Top Spec 13 MBP for 4k Video editing

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by nptech, Nov 4, 2017.

  1. nptech, Nov 4, 2017
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2017

    nptech macrumors newbie

    Mar 17, 2016
    Hey folks,

    Selling off my gaming computer and moving to a MBP for web development, photography and video editing.

    I'm wondering whether or not a top spec 13" MBP will be able to handle a 10 minute 4k timeline and still have a smooth editing experience (not fussed on render times, only the actual edit itself). Won't be using Premiere, only FCPX.

    Anyone here able to comment on how well a 13" would perform using FCPX?

    I'm looking at a top spec 13" or a 15". Cheers
  2. joema2 macrumors 68000


    Sep 3, 2013
    Editing H264 4k smoothly is very difficult for almost any hardware or software. You are using FCPX -- that's an advantage since it's so fast and uses Intel's Quick Sync for hardware-accelerated decode & encode.

    However there are many H264 codecs and formats. Some are more compute-intensive than others. E.g, 4k H264 8-bit 4:2:0 from a Panasonic GH4 is OK, but the 10-bit 4:4:4 media from a GH5 is very slow. Yet the 4k 305 mbps H264 intra-frame content from a Canon XC10 or XC15 is very smooth and fast. Technically all those are variants of H264 or AVC.

    A separate consideration is effects, which vary greatly in their CPU and GPU requirements. You could get decent timeline performance on the initial content but when you start adding effects, the edit performance will slow down.

    In general the solution is defer adding compute-intensive effects until the timeline content is mostly locked down. E.g, don't try to stabilize clips or apply Neat Video noise reduction until the last steps.

    For 4k editing you definitely want the fastest most recent computer you can afford. That said if you can use proxies (a built-in FCPX feature) almost any computer can edit 4k smoothly. You could edit multi-camera 4k on a 2013 MacBook Air using proxies. But you must generate those proxies at either import time or later, which takes some time and adds about 60% to the typical H264 camera media size.

    I personally prefer the 15" MBP size because the screen is bigger and easier to see. I use a top-spec 2016 MBP 15" and it does OK on 4k H264 but I create proxies for anything besides a very short 5 min timeline. My 2017 and 2015 iMac 27s are both top-spec but the 2017 is significantly faster in FCPX on H264 content, probably because the Kaby Lake CPU has upgraded Quick Sync logic. If this is representative, then a 2017 MBP (which also uses Kaby Lake) might also considerably faster for this specific workflow than a 2016 model.
  3. e1me5 macrumors 6502


    Jun 11, 2013
    I totally agree with Joema2, he explained it brilliantly. My point of view is, if you are going to earn a lot of money from video editing, go with the 15 inch. Although it is more expensive, the added 2 cores and the dedicated GPU, that FCPX utilises to the max, will reduce your rendering and export time significantly, but also you will use it for more years due to the ability to handle heavier workflows.
    If not, you can try out a 13 inch at the Apple store, to see how it satisfies your needs in this area.

    All the best!
  4. teohyc macrumors regular


    May 24, 2007
    I'm guessing that a top spec 2017 MBP should be able edit 4K smoothly.

    I've a quad 2.5Ghz 2015 MBP and it can edit 4K 30FPS very smoothly.

    As for render times, it comes down to how good your processor is.
    If you have time to wait, then go for the 13-inch MBP.

    If you find that editing lags, you can always create proxies for the videos you import. Even my 2013 quad 3.7Ghz Mac Pro desktop chokes on 4K 60FPS video (I have to create proxies for that too).

    Lastly, if you want to import lots of videos, I suggest getting at least 512GB SSD internal. Or if you don't mind smaller internal storage, get a large external SSD storage (what you can use with other computers in the future).

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3 November 4, 2017