System Requirements for 4K Video Editing

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by Just_My_Opinion, Dec 10, 2015.

  1. Just_My_Opinion macrumors member

    Dec 1, 2015
    List your minimum and recommended system requirements for editing 4K video on a Mac.
    I understand the answer varies based on hardware, software, project size and codecs. Every news article and blog I've read suggests over the top hardware.
    Feel free to post screen captures of Activity Monitor to show how much system resources are in use.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. cruisin macrumors 6502a


    Apr 1, 2014
  3. Just_My_Opinion thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 1, 2015
    Thank you for contributing! My computer handled multiple GoPro 4K15 clips color graded without issue at 50Mbps using ProTune. As 4K cameras (Sony A7 series and Panasonic GH4 come to mind) become increasing more common, I want to be prepared. Have you editing 4K footage and how did your machine perform?
  4. kohlson, Dec 11, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2015

    kohlson macrumors 68000

    Apr 23, 2010
    Consider using Black Magic Speed Test as part of your evaluation. It only goes to 2K at the moment, but its free. My 2014 rMBP doesn't support high-end such as 4-4-4 and 12-bit RGB at 1080p - 60fps. Also, iMovie is essentially free, and now supports 4K -- have you tried that? I think mostly what you're seeing is a little bit "chicken and egg" -- almost no one has 4K viewing capability, for reasons beyond just screen pixels. I've talked to a few pros they are using 4K because they no it's coming, and want to see how it affects their workflow. But mostly they enjoy the pan/crop benefits for a 1080 output.
  5. Just_My_Opinion thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 1, 2015
    Thank you for the contribution! I think you are right 4K is coming and one day most cameras will offer 4K standard. I ran the disk test, 2K 4:4:4 25fps 12 Bit and 1080p 59.95fps/50fps 4:4:4 12 Bit boxes were unchecked. Compressed formats should be easier on storage, but present an increased load for the CPU/GPU.
    One advantage to 4K is downsampling to 1080p. Downsampling should yield a cleaner image.
  6. joema2 macrumors 68000


    Sep 3, 2013
    I edit video (inc'l 4k) professionally, mainly using FCP X but also Premiere Pro CC. My main machines are 2013 and 2015 top-spec iMac 27s. 4k video is incredibly demanding. Ideally you want a top-spec iMac, 2013 or later. Of course a new Mac Pro can be better but to generally exceed the 2015 iMac 27 performance requires an 8-core or above D700 model.

    A major issue is what editing software you use, and whether you will ever edit multicam. On identical iMac hardware, FCP X is much faster than Premiere Pro CC on many common editing operations when processing H264 4k material. E.g, using JKL commands FCP X can go from fast forward to reverse in a fraction of a second; it takes Premiere several seconds to respond. The FCP X viewer update rate is about 20x faster when fast forwarding in the timeline.

    FCP X has seamless built-in proxy workflow which becomes very important for 4k. On 1080p you generally don't need proxy files for either FCP X or Premiere if on a powerful machine. However 4k is different, and especially 4k multicam.

    Even on a 2015 top-spec iMac 27, you generally need proxy files for H264 4k multicam. Premiere doesn't have this so you'd have to manually transcode externally and move files around. All this feeds into your hardware decision.

    If you are using FCP X, a top-spec 2013 iMac 27 or later is OK for H264 4k, including multicam. If you are using Premiere I would probably not suggest using an iMac but get a powerful Windows machine with a GTX-980 Ti or above. That can allow smooth, responsive editing of camera native H264 4k files without transcoding.
  7. Just_My_Opinion thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 1, 2015
    Thank you for the detailed information! How much ram do you have installed in each of the iMacs? How much of the iMac's quad core CPU is utilized while editing?
  8. joema2 macrumors 68000


    Sep 3, 2013
    Both have 32GB. You might not need that much but RAM is relatively inexpensive.

    Utilization of CPU cores varies widely based on the activity, and also by type of editing software. Most software will produce very high (e.g, over 80%) on all cores when doing tasks like transcoding, stabilization, noise reduction, etc. When scrubbing up and down the timeline, the CPU utilization on FCP X is quite modest, say 20% or less. By contrast scrubbing at the same rate in Premiere Pro produces about 80% CPU state on all cores.
  9. Just_My_Opinion thread starter macrumors member

    Dec 1, 2015
    The information you provided was extremely helpful! My projects are quite basic with usually two-four tracks of video and two-four audio tracks. I use FCPX and my CPU utilization (<25%) is quite low for 1080p timelines. Since my projects are fairly simple, 12 GB of RAM has worked well so far. Since I lack 4K footage, I created 4K timeline to test upscaled 1080p footage. My machine played the single upscaled footage in real time. CPU utilization was around 40-50% during realtime playback on a quad core.
  10. Bytehoven macrumors regular


    Dec 1, 2015
    Up Shellpot Creek
    We recently refitted our 2011 MacPro for 4K editing. Our primary goals were ...

    1) run a 4 screen setup... 2 displays for desktop, 1 display for source and timeline program monitoring and color grading and 1 display for looking at bins.

    2) quick response when moving thru the timeline or scrubbing a source clip.

    3) maximize the number of tracks that can be played in the timeline without rendering.

    Our setup consists of the following

    Adobe CC 2015 Production Tools

    2011 Mac Pro with 2x x5690 3.46GHz Xeon processors (12 core)
    64GB Ram
    OS X 10.10.5
    512 Crucial SSD for OS and APPs

    GTX 980 Ti (non Mac EFI flashed)
    2x Dell U2711 (2560x1440)
    1x Viewsonic VP2780 4K Display (1080P)
    1x Dell 2408 (1080P)

    ATTO R680 SAS RAID Contoller
    8 Bay 6G SAS enclosure
    8x Samsung 850 EVO 1TB SSDs in a RAID0

    Sonnet Tempo Duo (2x) 5G USB 3.0 ports + (2x) 6g eSATA ports
    2x 4 Bay 6G eSATA enclosure
    1x 2 Bay USB 3.0/eSATA/FW800 enclosure

    WD 5TB HDDs for master project storage and back up.

    Our current client shoots mostly to the H264 and XAVC 4K codecs. On the system above, these camera source files can play up to 4 streams in the timeline without chop. We often transcode the H264 source to 422LT 4K and the XAVC to 422 4K. This allows for greater than 15 streams to play in the edit timeline, which is great for projects with lots of compositing.

    We figure this system will serve us well until 12G SAS, Fiber or TB 3 data I/O becomes more compelling or even a requirement.
  11. LiveM macrumors 65816


    Oct 30, 2015
    Macs are going to find the going a lot tougher than a PC, but for non-grading editing I can get by with my 2.5GHz 2012 Mac Mini with 16GB RAM. It seems no worse to work with the original .265 files in Premiere Pro than having them converted to .264. HD files work totally unhindered.
  12. Bytehoven macrumors regular


    Dec 1, 2015
    Up Shellpot Creek
    H264 is not really processor friendly on the Mac. Much better to transcode to ProRes and then performance is greatly enhanced. When grading is a top consideration, whether or not the ProRes conversions will hurt the process depends on the nature of the camera source being compressed or raw and which ProRes format was chosen.

    So far, for both H264 and XAVC, our work flow will not suffer from those sources being converted to ProRes.
  13. Maxwill macrumors member


    May 25, 2015
  14. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    When you import the footage you can have Final Cut create what it calls a "proxy" which is just down a sampled version. Let FCP create a standard resolution 480p proxy. then you edit using that. Later you can render in full 4K. As you edit you can always switch an look at a little of the 4K footage if you need to but mostly we cut on action and dialog so a 480p version is good enough. My daughter has a MacBook Air and it work well enough.

    I the old days of film they would use a "work print", this is kind of like that

    What you REALLY need is screen space. I have a 27" iMac and I'd hate to edit on a smaller screen.

    Different story if you MUST edit in the native 4K format. I'd get a new quad core i7 iMac with the RAM maxed out and a very fast storage system plus two NAS boxes for backup with one of them off site

    But really, we cut on action and dialog so "DVD Quality" is enough and any new Mac can handle that.
  15. BeechFlyer macrumors regular


    Nov 5, 2015
    Cedar Rapids, IA
    Spot on, ChrisA.

    Editing in 4K and producing a 4K output are different things. Very few people need to edit in 4K.
  16. PhotoGUY73 macrumors newbie

    Dec 26, 2016

    How well does your RAID setup work with 1TB SSD's? I've been thinking about using the same set up. Any regret with the SSD's vs enterprise SAS drives?
  17. funwithstuff macrumors member

    Jun 23, 2003
    On a relatively recent iMac with FCP X, 4K is no problem, even in the native H.264 codec at full quality. On any slower Mac, you can knock playback quality back to "Better Performance" if it's choppy. If it's still slow, FCP X can optimise the footage to ProRes if you have problems, or Proxy if that would take up too much storage. Essentially, better Macs with faster drives will let you do the job quicker, or with more simultaneous streams, but any Mac can use proxy mode.

    Premiere Pro is not as efficient in general, but different codecs (like the newer H.265) may have better or worse performance on different systems.
  18. 3568378 Suspended


    Dec 30, 2015
    Orlando, FL
    Depends on how complicated your project is - not so much size but how many effects, color corrections etc. which will strain the graphics card. Definitely need an SSD, Core i7 recommended, at least 8GB Ram and IMO a dedicated video card that's got a decent clock speed and at least 2GB memory. 4K is a hog for sure, make no mistake about it. It does look fantastic though!

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17 December 10, 2015