October 15, 2014 at 6:47AM, Edited October 22, 12:45AM

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Which iMac would suit me best?

Hi there, I need a little guidance. I'm interested in purchasing a refurbished iMac from Apple but I can't decide between two models. I will mainly using the machine for video editing (Final Cut Pro, possibly Premiere Pro) and also audio work (Logic). This will be my first Mac computer so I don't exactly need to be blown away by speed, I just require a reliable machine to do its job.

The specs are as follows -

£1,219.00 Refurbished 27-inch iMac 3.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i5
Originally released September 2013
27-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit display with IPS technology; 2560x1440 resolution
8GB memory
1TB hard drive
NVIDIA GeForce GT 755M graphics processor with 1GB of GDDR5 memory
Built-in FaceTime HD camera

or

£1,249.00 Refurbished 27-inch iMac 2.9GHz quad-core Intel Core i5
Originally released October 2012
27-inch LED-backlit display with IPS technology
8GB memory
1TB Fusion Drive
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M with 512MB
Built-in FaceTime HD camera.

I'd greatly appreciate it if you guys and gals can offer any advice.
Thanks for reading.

24 Comments

If possible try and buy an iMac with an i7 CPU and thunderbolt ports.

Also, MacSales.com sells many great iMac upgrades but I think you have to ship your iMac to them to have the upgrades installed.

OWC iMac Upgrades Page
http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/imac/

October 15, 2014 at 9:05PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
30468

Yes, i am with Guy. Now that is out Imac 27 5 K retina, the iMac 27 Nvidia 780 DDR5 cost less money, is the opportunity I think.

October 17, 2014 at 8:23AM

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Ragüel Cremades
Film producer and director
7252

Thanks for the input guys. From the two models I stated above, is it worth paying extra for an older model with Fusion drive?

October 17, 2014 at 11:55AM

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I am interested as well. Also I've been wondering if you can get a better deal/performance from a decked out iMac, or from the base model Mac Pro tower that's $3,000. I have monitors, so that's only a slight benefit to me towards an iMac.

October 18, 2014 at 12:04AM

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Kyle Sanders
Editor
179

Go for the slightly bigger processor. I have a 2008 iMac that I can still use for editing and rendering files. It hurts at 4k+, but I've used it for 2.5k downres RED footage for final assemble from Resolve. It's a little beast!

I highly recommend you look towards the future with this. Make sure you get USB3 and Thunderbolt support. I use my iMac much less now because fewer projects are given to me on Firewire drives.

October 18, 2014 at 2:00AM

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Zack Wallnau
Cinematographer & Tinkerer
448

It’s hard to say. If you’re looking at editing video, getting a really good video card is important too. That being said, I imagine the Fusion drive would help the computer to feel quite a bit snappier. My previous MacBook Pro got a noticable speed boost when I upgraded its internal drive to a hybrid drive, which is the same concept as the Fusion Drive.

I’m not great with video card specs though, so perhaps someone else could weigh in on how different these two cards are?

October 18, 2014 at 2:02AM, Edited October 18, 2:02AM

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Ryan Toyota
Graphic Designer / Typographer / Video Editor
1178

I have also been looking into buying an iMac for similar work as you and based on research I have done is that unless you are doing a lot of visual effects with Photoshop and/or After Effects then your main two concerns are CPU/processor and RAM/memory. Otherwise, if you plan to do visual effects work too then you will need to also be concerned about the GPU/graphics card. One overall concern is the hard drive/HDD/SSD and now a days with the decent prices for higher capacity SSD I would go for at minimum 256gb SSD. SSD will allow for faster start up times for the computer (off to on) as well as how quickly (large) programs will open. If your work files get really large then you will definitely want to get a bigger SSD and/or a fast external hard drive for storage of files that you don't need immediately (or not as quickly as the main files).

October 19, 2014 at 12:04AM

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Calvin Tirrell
photographer learning video & video editing
74

Also, if you are dead set on choosing one of the two options you listed then I say get the first one.

Calvin Tirrell

October 19, 2014 at 12:10AM, Edited October 19, 12:10AM

…but you just said get an SSD. Then you recommend the computer without one?

Ryan Toyota

October 19, 2014 at 10:25AM

Yeah but overall the first computer is better - you don't get everything you want all the time :/

If OP is willing to search more or spend more they could definitely get everything they want.

Calvin Tirrell

October 19, 2014 at 2:47PM

Why an iMac? You can build a custom PC for way cheaper and it'll be way faster. That's what I did and I've been extremely happy.

October 19, 2014 at 11:07AM

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Paul Gall
Writer / Director / Editor
154

I built a custom PC which has a Xeon E5-2680 v2 CPU 32GB DDR3 1866/PC-14900 ECC Registered 72bit Interleave RAM and will probably be buying the Firepro W7100 or the Quadro K5200 . You know what I don't have? THUNDERBOLT 2.
I'll probably build on a SAS or SATA raid, but I would rather have the selection of pre-engineered storage choices the new MacPro would have allowed me. I would rather be fine tuning my script/pitch and networking my way to funding, rather than worrying about how I'm going to get files through a stupid pipe. Apple/Intel have already invented a better wheel than I'm going to be able to cobble together from parts manufactured by various questionable third party vendors.

nemo@infinitenumber.com

October 19, 2014 at 11:31PM, Edited October 19, 11:31PM

I've read about hackintosh's and similar machines but I have zero knowledge of building computers or dealing with possible problems that could arise down the line.

Stephen Campbell

October 22, 2014 at 6:00AM

My advice is going with the first model. The heftier graphics card will do more for your video playback than the fusion drive. Plus you'll have USB 3.0 and thunderbolt which make firewire seem like cruel and unusual punishment. And you can upgrade your ram by yourself, which is as simple as popping in the back of the imac. I just got a new 2013 imac and it absolutely shreds through footage on Premiere Pro and FCPX. And since you mentioned that FCPx is your choice program I really recc. the 1st imac. The newer processors with mavericks OSx are made to work really well with Final Cut Pro 10. Like calvin said, if you can splurge for an upgraded Hard Drive that is solid state (SSD) you'll really be sitting pretty.

October 19, 2014 at 7:37PM

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Nick Capezzera
DP & Editor
154

Thanks for reply. All these computer specifications are like a foreign language to me so thanks for pointing me in the right direction to what will work best with video editing.

Stephen Campbell

October 22, 2014 at 6:03AM

No problem. I scoured the forums day and night for what seemed like years (really only months) before I bought my iMac. And like every filmmaker knows you aren't always going to have the perfect situation. But to give you even more of a piece of mind. The newer iMacs actually beat the previous mac pro towers (new one being the futuristic cylindrical thing) in benchmark tests. The only one where the older mac pro tower wins out is when it comes to rendering. The more cores in your computer the faster a video can render, export, etc. Anyway, I'll stop talking now. Go with the first iMac 100%. You will be blown away.

Nick Capezzera

October 22, 2014 at 9:55PM

What kind of music do you want to write Stephen?

October 19, 2014 at 11:59PM

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I'll be writing and recording a wide range of genre's. At the minute I'm writing mainly acoustic folk-inspired music but I'll be dabbling in everything from film scores to jazz. Do you write music yourself nemo?

Stephen Campbell

October 22, 2014 at 6:06AM

With the iMac you have power enoght to do the job. Not iMac retina 5K, is slower.

October 20, 2014 at 6:11AM

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Ragüel Cremades
Film producer and director
7252

Thanks Ragüel, I've seen that the iMac 5K was released last week. While it's an impressive machine it is way too expensive for the level I'm currently at! Strange to hear that a newer machine is slower.

Stephen Campbell

October 22, 2014 at 6:08AM

always the newest and the best you can afford. you will appreciate it later.
also take in account that you will probably be spending about $1000 on fast additional harddrives, peripherals etc...

October 20, 2014 at 8:37PM

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Kazu Okuda
Filmmaker
1438

Yes, Stephen is odd that a new machine is slower (for video propose). The new iMac have 10 % more speed for video edition (GPU + CPU) but now the IMac have to work with doble pixels. The need double power for have the same velocity that you have i the "old" model iMac... With this i don't know what are thinking apple offering a good screen that will have a less speed.

October 23, 2014 at 3:49AM

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Ragüel Cremades
Film producer and director
7252

I would get the newest one you can. I have an early '11 macbook pro and there are some features I can't do with Yosemite. Not that it's essential to video editing or music production, but you never know what goodies Apple will add in the future that could help us creatives out.
I do agree with the guy up there about building your own. At work I use a hackintosh and it's super fast with plenty of storage and about as much as you would spend on the iMacs you referred to. The only downfall is updating to newer OS. You can't just one click update. You have to update all your drivers and bootloaders.
Although, iMacs are sleek-looking computers, I would choose power over looks.
Plus you could always buy a mac display in the future.

October 24, 2014 at 8:55AM

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Will Watkins
Cinematographer // Editor
267

Always go with the more powerful processor. The 3.2GHz seems better. However, you might want to consider a newer machine...

November 18, 2015 at 10:57AM

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Milan Schere
Director
156

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