December 14, 2015 at 10:46AM, Edited December 14, 11:00AM

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Best iMac for $1500

I am in the market for an iMac desktop and i was wondering what is the best one(which specs) i could get for $1500 specifically geared for photo and video editing. I am getting an iMac because i have used one all of my editing career and have a Macbook Pro and iPhone that just makes the communication between devices a lot easier. The reason for asking is i am out of my realm when it comes to the specs of a computer and what is the best memory/ Ghz etc suited for editing. Any advice is appreciated!

15 Comments

You're not going to get the best machine for $1500. For photos any of the current iMacs will have no problems. For video anything at that price will be under powered. It'll work but you'll have to wait around a lot and it will be frustrating.

If you can raise your budget to $2500 you will be much happier.
I would recommend an i7 processor, it's only on the high end machines.
At least 16GB of RAM
An SSD drive or a Fusion drive at the very least.

December 14, 2015 at 8:58PM

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Depending on the software you want to use, graphic memory can be extremely important:
If you'll e.g. ever want to use Davinci Resolve, 2GB should be the minimum VRam.

I'm a PC user but saw my buddy's iMac (i5, 32GB Ram but only 512MB VRam) crashing every time he tried to run Resolve (it took over 5 minutes to reboot then).
Btw, his "typewriter" 400€ PC Laptop (1GB VRam) managed to run Resolve (not very well but at least without crashing.

This is not meant to be a PC vs Mac comparison but low vs high(er) VRam comparison ;-)

December 15, 2015 at 9:02AM, Edited December 15, 9:02AM

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thank you guys! really appreciate it!

December 15, 2015 at 9:24AM

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Lucas Veltrie
Director/Cinematographer/Producer/Actor
143

Either buy old iMac or invest more. You can't buy good new iMac for 1500$.

December 16, 2015 at 8:07AM

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Andy Tokarski
Director, Editor, Colorist
1318

Are you working with 1080p footage or 4k? Also what types of projects are you working on? A $1500 machine should handle 1080p projects like shorts and music videos and such. But if you want to work with 4k footage more easily, or longer form projects, as well have future proofing yourself you probably want to save more for a better machine.

December 16, 2015 at 11:06AM

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Alex Everingham
Video Editor
486

The problem is that he would probably like to grade his video. DaVinci requires a really good video card for it.

Andy Tokarski

December 16, 2015 at 11:15AM

At the moment i am just working in 1080p but as you said future proofing myself would be a good idea, and currently myself and a friend are working on shorter/personal projects as well as a 40-60 min documentary (with hopes to expand to more feature type length films in the future) so the work load isn't exactly light. I have never worked with DaVinci before but it is my understanding that if u want to properly grade your film that is the software to use.

Lucas Veltrie

December 17, 2015 at 10:19AM

>>The problem is that he would probably like to grade his video. DaVinci requires a really good video card for it.

Oh no doubt, that's part of why I was asking what he was intending to do. If it's smaller projects or personal projects the built in color tools for Final Cut/Premiere Pro will work fine.

December 16, 2015 at 1:22PM

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Alex Everingham
Video Editor
486

Hey! Ho! Red Shark posted this article last month on how to build a Resolve system for $500 bucks! http://www.redsharknews.com/post/item/2815-building-a-resolve-12-system-...$500

December 16, 2015 at 2:53PM, Edited December 16, 2:54PM

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Dan Montenegro
Director/Producer
120

I'm picking up an old mac pro tower, putting an NVIDIA 980ti graphics card in it, putting (for a start) 48gb's of RAM, and swapping out old HD's for new solid states. The mac tower is being provided for free, so it's a low-stakes experiment, but there's a pretty big community out there advocating taking old mac pros and putting good hardware in them. The trouble with new mac desktop systems is they're not optimized for CUDA, which isn't a big deal if you're using final cut, but any Adobe work and you'll suffer. If the mac doesn't work out I can always repurpose the hardware for a PC build. Don't really care either way - to me it's just a workstation. I have a Macbook Air for personal use, and a Macbook Pro for mobility.

December 16, 2015 at 5:03PM

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Steven Bailey
Writer/Director/Composer
678

I'm curious to hear about your results. Any particular older mac pro model that would be best to use?

RJ Ortiz

December 18, 2015 at 11:41AM

For those of you that have answered and told me i need to spend more i was just wondering your input on this device, granted its only 500 dollars over my budget but i cant go that much higher than that..
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1190340-REG/apple_z0rs_mk45216_bh_...

Specs:
1 TB Fusion Drive
16GB RAM
3.3 GHz Intel Core i7

Thank you to everyone, all of this is a huge help

December 17, 2015 at 11:09AM

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Lucas Veltrie
Director/Cinematographer/Producer/Actor
143

Hello Lucas!

I want to throw my two cents in before you hit the buy button.

I am a HUGE advocate for buying used machines. You can get the highest spec machine from years past at a lower price than today's budget machine, and it will last you a long time.

Also to note, the newest iMacs are super svelte, but lack the option to change out the hardware (increase RAM/ swap SSDs) so I would recommend the model before. You can replace the internal drive with a SSD, and also replace the DVD-ROM with an SSD also. Take a look at this ebay for example, all the specs people are mentioning above, but much more reasonable (plus 27 in instead of 21)

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Apple-iMac-27-3-4-Ghz-i7-24GB-RAM-6970-2GB-2TB-250GB-SSD-Mid-2011-/281883441409?hash=item41a18ff901:g:j5YAAOSwxN5WbEIP

December 17, 2015 at 12:54PM

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Jonathan Goossen
International Videographer
249

wow... never even thought about the ebay route!! thank you so much!

Lucas Veltrie

December 17, 2015 at 12:57PM

Try Building/buying a hackingtosh.
http://www.tonymacx86.com/ this website can help you through the process.
you can also look for pre build configurations
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Hackintosh-i7-4790-3-6GHz-32GB-GTX-970-120GB-SSD-BitFenix-80-PSU-water-cooler-/331728465068

if you're not very good with computers I wouldn't recommend it but if you know a thing or 2 you might just be fine.

I spend $1500 on mine last year and i'm running a "mac" with the specs
4.3 ghz 4 core I7, 32gb of ram, 256gb samsun ssd, 2tb secondary drive, 2gb GTX760 and 650 wats of power. it runs smooth, its cheaper and just as good as an Imac....

Good luck!

December 18, 2015 at 4:13AM

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Jay Wonder
Designer | Video editor | Motion graphics Animator
1

Have a look on the refurb store and see what they have. I used a website to email me when the iMac I wanted became available.

I got a late 2013 i7 about a year ago and it runs Resolve well. I'd make sure you find one with the upgraded graphics option. The fusion drive is a good option too.

December 18, 2015 at 9:49AM, Edited December 18, 9:49AM

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