Buying Mac Pro: Necessary to upgrade video card to handle HD video?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by magillagorilla, Feb 18, 2008.

  1. magillagorilla macrumors member

    Feb 18, 2008
    Buying a Mac pro to serve as our primary computer. One of the primary uses will be editing HD video. Is it a good idea to upgrade to the video card from the base ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT card? Not sure what affect the video graphics card has (if any) on the computer's ability to handle HD video. TIA
  2. tivoli2 macrumors regular


    May 29, 2007
    My own little world...
    That depends on a lot of things, such as your video source and what you're outputting to. It's also more than just the card - a big part of video (especially HD) is getting your hard drives to work for you, i.e. RAID setups. (Sorry if you already know that part...:))

    Google AJA for video cards, and Blackmagic has some good resources that can help get you up to speed (if you need it) on how different RAID setups can benefit you.
  3. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    The Final Cut Express/Pro user manual has a secton where it tels you how fast of a disk system you will need based on the type of video format and the number of streams. I think this is more important than which video card. Unless you are doing 3D work.
  4. magillagorilla thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 18, 2008
    Thanks. Really have no idea about this stuff. Is the nutshell version that you need a series of drives to work efficiently with HD video and that this type of setup is more important than graphics cards?
  5. KeithPratt macrumors 6502a

    Mar 6, 2007
    Graphics cards are more about generating content than just displaying it, so cutting plain video like HDV is not taxing on them. If you do image manipulation, use Motion or Color, or do any 3D or graphics work then graphics cards are more important.

    You can Wikipedia RAID for a more detailed description but here's the jist: the three most common forms are RAID0, RAID1 and RAID5. RAID0 is for speed, RAID1 is for security (ie file backup) and RAID5 is for both. They all require 2+ discs. They can be run via software (using your Pro's processor) or hardware (having their own little processor in the hard drive casing).

    I wouldn't go down the software route as video editing is pretty processor-hungry already. The only one I could see being of potential use to you is a hardware RAID0. RAID0 treats two (or more) drives as one big one, so you can simultaneously read or write to them at the same time, which means you can deal with more data at any one time.

    If you edit HDV you don't need RAID — an extra 500GB internal dedicated to video footage will suffice. (You're best keeping your footage off your system drive, incidentally.) If you intend to edit in ProRes you need more speed and therefore a RAID.

    ProRes is (perhaps somewhat confusingly to the novice) used to edit either lower- or higher-quality footage. It cuts professional footage down to a more manageable size without losing quality, and speeds up editing of lower-quality, heavily compressed footage (HDV). It's also handy if you intend to muck around with the colour in your projects. You can find out more about it on Wikipedia or Apple's website; but if you find yourself looking up a lot of phrases in those descriptions, it probably isn't something you want to dabble in at this stage.

    So... if we're talking you wanting a nice system for editing home movies, you'll be fine with the 2600 and an internal drive dedicated to footage. If you're intending to do something a little higher spec, with fancy motion graphics and heavy colour correction/manipulation, you would be better served with the 8800GT and a Firewire RAID0 like this > (Apple's internal RAID hardware is on the pricey side). Judging by your post I'd assume the former would accommodate your needs, but it's not a bad idea to have a little room in your pants for Christmas when you may want to eat a little more, if you know what I'm saying.
  6. ghettochris macrumors 6502a

    Feb 19, 2008
    best/cheapest hardware raid 0 TB i have found is:

    sata: World Computing/MEFW924AL2K/

    pata: even cheaper, $88 for the dual raid fw800 enclosure

    in either one i would throw in 2 seagate 500's that you can find for around $100 for both sata and pata.

    either one will easily max the firewire 800 around 80MB/sec, and the 2nd one might cost less than 300 total for the raid TB, and you can use the enclosure with 2 regular hd's in it without raid.

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