16GB RAM vs 32GB RAM - Radeon Pro 555X vs 560X - Editing 4K video?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by AnIdeaADay, Dec 19, 2018.

  1. AnIdeaADay, Dec 19, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2018

    AnIdeaADay macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2018
    #1
    What’s more important for editing 4K video? Upgrading the RAM, graphics card or processor?

    Main question is between 16GB RAM vs 32GB RAM and Radeon Pro 555X vs 560X. Buying 2018 MacBook Pro for video editing and would appreciate some input.

    I use Adobe Premiere. The thing that is most important to me, is being able to play the video as smoothly as possible while I’m working, without needing to render. I don’t mind waiting a bit longer for exporting. I’m also happy with 256GB SSD, as I’ll end up using external storage. I use Photoshop as well and often keep it open and switch between both apps. I also tend to leave a lot of browser tabs open.

    The most I’ll spend is around $2750 total after tax. I’m looking at the Apple Refurbished section.

    I bought a 2018 MacBook Pro from the refurbished site with 2.2GHz, 32GB of RAM and the 555X graphics card.

    I tested some 4K video in Premiere by placing four 4K clips onto the screen at the same time, it just froze and did not play. Even one 4K video in the sequence is not playing smoothly and turns up the fans. Also along with other things running it was using 20-30GB of RAM. I was hoping/expecting a bit more out of a 2018 laptop. I want to get something that’s future proof, 4K video was my concern, I’m sure I’ll be ok with HD but things are moving toward 4K.

    If I return it and only get 16GB of RAM but upgrade to the 560 instead, would be worse or better? Would I need to upgrade to 32GB RAM and 560X?

    How much of a difference is there between 555 and 560? I saw benchmarks but it was for 2017 cards and I do not really understand it. Real life experience would be helpful.

    What would do the job? What would be best?
    1. 2018 2.2GHz, 32GB of RAM and the 555X (What I’m planing to return unless nothing here is much of a jump)
    2. 2018 6 Core 2.2 GHz 16GB RAM and 560 (New)
    3. 2018 6 Core 2.2 GHz 32GB RAM and 560 (If I can find it on Apple Refurbished)
    4. 2018 6 Core 2.6 GHz 16GB RAM and 560 (New from B&H)
    5. 2017 4 Core 3.1 GHz 16GB RAM and 560 (New from B&H with 1TB SSD that I don’t care for, doubt this is better anyway)
    Thank you very much for your input.
     
  2. christarp macrumors 6502

    christarp

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2013
    #2
    Premiere will absolutely eat computers, RAM is a big need for premiere. I'm pretty sure (please someone correct me if I'm wrong) premiere doesn't use much GPU acceleration on macs, so I would go for either option 3, or stick with option 1. I've personally seen 4k projects in premiere and exports use 55GB of RAM.
     
  3. fhturner macrumors 6502

    fhturner

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2007
    Location:
    Birmingham, AL & Atlanta, GA
    #3
    As with many things related to video editing, the answer is often… It depends. You do not state what type of 4K video and codec you are attempting to edit. The behavior you describe sounds like something is actually wrong, rather than any machine you purchased or are considering being under powered.

    Any of these systems for 2018 will have H.264 and H.265 hardware decoding built into the CPU, so playback of those formats should be quite easy for it. Something like RED RAW though, is not hardware accelerated, and benefits from lots of CPU power and cores.

    So what format is that 4K video? And did you try to play it in something other than Premiere? Can you open it in QuickTime player and compare the results?
     
  4. Celedral macrumors 6502

    Celedral

    Joined:
    May 29, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #4
    You won’t see much of a playback difference unless you opt for the Vega option. Premiere is also sensitive to the codec of those 4k files, so I think that is the main issue at the moment. Do you have them layered, is it 10bit, MOV files? Do you have it playing back at FULL resolution?
     
  5. AnIdeaADay thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2018
    #5
    Thank you. That’s a very valid point and good question. I’m used to working with HD videos from various cameras and sources. To be clear, I really was trying to test the Mac I got to see if it will work for me down the line if/when I start working with 4K.

    I downloaded a random 4K test file and I layered 4 videos and put them in a grid of 4 playing at once. I am trying to play it back at 1/2 the resolution in Premiere. This was my way of testing it, I wanted to try something quick that would push the Mac. When it’s only 1 video, it plays decently - or so so - but I will always be adding some sort of effect, title, graphic and/or motion so instead of starting a whole project, I just layered 4 videos.

    First video used: Video Codec Type: HEVC 10 bit 4:2:0

    After seeing your comment, I looked for another 4K test video, it may have worked a bit better but still not great.

    Second video used: Video Codec Type: MP4/MOV H.264 4:2:0

    Again, yes it plays on the Mac and 1 video can play ok without trying any effects/motion etc. but I was hoping to see something smooth with a 2018 Mac after not upgrading my laptop in years...

    I’m sure I’ll be fine with HD, the main question is, will the upgrade from 555X to 560X make much of a difference in general and for 4K?

    It seems that I made the right choice going to 32GB RAM.

    Thank you for reading and replying.
     
  6. AnIdeaADay thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2018
    #6
    Thank you, yes it seems like I made the right move going with 32GB. That’s the main reason I got refurbished so I can get the extra RAM in my price range.

    I’m thinking of something else, will have to try tomorrow, maybe I should be going into the settings to see if I can adust what Premiere uses for graphics, I know there’s some setting and there maybe something for Mercury playback or Apple’s Metal etc. (?) but you would think the default would be the better choice.
    --- Post Merged, Dec 19, 2018 ---
    I think Vega, if those are the new cards from Nov are out of my price range.

    Yes, I have 4 videos layered in a grid, playing at the same time in 1/2 the resolution.

    I really was trying to test the Mac I got to see if it will work for me down the line if/when I start working with 4K.

    I wanted to try something quick that would push the Mac. When it’s only 1 video, it plays decently - or so so - but I will always be adding some sort of effect, title, graphic and/or motion so instead of starting a whole project, I just layered 4 videos.

    First video used: Video Codec Type: HEVC 10 bit 4:2:0

    I looked for another 4K test video, it may have worked a bit better but still not great.

    Second video used: Video Codec Type: MP4/MOV H.264 4:2:0

    Trying to figure out if it’s worth the hassle of returning for a small bump if even. I was thinking of a desktop but Apple didn’t upgrade the regular iMac and the new Mac Pro is months away. The price and portability of the trash can Mac Pro was very appealing to me but now it’s years old...

    Thank you!
     
  7. e1me5 macrumors 6502

    e1me5

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2013
    Location:
    Cyprus
    #7
    I would say Premiere is the problem here. Try the same test with different editing apps. FCPX and Resolve are both free to try and see which one is better. Premiere has many problems with video decoding and this harms playback.
     
  8. joema2, Dec 20, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2018

    joema2 macrumors 68000

    joema2

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2013
    #8
    In general Premiere has done a poor job of handling H264 4k material -- from a playback performance standpoint. I have tested this many times on both my 2017 top-spec iMac 27 and 10-core Vega64 iMac Pro, and it's just plain slow. That's even playing one clip at 1/4 resolution, not 4 clips or multi-cam. The slowest aspect is lag time if using JKL keyboard commands -- it feels like the keyboard is broken.

    I just re-tested the very latest version Premiere 2019 ver. 13.0.2 (build 38) running on Mojave 10.14.2 on both my iMac Pro and 2017 i7 iMac, and on the iMac Pro it seems somewhat faster than previous versions. CPU levels during playback are much lower than before. Unfortunately the same Premiere/macOS versions on my 2017 i7 iMac are still slow, and (as typical with Premiere) CPU levels are very high during playback. This was both Metal and OCL playback at 1/4 res.

    Premiere (at least on Mac) historically has not used Quick Sync hardware acceleration on playback, only for encoding an output file. Compared to DaVinci Resolve and FCPX, Premiere is excruciatingly slow on 4k H264 material -- even on the latest high-end Mac desktop hardware. Maybe it's recently improved only on the iMac Pro. But a 2018 laptop will be no different than an i7 iMac. This is why the fans kicked on during your playback -- it was only using software decoding, which is CPU-bound. In general, a GPU cannot accelerate video decoding or encoding, only effects.

    If you want verification of this, try the same video clip in iMovie (which uses the FCPX playback engine) or download the free version of Resolve and try that. Those all use Quick Sync acceleration for playback. A lot of former Premiere users have switched to Resolve because of performance and reliability issues. Maybe on the iMac Pro using AMD's UVD/VCE transcoding hardware Adobe is finally using hardware playback acceleration, but they are not apparently doing this on my 2017 iMac, even in the latest 2019 ver. 13.0.2.

    I realize you cannot easily switch NLEs, so will try to list some helpful steps below.

    Re your laptop config, there is no magic answer regarding GPU vs RAM. 4k H264 in Premiere will be slow either way. A six-core machine would help some but it won't totally transform performance. GeekBench shows the 555X at roughly 50,000, and the 560X at about 60,000. That might be narrowly useful for some effects but it won't help video playback or encoding. My personal priority (for video editing) would be the six-core CPU. However software developers are always finding new ways to leverage the GPU, so that also could be a good long-term investment. It just won't solve your current problem on Premiere.

    Re RAM, you can do a quick test right now. Run Lightroom, Photoshop and Premiere, load up tasks in each each, then run Activity Monitor, pick the Memory tab and look at the Memory Pressure graph at the bottom. If it stays mostly green, additional RAM will probably not help.

    Be advised that B&H does not allow returns on computers, including Macs (without major restocking fees, sometimes not even then).

    Fortunately Premiere began supporting proxies a couple of years ago, so that is probably your best strategy short of switching NLEs. It works very well and makes 4k video super fast to edit, but you must generate those. See the Premiere docs for this.

    Short of proxies you can run the program monitor at 1/4 res -- that is still 1080p resolution. You can also experiment with trying Metal vs OCL playback in project settings, but this didn't make a difference on my 2017 iMac.

    What fhturner said is correct: it can also be codec dependent. All 4k H264 codecs are not alike. In my testing on both Premiere and FCPX, Sony XAVC-S material is slower than similarly encoded material from a Panasonic GH4/GH5 -- even if both use the H264 codec, both encoded 8-bit 4:2:0 at 100 mbps. HEVC is a totally different codec with different implications for hardware acceleration. HEVC is about 10x the compute load of H264 but it's possible some hardware/software combinations may use hardware acceleration so this feels faster than H264. You will have to experiment. Also 8-bit vs 10-bit HEVC are totally different. Encoding (ie exporting) 4k 10-bit HEVC is one case where Premiere is much faster than FCPX, since FCPX only uses hardware acceleration for 8-bit HEVC.

    The basic problem is (1) 4k is 4x the pixels of 1080p, so is difficult to handle, and (2) Premiere does not use Quick Sync for playback acceleration on Macs. I think Adobe said they are starting to use this on Windows but I haven't tested that.

    On Premiere your best option is using proxies. If you have access to a Windows machine running the latest version of Premiere you could test the same clip there and see if it's any better.
     
  9. keysofanxiety macrumors G3

    keysofanxiety

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2011
    #9
    To summarise what most have said: Adobe Premiere is hopeless on macOS. It's so, so, so poorly coded.

    FCPX runs 4K content like butter, even on a MacBook Air. That thing will sing on a 2018 15" MBP. If you can, I would strongly encourage you to switch to FCPX.
     
  10. AnIdeaADay thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2018
    #10
    Thank you, it’s good to know it’s not the specs.
    --- Post Merged, Dec 20, 2018 ---
    Wow! Thank you so much for such a detailed and insightful answer.

    I bought the one I got from Apple Refurbished and they just posted the same one (32GB RAM) with the 560. Knowing that it’s an issue with Adobe puts things in perspective, I know I’ll be fine with HD footage but I was hoping that down the line, it will be good. Not sure if it’s worth the hassle of returning, waiting for the refund, hoping the 560 model will still be up on their refurbished site.

    Thanks for the tip on B&H about returns, that means if I consider it. I have to be 100% sure.

    Thank you!
    --- Post Merged, Dec 20, 2018 ---
    Like “butter” is the term I was thinking but avoided using. That’s what I wanted and expected.

    I owned FCP years ago, before the change to X. But I barely used it. It would save me money too but learning new software when you’re used to something else is what I’ll have to be ready for... Seems it worth it when I’m ready. Having it to do a side project on or something and getting my feet wet (with butter? :)
     
  11. F-Train, Dec 20, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2018

    F-Train macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2015
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    NYC & Newfoundland
    #11
    I'd suggest that you look into the free version of DaVinci Resolve and see how it works for you alongside Premier. Ripple Training has excellent DaVinci Resolve tutorials and is currently offering 40% off. Also, there's a 30 day free trial for Final Cut Pro X.
     
  12. AnIdeaADay thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2018
    #12
    Thank you for the tip! After all is set and done and based on the feedback, I’m leaning toward keeping it, I don’t know if it’s worth the hassle of returning for a minor bump.

    Once I decide and I’m set, I will definitely download Davinci and give it a try.
     

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11 December 19, 2018