Will this be better for FCPX?

dasx

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Jun 18, 2012
1,098
17
Barcelona
Hi!

I edit video as a full time job on my end-2014 5K Retina iMac. (Full specs at the end of post). I use FCPX to edit 4K h264. I usually use 2-3 tracks of video (all 4K) and 4-5 tracks of audio in the same timeline, switching to one or the other depending on the needs. Projects are usually 1-3h long.

My iMac is starting to get very slow when editing those projects, and I can't do anything while exporting anymore, since it sometimes gets too hot and shuts down. (Out of warranty already).

Since it seems the new Mac Pro is still pretty far away in the future, and my laptop needs to be refreshed (2009 MBP), I've been wondering if the current generation 15" MBP would outperform my 5K Retina. The reason why is because that would allow me to sell my iMac and get a little better MBP in the time I wait for the new (...) Mac Pro. (I already own a monitor so no problem there).

Thank you!

P.S: iMac Specs:
  • i7 4GHz (Haswell?)
  • 32GB 1600MHz DDR3
  • 512GB SSD
  • AMD Radeon R9 M295X 4096
 

MarkJames68

macrumors 6502
Sep 24, 2017
394
246
Hi!

I edit video as a full time job on my end-2014 5K Retina iMac. (Full specs at the end of post). I use FCPX to edit 4K h264. I usually use 2-3 tracks of video (all 4K) and 4-5 tracks of audio in the same timeline, switching to one or the other depending on the needs. Projects are usually 1-3h long.

My iMac is starting to get very slow when editing those projects, and I can't do anything while exporting anymore, since it sometimes gets too hot and shuts down. (Out of warranty already).

Since it seems the new Mac Pro is still pretty far away in the future, and my laptop needs to be refreshed (2009 MBP), I've been wondering if the current generation 15" MBP would outperform my 5K Retina. The reason why is because that would allow me to sell my iMac and get a little better MBP in the time I wait for the new (...) Mac Pro. (I already own a monitor so no problem there).

Thank you!

P.S: iMac Specs:
  • i7 4GHz (Haswell?)
  • 32GB 1600MHz DDR3
  • 512GB SSD
  • AMD Radeon R9 M295X 4096
Problem is that the MBP also uses a laptop GPU and will be subject to throttling. It all comes down to working within a certain power envelope, and when you run tasks - like certain effects or transcoding - that peg the CPU/GPU it hits a thermal wall.

I bet your iMac will retain its value, so another iMac may make sense. I’d say that a Mac Pro would happily work all day without shutting down or throttling, but may not speed your tasks much. You could always try a 6-core for $2999 and return it if it’s not your thing.
 

leon771

macrumors regular
Sep 17, 2011
203
51
Australia
Have you explored an eGPU solution such as the RX580 with a new MBP? Not sure how the 580 performs in FCPX. There may be something on barefeats.com

Perhaps even a 5,1 Mac Pro with dual RX580’s?
 
Last edited:

dasx

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Jun 18, 2012
1,098
17
Barcelona
Problem is that the MBP also uses a laptop GPU and will be subject to throttling. It all comes down to working within a certain power envelope, and when you run tasks - like certain effects or transcoding - that peg the CPU/GPU it hits a thermal wall.

I bet your iMac will retain its value, so another iMac may make sense. I’d say that a Mac Pro would happily work all day without shutting down or throttling, but may not speed your tasks much. You could always try a 6-core for $2999 and return it if it’s not your thing.
So in the end, between my 2014 5K iMac and a current full spec MBP it wouldn't be much difference?

I am indeed waiting for the new Mac Pro, but I don't wanna pay €3,500.00 for 2013 hardware... the iMac Pro would be a way to go, but again, I don't wanna pay €5000 (minimum) for a hardware that is gonna be underclocked just so it can be run without thermal issues due to the iMac form factor.

That's why my idea was to just get a new laptop so it would cover my needs to edit on the go and use it in the meantime as a main machine with external monitor, keyboard, etc.

Have you explored an eGPU solution such as the RX580 with a new MBP? Not sure how the 580 performs in FCPX. There may be something on barefeats.com

Perhaps even a 5,1 Mac Pro with dual RX580’s?
A decent 5,1 MP for my workflow, in the case I found one, would probably be a little expensive too, considering a new Mac Pro shouldn't take more than another year or so... :/

Thanks guys!
 

Radiomarko

macrumors member
May 6, 2008
64
10
UK & Russia
Hi!

...
My iMac is starting to get very slow when editing those projects, and I can't do anything while exporting anymore, since it sometimes gets too hot and shuts down. (Out of warranty already).

...
As you say "starting to get" it's worth opening up/asking a reputable service centre to open up the iMac and:

1. Check fan and temp sensor operation are within specification.
2. Clean the fans and airflow routes of dust and fluff- a major cause of gradual temperature increase.
3. Check that any thermal paste between CPU & GPU and their heatsinks has not aged too much ( I'm not familiar with this exact model regarding those structures but worth checking if possible.

If that brings about no improvement I suggest a complete re-install of OS X and your edit software as a last resort. There may be processes running that shouldn't be, you can check this with Activity Monitor ofc. imho any >4k capable edit iMac is best dedicated to that task, installing and using other applications on it is asking for trouble, as others have noted they just don't have the raw power to cope with the demands of >4K in FCP X and have hidden "helper apps" and other unnecessary processes running as well.
 

MarkJames68

macrumors 6502
Sep 24, 2017
394
246
I agree about having it looked at. It’s one thing for a system to throttle under heat load, it’s another to shut down entirely. I would do this for a few hundred Euro before buying something else - unless this is typical behavior for the iMac (it shouldn’t be).
 

dasx

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Jun 18, 2012
1,098
17
Barcelona
As you say "starting to get" it's worth opening up/asking a reputable service centre to open up the iMac and:

1. Check fan and temp sensor operation are within specification.
2. Clean the fans and airflow routes of dust and fluff- a major cause of gradual temperature increase.
3. Check that any thermal paste between CPU & GPU and their heatsinks has not aged too much ( I'm not familiar with this exact model regarding those structures but worth checking if possible.

If that brings about no improvement I suggest a complete re-install of OS X and your edit software as a last resort. There may be processes running that shouldn't be, you can check this with Activity Monitor ofc. imho any >4k capable edit iMac is best dedicated to that task, installing and using other applications on it is asking for trouble, as others have noted they just don't have the raw power to cope with the demands of >4K in FCP X and have hidden "helper apps" and other unnecessary processes running as well.
You probably are very right, I should have it checked, but as a self-employed I'm like 13h a day working, 9h of those with the iMac. Also, I could arrange it so I am 1-2 days without it, but more... I'd be screwed!

Again, I know I should and I probably will, but I'll do it the other way around. I plan on re-formatting soon, so that'll be the first test.

I agree about having it looked at. It’s one thing for a system to throttle under heat load, it’s another to shut down entirely. I would do this for a few hundred Euro before buying something else - unless this is typical behavior for the iMac (it shouldn’t be).
I gotta say that it doesn't really shut down. It's exporting, and usually GPU temp is around its maximum, 104-106ºC (CPU is fine). Sometimes, when I'm doing stuff with it at the same time, GPU temp will go over 107ºC, even 108 or 109ºC and computer will go to a black screen with just a cursor and then, after 3-7 seconds, pitch black (no cursor) and fans off. After another 15s or if I press ESC, computer wakes up again and repeats the process, unless I quickly cancel the exporting.

It's obviously GPU related, but I've read these iMacs all show these kind of issues so I just kind of learned to live with it until I can get a new Mac Pro... whenever that comes.

Thanks!
 

DearthnVader

macrumors 6502a
Dec 17, 2015
896
4,873
Red Springs, NC
You probably are very right, I should have it checked, but as a self-employed I'm like 13h a day working, 9h of those with the iMac. Also, I could arrange it so I am 1-2 days without it, but more... I'd be screwed!

Again, I know I should and I probably will, but I'll do it the other way around. I plan on re-formatting soon, so that'll be the first test.



I gotta say that it doesn't really shut down. It's exporting, and usually GPU temp is around its maximum, 104-106ºC (CPU is fine). Sometimes, when I'm doing stuff with it at the same time, GPU temp will go over 107ºC, even 108 or 109ºC and computer will go to a black screen with just a cursor and then, after 3-7 seconds, pitch black (no cursor) and fans off. After another 15s or if I press ESC, computer wakes up again and repeats the process, unless I quickly cancel the exporting.

It's obviously GPU related, but I've read these iMacs all show these kind of issues so I just kind of learned to live with it until I can get a new Mac Pro... whenever that comes.

Thanks!
Sounds like you would need the top end 15" MacBook Pro with quad-core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 4.1GHz, with 8MB shared L3 cache, and Radeon Pro 560 with 4GB of GDDR5 memory.

Likely it would not be a lot faster than your iMac, and if you think you get thermal issues with an iMac, just imagine what you'll see with a MBP.

I think the iMac Pro's ship in Dec., and I imagine that Apple will take care that you won't see a lot of thermal issues on the Pro model. I really think what you are doing is Apple's target market for these machines.
 

dasx

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Jun 18, 2012
1,098
17
Barcelona
Sounds like you would need the top end 15" MacBook Pro with quad-core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 4.1GHz, with 8MB shared L3 cache, and Radeon Pro 560 with 4GB of GDDR5 memory.

Likely it would not be a lot faster than your iMac, and if you think you get thermal issues with an iMac, just imagine what you'll see with a MBP.

I think the iMac Pro's ship in Dec., and I imagine that Apple will take care that you won't see a lot of thermal issues on the Pro model. I really think what you are doing is Apple's target market for these machines.
Yeah, I've considered the new iMac Pro, but I have 2,5 issues with it:
  • I don't want to be forced to buy a screen too, and the iMac Pro, as a regular iMac, comes with one. Don't get me wrong, it's a great screen, but some time after purchasing my current iMac I bought a good monitor that I'm very comfortable with, don't really need another one, since lately I'm just using that one and only have mail + twitter on the "main" iMac screen.
  • It's gonna be downclocked just so it doesn't overheat. They're building a Pro machine with pro components and they need to underclock them to keep aesthetics. I'm pretty sure they're not gonna underprice the CPU or any other component for that matter.
  • Bonus The new Mac Pro will still take some time to come, but it won't be 3 years... my guess is it'll be 1 year or maybe 1,5 years tops, so spending now a minimum of €6000 (around $7000) on the iMac Pro is... a little stupid imo. (I know the base one is gonna be $4999, but in Europe Apple has the brilliant idea of 1$ = 1€, also add a 21% of taxes from my country and some extra euros that they sometimes add...
I just wish they released the Mac Pro already... Maybe they do take 3 more years to launch it, but I'm not sure I can afford to risk it. :/
 

CC88

macrumors regular
Sep 29, 2010
141
17
You can check geek bench value of both iMac and macpro 6 core and evaluate but I'm pretty sure you will not improve in speed too much. Maybe an 8 core.
 

mp2017

macrumors regular
Sep 24, 2017
123
58
I am indeed waiting for the new Mac Pro, but I don't wanna pay €3,500.00 for 2013 hardware... the iMac Pro would be a way to go, but again, I don't wanna pay €5000 (minimum) for a hardware that is gonna be underclocked just so it can be run without thermal issues due to the iMac form factor.
It sounds as if the 6,1 Mac Pro would be something to consider. It may be 2013 technology but if it allows you to complete your work more effectively then it's a win for you. Even if it isn't any faster for your work it's unlikely to suffer from thermal throttling like your iMac (or even a new MBP). Buy a used one, use it, and then sell it once Apple releases the new Mac Pro.
 

dasx

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Jun 18, 2012
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Barcelona
You can check geek bench value of both iMac and macpro 6 core and evaluate but I'm pretty sure you will not improve in speed too much. Maybe an 8 core.
I'm positive export times would be actually a little longer due to h264 and quicksync on the iMac, but that doesn't bother me much to be honest. I prefer getting rid of the choppiness while editing and these randoms "blackouts".

It sounds as if the 6,1 Mac Pro would be something to consider. It may be 2013 technology but if it allows you to complete your work more effectively then it's a win for you. Even if it isn't any faster for your work it's unlikely to suffer from thermal throttling like your iMac (or even a new MBP). Buy a used one, use it, and then sell it once Apple releases the new Mac Pro.
I've thought about it, but I can only find quad cores on sale (used), and I don't think that would represent any real advantage. And new... well, not gonna pay that much for 2013 hardware!

I think my options (given that I don't have unlimited budget) come down to re-installing OS and see, and if problem persist have the iMac checked. Then just hang in there until the Mac Pro comes, either with a functional -but slowish- iMac or a shutting down one :/

In the end though, reading all of you I conclude that no MBP would really help me here. It's either wait or -kind of- waste some money on old hardware.

Thanks!
 

mp2017

macrumors regular
Sep 24, 2017
123
58
I've thought about it, but I can only find quad cores on sale (used), and I don't think that would represent any real advantage. And new... well, not gonna pay that much for 2013 hardware!
Performance wise it may not be beneficial but from a reliability / stability standpoint it is likely to be very beneficial. While I understand the rational behind your 2013 hardware comment you really need to quit thinking that way. If it offers you benefit then it's something you should consider doing. The only reason not to do so is if there is some competing option you're considering (which doesn't appear to be the case). I don't want to spend your money but if the purchase of a system based on older technology offers you benefit then it's worth consideration.
 

MarkJames68

macrumors 6502
Sep 24, 2017
394
246
I'm positive export times would be actually a little longer due to h264 and quicksync on the iMac, but that doesn't bother me much to be honest. I prefer getting rid of the choppiness while editing and these randoms "blackouts".



I've thought about it, but I can only find quad cores on sale (used), and I don't think that would represent any real advantage. And new... well, not gonna pay that much for 2013 hardware!

I think my options (given that I don't have unlimited budget) come down to re-installing OS and see, and if problem persist have the iMac checked. Then just hang in there until the Mac Pro comes, either with a functional -but slowish- iMac or a shutting down one :/

In the end though, reading all of you I conclude that no MBP would really help me here. It's either wait or -kind of- waste some money on old hardware.

Thanks!
If you are skilled and patient, you can easily upgrade the CPU. 6-cores are going for around $100 now on eBay. I just bought OEM equivalent Hynix RAM, 64GB for $240 shipped. If you got a used quad core for $1600 you are talking ~$2000 for a 6-core, 64GB machine plus a few bucks for tools and CPU paste.
 
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kohlson

macrumors 68000
Apr 23, 2010
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Couple things to consider:
- Take a library file into an Apple store and load it up on a a Mac you're considering. See how it goes.
- A cMP, maxed out. The forum is fill with people doing this. While the CPU is getting along in the years, you can get dual 6-core 3.4GHz CPUs, 32/64/128 memory, and 4-6 bays for disk. Add in an RX580 and a USB3 card and you have something that may work for awhile.
 

Flint Ironstag

macrumors 6502a
Dec 1, 2013
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Houston, TX USA
I think my options (given that I don't have unlimited budget) come down to re-installing OS and see, and if problem persist have the iMac checked.
Just in case you didn't know, or for anyone else - you can install a fresh OS on an external drive and boot from that. Save you the hassle of making an additional bootable backup, etc.
 

DearthnVader

macrumors 6502a
Dec 17, 2015
896
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Red Springs, NC
If you are skilled and patient, you can easily upgrade the CPU. 6-cores are going for around $100 now on eBay. I just bought OEM equivalent Hynix RAM, 64GB for $240 shipped. If you got a used quad core for $1600 you are talking ~$2000 for a 6-core, 64GB machine plus a few bucks for tools and CPU paste.
That not really a bad option, there.
 

MarkJames68

macrumors 6502
Sep 24, 2017
394
246
That not really a bad option, there.
...and it gets better. Once drivers get sorted out on the eGPU side a Vega 56 or 64 (depending on eGPU box PSU) will also help on the video side.

Need more yet fast storage? The AKiTiO Thunder2 Quad Mini is around $250 at B&H and you can easily load up with spinners or SSDs. I have a 4TB HDD, 1TB SSD and 2 512 SSDs running in RAID 0.

The 3 separate TB2 busses are what really help the 2013 Pro.
 

dasx

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Jun 18, 2012
1,098
17
Barcelona
Performance wise it may not be beneficial but from a reliability / stability standpoint it is likely to be very beneficial. While I understand the rational behind your 2013 hardware comment you really need to quit thinking that way. If it offers you benefit then it's something you should consider doing. The only reason not to do so is if there is some competing option you're considering (which doesn't appear to be the case). I don't want to spend your money but if the purchase of a system based on older technology offers you benefit then it's worth consideration.
Yeah, that's true, that's why I'm talking assuming a one more year of wait for the new Mac Pro. It it was (is) 3 more years, then a current Mac Pro would probably be worth it. My point is, for just 1 year, I can find workarounds and make compromises. 3 years? No.

If you are skilled and patient, you can easily upgrade the CPU. 6-cores are going for around $100 now on eBay. I just bought OEM equivalent Hynix RAM, 64GB for $240 shipped. If you got a used quad core for $1600 you are talking ~$2000 for a 6-core, 64GB machine plus a few bucks for tools and CPU paste.
You mean updates CPU and RAM on my iMac? The main issue with mine is the overheating of the GPU, if I throw in a CPU with a higher TDP I think I'll directly melt it!

Couple things to consider:
- Take a library file into an Apple store and load it up on a a Mac you're considering. See how it goes.
- A cMP, maxed out. The forum is fill with people doing this. While the CPU is getting along in the years, you can get dual 6-core 3.4GHz CPUs, 32/64/128 memory, and 4-6 bays for disk. Add in an RX580 and a USB3 card and you have something that may work for awhile.
Are we talking a hackintosh here? That's something I've considered and something I would've done some years ago, but right now I'm too dependent on my machine being stable. For what I've read hackintoshes are prone to have a loooot of software issues and instabilities.

Yes, my iMac "shuts down" from time to time, but just hitting cancel and exporting again solves it. No lost projects, no actual reboots, no failures, no nothing.

Just in case you didn't know, or for anyone else - you can install a fresh OS on an external drive and boot from that. Save you the hassle of making an additional bootable backup, etc.
That's a very good reminder, I will definitely try that once I have a spare weekend, at least before full formatting the iMac!
 

MarkJames68

macrumors 6502
Sep 24, 2017
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Yeah, that's true, that's why I'm talking assuming a one more year of wait for the new Mac Pro. It it was (is) 3 more years, then a current Mac Pro would probably be worth it. My point is, for just 1 year, I can find workarounds and make compromises. 3 years? No.

You mean updates CPU and RAM on my iMac? The main issue with mine is the overheating of the GPU, if I throw in a CPU with a higher TDP I think I'll directly melt it!
No, I meant a base model nMP bought on eBay or some other way.

Are we talking a hackintosh here? That's something I've considered and something I would've done some years ago, but right now I'm too dependent on my machine being stable. For what I've read hackintoshes are prone to have a loooot of software issues and instabilities.
I would not trust a Hackintosh unless you get it to the point where it is stable and you make zero updates. While it’s not some magical or evil thing the fact that you are running different hardware means you may get non-standard behavior. I’ve built and run them and they generally work ok, except for this or that. The fun is when you upgrade macOS and then something breaks.

If you have the time and patience perhaps build one - maybe just for exporting projects? That would let you see for sure if a faster/better machine helps your workflow.

Yes, my iMac "shuts down" from time to time, but just hitting cancel and exporting again solves it. No lost projects, no actual reboots, no failures, no nothing.
If you can tolerate this then it’s probably not a problem to wait a year or two and see how things develop.
 

mp2017

macrumors regular
Sep 24, 2017
123
58
Yeah, that's true, that's why I'm talking assuming a one more year of wait for the new Mac Pro. It it was (is) 3 more years, then a current Mac Pro would probably be worth it. My point is, for just 1 year, I can find workarounds and make compromises. 3 years? No.
Will it be a year wait? Remember Apple hasn't provided any indication of when the new Mac Pro will be released. You could be waiting longer than a year.
 

MarkJames68

macrumors 6502
Sep 24, 2017
394
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Will it be a year wait? Remember Apple hasn't provided any indication of when the new Mac Pro will be released. You could be waiting longer than a year.
Exactly. If I got a dollar for every “Mac Pro 2014/2015/2016/2017 refresh” thread on the internet I would be a wealthy man.

Best guess is an announcement late next year, but ship date, price, configuration are all mysteries.
[doublepost=1508932987][/doublepost]Another question - would distributing exporting via Compressor be an option? Could then share the load with any other Mac.
 

xWhiplash

macrumors 68000
Oct 21, 2009
1,804
709
So in the end, between my 2014 5K iMac and a current full spec MBP it wouldn't be much difference?

I am indeed waiting for the new Mac Pro, but I don't wanna pay €3,500.00 for 2013 hardware... the iMac Pro would be a way to go, but again, I don't wanna pay €5000 (minimum) for a hardware that is gonna be underclocked just so it can be run without thermal issues due to the iMac form factor.

That's why my idea was to just get a new laptop so it would cover my needs to edit on the go and use it in the meantime as a main machine with external monitor, keyboard, etc.



A decent 5,1 MP for my workflow, in the case I found one, would probably be a little expensive too, considering a new Mac Pro shouldn't take more than another year or so... :/

Thanks guys!
I think you would be surprised how well the iMac Pro can run. Especially since Apple seems to be in a "Sorry Pro users" phase. They reworked the thermals of the iMac design so I think it will be fine. They do not want to piss of their pro users any more by providing a crappy iMac Pro. But be aware that this will be a gen 1 hardware version, so issues may come up.
 
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h9826790

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Apr 3, 2014
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Are we talking a hackintosh here? That's something I've considered and something I would've done some years ago, but right now I'm too dependent on my machine being stable. For what I've read hackintoshes are prone to have a loooot of software issues and instabilities.
No, it’s a Mac Pro, a real Mac, native MacOS support, not Hackintosh. And it’s a powerful, reliable, relatively low cost FCPX machine now.