The past two iMac refreshes I’ve been very pleased with what Apple has done. Granted it’s a piece of hardware that is Frankensteined together with both laptop and desktop components, somehow the RAM is stored on the bottom of the screen and all the ports are in the back not the side? Very strange from any typical computer you’d see on the street but for the sake of looking cool Apple goes the extra non needed mile and charges you three times for it. But whatever I have a 2k resolution screen and can typically play any game at ultra setting, it’s pretty nice right? I’ve owned my iMac since August 2010 before then I had a 2007 Mac Pro 2.66Ghz Core 2 Duo (Remember those things). My MacPro was burning through RAM like crazy so I had to sell it, granted I still needed a machine to edit on so my options were limited. I needed a temporary computer for about 1-2 years of intense use.
Why did I go the iMac route instead of a MacPro?
-No word of ThunderBolt ports, all the SATA support for the internal hard drives are 3Gbs not the new 6Gbs, no USB 3.0 support.
-iMac got a GPU boost from 512MB to 1GB.
-4 DIMM Slots instead of 2 (allows you to expand RAM to 16GB)
-2 SATA ports one for a 3.5” Drive and the 2nd for a 2.5” SSD
-Money! Save $3K in comparison to a MacPro Westmere w/27” Monitor
Once the bench marks were released I knew they finally made it worth while so I wanted to take a further look.
What benefits did I miss out on because I went the iMac route?
-Future proofing, no real way to upgrade your components to keep up with the rapid progression that video strides at. I bought my MacPro in 2007 for $3k used it intensely and sold it for $1k four years later (this is unheard of in the PC world).
-No options to get more ports (No PCIe slots on this badboy)…..although I just got my iMac modded by OWC to provide an eSATA port. http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/turnkey/iMac_2010_27 I can’t plug a drive or swap it out while the computer is on, I literaly have to restart the computer anytime I want to mount a drive through the eSATA, but it makes use of the spare SATA connection if you decided against the SSD upgrade.
For DIT wrangling I can make do with an eSATA and a FW800 port. The new 2011 iMac offers two ThunderBolt ports which I think is rad and can be used to make more ports or attach multiple monitors. Sonnet has some of the new adapters on the way which could be useful but of course you will pay the price. http://www.sonnettech.com/news/nab2011/index.html
Overall decision on getting an iMac has been great, eventually it will be a very nice personal set up once I officially stop using Mac for video purposes or when they decide to man-up the hardware on the MacPro to make it worth the money. Luckily I don’t have to edit as much as I use to but it’s always handy to have some sort of editing station. It’s a little hard when you have all the power and ports you’d want in a Desktop to then stripping it down to what you need. The fact that it’s an all-in-one makes it sweet to set up or wrap out at the end of a long day of shooting not to mention its nice to have a high-res screen to show 4K images to your Producers/Directors/DP. If you are editing Canon EOS .mov files or even Arri Alexa ProRES 444 1080P it’s totally possible and can keep up with large files, unless you plan on editing for a living/career then you’d want an iMac as your 2nd computer or personal. It’s really between a MacBook Pro and a Mac Pro, with all the updates that have been made it appears to cover almost everyones editing needs. Since it’s somewhat compact they do offer iMac portable cases which if you care about protecting your investment it’s something you should consider.
Bare Drive Dock & Sleeve
Mushkin 8GB Kit
Teneba $650 (Roller Soft-Case)
CaseCruzer $625 (Roller Hard-Case)
BigSoso $160 (ShoulderStrap Soft-Case)