Configuring a Unibody MB for HD Video Editing

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by iLloyd, Apr 18, 2009.

  1. iLloyd macrumors newbie

    Apr 18, 2009
    Greetings all!

    For my first post I was hoping to get some advice on configuring a machine for producing an HD video project. My wonderful, but ageing 1.33GHz 12" PowerBook just isn't up to the task.

    First of all, I'm assuming a unibody MacBook is a good choice, if a MB Pro is a better (i.e., more cost effective) choice please set me straight.

    Is the 2.4 GHz MacBook worth it? or is the 2.0 GHz good enough?

    Max-ing out the RAM is a no-brainer, but I've heard conflicting stories on the maximum RAM that can be installed (4GB? or 6GB?).

    Have also heard that a 7200 rpm hard drive is the way to go, but some battery life is sacrificed. Or is the SDD the best choice?

    I'm trying to find the sweet spot, that is, the best price-to-performance ratio for the machine. If anyone has some experience with HD video editing I'd really appreciate some advice.

    Nice to be with all of you!

  2. SHADO macrumors 6502a


    Aug 14, 2008
    Well obviously a MBP is going to be better and faster than a MB. I have done some HD video editing on my White Macbook 2.4GHz 2GB RAM X3100 grx card, so....As for the amount of RAM that can be installed: for a MB it's 4GB, and with an MBP you can have up to 8GB, although some people have reported problems with 8GB. A 7200 RPM HD is faster, but takes more power. A SSD is the fastest, and doesn't consume as much power, but is more expensive and smaller in terms of storage size. I am not a heavy HD video editor, so someone with more experience might have a better suggestion, but I hope this helped.
  3. iLloyd thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 18, 2009
    Thanks SHADO, about the MBP, what is it that makes the MBP a better performer? I thought it was the processor that did the heavy lifting on the encoding. The MacWorld review of the new 15" MBP seems to bear that out. They show only a minor improvement in MPEG encoding over the MB (

    ...and AnandTech test results showed that energy consumption of SSDs is more theoretical than real at this point (

    ...I have read a number of owners who report a noticeable improvement from a 7200 rpm HD, so that rings true.
  4. kkachurak macrumors regular

    Jun 26, 2007
    Orlando, FL
    The MacBook would be an awesome HD editing machine (and truly quite portable) if you maxed out the ram (I think technically you can get up to 6gb's in it... see and put in an SSD as the system disk, removed the optical drive bay, and installed a second SSD as your scratch disk.

    Then, truly, would you have the ultimate little portable editing studio.
  5. iLloyd thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 18, 2009
    Double SSDs! Never thought of that!!

    Kkachurak - I just looked into the SSD pricing - Yikes!! But the 7200 rpm drives are really affordable, compare well performance-wise to the current crop of SSDs (except maybe to the Intel x-25), and it even looks like the power consumption of the newest models look really good. I also couldn't help notice your machine is outfitted with a 7200. Did you perform the operation yourself? If so, was it difficult? Thanks for the input.
  6. tman07 macrumors regular

    Mar 4, 2009
    you also have to remember the unibody MB does NOT have firewire- so unless you can use usb, you will have to get the MBP.

    Others say that the new white macbook, with the upgraded graphics is the same, but with firewire and cheaper ram....

    I LOVE my unibody MB, and aside from the firewire issue, i think you would be just fine!
  7. kkachurak macrumors regular

    Jun 26, 2007
    Orlando, FL

    Aside from the one screw that holds the disk in place being slightly stripped, the swap was simple.

    In fact, the brackets that hold the disk in place are reminiscent of the vibration stoppers I have on the drive sleds in my Mac Pro - so it's a really awesome design that dampens vibration and noise. You'll see when you do the swap, the little orange dampeners.

    Make sure you don't strip your screw! Use the right phillips driver.
  8. iLloyd thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 18, 2009

    The voice of experience - thanks so much kkachurak!
  9. JD92 macrumors 6502a


    Apr 14, 2005
    For HD video encoding the MB and MBP should perform the same at the same clockspeed. You can, however, get a 2.66GHz or 2.93GHz MBP which will both outperform the MB.

    When Snow Leopard comes you may get a performance boost in video encoding assuming the encoding apps take advantage of OpenCL. You should get a boost with both the MB and the MBP, but the MBP will get a bigger boost thanks to it's better graphics processor.
  10. iLloyd thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 18, 2009
    The post-firewire age

    A shame about the lack of firewire, target mode will be missed. I know Apple pissed off lots of people with that decision. I just purchased the amazing Canon HF S100, SDHC flash and USB 2.0 connectivity, so we should be ok. But a good warning to others expecting/assuming firewire.
  11. bozz2006 macrumors 68030


    Aug 24, 2007
    you are right on your assumptions of the newest 7200rpm laptop drives. The seagate momentus 7200.4 is the clear choice. you can get up to 6GB shoehorned into your macbook, but the 4GB DIMMs are prohibitively expensive. I would get 2x2GB now, then swap out a 2GB DIMM for a 4GB DIMM when the prices come down substantially.

    Taking a stock 2.0 GHz macbook and upgrading the RAM and adding a 7200rpm hard drive gives the computer a very healthy performance boost.
  12. iLloyd thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 18, 2009
    Waiting sucks

    I'd heard about the awesomeness that will be OpenCL *and* Grand Central. Why o' why can't I have them now!!

    My cunning plan was to use the MB as a temporary bridge while they perfect the Arrandale MB Pro, then I'll pounce. Mwahahaha.
  13. iLloyd thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 18, 2009
    The sweet spot

    Bozz - this is exactly what I was thinking. In terms of price/performance I think it's definitely the sweet spot. I can't believe how affordable both upgrade options are! $140 for 4GB of RAM *and* a 7200 rpm HD!!

    The only thing left to do is break the news to my 12" PowerBook.
  14. Mintin8 macrumors 6502a


    Mar 4, 2009
    United Kingdom
    Breaking the news will be the worst part.

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