Need advice on a new FCS machine

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by allupons, Mar 11, 2010.

  1. allupons macrumors member

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    Mar 11, 2010
    #1
    I have been on the heels of purchasing a new mac for quite some time now, and with the seemingly imminent launch of the new 6 core mac pro I am trying to hammer out a final decision. My main need is a machine that will perform very well with FCS. The debate for me boils down to the 27" core i7 imac vs one of these new mac pros about to launch. I understand that we do not know the exact hardware specs of the new machines, but I am hoping to get some advice on this decision all the same if possible.

    So, what would most suggest regarding the biggest differences in performance between a mac pro and an i7 imac? Can FCS make use off all the current cores / threads in its current carnation, or is it only the final render that can use all cores through compressor? Would my performance on the imac be notably slower or sluggish by comparison? Would a single fw800 port be sufficient for my storage, as obviously the imac completely lacks internal expandable storage. What would really help the most would be thoughts from FCS users that have worked on both the new i7 iMac and mac pros as to their insight on what things are noticeably different when working on the two. Thanks for any help and advice.
     
  2. Billydelp4 macrumors regular

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    Feb 29, 2008
    #2
    1) Yes FCS can use all the cores and not just during the final render or export.

    2) the 4850 is a weak card and with an imac you are stuck with it. ATM that is the only place you would feel hurt and that is only if you upgrade the MP's Graphics

    3) FW800 should be used for back up and media storage it does not the enough throughput to work off. So unless you are just going to store non working projects or final cuts on an external, don't use it. unless you have some peripherals.

    4) You can't do a raid on the imac, which really, really sucks. You are stuck with the same graphics forever. forever is a daunting word.

    Get a mac pro off the refurb site. more storage, comparable price, ability to upgrade.
     
  3. iamcheerful macrumors 6502

    iamcheerful

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2008
    #3
    These quotes are taken from a recent on-going thread.
    The link below the quote is the direct link to the post just for your convenience. Hope it helps you.


    http://forums.macrumors.com/showpost.php?p=9405810&postcount=8

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showpost.php?p=9407297&postcount=15


    [​IMG]

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showpost.php?p=9412470&postcount=27
     
  4. TheStrudel macrumors 65816

    TheStrudel

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    Jan 5, 2008
    #4
    1) Wrong, wrong, wrong. As iamcheerful has pointed out, we have discussed this extensively on this forum. Final Cut never uses more than 4 cores and usually closer to 2. It cannot use more than 4 GB of RAM. It is still a 32-bit application. It is in dire need of an update (ongoing) and will be able to do this in the future but cannot now. Compressor can use all of your cores if you set it up properly.

    2) Not weak enough to actually matter, since so little of the software in FCS really leans on the GPU. Only Motion is new enough to do it extensively, and it still won't hold you back a lot. It's still a decent discrete graphics card, and far better than a lot of ones included in the past - including a few graphics cards that used to be standard in Mac Pros.

    3) FW800 is plenty of throughput for anybody who isn't working with more advanced formats - people who would have a Mac Pro anyway. If you tell us what you'll actually be working with, we can advise you better on this.

    4) You can't do an internal RAID on the iMac. But you can buy a Firewire multi-drive enclosure that can use a few different flavors of RAID. Again, this may be more than sufficient for your needs, depending on what you're working with. It can't run at full-stripe speed, but you only NEED that if you're working with uncompressed full HD. Which almost nobody does. (You've never seen uncompressed digital video in your life).

    Please research your answers better or refrain from giving bad advice, billydelp. Nearly all of what you said was inaccurate or completely misleading.

    Allupons, can't you just wait until the new machines are released? It's going to be quite soon. And if you tell us more details about what you're actually going to be doing, as video editing is very complicated and specific, we can advise you better. Information like what formats you'll be working with, what kind of video, how much of it, etc. And really, if your answer to any of these questions is "I don't know," you'll probably be fine with an iMac, which is far more powerful than a lot of people give it credit for. And the screen is a nice H-IPS display, too.
     
  5. CCK macrumors member

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    Feb 14, 2010
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    KY
    #5
    For any serious video I think it's a no brainer.

    1 FW port as your only connection???

    If it had eSATA then I'd say yeah maybe.

    Setting up a RAID on an external FW seems like the imac would end up costing as much or more & be a lot slower than having non RAID in a MP. Yes???
     
  6. TheStrudel macrumors 65816

    TheStrudel

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    Jan 5, 2008
    #6
    No, that's a narrow assumption. Review all the different kinds of Firewire storage there are (check macsales.com first) and see if you still think that. Then look at what video formats people are working with and see if FW 800 remains inadequate. Most of the people on this forum are not using anything "serious". Most of them aren't using anything more intense than AVCHD or HDV, both of which are easily served by FW400.
     
  7. JesterJJZ macrumors 68020

    JesterJJZ

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    Jul 21, 2004
    #7
    It all depends on the type of formats you will be working with. If you're doing DV, HDV, even some AVCHD, the iMac would be just fine with some external drives for storage. Some G-Raids from G-Tech would work great with that. Heck, my Dual 500 G4 cut DV just fine over firewire 400.

    Now if you plan on doing some more high end stuff like going into DVCPro50, HD, P2, XDCAM, etc. and using codecs like Prores and Uncompressed, then yeah you need a MacPro. You'll have more power, more options, more expandability. You'll still want external storage though. You'll also have access to 3rd party capture cards and other external hardware. Not to mention graphics card upgrades and more multiple monitor support.
     
  8. CCK macrumors member

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    #8
    I've been editing HDV for years and yes FW is adequate, the imac is more than capable and yes if you are an avid amateur, I think the imac would be great.
    But come on, counting on one FW port for ALL of your connectivity.

    I captured through the front FW port on my G5 for a couple of years, then it went bad. no big deal, I use the one on the back. With an imac, you'd be screwed if it went out.

    Then there is the possibility that you might be pretty low key but aspire to be more, The MP gives the opportunity to grow into a career in video. Not saying that you couldn't cut an award winning film on an imac,

    FW & eSATA is the least I'd want, 2 FW & eSATA'd be better.

    Since he said FCS not FCE, I assume he's(?) fairly serious.

    Your right about the RAID being not that expensive, but still it adds $100+ for not much benefit.

    He's also seems to be asking which would be the better choice for FCS and IMO there isn't anything to really debate, Far and away the MP
     
  9. TheStrudel macrumors 65816

    TheStrudel

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    #9
    Absolutely, but budget and overkill are relevant words here. He still hasn't told us what he's actually doing.
     
  10. allupons thread starter macrumors member

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    Mar 11, 2010
    #10
    Thanks for the replies thus far. I plan on working mostly with prores 422(HQ) or prores 4444, which i will transcode to from either hdslrs or a red (less likely) that I will shoot with. No matter what decision I make, I will wait for the release of the new mac pro to inform my decision. I just want to get a better idea for if the mac pro actually improves FCS performance all that much, or if the system goes mostly untaxed other than the final render.

    To give an idea of why I want the system, it is mostly to edit for a part time job. I am finishing editing a feature length film inside of cs4 on a windows machine which has mostly been frustrating. I will likely do such projects, along with smaller commercial work into the future. I am much more comfortable with FCS and can't wait to make the switch, it is simply a matter of which machine makes the most sense. Granted there is a little guess work currently going on since we don't know the exact specs or price points of the soon to be released mac pros, but I still think the conversation can be useful at this point.

    The budget can go as high as a relatively expensive mac pro, but if the system is total overkill (I am not saying it is, I simply dont know yet) I might as well save thousands and get an amazing 2k resolution IPS screen in the process. However, if the real world performance of a mac pro truly trounces the i7 iMac, then it could very well be worth the money and lack of very nice monitor. Thanks for the useful info thus far, and for any further help.
     
  11. CCK macrumors member

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    KY
    #11
    Sounds to me like you are definitely MP bound.

    When the imacs first came out I thought, "gee, that'd be an inexpensive & easy speed upgrade" Then reality set in.

    By Red, are you talking Scarlet or red 1?
     
  12. Billydelp4 macrumors regular

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    Feb 29, 2008
    #12
    I use Motion daily and I can vouch that my memory usage goes well beyond 4gb ram lol. 32bit app or not that's what it uses. maybe I'm using it incorrectly and it just hasn't noticed. :rolleyes:

    As for Cores being used, both FCP and Color will make use of more than 4 cores.

    but i'm just speaking from experience...
     
  13. allupons thread starter macrumors member

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    Mar 11, 2010
    #13
    Potentially scarlet, but all I own at the moment are 7D's. What exactly makes you say I am mac pro bound? Elaborating is where all the fun is at on message boards, heh.
     
  14. Mac.Gruber macrumors newbie

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    Feb 17, 2010
    #14
    I'm an editor and I'd go Mac Pro and it's not even close. Many valid points made in other posts, but consider the following as well:

    To edit, you're going to want to have 2 screens; you get far more real estate and far better organization on 2 15" screens than 1 27 inch screen.

    If you're dealing with large amounts of media, it's way better to keep it on internal drives (which you can do on a Mac Pro) than external (which you'd have to use on an iMac.) Externals are very unreliable.
     
  15. Pressure macrumors 68040

    Pressure

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    #15
    Actually, we all are hoping for an Final Cut Studio upgrade in the near future.

    It is still only 32-bit and it still works on the foundation of QuickTime 7, meaning it has **** for multiprocessing use. Hopefully the next update will offer 64-bit and be built on the foundation of the much better and faster QuickTime X, enabling faster online render times and final render. Not to mention, hopefully, it will be using OpenCL to harness the power of the graphic card to speed up several processes.

    Currently I am working with the likes of the Panasonic HPX-3000 and the Canon EOS 5D Mark II, which I transcode into ProRes (HQ) using anything else than Compressor (that slow piece of baboons ****). I usually end up with MPEG Streamclip. Since storage is quickly becoming an issue, I would suggest getting something with expandability. My small projects are easily taking up more than 150GB to 250GB.

    I am still using my early 2008 Mac Pro with 12GB ram, which right now is holding up nicely with Final Cut Studio because of its caveats and lackluster performance.
     
  16. Pressure macrumors 68040

    Pressure

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    #16
    1. Out of interest, could you please show me your 2 screen workflow in Final Cut? Just asking, using 2 screens as well here.

    2. External is not more unreliable than internal. For starters, you can easily have a RAID5 or 10 external setup that can manage 1 or 2 harddrive failures, whereas the internal bays are still limited to 4 harddrives for RAID5 at best.
     
  17. allupons thread starter macrumors member

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    Mar 11, 2010
    #17
    Opinions seem somewhat split thus far. I am still hoping for someone that has had a chance to experience using FCS on both machines and has opinions about advantages/disadvantages beyond what is transparent. Thanks for the continued help thus far.
     
  18. CCK macrumors member

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    KY
    #18
    Yeah, I'm looking at a move to the scarlet also. My local PBS station is very interested in my next 3 projects and even mentioned that they would have funding, which is rare for them to offer, so it looks like I'll have the $ for the move.

    MP vs imac... I'd look at it this way, if you were going to build a house on stilts, you wouldn't want to use 2x4 for the stilts, you'd want to use 6x6's or bigger.

    There are a lot of video pro/semi pro (and others) that are upset that :apple: doesn't have a smaller expandable comp than the MP, so they are forced into a comp that may be more than they need or can afford. It doesn't sound like the $ is the issue, so get the comp that will serve your needs best. It's not what will work, but what will work best & continue to work best.

    There are a lot of issues that I have with an imac (an all in one comp), 2 screen etc... but the one thing that kills it is the single FW port.

    Since $ is not the issue, I think that after the new wore off (if you got an imac) that you'd regret it IMO.

    I think it depends a lot on the external and is a - you get what you pay for kinda thing.

    So it again comes down to, why invest in quality externals if you need access to high data volume, and then count on a single (and not even the best) port for ALL of your transfer.
     
  19. allupons thread starter macrumors member

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    #19
    Yea, I get where you are coming from. More power is certainly more futureproof if anything. I just don't want to marginalize the difference between $2000 and $4000, especially when the $2000 machine comes with a $1000 IPS 2k resolution screen, heh. I am about as torn as torn can be though at the moment. Nothing is really clearing it up for me as I think I could manage on an external raid, but the potential futureproofing of a 12 core @ 3.3 Ghz machine is pretty insane as well.
     
  20. CCK macrumors member

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    #20
    It has only been a split because we didn't know if $ was an issue or how serious you were.

    There is no question as far as which is the better comp for FCS.
     
  21. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #21
    DVCPro 50, DVCPro HD, can all be used w/FW400 drives plugged into G5 towers (which from pure CPU stand point will get almost completely slaughtered by any Mac w/an intel chip in it). The i7 iMac has plenty of power to work w/those formats but the lack of expandability is it's weak point.

    ProRes 422 (HQ) and 4444 are both way overkill for HDSLRs and even for Red unless you are working end-to-end in 2k+ and going for a film out.

    The lack of expandability is what really keeps the i7 iMac from being a legit contender unless it's in a support role, IMO (ex. offline editing for a project that will be onlined on a properly equipped tower). That single FW800 port is a huge bottle neck because you need to have more storage than what is inside the machine and you need a way to at least get a broadcast quality video signal out of the machine (for proper monitoring) but you only have one port so you are hosed (the iMacs screen is only good for looking that the GUI and is useless for judging what is going on w/the video you are editing). If you ever want more RT performance than you can get w/FW800 drives or want to use codecs that require faster drives you are hosed. For video signal I/O you are limited to the AJA Io HD which is a great device, but you have many more options, and less expensive options, if you go w/a Mac Pro.

    An iMac will come w/a lot of compromises that may or may not be issues for you but could be in the future while a Mac Pro will be able to expand and change w/you to meet your needs.


    Color relies on the GPU.


    Lethal
     
  22. telequest macrumors regular

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    #22
    I briefly toyed with buying an iMac when the new 4-core machine was announced. Price and performance were tempting, along with that monitor. Especially compared to the 2009 4-core Mac Pros which also have only 4 RAM slots.

    For me, it comes down to 2 things:
    - Is your perspective short term or long term?
    - Is the work you want to do a hobby or a profession?

    If you look at today's versions of FCS and Adobe CS, the iMac might have all the raw power you need ... though if you're dealing with ProRes422 and Red at 444 you might face bottlenecks. And if you can deal with being out of operation for a while because your one FW port just went bad or the monitor has a bad case of the flickers for the convenience of an all-in-one, then the iMac could be worth it. Likewise if you're budget-constrained and need to be sensible about what you'll spend on a hobby.

    My good ol' G5 tower has served me well for over 5 years now - longer than I planned. The iMac would be screamingly fast by comparison. But I'm in the business for the long haul. I want a machine that will make the most of whatever version of FSC is released 2 or 3 years (or more!) from now, editing on whatever high def formats my clients demand. I want a machine that's extremely reliable, that won't overheat when running all day, with parts that can be added or swapped out if something goes wrong or if I have a new need.

    For this pro with a long-term view, an iMac doesn't hold up. But *which* Mac Pro, depending on what the 2010s offer, pricing and what's in the refurb store will be an interesting choice.

    Last and not least - I really appreciate all the expertise that's offered on this forum. I've learned a lot here and know that I'll make a far better choice on whatever machine I end up buying because of the generosity of the contributors. So thanks for all up to now and in advance.
     
  23. Pressure macrumors 68040

    Pressure

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    #23
    Ehm, you use an expansion card running on an PCI-Express slot to access your external media or Gigabit ethernet. Not sure what kind of important media you are managing but professionals have very different needs. The best way to obtain high data volume is going external with some sort of RAID rack solution.
     
  24. CCK macrumors member

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    #24
    Any base MP @ $2500 or $2150 as a refurb would still be far and away my choice, though I'm hoping for more ram, better GPU & faster clocks for the 10 base.
    Should serve me well for years.
     
  25. reel2reel macrumors 6502a

    reel2reel

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    #25
    I personally prefer one large screen (30") for Final Cut Pro. But Color is nicer on two screens, because you can view more scopes and the Color interface is stuck somewhere in the 1990's when it comes to customizing your palettes. For instance, on a single-screen setup, you can't increase the size of your timeline at all by reducing all other useless palettes hogging the screen (so you end up scrolling all the time in a large project).

    The ideal is to have a 30" and a 24" if you can.
     

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