Mac Pro & Apple Cinema Displays
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).
I was in the boat with the same spec Mac minus the drive setup and ATI card. Which was fine for Final Cut.
Shoot 1080 on Sony-HXR2000u and was having the same issues with Premiere CS5.5. I download the trial first on OSX and Win7 Boot Camp. I ran smooth in Win7 but not OSX. I since FCX was not working for me.
So I built a PC for just to try it out.
500GB Main Drive
1TB RAID0 Scratch Drive
3TB eSata RAID1 Storage
and it ran circles around the Mac for $800.
For benchmark purposes I loaded the first PP an AE project that I did on the PC that took 1.5hrs to render out. I loaded it on the Mac and it took 6.3hrs.
I ended up selling the Mac for almost what I paid for it with the extra cash bought another Sony Cam, Shuttle pro2,3D SpacePilot, new audio mixer and Production Premium CS5.5.
I would try running Win7+PP in boot camp first to see if it does the same thing.
I would try pulling the AMD card out and see if that solves the CUDA issue. I run CS5.5 with CUDA with my GTX285 and it runs quite well.
Also, a quad macpro 5,1 isn't really a top of the line system these days. 4 cores (yes, 8 threads, but not near the same performance as 8 real cores) ... I don't see this machine as a screamer. In fact, I think the new macbook pro quad i7s might even beat it.
On a personal note, I think you'll soon realize that mac pro workstations are not "screaming fast" machines except when new models are released. The PC world quickly surpasses them in raw CPU power, so think of it as paying for a more stable OS and better engineering of the computer itself (it won't overheat, make noise, etc).
Of course... somebody is going to chime in with their opinion of Windows being just as stable as OSX and all that...bla bla. But that's my opinion for what it's worth.
Also -- Premiere Pro CS5 runs faster on Windows vs OSX from what I've read.
Ever since computers went crazy with more cores vs megahertz you'll find that speed increases are not as obvious except when rendering or doing something else that taxes all the cores continuously.
I hear you Daniel. I think my "screamer" comment was a little misleading. I understood that this system was not going to be a juggernaut in terms of performance, I just expected more for all the money that was spent. Does that make sense?
I knew going into this that the Xeon quad was nowhere near as fast as the top core i7 processors. My primary goal with this system was stability and it has been pretty solid in that regard. I just couldn't see spending $10k on an top of the line 8 or 12 core Mac Pro system.
Also, if I pull the Radeon card I lose one of my cinema displays since the Quadro only has one display port. As I understand it there are DVI to display port adapters but many people are not happy with them.
[Daniel Frome] On a personal note, I think you'll soon realize that mac pro workstations are not "screaming fast" machines except when new models are released. The PC world quickly surpasses them in raw CPU power, so think of it as paying for a more stable OS and better engineering of the computer itself (it won't overheat, make noise, etc).
I work on both Mac and Windows on a regular basis and I've just spec'd out my Windows box upgrade path (for $3k) which involves dual i7 Xeons (12 cores in total), 24GB of RAM, SSD drive, and a GTX 580. I made sure that Premiere would take advantage of a dual CPU setup, and I have to say that I'm really anxious to take that step as I'd love to see just how H.264 editing would go with that much raw power thrown at it.
" dual i7 Xeons (12 cores in total)" Which is dual Xeons or an i7?
Gary I'm sorry to say that W3670 is still a waste of money compared to and i5 OC 2500k or i7 2600K is still a faster cpu. Spend the extra money on a good Mobo, Cuda card and ram.
My i5 = 9094 cost me $175 at Microcenter
Xeon W3670 = 7805
Plus it can't be used in a Dual CPU config
Max CPU Configuration 1
Package Size 42.5mm X 45mm
Sockets Supported FCLGA1366
Low Halogen Options Available Yes
That's good to know, Jacob. Thanks for supplying that information.
Perhaps this is why we're waiting for a new Mac Pro? Maybe Apple will still retain commitment to that line and are simply waiting for multiple CPU enabled i7-class Xeons? If that is the case, then perhaps my next desktop will be a Mac Pro that has that and just dual-boot Windows/Mac OSX (hopefully the GTX 580 will be supported under OSX by that time if not already...haven't looked into that.)
Hmmm. For what it's worth here are my machines specs which I'm thrilled with. The quadro 4000 /cs5.5 takes editing to a new level.
Mac Pro 3,1 2 x 2.8Ghz quad Xeon
OSX Snow Leopard 10.6.8
24GB DDR2 (6x4)
4 x 1TB Hard drives
nVidia Quadro 4000 2GB
Adobe CS5.5 Production Premium
I also have the 2.66 Mac Pro 4.1 Quad core (16G Ram) with an internal Raid. I tried to edit a couple of projects with H264 but the stuttering was just too much to be workable, so for now I convert to ProRes.
I am thinking about upgrading to either the top of the line 8 core or the 12 core, but I don't want to blow $6K only to find that when working with H264 it still does not run smoothly. I know its not an editing codec, but if you throw a bunch of processing power at it does that become a non issue ?
I thought of going the PC route, but I have to much invested in Mac at this point for that to be an option.
I'm in the same boat - only with an older Mac Pro (mine's a quad core 2.66 1,1). I wish someone would test out these configurations and give us some sense of who Premiere performs with various Mac Pros. The current towers are expensive, haven't been upgraded in over a year and don't offer CUDA cards. Us Final Cut folks have suddenly been plunged into a lot of uncertainty.
Director of Photography • Editor
Bob, I am so with you on this!
I do have the Quadro 4000 card also, and it does give a bump, but not enough.
I've experienced similarly unimpressive results with Premiere cs5.5 on my 3,1 Mac Pro.
2x3.0Ghz (8 core)
10 gigs RAM
I don't have a supported card (nVidia 8800GT) but Adobe claims that the GPU doesn't work on playing back footage anyways, only in accelerating effects.
I'm a switcher from FCP to the CS5.5 suite. So far, compared to my less powerful PC which runs the CS4 suite, CS5.5 is SLOWER on the Mac. I can't understand this, maybe it's a Lion issue?
I edit a lot of DSLR media, plays back okay, but is painfully laggy when scrubbing the CTI (playhead)over multiple clips. Even Prores media is not playing back as smoothly as it did in FCP, which was a 32-bit application!
I hope things improve on the Mac side of CS5.5.
PS: I have installed the 5.5.1 update, but scrubbing and adjusting clip-effects are PAINFULLY slow still.
I have a Mac Pro 1,1 from five years ago, and I've never been impressed with its speed, even when I upgraded to a new graphics card, now the ATI Radeon 4870, upped the RAM, and bought the OWC RAID setup with 2TBx4 drives. Still as slow as molasses.
I consider switching to PC every once in a while, but all my plugins are Mac based, and I bought a MBP last earlier this year, which I souped up with an OWC SSD, so I'm more than reluctant to move back to PCs and have to buy more licenses for PC versions of everything.
I'm tired of paying a premium for Apple hardware, but ... I wonder if this article by Allan Tépper about mac minis and Thunderbolt RAIDS may be the right way to go:
The disk speeds they get are 5 times (write) and 3 times (read) what I've been able to achieve.
Sounds pretty good. Or is it just time to embrace Adobe and a PC and forget about Apple for video editing -- that is, video editing without needing to pay an arm and a leg for a Mac Pro?
After several months of working with this Mac Pro I'm feeling deep regret for my decision to run CS5.5 on the OS X platform. It works, kind of, not really fast & not real stable though. This may work fine for many people but my tremendous workload of all HD AVCHD footage means lots of work in AE and Premiere with tight deadlines. Simply put, I need more horsepower and memory.
So I'm now looking at building a hex core i7-3930K workstation with 32GB DDR3. My only real concern is how to utilize my two 27" Apple Cinema displays (which I really love). They only have a male mini display port to use for feeding them. My first thought was a Quadro 4000 with 2 display ports but the specs say max resolution of 1920x1080 and these displays roll up to 2560 x 1440 and quite frankly I've become spoiled with mega desktop space. I've heard about the many problems with DVI to display port adapters but that may be my only option.
I am actually considering a GTX 570/580 since almost all of the top machines on PPBM5 are all running GTX cards. Anybody have any suggestions?