Is Mac Pro 2009 or 2010 still relevant as video editing machine?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by namethisfile, Sep 18, 2016.

  1. namethisfile macrumors 65816


    Jan 17, 2008
    Hey guys,

    I've been thinking about getting a used Mac Pro. I could hackintosh but I've gone that route and for some reason, haven't been able to get it to work again on my PC. I don't know. Maybe a bios update on my motherboard bricked it for me or maybe upgrading it Windows 10 did it. But, I've tried and I can't get my PC to be a hackintosh anymore.

    Anyway, I've been looking at stuff online and there are viable, real macs like a 2009 or 2010 Mac Pro's on sale in the internet. And, the price point is within my reach. And, the mac pro I am looking at would be more powerful than my mid-2010 15" Macbook Pro with the GT330m dGPU one...

    But, they're only 4 cores with hyper-threading. Do you think these quadcore 2009 or 2010 Mac Pro's would be "good enough" or even "great enough" for editing in FCPX?

    Maybe, if I upgrade the RAM to 16GB or even get a new GPU for it?

    I am an aspiring filmmaker so I basically can't spend a lot on a new PC.

    Mind you, I can still use my MBP for video editing, especially, if I stick to only 1080P footage.

    It would be nice to edit in 4K. But, I don't have any 4K gear. So, I just really want an affordable way to upgrade my MBP with more CPU or GPU power and some more flexibility that a tower offers.

    Any input, advice, welcome.

  2. h9826790 macrumors G4


    Apr 3, 2014
    Hong Kong
    The 2009 / 2010 Mac Pro still a very capable machine in FCPX especially with proper upgrade.

    e.g. After firmware flashing, the 2009 can install W3680, which has very good cost / performance ratio now. (2010 natively support this CPU).

    And if you manage to get a Mac Pro with HD5870, FCPX will run very well with it. Or you can upgrade to something like HD7950, I use that for 4K video editing, no problem at all.

    Anyway, if your current MBP is good enough, and you are budget limited, I personally won't suggest you get an extra Mac Pro to do the same job. And if you plan to upgrade a old Mac Pro, the Hackintosh sure can give you much better performance with the same cost (but usually less stability).
  3. namethisfile thread starter macrumors 65816


    Jan 17, 2008
    I'll take this into my decision making. Thanks for the response!
  4. Murray M, Sep 18, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2016

    Murray M macrumors regular

    Murray M

    Apr 19, 2010
    BIG YES!

    MORESO: you'd have to be a fool to buy a nMP for video editing (or at least someone who hasn't done your homework).

    You can build a machine that is much more than a top of the line $9,500+ MP for a fifth as much.

    Here's the recipe for a cMP that easily edits 4K in 60hz (I just put this together):

    1) $1000

    Buy a 2009-2012 Mac Pro with dual processors (any processor spec). 2009's (called 4,1's) can be flashed to 2010-12's (called 5,1's). That said, once you flash a 2009 there are some reports about inconsistent fan stuff so IMO it's better to go with a 2010 or a 2012 [this is somewhat unclear to me--someone please set the record straight on this].

    Note: already have a Mac Pro with a single processor? You can buy one with a double and switch the CPU trays and then sell the other unit.

    2) $600

    Go on Ebay and spend $600 on two matched Hex 3.42 chips:

    3) $318

    64GB Ram from OWC

    4) $660

    GTX980Ti from Mac Video Cards.

    If you're editing in FCPX then get something for that. But if you're editing in Premiere--or use Adobe stuff at all--then you need a CUDA card and this one is AWESOME. You can put a 980Ti in that isn't flashed for Mac, but you won't have a boot screen (not that big of a deal for most people).

    Note: putting in a non-Apple certified video card in your system means you gotta be on your drivers and usually be a slow adopter for new OS updates. It's also a good idea to have a spare Apple Certified video card to put in just in case you forget and update your system to something that isn't compatible yet.

    Note2: the specs on this blow away the stale 700's on the new Mac Pro.

    5) Drives (depending on your needs)

    I like an SSD on a PCI for your system. You'll also need an array of SSDs for your projects, backup drives and so on.

    You'll need all this for whatever system you get. If you get a new Mac Pro you're gonna have to buy an external drive bay.

    The 4k and 5K videos I edit are all short--around 5 min--so I use a pair of 500GB SSD's on a Sonnet Tempo [which has eSATA connections for backing up to external drives] set in a Raid 0 stripe using SoftRaid. The beautiful thing about a classic Mac Pro is you have TONS of internal storage space. I've got a SSD in my second optical bay, all four HD bays stocked with backup drives, a system disk on a PCI card and the Sonnet Tempo with the Raid.

    Total Price: $2600

    And this system totally keeps up with the $9500 top of the line Mac. The new Mac has Thunderbolt but who cares: classic Mac Pros have so much space inside for connections AND PCI SLOTS! I have and run everything here and my benchmarks are just a hair under the $9500 Mac Pro. At the end of the day, 12 cores is 12 cores and 3.46 is 3.46. Also heads up: Premiere doesn't even use all 12 cores all the time [so you can imagine the face palming people do who actually spend the big money for this].

    If you wanna get fancy you can add a Dell UP3216Q monitor to see your 4K worth at 60hz, I have this this setup and 4K looks STUNNING.
  5. namethisfile thread starter macrumors 65816


    Jan 17, 2008
    Okay. All this stuff sounds awesome. But, those prices scare me. Way, way above my budget. I am thinking of $500 to $700 max. This is why I was looking at quad core 2009 or 2010 mac pros. Maybe I will have to fork up $$$ for 16 GB of RAM as my minimum and maybe later down the road, upgrade the gpu for FCP X.... and perhaps, SSD. But, the RAM thing is probably the only real necessity since the used mac pro's i see on the internet only has 4GB of RAM installed.
  6. Murray M macrumors regular

    Murray M

    Apr 19, 2010
    in brief:

    Nope: you can't edit 4K on $700. Unless you're WAY lucky on some legendary craigslist score.

    Yep: you can edit 1080 on $700. A quad will do it fine. 16GB of ram is fine. Editing 1080 is super easy. Most laptops can do it VERY well.

    SSD's aren't required for 1080 but they make SUCH a difference and cost SO LITTLE they are an obvious upgrade.
    --- Post Merged, Sep 18, 2016 ---
    Wait a second,

    Clarification: you can't VIEW 4K on a quad--but you CAN edit it.

    I actually edited my 4K work for several years on a quad before upgrading it to the above specs so I could SEE what my videos actually look like.
    --- Post Merged, Sep 18, 2016 ---
    Long story short:


    You can upgrade it like crazy. It's a much safer investment that a new Mac Pro because it can be cheaply upgraded to the same speed (or faster), has a nice trade off between thunderbolt and PCI slots/more space inside, and when you decide you need something else you can sell it for near what you paid.
  7. JesterJJZ macrumors 68020


    Jul 21, 2004
  8. Synchro3 macrumors 68000


    Jan 12, 2014
    What about Six-core Xeon W3690 3.46 GHz? Not enough for 4K?
  9. carpsafari Suspended


    Sep 13, 2015
    the Netherlands
    You are crazy to buy OWC ram. Its almost fraud.
    3x the price it should cost!

    Also for a 12 core MP, 48Gb 6x8Gb is the better option to keep Triple Channel.

    A GTX980Ti is also not a good idea, unless you use external power!
  10. dollystereo macrumors 6502a


    Oct 6, 2004
    You can edit 4k in almost any machine, you will have to work with proxy media. Anyway, working with proxy is fast and reliable, and fast, very fast. The last render is gonna take time, but can be done.
  11. Murray M macrumors regular

    Murray M

    Apr 19, 2010
    I'd love to hear someone with that system describe the performance. I suspect a hex 3.4 is a GREAT computer, one that can certainly edit 4K relatively smooth, but I suspect it lacks the horsepower to VIEW 4K on a 4K screen.

    It's surprising how many times Premiere only uses 4-6 cores, esp when exporting. Total bummer.

    That said, frequently when I'm playing 4K, I use 10-12 threads.

    The word on the street at RedUser forum is that 8 core is the sweet spot. I suspect if you're buying new then that's a good rule since a new 12 core is astronomically expensive. However, when buying used and dropping in your own matched hex's the cost factor is not an issue and having the extra 4 cores over the eight means a lot of extra headroom for your system. This means a lot if you like to go back and forth between two programs, like Premiere and RedCine X [which I do a lot for editing Red files]. This also means that if you software to set up a Raid you don't have to worry about it taxing the CPU's too much.
    --- Post Merged, Sep 19, 2016 ---
    Ram: good to know--where do you buy Ram?

    48 Ram: do you really believe triple channel means 48 is better than 64 (esp when 64 is 8x8 which also takes advantage of triple channel)?

    980: you're right that if your system is overloaded you need external power, however, you really have to max a system to get to that point since a cMP has 980 watts to use. It's a good idea to do your math but my system is going fine with internal power (as others on this forum). I have five drives, a PCI SSD system and a PCI SSD raid and by my [admittedly wonky] math I should still have 200 watts to spare [see recent thread].
  12. h9826790 macrumors G4


    Apr 3, 2014
    Hong Kong
    For this kind of budget. The best you can get is something like…

    A 4,1, target $400 or below (preferred single processor in your case), flash to 5,1 by yourself.

    A W3680 $150 (the price vary a lot, from $100-$300. So, try your best to get the cheapest between W3680/W3690/X5680/X5690.)

    HD7950, target price $100 or lower. Flash the card by yourself.

    RAM is actually cheap, even 4x8G 1333 ECC RAM can just cost $75. If you aim at 16G, the cost will be even much lower. For budget build, just don't go for any overprice RAM (IMO OWC is way overprice. Their RAM is not better than any other 1333MHz ECC server RAM, but 300% more expensive).

    So, it's possible to get a decent Mac Pro for video editing (even 4K) with just $700. However, you have to be patient, and do some work to find the good deal.

    Anyway, you better ask yourself, you want it? or you need it? I really can't feel that you need the Mac Pro. It's fun to upgrade this machine. And it can gives you very good FCPX experence. However, if money is a real issue for you. You better think twice before you go this route.

    By the way, most of the items in my signature liked to the relevant page. And that's roughly the config you are looking for (apart from you only need one GPU). You may do some study base on that.
  13. ITguy2016 Suspended

    May 25, 2016
    If RAM usage is larger than 48GB then 64GB if always better than triple channel 48GB. If your RAM usage is under 48GB then 99.9% of the time 64GB is still better as it allows for headroom. Triple channel shows up more in synthetic benchmarks than real world use.
  14. h9826790 macrumors G4


    Apr 3, 2014
    Hong Kong
    Agree, especially for large size video editing / encoding. OSX doing quite well to use the remaining RAM as cache to further speed up the system. So 64GB RAM almost always has benefit over 48G in real world.
  15. Synchro3 macrumors 68000


    Jan 12, 2014
    To mention that W3680/W3690 only support up to 56 GB RAM (3 x 16 GB + 8 GB). Thats why I decided to install 48 GB (3 x 16 GB) Triple channel.
  16. h9826790 macrumors G4


    Apr 3, 2014
    Hong Kong
    That's correct. I totally agree.
  17. ITguy2016 Suspended

    May 25, 2016
    56GB is still preferable to 48GB if memory usage is going to exceed 48GB. TBH, for the Mac Pro, I cannot think of a single situation where I would recommend a triple channel configuration over the higher memory capacity merely based on the increased bandwidth offered by a triple channel configuration. Aside from benchmarks the increased bandwidth doesn't translate into noticeable performance increases in real world use cases.
  18. xactoman macrumors member

    Jul 9, 2015
    I bought a single processor 2009 on ebay for $270 with no video card. Put in a hex w3690 for $75, added used HP server ram and installed an SSD and put in a GTX980ti. This machine is smoking fast and good for another 8 years all for under a grand. Building power can be done, just take your time, find the right pieces and have fun!
  19. CapnDavey macrumors 6502


    Apr 11, 2015
    I bought my 2009 4,1 mac pro in june its 8 core 2.66 with 8 gig of ram from a local dealer for 400 dollars. I spent another 90 on a GTX680 that I flashed this computer runs rings around my 06 edit video with it all the time.
  20. cheezeit macrumors 6502

    Jul 10, 2010
    Dallas, TX
    I grabbed a 4,1 single core Mac Pro for $275, spent $100 for hex w3680, spent $160 for GTX 970.

    Extras I spent were pci ssd card, pci USB 3.0 and official wifi card. If you search you can grab a good machine that should do what you need under $600 easy. Just finding that Mac Pro as a deal will be key
  21. namethisfile thread starter macrumors 65816


    Jan 17, 2008
    Thanks everyone for all your inputs.

    I think my plan is to wait until MacOS Sierra comes out and see if it supports certain GPU's from AMD that were just released and then find out how these cards are viable for either the cMP or a hackintosh build to edit video using FCP X and MotionX. I am trying to learn Motion and although my current 15" MBP (mid-2010; GT330m; 8GB RAM; i7 Dual core) is competent enough for 1080P video editing in FCP X.... It is sluggish in MotionX.

    I also wanna, perhaps, wait a bit longer (maybe save more money) and see what new macs Apple will release in the Fall, which is rumored that they will.

    I am really hoping for a quad-core mac mini, even if it has intel iris pro... (I know this is a dream for a lot of y'all, too. LOL!!!)

    Or, if new iMacs, maybe a 21.5" version that is just beyond my budget but stretchable due to specs that would make working in MotionX smooth and fast...

    Or, go budget... and rethink the hackintosh route running MacOS Sierra with AMD RX470 GPU (if it is natively supported; and, OOB supported)...

    ...and/or look again for cMP available that I can use with MacOS Sierra and RX470....

    ...again, I want a desktop FCPX and MotionX workstation, really....

  22. MacStu09 macrumors regular

    Aug 27, 2009
    As others have said, as long as you don't buy from rip-offs like OWC or MacVideoCards, you can actually edit 4k footage for your price range, or just a hair more. 64gb of ram can be had for $120, but you don't need it. 32 will do fine for around $75.

    Get a mac pro 5,1 (6 core) for around $700, 32gb of ram for $75, 240gb ssd for $50, (you probably have larger drives for storage already) and a 7950 or 7970 for ~$100. It may take a little searching, but all of those prices can be found. Sure $925 may go over your budget a tiny bit, but you'll be very happy with that configuration going forward. And if need be, a 4,1 for much cheaper can be had, and you'll stay under your budget.
  23. SoyCapitanSoyCapitan macrumors 68040


    Jul 4, 2015
    Yes, especially if you install Windows
  24. orph macrumors 65816

    Dec 12, 2005
    hay h9826790 gives good advice and knows what he's talking about.

    when you say video editing it's kind of a how fast do you want it/need it, almost any computer will do :E

    the macpro is using a cpu that is old (2010 ish about 6 years), there from the i7 970/980/990 gen.
    each gen of intel cpu has about a 10%speedup at the same mhz speed so new cpu's are faster.
    the macpro is also using old sata2 connections (unless you use pcie drives), older ram etc..

    it is a top-ish end computer from 2010 simply

    so yes it can edit and it can do 4K, just slower than if you use a newer cpu/mobo/ram

    but at what price?
    the problem is that if you buy a macpro you spending more than you need to for the hardware, the 'apple tax thing' if you look on ebay you can get dell or HP workstations for more than half the price with the same CPU/RAM

    simply your paying more than you need to for a older/slower computer (also ware and repairs may be a problem) so if the computer is for work then it's a less efficient option. it will work but will be slower than the same priced hackingtosh or windows computer.

    but in the same way im using one :p for 1080p work seems fine for me most the time but i also know unless apple dose a u-turn on the macpro ill be moving to a hackingtosh for my next workstation and if you gave me the option of buying a hack or a 5.1 today id look at the hack.

    ps ram needed relay depends on how complex your work is 32GB is a good start and fairly cheep but you will want a video card with 4GB vram if your doing 4K

    pps my sisters macbook 13" a few years old with a i3 has faster single core speed than my macpro the main problem with laptops is having to plug in lots of USB drives (but usb3 has helped a lot with that)

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