How Important is Video Ram?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by GadgetGirl, Oct 25, 2004.

  1. GadgetGirl macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2004
    #1
    Hi,
    I want to switch from a PC to a Mac so I can use Final Cut Express for video editing. I'm not a professional but would like a system that I can grow into as my talent grows as well as a system that won't be out dated in 2-3 years. I would prefer to be portable and am looking at the 14 inch ibook or a 12 inch powerbook.......price is an issue. I don't really want to go over $1700 and definitely not over $2000. I would also consider the new iMac because it's a G5 and push come to shove, I could take it somewhere if I just had to be portable with it. :eek:

    I just don't quite understand how important video ram is in a Mac. I'm surprised that the iBook only has 32mb. I know the Powerbooks (and iMacs) have 64mb but does it really make a huge difference in performance and if so, is it tolerable? If I were building another PC, I'd have nothing less than 128mb of video ram. All guidance is welcomed, particularly if you're a video/film editor.
    Thanks!

    GadgetGirl
     
  2. Palad1 macrumors 6502a

    Palad1

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    Feb 24, 2004
    Location:
    London, UK
    #2
    VRAM: only useful for realtime 3D

    Hello Gadget!

    VRAM is mainly used by 3D applications for Textures, Vertices, transformations and so on.

    2D uses a very marginal amount of VRAM. Your average screen takes roughly 2 Mb of VRAM (1024x780x24bpp =2340 kB), so that's why you see video cards with such a "small" amount of VRAM as 32 Mb (or 14 screens :D) in the iBook line which doesn't have any 3D pretentions.

    When doing Video editing, most operations are done in the CPU itself, not the GPU (graphics processing unit).

    Thus your main concerns are:

    1. Having a fast processor (G4+Altivec is good)
    2. Having LOTS of RAM so the CPU can keep on computing without having to wait for some data being swapped out
    3. Having a wicked fast hard drive (firewire 800 is double plus good, 5400 rpm is the minimum)

    Hope that helps,
    Palad1
     
  3. coconn06 macrumors regular

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    Jun 14, 2003
    Location:
    King of Prussia, PA
    #3
    Another thing to consider is that in Tiger (Apple's next OS version coming out in early-ish 2005), the CoreVideo technology will require a 64MB video card to take full advantage. It's still unclear how truly valuable this technology will be for anything other than specific tasks (3d editing or gaming, as mentioned above), however.
     
  4. caveman_uk Guest

    caveman_uk

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    #4
    Motion off-loads a lot of processing onto the GPU but currently is the only app to really do so. It is very dependent on the GPU. Actually Motion needs a lot of everything :rolleyes:

    Otherwise Core Image which will appear in Tiger will use the GPU at an OS-level to accelerate graphics. IIRC for full support it requires 64MB minimum Video RAM so the ibook will not fully support Core Image (Tiger will still run on the ibook though). The current Powermac and Powerbooks will support core image.

    So basically if you might possibly use Motion get a powermac, a stack of RAM and a top of the line video card. Otherwise for video editing any vid card will do but you'll still need a lot of RAM
     
  5. BakedBeans macrumors 68040

    BakedBeans

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    #5
    i would never get a 12 inch or even 14 inch screen for doing that type of editing on... your best bet is deffinatly the 20inch i mac (dont know how much they are in dollars so sorry if its over) a 12 inch powerbook just wont do it (screen wise)

    i can get by on my 15inch powerbook with fcp but i wouldnt like to go any lower than that... infact i want a 23inch screen
     
  6. Palad1 macrumors 6502a

    Palad1

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    Feb 24, 2004
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    London, UK
    #6
    That's strange, wouldn't that either:

    • Induce GPU-related artefacts in the end product?
    • actually slow things down?
      As I remember, reading data from a GPU is very slow, or at least, orders of magnitude slower than writing to a gpu.

    Please correct me, my graphics programming lessons date back from the last century :)
     
  7. papersushi macrumors regular

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    Nov 14, 2003
    #7
    If you would like to do some prosumer level of video editing, such as using Final Cut Express, don't even think twice, get a PowerBook with 64MB VRAM.
     
  8. filmmaker2002 macrumors regular

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    Jun 6, 2003
    Location:
    Milwaukee
    #8
    Ditto
     
  9. BakedBeans macrumors 68040

    BakedBeans

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    #9
    video editing isnt all abot the video card guys...
     
  10. caveman_uk Guest

    caveman_uk

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    #10
    It's no different from nearly every game released in the last 3-4 years. They've used the advances in GPUs to power more visually stimulating games. Many games are more GPU-bound than CPU-bound.

    There's a set of benchmarks here for motion. A dual 2GHz machine with a Radeon 9800 128MB finishes the benchmark in a quarter the time a machine fitted with a Geforce 5200 64MB even though the geforce machine has around double the system RAM.
     
  11. cluthz macrumors 68040

    cluthz

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    Jun 15, 2004
    Location:
    Norway
    #11
    The iMac 17-inch (1.8):
    • 256MB DDR400 SDRAM - 1 DIMM
    • 160GB Serial ATA drive
    • None - Bluetooth Module
    • Keyboard and Mouse + Mac OS X - U.S. English
    • 17-inch widescreen LCD (1440x900)
    • 1.8GHz PowerPC G5
    • SuperDrive (DVD-R/CD-RW)
    • NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 Ultra w/64MB video memory
    Subtotal $1,599.00

    Get 512 from Crucial and you are still under $1700,
    if you are a student, you can probably get 10%(?) EDU discount..

    The 160 GB (its a 7200 rpm) will suit your video editing well, the same will the SuperDrive.
    17-inch 1440x900 is MUCH better to edit on than 12/14-inch 1024x768.
     
  12. GadgetGirl thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2004
    #12
    Thanks. This is a big help. With money being an issue, I think I could go with a 14in iBook with the ram maxed out. However, with Tiger coming out soon and needing 64 vram min., maybe I should try to get an iMac with as much ram as possible. I would love to be mobile, but power is my priority. I wonder if the rumor about a G5 eMac has any truth because if it comes with 64vram, I'm buying one.
    Gadget Girl
     
  13. iGary Guest

    iGary

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    #13

    An excellent recommendation.
     
  14. AmigoMac macrumors 68020

    AmigoMac

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    Aug 5, 2003
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    l'Allemagne
    #14
    it's very unlikely to have the eMac going G5... those guys in schools don't need them :D ...

    Get the iMac, in the mobile area we will se a huge revolution of products and getting a PB now - if you are planning to have it for the next 3 years - is not the best deal money-wise ... get the flat baby and welcome to the light side of the force... the mac be with you...
     
  15. filmmaker2002 macrumors regular

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    Milwaukee
    #15
    Sure as heck is if you're doing anything graphics related. Not to mention with technologies like Core Video being implemented in Tiger, a 32MB card isn't going to cut it for very long. Imagine being able to do even more RT effects and filters because of a better video card in tandem with Core Video. If you're doing ANY Final Cut of any sort, you're going to want to go with a Powerbook. Trust me.
     
  16. johnnyjibbs macrumors 68030

    johnnyjibbs

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    London, UK
    #16
    Just to take note that the iBooks will not run core-image NOT because they don't have 64MB VRAM but because they don't have a core-image-compatible card. The 12" PB has this. It's the card, not the VRAM that determines whether it is core-image-compatible or not.

    In the grand scheme of things though, sure, the more VRAM the better, but it's only really games (and Motion) that require lots of VRAM. Plus the fact that the iBook only has a small screen to draw to, so it doesn't need vast amounts.

    Another thing to note is that the 14" iBook is still only 1024x768 and doesn't offer any more screen real estate than the 12" iBook or 12" PowerBook. I find that this screen resolution is still perfectly adequate for Final Cut, but many think otherwise. If you need to add an external monitor, then the PowerBook is a must because of its external screen spanning (iBooks rely on an unofficial hack to enable this feature).
     
  17. Dave00 macrumors 6502a

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    Dec 2, 2003
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    Pittsburgh
    #17
    Uhm, 'scuse my ignorance, but *why*? Does FCE even utilize the graphics processor extensively? This is the problem with most benchmarks - they don't necessarily translate to the real world. I'd be very interested in seeing how long a complex 2-D transition took on a bare-bones GPU vs. high-end on an otherwise similarly-spec'd machine. Obviously, 3D transitions in a professional application like motion are going to require a fancy GPU. But how about the pro-sumer level, most of whom aren't doing Star Wars type animation? Will the GPU help with, say, iPhoto? How about iMovie/iDVD/FCE? That's the real question for most people. And it's frustrating because there don't seem to be a whole lot of good answers. Just a lot of "I got 178.3 on cinebench" type stuff.

    ---D
     
  18. BakedBeans macrumors 68040

    BakedBeans

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    #18
    well no.... the effects and rendering used in fcp is processor intensive, i see your point about core products...but would you like to use a 12 inch powerbook for video editing...i know i wouldnt..
     
  19. GadgetGirl thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Oct 24, 2004
    #19
    Okay, I've read the feedback. Thanks to all of you. Since FCE is processor extensive vs, vram extensive, I should definitely get a G5 for longevity. I prefer portability, but the best performance I can get for the money I have is my priority and at least I can get an education discount. So, my final decision is to get an iMac. I like the look of the iMac (YES, I do...saw one in the local CompUSA) and I wouldn't have to buy a monitor. So, it's an iMac with as much ram as I can afford.

    Okay, new question: How realistic is it to hope for a G5 eMac w/ at least 64mb of video ram?

    Thanks for all your comments!
    GadgetGirl.....tired of the Micro$oft World :cool:
     
  20. Mechcozmo macrumors 603

    Mechcozmo

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    Jul 17, 2004
    #20
    Final Cut Express requires a 64MB video card in the AGP slot as I recall.

    While you don't really need a lot of VRAM for editing, I would say that 64MB is the right amount. And BTW, I do some editing on my PowerBook. See sig. for details.

    I would look at that new single 1.8, buy RAM from Crucial or OWC (1.5GB total!) and a 23" display.

    If you can, however, the dual 1.8 is more future-proof and offers greater bus speeds, etc. Plus, that second processor can really come in handy when doing video work.
     
  21. blackfox macrumors 65816

    blackfox

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    #21
    GadgetGirl, if you really want a system you can grow into, I would recommend a dual-processor system. You can get a refurbished dual 1.8 for $1699. Even a dual-processor G4 @ 1.42 Ghz (the last G4 PM) is significantly faster than a single G5, when working with FCP. Also, with a PM, you get plenty of space for RAM and for extra HD solutions.

    Yes, you would have to buy a monitor (or two eventually), but CRTs are relatively cheap and recommended for this kind of work anyway.

    I strongly recommend this route.
     
  22. johnnyjibbs macrumors 68030

    johnnyjibbs

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    London, UK
    #22
    Er, no. I have 32MB VRAM on my 12" PB and it runs like a gem. FCE uses very little VRAM. It's nothing really to do with it. The real time effects engine of FCE 2 requires lots of system RAM (at least 512MB), not VRAM.

    And, by the way, my 12" PB screams at video editing. Of course a G5 would be faster and more productive but lets not forget that a lot of films are made using slow G3s.
     
  23. GadgetGirl thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2004
    #23

    So, if your 12" PB with 32 Vram screams at video editing, I could get a maxed out 12" iBook and it would work fine......I have to keep reminding myself to get something that fits my needs even if it's not the latest technology. I'm not getting paid for the editing I do, but as an amateur film maker, I'd like to be able to do a more than 'adequate' job of editing and exporting to DVD etc. I don't mind getting a system with a combo drive because I'd love to get an external firewire dual layer DVD burner, but I understand that I need to get third party software that will allow me to export to an external DVD player.

    As well, if I wanted, I could get a maxed out eMac and be just fine. I'm getting this as a Christmas present to myself, so I'm hoping that if a G5 eMac is coming, that it'll show up by then. Even so, I like the look of the iMac more than the eMac, but for the price difference, it's ok.
     
  24. johnnyjibbs macrumors 68030

    johnnyjibbs

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    #24
    A couple of pointers before you decide.

    Remember that, unlike the PowerBook, the iBook cannot drive an external screen at a higher resolution and that both 12" and 14" iBooks have the same 1024x768 resolution. Even though the 12" PowerBook has the same 1024x768 resolution, you can drive (very well I might add) an external display at much higher resolutions (2000x1600 ball park resolution). There is a hack to allow this for iBooks but it's not covered by your warranty and I'm not sure if it might not damage your iBook system.

    Now, as I said, I don't have an external screen and I find that video editing is fine on my 12" screen with 1024x768 resolution but it's not my main function with this computer. The best thing for you to do is go and try one of these machines out and see what you think yourself.

    Regarding eMacs, I doubt they will be updated to G5s before Christmas. Some people reckon they will never go G5 before the PowerBooks, but I don't think that necessarily has to be true. eMacs would do the job nicely adn they have a nice screen resolution size - again you need to check for yourself. The good thing about an eMac is that, being the cheapest Mac, you cuold get one of these and then maybe upgrade to something bigger and better sooner. Otherwise, the iMac G5s would do nicely too.

    One other word of warning. Sure, there is other software, but iDVD will NOT burn to an external drive. You can only burn video DVDs from iDVD using an Apple internal SuperDrive. This means that, unless you have another Mac with a SuperDrive, or you use some other software like the more powerful but expensive DVD Studio Pro, then you're not going to be able to make use of iDVD. This again makes the 12" PB with Superdrive a good option (what I have ;) ). The 14" iBook can be ordered with a SuperDrive but remember the screen res limit.
     
  25. Palad1 macrumors 6502a

    Palad1

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    Feb 24, 2004
    Location:
    London, UK
    #25
    Gadget,

    I don't have prices for a refurb rev.b 12'' powerbook alu with superdrive, but this machine, loaded with non-apple RAM, may very well :
    • handle FCE without a hitch
    • be able to drive an external monitor when you get one
    • comes with SuperDrive built-in
    • has a firewire 400 port
    • VRAM has nothing to do with processing speed BUT it will allow faster PREVIEWS. Finally got some info on that, whew :)
    • is deadly sexy! :D
    In my opinion the iBook doesn't pack enough punch for video editing.
    The powerbook may be the best compromise between portability and quality, but if you are willing to ditch the portability factor, an iMac or even a refurb twin G4 should provide better choices.

    Don't try a powerbook before your mind is set on it, because that is a machine you will just fall in love with... I know I did :eek:

    Are you a student?
    Do you have any students in your entourage?
    If so, please please please use the ADC student developper Hardware Purchase program in order to benefit a 20% rebate on your switch machine...

    Best of luck in this thought time of choices,
    Palad1,
    Stuck at work with a P4 :/


    ps: just looked on the macrumors pricegrabber page and found a 1299$ deal:
    http://macrumors.pricegrabber.com/search_getprod.php/masterid=1248156
    I am not involved in this transaction at all

    pps: I removed the following points, because they are wrong:
    • the ibook doesn't ship with altivec => wrong! it does now
    • the pb 12 supports up to 2 gigs of ram => no it's 1.2 same as the iBook
     

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