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Old October 30th, 2014, 12:23 PM   #1
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iMac Retina 5K or Mac Pro for basic 4K editing

I'm looking to buy a new machine that cuts (through) 4K footage without a problem. I do a lot of basic editing and don't use a lot of effects. Some of my documentary projects can get quite big though, and contain up to 100 hour of footage.

I was thinking about a new Mac Pro. I'm currently working on a mid 2010 Mac Pro (2 x 2.4 Ghz quad core Intel Xeon with 12 GB of RAM)

I have a budget of around 4K. Preferably no more than 4K, as I intend to get a new (4K) camera as well so I could use the saved money towards the camera.

I had intended to get the 6 core Mac Pro with 16GB for 3650,- and then add another 16GB third party RAM later. Than add a 4K monitor for around 600,-

My questions are:

1) Am I silly to think I can use this new (maxed out) iMac 5K retina to run a business on?
2) Will the difference between the 6 core Mac Pro and the iMac be enormous for 'basic editing'?
3) What kind of affordable 4K screens are there for editors?
4) What else should I consider?

Thanks for the input!
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Old October 30th, 2014, 05:24 PM   #2
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Re: iMac Retina 5K or Mac Pro for basic 4K editing

As a reseller for both the Apple edit system AND the production/camera gear, I would say this all comes down to where you want to spend your money.

Sure the Mac Pro will be more powerful. It also has more Thunderbolt ports for expansion. But for the price, the iMac 5K is an incredible value.

Yes - you can do "basic" editing on it. Will it take a little longer to process some effects? Yes. Is that money better spent on your camera and other items? You have to decide.

I think the iMac 5K is going to be huge for helping get more people into 4K workflows.

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Old October 30th, 2014, 07:19 PM   #3
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Re: iMac Retina 5K or Mac Pro for basic 4K editing

Of course you can run a business on the new 5K iMac. What sort of business are you planning on?

The 5K iMac is plenty for basic editing, even in 4K. It's the level of complexity you plan on regularly getting onto that would shift the decision over to a MacPro. The MacPro has better video boards which will help in playing back real-time effects and rendering but you may not need this. 4K with color correction and filters may stutter in the iMac but it will still render perfectly.
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Old October 31st, 2014, 02:58 AM   #4
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Re: iMac Retina 5K or Mac Pro for basic 4K editing

Thanks, guys. I guess the only way to really know is when you've used a machine for a few projects but unfortunately that's something you don't get a chance to. I will go to the Apple Store and transfer some 4K material to the iMac and play around with it a little. I'll post back my experiences.
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Old October 31st, 2014, 02:01 PM   #5
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Re: iMac Retina 5K or Mac Pro for basic 4K editing

I went to the Apple Store today here in Amsterdam and had a disappointing encounter with the iMac 5K. They only had the slowest configuration instore and had a FCP X demo with 6 streams of 4K GoPro footage. So all I got was stuttering playback. After I said that the only way I could know if this (or rather, a maxed out iMac 5K) machine was the right one for me, was if I could have it for a few weeks, he said that that could be arranged.

So I was told they'll get in touch with me. To be continued.
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Old October 31st, 2014, 05:12 PM   #6
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Re: iMac Retina 5K or Mac Pro for basic 4K editing

6 simultaneous streams of 4K? If that is what it takes to induce stuttering then the computer is fine for regular 4K editing.
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Old November 1st, 2014, 04:29 AM   #7
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Re: iMac Retina 5K or Mac Pro for basic 4K editing

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Originally Posted by William Hohauser View Post
6 simultaneous streams of 4K? If that is what it takes to induce stuttering then the computer is fine for regular 4K editing.
With all due respect: that's reverse reasoning and doesn't make sense ;-) ! How can you deduct that a machine will do something because it won't do something else?!

After talking to Apple employees and reading up on the web, it becomes clear that the only real proof is hands-on experience, not conclusions or speculations based on specs. I was hoping someone out there had done a few weeks of 4K editing and could share his or her experiences.

The point for me was that I thought it was not very smart of Apple to display their weakest 5K iMac with a demo it couldn't handle. You walk in the store, play the FCP demo and the first thing you experience is a spinning ball. Bad start...
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Old November 1st, 2014, 04:51 AM   #8
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Re: iMac Retina 5K or Mac Pro for basic 4K editing

Jeroen,

When you did your tests at the Apple store, what video format were you using. what was the data rate and what was it stored on? It could be that the hard drive was unable to keep up with demands once you had reached six streams

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Old November 1st, 2014, 05:27 AM   #9
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Re: iMac Retina 5K or Mac Pro for basic 4K editing

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Originally Posted by Jeroen Wolf View Post
With all due respect: that's reverse reasoning and doesn't make sense ;-)
William's remark does make sense, I don't know if you have been editing 4K material before? I have two 4K camera that have 50mbs and 100mbs codecs and on my i7 3770 I can run one stream in realtime but as soon as I do 2 streams in a multicam setting it starts to stutter.

The entry level Imac has a I5 processor so if you say it stutters doing 6 streams of 4K you have no reason to be disappointed, I would be very surprised if it even would be able to handle 6 native streams in realtime, even 2 or 3 would be stretching it.

Before you make any assumption you need to know what type of codec was used, was it already converted into a intermediate prores format or where the native files on the timeline which makes a huge difference. If they have it on demo I suspect it was already converted to a much friendlier editing codec and it was the harddrive that couldn't keep up dealing with 6 streams simultaneously.
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Old November 1st, 2014, 06:00 AM   #10
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Re: iMac Retina 5K or Mac Pro for basic 4K editing

Sorry, Noa, you don't understand the point. It's the reasoning that doesn't make any sense, not the conclusion that I'm disappointed with an iMac not being able to play 6 streams of 4K.

All I'm saying is that you can't say a machine will perform well in one area because it won't do something else. That's just bad reasoning. But that's not really the issue here, so forget it.

Unless you actually TRY something, you can't really claim anything based on specs or numbers. I have enough experience and disappointments to testify to that...
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Old November 1st, 2014, 06:01 AM   #11
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Re: iMac Retina 5K or Mac Pro for basic 4K editing

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Originally Posted by Geoff Addis View Post
Jeroen,

When you did your tests at the Apple store, what video format were you using. what was the data rate and what was it stored on? It could be that the hard drive was unable to keep up with demands once you had reached six streams

Geoff..
It was their own demo, all prores. They should have known that this configuration would not be able to keep up with the data. Bad product presentation therefore...
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Old November 1st, 2014, 06:19 AM   #12
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Re: iMac Retina 5K or Mac Pro for basic 4K editing

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It was their own demo, all prores
You didn't say that before but this makes all the difference, in that case it's the harddrive that couldn't keep up, you just need to add a raid harddrive. My point was clear, you can't edit 6 streams of native 4K footage in realtime on a i5 processor, unless you use a intermediate codec and assure datatransfer doesn't become an issue. I also have enough experience and disappointments to testify to that...
You have to ask yourself, are you planning to edit 6 or more streams in a multicam setup? You said you did basic editing with some effects, then this i5 machine will handle one or 2 streams in 4K prores without an issue.
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Old November 1st, 2014, 06:33 AM   #13
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Re: iMac Retina 5K or Mac Pro for basic 4K editing

Well, Noa, I mentioned it was their own demo twice and you could 've figured they wouldn't put H264 in the timeline...

Anyway, hopefully I'll get the iMac 5K on trial and I'll be able to answer my questions. And share my findings here with the community.
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Old November 1st, 2014, 06:51 AM   #14
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Re: iMac Retina 5K or Mac Pro for basic 4K editing

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I mentioned it was their own demo twice and you could 've figured they wouldn't put H264 in the timeline...
What do you expect Jeroen, you fail to mention any important specifics and you say you are disappointed about the performance and then have us all guessing what the bottleneck could be and then tell us we should have figured it out ourselves? :) lol
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Old November 1st, 2014, 07:01 AM   #15
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Re: iMac Retina 5K or Mac Pro for basic 4K editing

If anyone has any real-life experience with the iMac 5K and editing 4K, I'd love to hear it.
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