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2.1. Best Mac for Editiing

What is the best Mac for video editing? It's a question many of our readers ask. Apple Mac OS X computers are especially useful for editing video, and many video editors need to invest in the latest Mac hardware.

But choosing the right Mac for video editing can be a challenge. Apple creates a whole range of Mac OS X laptops (MacBooks) and desktop computers. Although all Apple Macs are great, some Macs are better suited to editing video than others.

With this in mind we've created this video editing buyers guide. In this article we take a look at what a computer requires to be truly great for video, and the features you pay more for. We then look closely at the range of Mac computers available, and the custom Mac built to order options available.

We also look at some of the accessories, software and services available that make sense for keen movie-makers.

Video editing on a Mac: creating movies on Apple computers

Video editing is a challenge for any computer system and editing video professionally requires a high-end system. Of course all Macs can edit video clips, but there's a difference between editing a quick clip for YouTube and making a whole movie.

And Macs are used to make whole movies, and TV shows, commercials and professional online video clips. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, No Country for Old Men, and Cold Mountain were all reportedly cut on a Mac using Final Cut Pro.

Digital video places huge demands on processor power, graphics power (for rendering) and - above all - storage space. Editing video, especially high definition video eats up hard drive space. And with 4K editing on the way this is only going to become more of the case.

The best Mac for video editing pros: Apple's new Mac Pro

Best Mac for video editing Mac Pro

All of the video requirements (perhaps with the exception of storage) leads naturally to the Mac Pro. Apple's new Mac Pro is a performance powerhouse, with either a quad-Core or 6-Core Intel Xeon E5 processor, dual AMD FirePro graphics card (with either 2GB or 3GM GDDR5 VRAM on each card) and integrated PCIe-based flash storage. It's not cheap for consumers, starting at 2,499, but for video professionals it offers high performance for a reasonable price.

The only problem with the Mac Pro is the lack of onboard storage space. For video editing you will need to attach an external hard drive, fortunately thanks to the blazing fast Thunderbolt connection there is little difference between an external storage and internal hard drive.

Apple's consumer Mac range for video editors

If the Mac Pro is simply too expensive you're going to have to start to look at Apple's consumer range. We're going to come right out and rule out the MacBook Air and Mac mini. These are great computers and you can definitely edit video on them, but they do not have enough storage space, screen size, or processing power to be considered the best Mac for video editing.

The situation may change with the Mac mini later this year, or early next year.

Editing video on a MacBook Pro: Best for portability

Best Mac for video editing Macbook Pro

If you're after a portable solution the MacBook Pro is the one for you. They're all pretty powerful, and the built in Iris Iris Pro graphics in the 15-in models is a capable video editor. The best to get is the top end 15-Inch MacBookP Pro with Retina Display (1,999). This has a discreet NVIDIA GeForce GT graphics card which will speed up rendering times.

We'd avoid the stock MacBook Pro with non-retina Display. It has a display on 1440 x 900 which isn't high definition video (1920 x 1080). You can spend an additional 80 and upgrade to an upgraded 1680 x 1050 display, which still isn't high definition. So you want see the totality of high definition video on this Mac.

The Retina Display model goes up to 2880 x 1800 which can display every pixel of a high definition video. So if you are a pixel perfectionist then it is worth the asking price.

You get only 128GB of flash storage in the entry level, and 256GB flash storage in the more expensive mode. Neither is going to be enough for serious video editing work, so as with the Mac Pro you will need an external hard drive. With this in mind we think the entry level 13-inch 2.6HHz with Retina Display is actually a good choice. Save the money you'd spend on additional internal PCIe-flash based storage and get a good external hard drive. The 128GB of space is more than enough to run apps like Final Cut Pro and Premiere Pro. So we'd suggest either the 13-inch 2.6GHz with Retina Display (999) or the 15-Inch 2.5Ghz MacBook Pro (1,999).

Video editing on a iMac: Best for display

The iMac's marquee feature needs little introduction. The larger model packs a whopping 27in display, which is plenty of space for displaying the two video panels in Final Cut Pro (along with the Timeline and all the other controls).

The entry 27in iMac model also comes with a powerful 3.2GHz Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 1TB hard drive and NVIDIA GeForce discreet graphics card. At 1,449 that will do you nicely.

If you want to start throwing in a few upgrades consider getting a 3TB Serial Drive (+120). If you're feeling flushed you can pick up a 3TB Fusion Drive (+280).

We'd also suggest upgrading the RAM from 8GB to 16GB (+160). The additional RAM will make video editing smoother.

Video Editing on a Mac Pro: Best for storage

The old Mac Pro is, or rather was, the best option for video editing. You used to be able to pick up a Quad-Core or 12-Core model, which made light work of video rendering. Plus it came with 6GB RAM on the entry model that could easily be upgraded (usually cheaper via a third party company like Crucial) and it came with a 1TB hard drive, but had four bay slots each capable of taking up to 3TB drives. Again, these could be sourced outside of Apple for less. And it comes with an ATI Radeon HD graphics card with 1GB GDDR5 RAM. Starting at 2,049 this was by far your best option. Unlike the iMac it was a tower so you'd need a display to go with it.

We wouldn't really suggest going back to an older model, but some people still use them happily. We believe it's more forward-thinking to pick up a model with a small amount of flash storage (which is fast for running apps) and to store the video footage on an external hard drive.

Which Mac to buy for video editing?

Best Mac for video editing iMac

It depends on whether you are a professional video editor hitting deadlines or an extremely enthusiastic amateur. If you are being paid to render by the hour then go for the Mac Pro. The Mac Pro's faster speed will soon start to pay for itself. If you are just looking for a great Mac to render video then we'd go for the 27-inch iMac. It offers the best combination of speed, storage and comes with a lovely large display to work on. The MacBook Pro with Retina display is a good video editing machine, and the one to get if you need to edit video on the move.

The Mac Pro does have the processing ooomph, however, which will cut down rendering times on big jobs considerably. Time is money, as they say, and the time you save rendering may make up for the initial outlay. It depends on how commercial your video editing endevours are, if it's the principle means by which you make your money then get the Mac Pro.

Apple Mac accessories for video editing

Probably the most important thing to get with your Mac for video editing will be more storage space, a good external hard drive with a fast Thunderbolt connection will help you out.

You'll also be wanting some video editing software. We expect Final Cut Pro will be high on your list. But there's a wealth of other video software programs out there. Including Avid Media Composer 6.5 and Adobe Premiere Pro (which is available as part of Adobe's Creative Cloud plan). Do not underestimate either package due to Apple brand loyalty, Avid Media Composer is still the industry's go-to program for video editing, and Premiere Pro has many advantages over Final Cut Pro for rendering formats. Adobe has also recently introduced Premiere Pro Clip enabling people to edit video on the move.

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