New Standard iMac May Beat Out the Pro Models for Video Editors

There's always been a certain appeal to the space-gray iMac Pro over your run-of-the-mill iMac, and of course it went beyond the looks. The machine is a flat out beast, both in price and performance. But time goes on, and it's finally happened: You can configure a standard mid-2020 27" iMac that's capable of outgunning the iMac and Mac Pro in video editing for less money.

YouTuber, Max Yuryev, takes a deep dive into one of the configurations of iMacs that starts at $2,299, but with a few upgrades can be turned into a much better machine. One of the most important tips that Yuryev shares is that's it's worth it to sacrifice other upgrades to get the maxed-out video card, in this case the Radeon Pro 5700 XT with 16GB of memory, though that said, for video editors all of the cards in the 2020 27" iMac update include hardware encoding and decoding features that aren't in last years model, resulting in faster performance for that specific use-case, especially when it comes to export times.

One especially useful tip is to forgo all of Apple's memory upgrades. Even if it means your machine ships with a paltry 8GB of memory. It's an easy thing to throw a little bit of extra memory in there for a lot less money by doing it yourself instead of adding it at the time of purchase.

For those editing on a network with a need for speed, there's 10 gigabit ethernet now available as an option, something that's also trickled down from the iMac Pro.

An upgrade from the iMac Pro are the newer generation 8- and 10-core processor options availabile in the mid-2020 model iMacs. Yuryev's benchmarks show that the 8-core i7 processor in the iMac even edges out the 10-core Xeon processor in the iMac Pro, and that computer starts at an eye-watering $5,000.

But perhaps the biggest news for photographers is that the 10th-generation chips may have better support for Canon EOS R5 footage, which has been difficult for older processors because it's encoded in a way that doesn't have hardware support on earlier generations. Between that and the power of the graphics chips, these could be the machines you are looking for to edit video.

That said, the smart play might be to hold off before buying a new iMac. With Apple announcing that its computers will all be moving to Apple Silicon in the near future, while older Macs had a long shelf life (I'm still running a loaded 2013 model), the design of the body itself is already a bit long in the tooth, and in a couple of years, the Intel chip inside won't be seeing the same level of support from either Apple of software developers as it has in the past. Your $3,000 machine may have a much faster expiration date than your previous iMac.

Of course if you need a machine today, this video makes a strong argument for why a standard 27" iMac may beat out its "Pro" older brothers, at least for video editors.

Wasim Ahmad's picture

Wasim Ahmad is an assistant teaching professor teaching journalism at Quinnipiac University. He's worked at newspapers in Minnesota, Florida and upstate New York, and has previously taught multimedia journalism at Stony Brook University and Syracuse University. He's also worked as a technical specialist at Canon USA for Still/Cinema EOS cameras.

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Makes me wonder about the performance of the Apple Silicon iMacs next year. Will it prove that Apple Silicon is better or will it flop?

I really appreciate the work that Max and his brother put into their channel.

Sorry but most editors have left apple due to the insane price with no performance. Its like buying a Ferrari with a fiat motor. Its all design and branding. You can build a monster PC for half the price of an apple with dubble performence in the PC.

Career professional editor here, and I can count the number of jobs I’ve done on PCs on one hand and have four fingers left over. Not disputing the idea that custom rig may be cheaper, but most people don’t care and would rather not. People pay me to edit footage they could edit themselves for less, but poorly, just like I pay them to build me a computer I could build myself for less, but poorly.

I love editing on my Macs 1000x better than my PCs, but for a lot of 360 video/photo stuff, manufacturers release software for PC months ahead of Mac. The NVidia cards on PCs also have a lot more hardware acceleration. Pretty much the only reason I keep a PC around even.

Or you could buy a non-custom system, potentially save some money, or not. But you'd still have a much more capable computer for the money. I'm currently loving my Ryzen 3900x and all the advantages it brings. Watching those 24 threads go to work is a joy to behold.

$200 for an extra 8gb of ram.....That is insane.

But imagine how magical it'll make you feel!