In Search of the New Mac Pro

In a series of articles we’re going to explore the options available to the postproduction professionals looking to upgrade from their aging Mac Pros.

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mac-pro-gallery6-2013It’s the end of 2016, over three years since Apple announced the new, sleek monolith Mac Pro (affectionately?) dubbed the trashcan Mac by the user community. And so what do I see powering the vast majority of edit bays in Hollywood these days? The old Mac Pros–you know, the ones that cut into your fingers when you hold them by the handles? The ones that were last released in 2012…

For all their sex appeal, the trashcan Mac Pros are crazy expensive when fully loaded, expandable only via Thunderbolt breakout chassis (add more crazy expensive here), and start to lose their sex appeal once the rat’s nest of cables begins snaking its way out of the back of the thing to create a functional working platform. Oh, and they haven’t been upgraded since their release three years ago–a small eternity in the modern tech era.

In contrast, the older Mac Pros of 2012 have oodles of PCIe slots, accessible RAM upgradeable to 128GB, and with as many as 12 cores worth of 3.06GHz Westmere Xeon processing these machines still pack a healthy punch. As I’ve said in previous articles, these days it’s all about the GPU and those 2012 machines can still accommodate the latest cards by either Nvidia or AMD.

Alas, the mainstream emergence of Thunderbolt is finally revealing the wrinkles on those aging towers. The blinding speed of Thunderbolt 3 combined with the proliferation of Thunderbolt drives are a double blow.rugged-tb-back-no-cap-400x400rugged-tb-2-3-q-opened-400x400

With so many people using those little orange LaCie drives for their media it’s hard to play in a universe that lacks Thunderbolt connectivity. But hang on, those drives also have a USB 3.0 connection. That’s just as fast for what a portable drive puts out, isn’t it? Oh, that’s right: Apple’s 2012 Mac Pro only shipped with USB 2.0 ports, even though USB 3 devices started hitting the market in 2010. (As an aside, you can purchase PCI expansion cards to add USB 3.0 to your Mac Pro tower.)

The Mac Pro of the future

macpro-select-box-201504What will the Mac Pro of the future look like? We don’t know. The sorts of people who have nothing better to do than scour SDK source code (teenage geeks and computer science majors still living with their parents most likely) have pointed to El Capitan code denoting a Mac Pro with 10 USB 3 ports. But who knows if that
refers to an actual product or a skunkworks project deep within the bowels of Cupertino.

It’s completely possible that Apple will choose not to renew the Mac Pro at all. Instead, like the ill-fated iPod Hi-Fi it might quietly fade away in awkward silence. After all, Apple of 2016 is a consumer electronics company and the Mac Pro’s tiny market is a blip on the profitability radar.

Another scenario is that Apple will persist with the existing model. Apple is great at many things, but it doesn’t always fess up to it’s missteps. A return to a big box with lots of expansion slots says, “That whole compact trashcan thing? Yeah, we didn’t really think through the use cases.”

Would an update of the current Mac Pro be a bad thing? Maybe not. 2017 is a better place to live if you’re counting on expansion via Thunderbolt. With sustained Thunderbolt 3 RAID speeds climbing well beyond 2,000 MBps (that’s bytes not bits) and companies like Razer releasing hot-swappable PCIe Thunderbolt expansion units in the sub-$500 range, it’s conceivable that a modern Mac Pro could be efficiently outfitted for high-end post-production work.

Moving past denial: your Mac Pro replacement system

There have been rumors that Apple will release a new Mac Pro before the end of November, 2016. It seems a little strange that they would have missed the opportunity to announce at the October event, but it’s not completely unprecedented.

But let’s assume we arrive at December 1st with nary a word from Cupertino. Once you’ve decided you can no longer wait for a refresh of the Mac Pro, what are your options?

Build a Hackintosh

Hackintoshes were all the rage for a while there. The idea is this: buy a bunch of PC hardware that’s really similar to Mac hardware and use a tweaked driver set to get everything purring like a real Mac (since modern Macs run under the same architecture and tend to use third party components like networking chips that are available as standalone PCIe cards).

[caption id="attachment_41115" align="alignright" width="377"]tonymac tonymacx86.com – a popular destination for Hackintosh builders[/caption]

The upside is you can actually end up with a higher-performance machine than the current Mac releases, and expand the system to your heart’s content.

The downside? In addition to the dubious legalities (has anyone bothered to read the OS X EULA? I’m sure there’s plenty of, “Thou shalt not run this on a Hackintosh” language in there), a minor OS update can wreak havoc with all those custom drivers. I’ve noticed a pattern with Hackintosh experimenters: For the first few weeks after successfully getting a Hackintosh up and running, the Hackintosher is a gushing evangelist. Come back to them a month or two later and they’ll sheepishly admit that they’re back to using it as a Windows machine. Why? An unexpected software update got ‘em.

Here’s the end reality: apart from the experience of being in the OS, the apps behave the same on either platform. So why deal with the pain of trying to keep homeostasis on a machine pretending to be a Mac when you could quite happily be running the same software under Windows? After all, Windows 10 doesn’t suck.

My advice: Leave the kexting (not a typo) to the teenage geeks and computer science majors still living with their parents. Leave your Windows machine a Windows machine and your Mac a Mac. Anything else is just unnatural.

Buy an iMac

OK, so Apple may not be updating the Mac Pro–at least not often–but the iMac gets plenty of love. It fits the image of Apple as a consumer electronics company and as such undoubtedly has a rosy future ahead of it. Could it be your next edit bay solution?

imac-gallery1-2015The answer that may surprise you is: maybe. The current high-end 27 inchers comes in well configured at $US3,600. That buys you a 4.0 GHz quad-core processor, 32GB of RAM (a decent amount for 4K work), a 512GB SSD internal drive and a 4GB AMD Radeon R9 M395X.

At the end of the day the CPU and bus architecture is probably going to be the biggest bottleneck to performance. After all, what we’re really looking at here is a really big laptop on a stand. The iMac is built for heat management in a compact form factor and that has to end in some performance compromises.

Expandability? Yes–via the two Thunderbolt 2 slots. There’s enough bandwidth there to get good performance from outboard GPU’s, albeit not quite as efficiently nor affordably as Thunderbolt 3 (which will doubtless make its way into the next iMac refresh).

And then there’s the IPS 5K display with enough color accuracy to be useful as a color grading monitor for broadcast projects (although I’m not a professional colorist nor color scientist, so those of you who are feel free to disabuse me in the comments).

In summary, the iMac actually presents as a viable mid-range edit, grading and effects station. It’s not going to be your choice for multiple streams of RAW 4K, but it could be a very solid option for ProRes, DNxHD and DNxHR workflows.

Linux

So you just can’t stand Windows, but you don’t feel like the Mac hardware gives you what you need. How about Linux? After all, it’s a close cousin to the UNIX base architecture of OS X. Could it linuxlogobe your new editing OS?

If you’re editing in DaVinci Resolve or Lightworks, maybe. For Avid or Premiere there isn’t a Linux version so you’re out of luck.

More importantly though, if you love the Mac it’s probably because of it’s user-friendly UI design. Despite what your developer and IT friends will try to tell you, Linux is still geek territory. Yes it comes with a variety of nice-looking GUI makeovers, but at the end of the day to get all your hardware talking nicely to your software you’ll find yourself grepping away in a terminal at some point. That’s great if you’re a sys admin, not so helpful if you’re a creative who just wants to sit down and edit.

The closest compromise: Windows + Macbook

I want to be clear up front: I love working on a Mac. Even with multiple Macs and PCs in my studio I still find myself gravitating to working on a Mac if I have no performance need to be elsewhere.

i_s01_z840_hero_tcm245_2169119_tcm245_1871312_tcm245-2169119The most important question you should ask yourself of course is, “Why do I need a Mac?” If the answer in part is the ability to encode to ProRes, then yes you need a Mac. (Windows software like Resolve can read ProRes media, it just can’t write to the format.) Before you settle on that as a deal breaker though, you might want to check out Avid’s new DNxHR codec to see if it fits the bill. It is a cross-platform solution and obviously has the support of Avid moving macbookinto the future.

Likewise if you plan on editing in Final Cut Pro you’re only option is Mac. But for everything else there’s Windows. And with Thunderbolt finally arriving on the Windows platform in full force (the initial driver hiccups seem to have cleared up) there’s no real performance differentiator between the two platforms.

Now if like me you prefer a Mac because you just enjoy the experience of working in the Finder and using Apple Mail, may I propose the following: get yourself an updated MacBook for all the stuff you love in a Mac and buy a Windows workstation as your primary editing platform. Once you’ve launched Media Composer/Resolve/Premiere Pro/After Effects/<insert name of your favorite app here> the experience is essentially the same on either platform. Even if you’re jumping between apps you’ll only have to look at the Windows desktop for a few seconds in between. If it offends you that much, have an intern launch it while you get coffee.

Buy a Mac Pro

This is the hardest option to recommend, simply because right now you’re paying a premium for 2013’s technology, with no ability to upgrade components later. Of course you can always sit and wait for the miracle of the hardware refresh. The beauty of waiting in the tech industry is that things are only going to get better and/or cheaper while you wait.

Up next…

In a follow up article we’ll take a look at configuring a high-performing workstation and look at the pros and cons of heavy customization in the PC world.

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mac-pro-gallery6-2013It’s the end of 2016, over three years since Apple announced the new, sleek monolith Mac Pro (affectionately?) dubbed the trashcan Mac by the user community. And so what do I see powering the vast majority of edit bays in Hollywood these days? The old Mac Pros–you know, the ones that cut into your fingers when you hold them by the handles? The ones that were last released in 2012…

For all their sex appeal, the trashcan Mac Pros are crazy expensive when fully loaded, expandable only via Thunderbolt breakout chassis (add more crazy expensive here), and start to lose their sex appeal once the rat’s nest of cables begins snaking its way out of the back of the thing to create a functional working platform. Oh, and they haven’t been upgraded since their release three years ago–a small eternity in the modern tech era.

In contrast, the older Mac Pros of 2012 have oodles of PCIe slots, accessible RAM upgradeable to 128GB, and with as many as 12 cores worth of 3.06GHz Westmere Xeon processing these machines still pack a healthy punch. As I’ve said in previous articles, these days it’s all about the GPU and those 2012 machines can still accommodate the latest cards by either Nvidia or AMD.

Alas, the mainstream emergence of Thunderbolt is finally revealing the wrinkles on those aging towers. The blinding speed of Thunderbolt 3 combined with the proliferation of Thunderbolt drives are a double blow.rugged-tb-back-no-cap-400x400rugged-tb-2-3-q-opened-400x400

With so many people using those little orange LaCie drives for their media it’s hard to play in a universe that lacks Thunderbolt connectivity. But hang on, those drives also have a USB 3.0 connection. That’s just as fast for what a portable drive puts out, isn’t it? Oh, that’s right: Apple’s 2012 Mac Pro only shipped with USB 2.0 ports, even though USB 3 devices started hitting the market in 2010. (As an aside, you can purchase PCI expansion cards to add USB 3.0 to your Mac Pro tower.)

The Mac Pro of the future

macpro-select-box-201504What will the Mac Pro of the future look like? We don’t know. The sorts of people who have nothing better to do than scour SDK source code (teenage geeks and computer science majors still living with their parents most likely) have pointed to El Capitan code denoting a Mac Pro with 10 USB 3 ports. But who knows if that
refers to an actual product or a skunkworks project deep within the bowels of Cupertino.

It’s completely possible that Apple will choose not to renew the Mac Pro at all. Instead, like the ill-fated iPod Hi-Fi it might quietly fade away in awkward silence. After all, Apple of 2016 is a consumer electronics company and the Mac Pro’s tiny market is a blip on the profitability radar.

Another scenario is that Apple will persist with the existing model. Apple is great at many things, but it doesn’t always fess up to it’s missteps. A return to a big box with lots of expansion slots says, “That whole compact trashcan thing? Yeah, we didn’t really think through the use cases.”

Would an update of the current Mac Pro be a bad thing? Maybe not. 2017 is a better place to live if you’re counting on expansion via Thunderbolt. With sustained Thunderbolt 3 RAID speeds climbing well beyond 2,000 MBps (that’s bytes not bits) and companies like Razer releasing hot-swappable PCIe Thunderbolt expansion units in the sub-$500 range, it’s conceivable that a modern Mac Pro could be efficiently outfitted for high-end post-production work.

Moving past denial: your Mac Pro replacement system

There have been rumors that Apple will release a new Mac Pro before the end of November, 2016. It seems a little strange that they would have missed the opportunity to announce at the October event, but it’s not completely unprecedented.

But let’s assume we arrive at December 1st with nary a word from Cupertino. Once you’ve decided you can no longer wait for a refresh of the Mac Pro, what are your options?

Build a Hackintosh

Hackintoshes were all the rage for a while there. The idea is this: buy a bunch of PC hardware that’s really similar to Mac hardware and use a tweaked driver set to get everything purring like a real Mac (since modern Macs run under the same architecture and tend to use third party components like networking chips that are available as standalone PCIe cards).

[caption id="attachment_41115" align="alignright" width="377"]tonymac tonymacx86.com – a popular destination for Hackintosh builders[/caption]

The upside is you can actually end up with a higher-performance machine than the current Mac releases, and expand the system to your heart’s content.

The downside? In addition to the dubious legalities (has anyone bothered to read the OS X EULA? I’m sure there’s plenty of, “Thou shalt not run this on a Hackintosh” language in there), a minor OS update can wreak havoc with all those custom drivers. I’ve noticed a pattern with Hackintosh experimenters: For the first few weeks after successfully getting a Hackintosh up and running, the Hackintosher is a gushing evangelist. Come back to them a month or two later and they’ll sheepishly admit that they’re back to using it as a Windows machine. Why? An unexpected software update got ‘em.

Here’s the end reality: apart from the experience of being in the OS, the apps behave the same on either platform. So why deal with the pain of trying to keep homeostasis on a machine pretending to be a Mac when you could quite happily be running the same software under Windows? After all, Windows 10 doesn’t suck.

My advice: Leave the kexting (not a typo) to the teenage geeks and computer science majors still living with their parents. Leave your Windows machine a Windows machine and your Mac a Mac. Anything else is just unnatural.

Buy an iMac

OK, so Apple may not be updating the Mac Pro–at least not often–but the iMac gets plenty of love. It fits the image of Apple as a consumer electronics company and as such undoubtedly has a rosy future ahead of it. Could it be your next edit bay solution?

imac-gallery1-2015The answer that may surprise you is: maybe. The current high-end 27 inchers comes in well configured at $US3,600. That buys you a 4.0 GHz quad-core processor, 32GB of RAM (a decent amount for 4K work), a 512GB SSD internal drive and a 4GB AMD Radeon R9 M395X.

At the end of the day the CPU and bus architecture is probably going to be the biggest bottleneck to performance. After all, what we’re really looking at here is a really big laptop on a stand. The iMac is built for heat management in a compact form factor and that has to end in some performance compromises.

Expandability? Yes–via the two Thunderbolt 2 slots. There’s enough bandwidth there to get good performance from outboard GPU’s, albeit not quite as efficiently nor affordably as Thunderbolt 3 (which will doubtless make its way into the next iMac refresh).

And then there’s the IPS 5K display with enough color accuracy to be useful as a color grading monitor for broadcast projects (although I’m not a professional colorist nor color scientist, so those of you who are feel free to disabuse me in the comments).

In summary, the iMac actually presents as a viable mid-range edit, grading and effects station. It’s not going to be your choice for multiple streams of RAW 4K, but it could be a very solid option for ProRes, DNxHD and DNxHR workflows.

Linux

So you just can’t stand Windows, but you don’t feel like the Mac hardware gives you what you need. How about Linux? After all, it’s a close cousin to the UNIX base architecture of OS X. Could it linuxlogobe your new editing OS?

If you’re editing in DaVinci Resolve or Lightworks, maybe. For Avid or Premiere there isn’t a Linux version so you’re out of luck.

More importantly though, if you love the Mac it’s probably because of it’s user-friendly UI design. Despite what your developer and IT friends will try to tell you, Linux is still geek territory. Yes it comes with a variety of nice-looking GUI makeovers, but at the end of the day to get all your hardware talking nicely to your software you’ll find yourself grepping away in a terminal at some point. That’s great if you’re a sys admin, not so helpful if you’re a creative who just wants to sit down and edit.

The closest compromise: Windows + Macbook

I want to be clear up front: I love working on a Mac. Even with multiple Macs and PCs in my studio I still find myself gravitating to working on a Mac if I have no performance need to be elsewhere.

i_s01_z840_hero_tcm245_2169119_tcm245_1871312_tcm245-2169119The most important question you should ask yourself of course is, “Why do I need a Mac?” If the answer in part is the ability to encode to ProRes, then yes you need a Mac. (Windows software like Resolve can read ProRes media, it just can’t write to the format.) Before you settle on that as a deal breaker though, you might want to check out Avid’s new DNxHR codec to see if it fits the bill. It is a cross-platform solution and obviously has the support of Avid moving macbookinto the future.

Likewise if you plan on editing in Final Cut Pro you’re only option is Mac. But for everything else there’s Windows. And with Thunderbolt finally arriving on the Windows platform in full force (the initial driver hiccups seem to have cleared up) there’s no real performance differentiator between the two platforms.

Now if like me you prefer a Mac because you just enjoy the experience of working in the Finder and using Apple Mail, may I propose the following: get yourself an updated MacBook for all the stuff you love in a Mac and buy a Windows workstation as your primary editing platform. Once you’ve launched Media Composer/Resolve/Premiere Pro/After Effects/<insert name of your favorite app here> the experience is essentially the same on either platform. Even if you’re jumping between apps you’ll only have to look at the Windows desktop for a few seconds in between. If it offends you that much, have an intern launch it while you get coffee.

Buy a Mac Pro

This is the hardest option to recommend, simply because right now you’re paying a premium for 2013’s technology, with no ability to upgrade components later. Of course you can always sit and wait for the miracle of the hardware refresh. The beauty of waiting in the tech industry is that things are only going to get better and/or cheaper while you wait.

Up next…

In a follow up article we’ll take a look at configuring a high-performing workstation and look at the pros and cons of heavy customization in the PC world.

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mac-pro-gallery6-2013It’s the end of 2016, over three years since Apple announced the new, sleek monolith Mac Pro (affectionately?) dubbed the trashcan Mac by the user community. And so what do I see powering the vast majority of edit bays in Hollywood these days? The old Mac Pros–you know, the ones that cut into your fingers when you hold them by the handles? The ones that were last released in 2012…

For all their sex appeal, the trashcan Mac Pros are crazy expensive when fully loaded, expandable only via Thunderbolt breakout chassis (add more crazy expensive here), and start to lose their sex appeal once the rat’s nest of cables begins snaking its way out of the back of the thing to create a functional working platform. Oh, and they haven’t been upgraded since their release three years ago–a small eternity in the modern tech era.

In contrast, the older Mac Pros of 2012 have oodles of PCIe slots, accessible RAM upgradeable to 128GB, and with as many as 12 cores worth of 3.06GHz Westmere Xeon processing these machines still pack a healthy punch. As I’ve said in previous articles, these days it’s all about the GPU and those 2012 machines can still accommodate the latest cards by either Nvidia or AMD.

Alas, the mainstream emergence of Thunderbolt is finally revealing the wrinkles on those aging towers. The blinding speed of Thunderbolt 3 combined with the proliferation of Thunderbolt drives are a double blow.rugged-tb-back-no-cap-400x400rugged-tb-2-3-q-opened-400x400

With so many people using those little orange LaCie drives for their media it’s hard to play in a universe that lacks Thunderbolt connectivity. But hang on, those drives also have a USB 3.0 connection. That’s just as fast for what a portable drive puts out, isn’t it? Oh, that’s right: Apple’s 2012 Mac Pro only shipped with USB 2.0 ports, even though USB 3 devices started hitting the market in 2010. (As an aside, you can purchase PCI expansion cards to add USB 3.0 to your Mac Pro tower.)

The Mac Pro of the future

macpro-select-box-201504What will the Mac Pro of the future look like? We don’t know. The sorts of people who have nothing better to do than scour SDK source code (teenage geeks and computer science majors still living with their parents most likely) have pointed to El Capitan code denoting a Mac Pro with 10 USB 3 ports. But who knows if that
refers to an actual product or a skunkworks project deep within the bowels of Cupertino.

It’s completely possible that Apple will choose not to renew the Mac Pro at all. Instead, like the ill-fated iPod Hi-Fi it might quietly fade away in awkward silence. After all, Apple of 2016 is a consumer electronics company and the Mac Pro’s tiny market is a blip on the profitability radar.

Another scenario is that Apple will persist with the existing model. Apple is great at many things, but it doesn’t always fess up to it’s missteps. A return to a big box with lots of expansion slots says, “That whole compact trashcan thing? Yeah, we didn’t really think through the use cases.”

Would an update of the current Mac Pro be a bad thing? Maybe not. 2017 is a better place to live if you’re counting on expansion via Thunderbolt. With sustained Thunderbolt 3 RAID speeds climbing well beyond 2,000 MBps (that’s bytes not bits) and companies like Razer releasing hot-swappable PCIe Thunderbolt expansion units in the sub-$500 range, it’s conceivable that a modern Mac Pro could be efficiently outfitted for high-end post-production work.

Moving past denial: your Mac Pro replacement system

There have been rumors that Apple will release a new Mac Pro before the end of November, 2016. It seems a little strange that they would have missed the opportunity to announce at the October event, but it’s not completely unprecedented.

But let’s assume we arrive at December 1st with nary a word from Cupertino. Once you’ve decided you can no longer wait for a refresh of the Mac Pro, what are your options?

Build a Hackintosh

Hackintoshes were all the rage for a while there. The idea is this: buy a bunch of PC hardware that’s really similar to Mac hardware and use a tweaked driver set to get everything purring like a real Mac (since modern Macs run under the same architecture and tend to use third party components like networking chips that are available as standalone PCIe cards).

[caption id="attachment_41115" align="alignright" width="377"]tonymac tonymacx86.com – a popular destination for Hackintosh builders[/caption]

The upside is you can actually end up with a higher-performance machine than the current Mac releases, and expand the system to your heart’s content.

The downside? In addition to the dubious legalities (has anyone bothered to read the OS X EULA? I’m sure there’s plenty of, “Thou shalt not run this on a Hackintosh” language in there), a minor OS update can wreak havoc with all those custom drivers. I’ve noticed a pattern with Hackintosh experimenters: For the first few weeks after successfully getting a Hackintosh up and running, the Hackintosher is a gushing evangelist. Come back to them a month or two later and they’ll sheepishly admit that they’re back to using it as a Windows machine. Why? An unexpected software update got ‘em.

Here’s the end reality: apart from the experience of being in the OS, the apps behave the same on either platform. So why deal with the pain of trying to keep homeostasis on a machine pretending to be a Mac when you could quite happily be running the same software under Windows? After all, Windows 10 doesn’t suck.

My advice: Leave the kexting (not a typo) to the teenage geeks and computer science majors still living with their parents. Leave your Windows machine a Windows machine and your Mac a Mac. Anything else is just unnatural.

Buy an iMac

OK, so Apple may not be updating the Mac Pro–at least not often–but the iMac gets plenty of love. It fits the image of Apple as a consumer electronics company and as such undoubtedly has a rosy future ahead of it. Could it be your next edit bay solution?

imac-gallery1-2015The answer that may surprise you is: maybe. The current high-end 27 inchers comes in well configured at $US3,600. That buys you a 4.0 GHz quad-core processor, 32GB of RAM (a decent amount for 4K work), a 512GB SSD internal drive and a 4GB AMD Radeon R9 M395X.

At the end of the day the CPU and bus architecture is probably going to be the biggest bottleneck to performance. After all, what we’re really looking at here is a really big laptop on a stand. The iMac is built for heat management in a compact form factor and that has to end in some performance compromises.

Expandability? Yes–via the two Thunderbolt 2 slots. There’s enough bandwidth there to get good performance from outboard GPU’s, albeit not quite as efficiently nor affordably as Thunderbolt 3 (which will doubtless make its way into the next iMac refresh).

And then there’s the IPS 5K display with enough color accuracy to be useful as a color grading monitor for broadcast projects (although I’m not a professional colorist nor color scientist, so those of you who are feel free to disabuse me in the comments).

In summary, the iMac actually presents as a viable mid-range edit, grading and effects station. It’s not going to be your choice for multiple streams of RAW 4K, but it could be a very solid option for ProRes, DNxHD and DNxHR workflows.

Linux

So you just can’t stand Windows, but you don’t feel like the Mac hardware gives you what you need. How about Linux? After all, it’s a close cousin to the UNIX base architecture of OS X. Could it linuxlogobe your new editing OS?

If you’re editing in DaVinci Resolve or Lightworks, maybe. For Avid or Premiere there isn’t a Linux version so you’re out of luck.

More importantly though, if you love the Mac it’s probably because of it’s user-friendly UI design. Despite what your developer and IT friends will try to tell you, Linux is still geek territory. Yes it comes with a variety of nice-looking GUI makeovers, but at the end of the day to get all your hardware talking nicely to your software you’ll find yourself grepping away in a terminal at some point. That’s great if you’re a sys admin, not so helpful if you’re a creative who just wants to sit down and edit.

The closest compromise: Windows + Macbook

I want to be clear up front: I love working on a Mac. Even with multiple Macs and PCs in my studio I still find myself gravitating to working on a Mac if I have no performance need to be elsewhere.

i_s01_z840_hero_tcm245_2169119_tcm245_1871312_tcm245-2169119The most important question you should ask yourself of course is, “Why do I need a Mac?” If the answer in part is the ability to encode to ProRes, then yes you need a Mac. (Windows software like Resolve can read ProRes media, it just can’t write to the format.) Before you settle on that as a deal breaker though, you might want to check out Avid’s new DNxHR codec to see if it fits the bill. It is a cross-platform solution and obviously has the support of Avid moving macbookinto the future.

Likewise if you plan on editing in Final Cut Pro you’re only option is Mac. But for everything else there’s Windows. And with Thunderbolt finally arriving on the Windows platform in full force (the initial driver hiccups seem to have cleared up) there’s no real performance differentiator between the two platforms.

Now if like me you prefer a Mac because you just enjoy the experience of working in the Finder and using Apple Mail, may I propose the following: get yourself an updated MacBook for all the stuff you love in a Mac and buy a Windows workstation as your primary editing platform. Once you’ve launched Media Composer/Resolve/Premiere Pro/After Effects/<insert name of your favorite app here> the experience is essentially the same on either platform. Even if you’re jumping between apps you’ll only have to look at the Windows desktop for a few seconds in between. If it offends you that much, have an intern launch it while you get coffee.

Buy a Mac Pro

This is the hardest option to recommend, simply because right now you’re paying a premium for 2013’s technology, with no ability to upgrade components later. Of course you can always sit and wait for the miracle of the hardware refresh. The beauty of waiting in the tech industry is that things are only going to get better and/or cheaper while you wait.

Up next…

In a follow up article we’ll take a look at configuring a high-performing workstation and look at the pros and cons of heavy customization in the PC world.

[magento-connection sku="42516"] " } } } [9]=> array(6) { ["file"]=> string(96) "/www/sites/www.provideocoalition.com/files/releases/20161230182624/web/wp/wp-includes/plugin.php" ["line"]=> int(203) ["function"]=> string(13) "apply_filters" ["class"]=> string(7) "WP_Hook" ["type"]=> string(2) "->" ["args"]=> array(2) { [0]=> &string(12369) "mac-pro-gallery6-2013It’s the end of 2016, over three years since Apple announced the new, sleek monolith Mac Pro (affectionately?) dubbed the trashcan Mac by the user community. And so what do I see powering the vast majority of edit bays in Hollywood these days? The old Mac Pros–you know, the ones that cut into your fingers when you hold them by the handles? The ones that were last released in 2012… For all their sex appeal, the trashcan Mac Pros are crazy expensive when fully loaded, expandable only via Thunderbolt breakout chassis (add more crazy expensive here), and start to lose their sex appeal once the rat’s nest of cables begins snaking its way out of the back of the thing to create a functional working platform. Oh, and they haven’t been upgraded since their release three years ago–a small eternity in the modern tech era. In contrast, the older Mac Pros of 2012 have oodles of PCIe slots, accessible RAM upgradeable to 128GB, and with as many as 12 cores worth of 3.06GHz Westmere Xeon processing these machines still pack a healthy punch. As I’ve said in previous articles, these days it’s all about the GPU and those 2012 machines can still accommodate the latest cards by either Nvidia or AMD. Alas, the mainstream emergence of Thunderbolt is finally revealing the wrinkles on those aging towers. The blinding speed of Thunderbolt 3 combined with the proliferation of Thunderbolt drives are a double blow.rugged-tb-back-no-cap-400x400rugged-tb-2-3-q-opened-400x400 With so many people using those little orange LaCie drives for their media it’s hard to play in a universe that lacks Thunderbolt connectivity. But hang on, those drives also have a USB 3.0 connection. That’s just as fast for what a portable drive puts out, isn't it? Oh, that’s right: Apple’s 2012 Mac Pro only shipped with USB 2.0 ports, even though USB 3 devices started hitting the market in 2010. (As an aside, you can purchase PCI expansion cards to add USB 3.0 to your Mac Pro tower.) The Mac Pro of the future macpro-select-box-201504What will the Mac Pro of the future look like? We don’t know. The sorts of people who have nothing better to do than scour SDK source code (teenage geeks and computer science majors still living with their parents most likely) have pointed to El Capitan code denoting a Mac Pro with 10 USB 3 ports. But who knows if that refers to an actual product or a skunkworks project deep within the bowels of Cupertino. It’s completely possible that Apple will choose not to renew the Mac Pro at all. Instead, like the ill-fated iPod Hi-Fi it might quietly fade away in awkward silence. After all, Apple of 2016 is a consumer electronics company and the Mac Pro’s tiny market is a blip on the profitability radar. Another scenario is that Apple will persist with the existing model. Apple is great at many things, but it doesn't always fess up to it's missteps. A return to a big box with lots of expansion slots says, “That whole compact trashcan thing? Yeah, we didn’t really think through the use cases.” Would an update of the current Mac Pro be a bad thing? Maybe not. 2017 is a better place to live if you’re counting on expansion via Thunderbolt. With sustained Thunderbolt 3 RAID speeds climbing well beyond 2,000 MBps (that's bytes not bits) and companies like Razer releasing hot-swappable PCIe Thunderbolt expansion units in the sub-$500 range, it’s conceivable that a modern Mac Pro could be efficiently outfitted for high-end post-production work. Moving past denial: your Mac Pro replacement system There have been rumors that Apple will release a new Mac Pro before the end of November, 2016. It seems a little strange that they would have missed the opportunity to announce at the October event, but it’s not completely unprecedented. But let’s assume we arrive at December 1st with nary a word from Cupertino. Once you’ve decided you can no longer wait for a refresh of the Mac Pro, what are your options? Build a Hackintosh Hackintoshes were all the rage for a while there. The idea is this: buy a bunch of PC hardware that’s really similar to Mac hardware and use a tweaked driver set to get everything purring like a real Mac (since modern Macs run under the same architecture and tend to use third party components like networking chips that are available as standalone PCIe cards). [caption id="attachment_41115" align="alignright" width="377"]tonymac tonymacx86.com - a popular destination for Hackintosh builders[/caption] The upside is you can actually end up with a higher-performance machine than the current Mac releases, and expand the system to your heart’s content. The downside? In addition to the dubious legalities (has anyone bothered to read the OS X EULA? I’m sure there’s plenty of, “Thou shalt not run this on a Hackintosh” language in there), a minor OS update can wreak havoc with all those custom drivers. I’ve noticed a pattern with Hackintosh experimenters: For the first few weeks after successfully getting a Hackintosh up and running, the Hackintosher is a gushing evangelist. Come back to them a month or two later and they’ll sheepishly admit that they’re back to using it as a Windows machine. Why? An unexpected software update got ‘em. Here’s the end reality: apart from the experience of being in the OS, the apps behave the same on either platform. So why deal with the pain of trying to keep homeostasis on a machine pretending to be a Mac when you could quite happily be running the same software under Windows? After all, Windows 10 doesn’t suck. My advice: Leave the kexting (not a typo) to the teenage geeks and computer science majors still living with their parents. Leave your Windows machine a Windows machine and your Mac a Mac. Anything else is just unnatural. Buy an iMac OK, so Apple may not be updating the Mac Pro–at least not often–but the iMac gets plenty of love. It fits the image of Apple as a consumer electronics company and as such undoubtedly has a rosy future ahead of it. Could it be your next edit bay solution? imac-gallery1-2015The answer that may surprise you is: maybe. The current high-end 27 inchers comes in well configured at $US3,600. That buys you a 4.0 GHz quad-core processor, 32GB of RAM (a decent amount for 4K work), a 512GB SSD internal drive and a 4GB AMD Radeon R9 M395X. At the end of the day the CPU and bus architecture is probably going to be the biggest bottleneck to performance. After all, what we’re really looking at here is a really big laptop on a stand. The iMac is built for heat management in a compact form factor and that has to end in some performance compromises. Expandability? Yes–via the two Thunderbolt 2 slots. There’s enough bandwidth there to get good performance from outboard GPU’s, albeit not quite as efficiently nor affordably as Thunderbolt 3 (which will doubtless make its way into the next iMac refresh). And then there’s the IPS 5K display with enough color accuracy to be useful as a color grading monitor for broadcast projects (although I’m not a professional colorist nor color scientist, so those of you who are feel free to disabuse me in the comments). In summary, the iMac actually presents as a viable mid-range edit, grading and effects station. It’s not going to be your choice for multiple streams of RAW 4K, but it could be a very solid option for ProRes, DNxHD and DNxHR workflows. Linux So you just can’t stand Windows, but you don’t feel like the Mac hardware gives you what you need. How about Linux? After all, it’s a close cousin to the UNIX base architecture of OS X. Could it linuxlogobe your new editing OS? If you’re editing in DaVinci Resolve or Lightworks, maybe. For Avid or Premiere there isn’t a Linux version so you’re out of luck. More importantly though, if you love the Mac it’s probably because of it’s user-friendly UI design. Despite what your developer and IT friends will try to tell you, Linux is still geek territory. Yes it comes with a variety of nice-looking GUI makeovers, but at the end of the day to get all your hardware talking nicely to your software you’ll find yourself grepping away in a terminal at some point. That’s great if you’re a sys admin, not so helpful if you’re a creative who just wants to sit down and edit. The closest compromise: Windows + Macbook I want to be clear up front: I love working on a Mac. Even with multiple Macs and PCs in my studio I still find myself gravitating to working on a Mac if I have no performance need to be elsewhere. i_s01_z840_hero_tcm245_2169119_tcm245_1871312_tcm245-2169119The most important question you should ask yourself of course is, "Why do I need a Mac?" If the answer in part is the ability to encode to ProRes, then yes you need a Mac. (Windows software like Resolve can read ProRes media, it just can't write to the format.) Before you settle on that as a deal breaker though, you might want to check out Avid's new DNxHR codec to see if it fits the bill. It is a cross-platform solution and obviously has the support of Avid moving macbookinto the future. Likewise if you plan on editing in Final Cut Pro you're only option is Mac. But for everything else there's Windows. And with Thunderbolt finally arriving on the Windows platform in full force (the initial driver hiccups seem to have cleared up) there's no real performance differentiator between the two platforms. Now if like me you prefer a Mac because you just enjoy the experience of working in the Finder and using Apple Mail, may I propose the following: get yourself an updated MacBook for all the stuff you love in a Mac and buy a Windows workstation as your primary editing platform. Once you've launched Media Composer/Resolve/Premiere Pro/After Effects/<insert name of your favorite app here> the experience is essentially the same on either platform. Even if you're jumping between apps you’ll only have to look at the Windows desktop for a few seconds in between. If it offends you that much, have an intern launch it while you get coffee. Buy a Mac Pro This is the hardest option to recommend, simply because right now you’re paying a premium for 2013’s technology, with no ability to upgrade components later. Of course you can always sit and wait for the miracle of the hardware refresh. The beauty of waiting in the tech industry is that things are only going to get better and/or cheaper while you wait. Up next… In a follow up article we’ll take a look at configuring a high-performing workstation and look at the pros and cons of heavy customization in the PC world. [magento-connection sku="42516"]" [1]=> &array(1) { [0]=> string(12369) "mac-pro-gallery6-2013It’s the end of 2016, over three years since Apple announced the new, sleek monolith Mac Pro (affectionately?) dubbed the trashcan Mac by the user community. And so what do I see powering the vast majority of edit bays in Hollywood these days? The old Mac Pros–you know, the ones that cut into your fingers when you hold them by the handles? The ones that were last released in 2012… For all their sex appeal, the trashcan Mac Pros are crazy expensive when fully loaded, expandable only via Thunderbolt breakout chassis (add more crazy expensive here), and start to lose their sex appeal once the rat’s nest of cables begins snaking its way out of the back of the thing to create a functional working platform. Oh, and they haven’t been upgraded since their release three years ago–a small eternity in the modern tech era. In contrast, the older Mac Pros of 2012 have oodles of PCIe slots, accessible RAM upgradeable to 128GB, and with as many as 12 cores worth of 3.06GHz Westmere Xeon processing these machines still pack a healthy punch. As I’ve said in previous articles, these days it’s all about the GPU and those 2012 machines can still accommodate the latest cards by either Nvidia or AMD. Alas, the mainstream emergence of Thunderbolt is finally revealing the wrinkles on those aging towers. The blinding speed of Thunderbolt 3 combined with the proliferation of Thunderbolt drives are a double blow.rugged-tb-back-no-cap-400x400rugged-tb-2-3-q-opened-400x400 With so many people using those little orange LaCie drives for their media it’s hard to play in a universe that lacks Thunderbolt connectivity. But hang on, those drives also have a USB 3.0 connection. That’s just as fast for what a portable drive puts out, isn't it? Oh, that’s right: Apple’s 2012 Mac Pro only shipped with USB 2.0 ports, even though USB 3 devices started hitting the market in 2010. (As an aside, you can purchase PCI expansion cards to add USB 3.0 to your Mac Pro tower.) The Mac Pro of the future macpro-select-box-201504What will the Mac Pro of the future look like? We don’t know. The sorts of people who have nothing better to do than scour SDK source code (teenage geeks and computer science majors still living with their parents most likely) have pointed to El Capitan code denoting a Mac Pro with 10 USB 3 ports. But who knows if that refers to an actual product or a skunkworks project deep within the bowels of Cupertino. It’s completely possible that Apple will choose not to renew the Mac Pro at all. Instead, like the ill-fated iPod Hi-Fi it might quietly fade away in awkward silence. After all, Apple of 2016 is a consumer electronics company and the Mac Pro’s tiny market is a blip on the profitability radar. Another scenario is that Apple will persist with the existing model. Apple is great at many things, but it doesn't always fess up to it's missteps. A return to a big box with lots of expansion slots says, “That whole compact trashcan thing? Yeah, we didn’t really think through the use cases.” Would an update of the current Mac Pro be a bad thing? Maybe not. 2017 is a better place to live if you’re counting on expansion via Thunderbolt. With sustained Thunderbolt 3 RAID speeds climbing well beyond 2,000 MBps (that's bytes not bits) and companies like Razer releasing hot-swappable PCIe Thunderbolt expansion units in the sub-$500 range, it’s conceivable that a modern Mac Pro could be efficiently outfitted for high-end post-production work. Moving past denial: your Mac Pro replacement system There have been rumors that Apple will release a new Mac Pro before the end of November, 2016. It seems a little strange that they would have missed the opportunity to announce at the October event, but it’s not completely unprecedented. But let’s assume we arrive at December 1st with nary a word from Cupertino. Once you’ve decided you can no longer wait for a refresh of the Mac Pro, what are your options? Build a Hackintosh Hackintoshes were all the rage for a while there. The idea is this: buy a bunch of PC hardware that’s really similar to Mac hardware and use a tweaked driver set to get everything purring like a real Mac (since modern Macs run under the same architecture and tend to use third party components like networking chips that are available as standalone PCIe cards). [caption id="attachment_41115" align="alignright" width="377"]tonymac tonymacx86.com - a popular destination for Hackintosh builders[/caption] The upside is you can actually end up with a higher-performance machine than the current Mac releases, and expand the system to your heart’s content. The downside? In addition to the dubious legalities (has anyone bothered to read the OS X EULA? I’m sure there’s plenty of, “Thou shalt not run this on a Hackintosh” language in there), a minor OS update can wreak havoc with all those custom drivers. I’ve noticed a pattern with Hackintosh experimenters: For the first few weeks after successfully getting a Hackintosh up and running, the Hackintosher is a gushing evangelist. Come back to them a month or two later and they’ll sheepishly admit that they’re back to using it as a Windows machine. Why? An unexpected software update got ‘em. Here’s the end reality: apart from the experience of being in the OS, the apps behave the same on either platform. So why deal with the pain of trying to keep homeostasis on a machine pretending to be a Mac when you could quite happily be running the same software under Windows? After all, Windows 10 doesn’t suck. My advice: Leave the kexting (not a typo) to the teenage geeks and computer science majors still living with their parents. Leave your Windows machine a Windows machine and your Mac a Mac. Anything else is just unnatural. Buy an iMac OK, so Apple may not be updating the Mac Pro–at least not often–but the iMac gets plenty of love. It fits the image of Apple as a consumer electronics company and as such undoubtedly has a rosy future ahead of it. Could it be your next edit bay solution? imac-gallery1-2015The answer that may surprise you is: maybe. The current high-end 27 inchers comes in well configured at $US3,600. That buys you a 4.0 GHz quad-core processor, 32GB of RAM (a decent amount for 4K work), a 512GB SSD internal drive and a 4GB AMD Radeon R9 M395X. At the end of the day the CPU and bus architecture is probably going to be the biggest bottleneck to performance. After all, what we’re really looking at here is a really big laptop on a stand. The iMac is built for heat management in a compact form factor and that has to end in some performance compromises. Expandability? Yes–via the two Thunderbolt 2 slots. There’s enough bandwidth there to get good performance from outboard GPU’s, albeit not quite as efficiently nor affordably as Thunderbolt 3 (which will doubtless make its way into the next iMac refresh). And then there’s the IPS 5K display with enough color accuracy to be useful as a color grading monitor for broadcast projects (although I’m not a professional colorist nor color scientist, so those of you who are feel free to disabuse me in the comments). In summary, the iMac actually presents as a viable mid-range edit, grading and effects station. It’s not going to be your choice for multiple streams of RAW 4K, but it could be a very solid option for ProRes, DNxHD and DNxHR workflows. Linux So you just can’t stand Windows, but you don’t feel like the Mac hardware gives you what you need. How about Linux? After all, it’s a close cousin to the UNIX base architecture of OS X. Could it linuxlogobe your new editing OS? If you’re editing in DaVinci Resolve or Lightworks, maybe. For Avid or Premiere there isn’t a Linux version so you’re out of luck. More importantly though, if you love the Mac it’s probably because of it’s user-friendly UI design. Despite what your developer and IT friends will try to tell you, Linux is still geek territory. Yes it comes with a variety of nice-looking GUI makeovers, but at the end of the day to get all your hardware talking nicely to your software you’ll find yourself grepping away in a terminal at some point. That’s great if you’re a sys admin, not so helpful if you’re a creative who just wants to sit down and edit. The closest compromise: Windows + Macbook I want to be clear up front: I love working on a Mac. Even with multiple Macs and PCs in my studio I still find myself gravitating to working on a Mac if I have no performance need to be elsewhere. i_s01_z840_hero_tcm245_2169119_tcm245_1871312_tcm245-2169119The most important question you should ask yourself of course is, "Why do I need a Mac?" If the answer in part is the ability to encode to ProRes, then yes you need a Mac. (Windows software like Resolve can read ProRes media, it just can't write to the format.) Before you settle on that as a deal breaker though, you might want to check out Avid's new DNxHR codec to see if it fits the bill. It is a cross-platform solution and obviously has the support of Avid moving macbookinto the future. Likewise if you plan on editing in Final Cut Pro you're only option is Mac. But for everything else there's Windows. And with Thunderbolt finally arriving on the Windows platform in full force (the initial driver hiccups seem to have cleared up) there's no real performance differentiator between the two platforms. Now if like me you prefer a Mac because you just enjoy the experience of working in the Finder and using Apple Mail, may I propose the following: get yourself an updated MacBook for all the stuff you love in a Mac and buy a Windows workstation as your primary editing platform. Once you've launched Media Composer/Resolve/Premiere Pro/After Effects/<insert name of your favorite app here> the experience is essentially the same on either platform. Even if you're jumping between apps you’ll only have to look at the Windows desktop for a few seconds in between. If it offends you that much, have an intern launch it while you get coffee. Buy a Mac Pro This is the hardest option to recommend, simply because right now you’re paying a premium for 2013’s technology, with no ability to upgrade components later. Of course you can always sit and wait for the miracle of the hardware refresh. The beauty of waiting in the tech industry is that things are only going to get better and/or cheaper while you wait. Up next… In a follow up article we’ll take a look at configuring a high-performing workstation and look at the pros and cons of heavy customization in the PC world. [magento-connection sku="42516"]" } } } [10]=> array(4) { ["file"]=> string(103) "/www/sites/www.provideocoalition.com/files/releases/20161230182624/web/wp/wp-includes/post-template.php" ["line"]=> int(240) ["function"]=> string(13) "apply_filters" ["args"]=> array(2) { [0]=> &string(11) "the_content" [1]=> &string(12369) "mac-pro-gallery6-2013It’s the end of 2016, over three years since Apple announced the new, sleek monolith Mac Pro (affectionately?) dubbed the trashcan Mac by the user community. And so what do I see powering the vast majority of edit bays in Hollywood these days? The old Mac Pros–you know, the ones that cut into your fingers when you hold them by the handles? The ones that were last released in 2012… For all their sex appeal, the trashcan Mac Pros are crazy expensive when fully loaded, expandable only via Thunderbolt breakout chassis (add more crazy expensive here), and start to lose their sex appeal once the rat’s nest of cables begins snaking its way out of the back of the thing to create a functional working platform. Oh, and they haven’t been upgraded since their release three years ago–a small eternity in the modern tech era. In contrast, the older Mac Pros of 2012 have oodles of PCIe slots, accessible RAM upgradeable to 128GB, and with as many as 12 cores worth of 3.06GHz Westmere Xeon processing these machines still pack a healthy punch. As I’ve said in previous articles, these days it’s all about the GPU and those 2012 machines can still accommodate the latest cards by either Nvidia or AMD. Alas, the mainstream emergence of Thunderbolt is finally revealing the wrinkles on those aging towers. The blinding speed of Thunderbolt 3 combined with the proliferation of Thunderbolt drives are a double blow.rugged-tb-back-no-cap-400x400rugged-tb-2-3-q-opened-400x400 With so many people using those little orange LaCie drives for their media it’s hard to play in a universe that lacks Thunderbolt connectivity. But hang on, those drives also have a USB 3.0 connection. That’s just as fast for what a portable drive puts out, isn't it? Oh, that’s right: Apple’s 2012 Mac Pro only shipped with USB 2.0 ports, even though USB 3 devices started hitting the market in 2010. (As an aside, you can purchase PCI expansion cards to add USB 3.0 to your Mac Pro tower.) The Mac Pro of the future macpro-select-box-201504What will the Mac Pro of the future look like? We don’t know. The sorts of people who have nothing better to do than scour SDK source code (teenage geeks and computer science majors still living with their parents most likely) have pointed to El Capitan code denoting a Mac Pro with 10 USB 3 ports. But who knows if that refers to an actual product or a skunkworks project deep within the bowels of Cupertino. It’s completely possible that Apple will choose not to renew the Mac Pro at all. Instead, like the ill-fated iPod Hi-Fi it might quietly fade away in awkward silence. After all, Apple of 2016 is a consumer electronics company and the Mac Pro’s tiny market is a blip on the profitability radar. Another scenario is that Apple will persist with the existing model. Apple is great at many things, but it doesn't always fess up to it's missteps. A return to a big box with lots of expansion slots says, “That whole compact trashcan thing? Yeah, we didn’t really think through the use cases.” Would an update of the current Mac Pro be a bad thing? Maybe not. 2017 is a better place to live if you’re counting on expansion via Thunderbolt. With sustained Thunderbolt 3 RAID speeds climbing well beyond 2,000 MBps (that's bytes not bits) and companies like Razer releasing hot-swappable PCIe Thunderbolt expansion units in the sub-$500 range, it’s conceivable that a modern Mac Pro could be efficiently outfitted for high-end post-production work. Moving past denial: your Mac Pro replacement system There have been rumors that Apple will release a new Mac Pro before the end of November, 2016. It seems a little strange that they would have missed the opportunity to announce at the October event, but it’s not completely unprecedented. But let’s assume we arrive at December 1st with nary a word from Cupertino. Once you’ve decided you can no longer wait for a refresh of the Mac Pro, what are your options? Build a Hackintosh Hackintoshes were all the rage for a while there. The idea is this: buy a bunch of PC hardware that’s really similar to Mac hardware and use a tweaked driver set to get everything purring like a real Mac (since modern Macs run under the same architecture and tend to use third party components like networking chips that are available as standalone PCIe cards). [caption id="attachment_41115" align="alignright" width="377"]tonymac tonymacx86.com - a popular destination for Hackintosh builders[/caption] The upside is you can actually end up with a higher-performance machine than the current Mac releases, and expand the system to your heart’s content. The downside? In addition to the dubious legalities (has anyone bothered to read the OS X EULA? I’m sure there’s plenty of, “Thou shalt not run this on a Hackintosh” language in there), a minor OS update can wreak havoc with all those custom drivers. I’ve noticed a pattern with Hackintosh experimenters: For the first few weeks after successfully getting a Hackintosh up and running, the Hackintosher is a gushing evangelist. Come back to them a month or two later and they’ll sheepishly admit that they’re back to using it as a Windows machine. Why? An unexpected software update got ‘em. Here’s the end reality: apart from the experience of being in the OS, the apps behave the same on either platform. So why deal with the pain of trying to keep homeostasis on a machine pretending to be a Mac when you could quite happily be running the same software under Windows? After all, Windows 10 doesn’t suck. My advice: Leave the kexting (not a typo) to the teenage geeks and computer science majors still living with their parents. Leave your Windows machine a Windows machine and your Mac a Mac. Anything else is just unnatural. Buy an iMac OK, so Apple may not be updating the Mac Pro–at least not often–but the iMac gets plenty of love. It fits the image of Apple as a consumer electronics company and as such undoubtedly has a rosy future ahead of it. Could it be your next edit bay solution? imac-gallery1-2015The answer that may surprise you is: maybe. The current high-end 27 inchers comes in well configured at $US3,600. That buys you a 4.0 GHz quad-core processor, 32GB of RAM (a decent amount for 4K work), a 512GB SSD internal drive and a 4GB AMD Radeon R9 M395X. At the end of the day the CPU and bus architecture is probably going to be the biggest bottleneck to performance. After all, what we’re really looking at here is a really big laptop on a stand. The iMac is built for heat management in a compact form factor and that has to end in some performance compromises. Expandability? Yes–via the two Thunderbolt 2 slots. There’s enough bandwidth there to get good performance from outboard GPU’s, albeit not quite as efficiently nor affordably as Thunderbolt 3 (which will doubtless make its way into the next iMac refresh). And then there’s the IPS 5K display with enough color accuracy to be useful as a color grading monitor for broadcast projects (although I’m not a professional colorist nor color scientist, so those of you who are feel free to disabuse me in the comments). In summary, the iMac actually presents as a viable mid-range edit, grading and effects station. It’s not going to be your choice for multiple streams of RAW 4K, but it could be a very solid option for ProRes, DNxHD and DNxHR workflows. Linux So you just can’t stand Windows, but you don’t feel like the Mac hardware gives you what you need. How about Linux? After all, it’s a close cousin to the UNIX base architecture of OS X. Could it linuxlogobe your new editing OS? If you’re editing in DaVinci Resolve or Lightworks, maybe. For Avid or Premiere there isn’t a Linux version so you’re out of luck. More importantly though, if you love the Mac it’s probably because of it’s user-friendly UI design. Despite what your developer and IT friends will try to tell you, Linux is still geek territory. Yes it comes with a variety of nice-looking GUI makeovers, but at the end of the day to get all your hardware talking nicely to your software you’ll find yourself grepping away in a terminal at some point. That’s great if you’re a sys admin, not so helpful if you’re a creative who just wants to sit down and edit. The closest compromise: Windows + Macbook I want to be clear up front: I love working on a Mac. Even with multiple Macs and PCs in my studio I still find myself gravitating to working on a Mac if I have no performance need to be elsewhere. i_s01_z840_hero_tcm245_2169119_tcm245_1871312_tcm245-2169119The most important question you should ask yourself of course is, "Why do I need a Mac?" If the answer in part is the ability to encode to ProRes, then yes you need a Mac. (Windows software like Resolve can read ProRes media, it just can't write to the format.) Before you settle on that as a deal breaker though, you might want to check out Avid's new DNxHR codec to see if it fits the bill. It is a cross-platform solution and obviously has the support of Avid moving macbookinto the future. Likewise if you plan on editing in Final Cut Pro you're only option is Mac. But for everything else there's Windows. And with Thunderbolt finally arriving on the Windows platform in full force (the initial driver hiccups seem to have cleared up) there's no real performance differentiator between the two platforms. Now if like me you prefer a Mac because you just enjoy the experience of working in the Finder and using Apple Mail, may I propose the following: get yourself an updated MacBook for all the stuff you love in a Mac and buy a Windows workstation as your primary editing platform. Once you've launched Media Composer/Resolve/Premiere Pro/After Effects/<insert name of your favorite app here> the experience is essentially the same on either platform. Even if you're jumping between apps you’ll only have to look at the Windows desktop for a few seconds in between. If it offends you that much, have an intern launch it while you get coffee. Buy a Mac Pro This is the hardest option to recommend, simply because right now you’re paying a premium for 2013’s technology, with no ability to upgrade components later. Of course you can always sit and wait for the miracle of the hardware refresh. The beauty of waiting in the tech industry is that things are only going to get better and/or cheaper while you wait. Up next… In a follow up article we’ll take a look at configuring a high-performing workstation and look at the pros and cons of heavy customization in the PC world. 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mac-pro-gallery6-2013It’s the end of 2016, over three years since Apple announced the new, sleek monolith Mac Pro (affectionately?) dubbed the trashcan Mac by the user community. And so what do I see powering the vast majority of edit bays in Hollywood these days? The old Mac Pros–you know, the ones that cut into your fingers when you hold them by the handles? The ones that were last released in 2012…

For all their sex appeal, the trashcan Mac Pros are crazy expensive when fully loaded, expandable only via Thunderbolt breakout chassis (add more crazy expensive here), and start to lose their sex appeal once the rat’s nest of cables begins snaking its way out of the back of the thing to create a functional working platform. Oh, and they haven’t been upgraded since their release three years ago–a small eternity in the modern tech era.

In contrast, the older Mac Pros of 2012 have oodles of PCIe slots, accessible RAM upgradeable to 128GB, and with as many as 12 cores worth of 3.06GHz Westmere Xeon processing these machines still pack a healthy punch. As I’ve said in previous articles, these days it’s all about the GPU and those 2012 machines can still accommodate the latest cards by either Nvidia or AMD.

Alas, the mainstream emergence of Thunderbolt is finally revealing the wrinkles on those aging towers. The blinding speed of Thunderbolt 3 combined with the proliferation of Thunderbolt drives are a double blow.rugged-tb-back-no-cap-400x400rugged-tb-2-3-q-opened-400x400

With so many people using those little orange LaCie drives for their media it’s hard to play in a universe that lacks Thunderbolt connectivity. But hang on, those drives also have a USB 3.0 connection. That’s just as fast for what a portable drive puts out, isn’t it? Oh, that’s right: Apple’s 2012 Mac Pro only shipped with USB 2.0 ports, even though USB 3 devices started hitting the market in 2010. (As an aside, you can purchase PCI expansion cards to add USB 3.0 to your Mac Pro tower.)

The Mac Pro of the future

macpro-select-box-201504What will the Mac Pro of the future look like? We don’t know. The sorts of people who have nothing better to do than scour SDK source code (teenage geeks and computer science majors still living with their parents most likely) have pointed to El Capitan code denoting a Mac Pro with 10 USB 3 ports. But who knows if that
refers to an actual product or a skunkworks project deep within the bowels of Cupertino.

It’s completely possible that Apple will choose not to renew the Mac Pro at all. Instead, like the ill-fated iPod Hi-Fi it might quietly fade away in awkward silence. After all, Apple of 2016 is a consumer electronics company and the Mac Pro’s tiny market is a blip on the profitability radar.

Another scenario is that Apple will persist with the existing model. Apple is great at many things, but it doesn’t always fess up to it’s missteps. A return to a big box with lots of expansion slots says, “That whole compact trashcan thing? Yeah, we didn’t really think through the use cases.”

Would an update of the current Mac Pro be a bad thing? Maybe not. 2017 is a better place to live if you’re counting on expansion via Thunderbolt. With sustained Thunderbolt 3 RAID speeds climbing well beyond 2,000 MBps (that’s bytes not bits) and companies like Razer releasing hot-swappable PCIe Thunderbolt expansion units in the sub-$500 range, it’s conceivable that a modern Mac Pro could be efficiently outfitted for high-end post-production work.

Moving past denial: your Mac Pro replacement system

There have been rumors that Apple will release a new Mac Pro before the end of November, 2016. It seems a little strange that they would have missed the opportunity to announce at the October event, but it’s not completely unprecedented.

But let’s assume we arrive at December 1st with nary a word from Cupertino. Once you’ve decided you can no longer wait for a refresh of the Mac Pro, what are your options?

Build a Hackintosh

Hackintoshes were all the rage for a while there. The idea is this: buy a bunch of PC hardware that’s really similar to Mac hardware and use a tweaked driver set to get everything purring like a real Mac (since modern Macs run under the same architecture and tend to use third party components like networking chips that are available as standalone PCIe cards).

tonymac
tonymacx86.com – a popular destination for Hackintosh builders

The upside is you can actually end up with a higher-performance machine than the current Mac releases, and expand the system to your heart’s content.

The downside? In addition to the dubious legalities (has anyone bothered to read the OS X EULA? I’m sure there’s plenty of, “Thou shalt not run this on a Hackintosh” language in there), a minor OS update can wreak havoc with all those custom drivers. I’ve noticed a pattern with Hackintosh experimenters: For the first few weeks after successfully getting a Hackintosh up and running, the Hackintosher is a gushing evangelist. Come back to them a month or two later and they’ll sheepishly admit that they’re back to using it as a Windows machine. Why? An unexpected software update got ‘em.

Here’s the end reality: apart from the experience of being in the OS, the apps behave the same on either platform. So why deal with the pain of trying to keep homeostasis on a machine pretending to be a Mac when you could quite happily be running the same software under Windows? After all, Windows 10 doesn’t suck.

My advice: Leave the kexting (not a typo) to the teenage geeks and computer science majors still living with their parents. Leave your Windows machine a Windows machine and your Mac a Mac. Anything else is just unnatural.

Buy an iMac

OK, so Apple may not be updating the Mac Pro–at least not often–but the iMac gets plenty of love. It fits the image of Apple as a consumer electronics company and as such undoubtedly has a rosy future ahead of it. Could it be your next edit bay solution?

imac-gallery1-2015The answer that may surprise you is: maybe. The current high-end 27 inchers comes in well configured at $US3,600. That buys you a 4.0 GHz quad-core processor, 32GB of RAM (a decent amount for 4K work), a 512GB SSD internal drive and a 4GB AMD Radeon R9 M395X.

At the end of the day the CPU and bus architecture is probably going to be the biggest bottleneck to performance. After all, what we’re really looking at here is a really big laptop on a stand. The iMac is built for heat management in a compact form factor and that has to end in some performance compromises.

Expandability? Yes–via the two Thunderbolt 2 slots. There’s enough bandwidth there to get good performance from outboard GPU’s, albeit not quite as efficiently nor affordably as Thunderbolt 3 (which will doubtless make its way into the next iMac refresh).

And then there’s the IPS 5K display with enough color accuracy to be useful as a color grading monitor for broadcast projects (although I’m not a professional colorist nor color scientist, so those of you who are feel free to disabuse me in the comments).

In summary, the iMac actually presents as a viable mid-range edit, grading and effects station. It’s not going to be your choice for multiple streams of RAW 4K, but it could be a very solid option for ProRes, DNxHD and DNxHR workflows.

Linux

So you just can’t stand Windows, but you don’t feel like the Mac hardware gives you what you need. How about Linux? After all, it’s a close cousin to the UNIX base architecture of OS X. Could it linuxlogobe your new editing OS?

If you’re editing in DaVinci Resolve or Lightworks, maybe. For Avid or Premiere there isn’t a Linux version so you’re out of luck.

More importantly though, if you love the Mac it’s probably because of it’s user-friendly UI design. Despite what your developer and IT friends will try to tell you, Linux is still geek territory. Yes it comes with a variety of nice-looking GUI makeovers, but at the end of the day to get all your hardware talking nicely to your software you’ll find yourself grepping away in a terminal at some point. That’s great if you’re a sys admin, not so helpful if you’re a creative who just wants to sit down and edit.

The closest compromise: Windows + Macbook

I want to be clear up front: I love working on a Mac. Even with multiple Macs and PCs in my studio I still find myself gravitating to working on a Mac if I have no performance need to be elsewhere.

i_s01_z840_hero_tcm245_2169119_tcm245_1871312_tcm245-2169119The most important question you should ask yourself of course is, “Why do I need a Mac?” If the answer in part is the ability to encode to ProRes, then yes you need a Mac. (Windows software like Resolve can read ProRes media, it just can’t write to the format.) Before you settle on that as a deal breaker though, you might want to check out Avid’s new DNxHR codec to see if it fits the bill. It is a cross-platform solution and obviously has the support of Avid moving macbookinto the future.

Likewise if you plan on editing in Final Cut Pro you’re only option is Mac. But for everything else there’s Windows. And with Thunderbolt finally arriving on the Windows platform in full force (the initial driver hiccups seem to have cleared up) there’s no real performance differentiator between the two platforms.

Now if like me you prefer a Mac because you just enjoy the experience of working in the Finder and using Apple Mail, may I propose the following: get yourself an updated MacBook for all the stuff you love in a Mac and buy a Windows workstation as your primary editing platform. Once you’ve launched Media Composer/Resolve/Premiere Pro/After Effects/<insert name of your favorite app here> the experience is essentially the same on either platform. Even if you’re jumping between apps you’ll only have to look at the Windows desktop for a few seconds in between. If it offends you that much, have an intern launch it while you get coffee.

Buy a Mac Pro

This is the hardest option to recommend, simply because right now you’re paying a premium for 2013’s technology, with no ability to upgrade components later. Of course you can always sit and wait for the miracle of the hardware refresh. The beauty of waiting in the tech industry is that things are only going to get better and/or cheaper while you wait.

Up next…

In a follow up article we’ll take a look at configuring a high-performing workstation and look at the pros and cons of heavy customization in the PC world.

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Damian Allen

Damian Allen

Damian Allen is a VFX supervisor and pipeline consultant based in LA. He specializes in stereoscopic and picture-lock emergency effects work through his company Pixerati LLC. In addition to his hands-on production work, Damian lectures and trains artists around the world in compositing theory and technique.

  • Cacho

    I went through this dilemma over a year ago. I needed to replace my 2011 Mac Pro, but couldn’t justify buying a trashcan Mac Pro with its outdated specs and high price, so I ended up building my own cheaper / faster PC in the smallest form factor I could cram it into, trying to emulate a bit of the trashcan’s portability. Another reason I didn’t buy the trashcan was it’s AMD GPUs, I needed Nvidia CUDA for Octane Render (which didn’t support OpenCL at the time).

    Life’s been good with my PC workstation for work and my 2011 MacBookPro for everything else, working in tandem side by side. While I much prefer Finder and the functionality of exposè, Windows 10 has come a long way since XP.

    My solution for not having the ability to encode ProRes on PC was Avid DNxHD for a while, buy I’ve since switched to Cineform. I’ve tried DNxHR, but have had issues playing it back on third party video players. I’ve also noticed that colors tend to skew warmer in DNxHR in my After Effects renders, and are a bit off to what I see in my comp. Cineform also seems to have better playback performance, possibly due to being hardware accelerated. For the occasions that I need to deliver in ProRes, I use a free Windows app called ClipToolz Convert, that lets you do batch encodes to the various ProRes codecs.

    I’d say the biggest pain in the butt being on PC is when someone working on Mac sends me a large zip file that they created in Finder. For some reason zip files made using the built-in OS X tool that are larger than 4gb won’t open in any Windows app I’ve tried. Sometimes I’ll get an 80gb zip file full of video footage and have to unzip it on my old MacBook and do a lengthy file transfer with my PC. No matter how many times I evangelize 7zip over zip and Mac apps like Keka to my clients and producers, I keep running into this compatibility issue.

    I’m at the point now where my 2011 MacBook Pro isn’t cutting it anymore for the occasions that I need to work while traveling. I’m waiting to see benchmarks of the new 15″ touch bar macbooks as they start to release, but the PC side is beckoning me again with the appeal of having a full touch screen with pen support for doing sketching. I work with a wacom tablet and always dreamed of having a Cintiq touchscreen/pen monitor (although I don’t need it for my work but want it for my art), so pen supported laptops like the Surface Book or ThinkPad Yoga X1 could make that dream come true a bit. I just have to weigh whether the ability to do some digital sketching on an ultrabook is worth it over getting something a bit more powerful and workstation oriented. I also have to weigh sketching vs. OS X. After 30+ years of living my life on Apples and Macs, I think I’m about to fully jump ship and go all PC, it’s where my creative needs are steering me. Sadly Apple’s lost its innovative fire and practicality for me.

    • Damian Allen

      Thanks for giving such an eloquent case study. And yes, zip files from a Mac are one of the great evils in life. If I do need to zip on the Mac side I usually use the free Yemuzip to create PC-compatible zips, although I agree there are better options like 7zip.

      Given that you’re a fellow Octane user, can I suggest on the laptop side you take a look at the combo of the Razer Blade and the Core (http://www.razerzone.com)? The Blade has 16GB and a GTX 1060 with good battery life and a Macbookish form factor. But for an additional $400 you get the Core as a desktop docking station, offering another full blown PCIe GPU (like a GTX1080 or Titan). The only downside is that you wouldn’t get your Cintiq in the laptop. The Razer Blade Pro is nice, but probably doesn’t justify the additional expense, especially when you take in consideration the extra graphics card offered by the Core.

      I haven’t actually got my hands on a system yet, so my recommendations are purely based on buying into their marketing hype:)

      • Cacho

        Thanks for those suggestions Damian and also for your laptop article you wrote a few weeks ago which I just read… it’s been the analysis I’ve been looking for. You just turned me on to eGPU’s, seems like it could be a game changer. It makes it easier for me to decide to get a lighter spec’d machine with pen capabilities that I’ll have fun with, knowing I can get an eGPU chassis and liberate the GPU out of my workstation for those times I’ll need some extra horsepower on the road. I’m going to try to hold out as long as I can before buying my next laptop, hoping more i7 Kaby Lake laptops show up with Thunderbolt 3 and eGPU support, maybe there’ll be more options after CES.

        And at this point though, I’ve pretty much ruled out the new MacbookPro. It’s a shame Apple can’t use that surplus of iPhone profit to maintain its pro niche these days, even if it’s a loss leader.

  • I initially switched to Mac around 8 years ago because of Logic Pro and Final Cut Pro. I (used to?) love the Mac, but let’s face it: It’s become a dead end for High-End Pro Users. Apple has been slowly stripping off more and more professional features, and it was only a matter of time until its hardware followed.
    I haven’t forgiven Apple for what they did to Final Cut when releasing premature FCP X, and I am scared it will happen again. Whoever claimed that FCP X was great at the time of its release, probably drives a coal roller and doesn’t give a shit about Audio or Post Production Workflows. Never again will I stick to one product as I did with Logic or FCP.

    @Damian Allen Even if Apple released a new Mac Pro, how could one ever trust this new machine? The Mac Pro 6.1 is the most expensive and worst machine I have ever worked on!
    And regarding the iMac, I own two of them. The oldest one (early 2009, I think) served me very well, but the display turned yellowish after a couple of years, rendering it unusable. It became my backup machine. My current iMac (late 2013) is dying a slow death, which I assume is being caused by its poor thermal design.
    No doubt, the iMac is an incredible machine for its price. But if its components end up being fried after 3 years of professional use, then it’s just a waste of resources on all ends.

    I’m going to go with a i7 6900k and 2x GTX 1070 SLI in my next Windows PC. Handling Windows with the right care and maintenance that a professional workstation needs, I’m very positive that it’ll run as good as current OSX. I am looking forward to reading your Mac Pro alternative setup though, Damian.

    • Damian Allen

      Thanks for the personal story. I do think the iMac is a great machine, but it’s definitely geared towards a consumer market first and foremost. In one sense, how can you blame Apple? You’ll sell a lot more iMacs to have discovered the Mac through their acquaintance with the iPod, then iPhone, the iPad.

      I would still argue there’s the aspirational trickle-down effect: If the best musicians, editors and creatives in general use a Mac, it makes it the cool platform if you’re an aspiring creative. A professional Mac may not make a whole lot of business sense purely based on units sold, but there’s a whole marketing aspect they may be missing there.

  • U can build a used 16 core 32 thread dual 2670 xeon machine for around $600 with 64gb of ram. It will crush any mac pro or imac in existence. I wohld like to see the classic mac pro come back, but there is basically no chance of that happening.

    • Damian Allen

      Agreed, the 2670’s are an amazing deal right now. And yes, Apple may surprise us with another stab at the Mac Pro, but it’s highly unlikely to look anything like the tower of old.

  • Erik

    I’ve been using a PC workstation for heavy work and a Mac Book Pro when I need to be portable. Adobe Creative Suite and Resolve works very well on windows or mac.

  • Paul Dore

    Two references to “teenage geeks and computer science majors still living with their parents”. The kind of language one would associate with a bitter and uneducated simpleton. Not everyone who possesses the aptitude to achieve that which you conveniently deem unworthy falls into those categories. Do you have a problem with smart people in general, or just those would are smarter than you?

    • Damian Allen

      Paul, I can assure you I am very much in awe of the computer scientists of our time and as a developer myself am constantly humbled by the genius of men and women who write the code libraries my applications run on.

      Purely poking fun at a stereotype in the article. Although, I do feel perhaps there are better ways to make use of your spare brain cycles than trying to figure out how many ports Apple’s next machine will have. Looking for cures to genetic disorders and finding economically feasible ways to reduce world hunger come to mind…

      Not sure how bitter I am, but you’re more than welcome to call me a simpleton: I’ve proven to be so many times. Just ask my wife.

      • Paul Dore

        You may well have been poking fun at a stereotype, but there’s still an air of dismissiveness with regards to what should really be considered a viable solution. Whatever about people using their time trying to figure out how many ports Apple’s next machine will have (and how that time should be better used – you could say the same about people who master the use of Nuke), the feeble attempt at exploring the hackintosh option is the real issue. It’s laden with weak information and poor excuses, and as such it undermines the whole article.

        The only real difference between a Mac and a PC is the operating system (which you already alluded to). Hardware and software are two separate entities, neither of which is inherently beholden to the other. You can run Windows on a Mac fairly easily (via Bootcamp or VM), and with some research and a bit of patience you can run OS X on a PC. Any PC. You mentioned the TonyMac website (which is a good starting point for entry level, though it has a limited amount of supported components), but there are more advanced resources to be found at InsanelyMac, and set-ups that include X99 motherboards, Broadwell-E CPUs, Thunderbolt II and III, NVME SSDs, and DDR4 RAM are all covered. Basically as powerful a PC as you can build (except for Pascal GPUs which Nvidia have yet to release drivers for). The only tricky parts are the motherboard and CPU, but there’s a great support community online to help people get everything up and running.

        Many first timers come unstuck with updates, but with patience and practice there is a way around that. By being more aware of what’s going on and how things work you don’t trip up. If all the kexts and patches are restricted to the boot-loader (instead of placed directly in the system folders) then updating is a pain-free experience. It took me a lot less time to figure that out than it did for me to transition from After Effects to Nuke, or even to learn FCP 7 (to put things in context). As for the legal ramifications, Apple aren’t going to chase after people who use their operating system on non-designated hardware, and if they were to pop round to my studio they would find an iMac, a Mac Mini, a Macbook Pro, and a custom built PC with both Win 10 and OS X, all of which can control and be controlled by each other (including an iPhone), so they might be hard pressed to determine which is the main system and whether there’s a clear definition of some kind of breach occurring.

        I’m not knocking Win 10 (I have it installed and use it when need be), and I actually recommend to those looking to replace their Mac Pro that they build the most powerful PC they can afford and install two operating system hard drives – one for Win 10 and one for OS X. If the OS X doesn’t work out then Win 10 only is still a workable solution. However, to dismiss this approach as flippantly as you did in the article helps no one. What have you got to lose by giving it a go? I love being able to run my preferred operating system on a powerful computer that I can easily add to further down the road, and I’ve earned that right by putting in the required time and effort (as is the case with anything worthwhile). Apple, by virtue of making (up until recently) very solid and reliable products, have inadvertently made the Pro market lazy and complacent. People have come to expect everything wrapped in a nice easy package, and brought straight to them without any effort on their part. The Pros have become no different to the consumer in that regard. It’s about time they got up off their arse and earned the the tile of Pro, and stop dismissing anyone with an ounce of gumption as a ‘geek’ or a ‘loser’ or a ‘fag’.

        Anyway, constructive rant over. I hope you see where I’m coming from and that I mean well. The internet is full of articles, threads, and forums discussing this subject matter, and almost all are anchored to a binary choice of one or the other. Why not have both?

        • Matt O’Donnell

          “What have you got to lose by giving it a go?”
          Money. Lots and lots of money.

          Also, wtf. Nowhere did he refer to anyone as a “fag”.

  • Andre S Brandao

    Anyone doing heavy grading should have a look at Assimilate Scratch. It encodes ProRes on Windows, and by that I don’t mean using some FFMPEG workaround built in; it does proper Apple licensed ProRes encoding. It became my software of choice. The Resolve/FFMPEG combo can work, but it’s just cumbersome and not 100% on the spot in terms of consistency. This is important to keep in mind if you’re clients ask for ProRes.

    On the other hand, I do need to stress that the move from Mac to PC, if you’re an indie/one man band like myself, is more demanding on the IT side of things. If you’re not too computer savvy get some help.

    • Damian Allen

      You’ve hit upon a key point. It’s true that Macs do, to a degree, “just work.” I think Windows 10 has improved that situation a lot, but there are still things that crop up that can require a bit of poking around in the gizzards in Windows. I have to say it’s been a while for me since anything like that has happened, but I don’t deny it can and will.

      On the other hand, there’s a whole lot more help out there when things go awry on the Windows platform…

  • Overly Cranked

    At best this is just another well composed rant. The only truthful statement mentioned with a negative tone is the fact that five and even six year old MacPros ( that cut into your hands when to try to grab the handles … ) are actively servicing the ” Pro ” industry. Well, that could very well taken as compliment. Also, I have seen enough video- villages and Post-Work studios running workstations with ” trashcan ” MacPros to believe they are good enough for the task.
    On the mildly ( the used car salesmen way ) suggested ” windows ” machine side we are not getting anything specific here. We did build a Pro Windows 10 machine ( during all the mayhem of Windows 10 ) what we learned was, an average Windows-Box with capabilities of the ” trash… can …. MacPro ” would cost you almost the same if reliability and consistency similar to ” trash … can … MacPro ” is desired also. Unless of course you can afford to take risk of downtime(s) and sourcing cheap parts.

    • Damian Allen

      Hey Overly (or would you prefer Mr Cranked?),

      Thanks for raising some valid points. Here are some thoughts:

      First off, the article was purely intended as an overview of the “pos-Mac Pro” era landscape and as such is intentionally a little sparse on specifics. Look for follow-up articles proposing actual system configs etc.

      Secondly, I hear what you’re saying about the cost of a Windows system “comparable” to a trashcan Mac Pro. That was certainly true in 2013; I submit that would be hard to still argue today, since 2013 hardware (which is still the config of a new Mac Pro purchased from Apple.com today) can be purchased at quite moderate prices on the Windows side here in 2016. As another commenter mentioned, refurbished 8 core Xeon 2670’s – $1500 on their release in mid-2012 – can be picked up for around $70 on a good day. (Buy two for a solid 16 core system.)

      Additionally, there is also an issue of configurability. Even in 2013 when a well-configured Mac Pro was competitively priced compared with an equivalent Windows system, it didn’t mean that you WANTED all the parts you purchase. if you want CUDA support you’re out of luck with the AMD cards. If you want upgradeable RAM and processors–out of luck. The appeal of a Windows 10 system is that you only buy what you need, which varies from consumer to consumer. You can also extend the effective life of your machine by upgrading the GPU’s or even the CPU’s–assuming the socket on the motherboard is still compatible.

      As far as reliability goes, I think you’ll find that if you purchase from a turnkey system integrator like HP or Lenovo and stick to their certified system upgrades the reliability is consistent with a Mac these days. In fact, Ive had as many if not more problems with kernel panics on my Macs these last few years when it comes to CUDA and OpenGL processing as I have with any of my PC systems.