13 Replies Latest reply: Feb 3, 2013 5:49 PM by Russ H
cnelson3225 Level 1 (0 points)

Here is my situation:


My school has a six year life cycle for macs, and we have a 2006 Mac Pro (1,1) that is reaching the end of its useful life. I had recently tried Final Cut Pro X and it pains me to say that it took 4 hours to export a 14 minute 720p video. This mac is used for our school news and has to be a beast video editing machine. We have been saving money for quite some time and can now afford a decent upgrade.


So my question to you is which would be the best upgrade for the money: a 21.5 inch iMac with an i7, 8gb RAM, and Fusion drive or the cheapest Mac Pro with after market SSD?


I am looking for something that would really power through Final Cut Pro X and be able to usefully last us another 6 years.

Please help I am forever perplexed with this!

  • Fleak Level 1 (50 points)

    I think it was in the last keynote where Apple said the current iMac with fusion drive is the fastest machine for FCPX.


    The MacPro will be given up or we will get a huge performance update to surpass the new iMacs. Both is possible.


    You never go wrong with an iMac. It's also a perfect time to buy an iMac since the new ones are just out.

    I'm still working on a late 2009. I wouldn't need 4 hours to export 14 minutes of a 720p video (of course this depends of the effects and filters you use).

  • Paul Veronin Level 1 (145 points)

    The cheapest Mac Pro would not be very fast. The i7 iMac would definitely be faster but I would really recommend ordering additional ram to the iMac when it's purchased because it is very difficult to add it afterward, and FCP X would run much smoother with more than 8 gb.


    If you get it with a fusion drive, just run your operating system on the fusion and not your events and projects. If I had to choose between extra ram and a fusion drive for fcp x performance, I would get the ram.

  • Fleak Level 1 (50 points)

    Is it really difficult to ad ram? I don't know.

    Why? Are they not available?


    Normally I'd say go for the bigger Graphic Card and buy the ram somewhere else. But it is of course more convenient to open the box, plug and play.

  • Paul Veronin Level 1 (145 points)

    Yes it is extremely difficult to add ram to the new 21 inch iMac. I believe the 27 inch is easier.

    http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9234218/Upgrading_RAM_on_new_iMac_practic ally_impossible

  • Fleak Level 1 (50 points)

    I see.

  • cnelson3225 Level 1 (0 points)

    I think RAM is soldered on in the 21.5 inch... I think I have my decision, I think that we should get the iMac. The only thing that ***** is it is probably going to take a month for us to get it. Thanks for all your help guys!

  • Paul Veronin Level 1 (145 points)

    Here's a good blog post from Larry Jordan about ordering an iMac for FCP X editing.




    He mentions the Fusion drive and how it works great for the operating system but not for always changing media (Events/Projects).

  • dastoelk Level 3 (665 points)

    I love my 27" iMac. FCPX runs like a dream, even the most complex and effects-laden projects  I think the days of "tower" computers are numbered. Plenty of speed and memory are being crammed into smaller, more efficient and elegant devices. 

  • John Galt Level 8 (45,978 points)

    cnelson3225 wrote:


    I think RAM is soldered on in the 21.5 inch...


    It's socketed, not soldered, but the new iMac is not easily disassembled.

  • cnelson3225 Level 1 (0 points)

    it might as well be soldered... it is definately not going to be something I am going to do to a computer that needs to last 6 years, I am going to get the most ram. in fact I am going to get the top of the line 21.5 inch.

  • digibudII Level 2 (415 points)

        I was a tech manager for a large high school for several years and I believe if I were in your situation I would absolutely get an iMac because the value of the current iMac line as compared to the MacPro is so high. Unless you throw a lot of money at a MacPro, the iMac is going to be a much faster machine.12 cores and a top end vid card on a MacPro will, I think, get you better performance but at a huge cost. If you could wait till the next round of MacPro come out it may be a different thing but you still have  a big investment in a box that will begin to decline quickly whereas with the imac you can wait a year or two and replace it with a new one. I would personally recommend a 2011, 27" refurb with SSD and i7 processor. Only pay for the 4GB ram and throw 16 more in and you're in great shape. Add some external storage and boom!   For school use I'd stay away from Fusion or any internal HD in an iMac just for the sake of reliability and all the student work should be on external anyway.  I have a MacPro 1.1 and an iMac and am so very sad the MacPro line required Video cards that had (for most consumers) to be Apple specific. End of rant. Grab an iMac and replace it in two years and don't look back.

  • cnelson3225 Level 1 (0 points)

    This really helps me a lot, however it is no just replace it in a couple years... Unless our own class raises the money, the replacement cycle is every six years. That's what worries me. We have a lab of 2011 or 2010 Core i3 iMacs and they seem just as quick in the heavy applications as the original Mac Pro. As far as getting a souped up one of those I am waiting on a response from the district if they can purchase previous model years. If we can, and knowing our replacement cycle, and the fact that we may not be able to open it up and put an SSD into it, do you still think we should get the older one?

  • Russ H Level 7 (20,285 points)

    If you can wait a little longer…http://forums.creativecow.net/thread/335/45931


    Otherwise, the iMac – particularly the 27 – is great/