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Ernie Santella
Computer Speed Question
on Mar 24, 2013 at 2:25:29 pm

Can I please get some input on upgrading my Mac Tower. I am currently running a 6-core 3.33 with 16GB RAM, a SSD internal HD, ATI Radeon 5870 display card and a 10TB eSATA RAID. It was the fastest when I got it.

I'm doing mostly 80% of my work using the latest version of FCP (7.0.3) with an AJA Kona3, about 10% using After-Effects CS6 (11.0.2), and 10% Episode (6.4.0) encoding Windows Media Files for clients.

What I find takes the most time is Rendering my FCP Timelines and outputting .h264 files from FCP. Do you guys think it would be a huge increase in speed/render time if I bought a brand-new 12-core 2.66 or 3.06GHz tower? And, if I did go with the new 12-core, how much Memory would help increase the render speed of FCP?

Thanks in advance for the advice!

Ernie Santella
Santella Productions Inc.
http://www.santellaproductions.com


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Ryan Holmes
Re: Computer Speed Question
on Mar 24, 2013 at 3:45:07 pm

FCP 7 is a 32-bit app and as such can only utilize up to 4GB of RAM. FCP X, Adobe CS6, Media Composer 6 are all 64-bit apps and can tap in and utilize far greater amounts of RAM, up to about 192GB. So adding RAM to your current setup (or a new setup provided you stay with FCP7) won't do you much good.

As for buying a "new" Mac Pro that's a hot mess. The "new" Mac Pro you can purchase is technically about a 2.5 year old machine (ignoring the ever so minor speed bump that Apple tossed it last year). Essentially the tech inside the Mac Pro is from 2010 and behind the curve of currently technology (graphics cards, processors, RAM speeds, etc).

With that said, if you need a new machine today then your options for a Mac Pro are what they are. Nobody knows (or if they know they can't say) what the timetable is for a Mac Pro update from Apple. According to Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, last June he said that an update was coming for the Mac Pro sometime in 2013.
http://appleinsider.com/articles/12/06/12/tim_cook_confirms_updated_mac_pro...

There's much speculation about what that means. Will they still be towers? Will they have PCIe slots so we can expand with additional cards or will they forgo that in lue of Thunderbolt ports? Will they be smaller and less user modifiable (Apple's overall push with MacBook Pro, iPad, iPhones, etc.)? How much will they cost - cheaper/more expensive?

My advice, if you can hold off and wait you may want to. The caveat here being that since you are running a "dead" NLE the next update of the OS from Apple (likely due out this summer if their recent track record is any indication) could quite possible break your NLE. FCP 7 is no longer supported by Apple. There will inevitably come a day when the OS cannot run FCP 7 (legacy code base). The last supported OS for FCP 7 was 10.6.8. Anything beyond that and you're taking your chances (most have success in 10.7.X and many report fine usability in 10.8.X). I mention this because any new computer you buy will have the latest OS pre-installed. Apple typically "locks" their hardware to their software so you can't install an earlier version of an OS than what the hardware shipped with. So if it ships with 10.8 that's the earliest software you can install. Fine if it works with FCP 7; deal breaker if it doesn't. So if they roll out a new OS, 10.9, in June and the Mac Pro's follow after that then they may or may not run FCP7.

So like I said originally....buying a new Mac Pro is a hot mess, especially if you are wanting to stay with FCP 7. Buy today = old technology. Buy tomorrow = don't know if it'll work with FCP 7. Moving forward, I would highly suggest you take a look at the other NLE offerings out there. FCP X is gaining many features, Premiere Pro is very similar to FCP 7 (I call it FCP 8), and Avid always remains a consistent offering.

Sorry I can't give you a straight answer. It's a tough predicament that Apple has placed its high-end users in. Maybe they'll make an announcement around NAB about the Mac Pro....or maybe they'll wait until the later part of this year to make an announcement! ;-) It's a guessing game....

Ryan Holmes
http://www.ryanholmes.me
vimeo.com/ryanholmes


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David Eaks
Re: Computer Speed Question
on Mar 24, 2013 at 8:56:02 pm

I agree with Ryan's advice and I would not recommend buying the current Mac Pro. I don't think you'd get the performance increase your looking for.

For your Main concern, H.264, I highly recommend Matrox MAX. The CompressHD card or a MAX enabled MXO2 device (I have three of these devices, MAX MXO2LE, no MAX Mini and CompressHD). Used with Compressor to create H.264 in just under real time. I do a lot of 90-120 min H.264s and can't imagine working without it.

Since MAX uses its own hardware to do the encode, your systems resources are not tied up. With a combination of CompressHD and MXO2, you can both encode H.264 in Compressor and monitor in FCP simultaneously. I assume you'd be fine monitoring with you Kona while Compressor/MAX crunch away In the background.

My workflow is export with current settings from FCP and bring that into Compressor to create the H.264. Though I'm 98% FCPX now, when I was on FCP7, I didn't have any problems the exporting Reference movies and bringing them into Compressor (just be sure to add an identifier like "REF" to the file name and trash it when your done with it). The workflow goes from huge overnight encodes to just a couple hours. Nice.


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Ernie Santella
Re: Computer Speed Question
on Mar 24, 2013 at 9:20:10 pm

Thanks you guys! I just ordered the Matrox CompressHD card. That should help speed up my h264 work. I'll wait on the computer to see what happens in future.

Ernie Santella
Santella Productions Inc.
http://www.santellaproductions.com


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Jim Murphy
Re: Computer Speed Question
on Jun 8, 2014 at 7:36:38 pm

I know this is an old thread - but how did you make out with the Matrox HD card? I'm considering one as well and wanted some first hand feedback.

Jim

Jim

2010 Mac Pro 5,1 - 32g Ram
FCP 10.1, Mavericks


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