After being a Mac loyalist for 10 years, I started building my own Wintel video workstations about 5 years ago for the simple reason that, at the time, I had $1500 and needed to cut AVCHD quickly. I still loved Apple, I just couldn't work with one anymore.
Eighteen months ago, looking at a fossilized Mac Pro, inexplicable changes of FCPX and some truly remarkable advances in PPro and AFX rendering speed from CS5.5, I built another Wintel box with a Quadro 2000 card which has served me inelegantly but well since then.
By the way, I make a living as a freelance video editor, copywriter and project manager.
So, now that we're caught up...
It's time for me to buy another workstation, and I'm ready to come back to the Mac.
After a few other discussions here and some subsequent catching-up research (thanks, BareFeats!), it's clear that while the new rMBP and iMac/680MX have narrowed the gap between consumer-level and true workstation-class performance, big-time compositing, 3D and multi-layered video FX still require more horsepower than even the most powerful Macbooks and iMacs can reasonably offer.
And so, I'll be keeping my Win7/CS5.5 workstation around (probably move it back to my home office) to crunch big, texture-heavy animations or to use as a color-grading and finishing station for my bigger video projects.
What I need now (or would at least prefer now) is an "everything else" machine for the fairly small, fairly-posh, all-Mac ad agency for whom I'm an exclusive contractor.
Due to a conspiracy of cash flow and tax strategy, I need (or, again, would at least prefer) to purchase a new computer now instead of whenever in 2013 Apple may or may not introduce a new Pro solution that I may or may not then be able to afford.
I've narrowed my two choices to either a built-to-the-gills rMBP or a built-to-the-gills 27" iMac, either of which should be able to handle the 75% of my workload that isn't huge FX projects.
My question for the forums is this: which of these two machines will give me the longest working life serving as an auxiliary to my Win7/CS5.5 workstation?
I'd like to get 5 working years (not simply usable years) out of whichever machine I choose, but realize that 3 working years is probably more likely.
Despite obvious pros and cons between desktop and laptop choices, here are circumstances specific to my decision:
Pros: portability would allow me to conduct client presentations from my own computer at the client's location; allow me to write/plan/organize in hotels, coffee shops, etc; and potentially allow me to log and capture video footage on location.
Cons: priciest choice; heard it turns cast-iron-skillet-hot when under load in even basic video editing, absolutely non-upgradable.
Pros: gorgeous, massive screen real estate, user-upgradable RAM and more of it, superior GPU options, more affordable
Cons: perhaps too similar in capability/functionality to current workstation; obviously not portable; would lose considerable cachet and working value if/when Apple introduces "true" pro offering.
Looking forward to hearing everyone's advice...