How fast does my Mac need to be to edit video, play games, make music or create business documents? We look at the range of Macs available, and some common tasks, and decide which is the best Mac to get for each task.
Apple Mac computers come in a dazzling range of sizes, speeds and prices. Almost all Macs are brilliant computers, but some (like the Mac Pro) offer extreme speeds.
“How fast does my Mac need to be?” is a question our readers often ask, and the answer depends on why you want a Mac. The best Mac for video editing, for example, is different to the best Mac for web design. In this feature, we look at common tasks like gaming, music making and programming and determine which Mac for you should buy.
The Mac you should buy should be fast enough to perform the task you need to do. While you can never have too much Apple Mac, so to speak, you can get more Mac than you need. You don’t need a new Mac Pro costing £2,495 just to use Facebook. However, you might want to consider it if you’re in the business of video editing as time is money.
So, the type of Mac needed depends on the task you want to do with your Mac. We’ve put together a list of common usage tasks and the Mac, and speed of Mac you should consider.
How fast does my Mac need to be for video editing?
Video editing is one of the most demanding tasks you can perform with a Mac. A faster Apple Mac will enable you to render video more quickly. If you’re looking to edit HD video in Final Cut Pro X we advise you to go for Macs with Intel i7 processors. Final Cut Pro X makes good use of the Hyper-Threading in the Intel i7 CPU to render video faster. You’ll also need a Mac with a large amount of fast storage space, so opt for either 7800RPM hard drive, a solid state drive or a Fusion Drive. A good budget option is the 2.6GHz Mac mini (£569) with an i7 processor (+£230) and 8GB of RAM.
The mid-range 27in iMac with 5K Retina Display (3.2GHz) is a great option for video editing and is what we use to edit videos at Macworld UK – although we’ve slightly tweaked the setup. We switched out the supplied 1TB Fusion Drive with a 256GB solid state drive (+£80) and upgraded the RAM from 8GB to 16GB after purchase as you can pick up 8GB of RAM for much cheaper than £160, plus it’s easy to install. If extra storage is needed, you have the option of using an external HDD with a Thunderbolt connection.
However, if you’re looking to professionally edit multiple streams of 4K video and generate complex graphics, then you should consider the more powerful Mac Pro (starting from £2,499).
One thing to note is that you don’t need any of these high-end systems if you just enjoying editing home video in iMovie. If you just want to edit video clips you’ve recorded on your iPhone, something basic like a Mac mini 2.6GHz i5 is perfectly capable of handling most basic video tasks, including light editing in Final Cut Pro X.