GPU Involvement in Editing (2011 Macbook Pro)

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by murc585, Mar 9, 2011.

  1. murc585 macrumors regular

    Jan 29, 2008
    Hello all fellow video enthusiasts.

    I just sold my motorcycle not long ago and have decided to use the money I made on some alright video equipment for a beginner. I purchased a Panasonic TM700 on the cheap for $750 before its $1100 2011 replacement starts taking over. I currently have a custom built pc (very cheapo one, Pentium dual-core overclocked to 3.5ghz) and have in the past made it work as a hackintosh, but in all my experience, hackintoshes are never completely stable & functional. So it's running windows right now, but I'd rather lean towards the Apple editing software instead of using something like Sony vegas. Sony vegas has a 30 day trial which I'm using right now to edit the TM700 footage, but I can already see where Final Cut would be better because a lot more plug-in effects out there work for Final Cut instead of Sony Vegas.

    Anyways, ever since Apple released their newest revision of the Macbook pro with quad-core sandy bridge chips, I've been massively interested. The TM700 takes 1080 footage at 60p as well as compressed in an h.264 mpeg-2 container so that footage requires a little more power than what my current rig has to offer. I'd like to stick to a real mac, and mobility is becoming more and more important to me. My budget is sort of tight, and as much as I love Apple products, the optional additions can be a real rip-off. I was thinking of getting the base 15" macbook pro and add the option for the 1680x1050 glossy display. I also plan to buy an optibay so I can fit a 40gb Intel SSD I currently own in the superdrive area, pretty much only for the OS and oftern used apps, then have the 500gb 5400rpm drive for video storage.

    What I am wondering is if the base gpu, the 6490M w/256mb of ram would be sufficient for Motion 4 along with some the the gpu-accelerated effects in FCP? I plan to up the ram to 8gb later on (cause I know Motion loves ram) but I was wondering if any of you have real experience with using two different GPUs for editing and if it really made a difference? For $400 more I'd get the 6750M w/1gb ram, along with the bigger hd and cpu frequency bump (I've been overclocking long enough to know a 200mhz bump is unnoticeable in real life). $400 more means I'm missing out on buying a proper camera bag, some filters, a case, wide-angle lens, and a tripod.

    For those who use the Final Cut Suite, does the GPU really have a profound effect on the performance of the suite? I know the 256mb is within spec of motion, but right at the bottom, and I don't plan to do anything more gpu-intensive than editing. Any valuable opinions with experience would be greatly appreciated!
  2. wildduke macrumors newbie

    Feb 28, 2011
    good question! I'm in a simlar situation and I have been researching heaps as well. I am torn between the 15" 2.0ghz and the 13" 2.7. Anandtech, does an AWESOME review of the new MBP lineup and that might help you with your decission making process.

    From what I have read, I deduce that the higher GPU ram is only required if you are going to require high frame rates found in intense gaming or 3d rendering software with million of polygons. I dont think movie editing will require that kind of memory buffer in the video card unless you expect to be adding complicated effects and cgi into your movies. RAM is what I think will be more beneficial.

    Two reasons why I am falling closer to the 15" 2.0 is for the larger screen resolution and quad core processing, which I should almost halve rendering time as well as encoding time to different formats.

    However I am thinking about the 13" due to the fact that when I'm not editing videos, I will have longer battery life and with all this talk of ivy bridge processors possibly coming out next update as well as a possible external changes (maybe an even higher res screen) that means I can do what i need to do now, abeit making me wait a little longer as processing will only be done on two cores, without making me shell out unnessary cash before I upgrade next update.

    I know its a bad way to think sometimes, but there is no such thing as future proofing!

    Ok, It didn't answer much of your question, but I hope that someone else joins this conversation to help both of us!
  3. camelsnot macrumors 6502


    Jan 31, 2011
    Final Cut is old news. Apple has dropped the ball on this for years. Avid is back on top, along with Premiere getting major props in TV and some film.

    That being said, the next version of FCS needs to have GPU hooks in order to stay in the game. It also needs to take advantage of the new Sandy Bridge chipsets. Currently not many products at all are fully supporting it.

    For instance, while Handbrake is hella fast on my new Sandy Bridge PC, it doesn't take advantage of the new instruction set in the processor. I would say wait for a couple moths see any real gains from these new chipsets, at least in CS5. I can't speak to FCS as Apple is notoriously slow when it comes to updates on FCS.
  4. simsaladimbamba

    Nov 28, 2010
    H.264 is an MPEG-4 codec, MPEG-2 is an older codec too, and used to encode the video on video DVDs.
    A container is the capsule (format) in where the codec is used, for example .mov or .mp4 or .avi is a container. They can use a variety of codecs though.
    The TM700 uses the MPEG-4 codec called "AVC/H.264":
    The footage is stored inside the lovely .mts container.

    As to your question, Avid MC and FCP don't take advantage of the GPU right now.
  5. murcielago585 macrumors newbie

    May 7, 2005
    Thanks for the condesending reply, it really helped me out.


    "The .m2ts is a filename extension used for the BDAV MPEG-2 Transport Stream container file format. It is used for multiplexing audio, video and other streams. It is based on the MPEG-2 transport stream container. [2][3][4][5] This container format is commonly used for high definition video on Blu-ray Disc and AVCHD. [6]"

    I got that from
  6. mBox macrumors 68020

    Jun 26, 2002
    After reading the above posts Ive come to the conclusion that some days you just have to stop reading all the jargon written in alien language.
    It really was a simple question by the op.
    What advantage in GPU terms does new MBP over older.
    Well from my experience, the latest and greatest can usually do better.
    Its the cost and what you can afford at the time thats a factor.
    Im using a 2008 MBP for offline editing, my boss is using a 2010 MBP for the same. So far so good.
    He uses Avid MC and I use the whole FCS suite.
    Now I also use Adobe CS5 on that old 2008.
    Since I dont have the latest MacBook Pro to judge, I have Mac Pros from Quad to 12 Core at work running the same apps.
    So far so good with the older MBP comparably :)
    Now in terms of FCS needing GPU, NAB is this April, Im sure something will be released by then.
    Ill be there to test it so Ill post comments when I can .
    Im sure someone else will beat me to it :)
  7. musique macrumors regular


    Apr 10, 2009
    My experience

    OP, I understand the frustration of trying to get the video gear you want on a budget that doesn't come near your desire. In addition, you sound quite technically knowledgeable so I will only mention a couple of my personal experiences as they relate to your post.

    1. You mention using a 40GB SSD for your OS X and apps. That's a great idea: I have a coworker with a newer MBP and it's amazing to see PhotoShop open in a second or two. However, I think 40GB may be a little frustrating. I have an Apple-refurb 2008 Mac Pro that I use as my main computer. It has Adobe CS4 and FCS on it as well as a few audio and music editing systems. Then there are the standards (Microsoft Office, Apple Remote Desktop, Aperture, etc.). Because it's a Mac Pro I never worried too much about disk space, however, my Applications directory is ~24GB, my Library folder is ~72GB, and System directory is ~5GB. So my suggestion is to see if you can find a larger SSD for your system and apps.

    This second item is just a comment on your projections for the cost of your rig.

    2. You don't mention anything in your budget about camera support, audio, or lighting. For shooting you may find that you'll need a good tripod with a fluid head. These are not cheap and should be included in your budget -- or at least in your proforma budget -- so that pans and long lens shots are smooth.

    Many beginners soon find that to capture audio it's wise to budget for microphones, cables, wireless system(s), a mixer and/or external recorder. Your HD Panasonic camera will capture high quality video but using the built-in microphone may frustrate you once you start your post processing. Whereas the eye can excuse many video "looks" it's harder for the ears to make excuses for less than optimal audio.

    Finally, depending on where, when, and what you're shooting, having a few light sources may be important.

    The last thing I want to do is to depreciate your goals and enthusiasm. These are lessons I learned from doing something similar within the last year. I thought that video editing software on a well equipped Mac, a good camera, several SD cards, and a durable camera bag were pretty much all I needed. It turns out that I was wrong in this assumption.

    I wish you good fortune on this new venture.
  8. mBox macrumors 68020

    Jun 26, 2002
    simply...Garbage in, garbage out ;)
  9. mBox macrumors 68020

    Jun 26, 2002

    Just to add, the newest MacBook Pro with the Thunderbolt should be enough to satisfy any newbies dream of getting into this medium ;)
  10. zblaxberg Guest


    Jan 22, 2007
    Since most of the people can't seem to answer the original question here and just rant. Yes the GPU is important however, these macs have been capable of editing high def video for quite some time. You will be fine editing on that computer, it would just be slower than a computer that has say 512mb or 1gb of video memory.
  11. simsaladimbamba

    Nov 28, 2010
  12. murc585 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 29, 2008
    Hey musique, thank you for the realistic reply, but I am only slowly stepping into the world of video, and since I will be keeping the computer for a very long time, why not ask these questions? I realize there is more to it than a camera and computer (actually, those are essentially the only tools you need) but I'm not going to become a professional videographer overnight. My budget is tight at the moment, but it will grow with my needs over time. Right now I have a very standard tripod, an ultrapod II, the TM700, and now I'm hitting a roadblock because I need a computer that can facilitate the frustration associated with editing 1080p content at 60fps. I've just been playing around and learning the camcorder's features so I'm in no way ready to jump the gun on tons of extras on it, so I don't need that high of a budget right now. I have one year left in school studying to be a mechanical engineer (I hate it, but society requires me to have a degree, and I'm not too shabby at math) and then I am going to apply to Vancouver film school and hopefully spend two years actually learning how to do this properly.

    I've been reading all your comments and doing a little bit of research of my own about which NLE to use. I've downloaded the CS5 production suite trial and I'm falling in love with Premiere Pro, so I'm leaning towards that now. And the best part is I can use it with my PC as well when I just want to edit on a larger screen, plus the academic pricing on it is much better than what apple charges for FCS. I still don't think I'd get any other laptop than a Macbook Pro though, I have yet to see another manufacturer install displays as beautiful as apple does on their laptops, and that trackpad is to die for. It might lack USB ports and proper spacing between them, but Apple got it right, they made every aspect of how you interact with the laptop spectacular. They please your eyes with beautiful displays, give you the sturdiest of laptop keyboards, and give you possibly the smoothest trackpad I've ever used. Now that CS5 seems like a better option, do you guys know if it's true that you can only get gpu acceleration in CS5 with an nvidia gpu? I believe I read that their media engine uses CUDA technology to help render video effects...
  13. mBox macrumors 68020

    Jun 26, 2002
    yea were all waiting to see where this is going with the CUDA. Currently Im running a Quadro 4000 on my RED workstation and now have a few ATI (AMD whatever...) cards lying around doing nothing :p
    Now with the future of the new MacBook Pros, Im not sure where CUDA comes into play with the new graphics cards.

    P.s. yes you need the Nvidia to use CUDA. Ive had this option for awhile with CS5 After Effects and Premiere but avoided it. Now of course if it was Davinci then Id welcome that :)
  14. murc585 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 29, 2008
    I've decided to just get a new windows system, I'll have to wait on the next generation of Macbook pro's when apple hopefully moves back to Nvidia.

    Intel Core i5 2500K w/ Noctua cooler
    Asus P67 Sabertooth mb
    8GB G.Skill Ripjaws X 1600mhz ram
    Nvidia GTX 560 Ti 1GB

    all for $850, can't beat that and I'm gonna up the speed of the 2500K to 4.5ghz. That should do the trick, and when an Nvidia MBP comes along, I can still use the same software in OS X. This way I can get full gpu acceleration with the CS5 hack and no worries with the 1GB vram.

    Thank you all for the help, looks like I'm sticking to Win7.
  15. mBox macrumors 68020

    Jun 26, 2002
    As long as it works for you. Man its been awhile since Ive had the (dis)pleasure of editing on Windows.
    I frequent a few forums and tend to shy away from getting involved with the troubleshooting of NLE on Windows systems.
    In the past, you could spend hours/days trying to fix an dll problem only to find out some idiot decided to install a new mouse driver on their own.
    I stick to NLE/Motion Design on mac then 3D grunt work on Windows :)
  16. Magrathea macrumors regular

    Aug 21, 2008
    FCP is about to kick some arse! We hope :)

    FCP is behind the curve right now BUT in a couple of month the new version is coming out and hopefully it'll compete with CS5 Premier that uses the GPU goodness via Nvidia and Cuda and the Mercury Engine. Basically two types of programming using GPUs, CUDA Nvidia and Open CL Radeon HD cards. To use Cuda with Premier CS5 you gotta have a 1gig graphics card so no mac lappy will work as of now.

    Unless you're gonna be doing some high end graphics / motions and editing multiple streams of HD then an MBP will be fine. I use a mid 2008 unibody and it works just fine. Sure renders could be faster but when you need to have more HP a lappy isn't gonna cut the mustard, get a tower. You never edit H.264 and always transcode to ProRes422 or ProRes lite or even proxy so you don't need that much of a powerful machine to edit ProRes. It's when you start adding layers of text on top of 1080 footage you'll get a slow down. Hint, multi monitor setup on laptop sounds nice for video preview but it'll mess you up as poor graphic card is halving it's resources - I've experience this first hand, another reason to get a tower.
  17. murc585 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 29, 2008
    mBox, I know your pain, it's why people are leaning towards OS X these days. I used to own a 2008 mbp and had to sell last year to settle for a cheap tower. Honestly though, Windows 7 is not Windows Vista, it feels light, and over 12 months, the OS has never crashed, but I did get a few kernel panics on my 2008 Macbook Pro. The other reason why I'm liking windows 7 too is that is has TRIM support, it's idiotic that Apple hasn't included this in Snow Leopard.

    For my engineering program, it's essential to have to use windows anyways, I could never just get away with using OS X, and I find the drivers in bootcamp to be a little sketchy.

    The system I ordered is a Sandy Bridge system though, and maybe we'll see the nvidia 550 or 560 ti used in the next iMacs, so hackintosh support for my system should come soon. If the FCS update ever does come out, I'll have to weigh the pros and cons at that point. At least I know I can always transform my pc into a mac.

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