6 or 8-core Mac Pro for use with FCP 7
I'm a freelance TV/movie editor and I'm thinking of upgrading my current 8-core 2.26GHz 2009 "Nehalem" Mac Pro (12 GB of RAM) to a new Mac Pro. This seemed like the best forum to post in, I hope that's alright.
I work in FCP 7 currently and use Compressor to prep cuts to directors/producers/broadcasters in other locations.
I realize the 8-core 3.0 GHz is a more powerful machine for multi-threaded applications, but I'm wondering what everyone thinks about the 6-core 3.5 GHz for the above purposes. The extra $1500 is a pretty steep jump, so I feel like if I can avoid it without serious future regret I'd be willing to take a bit of a hit on speed, considering either one will be much faster than my current set-up.
With the exception of smaller local TV shows I rarely do any finishing in my own suite, my movies and series always go to a larger post house for conform/online, sound mix, etc. So really I just need better performance for cutting within FCP, and compressing movies for upload.
For an individual editor such as myself, what does everyone think of the 6-core vs. the 8?
**Update: I've been reading about the issues between FCP7 and the most recent Mavericks iterations and am a bit horrified to think about the can of worms I could be opening with a new Mac Pro. I can't switch to FCPX currently because I work back and forth with a bunch of other FCP7 users on a series I'm currently on. Yikes.**
Thanks for any thoughts!
If you're sticking with FCP7, why spend any money on a new workstation at this point? What are you hoping to gain?
David Roth Weiss
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David is a Creative COW contributing editor and a forum host of the Apple Final Cut Pro forum.
I'm with David...stick with what you have if you are going to use discontinued software.
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Ok, let's just de-color some of this advice shall we?
1. The questioner asked whether to and which upgrade path to take, we should answer this question yes?
Ok, FCP 7 itself isn't entirely core driven in that if you have 8 cores it may only use two (ie it doesn't spread the load). What FCP 7 does do is allocate plugins to use cores, so if you have some VFX or color grading plugins in use, particularly on multiple tracks, then additional cores would be advantageous. Also, if you are rendering out one project and want to start another or edit another, more cores would help you. More cores means more concurrent applications or streams of work within an application. Personally I would tend to go with 8 cores. Although I love apple color, I tend to use davinci resolve for most CG work and I use FCP 7 for pure editing because its still the best for media management and forward / backward compatibility.
2. Saying things like 'hey if you want to use discontinued software that's up to you' is plain lame and unhelpful. Is the road that you drive your car down updated every day or has it been there for years? It's not outdated. At present, no further work is being carried out on it. This means it has no new features or new marketing tools designed to get us to spend more, but does it even need that? No, it's functions fully outweigh anything new. The only thing it's perhaps a little behind in is media format support BUT, really you need to look at that very closely. Personally, I still transcode when using FCP or premiere pro or iMovie or even Vegas. why? Because is consistent performance and less bottle necks. By having a consistent intermediate format (prores or DNxHD) enables much better workflow, much faster real time performance more dynamic effects, and much faster (and more consistent and accurate) renders.
This is how proper systems **SHOULD** be designed:
Do one thing and do it well. This is how **IX computer systems were designed the basis of OSX. FCP was part of this design philosophy (as was shake, combustion and plenty others). Don't be fooled by the lazy, the sloppy or those thy are easily controlled by marketeers. Prores is good for example, right up to 8K and was designed when standard def DV was first introduced some 14 years ago. FCP was designed on prores . You never hear people talk about FCP 7 and 8K yet it's spot on for that particular application an very efficient at it too!
To the original poster, I hope the information I have provided is of some use. To the other contributors, please think before posting just biased lazy opinions, and construct an answer that is both suitable an useful to the original requester.
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Thanks Declan, I appreciate the info. I was pretty sure FCP didn't utilize all the cores within itself, but I wasn't certain.
There's such a domino effect with any new software or hardware (some specific to my situation noted in my second post), and it's difficult to make the bigger decisions.
Thanks guys. I agree, for the most part and am super hesitant to change.
I was unclear in my post. I have to stick with FCP7 for a lot of my work, but some of the productions I work on with co-editors and post houses in other cities have switched to FCPX, so I need to use that as well. I know it works on 10.6.8, but I'm finding the speed of my machine has become a hindrance lately, and looking into it I've learned that the dual quad-core 2.26 Ghz processors weren't made as well as the current ones. I compressed a rough cut of a movie last week on a 4-core 3.33 GHz iMac and it took 25 minutes, whereas it takes 2 hours on my 8-core machine.
The increased speeds of Thunderbolt and even USB3 for media transfers is attractive as well. I tried adding a USB3 card to my tower recently and created chaos and Kernel Panics left and right, so I pulled it.
I'm also looking into a Cinema Display for picture quality and higher resolution/screen size, and the new Thunderbolt ones won't work with my machine, so I'd be limited to a refurbished MiniDisplayPort model that doesn't have all the ports I'll want when I do finally upgrade to a new Mac pro (inevitable as technology changes).
I know there are several things I can do to upgrade my machine for speed in the meantime, but I'm weighing those costs against their worth if I end up biting the bullet on a new machine in the next year or two.
Complicated! I appreciate your input.
[Joni Church] "**Update: I've been reading about the issues between FCP7 and the most recent Mavericks iterations and am a bit horrified to think about the can of worms I could be opening with a new Mac Pro. I can't switch to FCPX currently because I work back and forth with a bunch of other FCP7 users on a series I'm currently on. Yikes.**"
The last stable release for FCP 7 was 10.6.8. Anything after that can and will break. Some users have been fine running FCP 7 on 10.7, 10.8, or 10.9. However, if your bread and butter is FCP7 then there's no way I upgrade that machine. I figure FCP7 is only 1 or 2 versions away from being unusable on a current OSX platform (10.10 may break it...we'll probably find out Thursday when the public beta releases).
For all the money you're going to spend on any new Mac Pro (6, 8, or 12-core) you're not going to find any substantial speed boost in it. Not that justifies $3500-$6500 for a new machine. If anything I would look at upgrading your video card on your 2009 Mac Pro....that may help more than anything. But as David and Shane both point out, FCP7 is unsupported so you likely won't gain much from a newer machine since the code of FCP7 can't take advantage of most modern architecture.
I would recommend looking at Adobe CC and a new iMac. You could cut in Premiere and then send a XML over for those working in FCP7. Premiere Pro and iMacs go great together (and it keeps more coin in your pocket!). And depending on how complicated your edits are something like Resolve Lite on an iMac may solve many of your problems. Resolve can output to FCP7/Premiere XML or to FCPXML for FCPX.
Thanks Ryan (and everyone else as well)...
After some option-weighing I decided to leave my current Mac Pro as-is with FCP7 and without any OS upgrades, and buy an iMac for work on FCPX, and potentially try out Avid or Premiere on that as well.
The new iMacs with the 3.5GHz processors, stacked with RAM (I bought from Canada RAM for a giant reduction in price from Apple's RAM) are far faster than what I've currently got, at a more manageable price. If I didn't already have a Mac Pro I would have gone with a new one, but it feels like overkill at this point. I just finished a feature for A&E going back and forth between my Mac Pro and a 2012 iMac, and I did three docs/series last year with speed being the only real issue. I don't want to mess with my FCP7 set-up since I know I'm a while away from being done with it.
I picked up a 6TB Thunderbolt RAID, so I figure I'll try out this configuration and see how it goes. I never thought I'd be cutting on an iMac, but after using a 2012 model for a few weeks on this last feature I have to admit, with a second monitor attached it did everything I need, and so much faster than my 2009 Pro.
Thanks for all your thoughts, they really helped me out.