For many years, professionals around the globe have been using Mac desktop computers to create some of the most impressive content in the video world. This is, in part, because industry-standard software suites, including Apple’s own Final Cut Pro, Adobe’s Premiere Pro and After Effects, and Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve, run exceptionally well on macOS.
Creative professionals and video editors have been clamoring for a new “Pro” Mac, and Apple has delivered that in the surprising iMac Pro. Practically custom built for high-end video and graphics applications, the iMac Pro is the most powerful Mac in Apple’s lineup and offers hardware that almost can’t be beat. This is shown clearly in the way the base model offers an incredible eight-core Intel® Xeon W™ processor, and custom models can be configured with a ludicrous 18 cores. This means that not only is 4K footage an easy process, but you can easily move up to 8K or advanced motion graphics effects with ease. For those building elaborate 3D graphics, the superb engine of the iMac Pro is easily the best choice because of this processing power.
Taking things up another couple of notches is the use of AMD Radeon Pro Vega graphics, with up to 16GB HBM2 memory, which offers double and triple the performance of previous Mac desktop GPU options. This is a crucial component for video editing and will even support the latest virtual reality environments. Render times will also see a dramatic improvement with these specs, speeding up nearly any video workflow. On top of this, the iMac Pro features anywhere from 32GB to 128GB of 2666MHz DDR4 ECC memory, meaning you have enough to run multiple environments or programs simultaneously. Constantly switching from Premiere to After Effects to Photoshop? Not a problem with the iMac Pro.
Storage is always a concern with video editing, because all those files take up a ton of space. The base iMac Pro comes equipped with a 1TB SSD for fast throughput, though it can be configured to 4TB if you like having everything on the internal drive. However, most editors will likely be using the various connections on the rear of the computer, namely the four Thunderbolt™ 3 (USB Type-C) ports with 40 Gb/s speeds. These are going to be used for hooking up external displays, using ultra-fast RAID storage, and much more. Also, alongside these ports are four standard USB 3.0 Type-A ports (also known as USB 3.1 Gen 1), a UHS-II SDXC card slot, 10Gb Ethernet, and a standard headphone jack.
We haven’t even gotten to the part that makes the iMac the iMac, the clean all-in-one design and integrated display. It stars Apple’s best display yet, a 27" 5K Retina with 5120 x 2880 resolution, P3 wide color, and a brightness of 500 nits. This makes it easy to see and highly color accurate, both important functions when working with video. This iMac also sports a beautiful Space Gray color for its aluminum chassis and has a depth of just 8" for placement on many desks.
There is a lot to like about the iMac Pro if you are a power user for video editing or motion graphics, and it is a highly-recommended choice if you are in the Apple ecosystem.
Not everyone needs that much power, or can take that large of a hit to their wallet, and this is where the standard iMac shines. This is a quite impressive computer and, with 21.5 and 27" varieties, it is easy to find one that fits your workflow and workspace. For video editors, it is hard to deny the appeal of the 27" model, with its Retina 5K display with P3 wide color and a 500-nit brightness able to deliver a stunning, color-accurate image. The 21.5", with a Retina 4K display, is quite nice, as well, if you are trying to save space on your desk.
Spec-wise, it is easy to see how this is a high-performance machine, with quad-core Intel® Core™ i5 and i7 options for processing. These are available in speeds up to 4.2 GHz, and will make programs like Final Cut Pro X run smoothly. Vastly enhancing power for video editing is the inclusion of AMD Radeon Pro 500 series graphics with up to 8GB VRAM in the 27" model, which makes it easy for you to handle multiple streams of 4K video or even create some 3D graphics. Storage is fast, with options for either a Fusion Drive up to 3TB or an SSD up to 1TB, and you can load a 27" iMac with up to 64GB of RAM, which should make it easy to load up large clips.
One of the most notable functions of the latest iMacs is the I/O, which includes two Thunderbolt™ 3 ports, four USB 3.0 (USB 3.1 Gen 1) Type-A ports, a Gigabit Ethernet connection, a UHS-II SDXC card slot, and a headphone jack. You can now hook up 5K displays, super-fast RAID arrays, and use expansion chassis to get the configuration you need. A great example is support for eGPUs to expand processing power, or to add some unique options like a Blackmagic Decklink PCIe card for recording or monitoring footage.
The standard iMac really is a beautiful computer to work on and, if you are working with video, it packs plenty of punch to handle 4K projects. Also, there is a Full HD version of the 21.5" model that, while offering a bit less power, is a great budget option that can handle HD timelines and limited 4K-editing capabilities.
Though not quite the powerhouse of the iMac Pro, and lacking the modern advances of the standard iMac, the aging Mac Pro still offers a few unique advantages that may make it a better option for your workspace than the all-in-one options. The “trashcan” design is extremely compact for a computer of this power, and it helps create an environment that can dispel heat more easily, useful for when you need to run some high-res renders. Its key advantage lies in the fact that it is designed for users who already have their own monitors and components and want a machine that can stay out of the way.
The only downside to the Mac Pro is that it is starting to show its age, having been released originally in 2013. However, it can still hold its own, depending on your needs. The heart of the machine is the use of Intel Xeon™ processors with up to 12 cores for handling multiple tasks simultaneously and with speed. Also, it has dual AMD FirePro GPUs that will help when working with 4K footage, and make it possible to handle other intense tasks in the background. Other beneficial specs are the use of PCIe-based flash storage and fast DDR3 ECC RAM.
Perhaps the most influential reason to go with a Mac Pro is its I/O setup, which can be directly compatible with slightly older equipment. This is because it has six Thunderbolt 2 ports, an HDMI port, two RJ45 connectors, and four USB 3.0 Type-A ports. This will let you set up three displays at one time. The Mac Pro is an intriguing choice, but worth researching for CPU and graphics-intensive processes.
There is a reason Macs have been a top choice for video editors, and it’s all about clean design, using the latest tech, and producing highly functional computers that can last for years. Are you looking to upgrade your workstation? Which of these models is most appealing to you? Sound off in the Comments section, below!