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iMac and the 3 HUGE changes Apple silicon has made!

There is a Mac for everyone now – but how do you know which is the right one for you?

Mac and Apple silicon - all new rules

Recently I added a new M3 iMac to my growing array of Macs.

It’s been an amazing little machine – no, scratch that – it’s simply been an amazing machine, full stop.

Apple silicon has changed all of the basic rules that we once used to take as gospel. It may be a once-in-a-generation kind of change but damn it has shaken up the world of desktops and laptops alike.

To get the very best power out of your machine, you no longer have to be tethered to a desk with a huge tower, fans blowing, and plugged into power. Nope, with Apple silicon in your Mac, you can just as easily (and silently) work on a 4K video project on a train as you can at your desk.

I was thinking back to my beloved 2015 27-inch iMac the other day somewhat fondly and recalling when I knew it was time to finally move on. The song says video killed the radio star – in my case, video killed the Mac – or to be precise, the Intel days of my iMac. When a very simple 10-minute 4K timeline – nothing knurly, just footage shot on an iPhone 12 – was taking up to 40 minutes to render and export I knew things had to change.

Swapping to Apple silicon saw that time slashed to under 5 minutes – that is a day-changing amount of time to save on a single project.

Think again

Apple silicon has not only changed the speed we come to expect from our Macs but also memory…

I’ve made a couple of videos about my M3 iMac. Now I bought that iMac with the channel and writing very much in mind.

Would it have been the model I’d have bought if it were my main or only Mac? Probably not – I bought the base model intentionally just to find out what M3 was all about – it would be a great way for me to tell you about swapping to M3 and what you could expect from it. Had it been my only Mac I’d almost certainly have gone for more unified memory – and more storage…but it has taught me a lesson.

If you’d told me a few years ago that I would be able to edit 10-bit ProRes log video with only 8 GB of RAM available on my Mac I’d have told you to go and lie down in a dark room!

That gorgeous Intel iMac of mine was spec’d with 32 GB of old-fashioned RAM and by the end was wheezing, puffing and struggling like a heavyweight in the 12th round!

But still, folks just don’t seem to get that the configs and numbers have now changed forever. Many of the comments I’ve received on my videos about the M3 iMac are along the lines of it’s a crime that Apple is shipping new Macs with only 8 GB of memory – but I simply don’t get the argument.

Of course, we always want more – the bigger the number the better it must be right? Well, yes and no…

I could go and buy a £7000 Canon SLR. Would it make me a better creator or photographer or earn me more money? No – I’d have no idea how to get the most out of it and it would be a massive waste of money. The same is true when it comes to picking the memory for your next Mac. Unless you honestly need it why line the Cupertino pockets of Tim Cook and the gang with your head-earned cash?

Hopefully, you’re enjoying this story  -  if you wanted to say ‘thank you’, the best way is simply to clap, highlight and get involved in the comments. And my promise to you…If you get in touch I will answer! So clap, highlight and comment away…

Be honest about your iMac

Sure, the numbers matter – but those numbers can now do so much more than you’d think possible. 8 GB of RAM in the olden times would have struggled with having too many Chrome tabs open let alone coping with video editing.

Yeah – future-proofing is a great idea and one I’m fully behind – always buy that little bit more than you need today, but equally understand and be realistic about what you do with your iMac.

Having seen what 8 GB is capable of I was stunned – it’s way overhitting its entry position on the iMac lineup and dealing with almost everything I can throw at it.

I tend to be quite a ‘neat’ worker and only have open what apps I need and have never had loads of browser tabs open. With that said, you know I could get away with the 8 GB for much of my work.

I think the crunch point for me would be when I start adding LUTS, effects, colour grading and using plug-ins. For me and my needs I would almost certainly choose 16 GB of unified memory and more likely 24 GB on these iMacs.

My MacBook has 32 GB of memory because I was guided by my own rule of over spec’ing.

The MacBook Pro was always going to be an expensive purchase as I chose the M1 Max variant. With that in mind and knowing my video timelines were likely to get more complex over time I stacked it up with 32 GB of memory as I didn’t want the Mac to run out of puff any time soon. I’d always planned for it to last me at least 3-5 years. But…my needs and demands may not be the same as yours.

So yes, over spec but equally be realistic…

Storage

I’d be the first to admit that my 256 GB on the M3 iMac is skimpy.

But we don’t need as much storage as we once did as cloud storage is now so readily & cheaply available. Even photos & music on your iMac no longer have the demands on your system’s storage that they once had.

512 GB I reckon would be a workable amount of storage – particularly if you are not a hoarder – by that, I mean if you keep your desktop and downloads folder clean.

I was listening to a podcast this week and one of the hosts said he hadn’t cleaned out his downloads folder in over a year! How can anyone work like that? The same goes for desktops – I cover my eyes when I see some creator’s desktops – they are so damned cluttered – how can they possibly know what’s where?

The other point to make is that with the desktop & download folders full to over-brimming you are eating away at what available storage you have bought and paid for.

Not only is cloud storage an option but buying external storage is now more affordable than ever. With USB-C coming to the iPhone 15 Pro Max I bought a Samsung T7 SSD for video transfer from the phone. It’s the first external, portable SSD I’ve bought and it’s shown me what I’ve been missing out on.

Apple is well known for being extraordinarily expensive when it comes to storage – so again why hand over cash when there are other options out there? I’ll admit there is a lot to say about onboard storage – it is convenient sure but weigh up your options. The days of external SSDs being slow to work from are a thing of the past – thankfully.

If you work mainly from a laptop – that is effectively your SSD anyway – it goes where you go. I’d always put a little extra built-in storage on my laptop but for desktops, I don’t see it as so critical. External drives hanging out the side of a MacBook is not the best practice – particularly if you are working on the fly.

Say I was working on a large video project on my M3 iMac at the studio but wanted to carry working on it at home then working from a quick SSD would be the best option. Cloud storage for big projects is a non-starter – well at least not with my internet speeds.

A couple of years back Apple changed the rules for sure – now it’s time for you to embrace that change – it could actually end up saving you money!

Who’d ever thought Apple would save you money…

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