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Thread: iMac for photo/video editing - CPU or RAM?

  1. #1
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    Default iMac for photo/video editing - CPU or RAM?

    Hey guys, I'm looking for an iMac for photo/video editing (LR3 / FCP) and am looking at my options.

    I want to ask if CPU or RAM is more important for photo and video editing... so if anyone knows, it'd be great.

    I'm on a 13" macbook unibody with 2ghz core2duo, 2x2gb 1067 ddr3, and a 500gb seagate momentus xt part SDD part HDD storage. It's not fast enough for my 5D2 21mp raw and HD videos (h264 converted to pro res 422).

    So here are my questions:

    CPU - i5 or i7, does it matter? I'm not that much into gaming, but I do game from time to time.
    CPU - assuming all i5, 2.5ghz vs 2.7ghz vs 3.1ghz - Does it really matter?
    RAM - 4x2gb vs 2x4gb - same?
    RAM - 4gb vs 8gb vs 16gb - how much of a difference is there?
    Harddrives - Internal vs External via firewire - Much of a difference in speed? (SSD is too expensive)
    And lastly, about my options...

    Compare the following:

    A- 2.5ghz i5 + 16gb ram (4x4)
    B- 2.7ghz i5 + 8gb ram (4x2)

    Which one will be better for photo editing, and which for video editing?
    Cheers!
    Zexun

    p.s. Please don't tell me about windows alternatives and how they are cheaper. It's a preference thing (:
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  2. #2

    Default Re: iMac for photo/video editing - CPU or RAM?

    I don't use FCP, but from Photoshop CS5's perspective here are my points:

    1. Put less weigh on clock speed. I have a Mac Mini Server (2010 model) with only a C2D processor in it. With Photoshop + Bridge alone my CPU resources hardly spikes to max. It takes ages for 1080p movie decoding/encoding via Handbrake but I can live with the speed.
    2. Get 2x4GB if you can afford it. It leaves you room for upgrade if there is ever a need.
    3. RAM plays a huge difference. Get 8GB minimum.
    4. I put all my files on an external FW800 drive, with my mini server's internal drives running at RAID0. So far so good, FW800 file access is so much faster than USB2.0.

    For your last option, I will go for i5 2.5GHz. Don't see a point of paying extra $200 for 200MHz.
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: iMac for photo/video editing - CPU or RAM?

    Noted about the RAM. I'll get 8GB minimum.

    How much diff is from working from internal hdd vs external hdd via fw800?
    Our pictures are our footprints. Itís the best way to tell people we were here - JoeMcnally | Flickr

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    Default Re: iMac for photo/video editing - CPU or RAM?

    i'm on a PC using i5 2500k+ and 8gb of RAM. no problems with 21MP RAW files and 1080p video. I can do editing on NLEs like Vegas with no problems, and encoding is pretty fast. Of course, you can speed up encoding if you get a video card that is SLI enabled. I think most of the new graphic cards are SLI.

    i know it's not a mac, but that should give you an idea of how much computing power is needed.

    I frequently run LR and Vegas together - exporting jpgs using LR while I am editing video (OK, not really editing, but chopping and pasting).

    I think it's always better to have the media files on local HDD when you're editing, then after you're done move it off to a backup/storage/archive location. One problem I had initially was that I transferred my media files to my NAS that is connected to the PC over a LAN cable. While editing video, my frame rates drop to like 1-2fps! So I built a new PC with the specs above, and still had that problem! Then it dawned on me that maybe I should have the files on local disk.. and the rest was history. For all I know, I could have stuck with my 3 year old C2D!

    Here's a short video I made recently.. enjoy!
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    Default Re: iMac for photo/video editing - CPU or RAM?

    Thanks for your comment Antacid! Macs, and especially FCP, is generally known to be more resource efficient, so it seems like it'll work for me. No need to go all 3.1ghz i5 or 3.4ghz i7 etc.
    Our pictures are our footprints. Itís the best way to tell people we were here - JoeMcnally | Flickr

  6. #6

    Default Re: iMac for photo/video editing - CPU or RAM?

    Ram is probably of more importance, followed by GPU and lastly CPU.

    Due note that the latest Imacs have proprietary hard drives and are not easily replaceable. (http://www.macrumors.com/2011/05/12/...-on-new-imacs/)

  7. #7

    Default Re: iMac for photo/video editing - CPU or RAM?

    what 2evans said is mostly correct.

    photo editing rely more on ram and GPU
    video on the professional level, rely more on the video encoder/decoder card, ram, and the software.

    my experience when i was in the publishing business many years back, but times may have changed?

  8. #8
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    Default Re: iMac for photo/video editing - CPU or RAM?

    Quote Originally Posted by Headshotzx View Post
    Thanks for your comment Antacid! Macs, and especially FCP, is generally known to be more resource efficient, so it seems like it'll work for me. No need to go all 3.1ghz i5 or 3.4ghz i7 etc.
    yes i think a higher-end i5 is more than enough. i'm not very familiar with CPUs, but get the "k" version cos you can do overclocking on demand. Just open an application and select your clock speed! Shiok. I built my new rig for $600. recycled the 4 year old graphics card and HDDs though.
    www.colouredshots.com
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    Default Re: iMac for photo/video editing - CPU or RAM?

    Dont ever max the ram slot. The spd might be lower due to design. Eg. 1333 to 1066mhz
    Only Sony device mostly, haha!

  10. #10
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    Default Re: iMac for photo/video editing - CPU or RAM?

    So... d'you guys think that this is a good idea? Do note the free stuff (4 x 2gb ram)
    http://www.cathayphoto.com.sg/offers...apple-imac-new

    Or, for S$100 less, I can buy it online with student pricing, then upgrade the ram on my own. (2 x 4gb)
    Our pictures are our footprints. Itís the best way to tell people we were here - JoeMcnally | Flickr

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