Are the new iMacs good enough for video editing?

Post by Larry Jordan

A question I get asked all the time is whether the current iMacs (or, insert a computer model here) are "good enough" for video editing.

The answer is "Yes!" But, that isn't the right answer, because that isn't the right question.

In the past, the sheer horsepower of our computers was far less, so much so, that most computers could only play back video using smaller image sizes or lower frame rates. (Anyone remember watching computer videos that were 320x240? I remember building a business where the only videos we could create were that size.)

Today's computers can easily edit images, which are full HD (1920x1080), extending up into 2K, 4K, and, according to what I read in Post, 8K images! (8K images sound amazing, but what actress wants to see her face with that much detail? Make-up was invented for a reason.)

When you think about it, a 4K image is less than 16 megapixels, so the challenge isn't the image size; it's playing that many frames per second in realtime.

This gets me to the heart of the issue: any Mac, even a Mac Mini, has the horsepower to edit video. The real constraints are the speed of your storage, the complexity of your video codec, and the depth of your effects.

In the past, when many of us were editing standard definition DV video, we were working with FireWire 800 drives. DV video requires a data rate (that is, the speed of transfer between your hard disk and computer) of 3.75 MB/second. A FireWire 800 drive delivers around 80 MB/second, so everything was fine. (USB2, in comparison, only provided about 10-15 MB/second, which made it woefully slow for any serious video work.) read more....

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