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Older upgraded Mac Pro or newer MBP for HD editing?

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Lloyd LemmermannOlder upgraded Mac Pro or newer MBP for HD editing?
by on Apr 29, 2014 at 2:09:55 am

Really not sure if this is the right forum for this, since it's a hardware question as opposed to an OS issue, but I'll start here anyway. I'm kind of bewildered by the more involved specs; maybe someone can help me sort apples from oranges, no pun intended.

I have a well spec'd 2012 (Quad core 2.7G i7) Macbook Pro 9,1 that serves me very well as a photographer, but I'm expanding into HD video editing and am encountering some serious render and export bottlenecks (15 minute basic sequence taking nearly 2 hours to export for example, CUDA-enabled) that would be improved by some upgrades, including an SSD boot disk, faster HDD's for scratch and caches, and a thunderbolt RAID 0 for media. But I'm maxed out on RAM at 16GB, so there's no upgrading there.

I should add that I'm for now working with DSLR files, perhaps transcoding to ProRes or DNX. Usually 1080/30. May some AVCHD. Not doing 4k. Running Creative Cloud.

or...

I have first dibs on a well-upgraded Mac Pro 3,1, eight core 2.8GHz, 24GB, with a 480GB PCIe SSD, Hardware RAID, 4- 750GB drives, 120 GB SSD in optibay, and an eSatax2/usb3x2 PCIe card. Decent GPU (gtx285.) $1700 all in. No thunderbolt of course.

I like the Macbook, but am concerned (rightly or wrongly) with heat and wear and tear from video production.
I'm wondering if I'll like the performance and the longevity of the upgraded Mac Pro with an older processor, or should I go with the MBP upgrades?

A new Pro would be preferable of course, but that's considerably more $ than is possible.


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John DavidsonRe: Older upgraded Mac Pro or newer MBP for HD editing?
by on Apr 29, 2014 at 2:43:38 am

The Macbook beats the 2008 Mac Pro 3,1 hands down. It doesn't matter what's in it, it's still a six year old tower computer with no thunderbolt.

John Davidson | President / Creative Director | Magic Feather Inc.


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Lloyd LemmermannRe: Older upgraded Mac Pro or newer MBP for HD editing?
by on Apr 29, 2014 at 5:31:00 am

So it sounds like thunderbolt is the trump card for you?


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Al BergsteinRe: Older upgraded Mac Pro or newer MBP for HD editing?
by on Apr 29, 2014 at 4:05:23 pm

Lloyd, I've gone through much the same as you since 2010. Your 2008 machine is quite old but for DSLR HD footage, with 16 GBs of RAM, should do fine. Replacing it with the newer tower is not a bad idea either, but let me ask you a few questions.

Do you need laptop portability? And is this going to be your only editing machine that you can afford? If not, then you might prefer a newer desktop.

You can buy a brand new iMac 27" for not much more than your Mac Pro used tower will cost. That's what I sold my Mac Pro to buy. The 2 GB graphic card is great. I also have a MB Pro i7 16GBs RAM mid 2012. So I am familiar with all three machines. I much prefer using my iMac to my MB Pro for video editing. I use Premiere CC and CS6. I also do photography professionally and also prefer the iMac for working on stills.

If you buy the Mac Pro, you can add a USB 3.0 card to it. That helps. TB is not a panacea, just an interface. USB 3.0 is fine for most of what I do. I really can't see a difference between them. But I have been moving towards all TB for future purchases.

I also use a eSata to TB box to be able to continue to use my eSata drives. This works fine with both by laptop and desktop.

I would wonder though what you are doing to the footage to have it take that long to render. Most of my footage is rendering on an almost 1:1 basis, maybe a bit longer. I don't use lots of efx or looks to my footage, standard doc work. You will render much faster on any of these newer machines than your old 2008 does. If you are doing a bunch of stabilization in your editor, that will chew up processing a lot.

Another last thing to add about the MB Pro, it does run hot if you are using it for hours and hours to do rendering. Remember, it's not really made for production work like this, meaning doing the overnight processing that film studios can end up doing. It can get the job done, and if it's your only machine, you'll be better off using it than an iMac, since you can't take the iMac on the road.

Al


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Lloyd LemmermannRe: Older upgraded Mac Pro or newer MBP for HD editing?
by on Apr 29, 2014 at 6:17:52 pm

Thanks, Al, more good insights and I appreciate it. I've pretty much decided against the 08 tower purchase, because of several observations, here and in the Apple forums, about its limitations. It does have 24GB Ram already installed, but that doesn't balance out the other drawbacks in my mind.

I like the portability, but am ambivalent about using the laptop too heavily for video production. For now though I'll likely put in an SSD system disk as well as an external media TB RAID. Maybe an external scratch as well via TB. Both good investments whether or not I eventually add an iMac or a newer tower. That should help the export times considerably; my HDD is only 5400, and the single external 7200 disk was connected via usb3 - which, from my experience is great for transfer, but not so much for media production reading/writing.

My slowdowns probably are related to an inferior (for video editing) disk setup, and the fact that I'm editing Nikon's D600 h264 rather than avchd. The Premiere exports have been straightforward, one video track with two audio, though with some color correction sharpening effects. And I'm new to this... took me a bit to discover that I didn't have the CUDA driver installed. That helped some on renders, but didn't see much change on the export. More to discover, I'm sure.

What processor are you running in your iMac? I'd consider that route if I could get an i7 for less. Maybe the next time they get updated, though I'd like to run a separate system/startup disk, and I don't think I can do that in the iMac?

Thanks again, helped a lot. Here's additional feedback on the Apple forum: https://discussions.apple.com/message/25622848?ac_cid=op123456#25622848


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Al BergsteinRe: Older upgraded Mac Pro or newer MBP for HD editing?
by on Apr 30, 2014 at 6:12:20 am

I think my iMac is the latest i7. I'm on my MBPro right now so I can't check. But when I bought it in January, it was still current top of the line.

I believe you can partition the Mac hard drive and choose which one to boot to. I've never bothered. Or use a virtual machine.

Al


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John DavidsonRe: Older upgraded Mac Pro or newer MBP for HD editing?
by on May 2, 2014 at 7:14:33 pm

There are lots of things. The i7 processors, airplay to Apple TV's, drive speeds (6G vs 3G) - basically all the small but cumulative improvements in the last few years make a huge difference.

But yeah, Thunderbolt is certainly a big plus!

John Davidson | President / Creative Director | Magic Feather Inc.


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