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From compositing in After Effects to editing in Premiere Pro and encompassing all in between including Resolve, Final Cut Pro, Cinema 4D, and more, iBuildMacs delivers the fastest and most reliable Mac creative workstations.

Component Recommendations


Raw CPU power, calculated by multiplying a CPU’s cores by its frequency, will always pay off for the most demanding workloads. We recommend the 12-core 3.33GHz on the tower and the 8-core 3.0GHz / 12-core 2.7GHz on the cylinder.


The amount of RAM you need is going to depend on the resolution, length, and complexity of your timelines. However, as a general rule of thumb we recommend 32GB if you work with 1080p footage, 64GB for 4K footage, 128GB for 6K or 8K footage.


SSDs are much faster than traditional hard drives and in many cases can be noticeably faster than the older style drives. In some cases (most commonly working with RAW footage) even an SSD is not fast enough, so we recommend using the newer M.2 (flash storage) style drive which are around three times faster than a standard SSD.

In general, we recommend a two to four hard drive configuration depending on your budget and desired performance level:

Primary Drive - OS/Software (SSD) - Includes your operating system and the base applications installation. An SSD is highly recommended as it will greatly improve how fast the OS and programs startup, but there is usually not much of a performance benefit to upgrade to a faster M.2flash drive.

Secondary Drive - Project Files (SSD/M.2 Flash) - If possible, it is a good idea to separate your project files and disk cache onto a secondary drive. For most users a standard SSD will work fine, but if you work with RAW footage there can be a large performance benefit to using a M.2 flash drive.

Optional Tertiary Drive - Dedicated Media Cache/Scratch (SSD/M.2 NVMe) - Using a dedicated SSD for your media cache and scratch files can at times improve performance when playing and scrubbing through compositions. Upgrading to an even faster M.2 flash drive can give some performance gains, but the difference is more pronounce in other applications like After Effects.

Optional Storage Drive (Platter) - For long term storage where the high speed of SSDs is typically not required, a larger traditional platter hard drive is a good choice as they are still much cheaper per GB than SSDs.


Many effects/filters/actions and real-time playback may require a powerful GPU and scrubbing and previewing can benefit from multiple GPUs. At the heart of Adobe Premiere Pro CC is the GPU-accelerated Mercury Playback engine. It leverages NVIDIA CUDA to deliver interactive, real-time editing and up to 23x faster performance than even dual CPUs can deliver, particularly in 4K RED camera files, eliminating the need for a RED ROCKET card. The more effects and the higher the resolution, the more powerful GPU configurations you should consider for your Premier Pro workstation.

For most users, a NVIDIA GTX card is the better option; they are more affordable are able to match performance of the Quadro cards for fraction of the cost.

Tower and Cylinder Comparison



  • Ability to add more hard drives and solid-state drives.
  • Ability to upgrade to the NVIDIA graphics cards
  • USB 3.0 connectivity (optional)
  • Lower price


  • Thunderbolt not compatible
  • Earlier technology



  • Thunderbolt 2 connectivity
  • Small sleek design
  • Newer technology
  • Apple warranty (optional / depending on configuration)


  • No additional drive storage (via external Thunderbolt 2 or USB 3.0 only)
  • Higher price

For reference, here are some 64-bit multi-core Geekbench scores:

  • Cylinder 12-Core 2.7GHz (starting price $5000): 32,500
  • Tower 12-Core 3.46GHz (starting price $2500): 31,000
  • Tower 12-core 2.66GHz (starting price $1900): 24,000
  • Cylinder 6-core 3.5GHz (starting price $3000): 16,000
  • Tower 6-core 3.33GHz (starting price $1400): 14,000


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New: Purchased new from an Apple authorized dealer. Never used.

Refurb Grade A: Pre-owned. Inspected, cleaned, tested, and upgraded. Excellent cosmetic condition. Might have a small scratch or scuff, but overall looks great.

Refurb Grade B: Pre-owned. Inspected, cleaned, tested, and upgraded. Good cosmetic condition. No bends, dents, or dings. Will have light scratches and/or scuffs. Nothing severe. We do not purchase units that are in poor cosmetic condition.