Looking to upgrade need real world experiences

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by fosterpants, Jan 1, 2012.

  1. fosterpants macrumors newbie

    May 12, 2010
    So I'm looking to upgrade to a faster Mac but I'm curious about some real world experiences. I currently have a mid-2010 MacBook Pro 2.4 i5 8gb ram. I am using 1080p footage from a Canon T3i and editing in Final Cut Pro X. I find that a 20 minute video typically takes about 4-6 hours to export. Not to mention that during editing it sounds like a jet plane trying to take flight as background rendering does its thing.

    I'm torn between 3 options. 1. 27" iMac 3.4 i7 which has the 1gb radeon video card. 2. 21.5" iMac 2.8 i7 that only has the 512gb video card. Or 3. Upgrading my current hard drive to SSD or Seagate Hybrid.

    I know little about how a computer does what it does but I have listed the three options in order of fastest to slowest which also happens to be most expensive to least expensive.

    So if for example I go with option #1, will my export times be significantly faster than 4-6 hours? And while #2 will be slower, is that a better bang for buck scenario ($500 difference)? How much does the video card ram play into video editing/exporting?
  2. TheWalrus macrumors newbie

    Aug 13, 2009
    I'm in a similar position and have the same options as your 1 & 2.

    Have you considered the Mac Mini at all? It seems like a cheaper alternative given that I have keyboard, mouse, screen etc. Mac pro would be nice but pricey
  3. nateo200 macrumors 68030


    Feb 4, 2009
    Northern District NY
    Almost the same position as you (see my sig for my machine specs, but I also rock a Canon and 8gigs of ram in my MBP) and the Mac Mini looks great. The server model with its quad core processor looks awesome! People say the video card isn't as good though (which is probably true) but when video editing everyone talks about CPU and RAM rarely but I never hear talk about the GPU...anyone have comments?
  4. CASLondon macrumors 6502a

    Apr 18, 2011

    The ssd option will improve your boot times, and help you write data faster to your media storage but not really relieve you of those render times. Rendering times are CPU related. Check barefeats.com or macperformanceguide.com for system set up advice. So that will make the least difference.

    I run Avid and Adobe off my thunderbolt macbook pro i7 just fine, but could use a render station so i'm going to get a mac pro at some point.

    GPU does make a difference, when it comes to real time effects and playing out sequences. So you don't really want to cut that corner too much. Not to mention software is going to be written to better use the power of that card going forward.

    I'd always advise anyone working with video to get a second-hand mac pro, for the following reasons - beefy cores crunching down render times. Then you can buy a few hard drives, setting up internal raid storage for speed (who cares about thunderbolt if you have mac pro raid), and you can upgrade the gpu to stay current for years. Not to mention card slots for third party video hardware/cards.

    Otherwise, go highest end imac you can. My feeling is that this is slightly cheaper short term, but boxes you into a no-upgrade path where even replacing its single internal hard drive is a pain, and nothing else can be upgraded whereas even a second hand mac pro can have CPU upgrades from OtherWorldComputing, and all the other flexibility built into the system to tweak it for years.

    I'm not sure the lesser imacs or mac minis would be that different on render times vs just upgrading to 2011 mbp, which would improve your render times on same scale, plus give you thunderbolt options.

    Lastly, look at how your media is stored and the write/read speeds as another bottleneck to clear. Raided drives with internal connection, if not then thunderbolt, lastly esata, are a place to improve a video system.
  5. CASLondon macrumors 6502a

    Apr 18, 2011
    Oh, i forgot to mention, that just because you CAN work natively with the footage doesn't mean that you always want to. I'm not using Final Cut X, but my Avid experience suggests that is that its worth transcoding footage before editing (even files that AVID works with natively) because its a lot of heavy lifting for the system AS you edit.

    The Canon's output is a delivery codec, h.264 .movs, that are not editing friendly even though FCX CAN use them native. You will do better to convert those clips through to Pro Res before editing, either in Compressor or some free utility like MPEGSTREAMCLIP and let it grind away, then edit with the transcoded files. You'll ground the jet airplane noise while you edit and reduce your chance of crashing FCX.
  6. Zwhaler macrumors 604


    Jun 10, 2006
    If you are serious about editing the 27" 3.4 will be great. The screen is large, the GPU will perform nicely enough and the 4 cores + hyperthreading will make everything feel much much quicker.
  7. cgbier macrumors 6502a

    Jun 6, 2011
    No need for Compressor or third party tools. FCP X is transcoding your stuff in the background.
  8. fosterpants thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 12, 2010
    @CASLondon, thanks for the info...Mac Pro is an interesting idea. I'm currently researching all the different models and checking ebay.

    @ZWhaler, I'm curious what kind of speed we're talking about in actual time. For instance would the big iMac cut my 4-6 hour export time down to say 2-4 hours? Or are we only talking a few minutes faster?

    I found Macworld rated the i5 iMacs with iMovie export times but not the i7's.
  9. nateo200 macrumors 68030


    Feb 4, 2009
    Northern District NY
    Just curious about this one...could you RAID your boot drive on a MBP? From the looks of it seams like a no but if it were possible I would think that would be awesome if you have dual hard drives!
    +1. I convert to ProRes or AIC (don't ask long story) before I edit big projects now. Cuts down allot of time as FCP X renders, but slower.
  10. CASLondon macrumors 6502a

    Apr 18, 2011
    No NEED to, but backround rendering within FCX is still slower and more inefficient than other means of conversion, which can be done per core at good speed, and I'd imagine editing pro res without backround rendering (especially longer form projects) would go smoother and with less load on that macbook pro's cpu.

    My experience is with avid, and it too works natively with h.264 but the longer and more complex the time line, the more load on the system.

    Adobe Premiere is supposed to work even better editing DSLR footage natively than either AVID or FCX

    Look at Creativecow's video forums, you'll see lots of discussion about these workflow issues which will explain more about why pro editors still convert prior to editing.


    Yes, i believe you could raid a boot drive. They should be the same kind of drive, and same connection speed (i.e. sata 3G or 6G, ie the new macbook pro which is 6g at the internal drive and 3g at the optical drive)

    You could even raid two ssd drives, in a macbook pro you remove the optical drive, get a data doubler tray from OtherWorld Computing, pair two internal drives, and boom!

    Look at Macperformanceguide.com for more. Your media should still be on a sep. drive i believe.


    I don't know the numbers but i suspect that the render speed would be improved by a good percentage, but something solidly less than this halving you are hoping for. Again, top of the range new quadcore 17" macbook pro would probably do the same more or less for you. If you got ahold of 8 cores would really make an impact.

    consult barefeats.com and macperformanceguide.com to learn more about benchmarks and bang for buck.
  11. fosterpants thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 12, 2010
    Thanks for pointing me to barefeats.com. I found an interesting test they conducted with a short 32 second clip in Final Cut Pro X using various 2011 Mac's. http://www.barefeats.com/fcpx01.html

    I find it interesting that the Mac Pro holds a negligible advantage in exporting compared to the iMac and is slower in the rendering department. I know the Mac Pro needs updating but it's interesting none the less.

    I'm going to try to simulate this test the best I can with some footage of my own on my current Macbook Pro. I'll post the results just for kicks.
  12. fosterpants thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 12, 2010
    Ok so for anyone curious I ran a similar test to barefeats. http://www.barefeats.com/fcpx01.html

    My footage is out of a Canon t3i 32 seconds long transcoded to ProRes HQ 1920 x 1080 23.97fps. My data rate isn't as high as theirs.

    My computer for those not wanting to scroll to the top is a 2010 Macbook Pro 2.4 dual core i5 with standard hard drive 8GB RAM.

    Directional blur: 89 seconds
    Sharpen blur: 102 seconds
    Export to H.264 1920 x 1080 23.97fps: 66 seconds

    I'm guessing if I was using their footage my results would be worse. As it is my MBP compared to the new MBP is halved on export and even more than that with the big iMac. Even the current Macbook Air is speedier.
  13. mBox macrumors 68020

    Jun 26, 2002
    What are you base settings before you start this project? Do you import all footage with all options on? Or are you going bare un-checked then editing > export?
    Reason Im asking is that I work with ProRes4444 4k files on both MBP 2009 and MacPros and honestly a 20 min HD file in 4 to 6 hours sounds a bit much.
    Also what are you exporting too?
  14. initialsBB macrumors 6502a

    Oct 18, 2010
    Which is most probably why exports are so much faster than exporting from native h264 files.
  15. arjen92 macrumors 65816


    Sep 9, 2008
    Below sea level
    Videocards hardly help anything with video editing. After Effects uses your processor and RAM.

    Your video card only helps a little bit with opengl. But personally, I don't notice a big difference.

    There are video cards specialized for video editing etc that actually will help. But they're pretty expensive (and you would need to buy the mac pro). For example the Nvidia Quadro 6000.
  16. initialsBB macrumors 6502a

    Oct 18, 2010
    The software has to explicitly support this. For example Adobe Premiere.
  17. fosterpants thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 12, 2010
    I have tried directly importing the native h.264 that my camera records and converting to ProRes using MPEGSTREAMCLIP first with no difference in export times.

    When importing the only two boxes I have checked are the ones under "Organizing" for file management. I don't check optimize media or any of the rest. Would that help?

    Exporting varies but this last project I did I just used Share->Apple Devices->Apple TV. I'm doing one later this week which I will be exporting to h.264 and I'll see if results are similar.


    I found this section of the article I linked interesting. This was for Final Cut Pro X. I'm not saying you're wrong, this is just for discussion.

  18. mBox macrumors 68020

    Jun 26, 2002
    When in doubt let Apples ProRes take care of your footage prior to editing.
    This way you can blame them for any of the shortcomings.
    You learn this from good old Avid due to their AMA option.
    Love how they give you this so called awesome option then when something goes wrong, they turn around and tell you that you should have Transcoded to their codec first :p
    Then whats the point of having it (AMA)?
    Good luck with your findings.
    Its fun learning the hard way too ;)


    I dont believe the Quadro 6000 works on a Mac.
    And that After Effects dont require a good video card.
    AE uses openGL so the better card wins.
    NLE are the ones that dont require expensive video cards.
    Your only moving portions if your using Avid (they dont do full screen modes on desktop level) and Im sure Premiere is the same.
    I know that Ive had some fun using the full screen on my Apple 30s with FCPX but honestly that tends to kill everything specially using 4K projects.

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