Ultimate Mac: Building the Final Cut Pro X dream machine

“As always, any reckoning of the ultimate Mac or Final Cut Pro dream machine is entirely subjective and varies considerably with time,” James Thomas reports for FairerPlatform.

“FPC.co, an online Final Cut Pro resource, has put together an iteration of the ultimate Mac rig for Final Cut Pro X editing that costs $11,750,” Thomas reports. “For that money, you will get a coming-in-December (2012) quad-core 27-inch iMac and a relative handful of add-ons (I/O, speakers, etc.) that delivers 1080 broadcast quality video. Yes, you could certainly spend more money but, for the great majority of use cases, this is enough.”

Read more in the full article here.

fcp.co writes, “In December the 27inch iMac will be the fastest Mac that will run FCPX. Let’s go for a maxed out BTO.”

• 3.4Ghz Quad-Core Intel Core i7
• The full 32GB of RAM (Although this will probably be cheaper through a supplier like Crucial)
• 768GB of Flash Storage or
• 3TB Fusion Drive (We have yet to see if the fusion drive offers speed benefits for video editing)
• NVidia GeForce GTX 680MX GPU with 2GB of GDDR5 memory

Read more in the full article here.


    1. BLN, the Mac discussed in the article is said to cost around $3500. The rest is a $2200 Thunderbolt RAID array, a $1000-1500 video interface, a $2500 broadcast monitor, speakers, etc.

      And yes… That IS a bargain compared to the $25,000-50,000 a system with comparable capabilities would have cost not even five years ago.

      1. I think that if I were to upgrade my rig to take it in the direction they identified, the “repurchase everything again” would be only around $8.5K … the configuration would be:

        $2.5K Base Mac Pro
        $1.5K ~1TB SSD (OWC ‘Accelsior’ PCIe card)
        $0.5K 64TB RAM
        $0.3K 2x2TB – RAID-0 for 4TB (Bays 1, 2)
        $0.6K 2x4TB – RAID-1 for 4TB (Bays 3, 4)
        $1.0K Apple 27″ LCD Display
        $0.5K FCPro License

        $1.5K for equivalent video breakout boxes to the two they selected = $8.5K (in very round numbers) grand total

        That leaves around $3K in the budget to upgrun the Mac Pro to heavier CPUs if so desired, or to add more storage. The six core Xeon would be +$500 and Firewire800 based NewerTech “Maximus” 3TB RAID1’s at $500 each wouldn’t be a bad choice for storing inactive projects…and one can add an eSATA PCIe card for $50 if faster I/O is desired.


        1. SO predictable.
          Freelancer here.
          FCPX absolutely ROCKS on my 27″ iMac, let alone a Mac Pro. For getting work out fast it’s fantastic.
          You FCPX sux people can cram it. You’re like retarded android dweebs that post crap at the mere mention of an iPhone.
          Grow up.

        2. I see your challenge and raise you 20! What other NLE can sync camera angles by sound alone, background render while editing, integrate so tightly with a compositing program (Motion) where you can change text font, color, leading, position, rotation and more inside the NLE, edit the same footage you are importing at the same time, update audio waveforms after applying audio effects, let you test effects without applying them to the clip.

          And yes, I know there are features in FCP X that are not ready for the professional world, but…they have been adding them back with every release, plus these new awesome things.

    2. Well, a lot of the cost goes to the add-ons like:12TByte Thunderbolt drive($2500), HD monitor driver ($1000), second monitor($999), Flat panel TV ($2600 !!!!!), studio monitors ($600), etc. The mac tops out at about $3,500 because of 32Gb of RAM, SSD, etc.

      For an NLE system it actually is pretty reasonable. Of course, it can only be reasonable if you are making money using it.

    3. My ’94 Quadra 950 was $90K! 256MB of RAM was $24k! Throw in 2 radius thunder cards, 2 x 20″ radius monitors, sledge hammer card and 3 hammer arrays, radius video vision studio…,

      $90K – I rented it out to a PBS station for $1000 day.

      Needless to say it was “fast” back then. I still have it. Funny how an iPod touch makes better videos.

  1. FCP X edit station is a bargain at any price!

    I’ve been cutting with FCP X on a core i7 iMac and its a superlative experience.

    I believe pro video will always have a place at Apple.

  2. hardly a bargain. Spec’ed out a 12 Core MacPro 3.06 stock from Apple, and added 1.5 TB of Mercury Extreme SSD drives, with 64GB of RAM from OWC for my video editing, and its under 10k. Difference being the video card and displays from older Mac Pro, in my purchases, but still, 12k this way gets A LOT MORE bang for the buck.

  3. FTA: “So, is a really good iMac good enough or is a custom Mac Pro (B&H) and its PCIx slots and drive bays still a basic requirement?”

    This omits the third option: Hackintoshes are being adapted by some pros who are frustrated with Apple’s unwillingness to update the Mac Pro lineup.

  4. That’s a lot of money just to run iMovie Pro X Vista Edition.

    Apple is below $550/share. mismanagement and eff ups like iMovie Pro are factors in why Apple is headed south.

    1. Hilarious nonsense response from someone, I would bet, who has never done one pro edit, been involved with filmmaking or tv post work. But there’s no pass to get into the pool, so everybody’s welcome to collect random posts and throw them into the engine of a train they, for some reason, are running to find Apple fault, even if it’s totally off topic. A couple of guys I know, personally, love to just post xxxx, both have way too much time on their hands.

  5. Considering you can’t eve price out other than stock a new 27″ iMac, these prices are a guess.
    Also its half way through November and you still can’t even order the out in November 21.5″ iMac. 🙁

  6. James Thomas seems wrong to me. We tried Final Cut Pro X on 27″ iMacs, but the rendering of HD footage needs so much power that the iMac got very hot and the fan never paused. Also internal 3 TB is way to low for serious video editing.

    So as a real pro user you need a MacPro and also a 30″ display. Here is my Final Cut Pro X dream machine I daily use for many, many hours:

    – MacPro 2010, 8-core, 2,4 GHz
    – 32 GB RAM
    – 2 x 512 GB SSD
    – 4 x 3 TB HD
    – 30″ display 2560 x 1600 pixel

    This is a much better and much more affordable dream machine. Of course, it lacks Thunderbolt and USB 3.0, which is a nightmare. On the other hand 12 TB of harddrive are great and I do all backups over night so the slower speed does not really matter.

    Frankly, Apple should have made a separate card with two USB 3.0 and two Thunderbolt ports at a fair price. That would have helped all of us pro users a lot. Too sad Apple forgot about us.

  7. They meant the iMovie Pro dream machine! This is a joke, FCP X is a joke u can’t even consider an iMac for true profesional work. Apple let us down long time ago, they just care about the iOS ecosystem 😛

  8. This doesn’t make sense…no 27 iMac config would cost this much…even by apples standards. Wouldn’t an old Mac Pro still be faster then the newest iMacs. Didn’t know the new iMacs could do 32gb.

    Everyone knows the fusion drives are useless (traditional HD speeds) once the file is over 3gb as the swap functionality goes out the window.

    I could build a 16 core pro with 27″ cinema display, max ram and a mess of SSD for far less then $12K…I’m sure there is even a thunderbolt card to put in the pro by now too!

    1. You have to read a bit forward but they are pricing the entire rig. It includes a proper video output device (3D capable), studio grade video display, a thunderbolt display, studio-grade audio monitors, and so forth. The 11K price is pretty reasonable if you need to produce video for broadcast or theatre use. For doing your home movies you would not want anything near that complex.

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