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Performance issues - video card related?

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Eddie Adams
Performance issues - video card related?
on Mar 23, 2013 at 4:01:23 am

So I'm running my new Hackintosh build with ML 10.8 and FCP X. Build features i5 3.7 quad core, 32GB RAM, a 120 SanDisk Extreme SSD, and a 1TB WD Black HDD. Motherboard uses the Intel HD 4000 GPU, 64MB memory.

When using FCP X, I still see performance issues - mostly in the load times for clips into the viewer, and lags when the waveforms are loading in clips on the timeline (especially when zooming in/out). Another issue that keeps popping up is the skimming doesn't always "activate" when using the range selection tool - regardless of hitting the S key on/off. Releasing the mouse and trying a second time using lets it work - but why doesnt it work the first time? System lag?

Seeing how my system is pretty well built for software like this - could my performance issues be stemming from the lack of a separate video card? What performance increases can be expected from adding on a 1GB video card to a system?

Thanks.


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Michael Garber
Re: Performance issues - video card related?
on Mar 23, 2013 at 4:42:05 am

I'd recommend an i7 and getting a separate GPU. I have an Nvidia 680GTX. My Hackintosh is pretty much equal to my top-end iMac and the benchmarks are the same. FCPX feels more fluid and I can do separate renders and exports with no issues.

Michael Garber
5th Wall - a post production company
Blog: GARBERSHOP


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Bret Williams
Re: Performance issues - video card related?
on Mar 23, 2013 at 4:49:00 am

Yeah, what he has there is the same build basically as a low end MacBook Pro, which my wife has. i5, integrated graphics. Not a dog by any means, but the graphics card is the problem. The i5 would likely just slow down render time and give less rt playback when effects are involved.

I'd turn off all filmstrips and waveforms until you need them if they're bogging it down.


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Steve Connor
Re: Performance issues - video card related?
on Mar 23, 2013 at 11:49:12 am

Yes, It's mostly a graphics card problem. Why go to the trouble of building a Hackintosh and not adding a decent GPU?

Steve Connor

There's nothing we can't argue about on the FCPX COW Forum


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Eddie Adams
Re: Performance issues - video card related?
on Mar 23, 2013 at 6:36:43 pm

I haven't bought one yet because of financial reasons, didn't have the extra $250 to drop on a good GPU so was waiting. Would a good budget option be something like the EVGA GTX 650 1GB, which can be purchased at newegg for $80 right now?


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Bret Williams
Re: Performance issues - video card related?
on Mar 24, 2013 at 4:04:58 am

I dunno. Is it an Apple listed card that supports FCP X? How much have you spent on the hackintosh? They just don't look like that much of a savings in my meager research.


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Michael Garber
Re: Performance issues - video card related?
on Mar 24, 2013 at 4:18:24 am

Agreed on the savings issues. It was fun to build and I'm glad that it works. But, the real place you lose is in resale value and time invested. Spend less up front, make less on the back end. If I had to do it again? Well, I'm a nyerd, so I'd probably build the Hackintosh ;-P.

It boils down to this: what I really got out of it is a super-stable and fast PC that also happens to boot OS X. Whereas, if I'd spent more on an Apple product, it would have been the reverse.

Michael Garber
5th Wall - a post production company
Blog: GARBERSHOP


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Eddie Adams
Re: Performance issues - video card related?
on Mar 24, 2013 at 8:32:28 pm

Sure you're not getting much resale value, but you're also spending 1/3 to more or less build the same machine. No resale value can compensate for that.


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Michael Garber
Re: Performance issues - video card related?
on Mar 24, 2013 at 9:05:19 pm

My build, based on Tonymac's Customac Pro cost me about $1800. My iMac, which has approximately the same specs, cost $3000 with additional RAM and AppleCare.

I'd say the extra cost of the iMac factors in because of the built-in display. On the Hackintosh, I used an old 23" Cinema Display. So, if you figure in the original cost of the Cinema Display, that brings the Hackintosh up to $2600.

If any component of the Hackintosh goes down, there's no one who will fix it under warranty. You'll have to individually RMA parts. In fact, I had to RMA both my motherboard and processor to try to get to the bottom of an issue. That took a month to get fixed and 2 trips to City of Industry (an hour+ drive each way).

In 2 years, if I want to sell my iMac, I could probably get between 1000 to 1500. That means, I could get into the newest iMac for approximately $1500-$2000. I recently sold all my 3+ year old Mac Pro towers. I made far more on those than I did on my 3 year old PC. Far more.

I have had my Hackintosh for about 6 months and I posted it on Craigslist to see if I *could* sell it. After 1 month, I got no hits when I posted it for $1500. After 1 month posting it at $800, I got a couple hits. That's more than 50% depreciation in 6 months.

So, ok, can't sell the Hackintosh. Can I upgrade the mother board, processor, and RAM? Sure, I can. However, now I have to deal with the time spent doing that. Probably 2 days of my time (and that is not including the research to figure out what motherboard and processor are the right ones to get - will they be compatible with my old PCI cards, etc...). Then there is the time involved making absolutely sure that it is stable. What if a client brings in some drives and what if, by sheer bad luck, the system doesn't like them and deletes them (it happened to me on my own drives when I first built the system).

If I upgrade the parts, I most likely won't be able to sell the old motherboard, CPU and RAM. It's possible, but I won't make much on selling those parts.

I am also at risk in the long run of not being able to upgrade at all if Apple chooses to move away from Intel. The Hackintosh's stability is in the hands of, albeit, a very active and smart community, but nevertheless by no individual who is motivated by the success of my own system.

My point to all this is that you have a much higher risk involved when choosing to build and operate a Hackintosh. If that risk is worth it to you, then go for it. It was worth it to me because it was a challenge and I wanted to see if I could do it. I think it's important to know what goes into building a computer, what parts go where, etc... I'm happy I did. But I am very aware that, both financially and time-wise, it will be more of a loss than if I'd just purchased another iMac.

Michael Garber
5th Wall - a post production company
Blog: GARBERSHOP


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Bret Williams
Re: Performance issues - video card related?
on Mar 25, 2013 at 5:33:52 am

You're comparing cost of iMac, with a $1000 screen (yes expensive, but the best out there) to and i5 with onboard graphics? It's hard to spend 3k on an iMac without going for the somewhat unnecessary extras or upgrades. Did you buy the RAM from Apple? That's 400 bucks down the drain compared to OWC or Amazon. Or did you get a 3TB fusion drive? Any fusion is kind of a convenience factor. But a decked out iMac with best 2gig graphics card they offer, and an i7 (not an i5, huge difference) will cost you around 2600 even with a 1TB fusion. Get the 32gigs of RAM from OWC and you're at $2800. Lose the fusion and go with a 1TB (remember you should only put Apps and system on the internal) and you save another $250. I for one see no point in Apple Care either, but that's me. I don't buy extended warranties. They always make money for the person selling them. The only way to come out ahead is to never buy them. Kinda like gambling.

So If you upped your processor to an i7, and had a graphics card, wouldn't that make it more expensive than the iMac? I still don't get the whole hackintosh thing, although I'm still curious. Aren't they also limited to accessing a single processor on the Mac side? So best you can do is a 6 core i7.


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Bret Williams
Re: Performance issues - video card related?
on Mar 25, 2013 at 5:36:27 am

Sorry Michael, I confused your specs with Eddie's. I'd like to know your specs, and Eddie's cost for his specs as well. This 1/3 the cost is intriguing because I just don't see that.


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Eddie Adams
Re: Performance issues - video card related?
on Mar 25, 2013 at 8:24:22 am

It was about $900 for the whole tower. I already had the monitors and reference speakers. Thats without an added GPU. I can list the specs in more detail later on. What I don't like about the imacs is anything you want to add is external. Hackintosh allows me the flexibility to add drives, DVD burner, coolers and fans, etc.


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Michael Garber
Re: Performance issues - video card related?
on Mar 25, 2013 at 6:02:06 pm

Hey Brett-

No worries! My feeling on AppleCare is that increases the resale value of the Mac. It's peace of mind for buyers who might not be in the industry. It casts a wider net. Also, I've had to use it a couple times in the past and it paid for itself. So, for me, it's worth it.

Eddie's system might be $800, which is great. But he's on here asking why his system isn't working that well. That's time spent and frustration added. He'll probably need to spend up to $800 for a new CPU and GFX Card. At most $500 for a new gfx card.

Hackintosh part prices below are current and possibly not reflective of what I paid. But it's very close. This gets you mostly in parity with a top of the line iMac (minus Bluetooth and WiFi, which cost about $46 total for the components). Here are my specs:

Intel Core i7-3770K $320
Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UP5-TH (has 2 thunderbolt ports) $245
32GB 1600Mhz DDR3 $217
Corsair Carbide 500R $158
Corsair 650 Watt Modular $90
GeForce GTX 680 $497
480GB SSD Drive $363
Syba SATA III 6Gbps PCI-e Card $17
StarTech.com 3 Port 2b 1a 1394 PCI Express FireWire Card Adapter PEX1394B3 $63
Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO: $33
I owned a Kona 3, which I installed and is working fine.

TOTAL: $2003


iMac System Specs:
3.4GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7
8GB 1600MHz DDR3 SDRAM-2X4GB
1TB Fusion Drive
NVIDIAGeFrc GTX 680MX 2G GDDR5: $2600
AppleCare: $170
RAM from OWC: $270

TOTAL: $3040 (before tax)


Now, here's the kicker. While Geekbench isn't the be-all end-all, I think it's a nice cross-reference for the technologically-barely-informed (such as myself ;-).

My iMac 27" top o' the line gets a healthy 14268
The Hack Pro gets a substantial 14124

For all intents and purposes, they are equal systems. One cost $3014 and comes with a warranty. The other cost $2003, works great, and is expandable, but has risks. Again, if you need to purchase a monitor, keyboard and mouse for the Hackintosh, that will add an additional amount and bring them much more in line price-wise.

Let's look at the percentage difference if we take out AppleCare to get the systems more in line.

iMac: 2845
Hack Pro: 2003
Percent Difference: %30


Now, let's look at potential resale value and upgrade costs. This is assuming a new iMac will cost about the same amount in 2 years:

iMac late 2012 resale value in 2 years (conservative): $1250
iMac 2014 (high end) potential cost: $ 2900
Out of pocket difference: -$1650
Time needed to reinstall software and test new system: 1 day (based on purchase of iMac)

Hackintosh upgrade option 1, resale and build from scratch:
Hackintosh Late 2012 Cost: $2003
Hackintosh Resale Value in 2 years: $400
Hackintosh Late 2014 potential cost: $2000
Out of pocket difference: -$1600
Time needed to research new system and find best prices on parts: countless nights on Hackintosh boards
Time spent building system: 1 day
Time spent testing parts and debugging: 2 days (conservative)

Hackintosh upgrade option 2, upgrade CPU, Mobo, and RAM
New Motherboard, Processor, RAM (assuming all current PCI Cards work properly and base prices stay the same): $782
Time spent researching whether all parts will work with new system and what CPU/Mobo to get: 2-3 evenings on hack boards
Time spent installing new parts: 2 hrs
Time spent reinstalling OS, debugging: 1 day (conservative)

So there you have it. At most, there's an $870 difference (not including time spent) in favor of an equally spec'd Hack Pro and a top-end iMac over a 2-year period. Divide that out by 2 years and that's $37 per month.

The ultimate question I propose (which I've already answered for myself): Is it worth it for you to build one?

Michael Garber
5th Wall - a post production company
Blog: GARBERSHOP


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Bret Williams
Re: Performance issues - video card related?
on Mar 26, 2013 at 2:30:42 pm

Definitely not worth it. I could argue the hackintosh is more expensive in many ways. The built in 1k monitor is the big difference obviously. With much cheaper options, but none even close to as good. And apple resale value (my 2011 imac is still 2 worth around 2k) is a kicker. It's nearing 2 years old and for 2 years use has cost me less than $500. I've sold many macs on eBay and was always amazed. iPhones too. I sold my bused iPhone 3GS for $350. WTF?

But it would be fun to build. My wife would kill me of course since we don't have time for me to have fun with 2 small kids.

I used to think I needed a tower, but really, thunderbolt changed all that. I have a raid under the desk that is much smaller than a tower. So drives built into the machine are a non-argument.

When I bought my current system, it was a maxed out iMac with Pegasus raid for $4000. Plus $70 of 16gigs of RAM from Amazon. The iMac $2350. The pegasus $1600. No sales tax. No shipping. Everything from B&H. Maxed out. Same iMac is still that same price. But now sans a DVD burner. One doesn't need the fusion. But the 1 gig fusion brings it up to $2600.


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Eddie Adams
Re: Performance issues - video card related?
on Mar 23, 2013 at 6:40:08 pm

Would you attribute this more to the GPU or the fact you're running i7 over i5? In other words, if you could only put your money in one place, I'm assuming you'd advise a new GPU over a processor upgrade?


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Richard Jacana
Re: Performance issues - video card related?
on Mar 25, 2013 at 3:16:02 am

I'm using an i7 Macbook air for some light video editing in FCPx and don't appear to have any issues. I believe the i7 processor has some extra mojo for video that the i5 does not so perhaps this is your problem but the HD4000 card does seem to be the weak link.

My MBA has the 4000 card and it is surprisingly good. For big project I transcode. SSDs help a lot, I have one in my i7 mini. I'm a cheapskate so would love a 12 core Mac Pro but I use a i7 mini as my primary machine with maxed out Ram 16Gb and a SSD and the AMD option.


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Eddie Adams
Re: Performance issues - video card related?
on Mar 28, 2013 at 10:40:43 pm

So I dropped in the EVGA GTX 660 GPU. Although I do see a small speed increase in how fast FCP X refreshes Waveforms in clips, it is still slow to load thumbnails - there was absolutely no increase in speed there. This leads me to believe that the issues is not in fact related to the GPU - that perhaps FCP X has issues with thumbnails and load times? Has anybody else experienced this? I'm running all footage off a 1 TB WD Black drive, so it's a fast as it gets in that regard. Clips are 1080i 29.97 ProRes 422 - so I really dont see where all this lag could be coming from. Any ideas? Thanks.


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Michael Garber
Re: Performance issues - video card related?
on Mar 28, 2013 at 10:45:49 pm

Have you done a speed test on the Caviar Black drive? You might be better served with a raid of 2 or more drives.

I could be wrong, but I believe that FCPX uses the CPU for thumbnail cache. You can also try deleting your thumbnail cache and starting over. Sometimes that can get corrupted.

But in general, even on a fast Apple-built system, FCPX tends to get sluggish with thumbs and waveforms. For instance, it is constantly redrawing waveforms in the timeline (although I have yet to test with .8 to see if it fixes any of that). This constant redraw can be a headache when editing.

Michael Garber
5th Wall - a post production company
Blog: GARBERSHOP


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Eddie Adams
Re: Performance issues - video card related?
on Mar 28, 2013 at 11:26:55 pm

I have two main drives that I use in the system:
The first drive (my Edit Drive) is a RAID 1 mirror from two WD Black 1TB drives.
The second drive is a 7200rpm Toshiba.

Speed tests show (copying a 8GB file across the two drives):

Write speeds to both WD Black drive(s) were around 115-120 MB/s (same read speeds from Toshiba)
Read speeds from the WD Black drive(s) were around 60 MB/s each drive (120 MB/s write to Toshiba)

What's interesting is that while the RAID 1 drives seem to be WRITING as a mirrored pair (both at the same speeds of 120 MB/s), they seem to be READING from the drives as a striped pair, splitting the workload between the two drives. Am I correct in seeing it this way?

If this is all correct, shouldn't FCP be reading from the drives as if they were a RAID striped pair, thus allowing maximum read speeds?

I'd be interested to learn if FCP X is in fact using the CPU to redraw waveforms and thumbnails...


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Michael Garber
Re: Performance issues - video card related?
on Mar 28, 2013 at 11:29:54 pm

You don't want to edit from a mirrored drive set. That will slow you down. Best to edit from either a RAID 0 or a RAID 5.

Michael Garber
5th Wall - a post production company
Blog: GARBERSHOP


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Eddie Adams
Re: Performance issues - video card related?
on Mar 29, 2013 at 12:06:03 am

[Michael Garber] "You don't want to edit from a mirrored drive set. That will slow you down. Best to edit from either a RAID 0 or a RAID 5.
"



That's what they say - but I see no difference in speed tests between a RAID 1 and a non-RAID set-up. Perhaps a RAID 0 would increase speed, but at 120 MB/s that doesn't seem to be what's causing my performance issues.


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Dave Gage
Re: Performance issues - video card related?
on Mar 28, 2013 at 11:30:58 pm

[Michael Garber] "FCPX tends to get sluggish with thumbs and waveforms. For instance, it is constantly redrawing waveforms in the timeline (although I have yet to test with .8 to see if it fixes any of that). This constant redraw can be a headache when editing."

I agree. Unless I need to see the audio waveforms, I shut down the timeline thumbnail view with the little light switch hud. As someone suggested here, I'm experimenting with also closing the Inspector when not in use also. But, certainly shutting down the waveform re-draws makes a big difference, at least for me.

Dave


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Eddie Adams
Re: Performance issues - video card related?
on Mar 28, 2013 at 11:59:10 pm

yeah, it would.. but im cutting interviews and rely heavily on the waveforms, so im SOL there.


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Eddie Adams
Re: Performance issues - video card related? - RELEVANT FOR HACKINTOSH USERS
on Apr 30, 2013 at 7:54:19 am

Wanted to follow up on this with my results. I dropped in the Nvidia GTX 650, a 1GB GPU, and didn't see any real results. Returned the card for the GTX 660, a 2GB GPU, and saw some results, but still very disappointed at the lack of any significant improvement in performance within FCPX. I did a fresh install on my machine (remember that its a Hackintosh, running ML 10.8.3), and STILL didn't see any improvement. I was stumped...

UNTIL

I switched my System Profile (through Multibeast) from Mac Mini to MacPro3,1 -- and VIOLA! FCPX now runs SMOOTH LIKE BUTTA'!

So, if you're experiencing similar issues on your hackintosh, try switching your system profile. Hope this helps.


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