How Does a $1,350 PC Stack Up Against the $5,000 iMac Pro for Video Editing

When choosing a professional video editing machine, it typically comes down to two common options: a Windows PC or a Mac. A month ago, Apple finally released the iMac Pro workstation-grade desktop computer to the public starting at just under $5,000.

At that price point, folks over from the PC Master Race would probably complain that you could get much better video editing performance with a self-built PC than a supposedly over-priced iMac Pro. To debunk or confirm this myth, Max Yuryev decided to compare the $5,000 iMac Pro to his custom-built $1,350 PC to see which one would perform better in both Premiere Pro CC and DaVinci Resolve 14.

Before sharing the results, it’s important to specify what type of hardware each computer relies on. The $1,350 PC featured in the video, for instance, is a custom built editing rig that sports an Intel Core i7 8700K overclocked to run at 5.0 GHz alongside an NVIDIA GTX 1070 8GB Graphics Card by EVGA. Besides that, Max added 32 GB of DDR4 Corsair Vengence RAM and a 275GB Crucial MX300 SATA M.2 SSD for comparable read/write performance to the iMac Pro.

On the other hand, the iMac Pro houses more professional-grade components under the hood such as an 8-Core Intel Xeon Workstation-Class processor running at 3.2 GHz, an AMD Radeon Pro Vega 56 with 8GB of HBM2 Memory, 32GB of DDR4 RAM, as well as a 1 TB SSD.

As usual, Yuryev puts each machine through its paces with some classic benchmark tests the results of which you can evaluate thoroughly in the video above. But how about the actual video editing performance? The first test in that regard involved stabilizing a clip shot at 4K, which showed that in both Premiere and Resolve, the PC was faster than the iMac.

Meanwhile, Max Yuryev went on to test rendering several 4K clips with varying degrees of complexity (color grading effects, speed manipulation, etc.) in an attempt to put a toll on the machines. Based on the results, a pattern emerged which showed that the iMac Pro seemed to perform much faster than the PC when it comes to video editing and rendering tasks in Resolve, although the outcome seemed to be just the opposite inside of Premiere Pro CC. In that use case, the PC resulted in much faster render times.

A possible reason as to why Resolve worked better on the iMac Pro than Premiere may have to do with software optimization. Since the iMac Pro is still relatively new, Max assumes that Adobe might not have had the proper time to update the program to take full advantage of the system’s hardware.

To push the workstations even further, Yuryev also decided to edit and render some 4.5K RED Raw footage inside of Premiere Pro CC. Surprisingly, the PC resulted in faster rendering times versus the iMac Pro by 4 minutes. Yuryev has also discovered that Premiere was using around 90% of the PC’s graphics and processing power versus the iMac Pro which only used between 30 to 50 percent of the available GPU resources.

Nevertheless, the iMac Pro outperformed the PC in regards to timeline performance. In both Premiere and Resolve, the Apple’s all-in-one desktop machine provided smoother playback when editing 4.5K and 8K RAW footage, even if the playback quality was reduced.

The final test in this comparison includes Canon Cinema Raw Lite clips from the C200 edited inside of Resolve (Premiere doesn’t support this codec at the moment). Following the previous trends outlined in this article, the iMac Pro does, in fact, perform better requiring half the render time than the PC.

So, now let’s get straight to the question: Mac or PC? The answer really depends on your situation. If you’re someone who predominately works with DaVinci Resolve, the Mac may be the safest option to go. But, if you need to save money or just prefer to work with Premiere Pro regularly, then the PC could be the better choice.

That said, it’s important to consider that while the PC can outperform the iMac Pro on certain occasions, it’s still a custom-built computer. Plus, there’s a good reason why the iMac Pro comes at a premium price.

All in all, you’re paying for top-of-the-line workstation-grade hardware that delivers an efficient and reliable performance which is paramount for professional workstations that are meant for people who are constantly on a deadline and cannot afford a second of downtime. At the end of the day, the system you opt for should complement your editing workflow and working environment, but not vice versa.

[source: Max Yuryev]

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