires removing the optical drive. I'd love to see how 3 internal drives is possible.





                      • 8. Re: 27 inch iMac for editing and After Effects
                        Scott Chichelli Level 3

                        just pmed you.. both ours have 4 slots for ram..