Resolved 2013 Mac Pro a good FCPX machine?

illegalprelude

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Mar 10, 2005
1,577
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Los Angeles, California
Hey guys and gals,

I have a fully maxed out 27-inch 5K iMac (late 2015), but it‘s starting to not be enough for my FCPX workflow that involves shooting/editing 4K content for YouTube. Also doesn’t help that it’s breaking down and I’m not sure if it’s bad RAM or somewhere on the board. That’s another story.

I’ve been eyeing the iMac Pro but would wait till a refresh which got me thinking - how about 2013 8-core Mac Pro?

Found this model on eBay:
  • 3GHz Intel Xeon 8-Core Processor
  • 16GB of 1866MHz DDR3 ECC RAM
  • 256GB PCIe-based flash storage
  • Dual AMD FirePro D500 GPUs with 2GB of GDDR5 VRAM each
I’d upgrade RAM to 64GB or 128GB and take internal to 1TB SSD (I do all my editing off of a RAID anyways).

But the real question is - how well does that machine hold up compared to my own iMac? Or for about $2,500-$3,000 (upgrades included) am I better off with a MBP?

Thanks in advance!
 
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ruslan120

macrumors 6502a
Jul 12, 2009
949
662
If you’re going to desktop route, how about an iMac 2019?

I scored a refurbish i9 with Vega 48 graphics, 1 TB SSD, for about $3000
 

OkiRun

macrumors 6502
Oct 25, 2019
428
238
Japan
Hey guys and gals,

I have a fully maxed out 27-inch 5K iMac (late 2015), but it‘s starting to not be enough for my FCPX workflow that involves shooting/editing 4K content for YouTube. Also doesn’t help that it’s breaking down and I’m not sure if it’s bad RAM or somewhere on the board. That’s another story.

I’ve been eyeing the iMac Pro but would wait till a refresh which got me thinking - how about 2013 8-core Mac Pro?

Found this model on eBay:
  • 3GHz Intel Xeon 8-Core Processor
  • 16GB of 1866MHz DDR3 ECC RAM
  • 256GB PCIe-based flash storage
  • Dual AMD FirePro D500 GPUs with 2GB of GDDR5 VRAM each
I’d upgrade RAM to 64GB or 128GB and take internal to 1TB SSD (I do all my editing off of a RAID anyways).

But the real question is - how well does that machine hold up compared to my own iMac? Or for about $2,500-$3,000 (upgrades included) am I better off with a MBP?

Thanks in advance!
I think your very last 'thought' might hold the key to your inner angst. If you're YouTubing then the mobility of the 16" MBP might come in very handy to edit on the go and maxed out - does very nicely with 10 to 20 minute 4K video editing (FCPX) which is the standard for a lot of daily channels; assuming you are not loading the clips down with numerous LUTS/SFXS, etc.
 

MaxYuryev

macrumors member
Oct 25, 2015
34
93
Don’t waste your money. Absolutely buy a 16” MacBook Pro instead. It’s actually faster than a 2017 specced out iMac and has the newest GPU architecture available, even newer than my new Mac Pro’s $2400 Vega II GPU. The encoders in there are faster (but not completely utilized yet).

The biggest limitation are the graphics cards. They are slow and they don’t have dedicated hardware decoding or encoding for video editing.

I had a 6 core D700 Mac Pro and a 2014 iMac it was 90% as powerful as my Mac Pro while having that nice display and for encoding h.264 the iMac was significantly faster. Here is a long detailed video I made back then that you can skim through.


The 8 core D500 model will be slower then my 6 core D700 with modern editing programs that now harness more of the GPU then back then.

I then later tested the 2015 iMac 5K and it was faster than my D700 Mac Pro with FCX.
I think I have a hackintosh vs Mac Pro video where I included the 2015 5K speed results in.

The biggest jump in iMac performance was actually The 2017 model since Apple finally put a desktop class GPU (the 580 8GB) into the iMac and it also got thunderbolt 3 at that point. I still have one of those too.

Anyway, I would get almost anything instead of a 2013 Mac Pro if you do video editing.
 
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yellowbunny

macrumors regular
Jun 27, 2010
140
88
You should be able to get one much cheaper than that. I got one two years ago and updated to 12 core etc recently. I use it for FCPX and its amazing (I use prores 90% of the time). I paid £1500 for mine with the upgrades and there were no macs close to the performance for that price. I wouldn’t have paid over 2 grand personally.
 

MaxYuryev

macrumors member
Oct 25, 2015
34
93
Nice! ProRes isn’t GPU accelerated so that’s perfect for your use case having that 12 core processor especially two years ago when everything else came with 4 cores other than the iMac Pro which is way more expensive (if it was even available). What do you usually render out to?

For the orginal poster and others reading this later, the 2019 8 core i9 16” MacBook Pro performs the same as the 12 core Mac Pro as far as CPU performance and of course decodes and encodes modern compressed codecs like h.264 and HEVC much better thanks to new graphics card technology and T2 chip.

Playinf back 10 bit HEVC will use close to 100% CPU usage on those xeons and it may or may not play back smooth enough to edit where these compressed codecs will only take 3-5% usage on new Macs thanks for hardware decoding and when encoding the new Macs will take roughly 3min for a 5 min project where the Mac Pro will likely take over 10min.

The 2019 5K iMac is about 10-15% faster in terms of CPU and the Vega 48 graphics is 2-3 times faster then the dual GPU’s if they are both efficiently used and the performance is doubled (which is rare).

Please don’t take it as me trying to say the system is bad or incapable just trying to give people reference point if they are trying to decide buying something new vs getting a good deal on a Mac Pro.
 

OkiRun

macrumors 6502
Oct 25, 2019
428
238
Japan
My very personal take ~

Apple's future support for a 2013 machine vs a 2019 machine? He is moving from a 2015 machine back to a 2013 machine. So, he is not future proofing his system/apple support. In fact, he is moving in the opposite direction. If he is a computer hobbyist and likes to tinker then this decision can lead to a lot of fun. If he is making a business decision... to me... it doesn't make sense and isn't going to lead to 'fun'.

Cheers ~
 

Zdigital2015

macrumors 68020
Jul 14, 2015
2,095
2,227
East Coast, United States
Hey guys and gals,

I have a fully maxed out 27-inch 5K iMac (late 2015), but it‘s starting to not be enough for my FCPX workflow that involves shooting/editing 4K content for YouTube. Also doesn’t help that it’s breaking down and I’m not sure if it’s bad RAM or somewhere on the board. That’s another story.

I’ve been eyeing the iMac Pro but would wait till a refresh which got me thinking - how about 2013 8-core Mac Pro?

Found this model on eBay:
  • 3GHz Intel Xeon 8-Core Processor
  • 16GB of 1866MHz DDR3 ECC RAM
  • 256GB PCIe-based flash storage
  • Dual AMD FirePro D500 GPUs with 2GB of GDDR5 VRAM each
I’d upgrade RAM to 64GB or 128GB and take internal to 1TB SSD (I do all my editing off of a RAID anyways).

But the real question is - how well does that machine hold up compared to my own iMac? Or for about $2,500-$3,000 (upgrades included) am I better off with a MBP?

Thanks in advance!
I’m with @MaxYuryev and @OkiRun that a 16” MacBook Pro would be a much better choice, especially given that Navi (RDNA) is the future and that the GPU drivers and performance can only get better from here, whereas the dual Dx00 GPUs are at the end of theirs.

As Max pointed out, you would have a mobile editing rig that can dock to an eGPU (RX 5700 XT would be a logical choice) at your home base.

I don’t have anything against the 2013 Mac Pro, but it would not make sense to me for video now. Maybe audio, VMs/Dev or general use at this point and only if you can get one that is Certified Refurbished w/AppleCare. I’m sure there are plenty of marginal GPUs in used Mac Pros that never got taxed waiting out there to go kaboom when pushed hard by your use case. That would be quite a kick in the teeth.
 

illegalprelude

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Mar 10, 2005
1,577
119
Los Angeles, California
Hey everyone, I really appreciate the input and advice. Going into it, I really wanted the 2013 Mac Pro to work, but upon further research and from everything you've provided, it really does seem that no matter how much raw power that machine has, it doesn't quite compare or can keep up with the modern architecture that's found in the 16-inch MBP or iMac Pro. So unless I can get one for an absolute steal, I think in my case, saving for a MBP or revised iMac Pro is the right course. Much thanks! 🤙
 
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th0masp

macrumors 6502
Mar 16, 2015
411
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germany
What about fan noise and heat on the MBP though? In my experience - once you connect a large screen to it and run an application that's at least marginally taxing on the system then your ears are going to bleed (and there's a good chance that a few years down the line you're looking at a sizeable repair bill for your semi-cooked machine).
I still run an MBP and it has been a reliable and totally quiet and cool-running machine - ever since I basically gutted the dGPU.
 

tsialex

macrumors 604
Jun 13, 2016
6,554
7,295
Brazil
Hey everyone, I really appreciate the input and advice. Going into it, I really wanted the 2013 Mac Pro to work, but upon further research and from everything you've provided, it really does seem that no matter how much raw power that machine has, it doesn't quite compare or can keep up with the modern architecture that's found in the 16-inch MBP or iMac Pro. So unless I can get one for an absolute steal, I think in my case, saving for a MBP or revised iMac Pro is the right course. Much thanks! 🤙
With AMD GPU hardware acceleration enabled, even a 2009 Mac Pro, that you can buy for pennies, upgraded with a RX 580 is a better Mac for FCPx.

MP6,1 is better for a lot things, like compiling software non stop, but for video editing/transcoding it's a bad choice nowadays.
 
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tpivette89

macrumors 6502
Jan 1, 2018
467
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Middletown, DE
Could AMD GPU hardware acceleration be enabled on the 6,1? If not with the D300/500/700... what about an eGPU? Or would this even need to be a thing if an eGPU is utilized?
 

tsialex

macrumors 604
Jun 13, 2016
6,554
7,295
Brazil
Could AMD GPU hardware acceleration be enabled on the 6,1? If not with the D300/500/700... what about an eGPU? Or would this even need to be a thing if an eGPU is utilized?
D300 = HD 7870, D500 = HD 7950, D700 = HD 7970/280 X. The first AMD GPU that have hardware acceleration is RX 480.

AFAIK, no one tested if you can enable AMD hardware acceleration via eGPU with MP6,1. Like with MP5,1 is not an Apple supported config for AMD hardware acceleration and will need to be hacked.
 

tpivette89

macrumors 6502
Jan 1, 2018
467
238
Middletown, DE
Bummer that no one up to this point has tested it. I have a flashed 4,1<5,1, and a 6,1. Also I have an eGPU (Razer Core X) and have access to either a RX480 4GB, or a RX480 8GB.

Hope to have a Vega 56/64 soon. Will be testing a modified script with eGPU on a 6,1 Mac Pro in the near future...

Although, it looks as though with the GPUs I have, hardware acceleration isn't necessary.
 
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h9826790

macrumors G5
Apr 3, 2014
13,488
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Hong Kong
IMO, it was, but not anymore.

If you edit ProRes, high capacity and high speed storage is required. In this aspect, 5,1 is better than the 6,1.

For CPU performance, a fully upgraded 5,1 also has similar performance as the 6,1.

For GPU, the 6,1 GPU is too old nowadays. A single RX580 8GB can kill dual D700 in FCPX, especially in high resolution.

Lack of HWAccel is the biggest downside, even you edit in ProRes, most likely you will still export the final product to H264. Without GPU encoding, this process will be painfully slow. If export to HEVC, it will be even worst on the 6,1.
 
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linuxcooldude

macrumors 68020
Mar 1, 2010
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Don’t waste your money. Absolutely buy a 16” MacBook Pro instead. It’s actually faster than a 2017 specced out iMac and has the newest GPU architecture available, even newer than my new Mac Pro’s $2400 Vega II GPU. The encoders in there are faster (but not completely utilized yet).

The biggest limitation are the graphics cards. They are slow and they don’t have dedicated hardware decoding or encoding for video editing.

I had a 6 core D700 Mac Pro and a 2014 iMac it was 90% as powerful as my Mac Pro while having that nice display and for encoding h.264 the iMac was significantly faster. Here is a long detailed video I made back then that you can skim through.


The 8 core D500 model will be slower then my 6 core D700 with modern editing programs that now harness more of the GPU then back then.

I then later tested the 2015 iMac 5K and it was faster than my D700 Mac Pro with FCX.
I think I have a hackintosh vs Mac Pro video where I included the 2015 5K speed results in.

The biggest jump in iMac performance was actually The 2017 model since Apple finally put a desktop class GPU (the 580 8GB) into the iMac and it also got thunderbolt 3 at that point. I still have one of those too.

Anyway, I would get almost anything instead of a 2013 Mac Pro if you do video editing.
It also depends on the situation. I agree it sounds like an iMac or MacBook Pro would be better. If you work with 20-30 minutes or less video ( Youtube ) I would go iMac. However, If you work with hours of video at the same time, I would go with Mac Pro. If you work with rendering to codecs other than H.264 or Single pass (Like MultiPass), get a Mac Pro. QuickSync doesn't work other than H.264 & Single Pass. Hours of video or multiTrack video the iMac or MacBook Pro will be slower for background rendering/effects ect. with single Gpu during regular editing/Color correction. Dual GPU's will definitely have the advantage for smoother playback, effects/Background rendering. Where iMac/MacBook Pro will definitely throttle big time in big video files, even in QuickSync.
 
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illegalprelude

macrumors 68000
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Mar 10, 2005
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It also depends on the situation. I agree it sounds like an iMac or MacBook Pro would be better. If you work with 20-30 minutes or less video ( Youtube ) I would go iMac. However, If you work with hours of video at the same time, I would go with Mac Pro. If you work with rendering to codecs other than H.264 or Single pass (Like MultiPass), get a Mac Pro. QuickSync doesn't work other than H.264 & Single Pass. Hours of video or multiTrack video the iMac or MacBook Pro will be slower for background rendering/effects ect. with single Gpu during regular editing/Color correction. Dual GPU's will definitely have the advantage for smoother playback, effects/Background rendering. Where iMac/MacBook Pro will definitely throttle big time in big video files, even in QuickSync.
In my case, on average, video lengths are between 3-7 minutes and maybe once in a while, I'd work on a 10-15min project. Otherwise, it's tech-based content, so talking specs in front of a green screen, shooting some b-roll, unboxing, and splicing it all together