I've done MC to DS. It's fairly straighforward. Just take the bin with the cut into a project on the DS. The thing you have to know is that you can't have anything beyond a cut or a dissolve on the timeline. You can't get too fancy with plugins and paint effects. You need to know what the DS can handle, and use only what it can deal with.
It might be better now, but 7 years ago...it was cuts and dissolves only. But really, that felt liberating. I didn't need to make flashy effects, I could concentrate on story.
Actually the conform has come a long ways with DS with many effects, layers and nests as well as text from the title tool. If the same plug-in are on the system, then they will work as well (depending on version and all). I know that Autodesk has been doing a lot of work in the area of conform as well, but probably not at the same level as a DS.... yet.
I would look to OS preference, price, and how much development is being committed to each over the last few versions and how frequently they are updated.
I've been on DS since late 1999. It has come a long way in conform from MC. I tried smoke in 2011, but couldn't really afford the time to learn it before a new job was to begin, so i stuck with DS. We have done conforms from MC and FCP (using duck or boris) to ds, and even the FCP confroms have gotten better.
With a MC to DS conform you can either send a list and re aquire your footage from source material, or you can simply use the DNXHD media in both applications.
I use Red footage in DS quite a bit. The workflow from MC to Red, going from an offline res to a full HD, 2k or 4k resolution is very very good. Including very easy reformatting of frame size, or different color versions of the same shot.
In my limited experience with smoke, i found the editing side of things horrible. I know the idea is to edit with MC, and conform with another tool, but there are always time when you have to do something in the online suite. I also found the CC tool on smoke to be lacking a bit. A guy who used to work for us and is now on his own, started with smoke, but quickly added Lustre for better CC control.
I know some of that is supposed to have change for their newer version.
As for hardware, DS isn't really on dedicated hardware anymore. Its the same idea as smoke. You have to buy a qualified computer. Mac for smoke, PC for DS. I'm assuming you aren't going down the linux version of Smoke. You also need some qualified hardware. Specific graphics card and Kona hardware for DS- not sure what smoke is qualified with anymore.
Also good to note that DS comes with a free license of Media Composer- so there is a savings right there.
One nice plus about the mocha Pro to Smoke workflow is the Gmask support for mocha roto-shape import without rendering. To get roto from mocha products into all Avid systems, you have to render external mattes.