Apple’s WWDC usually focuses on different OS updates and new applications. The latest conference, though, shifted people’s attention to the hardware part. We saw lots of new, upgraded devices, like the MacBook and iPad, as well as the HomePod speaker. Apple also brought something exciting for desktop users. Professionals, rejoice, the new iMac and iMac Pro are almost here.
The updated iMac is already available, and let’s take a look at how well it handles video editing, 4K video editing in particular. It’s getting more and more popular nowadays and always needs a real powerhouse to satisfy the hunger for resources. But let’s take a minute to talk about the new performance boost the iMac received and the specs overall.
The cheapest 21.5-inch iMac starts at $1,099, but bigger diagonal and faster hardware goes as high as $5,299. We are testing a 27-inch unit, which costs $2,899 and comes with the latest Intel Core I7 4.2GHZ processor, 500GB SSD, and 16Gb of RAM. This is a capable machine, although we feel users might want to add some more RAM and storage. Unless they don’t do a lot of multitasking and use external drives.
But let’s take a look at another important component of any video editing machine. The best graphics card you can get with the 27-inch 5K desktop is the Radeon Pro 580 with 8GB of VRAM. So if this is not enough, you will want to hold off buying an iMac, until the Pro version arrives in December. Or perhaps you should wait a bit longer for the Mac Pro, which is expected sometime next year.
The 2017 iMac looks exactly the same as the previous model. Buttons, fans, and even the logo are in the exact same spots, the same exact size. The only difference here is the USB-C ports, which have replaced the Thunderbolt 2 ports. The transition could be somewhat of a problem, but you could always use a dongle to connect your accessories.
The display and photo editing
The 5K display is a thing of beauty, and the difference between this one and lower-res models is immediately clear. The colors are vivid, and the brightness is great, although it feels a bit too reflective. Of course, if you’ve spent the last couple of years looking at a similarly great screen, it might not blow you away. But still, amazing.
Let’s proceed to the main task – the editing. This computer handles photos with ease, which is expected really. The improved performance makes the process a breeze, and accurate colors also help a great deal. Most people will see the difference right away. Not much to say here, except, the iMac does photo editing extremely well. What about the video?
How does the iMac handles video?
We experimented with a footage, filmed with a Sony A7S and a c100 camera. The former shoots video in 4K, the latter captures 1080p. We were using the latest Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2017 to edit the video. The previews were set to max render quality, and we kept After Effects and Lightroom open in the background to make it more challenging. For the same purposes, we also kept a dozen browser tabs open.
What can we say? While the final project was exported in 1080p, the new iMac did a flawless job editing and rendering 4K footage. No annoying lags, the rendering is very smooth. The export times were noticeably shorter too, compared to the previous models. The difference was apparent even though it was a 200MB two-minute video.
The fans did go louder during the export process, but since it only took about 90 seconds, it wasn’t a big deal. Our previous iMac (i5 3.2GHZ, 32GB of RAM, Radeon (r9 m380 with 2GB) took almost three minutes to export the same video. Almost every move was longer on the older iMac, even applying a stabilizer on a clip was twice as long.
So here’s the short summary. The new iMac will likely be a great machine, especially if you don’t want to wait for the Pro model. Even though we didn’t get to do more extensive testing this time, the preliminary results were impressive.
If you have an older iMac and thinking about the upgrade, it’s a great idea to compare the specs to see if it’s worth it. Wait for the Pro, if you are not sure. It will be a bigger performance jump, but will be two times pricier too. Otherwise, a $3,000 dollar machine will likely meet the needs of an average professional editor.
Source: The Verge