What do i spec up to make FCS run brilliantly?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Mr-Stabby, Dec 29, 2007.

  1. Mr-Stabby macrumors 6502

    Sep 1, 2004
    Hi all. Thanks in advance for any help you can give me.

    I run Final Cut Studio 2 on my Power Mac G5 Dual Core, and even though at the time i bought my Power Mac, i beefed it up with the best options it could get, i seriously am reaching the limits of what the machine can do, especially with real-time playback of 3D animation in Motion, so i need a new machine.

    I'm going to wait until the new Mac Pro comes out (Hopefully at MacWorld) but i need to know what to spec up, so would be grateful if you could tell me what i need based on what i need to do.

    1) I use Final Cut Pro and edit in HDV, the rendering times are stupidly long. I'll need a machine with faster render times, what part of the computer does rendering use up, processor, ram??

    2) Also in Final Cut Pro, i use the RT Extreme to play back effects i've added on without rendering. What resources does RT use that need to be specced up to make them as fast as possible.

    3) Most importantly, i've started doing a lot of 3D animation in Motion 3. I'd love to use real-time playback of what i'm animating and be able to set variables of keyframes whilst it's playing back, but my current machine just can't cope. I hear Motion 3 uses the graphics card for real-time playback, so would i just get the best graphics card available when the new machines come out, would adding more than 1 graphics card help?

    Sorry for all the questions, but i'm putting aside about £3500 for this machine, so want to get it right :)
  2. jsw Moderator emeritus


    Mar 16, 2004
    Andover, MA
    £3500 should buy you all you need. :)

    I think you're looking at a weakest-link sort of situation, but there's not going to be a problem making sure all your links are strong enough.

    First, you'll need a ton of disk space, and you'll probably not want to have the OS and your scratch disks be one and the same, so you'll want at least two drives, and obviously you don't want a bad drive causing a loss of data, so I'm guessing you'll want a 500GB or so drive for the OS+apps, and a pair of 750GB or 1TB drives for your editing needs (one serving as a backup, possibly mirrored). You'll want SATA speeds, so either get drives to be installed internally (3rd party ones are fine) or make sure you can connect with eSATA (which I'm guessing the new MPs will come with).

    Second, make sure you have enough RAM. Too much RAM won't speed things up, but I think 4GB is probably a reasonable minimum which you can expand later if needed.

    Third, CPU speed is important, but I think any MP you buy will be sufficient as long as you avoid the slowest one (which would be fine as well, just not as fine).

    Finally, I think the GPU can be used, as you said, but I don't know if it's possible to multithread the rendering, nor do I know if multiple GPUs can be used, so I'd start with just one decent graphics card (no need to buy top of the line).

    CPU is essentially locked down once you buy. Everything else can be upgraded. If it were me, I'd get a octo-core (which I expect to be in a midlevel model soon), get 4GB of 3rd party RAM, buy two third-party drives, and order an upgraded GPU.

    £3500 might be a lot more than you need to spend.
  3. THX1139 macrumors 68000


    Mar 4, 2006
    AFAIK, FCS is not fully optimized to use 100% of all processors (yet). Don't believe me? Try rendering out a section while keeping an eye on Activity Monitor. Still, processor speed is going to make a difference and at least 4GB of ram is going to help speed up rendering (the more the better, but there are software related issues that give diminishing returns). I have also ran test with a RAID0 setup and saw no difference. It might have been that FCS wasn't hitting the scratch disk because I had 6GB of ram and it was NTSC compressed video. HD video is going to take up more resources. I need to run some tests in Leopard to see if any of this has changed now that we have 64bit.

    RT Extreme is ram and processor intensive. Depending on how many applications you run at the same time you will need ram to support them. I suggest 4-6GB for FCS. More if you can afford it.

    If you are thinking of doing SLI with 2 video cards, forget it. Apple doesn't support that, so if you hook up more than one video card they will run independently. The only benefit is if you want to run separate cards for more than one monitor. Currently, the best option for the MacPro is the rather outdated (and expensive for what you get) X1900.

    If you really want maximize your system, you'll probably want to look for some 3rd party rendering and raid solutions. That's where it starts to get really expensive.
  4. iris_failsafe macrumors 6502


    May 4, 2004
    San Francisco, CA
    What u need is a video card that accelerates final cut and gives u professional inputs outputs. I really like AJA products if u want to really speed things up that is the way to go


    This is their website and if u only work with SD card can be very affordable. This cards give your realtime editing so u dont have to render anymore as other benefits like SDI ports BNC XLR and so on...

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