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The New iMac: Enough Power for Filmmakers, Designers, and 3D Artists

Mike Maher

Apple announced a colorful new line of iMac computers that can finally use highspeed GPU render engines once exclusive to PCs.

Apple announced a few new products including a new iPad Pro and iMac. What’s exciting about both is that they use Apple’s new M1 chip, which allows creators to render projects much faster. But, how much faster? Let’s talk about the increased performance for both video editors and motion designers.


Meet the New Apple iMac

iMac 2021
Apple’s newly designed iMac. Image via Apple.

Apple has announced the newly redesigned iMac featuring the company’s powerful M1 chip. The machine features a 24-inch screen, HD FaceTime camera, new keyboard with Touch ID, and is available in seven different colors.

iMac Colors
The new iMac is available in a rainbow of colors, with a slim build and powerful M1 chip. Image via Apple.

The entry level iMac starts at $1,299, with the upgraded tier starting at $1,499. Orders are open on April 30th with deliveries expected in late May.


Improved Video Editing Speed with Final Cut Pro + Premiere Pro

Apple has certainly put a focus on promoting their own Final Cut Pro X. The latest version was released with the last line of MacBook Pro laptops that also feature the M1 chip and accelerated performance on Metal, Apple’s hardware-accelerated 3D graphic and compute shader API. The new iMac will feature these same M1 chips, and we’ll likely see the release of a new iMac Pro in the next year.

Final Cut Pro M1
Final Cut Pro’s rendering performance is seeing an increase. Image via Apple.

Final Cut Pro is seeing render performance increased up to 20%, with iMac users looking to see up to 35% faster. Editors can work with 8K RED RAW up to three times faster, depending on their model machine. Rendering your timelines is said to be up to six times faster, with increased playback for 4K and 8K projects.

As for Adobe Premiere Pro and the rest of the Creative Cloud, in December, the team announced that M1 builds of Adobe products were underway, with early betas available for Premiere Pro. The video editor is being ported over in phases, beginning with core editing functions and workflow. As for any third-party plugins, you’ll have to wait for those developers. We should see vastly improved speed but, hopefully, there’s some stability. Premiere has been crashing on me so often lately that I’ve already started looking at moving to Resolve.


3D Cinema 4D + Redshift, Octane, and Arnold

Cinema 4D has long been on both PC and Mac, but when it came to rendering power, PC dominated the 3D market with NVIDIA’s powerful GPU rendering power. Now those render engines once exclusive to NVIDIA have been ported over to Apple’s M1.

Redshift for Mac
Mac Cinema 4D users can now use popular render engines like Redshift. Image via Maxon.

This gives tools like Cinema 4D the much-needed boost in render speed, easily allowing renders that once took dozens of minutes to be rendered out in seconds. Mac C4D users can now use the popular render engines like Redshift and soon Octane. Although Macs could use Arnold in the past, it was limited to the CPU version. Now, Arnold can run on the M1 GPU as well, also giving it a massive boost in render speed.


What Does this Mean for Artists and Creators?

This is one of the most artist-friendly drops in quite some time for Apple. Vast improvements make a difference not only on the technical side for rendering, but also improved stability in all sorts of apps for video creation, music making, motion design, and 3D. The last MacBook Pro release and these iMacs are the way to the future for Mac to catch up on all the creatives they were losing to the PC market.

Is it enough to catch up to the rapid speed enhancement of NVIDIA cards? No. But, in true Apple fashion, it’s not always about being the first and fastest, it’s about having the most stable platform and ecosystem. These program updates from Apple, Adobe, and Maxon have all been in development and testing for over a year and a half now, and will certainly be the most stable option for most users who can’t keep up with the constant driver updates and beta releases of new software builds.

Now, I’m just wondering if it’s time for me to snag another Mac.


For more gear updates and advice, check out these articles:

Cover image via Apple.

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