MP 1,1-5,1 Mac Pro 5,1 CPU and GPU Upgrade Feedback and Opinions Sought

5comma1

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Nov 20, 2019
7
0
Greetings!

Mid 2010 Mac Pro 5,1 owner seeking increased speed when working with 4K footage in Final Cut Pro X. I occasionally experience dropped frames when editing 1080P and always need to create proxy transcodes when editing 4K footage in order to have smooth timeline performance.

Current CPU: OEM Dual 2.66 GHz 6-Core Intel Xeon (X5650’s).
Considering upgrade to: Dual 3.46 GHz 6-Core Intel Xeon (X5690’s).

Current GPU: Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 Mac edition.
Considering upgrade to: Sapphire PULSE Radeon RX 580.
I understand there is no boot screen with the RX 580 in the 5,1.
I understand I would need to purchase a power cable for the RX 580.

I boot to an SSD and work with audio and video from a Western Digital Black 6TB HDD > 7200rpm. RAM 48GB.


QUESTIONS
- Is there a better GPU option out there over the PULSE RX 580 with boot screen I may have missed?
- with these upgrades can I expect to see significant reductions in Final Cut Pro X render times, and general overall 5,1 performance improvements?
- will these upgrades make the 5,1 fast enough to edit 4K footage in Final Cut Pro X without needing to create proxy transcodes?

I'd be grateful for any related thoughts or feedback that might bubble-up for you.

Thank you!
 
Last edited:

bsbeamer

macrumors 68030
Sep 19, 2012
2,756
1,343
Is there a better GPU option out there over the PULSE RX 580 with boot screen I may have missed?
Only if you want to deal with MVC cards. I'm not linking them here and you can search for the info if you want to seek it out.
 
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ActionableMango

macrumors G3
Sep 21, 2010
9,371
6,459
I don't have enough experience to answer most of your questions in a specific manner, but these threads might be relevant to you:

Activating AMD hardware acceleration. Seems relevant to you after you upgrade.
GPU compatibility list shows there are cards faster than 580.

I can't find the BruceX thread right now, but there were a bunch of people doing FCPx benchmarks with different CPUs and GPUs, including before and after upgrades. Both of the those upgrades (CPU and GPU) helped FCPx. IIRC, even upgrading drive speed helped. Usually for software there is one bottleneck to target, but FCPx seems to make good use of everything you can throw at it. I am speaking in a general sense and cannot tell you if it will meet your specific goal though.
 

iluvmacs99

macrumors 6502
Apr 9, 2019
291
136
Greetings!

Mid 2010 Mac Pro 5,1 owner seeking increased speed when working with 4K footage in Final Cut Pro X. I occasionally experience dropped frames when editing 1080P and always need to create proxy transcodes when editing 4K footage in order to have smooth timeline performance.

Current CPU: OEM Dual 2.66 GHz 6-Core Intel Xeon (X5650’s).
Considering upgrade to: Dual 3.46 GHz 6-Core Intel Xeon (X5690’s).

Current GPU: Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 Mac edition.
Considering upgrade to: Sapphire PULSE Radeon RX 580.
I understand there is no boot screen with the RX 580 in the 5,1.
I understand I would need to purchase a power cable for the RX 580.

I boot to an SSD and work with audio and video from a Western Digital Black 6TB HDD > 7200rpm. RAM 48GB.


QUESTIONS
- Is there a better GPU option out there over the PULSE RX 580 with boot screen I may have missed?
- with these upgrades can I expect to see significant reductions in Final Cut Pro X render times, and general overall 5,1 performance improvements?
- will these upgrades make the 5,1 fast enough to edit 4K footage in Final Cut Pro X without needing to create proxy transcodes?

I'd be grateful for any related thoughts or feedback that might bubble-up for you.

Thank you!
I have some experience as I use my Mac Pro for 4k editing myself via Davinci Resolve 16. First of all, what is the video file container are you working with? h264/h265 or RAW footages in either 1080p or 4k?!?

You shouldn't be experiencing dropped frames in 1080p with your Mac Pro 5,1 at all. If you are, either your disk I/O is too slow to handle it or your video ram (ideally 2Gb to 4Gb) isn't enough to store the footages. It goes into swapping and can drop frames. Owning a video card with 8Gb ram (a minimum working with 4K) and higher would be beneficial.

Anyhow, you would need to work on 3 upgrades (CPU/GPU and Disk I/O). The processor upgrade will help the transcoding process a little bit, but by not much compared to modern systems like the Mac Mini 2018 for example, where it uses the Core i5/i7 processors and the T2 chip to transcode at much much greater speeds. However, the 12 core 24 thread system should be fine. I'm running an 8 core 16 thread system and I'm fine with 4K editing myself. Having said that, the key points in making sure you don't get dropped frames in 4K is in your Disk I/O speeds (I run both hard disk RAID 0 and SSD RAID 0 on my Mac Pro just to be able to keep up and plan in the future to add an NVMe blade (much faster than SSD RAID 0 on the stock controller) for my 4K scratch disk) as well as your GPU memory capacity since you have just the right computer memory capacity to deal with 4K editing. And depending on which O/S you are running on with, you can also take advantage of the AMD acceleration with Mojave with video editing. That allows transcoding of footages and rendering of the final product at much faster speeds compared to what you have now. Unlike the latest Mac Mini 2018 with the newer Core i series CPUs, the Xeons don't have Quicksync. Which means, it renders slowly via all the cores and until about 8 cores is the sweet spot. After that, it's a diminishing return aspect. To give you some comparison. With my dual 8 core Mac Pro 5,1 and my RX 580 video card, I achieved roughly 8-12 fps in rendering 4K to h.264. Contrast that with my Macbook Air 2014 using Quicksync and with the same footage, I can achieve roughly 57-60 fps in rendering 4K to h.264. All of this are done through Davinci Resolve 16 as I use my Mini as my Resolve video server and my MB Air specifically as a 4k rendering machine. The Mac Pro is used solely as a time-line editor. You can probably achieve similar output speed with Mojave and RX580 when configured to render using the video card GPU rather than the CPU.

In terms of video cards with a boot screen. Only a specially flashed RX580 will have a boot screen. Is it necessary? It is up to you to decide. I don't have a bootscreen myself and I'm fine with that.
 
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5comma1

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Nov 20, 2019
7
0
I don't have enough experience to answer most of your questions in a specific manner, but these threads might be relevant to you:

Activating AMD hardware acceleration. Seems relevant to you after you upgrade.
GPU compatibility list shows there are cards faster than 580.

I can't find the BruceX thread right now, but there were a bunch of people doing FCPx benchmarks with different CPUs and GPUs, including before and after upgrades. Both of the those upgrades (CPU and GPU) helped FCPx. IIRC, even upgrading drive speed helped. Usually for software there is one bottleneck to target, but FCPx seems to make good use of everything you can throw at it. I am speaking in a general sense and cannot tell you if it will meet your specific goal though.
Hey ActionableMango...

I'm inexperienced, too, and wading through the acronym alphabet soup that is tech upgrades— so I really appreciate your sharing here. The hardware acceleration page was interesting. I've not had any experience with hardware acceleration— thanks for introducing me to it. Sounds like a fantastic performance booster. I'll push forward with my learning.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

kohlson

macrumors 68020
Apr 23, 2010
2,046
552
There are some pretty straightforward mods to do, all them them documented in MR in this forum:
- Upgrade CPUs. 5680 should be fine, but 5690 is OK, too. If you have a real 2010 cMP, this is pretty easy.
- Upgrade disk. Get an inexpensive (less than $20) PCIe NVme adapter and put an NVme SSD in it. 1TB is from $100-$200. Disk performance and I/O gains are huge (1400+ MBps)
- Upgrade GPU. If you go to an 8GB RX580, see the thread about accelerating AMD hardware. You can get hardware acceleration.

All of the above assumes 10.14.6 and latest firmware (xx.144)
Also recommended: PCIe card for USB3 I/O. Because, 4K footage has to get there somehow...
- - Post merged: - -

I don't have a bootscreen myself and I'm fine with that.
Me. too.
 

5comma1

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Nov 20, 2019
7
0
I have some experience as I use my Mac Pro for 4k editing myself via Davinci Resolve 16. First of all, what is the video file container are you working with? h264/h265 or RAW footages in either 1080p or 4k?!?

You shouldn't be experiencing dropped frames in 1080p with your Mac Pro 5,1 at all. If you are, either your disk I/O is too slow to handle it or your video ram (ideally 2Gb to 4Gb) isn't enough to store the footages. It goes into swapping and can drop frames. Owning a video card with 8Gb ram (a minimum working with 4K) and higher would be beneficial.

Anyhow, you would need to work on 3 upgrades (CPU/GPU and Disk I/O). The processor upgrade will help the transcoding process a little bit, but by not much compared to modern systems like the Mac Mini 2018 for example, where it uses the Core i5/i7 processors and the T2 chip to transcode at much much greater speeds. However, the 12 core 24 thread system should be fine. I'm running an 8 core 16 thread system and I'm fine with 4K editing myself. Having said that, the key points in making sure you don't get dropped frames in 4K is in your Disk I/O speeds (I run both hard disk RAID 0 and SSD RAID 0 on my Mac Pro just to be able to keep up and plan in the future to add an NVMe blade (much faster than SSD RAID 0 on the stock controller) for my 4K scratch disk) as well as your GPU memory capacity since you have just the right computer memory capacity to deal with 4K editing. And depending on which O/S you are running on with, you can also take advantage of the AMD acceleration with Mojave with video editing. That allows transcoding of footages and rendering of the final product at much faster speeds compared to what you have now. Unlike the latest Mac Mini 2018 with the newer Core i series CPUs, the Xeons don't have Quicksync. Which means, it renders slowly via all the cores and until about 8 cores is the sweet spot. After that, it's a diminishing return aspect. To give you some comparison. With my dual 8 core Mac Pro 5,1 and my RX 580 video card, I achieved roughly 8-12 fps in rendering 4K to h.264. Contrast that with my Macbook Air 2014 using Quicksync and with the same footage, I can achieve roughly 57-60 fps in rendering 4K to h.264. All of this are done through Davinci Resolve 16 as I use my Mini as my Resolve video server and my MB Air specifically as a 4k rendering machine. The Mac Pro is used solely as a time-line editor. You can probably achieve similar output speed with Mojave and RX580 when configured to render using the video card GPU rather than the CPU.

In terms of video cards with a boot screen. Only a specially flashed RX580 will have a boot screen. Is it necessary? It is up to you to decide. I don't have a bootscreen myself and I'm fine with that.
Hello iluvmacs99,

Thanks very much for your thorough reply. I’m very appreciative of the time you put into drafting it. You clearly know your way around these Mac Pro mods.

In case it’s helpful, I’m running:
• Mac Pro 5,1 Mid 2010 > Intel Xeon X5650 2 x 2.66 Ghz 6-Core Intel Xeon
• OS X 10.14.6
• GPU: AMD Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 (Mac Edition)
• Final Cut Pro X 10.4.7
• Memory 48GB > 6 x 8gb > 1333 MHz DDR3
• Boot Disk: 500GB SSD
• Scratch Disks: Western Digital Black 6TB - 7200 RPM SATA 6Gb/s 128MB Cache 3.5 Inch

VIDEO FILE CONTAINER
I checked a 4k project and the FCPX ‘Codecs’ column says it’s ‘AVC encoder.’ I rarely shoot in 4k anymore since it’s been cumbersome to work with. I always export/share from FCPX using .h264. Did I answer your file container question or misunderstand? Please disregard my 1080p dropped frames complaint because if I can get 4k flowing smoothly I know 1080p will be fine, too.

DISK I/O
Thanks for describing your I/O setup. My boot disk is an SSD and my video and music storage disks are Western Digital Black 6TB - 7200 RPM SATA 6Gb/s 128MB Cache 3.5 Inch. I purchased these after research suggested they were speedy and well suited for Mac Pro creative work. Do I get that wrong? Will these drives be ok or create a bottleneck?

I've never used RAID, though I’m very open to trying it. I’ve researched RAID over the years but never felt comfortable trying it, and don’t recall why as I write this. I have scheduled backups that run each night, backing up one drive to another, using an app called Super Duper. If I’m totally missing the boat on I/O best practices, and I suspect I am… please do let me know.

GPU
My current card has only 3gb of ram, that’s why I’m considering the RX 580. Unless someone talks me out of it, I think I may order the RX 580 in the coming days to experience it’s performance firsthand.

GPU BOOT SCREEN
I’m skittish about not having a boot screen only because I don’t fully understand all the implications of not having one, especially for troubleshooting. The lack of a boot screen won’t stop me from trying out the RX 580, however.

CPU > ANOTHER UPGRADE OPTION
I’ve also been looking at the AMD Radeon VII. I’d spend extra for this card over the RX 580 if it would drastically improve the 5’1’s performance. Would buying the AMD Radeon VII be wise or overkill; do you happen to know?

AMD ACCELERATION
AMD Hardware Acceleration is a term another responder introduced me to earlier in this thread. Sounds like a must-do for me in terms of speed improvements. I’ll continue learning what I can about it.

QUESTION
You wrote “You can probably achieve similar output speed with Mojave and RX580 when configured to render using the video card GPU rather than the CPU.” How does one choose the video card GPU or the CPU for rendering? Is this done in FCPX, within AMD Hardware Acceleration, other?

QUESTION
My 5’1 is now unsupported by Apple for future OS upgrades, so on the one hand it seems silly to be upgrading it. On the other hand, I love this machine and don’t have the clams to get a new Mac Pro 7.1. I don’t need every new OS gimmick that’s introduced in future OS updates, but I will miss the security updates if we no longer receive them. May I get your perspective on upgrading an unsupported machine like this? Is it your impression that most folks in this boat are going to simply continue using Mojave and be good with that for as long as the thing will run?

Thanks a Zill!
 

5comma1

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Nov 20, 2019
7
0
There are some pretty straightforward mods to do, all them them documented in MR in this forum:
- Upgrade CPUs. 5680 should be fine, but 5690 is OK, too. If you have a real 2010 cMP, this is pretty easy.
- Upgrade disk. Get an inexpensive (less than $20) PCIe NVme adapter and put an NVme SSD in it. 1TB is from $100-$200. Disk performance and I/O gains are huge (1400+ MBps)
- Upgrade GPU. If you go to an 8GB RX580, see the thread about accelerating AMD hardware. You can get hardware acceleration.

All of the above assumes 10.14.6 and latest firmware (xx.144)
Also recommended: PCIe card for USB3 I/O. Because, 4K footage has to get there somehow...
- - Post merged: - -


Me. too.
Hello kohlson,

Really appreciate you taking the time to post. Thank you.

Yeah… I’ve read a ton on MacRumors and will continue to… I just don’t yet fully understand all that i've read… but I’m getting there.

CPU’s
Yes, I have a real 2010 cMP… purchased new and I love it. What’s the “c” mean, by the way? Cheese grater?
Unless someone talks me out of it I plan to go with the 5690’s just to squeeze-out every drop of juice I can from the 5,1. Agreed, it does look super easy to swap-out the CPU’s.

UPGRADE DISK
You wrote: “Get an inexpensive (less than $20) PCIe NVme adapter and put an NVme SSD in it. 1TB is from $100-$200.” Man… that sounds crazy-fast! If I were to purchase a NVme SSD, I assume you mean for use as a boot drive?

I was hoping to not need any new storage, but I’m open to it. I’d value your perspective on how to best utilize/configure what I have on hand… and how it might work with something new I might purchase. Here’s what I’m currently running:

Bay 1 > 2TB WDC HD > 7200rpm > stores photos, music, and miscellaneous
Bay 2 > 2TB WDC HD > 7200rpm > direct backup of drive above
Bay 3 > 6TB WDC HD > 7200rpm > stores Final Cut and Logic Projects
Bay 4 > 6TB WDC HD > 7200rpm > direct backup of drive above
Upper > 1TB Hitachi HD > 7200rpm > in optical bay > stores miscellaneoous
Lower > 500GB Crucial SSD > boot drive > in optical bay

I also have another 2TB WDC HD > 7200rpm currently not in use.

OS
Yep… I'm running I0.14.6 and firmware 144.0.0.0.0

USB
Yep… I have a USB 3 card installed.


Thanks again!
 

iluvmacs99

macrumors 6502
Apr 9, 2019
291
136
Hello iluvmacs99,

Thanks very much for your thorough reply. I’m very appreciative of the time you put into drafting it. You clearly know your way around these Mac Pro mods.

In case it’s helpful, I’m running:
• Mac Pro 5,1 Mid 2010 > Intel Xeon X5650 2 x 2.66 Ghz 6-Core Intel Xeon
• OS X 10.14.6
• GPU: AMD Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 (Mac Edition)
• Final Cut Pro X 10.4.7
• Memory 48GB > 6 x 8gb > 1333 MHz DDR3
• Boot Disk: 500GB SSD
• Scratch Disks: Western Digital Black 6TB - 7200 RPM SATA 6Gb/s 128MB Cache 3.5 Inch

VIDEO FILE CONTAINER
I checked a 4k project and the FCPX ‘Codecs’ column says it’s ‘AVC encoder.’ I rarely shoot in 4k anymore since it’s been cumbersome to work with. I always export/share from FCPX using .h264. Did I answer your file container question or misunderstand? Please disregard my 1080p dropped frames complaint because if I can get 4k flowing smoothly I know 1080p will be fine, too.

DISK I/O
Thanks for describing your I/O setup. My boot disk is an SSD and my video and music storage disks are Western Digital Black 6TB - 7200 RPM SATA 6Gb/s 128MB Cache 3.5 Inch. I purchased these after research suggested they were speedy and well suited for Mac Pro creative work. Do I get that wrong? Will these drives be ok or create a bottleneck?

I've never used RAID, though I’m very open to trying it. I’ve researched RAID over the years but never felt comfortable trying it, and don’t recall why as I write this. I have scheduled backups that run each night, backing up one drive to another, using an app called Super Duper. If I’m totally missing the boat on I/O best practices, and I suspect I am… please do let me know.

GPU
My current card has only 3gb of ram, that’s why I’m considering the RX 580. Unless someone talks me out of it, I think I may order the RX 580 in the coming days to experience it’s performance firsthand.

GPU BOOT SCREEN
I’m skittish about not having a boot screen only because I don’t fully understand all the implications of not having one, especially for troubleshooting. The lack of a boot screen won’t stop me from trying out the RX 580, however.

CPU > ANOTHER UPGRADE OPTION
I’ve also been looking at the AMD Radeon VII. I’d spend extra for this card over the RX 580 if it would drastically improve the 5’1’s performance. Would buying the AMD Radeon VII be wise or overkill; do you happen to know?

AMD ACCELERATION
AMD Hardware Acceleration is a term another responder introduced me to earlier in this thread. Sounds like a must-do for me in terms of speed improvements. I’ll continue learning what I can about it.

QUESTION
You wrote “You can probably achieve similar output speed with Mojave and RX580 when configured to render using the video card GPU rather than the CPU.” How does one choose the video card GPU or the CPU for rendering? Is this done in FCPX, within AMD Hardware Acceleration, other?

QUESTION
My 5’1 is now unsupported by Apple for future OS upgrades, so on the one hand it seems silly to be upgrading it. On the other hand, I love this machine and don’t have the clams to get a new Mac Pro 7.1. I don’t need every new OS gimmick that’s introduced in future OS updates, but I will miss the security updates if we no longer receive them. May I get your perspective on upgrading an unsupported machine like this? Is it your impression that most folks in this boat are going to simply continue using Mojave and be good with that for as long as the thing will run?

Thanks a Zill!
1, Video File Container..

Got it.. Thanks.. h.264 is a challenging video format to work with that demands a lot of CPU/GPU power to work smoothly.

2, DISK I/O
Bay 1 > 2TB WDC HD > 7200rpm > stores photos, music, and miscellaneous
Bay 2 > 2TB WDC HD > 7200rpm > direct backup of drive above
Bay 3 > 6TB WDC HD > 7200rpm > stores Final Cut and Logic Projects
Bay 4 > 6TB WDC HD > 7200rpm > direct backup of drive above
Upper > 1TB Hitachi HD > 7200rpm > in optical bay > stores miscellaneoous
Lower > 500GB Crucial SSD > boot drive > in optical bay

Now, this explains why you have issues with 1080p editing. While the hard drive is ok, the SATA 2 interface on the Mac Pro is a limiting factor. It's an older interface that doesn't transfer data all that fast, which is required if you have a high bit rate 1080p footage or 4K. A single 7200rpm alone is definitely not fast enough for 4K. What you need to do is to use RAID. What RAID does is to combine 2 or more drives together and make it into a drive but with a much faster throughput. 2 RAID 0 drives (if you combine Bay 1 and Bay 2 drives) will easily double your transfer throughput. If you combine all 4 bays together into a RAID 0 or RAID 5 (3 drives + 1 redundancy), then you can edit comfortably and render 4K nicely. That's my setup now. This is your 4K project/Final cut drive. It is best to use a hard drive platter for scratch and write drive. For a 4K read drive, you can get a NVMe drive as that is fast enough for 4K h.264 or RAW. On my setup, I have 2 SSD in RAID 0 which holds both my boot, apps and 4K media folder. Eventually I'll move the boot and apps onto a NVMe drive and boot off there and dedicate the SSD Raid 0 as the 4K read media drive.

Since you have a USB 3 interface card, I suggest adding several USB 3 enclosures to house the photos, music and misc drive, the backup drive and back up for your Final Cut and logic projects.

3, GPU BOOT SCREEN

Keep your older Radeon card for troubleshooting when you have issues with your Mac Pro. I have a stock card just for this.

4, CPU > ANOTHER UPGRADE OPTION

If you have the money to buy a faster card. But eventually you'll go into the diminishing return aspect as the Mac Pro has much older architecture compared to the Mac Pro 7,1. The AMD acceleration mod will certainly help cut the render times by quite a margin with faster cards.

QUESTION
You wrote “You can probably achieve similar output speed with Mojave and RX580 when configured to render using the video card GPU rather than the CPU.” How does one choose the video card GPU or the CPU for rendering? Is this done in FCPX, within AMD Hardware Acceleration, other?

- The AMD hardware acceleration basically allow video editing programs to render h.264 files using GPU encoding rather the traditional CPU encoding which is the preferred method. There is a noticeable degradation in video quality if your footage is of a low bit rate. If it comes off a Sony A7 or a Panasonic GH5 or something, then the quality degradation is not that noticeable. If you are working with a low consumer level bit rate and you are not on a paid gig, then GPU encoding is fine. You need to see and judge it for yourself whether it's up to your standards or not. If it is not, then you have to rely solely on CPU encoding at this will give you the best quality file.

QUESTION
My 5’1 is now unsupported by Apple for future OS upgrades, so on the one hand it seems silly to be upgrading it. On the other hand, I love this machine and don’t have the clams to get a new Mac Pro 7.1. I don’t need every new OS gimmick that’s introduced in future OS updates, but I will miss the security updates if we no longer receive them. May I get your perspective on upgrading an unsupported machine like this? Is it your impression that most folks in this boat are going to simply continue using Mojave and be good with that for as long as the thing will run?

- I'll use the Mac Pro for as long as it runs. The security updates end in 2021 for Mojave, so I'll have just a few years to keep it up-to-date. After that, I'll just use it as a dedicated video editing rig as long as I'm aware that I won't use it to surf the net with it. I use a dedicated Linux machine for that.
 

5comma1

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Nov 20, 2019
7
0
5680 vs 5690... 4% slower, half the cost. Just sayin'.
Thanks for sayin', DPUser. Yes, I've read what you're saying is accurate, so now you've got me thinking about it again. I'll probably go with the 5680's. It's not like I'm swimming in the green stuff. I'll shop and see what I can find.

Thank you!
 

kohlson

macrumors 68020
Apr 23, 2010
2,046
552
What’s the “c” mean, by the way?
"Classic" Mac Pro, which got this tag when the new Mac Pro (nMP) arrived in 2013.
If I were to purchase a NVme SSD, I assume you mean for use as a boot drive?
You could. I do. But, if you really, really care about boot time then a SATA SSD is probably faster. It gets complicated to explain, and the result is perhaps only 10 seconds difference.

The great thing about these systems is they're a platform which can be extended in many ways. You get to read up on the wealth of knowledge here, and ask questions, and then off you go. For me, getting an NVMe 1TB drive was pretty good bang for the buck. Booting from a separate SSD seemed to add a level of (minor) complexity that didn't seem worth it (that SSD is just hangin' - literally and figuratively - in the optical bay).

This brings me to your array of HDDs. You could probably get a RAID card and improve performance/redundancy. But it won't be nearly as fast. And it gets much more complex. And a RAID card might be more expensive than NVMe. If it were me, I would use the HDDs as near-line storage. Backups of working files. I use a dock for this.

Somewhere above someone asked about how to get accelerated GPU performance. For output, choose the h.264 VideoToolbox. Playback is automatic. For example, do a before and after with jellyfish.

Bootscreen. IMHO overrated. You can either have a boot screen, or modern GPU performance. But then I boot only Mac OS, and don't want the expense of dealing with MVC.
 
Last edited:

5comma1

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Nov 20, 2019
7
0
"Classic" Mac Pro, which got this tag when the new Mac Pro (nMP) arrived in 2013.

You could. I do. But, if you really, really care about boot time then a SATA SSD is probably faster. It gets complicated to explain, and the result is perhaps only 10 seconds difference.

The great thing about these systems is they're a platform which can be extended in many ways. You get to read up on the wealth of knowledge here, and ask questions, and then off you go. For me, getting an NVMe 1TB drive was pretty good bang for the buck. Booting from a separate SSD seemed to add a level of (minor) complexity that didn't seem worth it (that SSD is just hangin' - literally and figuratively - in the optical bay).

This brings me to your array of HDDs. You could probably get a RAID card and improve performance/redundancy. But it won't be nearly as fast. And it gets much more complex. And a RAID card might be more expensive than NVMe. If it were me, I would use the HDDs as near-line storage. Backups of working files. I use a dock for this.

Somewhere above someone asked about how to get accelerated GPU performance. For output, choose the h.264 VideoToolbox. Playback is automatic. For example, do a before and after with jellyfish.

Bootscreen. IMHO overrated. You can either have a boot screen, or modern GPU performance. But then I boot only Mac OS, and don't want the expense of dealing with MVC.
Thank you once again, Sir. Great feedback and tips. That 10 second distinction is good to know about. My current boot drive is a SATA SSD... so I'm probably set there.

Thank you once again, Sir. Great feedback and tips. That 10 second distinction is good to know about. My current boot drive is a SATA SSD... so I'm probably set there.
"Classic vs New"... got'cha. Thanks.
- - Post merged: - -

1, Video File Container..

Got it.. Thanks.. h.264 is a challenging video format to work with that demands a lot of CPU/GPU power to work smoothly.

2, DISK I/O
Bay 1 > 2TB WDC HD > 7200rpm > stores photos, music, and miscellaneous
Bay 2 > 2TB WDC HD > 7200rpm > direct backup of drive above
Bay 3 > 6TB WDC HD > 7200rpm > stores Final Cut and Logic Projects
Bay 4 > 6TB WDC HD > 7200rpm > direct backup of drive above
Upper > 1TB Hitachi HD > 7200rpm > in optical bay > stores miscellaneoous
Lower > 500GB Crucial SSD > boot drive > in optical bay

Now, this explains why you have issues with 1080p editing. While the hard drive is ok, the SATA 2 interface on the Mac Pro is a limiting factor. It's an older interface that doesn't transfer data all that fast, which is required if you have a high bit rate 1080p footage or 4K. A single 7200rpm alone is definitely not fast enough for 4K. What you need to do is to use RAID. What RAID does is to combine 2 or more drives together and make it into a drive but with a much faster throughput. 2 RAID 0 drives (if you combine Bay 1 and Bay 2 drives) will easily double your transfer throughput. If you combine all 4 bays together into a RAID 0 or RAID 5 (3 drives + 1 redundancy), then you can edit comfortably and render 4K nicely. That's my setup now. This is your 4K project/Final cut drive. It is best to use a hard drive platter for scratch and write drive. For a 4K read drive, you can get a NVMe drive as that is fast enough for 4K h.264 or RAW. On my setup, I have 2 SSD in RAID 0 which holds both my boot, apps and 4K media folder. Eventually I'll move the boot and apps onto a NVMe drive and boot off there and dedicate the SSD Raid 0 as the 4K read media drive.

Since you have a USB 3 interface card, I suggest adding several USB 3 enclosures to house the photos, music and misc drive, the backup drive and back up for your Final Cut and logic projects.

3, GPU BOOT SCREEN

Keep your older Radeon card for troubleshooting when you have issues with your Mac Pro. I have a stock card just for this.

4, CPU > ANOTHER UPGRADE OPTION

If you have the money to buy a faster card. But eventually you'll go into the diminishing return aspect as the Mac Pro has much older architecture compared to the Mac Pro 7,1. The AMD acceleration mod will certainly help cut the render times by quite a margin with faster cards.

QUESTION
You wrote “You can probably achieve similar output speed with Mojave and RX580 when configured to render using the video card GPU rather than the CPU.” How does one choose the video card GPU or the CPU for rendering? Is this done in FCPX, within AMD Hardware Acceleration, other?

- The AMD hardware acceleration basically allow video editing programs to render h.264 files using GPU encoding rather the traditional CPU encoding which is the preferred method. There is a noticeable degradation in video quality if your footage is of a low bit rate. If it comes off a Sony A7 or a Panasonic GH5 or something, then the quality degradation is not that noticeable. If you are working with a low consumer level bit rate and you are not on a paid gig, then GPU encoding is fine. You need to see and judge it for yourself whether it's up to your standards or not. If it is not, then you have to rely solely on CPU encoding at this will give you the best quality file.

QUESTION
My 5’1 is now unsupported by Apple for future OS upgrades, so on the one hand it seems silly to be upgrading it. On the other hand, I love this machine and don’t have the clams to get a new Mac Pro 7.1. I don’t need every new OS gimmick that’s introduced in future OS updates, but I will miss the security updates if we no longer receive them. May I get your perspective on upgrading an unsupported machine like this? Is it your impression that most folks in this boat are going to simply continue using Mojave and be good with that for as long as the thing will run?

- I'll use the Mac Pro for as long as it runs. The security updates end in 2021 for Mojave, so I'll have just a few years to keep it up-to-date. After that, I'll just use it as a dedicated video editing rig as long as I'm aware that I won't use it to surf the net with it. I use a dedicated Linux machine for that.
Your notes regarding I/O have given me a bit of an epiphany, iluvmacs99. I’m looking into giving RAID a whirl after reading your explanation of the SATA 2 interface bottleneck. I’ve been revisiting RAID YouTube videos on how to configure RAID using Disk Utility. I’ll continue researching that.

I’m sure there’s a logical way to configure RAID but I’m having trouble getting my head around how the various drives could best come together to create redundancy and backup, utilizing my existing drives and any I might purchase. May I get your perspective on the following RAID questions:

1) When considering the drives I already own (list below) if you were doing this upgrade… what might you purchase in terms of NVMe drives, SSD’s, HD’s, enclosures, etc, to make a RAID configuration work well… all while being securely backed-up?

2) where would you position each existing and new drive inside the 5,1 and which drives would become external?

3) what would you store on each drive, ie; applications, photos, video projects, music projects, miscellaneous files?

FYI
I have a bracket in one of the optical bays that will hold one 3.5” HDD and one 2.5” SSD. I don’t think it will accept two HDD’s.

FYI
I also have one 3.5” drive enclosure.

Existing drives:
A) 500GB Crucial SSD
B) 1TB Hitachi HDD
C) 2TB WDC HDD
D) 2TB WDC HDD
E) 2TB WDC HDD
F) 4TB WDC HDD
G) 6TB WDC HDD
H) 6TB WDC HDD


Thanks once again!!