Need some advice purchasing my second iMac for video editing



My 2007 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo is showing its age. Editing and rendering a 10 minute 720p video takes close to an hour in iMovie. Even YouTube videos are becoming problematic. It's safe to say that I'm ready for some quad-core action. Here's the deal, I just built a powerful $1500 gaming PC i5-2500K 3.3GHz Quad-Core + GTX570 so I'm finding it a tad bit difficult dropping $3K on a decked out 27" i7 when comparing the power to price ratio.

I do everything on my Mac except gaming. Editing, movies, music, console game capturing and soon, I'll be moving my audio only podcast to a skype video format by utilizing the iSight's 720p recording ability and capturing that with ScreenFlow along with Final Cut Pro X for editing.

Are there drastic differences in performance between the i5/3.1GHz and i7/3.4GHz besides the $200 price? Is video rendering all processor based or does the video card (6970M 1GB vs 2GB) play a major role here?

Finally, all of my media including my iTunes library is on 3TB externals so my internal is strictly for OSX. When configuring a build on the site, they have the option for a 256GB SSD [Add $500]. Does that mean that by choosing this option you only get an SSD and that's it? My Win7 machine is very snappy so I'm aware of the performance boost by having an SSD but is it a must? Basically, I need to make the best financial decision for the performance as this new iMac will more than likely last me as long as my first one did.

Thank you for your input.


Jan 23, 2009
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Born Scotland. Worked all over UK. Live in Wales
Your Mac's Specs
M2 Max Studio Extra, 32GB memory, 4TB, Sonoma 14.5 Apple 5K Retina Studio Monitor

I'm not an expert and others will quickly chime in with their more erudite offerings.

However I make similar demands of my Mac (except gaming which I have never practised).

From what you tell us, I'd say the i7 is worth the extra. As you probably know better than I, CPU determines the speed at which you do things and RAM determines how much activity you can undertake at the same time.

In your case speed is paramount and the new Sandybridge i7 quad processors are astonishing.

These days, it is generally accepted, especially with Lion, that you need a minimum of 8 GB of RAM; but it is vastly cheaper to install this yourself and dead easy to do so. Apple charges way OTT.

As regards SSD — You get BOTH the SSD and an IHD which can be 1 or 2 TB according to need and your pocket. I have an SSD and keep my personal folder and all Apps on it; but have my iTunes, iPhoto and iMovie libraries on my Int HD.

But if I had to compromise because of cost, I'd dispense with SSD (despite its being blisteringly fast), get the best graphics card and the i7 processor.

That's what I would do in your situation; but there will be lots of others who will see things differently.

Hope this helps.


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