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Mac Pro & Apple Cinema Displays

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Darin Griffith
Mac Pro & Apple Cinema Displays
on Oct 8, 2011 at 1:42:05 am

I'm a professional video editor so making videos is a big deal for me. I'm always looking for the best system that I can get to push me to the next level. I've recently upgraded my setup to a Mac based workstation after years of PC work. My admiration for how well my iPhone works led me to explore the Mac Pro line and, you know how it goes. Here is my system:

Mac Pro 5,1 Xeon 2.8Ghz quad
OSX Snow Leopard 10.6.8
16GB DDR3 (4x4)
Crucial 128GB SSD OS/Program drive
WD Black 1TB scratch drive
WD Black 4TB RAID for audio/video media
Radeon 5770 1GB
nVidia Quadro 4000 2GB
Adobe CS5.5 Production Premium

Panasonic HMC40 (.MTS files) I shoot mostly 1080/30P.

After several weeks on this new system I am feeling a little underwhelmed. I guess I was expecting to be blown away with my new Mac Pro workstation (and I realize I didn't get anywhere near the top of the line machine). Anyway, I have a "problem" involving my displays. I say problem but let me explain. I have two 27" Apple Cinema Displays, giving me a gorgeous 5120 pixel wide work area, so I'm not doing too bad! The thing is I am experimenting with a Radeon 5770 and nVidia Quadro 4000 card. The Radeon card has 2 mini display ports, the Quadro has one display port and one DVI.

I know that the Quadro is great for Premiere so I'm trying to use that since most of my work involves Premiere (I have the CS5.5 production premium). I think I read another guy on here running a Mac Pro with both a 5770 and a Quadro 4000 at the same time. If I'm not mistaken he said that he just had the Quadro installed and not actually connected to any monitor, but he was still able to use the hardware acceleration.

Well, I tried that setup, and got the Mercury engine to engage, but I didn't see any real benefits (I loaded the latest nVidia AND Cuda drivers as well). I got the yellow line on the timeline but it still wouldn't play back without stuttering. In fact, I got better performance when I disabled the hardware acceleration and just rendered the timeline (which goes pretty quickly).

My question is for anybody else out there on a Mac Pro (running Premiere CS5.5 and editing H.264 video) how is your performance with the Quadro 4000 card? And, does anybody know of a better way to configure my system to take advantage of the Mercury Playback engine the Quadro has?

I must say this; I've been editing for many years and I've been looking forward to getting a system like this for a long time. After all the money I've spent on this system I expected it to be a screamer. Instead, it's kind of a big let down, leaving me very underwhelmed (except for how great the monitors look).

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