13 Replies Latest reply: May 7, 2007 4:37 PM by Matthew Kelling
Luke1987 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
I am soon to be purchasing a new iMac (first time mac owner), mainly to run Final Cut Studio 2 and am torn between two configurations. They are as follows:

24" iMac:
24" Screen with 1920 x 1200 Pixels
2.16GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
250GB Hard Drive
NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT with 128MB of GDDR3 SDRAM Graphics Card

20" iMac:
20" Screen with 1680 x 1050 Pixels
2.33GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
250GB Hard Drive
ATI Radeon X1600 with 256MB VRAM

So it is between the standard configuration for the 24" or a suped-up 20" one. I can't afford to spend any more money than what they are. Any advice would be great. Thanks.

  • Zebulun Level 5 Level 5 (6,745 points)
    i feel your pain, luke, however, you have to ask yourself what sort of functionality and what goals do you want to achieve with final cut studio 2. if you want dv or hdv only with no external viewing and no color correction and no audio mixing, an imac is fine.

    however, there are extreme limitations with the imac and it's abject lack of expandability. color will not preview through firewire. soundtrack pro 2 5.1 needs an audio interface which takes away one of your firewire or usb ports. well, the kona io hd might solve some of these issues but there again, do these imac possess firewire 800 ports?

    there's gonna be some posting who'll accuse me of ivory-towered elitism for pointing out the negative aspects of the imac and that's fine. the decision is ultimately yours but i will not recommend an imac or macbook to you. only you can decide this choice based upon your goals and budget. if you're set on an imac, final cut express may be a better choice for you.
  • StaticMike Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
    My suggestion would be to wait and keep saving for a Mac Pro. Trust Me! I own a 20" Souped iMac which I bought to run Final Cut Studio... When I bought it I was working on very basic things. Now I'm going to school for film/video and design/web and I need more power/flexibility. At work I edit on a Mac Pro and is wonderful because its expandable. In time you can add more ram, more drives... 1GB memory will not work well with FCS2 so if you limited to the Imac I'd say go with the "small" one for more internal power.
  • Jim Cookman Level 7 Level 7 (23,435 points)
    Have to agree with Zeb and Mike, an imac is a marginal machine for editing. Get a tower.
  • Jerry Hofmann Level 9 Level 9 (53,940 points)
    I have to agree with all the responders... buy a tower. Even a low ender would be much better than an iMac for Media production...

  • bearsclover Level 3 Level 3 (665 points)
    As you can see from my hardware list, I'm Ms. El Cheapo with a Mac Mini. So take my advice with a grain of salt.

    But, with that said, if for whatever reason the Mac Pro is out of the question (I agree with the others—it is your best option), then I'd go with the 20" iMac, since it has more RAM, faster CPU, and a beefier graphics card. If I'm not mistaken, an iMac can take an external monitor. So, if the 20" iMac monitor does not suit you down the road, you can always attach a bigger monitor to it later and have a two-monitor system.

    That's what I would do, if I only had limited funds. (Well, I do have limited funds, which is why I have the Mac Mini! But if I had funds for an iMac, I'd go with the 20" one.)
  • Luke1987 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Thanks for all the advice guys. Unfortunately, I don't think I'll ever be able to save up for a Mac Pro. I am a student at university so the iMac would be used for editing short 5-10 minute films. I'm hoping it will be able to deal with that. The people in the apple shop say it will, but then they would!
  • andy chastney Level 3 Level 3 (535 points)
    just an extra thought,
    you can pick up some really good deals on second hand mac towers. apple have their refurb zone and there are others on the internet of course. That may give you the flexibility and still keep the cost down. I agree with all the other posts here, avoid an imac if you want to do serious stuff.
    IMO macs are so well built that a good second hand machine is a great buy (ok you don't get that lovely smell of new!) but if you have budget and you have a need! it may be worth looking into.
    hope that helps
  • Luke1987 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Thanks for that extra tip. You say I should avoid an iMac if I want to do serious stuff, what do you mean by serious stuff? The sort of things I will be editing will be short 5-10 minute student films while I am at university. Would an iMac be able to cope with this?
  • andy chastney Level 3 Level 3 (535 points)
    you seem to be posting twice about the same thing! better avoided really.
    when I say serious stuff I mean anything processor intensive. FCS has some really good programmes within it that can do some amazing stuff but they do require hardware to go with it. Also remember that FCS is a serious app. FCS2 is likely to be even more hungry in terms of processing power. if you want to use it ..great just get a machine powerful enough to handle the beaast otherwise you may be disappointed.

    if you are cutting student films at uni then be realistic about what you can and can't do. if you want to get your own machine, then maybe put yourself in the role of the offline editor, concentrating on cuts and storytelling, leaving the graphics and grade/online to others in your class(who can use the uni hi spec machines?). That way you will be able to further your knowledge and hopefully love of editing without becoming frustrated with technology (leave that till later in your career!)
    good luck

    mac pro 2,66, 4gig ram, quad 2.5ghz g5, 4.5 gig ram,   Mac OS X (10.4.8)   G4 powerbook 1.67gHz, 2gig ram
  • bearsclover Level 3 Level 3 (665 points)
    Up until recently, I was making small 3-4 minute projects in Final Cut Studio 1 with a G4 Mac Mini with 1 GB of RAM. An iMac (with the configuration that the OP describes) sounds screamingly fast to me. My Intel Mac Mini certainly is screaming fast compared to the G4.

    I think some of this really depends on what you're used to. If you're used to a G4, than any Intel Mac with a decent graphics card and a good amount of RAM is going to seem like a huge leap up.

    With that said, I did look at the prices at the UK Apple Store, and a stripped down Mac Pro was about £150 more than the iMac you're looking at . . . so that's something to consider. You could always upgrade parts of the Mac Pro later. (But of course you'd have to also buy a monitor, which I'm assuming would start at around £100?)

    I've often heard people remind us on these boards: Just a few years ago, a souped-up G4 was capable of doing some serious FCP editing. An iMac is much faster than the G4s of a few years ago. I'm pretty sure that (if your budget simply won't allow for a Mac Pro) you'll somehow manage to limp along with a souped-up iMac . . .
  • StaticMike Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
    You do bring up some good points on relativity. My suggestion on the tower is based on the thought that over time you will move on to more advanced video work. An iMac can put out great things from FCP in DV or HDV. Yet if your needs after school require a video computer you might be working uncompressed- At this point you would need something else as opposed to just upgrading your mac pro to allow it to accomodate
  • CV3 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    I would go for the 24 inch becuse of one reason
    Firewire 800 which is not available on the 20 inch
    Thats the only reason i can still cut 8bit uncompressed footage on my powerbook
  • Matthew Kelling Level 2 Level 2 (385 points)
    I currently have a 20" iMac Core Duo (pre Core 2 Duo), and I LOVE it! Don't listen to these other guys, and get an iMac!

    From what you say, you will be doing simple cutting of student projects. I do much more than that on my iMac, and it works fine. I am in the same position that you are: I am a student, working on short, simple projects. It might not be amazingly fast or do everything in real time, but I don't care! Get the supped up 20"; it is MORE than enough screen.