Best 8-Core MacPro for Final Cut Pro

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by MitchLewis, Mar 16, 2010.

  1. MitchLewis macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2010
    #1
    We've been waiting since December for Apple to announce the mythical 12-core MacPro's so we can purchase one for video post production use. I've been editing on my MacBook Pro laptop since then and today was the final day of waiting for us.

    We're trying to get the "best bang for the buck". We edit HD video (XDCAM EX, ProRes 422, Uncompressed HD, green-screen, big AfterEffects renders, etc...) We have invested in some very fast mini-SAS RAID's for external storage, so now we just have to figure out what CPU to buy.

    CPU CHOICES
    2 x 2.26GHz
    2 x 2.66Ghz (+$1400)
    2 x 2.93 GHz (+$2600)

    The other decision is what to do for a fast, reliable boot drive so the system and applications will launch fast.

    BOOT DRIVE CHOICES
    Single standard hard drive (7200 rpm)
    Dual hard drives striped together as a RAID-0 (Apple tech told me that this configuration is faster than a single SSD drive)
    Single SSD (need a way to mount a 2.5 into a 3.5 slot)

    We're set on buying 12 GB or RAM based on BareFeets testing that shows that 6-slots of RAM is faster than 8-slots. (weird but whatever)

    And we're set on buying the ATI Radeon HD 4870 512MB graphics card to run our 30-inch Cinema display and 24-inch LED display.

    Any advice? We're going to place our order tomorrow morning.

    Thanks in advance! :)
     
  2. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #2
    You will actually benefit more from clock speed than core count I believe.

    You may want to consider the 3.3GHz Quad instead.

    12GB of RAM for a Quad from OWC is about $480. The reason that RAM works best in multiples of 3's is because the memory controller is tri-channel, thus you gain the most benefit from interleaving across three identical DIMM's per CPU. Also, keep in mind that as long as FCP remains 32 bit, you won't be able to take advantage of this RAM. 4 or 6GB will do until they upgrade it to 64-bit.

    Also, a couple of HDD's in RAID0 is good for capacity, but not for speed. A good SSD will have better performance in almost all aspects (except perhaps sequential writes - but event that can be better depending on the SSD vs HDD's you are considering) but will be limited in size. If you just need it for the OS/Apps, then definitely get an SSD. Only go magnetic disks for media storage, which you appear to already have well in hand. If you go SSD, get the Icydock 2.5" to 3.5" tray.
     
  3. bearcatrp macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2008
    Location:
    Boon Docks USA
    #3
    Until the apps are rewritten to 64 bit, better off snagging a refurb 4 or 8 core. My 2008 8 core mac pro cruises just fine with todays programs. Hopefully apple updates all the pro software like aperture to 64 bit. Then multicore and large amounts of ram will be pertinent.
     
  4. grue macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2003
    Location:
    Somewhere.
    #4
    64bit software is not necessarily multithreaded, nor does multithreaded software necessarily mean it's 64bit.
     
  5. dragonflyprod macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2010
    #5
    Great choice, but get applecare!

    I run a video production company in London, dragonfly productions.

    We have a room full of mac pros! You will not be sorry with this purchase!

    I haven't had a single problem so far. My advise though, it to ensure you get applecare. It is worth every penny for the telephone support alone.

    enjoy!
     
  6. MitchLewis thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2010
    #6
    Good point! Forgot about AppleCare.

    I also forgot about the 64-bit thing. I'm going to be bummed if Apple releases the 12-core MacPro's in April and they are set up for 64-bit, at the same time they release Final Cut Studio in 64-bit.

    But we just can't wait for Apple any longer. We have to pull the plug.
     
  7. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #7
    All recent Mac Pros are 64-bit capable... nothing will change in that regard with the 2010 Mac Pros. If and when Apple updates FCS to 64-bit you'll be able to take advantage of more RAM. Let's also hope they improve it so rendering in the timeline can utilize more than a couple of CPU cores as well.

    The fact is that software is terribly lagging the capabilities of our hardware. So don't feel compelled to buy the hottest hardware... you won't be able to fully leverage it anyway. As I mentioned, opt for clock speed over cores... you will find it more responsive in every task, no matter whether it's multi-threaded or not.
     
  8. MitchLewis thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2010
    #8
    Thanks VirtualRain. That makes me feel better about 64-bit for the future.

    What about new vs refurbished? For example:

    NEW $4948
    Two 2.66GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon "Nehalem"
    6GB RAM (6 x 1GB)
    640GB 7200 rmp Serial ATA 3Gb/s
    NVIDIA GeForce GT 120 512 MB
    AppleCare ($249)

    REFURB $4999 + Apple Care = $5248
    Two 2.93GHz Quad-Core Intrl Xeon "Nehalem"
    6GB RAM (6 x 1GB)
    640GB 7200 rmp Serial ATA 3Gb/s
    NVIDIA GeForce GT 120 512 MB
    AppleCare ($249)

    Buying the Refurbished unit, I could afford to purchase the 2.93GHz CPU which is currently the fastest 8-core Mac Pro. (normally $6148) But it's refurbished. I've never bought refurbished before.

    But I'd have to add more RAM (I was hoping for 6 x 2GB) and it's already got 6 slots filled. Also I'd like to by the optional ATI Radeon 4870 graphics card. So with all those additions, I'm not sure how much savings I'd really get.
     
  9. nanofrog macrumors G4

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    #9
    Refurbs are a good deal, and you'd have to add the upgrades anyway, no matter which clocked CPU you go with.
     
  10. Pressure macrumors 68040

    Pressure

    Joined:
    May 30, 2006
    Location:
    Denmark
    #10
    64-bit Final Cut is just not about more ram. It is about finally ditching Carbon for Cocoa (Objective-C). This enables the application to take advantage of the Cocoa QuickTime X framework, that will enable faster real-time rendering as well as post-rendering.

    Right now Final Cut relies on Carbon and needs to make the progression to Cocoa (Objective-C) to be able to access all the wonderful things in Snow Leopard, like 64-bit kernel, better multithreading (thanks to Grand Central Dispatch) and OpenCL.

    Remember that Mac OS X can easily access more than 4GB of ram per applications because it uses an extended mode (36-bit vs 32-bit).

    The current Final Cut is still limited by the downfalls by the aging Carbon based QuickTime 7.
     
  11. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #11
    Why do you think you need 8 cores?

    You're spending your money on the wrong thing IMHO. A fast Quad core with SSD(s) for OS/Apps, a fast graphics card (for apps that can utilize it) and 6GB of memory now with money in the bank to swap up to 12GB down the road (from OWC - NOT Apple) is the way to go.

    And, yes, absolutely buy refurbished if you can.
     
  12. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2002
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #12
    If it's w/in budget why not get 8 cores? The OP said they use AE which will utilize more cores than FCP and the more cores, and RAM, you have means you can smoothly kick out renders in AE while still working in FCP w/o a big performance hit. Also, if this is a long term investment, 3-5 years, the 8-core machine will have longer legs than the 4.

    OP,
    The only downside to refurb units is that depending on inventory you might have to play the waiting game until a machine w/the specs you want pops up. Refurbs qualify for the same warranty that brand new machines do AFAIK.


    Lethal
     
  13. zedsdead macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2007
    #13
    I would recommend the refurbished. That extra clock speed will help. Final Cut's biggest issue right now its lack of Multi-core support. Compressor can take advantage (via a cluster), but Final Cut will not. I was very disappointed when I went from my 2.8 Core2Duo iMac to the 2.8 i7. Render speeds and exports within FCP did not change at all.
     
  14. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #14
    As long as money is invested in addressing other bottlenecks, I suppose there's no problem in over-spending on CPU cores, even if they are underutilized. The best machine for FCS today, is a 3.3GHz quad core. Next year, it might be an 8 or 12 core, but it could also just as easily be the same 3.3GHz quad but with a pair of high-end GPU's. Who knows?

    You can spend the money today hoping it's going into what will be a bottleneck tomorrow, or you can bank that and invest it when you know where the best bang for the buck really is.
     
  15. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2002
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #15
    Just because FCP doesn't make use of all the cores now doesn't mean having more is a waste. AE, Compressor, running multiple CPU intensive apps at the same time, etc., will get all the cores cranking. Also, if they OP works someplace where they can only upgrade every few years there's no point in buying a slower machine to last 3-5 years as opposed to buying the best machine possible w/in the budget.

    The best bang-for-the-buck will always be a moving target because something better and cheaper is always around the corner.


    Lethal
     
  16. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #16
    So what did you end up buying? (Despite the dialog back and forth on core counts, I'm sure whatever you decide will rock!)
     
  17. Phantom Gremlin macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2010
    Location:
    Tualatin, Oregon
    #17
    I'm in rabid agreement with you on this. I've overspent for years; I'm finally getting smarter.

    I don't even want to think about how much money I spent on my Mac IIfx, some twenty years ago! More than what we're talking about for most Mac Pros today. Anybody want to buy a computer with a 40 MHz 68030 and 20 MB of RAM? :)
     
  18. nanofrog macrumors G4

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    #18
    Why sell?

    It makes a nice, rather large door stop. :eek: :p
     
  19. Phantom Gremlin macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2010
    Location:
    Tualatin, Oregon
    #19
    It helps stabilize some metal shelving in the garage. Fortunately I got rid of the E-Machines 16" monitor. That thing was a beast.
     
  20. nanofrog macrumors G4

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    #20
    There you go, that's the spirit. :D :p
     

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