When Apple quietly updated the iMac with new, speedier Intel Haswell processors and faster PCI-e flash storage, plus 802.11ac WiFi, it was met with little interest. But this speed bump is of great advantage to video editors using Final Cut Pro X, Lightworks, Premiere Pro CC and more
With the completely re-designed, extremely fast Mac Pro right around the corner, and prices still unknown (but likely high), there is an argument to be made to take advantage of the late-2013 iMac models. While the thin, updated exterior remains the same from late 2012, everything is new under the hood.
The specs for the late-2013 iMac models
2.7 GHz quad-core i5 (Turbo Boost up to 3.2GHz) with 4MB L3 cache, and Intel Iris Pro graphics.
2.9 GHz quad-core Intel i5 (Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz) with 6MB L3 cache, and NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M with 1 GB video memory. You can customize this model with a 3.1 GHz Intel Core i7 quad-core processor with Turbo Boost up to 3.9 GHz.
3.2 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 (Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz) with 6MB L3 cache, and NVIDIA GeForce GT 755M with 1 GB video memory.
3.4 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 3.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor (Turbo Boost up to 3.8GHz) with 6MB L3 cache, and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 775M with 2 GB video memory. You can customize this model with a 3.5 GHz Intel Core i7 quad-core processor with Turbo Boost up to 3.9 GHz. You can also upgrade to an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M with 4GB of GDDR5 memory with this model.
The fast graphics and Haswell processors make the new iMacs a great and affordable upgrade for video editors using Apple-supported NLEs, including Final Cut Pro X, the upcoming Lightworks for Mac, Premiere Pro CC and Avid. It'll also do wonders with graphics programs like After Effects CC and Motion 5.
Because of the way the RAM is situated in the iMac, we recommend ordering as much as possible when buying your system, at least 8 GB. The 21.5-inch model can support up to 16 GB of 1600 MHz DDR3 memory, while the 27-inch unit can handle up to 32 GB. We also suggest getting the Apple Fusion Drive, a combined hard disk drive and flash drive, which can help give you faster boot up and app launch times.
The Thunderbolt port is just the start of adding external hard drives, RAIDs, and other hardware, such as a monitor or capture device, like Blackmagic Design's UltraStudio. You can also buy a FireWire-to-Thunderbolt adapter to continue using your IEEE 1394 drives.
There is something interesting to note... after years of having the base model ship standard with a pro-level graphics card, such as an NVIDIA GeForce card, the late-2013 model sports an Intel-integrated card, Iris Pro graphics. It's best to reserve judgment on the card, because it could be powerful, but graphics cards such as this, in the past, haven't been up to snuff when it comes to heavy lifting, such as editing and animation.
Whether you're adding a late-2013 iMac to your post-production office to complement the new Mac Pro, or using it as an affordable yet fast Mac desktop, it will likely get the job done.