MB vs MBP for video editing

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by J-mizzle, Mar 28, 2009.

  1. J-mizzle macrumors newbie

    Nov 21, 2007
    I'm looking to buy a macbook and wondering if it's worth the extra dough to get a pro model. Primarily I just need a computer for typical use, email, internet browsing (streaming video), iLife, and MS Office. However, I do like to do video editing. As a student who also works I don't have as much time to spend editing video as I'd like, but I do it often enough that I need a computer that can do it well.

    I have a sony handycam that shoots HD video in AVCHD, stores it on an internal HD, and connects to a computer via USB 2.0. Because of this, the lack of a firewire port on the MB doesn't bother me too badly (although it may someday for another reason... how likely is this?) As far as the size of the screen, I think I can deal with 13 vs 15, and certainly external displays are an option. (Can anybody tell me if the MB or MBP can run on an external display w/ external keyboard and mouse while closed, or does closing the laptop always put it to sleep? Not a huge deal, I'm just curious)

    Anyway, on to what I REALLY want to know... It looks like the MBP can run laps around the MB as far as framerate for 3D games, because of the discrete GPU (I don't play games on my mac, though, that's what I bought my PS3 for!), but the benchmarks for the aged effect in iMovie HD look pretty close between the MB and MBP... Does this mean that rendering video is faster with a faster CPU, and not affected much by the GPU? If this is so, the 2.4 Ghz macbook may be a good temporary solution for me, because it's cheaper, and IF I find I'm doing more video stuff later I can get a Mac Pro with a bitchin' 8-core processor for blazing through video... Or will the MBP w/ it's second GPU, larger L2 cache, and more RAM (or if it makes a difference faster spinning HD or SSD) be significantly better for using Final Cut, preventing me from needing the beastly mac pro as soon as I might if I'm stuck with the consumer macbook?

    Thanks for any advice!
  2. gr8tfly macrumors 603


    Oct 29, 2006
    ~119W 34N
    IMO, you are still going to want Firewire for moving large files around. FW400 is much faster than USB 2 for just about everything. FW800 will blow it away. The only thing faster would be eSATA, and there's no ExpressCard slot on the MB to add a card.

    Another thing you will want is more display real estate. I'm assuming you will be getting Final Cut Express, but even with iMovie, the screen can get crowded in a hurry. I just moved from a 1680 x 1050 to 1920 x 1200 (17" UB), and the difference is very noticeable. The other option would be to invest in an external monitor, but that would eat into the difference between the MB and MBP anyway.
  3. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    Sounds like you have a good plan already. I'd get the 2.4 GHz MacBook if I were you. ;)

    You'd probably have to get an external LCD anyway regardless of whether you got the 15" MBP or 13" MB, so it's just a matter of FW. I think FW would be nice to have in case you get a FW external harddisk, but you do save quite a bit of money, and get a more portable machine, by purchasing the MB.

    And like you said, you can get a desktop later if you get more into video editing.
  4. desiringGod macrumors regular

    Feb 15, 2008
    I am looking at the MB for video editing as well. Since FCE and Imovie don't use the dual video cards, you are looking at processor speed and mainly ram.

    So the MB should suit you just fine.
  5. J-mizzle thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 21, 2007
    Yeah, the screen real estate thing is only a minor issue, as external displays are available... do the MB and MBP support the same resolutions on external displays, or is the MB more limited? In that case maybe the issue is more significant than I thought, and I'd lean towards the pro... I'm more concerned with what'll really make a noticeable difference in video editing, faster CPU (How much difference between 2.4, 2.53, 2.66, and 2.9 Ghz options) or the better GPU/more video RAM (will the 9600 be much better for editing than the 9400?)... Also how much does L2 cache and RAM effect video editing performance?

    Also I'm trying to decide between FCE and FCP... I hear there's a new version of Final cut about to be released, so I'll probably wait until then to buy either... but does running FCP on a MB sound silly to anybody, more silly than FCE on a MBP? Any advice on this situation is also very much appreciated...
  6. Demosthenes X macrumors 68000

    Demosthenes X

    Oct 21, 2008
    There's nothing wrong with running FCP on a MacBook. It's a very potent machine, and will handle most any editing task you ask of it. If you get really involved in 3D graphics/Motion, you'll start to run into trouble, but that doesn't sound likely. Final Cut only cares about processor and RAM, not GPU.

    If you can afford the Pro, though, it is tempting. Bigger screen and Firewire and nice draws - especially since it gives you the ability to use an external drive instead of your boot drive for capture scratch. I can capture to/edit from a USB drive, but I'm not sure if HD (even compressed) will work in that situation... Firewire is lots faster.


    But it sounds as though editing is only a hobby at the moment, so I would buy what you're happy with and can afford now. The MB will handle your needs just fine, and as you say, if it's something you decide to take more seriously, you can upgrade then. :)

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