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Seriously though: New Mac or carry on with maxed out 5.1 Tower

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Terry Flaxton
Seriously though: New Mac or carry on with maxed out 5.1 Tower
on Apr 24, 2020 at 4:05:13 pm

So I ran with the 2012 5.1 tower I had rather than buying the new mac and I'm still wondering whether to cross over. The money is not an issue now (regardless of the pound dollar relationship which has us Brits paying through the nose) - the issue is whether or not it really does that much more - read below what a maxed out 5.1 does and tell me honestly how can I benefit (if you wouldn't mind).

So I have a 12 core with 128 ram, maxed it out with a 4 terrabyte OWC drive which would do (so they say) 6000 mbs read and write on a new mac but only makes about 1300 read and write on a 5.1 - I run Mojave from two different SSD one OWC accelsior one anglebird boot drives and Sierra from a 3rd old style if I need go back a generation for anything

- but it appears I can do anything I want now: I always use about 6 layers of 4k (sometimes 10 layers before stuttering happens) - I find that although esata in and out was not supposed to work on Mojave - it still does - amazing! (I found this out after buying variations of cards to get a fast USB in - they always crashed the tower, the accelsior has two esata's in but that don't work and always was a problem). FCP is as stable as - and today for instance I've done around 100 point gash matte work for about 2 hours before it just crashes through boredom (I'm definitely bored and the crash snaps me out of zombie mode).

So my big and very serious question now is: if I can do anything I want - why would I buy a new mac? One downside is waiting for a 4 min 4k with loads of layers and distortions and manipulations and colour grading on each layer and all the rest which will take about an hour to transcode and an hour to upload to Vimeo ( we have about 70 mbs in the sticks in the UK but it's the transcode that's taking the time)... SO: Will the new mac (and what number of cores and set up) make this move necessary? and I mean by necessary a lot faster - Or is it the same old same old and only a marginal increase of computing power when it really comes down to it (because in reality they've concentrated on the plumbing in to apparently speed the kit up). So I'm also asking with regard Motion - or Maya come to that as I realise I need make more 3D stuff.

Made my first video in 1976, A long term programme maker, DP, editing etc - changing with AR/VR/MR media -


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Oliver Peters
Re: Seriously though: New Mac or carry on with maxed out 5.1 Tower
on Apr 24, 2020 at 4:43:41 pm

You are probably still getting enough performance to hang in there a while longer. It's hard for anyone to say you will or won't get significantly faster results without exactly duplicating your file format and workflow. A new machine - iMac Pro or Mac Pro - will likely be faster/better, but does the cost offset the performance gains? Unknown.

You may get better transcode speeds, if - 1 )you use background transcode, and/or 2) export to ProRes first. If you use background transcode, that optimized media will be used in your export, so the export is faster. If you export to ProRes and then transcode that flat ProRes master file for Vimeo, the total time may be faster than a direct export to Vimeo specs.

- Oliver

Oliver Peters - oliverpeters.com


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Patrick Sheppard
Re: Seriously though: New Mac or carry on with maxed out 5.1 Tower
on Apr 24, 2020 at 6:10:30 pm

Terry,

To your note about the OWC drive -- which I assume is the Accelsior 4M2 based on the 6,000 MB/s spec -- there may be a few things going on there that are affecting the read/write speed.

First, your Mac Pro model uses PCIe 2.0, which is about half the speed of PCIe 3.0. The 4M2 is PCIe 3.0 and therefore achieves the advertised 6,000 MB/s speeds with PCIe 3.0, even though it is backwards compatible with PCIe 2.0.

Second, the 4M2 is an x8 (aka 8-lane) card, so even if you have it installed into one of your bottom two PCIe slots, which are x16 (aka 16-lane), you would only see a theoretical maximum speed of 4,000 MB/s (and in reality it would be less than that due to system overhead).

But based on your stated read/write speeds, it sounds like maybe you have the 4M2 installed into one of the top two PCIe slots? If so, that would explain the 1,300 MB/s speeds you reported. The top two PCIe slots are x4 (aka 4-lane), for which the theoretical top speed is 2,000 MB/s, and in reality is more like 1,500 MB/s -- which is very close to the 1,300 MB/s that you're seeing.

To sum up, it sounds like what's happening is that the 4M2 card is being speed-crippled three times over:

-- first, by the speed difference between PCIe 2.0 and 3.0;

-- second, by the fact that the 4M2 card is only x8 and therefore would only get up to x8 speeds even when installed into one of the Mac Pro's x16 slots; and

-- third, if I'm right about the 4M2 actually being installed into one of the top two PCIe slots, then you'd only have an effective speed consistent with PCIe 2.0 x4.

If the third factor is true, then you should see a significant speed increase by moving the 4M2 card to one of the Mac Pro's bottom two PCIe slots. Or if it is already installed into one of those slots, then there's something else affecting the read/write speed.


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Terry Flaxton
Re: Seriously though: New Mac or carry on with maxed out 5.1 Tower
on Apr 24, 2020 at 9:10:16 pm

Hey thanks - you are right about the top two slots - it's 22.00 at night here in the UK but will try this tomorrow morning and report back. There's a graphics card in the bottom slot.

Thanks

Made my first video in 1976, A long term programme maker, DP, editing etc - changing with AR/VR/MR media -


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Bernard Newnham
Re: Seriously though: New Mac or carry on with maxed out 5.1 Tower
on Apr 25, 2020 at 8:43:24 am

Given that Apple look like they are going to dump Intel - I read in The Times - it's probably a bad time to think of updating. What if they decide to EOL the incredibly expensive new MacPro you just bought and tell you that the even newer MacARM is the only thing to buy? It comes with wonderful new Thunderbolt and Lightning MegaPower (TM) and brand new SuperConnectors (TM), so you'll be the proud owner of the very fastest and amazingness computer anywhere. And the biggest willie. But you won't be able to use any of the peripheral gear that cost you a fortune not too long ago.

Bernie


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Terry Flaxton
Re: Seriously though: New Mac or carry on with maxed out 5.1 Tower
on Apr 25, 2020 at 8:51:24 am

Yes I did see the news report and immediately worried about arm chips and how they just might not work with older software that would get modified and lead us down the same apple maze that's been going on for years. It makes me wonder - because we all might think of Steve Jobs as being the golden era (albeit broken up into different parts and histories what with the head of windows getting hold of it and signing away core ideas), but he was interested in instability too. These days however the costs are huge - but and this always comes right back at you, the other routes are equally unpalatable...

Made my first video in 1976, A long term programme maker, DP, editing etc - changing with AR/VR/MR media -


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Steve Connor
Re: Seriously though: New Mac or carry on with maxed out 5.1 Tower
on Apr 25, 2020 at 11:10:37 am

[Bernard Newnham] "What if they decide to EOL the incredibly expensive new MacPro you just bought and tell you that the even newer MacARM is the only thing to buy? It comes with wonderful new Thunderbolt and Lightning MegaPower (TM) and brand new SuperConnectors (TM), so you'll be the proud owner of the very fastest and amazingness computer anywhere. And the biggest willie. But you won't be able to use any of the peripheral gear that cost you a fortune not too long ago."

Not going to happen


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Oliver Peters
Re: Seriously though: New Mac or carry on with maxed out 5.1 Tower
on Apr 25, 2020 at 2:15:05 pm

I think we have to take the ARM stories with a grain of salt. While it may make sense for a replacement for the basic MacBook, these chips aren't up to the task of the heavy lifting handled by Apple's current crop of Core i7, i9, and Xeon CPU. Maybe in a few years, but not around the corner. So does it make sense to run a bifurcated approach with macOS?

- Oliver

Oliver Peters - oliverpeters.com


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Terry Flaxton
Re: Seriously though: New Mac or carry on with maxed out 5.1 Tower
on Apr 25, 2020 at 9:38:14 am

Patrick - I knew there was a reason that I didn't put the $M2 in the second to bottom slot: The Saphire RX580 graphics card is big and when you add the 4M2 just above it which has two little elements hanging down into the path of the fan blades....

So the only other possibility is a new graphics card with a lower profile - $$ (and I chucked out an nvideo Quadro K2000 for the 580)....

And I hear that the Expansion slot Utility that went is now coming back with the new macs and catalina - I wonder if I should go from Mojave to Catalina just to get that to move slots around with expansion slot utility? But then I have a tempo esata card that still works on Mojave (when I beleive it shouldn't) will Catalina kill that operability???

Made my first video in 1976, A long term programme maker, DP, editing etc - changing with AR/VR/MR media -


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Terry Flaxton
Re: Seriously though: New Mac or carry on with maxed out 5.1 Tower
on Apr 25, 2020 at 2:35:31 pm

Patrick - I tried again and put the 4MT2 above the Saphire 580 and blocked it up enough to clear the blades, put the tempo esata back (which shouldn't work in Mojave according to both Sonnet and apple) but does and it all now works - I'll check it for over heating.

Thanks you again, I've just got an extra 1000mbs and can watch what I'm doing in 4k in best quality in best performance! Fantastic.

Made my first video in 1976, A long term programme maker, DP, editing etc - changing with AR/VR/MR media -


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Herb Sevush
Re: Seriously though: New Mac or carry on with maxed out 5.1 Tower
on Apr 25, 2020 at 1:26:39 pm

Reasons to upgrade:

Thunderbolt 3, which makes a huge difference when dealing with external raids and drives.
GFX card upgrades, blowing away the performance of the 580.
Catalina compatibility (and all future OSX upgrades)

Are these enough to justify the cost? YMMV.

Herb Sevush
Zebra Productions
---------------------------
nothin' attached to nothin'
"Deciding the spine is the process of editing" F. Bieberkopf


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Terry Flaxton
Re: Seriously though: New Mac or carry on with maxed out 5.1 Tower
on Apr 25, 2020 at 3:06:39 pm

Herb - I should say I'm pretty convinced I'll go to a new mac shortly - mainly because of the background architecture and I can see in the next year going up to 8k for what I do (because the market I work for is requiring that). All the outboard storage I have - around 90tb of it is esata so there is a reason to keep one machine going at the old level. I've been migrating since 1976 onwards - effectively leapfrogging by having a set of working macs in various OSX's - and it's always a question of when to reinvest. I have a mac museum.

So: "performance of GFX card upgrades": are you talking about assisting the cores in their work? And how many cores is relevant? I have 12 at the moment so how many would make that shift impossible not to do? 16 or even 24 maybe?

And with Catalina as opposed to Mojave (because I can upgrade to Catalina easily enough with the 5.1) so I'll have three OSX's working on the same machine at different points) what exactly is that going to give currently? (I get it that it's a future upgrade situation that is the main selling point).

This one strand has given me 1000 mbs extra on a drive due to my own stuck in a box mentality (and thanks Patrick) so thanks to everyone here for responding.

Made my first video in 1976, A long term programme maker, DP, editing etc - changing with AR/VR/MR media -


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Herb Sevush
Re: Seriously though: New Mac or carry on with maxed out 5.1 Tower
on Apr 25, 2020 at 8:25:37 pm

[Terry Flaxton] "All the outboard storage I have - around 90tb of it is esata so there is a reason to keep one machine going at the old level."

I don't know what kind of speed your are getting with the 6GB/s eSata raids but I doubt it's anywhere close to what you can get with Thblt 3 at 40GB/s. I'm doing 2500 MBs with an 8 bay raid 5 and you can go even faster with an SSD raid. I do a lot of multicam editing and disk speed is essential for me.

[Terry Flaxton] "So: "performance of GFX card upgrades": are you talking about assisting the cores in their work? "

Modern NLE's offload alot of work to the GFX card's GPU instead of solely using the CPU cores. Each NLE is different in how they leverage the GPU ( I use Ppro ) but better GPU equals better performance. The available GFX cards for the 2019 Mac Pro are an order of magnitude better thanthe 580x which is available as the base model. A magnitude higher cost as well.

[Terry Flaxton] " how many cores is relevant? I have 12 at the moment so how many would make that shift impossible not to do? 16 or even 24 maybe?"

You would have to look up the best CPU for the NLE you use. The sweet spot in "bang for the buck" seems to be either 12 or 16 cores. YMMV.

[Terry Flaxton] "And with Catalina as opposed to Mojave (because I can upgrade to Catalina easily enough with the 5.1) so I'll have three OSX's working on the same machine at different points) what exactly is that going to give currently? (I get it that it's a future upgrade situation that is the main selling point)."

The future upgrade aspect is the only reason to be interested in Catalina at the moment. I can't think of one advantage in terms of daily use at this point. As a side note you are not going to be able to run Mojave and Sierra on the 2019 Mac Pro unless you have advanced programming chops. As far as Apple is concerned nothing earlier than Catalina can run the 2019.

Herb Sevush
Zebra Productions
---------------------------
nothin' attached to nothin'
"Deciding the spine is the process of editing" F. Bieberkopf


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Bob Zelin
Re: Seriously though: New Mac or carry on with maxed out 5.1 Tower
on Apr 25, 2020 at 11:01:12 pm

oh my God - I am trying SO HARD to not respond unprofessionally to Terry Flaxton - but it's becoming really hard not to. We are as old or older than you, and I am about to explode from your posts.
You are so desperately hanging onto your old antiquated hardware, and trying to justify it - while the rest of us OLD GUYS have done the right thing. I am minutes away from booking a flight to the UK, flying to your location, hiring a couple of local thugs, holding your dog hostage, and stealing at least $6000 US of your money to get you a 2019 Mac Pro (and I will show you exactly what third party hardware to purchase) - just like Herb Sevush has suffered thru when he got his third party hardware.
And when you need new storage -
http://www.span.com

OK - I should probably just shut up right now.

You know what you need to do. And it has nothing to do with what you purchased before 2012.

Bob Zelin

Bob Zelin
Rescue 1, Inc.
bobzelin@icloud.com


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Patrick Sheppard
Re: Seriously though: New Mac or carry on with maxed out 5.1 Tower
on Apr 28, 2020 at 7:30:01 pm

Terry,

Glad to hear you were able to move the 4M2 and see better performance! Nice thing about that card is that when you do step up to a new Mac, you'll be able to take advantage of the high speed it was intended for since you'll be on PCIe 3.0.

As for concerns about temperature, I suggest buying TG Pro by Tunabelly Software. It's on sale for $10 right now (usually $20). It will allow you to manually adjust the fan speeds in your Mac to bring the temperatures down, and of course it monitors the temps and provides that info in real time. The developer issues regular updates as well. I've used this software myself for many years and highly recommend it.

Patrick


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Terry Flaxton
Re: Seriously though: New Mac or carry on with maxed out 5.1 Tower
on Apr 28, 2020 at 10:13:05 pm

Patrick - that's very kind of you to tolerate my questions. Your help produced a real world increase in my knowledge and material circumstance. It may well be that I go across to a new mac and all the rest - but technical knowledge is important to acquire and go though understanding. Thanks again to you and all who helped.

Made my first video in 1976, A long term programme maker, DP, editing etc - changing with AR/VR/MR media -


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Terry Flaxton
Re: Seriously though: New Mac or carry on with maxed out 5.1 Tower
on Jun 3, 2020 at 10:53:02 am

Ok so this is to everyone who responded to my post about maxing out a 5.1 Tower and yes Bob Zelin I am now biting the bullet. So here's the question - I am solely using FCPX an often run 4 - 10 layers 4k with many effects:

I can buy either a 16 core 2020 mac with some internal extras such as a vega card and/or an apple after burner

Or I can buy a 24 core 2020 mac plus a little extra ram but no internal vega nor after burner

Both will have 128 gig ram and an internal OWC 4tb M2 and also a 16tb M2 at 5800 mbs for non stutter playback)

which route should I take?

Made my first video in 1976, A long term programme maker, DP, editing etc - changing with AR/VR/MR media -


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Joe Marler
Re: Seriously though: New Mac or carry on with maxed out 5.1 Tower
on Jun 3, 2020 at 12:41:36 pm

[Terry Flaxton] "I can buy either a 16 core 2020 mac with some internal extras such as a vega card and/or an apple after burner

Or I can buy a 24 core 2020 mac plus a little extra ram but no internal vega nor after burner"


The only thing the afterburner currently does is *decode* ProRes and ProRes RAW. It does not help encode of ProRes or decode/encode of any other codec. ProRes and ProRes RAW are already fairly easy to decode, esp. regular ProRes. Yes if you will be using multiple layers of 6k or 8k ProRes RAW that can get CPU-intensive and the afterburner card would help - but only in such cases.

It seems an upgraded GPU would have broader benefit.

Your current 5,1 MP does not have hardware acceleration for Long GOP formats. If all your acquisition is ProRes and all your exports are ProRes this is a non-issue. But if you ever must handle more compressed formats, a newer machine would likely help.

That said, FCPX on any current Mac is sluggish on certain formats such as Panasonic's 400 mbps 10-bit all-intra, decode of Fuji's 10-bit HEVC 400 mbps, and encode of 10-bit HEVC. It is not super fast on Sony XAVC-S either. The latest version of Resolve Studio on MacOS is a lot faster on some of these, so that proves it's not a hardware issue.


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Terry Flaxton
Re: Seriously though: New Mac or carry on with maxed out 5.1 Tower
on Jun 3, 2020 at 1:13:59 pm

Hi, I have no interest in further compressed codecs - other than what FCPX outputs to write on Vimeo which is if I have to share for a team (composer, collaborators etc). So I can use Resolve Studio if I have to come out of Pro Res. I wasn't clear about the afterburner. Years back I bought a red rocket but shortly after they got overtaken by computing power... Thanks again.

Made my first video in 1976, A long term programme maker, DP, editing etc - changing with AR/VR/MR media -


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Tom Sefton
Re: Seriously though: New Mac or carry on with maxed out 5.1 Tower
on Jun 3, 2020 at 1:12:46 pm

Hi Terry,

We have the 16 core Mac Pro with an afterburner card, Pro Vega II and a Vega VII installed. We got the base level of RAM and upgraded to 256GB afterwards.

Working with ProRes, its incredibly fast. Afterburner does make a difference to encode times; not a huge amount, but if you are exporting hours of footage, that will be minutes of time saved. You can look at bare feats to show the increase in speed.

Based on the tests that bare feats have published, a sweet spot might be to use the cheaper 5700XT which way outperforms the base level GPU, and offers good thunderbolt 3 connectivity. Radeon VIIs are reasonably cheap and can be installed to offer even more performance boosts in resolve when grading and noise reducing footage.

Unless you work with 3D models and very complex Ae pieces, 24 cores probably won't be utilised all that often.

We are using ours for multiple layers of 8K ProRes 60p footage in a VR project, as well as the noise reduction and grading in Resolve. The improvement in performance over a top spec iMac Pro has been very, very impressive.

I'm not spending your money, but based on what we have experienced, and what you are looking at doing, a 16 core with an afterburner should be very quick.

Co-owner at Pollen Studio
http://www.pollenstudio.co.uk


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