This is just an opinion.
Stretch and get the base model 27 inch iMac with 8GB memory. Possibly with a full-size keyboard. Then, your only decision will be storage capacity and type. Stay away from the Mac mini without discrete graphics card.
- Larger workspace
- Faster, multi-threaded CPU and graphics
- Upgradeable memory
Be aware that there have been reported problems, specifically frame drops, for users with fusion drives doing video capture.
One thing you didn't mention is the memory. Remember if you get the 21 inch model the memory is not user upgradeable so you may wnt to max it out now.
VikingOS X gives good advise.
Some extra thought
I would go for the higher end option 27 inch screen model as it has the faster graphics processor.
Also, budget to be able to install more third party RAM, at least another 8 GBs of RAM for a total of 16 GBs.
I recommend installing more RAM than this if you can afford to do so.
Third party RAM is cheaper than what Apple charges.
Also, and this is very, VERY important! Budget and register for the 3- year extended AppleCare plan.
I mean this! I can't stress this enough! These newer iMacs are just prone to issues and component failures.
Having 3-years of AppleCare means three years of not paying for a single repair or replacement.
With iMacs, especially these new closed, sealed appliance-like models, if you do not try and order custom components that you may need for the future, not just for the present, and later, like a year or two down the road,you feel you need some feature/upgrade component that was available, you'll be out of luck as there is now virtually no way to add these components later.
Don't buy a iMac you think you can make do with for now to some some cash as if you do this, you will be sorry and upset you didn't purchase some of the better component options.
I would just stay away from the 21 in screen models.
There is no upgradeability in this model any longer. You can't even upgrade the RAM in these models any longer.
I consider the new 21 inch models to be inferior Macs, now.
Stay with the 27 inch models.
For video work CPU, GPU and RAM are all considerations.
For CPU, get the fastest you can afford.
Get the 1 GB VRAM video for sure and perhaps consider the 2 GB VRAM although you might fine with 1 GB of VRAM. 512 VRAM you'll find just won't be enough graphics power for video.
Get the base RAM and order third party RAM to install, at least 16 GBs of RAM. More RAM if you can afford.
Hi roberto. I've been in a similar boat to you re which imac to choose. I have had some great advice here, some in an applestore from a confident source and from spending my fair share of time on the net.
If you look at the website of "the videoguys" and look at pc specs for video editing you'll see a great overall write up. They mention i7 is the best option for professionals. If you are not that and you can wait a while more for importing, exporting and rendering then they have the i5 as being fine and a min requirement. They also talk about ideally having a min 1gb vram.
On a budget, it appears to me that the the stock 3.2ghz 27" is well placed/suitable.
avoids the 5400rpm cheaper imacs,
has owner upgradable ram,
a strong 3.2 i5 quad core,
and a graphic card quite a bit better than the entry point 27"
The card is also 1gb vram.
I think the i7 is more of a luxury item as the cores (most of the times will not be needed by us, as I see it IMHO, except for times mentioned above which will only require a little more waiting - is 5-20% more waiting ONLY at these times that important for you? That's for you to answer.
Also the 2gb vram 680 card seems like overkill for our needs. I think IMHO that the 1gb will be quite handy and very beneficial ateast for the next few years and you really can't expect to future proof for too long a period.
I too have always had concerns for the fusion drive,and question benefits for video editing. I'm waiting for feedback over next 12 months.
Another thing I read was a view that with the release of the imacs the i7 is likely to be outdated not too much after the i5 gets outdated in the future (some years away) so I don't beige we should look at the i7 option as a future proof benefit as opposed to the quicker processes mentioned above.
I have gone back and forward with my selections (changed about 4 times) and tonight I am confidentimac video editing options I am sticking with the 27 inch 3.2. I could have gone $200 cheaper but that 1gb vram sets me up very nicely for the next 2-3 years and probably pretty handily for a couple after that. If not, if i need better specs and my uses and needs change, then there will be no dramas selling it after 2 and buying again.
At the end of the day the cheapest imac will video edit (slower) and when on a budget or just wanting to buy smart the top end is overkill IMHO (again)
Good luck with whatever way you go
The first thing you need to do is determine how the computer will be used. The Mac mini would not be the best choice for someone who likes playing games (other than casual games) because it uses Intel's integrated video. Other than that limitation the mini is a fine computer. To me, the big disadvantage of the 21.5" iMac is that RAM is not a user upgrade but the graphics card of the top level 21.5" will be fine for most people. Of course its hard to argue with all the real estate of a 27" display (unless your desk or budget can't handle it). As far as speed is concerned even for the entry level computers, there's no such thing as a slow computer. The computer spends more time waiting for us than we spend waiting for it.
I forgot about that the 21 inch screen models have the slower 5400 rpm drives.
Not fast enough, IMO, for any serious video work.
Tthe 21 inch model iMacs are geared more for the general, casual Mac user and not for any real Pro use.
For the professional user, the 21 inch screen models are now not up to the challenge.
Just stick with the 27 inch screen models.
You get the faster 7200 rpm drives, choice of VRAM, better choices for HD storage sizes, user upgradeable/installable RAM. It's the proper way to go.
The i7 for sure...add your own RAM in a 27" or max out a 21", but with regard to the fusion.... I would check to find out if you can (I think you can) reformat the fusion drive to allow it to be split into two separate drives, SSD plus HD. If you can do that without voiding the warranty that is exactly what I would do. My concern over the fusion drive appears to have been smart and it's why I got a refurb 2011 and I was doubly glad I did when I saw that Apple dropped the 256GB SSD option forcing people into a very expensive big SSD if they didn't want a fusion drive. I still don't get that.
A refurb 2011 is still a good option if you get an SSD model (assuming they still pop up at times).
Partitioning the hard drive doesn't void warrany. Partitioning a fusion drive results in one partition that is still a fusion drive and a partition that is merely hard drive. It is also possible to 'unmarry' the SSD and hard drive to have two physical drives. See this article.
In response to MichelPM: Your claim that the 21.5" isn't for professionals cannot be supported. Professional writers? Professional artists? Programmers? Doctors? Lawyers? All could use the 21.5" iMac perfectly well. Professional videographers may well prefer the 27" iMac, though I know several who work from notebooks and not all notebooks have 7200RPM drives. Further, it is simple to split the Fusion drive into an SSD and hard drive (see link above) which totally negates the argument. Your preference might be a 27" iMac, mine too, but some times what you prefer and what you can have aren't the same.
I'd go, and am going with RAM first (but if getting a 27inch that can wait to see yourself how the 8gb are suiting you).
Then vram of 1gb which would be a luxury item that will benefit you more and more over time.
I think the i7 is your final step of choices.
If you're looking to se your imac within 2 years you could swap the order of the vram and i7 but the RAM is the one to look at on e you've opened the box and played with the 8gb.