Which Macbook to buy

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by axeldtf, Apr 19, 2016.

  1. axeldtf macrumors 6502

    Mar 3, 2007
    I just ordered a DSLR camera which besides taking great photos it also shoots video at 4k.. I'm looking for a macbook to eventually edit and export these videos. I'm also not looking to break the bank for this purchase. What kind of horsepower do i need to run Final cut pro and work with 4k videos without much lag? Will a macbook air do the trick or do i have to go directly to the pro? I'm also open to refurbs and past year models. Thanks in advance!
  2. dwfaust macrumors 601


    Jul 3, 2011
    I am here => [•]
    FCPX will choke a MBA quickly. You need a pretty highly-spec'ed MBP... 16gb RAM, SSD and a quad core processor.
  3. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Final Cut Pro allows you to edit "proxy media". It converts you 4K video to something much smaller. Then you work with this down sized copy while editing. After you are done it can apply all the cuts to the full resolution file. This way you could actually edit on a mac book air.

    The problem you will find is not the lack of power (proxy media soles that problem) but lack of screen space. A 13" screen is very small for an app like FCP. Even my 27" iMac screen gets cluttered. You are going to need an external monitor. But you'd need one anyways to view the 4K video. So whatever Mac you buy, refurb or whatever that it can drive an external 4K monitor

    The internal SSD is way to small for holding all your video files but what you do is copy just the files you are using to the library on the internal SSD then swap them back to a much larger external disk or NAS. Buy the Mac that can support multiple FAST disk drives. You will be moving lots of data and you don't want to be stuck with USB2

    Backup will be an issue with all that data.

    You don't really need an ultra fast CPU to edit proxy media but you need lots of fast storage, lots of RAM, at lest 16GB and of course a 4K external monitor.
    --- Post Merged, Apr 19, 2016 ---
    My daughter uses her MBA to edit 1024p video and it works well evan with only 8GB of RAM. The problem is filing up the SSD and having to be swapping files between internal and external libraries. Yes you can mess with the settings and cause FCP to choke on an MBA but you can also set it up with down sampled proxy files and it runs well. OK well until it comes time to render and it might run for an hour, do that when you are not sitting in front of the computer And yes you do have to wait while the big video files are down sampled. In theory you can beginning editing while the down sampling goes on in the background. Maybe this works on a Mac Pro, in the MBA you have to wait for the import to finish before you can edit without lag.

    The bigger problem is screen space. By the time you have several time line tracks and your library and there viewer window your screen is over filled and you do to much scrolling and hiding and re-exposing windows
  4. keysofanxiety macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    The current 15" rMBP will handle everything you can throw at it without any quarrels. Especially if you're working with 4K videos, you can never have too much horsepower. I'd steer clear from the 13" rMBP or any other Mac portable.
  5. tjwilliams25 macrumors 6502

    Aug 10, 2014
    I agree that editing with proxy is going to be your best option, but think about how long you are willing to wait for the encoding to be done. Weigh that with how much you are willing to spend and get the machine that will meet your needs. All of the current MBPs are well capable of editing media, it's just how fast and efficiently it does so. As an editor, I prefer having the quickest turnaround time possible. I went cheap with my last Mac and I paid for it dearly with insanely long export times. Granted, the cheapest options now are actually very capable machines, but it's definitely something to keep in mind.

    Also, think about being able to edit on a small screen. Now that I've upgraded to a 5k iMac I don't think I'll ever be able to go back. It makes editing quite a bit easier as you can have a nice large timeline to work with, but also have enough screen real estate to view 4k natively.
  6. axeldtf thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mar 3, 2007
    Thanks for the responses.. I was hoping a mba would be sufficient especially for the portability and the price.. I may be better off with an imac i think.
  7. dollystereo macrumors 6502a


    Oct 6, 2004
    I edit full HD video in a Core2Duo macbook from 2008. Just use proxy media.
    Any modern macbook Pro 13/15 will do. You don't even need that much ram. Anyway, Final Cut is designed to work with proxy or optimised media, native formats in general are so heavily compressed that they would choke any CPU. Once the media is converted to proxy, your macbook will fly over it, besides proxy media quality is pretty good for showing to clients or even youtube. You could easily work in a macbook air on the go, just get some storage, a good and cheap USB3 HD will do.
    I would recommend the Macbook Pro 13", the cpu is faster than the air and the screen is way better.
  8. Meister Suspended


    Oct 10, 2013
    In short:
    The 15" rmbp preferably with dgpu.

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