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Apple loan FCP.co a top of the range iMac to test. Part 1 Unboxing and first thoughts.

imac test loan

When Apple offered us the opportunity to borrow a fully specced out iMac to test, how could we refuse? We begin with a quick look at the machine, specifications, design and first observations. 

There was a bang on the office door and a nice courier driver handed over a rather odd shaped brown box. Inside was the new iMac that Apple has kindly lent us for a few weeks to try out. Although it's a loaner, the machine is new, so all the usual plastic wrappers had to be peeled off the cables, screen & keyboard e.t.c.

imac unboxing

imac on desk

 

We were pleasantly surprised to find out that the model Apple have loaned us is a 27 inch 3.4 GHz Intel Core i7. It has 32 GB of RAM installed, a 3TB Fusion Drive and the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680MX 2GB GDDR5 graphics card. A similar spec machine retails for about £2,700 on the Apple Store.

system spec fcpx

The machine came preloaded with 10.8.3 and the apps we would be using including FCPX, Motion, Compressor and also some apps we probably won't be using such as Aperture and Logic.

Next we did what anybody does who works with video and takes delivery of a new machine: Run the Blackmagic speed test!

fusion drive imac

The 3TB Fusion Drive puts in some impressive results, but the test was carried out using a single 5GB file which would easily fit onto the flash side of the drive. You are not going to get this performance from longer video files that will have to be read from the spinning disk, but we would assume most users would have Thunderbolt connected drives for media anyway.

The Flash and spinning drive appear as just one disk and there are no settings to customise its operation. The transfer of regularly used files from the spinning drive to the flash media (and back) all happen automatically. The idea is to give flash drive performance with hard disk capacities on a budget.

fcpx imac

Firing up Final Cut Pro X the first time to a blank project took seven seconds, succesive opens now take about three. One area where we have seen FCPX slow down is the creation of thumbnails in the Event and Project Library. All the thumbnails are cached into RAM and not written to disk so the Fusion Drive won't have any benefits there. It is another indicator that you should put as much RAM into your edit machine as possible.

Next up was to test was the graphics card. You might have read that we reported some users were having problems with the 2GB versions of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680MX. We spent a good 15 minutes trying to get the now infamous Pixie Dust title to crash the machine. It didn't although it did take a while for the iMac to respond on a few occasions, so it makes a good stress test. Maybe it was the 10.8.3 update that fixed the problem.

pixie dust fcpx

 

A couple of first observations. The machine does look stunning, but it is also remarkably quiet. If you've ever had a long edit session sitting next to a Mac Pro, then you'll know the relief when the machine finally gets turned off at the end of the day. Not so with the iMac although we will try to get the fans on maximum during a large render.

Secondly, although the screen has been bonded to the glass with a new process which reduces reflections, it isn't at retina resolution. This might not matter for the majority of users, but if you've been used to working on a retina MacBook Pro, then you'll find the screen on the iMac slightly soft.

So the new machine is up and running in the office and we will be providing more reports on how it performs over the next few weeks. We are looking forward to testing it out.

 


Written by
Top BloggerThought Leader

I am the Editor-in-Chief of FCP.co and have run the website since its inception ten years ago.

I have also worked as a broadcast and corporate editor for over 30 years, starting on one inch tape, working through many formats, right up to today's NLEs.

Under the name Idustrial Revolution, I have written and sold plugins for Final Cut Pro for 13 years.

I was made a Freeman of Lichfield through The Worshipful Company of Smiths (established 1601). Though I haven't yet tried to herd a flock of sheep through the city centre!

Current Editing

great house giveaway 2020

2020 has been busy, the beginning of the year was finishing off a new property series (cut on FCP) for Channel 4 called The Great House Giveaway. I also designed and built the majority of the graphics as Motion templates. It has been a great success and the shows grabbed more viewers in the 4pm weekday slot than any previous strand. It has been recommissioned by C4 for 60 episodes, including prime-time versions and five themed programmes. The shows have also been nominated for a 2021 BAFTA.

Tour de france 2020
Although both were postponed to later in the year, I worked again on ITV's coverage of the Tour de France and La Vuelta. 2020 was my 25th year of editing the TdF and my 20th year as lead editor. The Tour was the first broadcast show to adopt FCPX working for multiple editors on shared storage.

 

BBC snooker the crucible

BBC's Snooker has played a big part in my life, I've been editing tournament coverage since 1997. I'm proud to be part of a very creative team that has pioneered many new ideas and workflows that are now industry standard in sports' production. This is currently an Adobe Premiere edit.

amazon kindle BF

Covid cancelled some of the regular corporate events that I edit such as trade shows & events. I was lucky however to edit, from home, on projects for Amazon Kindle, Amazon Black Friday, Mastercard and very proud to have helped local charitable trust Kendall & Wall secure lottery funding.

As for software, my weapon of choice is Final Cut Pro and Motion, but I also have a good knowledge and broadcast credits with Adobe Premiere Pro, MOGRT design and Photoshop.

Plugin Design & Development

I'm the creative force behind Idustrial Revolution, one of the oldest Final Cut Pro plugin developers. It hosts a range of commercial and free plugins on the site. One free plugin was downloaded over a thousand times within 24 hours of release.

I also take on custom work, whether it is adapting an existing plugin for a special use or designing new plugins for clients from scratch. Having a good knowledge of editing allows me to build-in flexibility and more importantly, usability.

FCP.co

Now in its 10th year and 4th redesign, running FCP.co has given me knowledge on how to run a large CMS- you are currently reading my bio from the database! Although it sounds corny, I am pretty well up on social media trends & techniques, especially in the video sector. The recent Covid restrictions has enabled live FCP.co shows online. This involves managing a Zoom Webinar through Restream.io to YouTube and Facebook. 

The Future

I'm always open to new ideas and opportunities, so please get in touch at editor (at) fcp.co. I've judged film competitions, presented workflow techniques to international audiences and come up with ideas for TV shows and software programs!

 

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