What are good specs for a Mac Pro system for Editing HD?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Zero2Infinity, Apr 18, 2011.

  1. Zero2Infinity macrumors newbie

    Apr 18, 2011

    I switched from Mac to PC back in 2004 for editing purposes simply for power to $ reasons. I am now at the hinge point of switching back over to a Mac Pro for my next upgrade this month.

    I use CS 5 Master Suite extensively and largely do most of my editing in Premiere Pro and from time to time some work in Avid MC. I used to edit solely in FCP.

    I am honestly a bit freaked about switching over again after having resolved my entire pipeline to PC based work and finally have everything running smoothly. However, client demands for FCP based projects are not going away. Thus the only computer I can actually do work on for all three (Premiere, FCP and Avid) is a Mac.

    I have a number of friends who just tell me "everything will be great" when I switch back to Mac. But that's not a professionally qualified opinion so doesn't do much for me.

    I'd really appreciate if there is anyone on the forum who is doing HD editing currently could answer a couple questions to help get me through the "freak out" step.

    1. Is the Mercury Playback Engine for Premiere working with the new Nvidia Mac cards?

    2. What are the minimum specs you recommend for editing at least three multiple streams of HD on the Mac in either FCP, Avid or Premiere Pro?

    3. Would you recommend spending 6K to buy the best stock Mac Pro that can be gotten for that money, or using that $ to max out part specs and build your own Mac Pro?

    4. If I was to buy a stock Mac Pro for $5K, is there a recommended place to buy the memory upgrade and an SSD upgrade that you have found reliable and stable?

    5. Do you find the Windows dual-boot to be stable for running the same Adobe applications in Windows but on the mac hardware?

    I apologize if these seem like overly cautious questions, but seeing as mistakes and lost time cost lots of $, I'm trying to get professional opinions on making the switch.

    THANK YOU! for any help on this.


  2. DustinT macrumors 68000


    Feb 26, 2011
    Considering the cost of your eventual upgrade to a Mac Pro you might want to pop just a few hundred bucks on an entry level mini for the sole purpose of working out your software bugs. You can easily sell it later and only be out a little money. There's no replacement for having the hardware in your hands.
  3. chrismacguy macrumors 68000

    Feb 13, 2009
    United Kingdom
    I edit in FCS and Win-CS5-PremierePro, but I prefer FCP, so my replies are a little geared that way. I currently edit on a Baseline 2010 Mac Pro, and for what your doing, Id recommend going to the 8-12 core range, especially with FCX.... anyway, here are my comments on the qs I can answer:

    2. 8/12 Core Mac Pro, with as much RAM as you can afford, however Id get the RAM from crucial.com afterwards (Apple RAM = Expensive and not as good as the crucial stuff). Especially with NLEs slowly getting better at multiple cores (FCPX especially) Its vital to get as many cores as possible (Back when I got mine, this wasn't the case, but now its slowly becoming the case, I can see myself going for a 12+ Core Mac Pro within 2 years).

    3. Get the highest-end CPU you can afford, and add RAM from a third party.

    5. The windows dual-boot is fine in my experience of using CS4 and CS5 Master Collections. I would recommend keeping Windows on a separate internal HD if possible however, as it means you can keep OS X, Windows and Media files all on separate physical disks - which is much easier for backing up. I wouldn't throw out your PC though. (Just in case there are bugs I haven't found in the Windows Boot - Im using XP Pro SP3 and 7 SP1 as my Windows OSes)
  4. Transporteur macrumors 68030

    Nov 30, 2008
    Before seeing definite benchmarks of FCX, I wouldn't recommend anything but a 3.33/3.46GHz hex core for editing. Considering that the hex is faster by any means than the octad, there is no point in recommending that very machine.
    The 12 core might be an option, but before spending an approximate of $7000 to 8000 for the 12 core (you always have to include costs for additional hardware as the base configs won't cut it, so to say GPU, RAM, IO), I'd rather wait for benchmarks.
    If there's no time for that and considering his budget, I'd definitely recommend a 6-core over the 12-core.

    Expensive, yes, Crucial = better, no. Crucial is just another third party RAM vendor. They don't manufacture their RAM (if I'm not totally mistaken there are only 5 (give or take) manufacturers left these days, which are Intel, Micron, Toshiba, Samsung, and Hynix) and Apple tends to use the manufacturers themselves. In a Mac Pro that is likely to be Hynix or Samsung. I've got Hynix in my machine.
    RAM these days is basically identical to each other, no matter which vendor pops its label on the PCB, but cutting out the middle man might reduce the introduction of errors and reduce costs.

    And don't be fooled by the so called "life-time" warranty of some vendors. Life-time doesn't mean that they will replace your faulty sticks in 20 years from now. They've got very distinct warranty regulations.
  5. goMac macrumors 604

    Apr 15, 2004
    Yes. Adobe actually used the Mac as their demo platform at tradeshows for Premiere.

    This really is a hard question to answer until we see more of FCP X. I'd get 6 or 8 cores. Quadro 4000.

    (Is the Quadro 4000 working with OpenCL yet? If not, this could be bad for FCPX. Of course you could keep the 5770 in there as an OpenCL card.)

    I'd recommend going with a 6 or 8 core stock configuration and then throwing in your own parts.

    Others have suggested 12 core, and if you can afford it, go for it. The more cores the better.

    Newegg, Amazon, pretty much any normal computer retailer you'd buy Windows parts from.

    It's exactly the same experience. A Mac Pro uses stock Intel parts, so nothing at all is different. There isn't any emulation or anything, it's actually a real PC. I never had a problem with Premiere or Avid under Boot Camp on a Mac Pro.

    However, I also had no issues with those apps running on OS X either.
  6. chrismacguy macrumors 68000

    Feb 13, 2009
    United Kingdom
    Crucial tends to provide "better" RAM in that it tends to work better in Macs than from other suppliers (ie Better compatability) - even than from Apple itself (Ive had dead RAM sticks from Apple, never from Crucial - might just be luck) - my English has gone waaaaaaay downhill, and I really didn't make it clear that that was what I meant xD. Also as far as FCX goes and longetivity, Its probably better to wait for FCX to be released in terms of jumping back across to Final Cut... (Especially if its the release we've all been waiting for for years - stupid me broke down and bought FCS3... knew I shoulda waited before moving from FCP2/3)
  7. Zero2Infinity thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 18, 2011

    Thanks so much for the helpful replies. Definitely makes me feel like I am jumping into something that is going to end up working out great.

    Here is what I am pricing out:

    $6,000 for a stock Mac Pro with the dual 2.93 6 core processors (12 core) and pretty much the basic stock parts. I'll use this to keep editing in Premiere for the moment until FCX actually is released. (Has anyone heard a release date?)

    I'll keep my PC system up and running until I've smoothed over any kinks in this flow. Then, as I can afford it (and sell my pc) I will add from a 3rd Party site the following:

    (I found OWC to be pretty cool. Anyone have experience with them?)

    1. A second SSD "primary drive" for installing the Windows OS for dual booting from OWC. ($400)
    2. 3rd and 4th 3TB 7200 hard drives for media storage from OWC. ($500)
    3. NVIDIA 4000 Mac Quadro Graphics Card ($700)
    4. 48 GB of RAM. (I really can't even imagine needing this much for video editing, certainly not 64 GB. Correct me if I am wrong) ($1200)

    I should be future proofed for a few years with those spec I HOPE!

    Thanks again for all the great guidance!


  8. chrismacguy macrumors 68000

    Feb 13, 2009
    United Kingdom
    The only thing Id say, is go to 24GB RAM first (Just half the chips to get to 48) - and see if you can survive there (Or even only go to 12) - and then upgrade as and when the RAM prices for the large chips come down, that should save you plenty of dough to put towards the inevitable FCP 11 and Adobe CS6 upgrades and beyond)
  9. goMac macrumors 604

    Apr 15, 2004
    Depends entirely what you're editing. You can't get in trouble having too much RAM, but that's certainly quite a bit. :)

    It's hard to decide on these things until FCPX ships, but I'd go with at least 16 gigs.
  10. beto2k7 macrumors 6502

    Jan 6, 2010
    June 2011, Mac AppStore. For $299
  11. wonderspark macrumors 68040


    Feb 4, 2010
    For what it's worth, I'm using a 2009 Mac Pro Quad 3.33GHz with 16GB of RAM from OWC, which I used to edit a feature-length movie (142 min running time) using CS3 / CS5. Media on a 3-disc RAID 0. I was editing DVCProHD 1080/24p in three streams with effects on all three streams at times. Depending on how much you pile on, I only had to render a few bits to see them real time. It usually played without rendering.

    I started off using the 4870, then 5870, then nVidia GTX285, which I then switched back to 5870, which seems most stable/fastest. The Mercury works fine with the GTX285, but other things like After Effects work a lot nicer with the 5870, and it makes sense for my work.

    Incidentally, this is 100% OSX as well. It was my first time working with P2 footage, and I was really impressed with how smooth it went. My biggest issue was encoding to Blu-ray, with I figured out the tricks and no longer have any problems with. I'd get 24 or 32GB of RAM, but it seems like 16GB works fine for now, and I'm buying more mics and other production gear right now, since the Mac is doing just fine as is.
  12. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008

    And as the OP's interested in a DP system, there's less of a chance RDIMM's would be needed due to 8x DIMM slots (Samsung does make 8GB UDIMM's if required, but they're hard to find ATM, and are a bit pricey as they're the only vendor currently producing chips with that high a density that a register chip isn't needed).
  13. derbothaus macrumors 601


    Jul 17, 2010
    FWIW I have never had any issues with Crucial replacement warranties. They don't even ask you. Just ship back and in 2 days I have new sticks. I have dealt with them over 20 times for replacement sticks, maybe more, for years. Not a major issue with their quality, I just support hundreds of Mac's all with 3rd party memory upgrades. So I do have to replace but usually I replace the Corsairs or Best Buy brand some department head buys for their Mac Pro with the Crucials as they have "unexpected" results. I like the company, they are local to me (roughly) and I support them. Are they more expensive? Yes. But so is Apple HW.

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