21.5 in or 27 inch iMac for Video editing and photography

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Hey guys,
So I'm looking for some outside opinions as i am so veryyy on the fence with this decision. I actually just purchased a 21.5 inch iMac with 3.1 GHz i7 and the fusion drive. Its miles faster than what i was working with previously (a 2009 iMac core 2 duo, amazing i got rendering done on it). Been to the store a thousand times and read every comparison guide i could find and ultimately bought the supercharged 21inch thinking 6 inches wouldn't make or break my work.

but to unplug my 2009 iMac and see the 24 in display next to the 21inch it just feels so small. I know the aspect ratio is different but i feel like I'm losing screen real estate.

the painful bit is to exchange this one and get the 27 inch with the fusion drive and i7 it would set me back a whopping 700 bucks with tax.

So the question is, my fellow photographer/videographers
is it worth 100 an inch and a bit faster processor with the 3.9 GHz (i think comes with the 27)
I have a second monitor but having just purchased the iMac I can't tell how much it'll affect my work and only have a few days to decide to return it.

Thanks in advance guys!
 

pigoo3

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...thinking 6 inches wouldn't make or break my work.

First & foremost...you NEED to stop thinking in terms of inches. You need to be thinking PIXELS.

but to unplug my 2009 iMac and see the 24 in display next to the 21inch it just feels so small. I know the aspect ratio is different but i feel like I'm losing screen real estate.

Yes...the resolution of your 2009 24" iMac is somewhat larger (more screen real estate) than the 21.5" iMac you purchased:

- 24" 2009 iMac = 1920 x 1200
- 21.5" 2013 iMac = 1920 x 1080

So yes...your 24" iMac did have a physically larger display area & it had more screen real estate (but not by too much).:)

So the question is, my fellow photographer/videographers is it worth 100 an inch and a bit faster processor with the 3.9 GHz (i think comes with the 27).


Again (as I mentioned above)...you got to stop thinking in terms of inches.;)

So two reasons to get the 27" iMac:

Reason #1...Resolution comparison:

- 21.5" iMac = 1920 x 1080
- 27" iMac = 2560 x 1440

If you do the math (and I did);)...the 27" iMac has a WHOPPING 77% more display area (screen real estate). That's a LOT LARGER!!!:)

Reason #2...Cost comparision:

The 27" Thunderbolt display costs $999 (this is basically just a display). Lots & lots of folks would love to have a 27" Apple Thunderbolt display!:) With a 27" iMac you're getting that awesome 27" Apple display + the computer. If you subtract $999 from the cost of the 27" iMac...that's what you're paying for the computer.

Of course the 27" Thunderbolt display does have some other features...but it's main purpose is as a 27" display.

As far as the computer configuration...personally...I would MUCH rather have the 27" display than the 1 terabyte fusion drive and the 3.1ghz i7 cpu (that's $400 in upgrades that could be spent on the 27" iMac).

If I got your 21.5" iMac's configuration correct...it cost you $1899 (+ tax of course). If you got the lower end 27" iMac for $1799...that would be $100 LESS than the 21" iMac you purchased.

Yes...the lower end 27" iMac isn't quite as fast as the 21" iMac you configured.

If you wanted the speed of the 21" iMac you purchased...AND the 27" display of the 27" iMac...then you would get the $1999 27" iMac...and upgrade the cpu to the 3.5ghz i7 (+$200) = $2199. Personally I would also skip the 1 terabyte fusion drive & get the 256gig SSD (+$200).

With this configuration...the 27" iMac will:

- actually be faster than the 21" iMac with the i7
- you get the 77% more screen real estate 27" display
- you get better graphics hardware
- you get 2gig of vram vs. 1gig of vram in the 21" iMac
- the 256gig SSD will be blazing fast

Cost comparision. 21" iMac $1899...27" iMac $2399. 27" iMac is $500 more.
Yes you don't have as much internal storage with the 256 SSD. But SSD's are blazingly fast.

AND...to add one more wrinkle. Given your photo & video needs...I would actually upgrade the 27" iMac one step further...and get the 16gig ram upgrade (+$200).

So my recommended 27" iMac setup for your needs:

- $1999 27" iMac
- +$200 3.5ghz i7 cpu
- +$200 256gig SSD
- +$200 16gig ram

Total = $2599 (+$700 more than the 21" iMac). But you are getting the 27" display, better graphics hardware, 16gig of ram, and the 256gig SSD.

And remember. The 27" imac display is NOT just 6 more inches...it's 77% MORE DISPLAY REAL ESTATE!!!:):)

- Nick
 
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chas_m

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Another factor to consider, since you're working so much with images and video, is the graphics card:

The 21.5-inch model (except for the top end) has Intel chipsets. Very nice, but not quite as good as a "real" (discrete) graphics card. The 27-inch iMac has, at a minimum, a 1TB discrete video card.
 
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Thanks Nick!

Nick,
Thank you so much for your detailed break down and suggestions! Can't tell you how much I appreciate it. Just a quick question however

As far as the computer configuration...personally...I would MUCH rather have the 27" display than the 1 terabyte fusion drive and the 3.1ghz i7 cpu (that's $400 in upgrades that could be spent on the 27" iMac).

If I got your 21.5" iMac's configuration correct...it cost you $1899 (+ tax of course). If you got the lower end 27" iMac for $1799...that would be $100 LESS than the 21" iMac you purchased.

Yes...the lower end 27" iMac isn't quite as fast as the 21" iMac you configured.


- Nick

to this point, I must first say that I only have a cursory knowledge of hardware, my training is in software and when i look to buying my computer i naturally want what will make my work as easy as possible. I look at comparisons but the bar charts only tell me so much.

unfortunately at this time the 700 dollar upgrade to the 27inch is rather out of budget. But i don't fully grasp how much slower the base model 27inch would be when doing my work. The last thing i want to do is be the person that buys the fully upgraded iMac pays 3k and uses it for microsoft word thinking I'm benefitting from that much power. I am not making the next hobbit movie, i presently work for an events company doing sizzle reels and photography, with a short film here and there.

would i really lose out noticeably in performance to buy a lower end 27in? Ultimately I'm trying to find a solution that grants me the larger screen without breaking the bank but not at the cost of significant performance if the one i bought will perform truly better.

thank you again!
 

pigoo3

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would i really lose out noticeably in performance to buy a lower end 27in? Ultimately I'm trying to find a solution that grants me the larger screen without breaking the bank but not at the cost of significant performance if the one i bought will perform truly better.

The cpu benchmark scores for the 21.5" iMac you have are around 14,000. The cpu scores for the lower end 27" iMac are around 11,000. So do the math…and that is the approximate reduction in performance you may see.

To be honest…if you were to keep the 21.5" iMac you have…and for around $150 get a good 24" external display…you would still have plenty of screen real estate.:)

I'm assuming that you got your 21.5" iMac with 8gig of ram. If there is one thing I would change about it…I would have recommended getting it with 16gig of ram. Unfortunately…the 21.5" 2013 iMac ram is not really upgradeable after purchase.

I only mentioned this due to your photo & video focus. 8gig of ram for most users would be fine…but with what you do…you may find 16gig better. But on the other hand…if it's working great with 8gig of ram…maybe you'll be just fine.:) But then again…in 2-3 years…who knows.;)

- Nick
 
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So the question is, my fellow photographer/videographers
is it worth 100 an inch and a bit faster processor with the 3.9 GHz (i think comes with the 27)
I have a second monitor but having just purchased the iMac I can't tell how much it'll affect my work and only have a few days to decide to return it.
!

IMHO, for photography work, the 21.5 inch at 1920x1080 is plenty big. You can always work on large images at 100% if you need to do small, fine detailed work.

However, for video editing-- in Final Cut Pro X, for example-- a larger monitor is very useful. Especially when color grading where you might have scopes and inspectors open at the same time. However, you say you have a second monitor. You can use that in FCPX to break out the Events and/or Viewer windows to the second monitor-- which makes a huge difference. Having said that, you can edit video just fine on a 21.5" monitor-- I do it all the time.

The points raised above about RAM (you should have a minimum of 16GB for video editing) and the graphics card are more legitimate reasons to upgrade, in my view. I would worry about those before I worried about screen size.
 

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