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!)
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.
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!!!!
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!
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
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..
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.
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.