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2009 Macbook Pro for HD: add RAM & SSD or replace?

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Danny McCorquodale2009 Macbook Pro for HD: add RAM & SSD or replace?
by on Aug 1, 2015 at 5:09:43 am

Hi all.

I have an early 2009 17” Macbook Pro setup that I’ve used for SD editing as an enthusiast. I’ve been inactive with editing for several years, and am ready to get back in and move to HD. I am considering whether to upgrade RAM and move to a SSD drive, or replace with a new system. Full details of the 2009 MBP are:

Macbook Pro 5,2
Intel Core 2 Duo 2.66 GHZ
SATA 2 (3Gb), Nvidia MCP79 AHCI controller
NVIDIA GeForce 9400M 256MB, 9600M GT 512MB
Caldigit VR Mini – 2009 edition with Caldigit eSata card

For video source, I'm currently using a GoPro Hero 3+, Panasonic HC-V720 (AVCHD), and iPhone6. I currently have CS4 Production Premium (why I’m posting on the PP forum), but plan to move to something more current. Could be CS6, CC (don’t particularly like the idea of renting software), or FCP X, I’m researching that in parallel.

I will be trimming and piecing together clips and photos with transitions, multiple video/audio tracks in some cases, titles, pan/zoom, simple effects, and possibly some motion graphics if I get ambitious. Length of videos will be from 30 sec to 30-45 min.

For the upgrade path, I’d add a 1TB SSD (current 350GB drive is full with photos I want to keep on main drive) and move to 8GB RAM. The Nvidia MCP79 SATA controller has known issues with negotiating to 1.5 Gbs vs. the expected 3Gbs with many Sata 3 SSD drives. Options I’ve identified to avoid that are OWC Mercury 3G and possibly Crucial BX100 or MX200. At ~$650 the OWC is significantly more expensive (by $300), and has less future reuse potential given it is 3G. But it supposedly has better free storage management in the absence of TRIM (per OWC’s description); I want to avoid disabling kernel driver security checking with current OSX versions to enable TRIM.

Is anyone editing HD video with a 2009 or other older MBP that has a SSD and 8GB RAM? If so, can you advise on stability, performance, and any techniques you’ve employed to maximize usability with the older system? I searched the forums and found this 2013 thread, but the systems discussed didn’t have SSD which should be a huge difference.

I’m certain the SSD and RAM upgraded 2009 MBP will be far from optimum given the CPU, GPU, and disk throughput disadvantage relative to current systems. But if it would be stable/usable, I’m willing to accept some tradeoffs like transcoding to a less demanding format for editing and longish render times to allow investing the money I’d spend for a new system elsewhere.

Given the SSD drive cost and time involved, I hesitate to just try the upgrades without some indication the result will be usable. Even though I really like Mac (the MBP 2009 was my first Mac), for a new system I’d want to compare the current Windows vs. Mac situation for editing, given the value proposition for PC hardware like HP ZBook seems to be better.

Many thanks in advance!

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Andrew KimeryRe: 2009 Macbook Pro for HD: add RAM & SSD or replace?
by on Aug 1, 2015 at 4:29:22 pm

I would put it out to pasture. Adding an SSD will certainly get your better R/W speeds, but the RAM, CPU and GPU will all be big choke points when using newer programs.

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Danny McCorquodaleRe: 2009 Macbook Pro for HD: add RAM & SSD or replace?
by on Aug 23, 2015 at 5:04:40 am

Thanks for the feedback Andrew.

Re a new system, what are Premier Pro users' current thoughts on Mac vs. PC? When I switched to Mac in 2009, my WinXP PP setup was pretty unstable with a lot of crashing. I've enjoyed improved Mac stability (not just for video editing) and overall features/experience. But I'm wondering if Win 7 with PP is similarly stable, with some possible hw cost/feature advantages (ex. HP Zbook).

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Andrew KimeryRe: 2009 Macbook Pro for HD: add RAM & SSD or replace?
by on Aug 23, 2015 at 5:11:53 am

I can't say if performance/stability is better on Windows than Mac, though you certainly get more hardware options on the Windows side of things.

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