Need Advice on Best MacPro Specs for Editing HD

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Kinected2U, Jan 21, 2013.

  1. Kinected2U macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2013
    Location:
    Kalamazoo, MI
    #1
    Hi,

    I'm looking for some help on trying to figure out the best specs for a Mac Pro to edit HD video.

    The last time I purchased a Mac Pro I was a freshman in college getting a Film degree and after spending most of my days in the editing lab I asked my instructor to advise me in purchasing a computer so I could edit at home. Flash forward 5 years and I'm working for myself now and looking to upgrade and could use some guidance.

    I edit mostly on FCP and After Effects but do use Adobe Premiere as well.

    1) My first decision is deciding between a Quad-Core and a 12-Core. Will this effect the speed at which my computer renders my work?

    2) Is a Two 3.06GHz 6-Core Intel Xeon (12 Cores) faster than a One 3.33GHz 6-Core Intel Xeon and if so is it worth the almost $2000.00 upgrade?

    3) I was thinking 32GB would be enough memory but just wondering what others have experienced or would recommend?

    4) Going with 512SB SSD, a friend recommended that I get 2 but I honestly don't know if it's worth the money? Thoughts?

    5) Graphics: better to go with, Two ATI Radeon HD 5770 1GB, or One ATI Radeon HD 5870 1GB.

    6) Lastly, is the best choice for a monitor an Apple Display or are there just as good or better displays out there?

    I really appreciate any and all feedback. I am a really good video editor but when it comes to tech specs I'm really lacking in the knowledge department and I'm looking to educate myself. Also if there are any good websites to learn/understand these things better I would greatly appreciate that as well. Thank you!

    Peace,
    Kinected Productions
     
  2. JesterJJZ macrumors 68020

    JesterJJZ

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2004
    #2
    Fastest thing you can afford.

    Not trying to BS an answer, just being honest. One SSD for boot is fine.
     
  3. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604

    thejadedmonkey

    Joined:
    May 28, 2005
    Location:
    Pa
    #3
    CPU and GPU upgrades are your friend. I'm not even sure about an SSD as the programs - once in memory - wouldn't take advantage of an SSD anyway.

    As far as displays go, either get a cheap one as it'll be "good enough", or get a pro display - not an Apple one, a real one. The brand name escapes me right now, but get a real one that is color calibrated. There's no reason to spend $2000 on 2 Apple displays.
     
  4. wonderspark macrumors 68030

    wonderspark

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2010
    Location:
    Oregon
    #4
    1) My first decision is deciding between a Quad-Core and a 12-Core. Will this effect the speed at which my computer renders my work? *More cores will help After Effects for sure. Budget will answer this question.

    2) Is a Two 3.06GHz 6-Core Intel Xeon (12 Cores) faster than a One 3.33GHz 6-Core Intel Xeon and if so is it worth the almost $2000.00 upgrade? *No, or yes, depending on the program. After Effects would be faster with more cores, but only you can decide if it's worth it.

    3) I was thinking 32GB would be enough memory but just wondering what others have experienced or would recommend? *I used to think 32 was all I'd ever need, but I've used up all 32GB using Premiere, After Effects and Mocha all at once. If you have a dual CPU, get 64GB.

    4) Going with 512SB SSD, a friend recommended that I get 2 but I honestly don't know if it's worth the money? Thoughts? *I use half of a 256GB SSD as my boot drive, loaded, including Adobe CS5, CS5.5 and CS6.

    5) Graphics: better to go with, Two ATI Radeon HD 5770 1GB, or One ATI Radeon HD 5870 1GB. *I personally get by just fine with one 5870, but if you were going to be using Mountain Lion, I'd look at an nVidia card, actually. There is too much info to post about it here, so you'll have to do some research on that subject.

    6) Lastly, is the best choice for a monitor an Apple Display or are there just as good or better displays out there? *Non-Apple for sure.
     
  5. MacPoulet macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2012
    #5
    Are you getting a broadcast monitor for playback? If you're going to invest in such a system, I'd look into one.

    What version of FCP are you on?
     
  6. Yebubbleman macrumors 68030

    Yebubbleman

    Joined:
    May 20, 2010
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    #6
    I'm just going to throw this out there, but Final Cut Pro 7 is not and will never be truly multi-core-optimized, or 64-bit. If you wish to run Final Cut Pro 7, there really is a limit as to how much more power you can give that program without wasting your money on muscle it won't ever be able to use. Sad, but true. Final Cut Pro X likely never will attain the glory or market-share that its predecessor had in its prime. That's not to say that it hasn't become a powerful program, but more to say that if you want to be in somewhat of a relative parity to what is likely being used in the industry, trying to get a behemoth for Final Cut Pro X is likely not the way to go either.

    That leaves Adobe After Effects and Adobe Premiere. Both of these programs run more or less identically under Mac OS X as they do under Windows. Given Apple's reluctance to update the Mac Pro past Westmere and into Sandy Bridge E, you really can build a substantially better PC box for the same cost as a Mac Pro. If what you're primarily doing with this machine is Adobe Premiere and After Effects, it's definitely a much more cost-effective route to go. Yes, I recognize the gravity of what I'm saying. I also recognize that as an Apple fanboy, posting on an Apple-centric forum, I'm telling you to build/buy a PC over a Mac. But there you have it, it's simply not financially sensible given the bang you don't get with a Mac Pro compared to a 12-core (2x6-core CPU configuration, of course) Sandy Bridge E monster running Windows and the same Adobe apps you'd run on your Mac. If you love Mac OS X, then grab yourself a 13" MacBook Air to use on the side, but for work involving 100% cross-platform apps, a Mac Pro, let alone one with aging hardware, doesn't make much sense.

    Anyway, onto your questions

    If your apps are designed to take advantage of only three cores, a 12-core machine won't do you much better than a Quad-core. If your apps are designed to take advantage of any number of cores, then the 12-core machine has the obvious advantage. In the case of Final Cut Pro 7, you will see no advantage to a 12-core Mac Pro over a Quad-core. In the case of Final Cut Pro X and the latest Adobe apps, a 12-core Mac Pro will run rings around a Quad-core.

    Again, if your apps can only take advantage of 2-6 cores, then your 12-core machine isn't going to give you that much more of an advantage. But if your apps can take advantage of 7+ cores, then the 12-core machine has the advantage.

    After Effects loves RAM. It depends on how fast you need this machine to juggle how much stuff. If this is the machine on which you run your one-man post-production company, I'd say the more RAM the merrier. Certainly shop around for good deals on after-market RAM as it may be more cost-effective to get the bare-bones amount of RAM from Apple and then replace it with and aftermarket kit for 32-64GB.

    Really, unless your friend was suggesting you RAID 0 the two SSDs into a 1TB scratch disk, it probably just makes sense to get one 512GB SSD to use as the boot/applications drive and then set up your RAID with larger hard drives.

    Given that you can't do CrossFire in OS X, the only thing that two Radeon HD 5770 cards gets you is three additional video output ports (in the form of one more DVI port and two more miniDisplayPorts). Otherwise, you're comparing the Radeon HD 5770 to the Radeon HD 5870, in which case the latter is obviously better.

    The Apple displays are great, though they are, by no means, the best. They're also, by no means the best deal out there. The specs and price for an Apple LED/Thunderbolt display are decent, though you can get displays of equivalent quality/resolution/color for $100-200 cheaper. Do they come with a built-in iSight, built-in speakers, or a built-in MagSafe charger? No, but would you really care to spend $100-200 on those features, probably not. Given that on these video cards you have the option of DVI AND miniDisplayPort, you are, by no means limited to an Apple display and thusly, you shouldn't limit yourself to one for the sake of keeping brand parity across your set-up.

    I'd start by downloading MacTracker and looking up any buzzwords you don't know in either a dictionary or on Wikipedia. Then, from there, read some articles on Macworld and that'll better give you context, which will further help define whatever topics remain confusing for you.
     
  7. Kinected2U thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2013
    Location:
    Kalamazoo, MI
    #7
    First, thank you all for your input and for sharing your knowledge. Nice to know there are people out there who are willing to help those in need of a little guidance without making them feel stupid :)

    So, I'm thinking:

    Two 3.06GHz 6-Core Intel Xeon
    64GB of RAM
    One 512SB SSD
    One ATI Radeon HD 5870 1GB
    and it seems to be across the board not to get an Apple Display.

    If you have any other suggestions or experience with what I'm going to put together, I'm open to feedback (good or bad).
     
  8. Kinected2U thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2013
    Location:
    Kalamazoo, MI
    #8
    Yes, thank you, I do realize this is not brain surgery. However, I don't see anything wrong with asking people who are more intelligent in this area and who have more experience in the technical side of computers for advice. Plus monetarily the difference between:

    "Two 3.06GHz 6-Core Intel Xeon
    64GB RAM (8x8GB)
    One 512SB SSD
    One ATI Radeon HD 5870 1GB"

    and getting something like:

    "One 3.33GHz 6-Core Intel Xeon processor
    32GB RAM (4x8GB)
    One 512GB solid-state drive
    ATI Radeon HD 5870 1GB"

    is about $3,000.00 so even though it's not brain surgery, it is a lot of money to invest. So to make it easy, the question would be, if I'm primarily using FCP 7 and After Effects as well as Adobe Premiere occasionally... is it worth the $3,000.00 to upgrade?
     
  9. JesterJJZ macrumors 68020

    JesterJJZ

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2004
    #9
    Drop in the bucket for what you as an editor should be making.
     
  10. Yebubbleman macrumors 68030

    Yebubbleman

    Joined:
    May 20, 2010
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    #10
    FCP 7 will be slower on your 12-core machine given it can't take advantage of much past 2 cores, let alone anything past 6. After Effects, on the other hand, will likely take advantage of more. Similarly, so will Premiere. Again, with the industry moving away from FCP 7 due to lack of support for up and coming technologies, and with Adobe Premiere and Adobe After Effects being cross-platform, you're kind of wasting your money on a Mac Pro either way.
     
  11. Ploki macrumors 68010

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2008
    #11
    The new Toshiba HGST 3TB drives are VERY fast, in RAID0 you can make them go up to 350mb/s.

    Considering Mac Pro only has SATA2 its a waste to be buying high-speed 500mb/s SATA3 SSDs

    http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/SSD/PCIe/OWC/Mercury_Accelsior/RAID

    this is faster than even SSD Quad-RAID0 in current mac pro.

    Also tell me you didn't upgrade RAM and SSD at apple page?
    Only upgrade CPU there.

    If you ask me, buy CPU from apple, get 4 199$ Toshiba 3TB drives, striped then mirrored, for 6TB of ultra-fast ultra-reliable performance, and an OWC accelsior in PCIe for some fast SSD system.
     
  12. tony3d macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2006
    #12
    I have this very same machine, but only have 24 gigs of ram currently. I run Lightwave3D, and do 3d modeling, and animation. This machine replaced an early 2.8 8 core. I am thrilled with the speed of this thing. I have no use for thunderbolt, just need to add a USB 3.0 card at some point. My render speeds have improved 3 times faster! with the 5870, I can now move up to 1 million polys in near real time. Lightwave does use as many cores as you can throw at it, so if the software you use does as well, it's a no brainer. For me it was definitely worth the extra money. Very fast, quite, solid machine. I am also glad I have this case. I love the room inside. If you have anymore questions just ask. Even if your current software does not use all cores, you may upgrade to software in the future that does. If your making money with your Mac, I generally buy the fastest one they make at the time, and believe me this configuration is a beast!
     
  13. handsome pete macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2008
    #13
    Well without knowing the scope of his business that's a pretty wild assumption. There is no magic number on what an editor "should" make.

    Granted, it could only take one job to pay for the system and more. But that's also without knowing what else is need to pay the bills.



    To the OP...

    The 3 big things you want to look at are CPU, GPU, and Storage. As others have mentioned this also depends largely on what you plan on doing and with what software. If you're using multi-threaded apps then you'll be able to take advantage of what a dual CPU configuration offers. However in the case of FCP, you'd be better off with a single CPU with a higher clock speed.
    When it comes to the GPU, the better you have, the better performance you'll see in applications like After Effects and Premiere. Although the converse is that when it comes to your final render, the CPU comes more into play.

    So it's really a delicate balancing act and it ultimately depends on your budget. To put it simply, you should get the best CPU and GPU that you can "realistically" afford. What I mean by that is don't leverage your ability to outfit the rest of your machine by just buying the most expensive CPU and GPU because they are the fastest. Aside from RAM (which you should get as much of as you can) you're going to need a lot of storage. I only see a mention of 1 SSD drive, which I will assume is going to be your boot drive. So you're going to need to figure out solutions for scratch disks, projects disks, archival, etc. Hard drives are cheap these days, but you're going to need a significant amount of space. You'll probably want to look into a RAID configuration.

    So this got long, but to sum it up, don't just assume you need to go out and blow your entire budget on the absolute fastest and most expensive thing out there. We'd all like to get the newest and greatest thing out there, but it's usually just not realistic. Spec your system wisely. Get something with an upgrade path and grow your system as your business grows. And, I know this is a Mac forum, but if you're seriously looking into a workstation purely for editing then I would seek out opinions elsewhere as well (Adobe forums, DVXUser, RedUser, Creative Cow, etc.).
     
  14. wonderspark macrumors 68030

    wonderspark

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2010
    Location:
    Oregon
    #14
    I think this is very good advice, and exactly what I did myself.

    My system started off as a quad core with internal disks only. After my first feature-length project, I was given another, and it was beyond my system's capabilities, so I had to expand it. Today, I have a really nice RAID attached, different GPUs to work with, much more RAM, a 6-core CPU, and I'm still very happily cooking with gas on this old Mac. :)
     
  15. Zwhaler, Jan 22, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2013

    Zwhaler macrumors 603

    Zwhaler

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2006
    #15
    Maxed 12 core, 32GB (I run 24 and it's enough), and definitely the 5870. Don't buy all the RAM from Apple.

    I use Apple LED Cinema Display and get great results. Not good enough if your work is broadcast grading, however I have graded video that aired on TV on this display and didn't have any issues at all. I've also graded commercial films and they look good. You can see how my work looks graded using this setup on YouTube www.youtube.com/user/Zwhaler
     

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