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Which graphic cards for new FCS workstation

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Eric Susch
Which graphic cards for new FCS workstation
on Sep 27, 2009 at 12:09:31 am

I’m building a new Final Cut Studio workstation and I’m wondering how to configure the graphic cards. My first instinct was to go for the higher end ATI Radeon HD 4870 512MB but what about TWO of the lower end NVIDIA GeForce GT 120 512MB.

Can you hook two of the NVIDIA cards together via SLI like you can on a window’s machine? Would this give you more graphics power in Motion? Would I also be able to run three monitors with two NVIDIA cards linked in SLI mode? (That’s a lower priority but it would be nice.)

Any help is appreciated.

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Eric Susch

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Noah Kadner
Re: Which graphic cards for new FCS workstation
on Sep 27, 2009 at 4:43:22 pm

FCS works best with a single card- not two. In fact AFAIK Motion cannot do anything of the sort of SLI combination you're talking about.

Noah

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Jason Myres
Re: Which graphic cards for new FCS workstation
on Sep 28, 2009 at 12:15:21 am

Noah's right, SLI isn't supported in OS X, so strapping two video cards together won't be possible until Apple makes those changes at the operating system level.

As far as using two video cards with FCP, that's difficult as Final Cut often addresses the GPU directly and this causes problems when you have more than one video card installed. Apple's Kbase article on it is here:

http://support.apple.com/kb/TS1828

To avoid problems, the current wisdom is to get the best single video card you can afford. If you want an Nvidia that would be the GTX285, or if you have the cash, a Quadro 4800. There have been some problems with Nvidia drivers in the recent past though, and people have reported Nvidia cards under-perform in Macs when compared to PCs. Nvidia is working on this, though.

Since you are using FCS, a really good option with awesome performance, and minimal issues is the Radeon 4870. If I was spec'ing out anything mission-critical, this is the card I would go with as ATI offers great OS X driver support, it will work in any Mac Pro, and it absolutely smokes if you're a heavy user of Color or Motion. A good recent comparison is available here:

http://www.barefeats.com/nehal14.html

Also, do not confuse video game performance with performance in FCS; they are not the same. If you take a look at the article above, while the 4870 is quite a bit slower in Call of Duty, it is absolutely toe-to-toe with both the GTX285 and the Quadro (an $1800 card) in the Motion benchmarks.

One last tip: if you can, use a single larger display, rather than two smaller displays, as two displays will effectively cut the available video ram to each display in half, which isn't good as FCS leverages vram heavily.

JM




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Eric Susch
Re: Which graphic cards for new FCS workstation
on Sep 28, 2009 at 5:41:06 pm

Thanks for the info and links. That clears up a lot.

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Eric Susch

http://www.LetsKnit2gether.com

http://www.EricSusch.com

Follow me on twitter @EricSusch


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david bogie
Re: Which graphic cards for new FCS workstation
on Sep 29, 2009 at 7:21:06 pm

We put 4870s in our systems a few weeks ago. I will never buy another nvidia card not ever. And a few days after we ordered our cards, the 5870 was announced. Sigh.

The multiple graphics cards issues for Final Cut have all been resolved in FCP7, AFAICT on my machines. The problem was always with some of the FXPlugs that came with Motion, they'd work in Motion with multiple cards that were running multiple displays but they'd fail in FCP on the same machine. Very poor programming from Apple. Other apple apps like Aperture will break if you are running more than two cards, though.

bogiesan



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