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Upgrading my FCP X Mac Pro

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Michael Holmes
Upgrading my FCP X Mac Pro
on Jul 25, 2012 at 6:18:08 am

I have only been shooting videos of local bands as a hobby for 6 months, so please overlook the newbie questions. I have been mixing/mastering songs for these bands for 15 years as a hobby, and this is a natural extension.

I would like to upgrade my 2010 Mac Pro 2x2.4 Quad Core. This computer is only for (1) FCP X and (2) Pro Tools HD Native. Currently my system works well on single cam editing as long as I don’t use a 3rd party plug-in…………then it drops frames big time. I am about to start using two FS100 camcorders, and I am worried that the Mac Pro won’t handle dual cam editing very well. Edit 100% in ProRes.

Are these decisions good ones?:

(1) A Crucial M4 256 SSD for OS/Apps. Will buy, this seems like an obvious upgrade. I only have 75GB on the OS/Apps HD, so 256 should be sufficient.

(2) A RAID card. I don’t plan to buy this. I am not even using software RAID. Only one of the three 2TB Hitachi 7200RPM SATA II drives is dedicated to video files; the other two handle Pro Tools files, and backup duties. I don’t currently have room for a RAID card, since the four PCIe slots are/will be used:
(a) ATI Radeon 5770
(b) Pro Tools HD Native
(c) Card for external monitor (maybe)
(d) Card for LTO 6 tape storage (planned, as soon as LTO 6 is available).

(3) An upgrade of the ATI Radeon 5770 graphics card. I don’t plan to buy this. I haven’t seen anybody saying this will give me substantial FCP X performance improvement.

(4) An Eizo ColorEdge CG275W LCD Monitor. I don’t know what to do on this. I am currently using an HP 2711x monitor that I calibrate with a Spyder4PRO. I deliver H.264 QuickTime movies that are viewed on computer monitors. Probably 30% are uploaded to the Internet. Often the QT movies are given to club owners when bands try to get bookings.

However, I will probably start to deliver HD video DVD’s soon, especially for the club owners....this will be better quality and increase the odds that the club owner will actually view it. So, right now the product is viewed 100% on computer monitors, but later this year it will start to be viewed on televisions.

BTW, I have no idea what card to buy for this monitor, if I get it.

Are these the right decisions?
Note that I am doing very little to address the “dropping frames” issue, which is the biggie. Am I overlooking something obvious?


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Daniel Sametz
Re: Upgrading my FCP X Mac Pro
on Jul 25, 2012 at 1:54:03 pm

I think more RAM would help since FCX can take full advantage of it.

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Michael Holmes
Re: Upgrading my FCP X Mac Pro
on Jul 25, 2012 at 2:19:04 pm

I have 16GB. I can go up to 32GB, an easy step if it will improve performance.

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Michael Holmes
Re: Upgrading my FCP X Mac Pro
on Jul 25, 2012 at 6:46:56 pm

What about just getting two SSD's for the drive bays:
(1) One 256GB SSD for OS/Apps
(2) One 512GB SSD for Event/Project folders.

512GB would be tight on some shoots, but I could even go to a Mercury Electra 960GB SSD.

Yes, very pricey storage, but if this would solve data transfer problems, it would be worth it.

If I only need one video card, I can use a PCIe slot for an external SATA drive unit (4 bays) I already have to handle all backup storage. So, the loss of the two HD bays to SSD would not be a big issue. HD bays are less dear than PCIe slots.

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Michael Holmes
Re: Upgrading my FCP X Mac Pro
on Jul 25, 2012 at 11:03:15 pm

Well, I find that using SSD in the drive bays is limited to 3Gb/s versus 6Gb/s with an SSD PCIe card. So, that would push me toward an SSD PCIe card (OWC Mercury Accelsior PCI Express SSD 480GB) for Events/Projects. But then I would have too few PCIe slots, and external expanders are not cheap.

Nothing is simple.

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Michael Holmes
Re: Upgrading my FCP X Mac Pro
on Jul 26, 2012 at 1:35:12 pm

I must have asked too many questions in one post. :)

Let me simplify the questions.
I will probably stay with my 2711x monitor for now, so lets forget that question.

My main question now is how to eliminate the FCP X delays and dropped frames. The options on the table are:
- Put a 256GB SSD in drive 1 for OS/Apps, and a 512GB SSD in drive 2 for FCP X Events/Projects folders (limit of 3Gb/s)
- Instead of the 2nd SSD in drive 2, put in an Accelsior PCIe SSD card (6Gb/s).

I struggle with the 2nd option, since I lose a valuable PCIe slot. But twice as fast.

Any thoughts on these options, or others, to improve FCP X performance?

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