Final Cut Pro X and Mac Pro Performance

This Week on MacBreak Studio

How many streams of 4K can you play on a new Mac Pro?

This week on MacBreak Studio, Steve Martin and Mark Spencer from Ripple Training answer that question and more.

To be fair, a more accurate way to phrase the question would be: how many streams of UHD RAW, Optimized, or Proxy media can you play on an 8-core Mac Pro with 32GB of RAM and dual D700 graphics cards connected to a Pegasus2 R8 RAID via Thunderbolt 2?

Because the RED media we are using, 3860×2160, or exactly 4 times the size of a 1920×1080 frame, is usually referred to as “UHD” for Ulta-High Definition while the term “4K” is technically reserved for the full 4096×2160 pixels according to the DCI. But these days do a search on “4K” and you'll see UHD referred to as 4K everywhere. For the purposes of data throughput comparisons, they are essentially the same.

The other huge factor on throughput is the device storing the data, and the Pegasus2 R8 we are using (configured as RAID 5) is wicked fast. Not quite as fast as the internal SSD on the Mac Pro, mind you, but you aren't going to want to load that drive up with a bunch of 4K footage anyway.

The other thing to consider when looking at this data throughput capability is: does this performance really matter to me? In other words, so what if I can play multiple streams of RED RAW on this machine, when I can do the same thing with Proxy versions of the media on my Mac Book Pro? Does the ability to skip transcoding justify the additional expense of a higher-end system configuration? For some folks the answer will be “absolutely”. For others, a laptop or a high-end iMac may be the sweet spot for performance vs. cost. We hope the information in this and the past 3 episodes will help you make that decision for yourself.


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Mark Spencer is a freelance producer, videographer, editor, trainer and writer based in the Bay Area. He produces Final Cut Pro X-related training and plugins for with his partners at Ripple Training. He is an…

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