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Macs that can handle HEVC

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Brett Sherman
Macs that can handle HEVC
on Jan 30, 2020 at 2:52:28 pm

In thinking about upcoming camera and computer purchases it is becoming increasingly apparent that I will be capturing to 10-bit HEVC. Currently capturing 150mbps H.264, the organization I work for generates almost 20 TB of material a year. And we need access to this material on a permanent basis and need to make quick turnaround videos. So transcoding all of the material is not ideal and impossible in some situations.

So my question is, are there Macs that can handle smooth realtime playback of 10-bit 4K 60P HEVC video? If so, which ones? Can the newest MacBook Pro do this?


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Joe Marler
Re: Macs that can handle HEVC
on Jan 30, 2020 at 3:44:07 pm
Last Edited By Joe Marler on Jan 30, 2020 at 3:45:48 pm

[Brett Sherman] "are there Macs that can handle smooth realtime playback of 10-bit 4K 60P HEVC video? If so, which ones? Can the newest MacBook Pro do this?"

I have a top-spec MBP 16. I don't use much HEVC material but I've tested a few things. In general it can edit 8-bit 100 mbps UHD 4k/23.98p HEVC from a DJI Inspire 2, but it's a bit sluggish. I haven't tested 60 fps HEVC material.

As a test I encoded the above material to 10-bit HEVC using FCPX, then re-imported the file and from a performance standpoint (on the MPB 16) it seemed about the same as the original 8-bit file. I don't know if this has any validity or not.

Currently there is no hardware acceleration for 10-bit HEVC export, so that is super slow. This is using FCPX 10.4.8 on Catalina 10.15.3. There are rumors this may be enabled in future versions.

The general situation with hardware acceleration for various HEVC codecs is not well documented. There are three separate hardware acceleration methods: Quick Sync, T2 and AMD's UVD/VCE. Each of those have various versions, depending on vintage. I think the application layer must access those using the VideoToolBox framework, or maybe there's another framework.

Depending on the exact hardware/software/codec mixture, you might have hardware acceleration for decode but not encode, 8-bit but not 10-bit, UHD 4k but not above, 60 fps but not higher, etc.

There are also some FCPX stability issues reported on some HEVC codecs. For the above Inspire 2 material, I can edit that but if I try to transcode it to proxies FCPX will hang.

See below Max Tech video, which discusses some HEVC items on the MBP 16 and new Mac Pro.







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Erik Lindahl
Re: Macs that can handle HEVC
on Jan 30, 2020 at 11:12:57 pm

For future hardware HEVC support the Navi-based systems are your best bet. These currently include the 16” MacBooks and soon the Mac Pro 2019. When Apple will fully use these chips however is a software question mark. Could be an 10.15.x release in conjunction with a new FCPX release. Could be you’ll have to wait longer.

For the non-Navi based systems I think you’re out of luck sadly. I guess you could also try brute-forcing the codec with a 28-core Mac Pro...


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Brett Sherman
Re: Macs that can handle HEVC
on Jan 31, 2020 at 9:33:50 pm

That's helpful. I think definitely a 16" MBP is in my future soon. I'm currently on a 2014 MBP. Hopefully the next generation of iMacs will incorporate this too.


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