13 Replies Latest reply: Nov 22, 2012 2:42 AM by nouveaunoir
nouveaunoir Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

I'm going to be picking up a Mac for making commercial shorts in FCP X (720p and HD, 3-5 minutes long generally), and trying to get my head around which of the current offerings would be sufficient for the task. Budget is a concern, so I don't want to automatically just go with the best or most professional-level option. I haven't worked in the Apple environment at all, I'm thinking about converting from PC.

 

So far I've narrowed it down to these options.. which is pretty broad, so I'd appreciate the community's feedback. If this is in the wrong section, I apologize ahead of time.

 

1. Mac Mini 2.5 and buy RAM/monitor/keyboard/mouse

- About $1000

- Not sure if it will be powerful enough

- I don't have a monitor/keyboard/mouse because all my monitors are being used in my current setups, so it has to be priced into the cost of the system

 

2. Mac Mini 2.3 and buy RAM/monitor/keyboard/mouse

- About $1200

 

3. Macbook Air 13" with RAM upgrade and buy a mouse

- About $1350

- Can be used on the go, which would be pretty awesome

- Will be stuck with a small screen, might have to pick up a second monitor

 

4. iMac 21.5

- $1300

- I believe it's less powerful than #2 and costs more? Not sure whether this is a good choice.

 

5. iMac 27

- $1800

- Way above budget, but leaving it on the table in case someone has a really strong recommendation to make.

  • 1. Re: What hardware will be sufficient for FCP X? Starting from nothing
    Russ H Level 6 Level 6 (14,250 points)

    This performance comparison might be a good start to your decision process.

     

    Good luck.

     

    Russ

  • 2. Re: What hardware will be sufficient for FCP X? Starting from nothing
    Alchroma Level 6 Level 6 (17,195 points)

    IMO the more screen real estate the better.

     

    Al

  • 3. Re: What hardware will be sufficient for FCP X? Starting from nothing
    dastoelk Level 3 Level 3 (650 points)

    I was in your same position this time last year. Of course, the big question is: "Are you going to be editing as a PROFESSION?" If so. max out. It's a capital busines expense. Write it off. (BTW: Mac is the way to go with the "arts.")

     

    Now, here's MY opinion on buying ANYTHING "Apple:" Buy as much as you can afford. Apple has a way of engendering buyer's remorse, for the simple reason that they come out with something new 6 months after you've made your investment. (This is true whether you buy an iPad or a Mac.)

     

    Me? I went ahead and "maxed out," knowing:

     

    a.) Apple would always be coming out with a faster processor, and the video industry would keep feeding me "fatter" files, anyway.Three years down the line, my machine would be THAT much slower. So, I might as well start "fast."

     

    b.) I would NEVER curse having a fast machine. But, I would grind my teeth if it was slow. (And my client would be breathing down my neck.)

     

    Novenaunoir: I'm happy I maxed out... even if I DID have to put more on the credit card than I would have liked. But, my editing FLIES with nary a hiccup, slow render, or crash. So, I got the fastest processor (CPU and graphics) and the most RAM I could afford. And, as Alchroma said, I wanted plenty of screen space where I could toss and shape my visual clay. This is what I got (screen shot) and I have NO regrets: (other than the fact that YOU will be able to buy a thinner, faster iMac come December!)

     

    myiMac.png

  • 4. Re: What hardware will be sufficient for FCP X? Starting from nothing
    nouveaunoir Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Thanks Russ, the performance review was great. Looks like there is a very real difference in specific filters and processes.

     

    Alchroma, yes, I think that will probably cross out the MBA from the list of options. While the novelty of being able to work outside the studio is great.. I can't realistically imagine doing production work on such a tiny screen in any capacity.

     

    Dastoelk, I agree in a sense, but money is pretty tight right now and video will only be a small component of my work, so it's a compromise. Based on hardware specs, I think the maxed iMac that's coming out in Dec is going to be about equal or worse across the board to the setup I'm running now for PC, so it will most likely strictly be for video.

  • 5. Re: What hardware will be sufficient for FCP X? Starting from nothing
    Alchroma Level 6 Level 6 (17,195 points)

    MBA does have a Thunderbolt Port?

     

    You can lace in a large screen even if it's not a tricky new Thunderbolt Display.

     

    Al

  • 6. Re: What hardware will be sufficient for FCP X? Starting from nothing
    Jakob Peterhänsel Level 3 Level 3 (655 points)

    Hi,

     

    It's a hard choice!

    If money are a problem, as it seems, I would go for a max'ed out Mini, buy a new/use a screen you already have, and then step up when you have the money. the nice thing about the mini, is you can change it over to a Server latter and leave it running - or use it in a render cluster.

     

    Is the GPU slower, yes, but that is then the tradeoff.

    Also, save yourself a little money, and select the lowest TAM from Apple, and then upgrade that in your local computer store - Apple's RAM prices are a bit high..

     

    Edit: Ohh, and absolutely select the Magic Trackpad!!!!

  • 7. Re: What hardware will be sufficient for FCP X? Starting from nothing
    Karsten Schlüter Level 7 Level 7 (29,885 points)

    nouveaunoir wrote:

     

    I'm going to be picking up a Mac for making commercial shorts in FCP X (720p and HD, 3-5 minutes long generally), … Budget is a concern …

    I'm the no-budget-guy here, using FCPX for hobbyist productions … the 'pros' will groan loadly, but I'll say it forever: it IS possible to use FCPX on a shoestring budget, e.g. using usb2 (yes, that is a two, no three) drives etc. use FCPX' features wisely, proxies, de-locating Events/Projects, etc.

     

    a few, very subjective comments/my p.o.v.:

     

    • screen-estate is important - you get 20, 22" widescreen tfts for under 150; I like two screens, but color precision is no issue here.

     

    • the new MacMini (I'm using a historic 2.26GHz one) has a LESS than optimal GPU compared to an iMac, another read here

     

    •  … but is way-than-fast-enough - and is 'speed' really an issue? you'd pay another grand for 15% faster - reads as: not 5minutes, but 3:30m …

    yippieh, time to write a book

     

    • more RAM gives a dramatic boost, max it! (buy at specialized suppliers)

     

    • keep in mind: tons of harddrive space! x2 for backups! but: a backup doesn't have to have thunderbolt, nor has to be a wireless, perfectly integrated TimeCapsule! discipline yourself, connect your cheapo 500GB WesternDigital usb2 every 2nd week to your set-up and copy via Finder, while doing a walk in fresh air

     

    • the WORKdrives should be fast - get a usb3, fw800, tb connected drive for your Events (in work, the old ones >> another drive)

     

    • … and I'm a huge fan of the MagicTrackpad too!

  • 8. Re: What hardware will be sufficient for FCP X? Starting from nothing
    Ian R. Brown Level 6 Level 6 (17,885 points)

    You have been given some excellent answers covering most aspects so there is just one thing I will mention.

     

    It all depends on the volume of work and the tightness of deadlines.

     

    If you have plenty of time at your disposal it doesn't matter what current Mac you use  .  .  .  .  even the cheapest will do the job  well  .  .  .  .  it's just that it will take a bit longer.

     

    FWIW  I would go with the 21.5" iMac.

     

    Message was edited by: Ian R. Brown

  • 9. Re: What hardware will be sufficient for FCP X? Starting from nothing
    nouveaunoir Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Yeah, I think ultimately I'll be going with the Mac Mini and maxing it with parts myself after. I can't realistically expect that I will have so much volume of work on video that I will need the speed.. and Apple hardware seems to retain value a bit better than PC. If I have to upgrade down the road, at least it won't be as much of a loss.

     

    The true 27" monitor for iMac 27 is really tempting, but will probably have to pass on this one this time..

  • 10. Re: What hardware will be sufficient for FCP X? Starting from nothing
    Karsten Schlüter Level 7 Level 7 (29,885 points)

    nouveaunoir wrote:

    … iMac 27 is really tempting, but will probably have to pass on this one this time..

    the new one is really tempting - but my non-existing budget will go into a new camera, a better one. and there are many even more tempting …

     

    Thanks for the greenie!

  • 11. Re: What hardware will be sufficient for FCP X? Starting from nothing
    Ian R. Brown Level 6 Level 6 (17,885 points)

    Note that the basic unmodified iMac with the 21.5" screen will probably have all the power you need and will not cost much more than the Mini after you have bought a monitor etc.,which will almost certainly not be as good as the iMac's.

  • 12. Re: What hardware will be sufficient for FCP X? Starting from nothing
    hughmass Level 3 Level 3 (565 points)

    Let me put in a word in favor of used Macs. I am selling my 3 year old iMac on the local market in a few days. It works perfectly and I use it often for fcpx.

     

    I suspect it would be a fine option for someone, and would have the virtue of only costing @ $500.

    Note: I am not trying to sell my Mac here, just pointing out you can get some good bargains on used Macs that will last for years and offer an inexpensive intro into the Mac world.

    Hugh

  • 13. Re: What hardware will be sufficient for FCP X? Starting from nothing
    nouveaunoir Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    I'm not sure, the price difference seems pretty large when I ran it out.

     

    Mac Mini (800) + 16gb sticks (80) + Viewsonic 23" (200) + keyboard and mouse (150) will be 1230.

     

    iMac 21 (1300) + 16gb sticks (80) + keyboard and mouse (150) will be 1530.

     

    I need the keyboard and mouse in both cases since I work with ergonomic/split key gear, I can't really type on the Apple keyboard which has really short travel on the keys. The mini only has 2 slots for RAM - if the iMac has four, then I'd only need to pick up a 8gb stick, but that's only going to be about 40 bucks less. The Viewsonic screens are pretty decent so that's comparable for me.