Mac Pro Specs.

Anonymous (not verified)

Hi all,

I am wanting to get a new mac pro in conjunction with Final Cut Studio. My question is should I wait for the 2010 model to come out or should I get their current model. If I get their current model what specs would you recommend? I shoot with an HMC 150. Thanks

Rob Grauert's picture
Last seen: 4 years 2 months ago
Joined: 02/16/2008 - 10:47pm

I'd purchase one now. The 2010 models will not be so astronomically improved that a current model will be rendered useless. I have one from Sept 2007 and it runs just fine (with occasional basic maintenance and proper media management).

I'd get a 2.66 Quad-Core unless you are getting paid for your video work and actually NEED the fastest Mac possible. I use a 2.66 Quad at work and I never sit around thinking to myself "gee I wish my computer were faster." So if you're making enough money to balance out the extra cost, I'd avoid the 8-core.

I would get AT LEAST 8GB of RAM, however, you can never have too much RAM. If you plan on doing a lot of work in Motion or After Effects, load up on as much as you can as those quickly use up a lot of RAM for RAM Previews.

For Hard Drive Bay 1, I would get a 1TB drive. This is your system drive, so ONLY your operating system and software should live on this drive. This will help ensure that your computer will run smoothly because this hard drive will only have to worry about tasks relating to the OS and software. It will not have to worry about accessing video media (or any media for that matter).

This is how I would handle the rest of my hard drive storage:

Hard Drive Bay 2 would be designated for Project Files only. So 1TB should be plenty.

Hard Drive Bay 3 would be a backup of a G-RAID. So I'd get a 2TB drive here. (more on this below)

Hard Drive Bay 4 would be use for a second iTunes Library designated for music intended for video and sound FX. iTunes is great for organizing this kind of media. I'd get a 2TB drive here too.

As I mentioned above, I'd get a G-RAID for storing video media. Your FCP capture scratch should live on the G-RAID. The G-RAID is better than a single hard drive because it's 2 hard drives striped together as RAID0, which has much faster transfer speeds than a single drive. So you will be able to preview more real-time effects without having to first render. Like I said above, back up the G-RAID to a 2TB internal drive because RAID0 set ups can be sketchy. Even though you will only be backing up to a 2TB internal drive, I'd get a 3 or 4TB G-RAID because I never fill my drives up more than half way anyway.

I would get the ATI Radeon HD 4870 Graphics Card.

I would not get Apple Displays. They are very nice, but very expensive. I recommend 2 Acer H233H monitors. Your computer monitors are not as important because you SHOULD be using a reference monitor.

To connect a reference monitor, you need an AJA Kona card, Matrox MXO2 or MXO mini, a BlackMagic Design card, or something similar. FCP will send a video signal to these cards, and then these cards will send the video signal to a SD and/or HD reference monitor. That is how you properly judge the quality of your image. Whichever one you choose, just be sure to connect it to the correct PCI Express slot in your Mac Pro.

That's about it (besides getting a reference monitor)

Rob Grauert's picture
Last seen: 4 years 2 months ago
Joined: 02/16/2008 - 10:47pm

Oh yea, and you're shooting with an HMC-150? If I remember correctly, that shoots AVCHD. When you import that into FCP, transcode it to ProRes422. ProRes will take up more hard drive space, but it's MUCH more friendly for editing.

Rob Grauert's picture
Last seen: 4 years 2 months ago
Joined: 02/16/2008 - 10:47pm

Glad to help.

Now is not a bad time to get started with a small business, in my opinion. The economy is slowly coming back, and due to the recession, people have figured out that they don't always need a gigantic production to help them with video (which is unfortunate for some, but beneficial for others). So hustle and get your name out there if you hope to be making a living with this.

8GB of RAM should be fine. If you find you need more, Other World Computing is a great source for Mac stuff. And they aren't too expensive. I think a general rule of thumb though, is to keep an even number of GBs of RAM. So 8, 10, 12, etc GB of RAM.

EarlC's picture
Last seen: 4 years 5 hours ago
Joined: 10/15/2008 - 1:15am


I originally didn't respond to your Mac Pro specs post because Rob is doing a fine job there. And while my 2009 model specs are a bit different from what he suggests, he isn't by any means off-base. I did go with an 8-core and 16 gigs RAM, with a 350 gig HD for systems, and three 1 TB HDs in the other three slots. I utilize a slightly different strategy with my internal 1TB drives than Rob, and I use an external JBOD box (just a bunch of drives) that holds four 500Gig HDs - each housing resources, one for all music, one for all photos, one for movies, one for project archives. Still, all good the way Rob suggests going at it.

I am writing you this primarily to offer you a pdf attachment that is an excellent basic instructional white paper regarding handling the resources from tapeless avchd camcoders like the HMC150. I kept it because I am moving into HMC150 and AVCHD sometime second or third quarter 2010.

If you'd like to receive this very helpful pdf, give me an e-mail address and I will send it to you - Earl

Shekinah's picture
Last seen: 1 year 2 months ago
Joined: 05/05/2010 - 11:12pm

Hi All (but especially Earl and Rob),

I was very interested to see your answers and comments regarding Mac Pro Specs from jsanti.

I was wondering what opinions you may have regarding the following setup;

Sony HXR-NX5U, a Nikon D5000, Zoom H4n.

Applie 27" iMac spec'd to i7, 8GB RAM, 1TB HD with 2TB G-Raid (external video storage).

To help ease the AVCHD 'pain' I'm also thinking about Neoscene for pre processing before going into FC Express!

Also trying out Smartsound Sonicfire and Apple Aperture 3

My query also centres around the fact I am changing from WIndows to Apple and I don't know these Apple products too well!

Some background - I'm in the process of emmigrating to the US which is imminent to the point I have already purchased most of the above hardware (from B and H) and it is sitting at my son's place waiting for my sticky little hands. As such I am still reading and enquiring like a sponge as I wait for my US visa.You can't imagine the frustration after so many months of research, the final purchase and then feeling like a hungry kid at a locked fridge!


EarlC's picture
Last seen: 4 years 5 hours ago
Joined: 10/15/2008 - 1:15am

The current iterations of iMacs are indeed powerful and capable of handling a host of processor-intensive software elements. IMHO, you have a system with which you can do some serious editing/production work. It is a GREAT entry level system for video people wanting to use the Mac-based environment.

There are numerous ways to work with AVCHD, and your option is certainly one of them. I don't know how well a person using the iMac you mention, and external hard drives could utilize the Apple ProRes 422 (LT) or ProRes codecs, they do make the resulting work files much larger, affecting your storage and project hard drive space a concern, but I would suspect that given you have a way of keeping your project file and resource storage high, ProRes would not complicate matters much and you could stay within the FCP (I know you said FC Express) realm.

Good luck with everything.

Shekinah's picture
Last seen: 1 year 2 months ago
Joined: 05/05/2010 - 11:12pm

Hey Earl,

Thanks for the reply and the encouragement.

I blogged Cineform about Neoscene's ability to work within FCE4.

They said I would need to convert my AVCHD files to ProRes outside of FCE4 first and then drag the resultant files into the Express timeline.

I also noticed today that FCE4 received its first update (4.0.1)

At 122 MB it's pretty substantial - apparently, a ton of improvements for AVCHD and some other stuff too.

Here's a URL for the info

If anyone out there is using AVCHD and an i7 spec'd 27" iMac, I'd love to hear from you


EarlC's picture
Last seen: 4 years 5 hours ago
Joined: 10/15/2008 - 1:15am

That was interesting information, Tom. Borrowing from the info...

Final Cut Express now includes AVCHD Easy Setups to support ingesting AVCHD footage using the Apple Intermediate Codec. The Easy Setups are:

AVCHD-Apple Intermediate Codec 1440x1080i60
AVCHD-Apple Intermediate Codec 1920x1080i60
AVCHD-Apple Intermediate Codec 1440x1080i50
AVCHD-Apple Intermediate Codec 1920x1080i50

You no longer need to use the HDV-Apple Intermediate Codec Easy Setups when ingesting AVCHD footage.

Seems FCE 4 will help address some previous "issues" related to AVCHD. Thanks for sharing.

Rob Grauert's picture
Last seen: 4 years 2 months ago
Joined: 02/16/2008 - 10:47pm


8GB of RAM will most likely be pleanty for you.

As for hard drives, important rule is to NOT load any media on to the system drive (on a new mac you will see it on the desktop named 'Macintosh HD'). Only the operating system and software should be loaded to this drive.

I recommend purchasing 2 G-Technology G-RAIDs (if you don't have a large budget). Use one for your media storage while you work in FCP, and use the other as your media archive incase your other G-RAID fails.

If your budget allows for it, purchase a RAID5 set up. I recommend G-Technology's G-Speed eS or any CalDigit Products. RAID5 has protection against a hard drive failure, but it's still a good idea to archive your media onto something else.

phatpencil's picture
Last seen: 7 years 7 months ago
Joined: 09/10/2010 - 2:37pm


your information has been so helpful! I have a production company in boulder, colorado. we just switched from standard def to high def with 2 panasonic hmc 150's so dealing with not only high def isues but avccam as well. my mac is not intel based so upgrading there. we are trying to create a work flo that makes sense without adding to the already broken babk - here it is :

1. transfer native files from cards to our old WD hard drives (usb 2.0 so uselesss for editing hd) for storage only

2. create project file on #1 g-raid external hard drive connected to our macs

3. filter through native clips and download only the clips we need into the fcp project file

4. edit project and store on #1 g-raid extrnal hard drive

5. back up on #2 g-raid

your thoughts?

our concerns are continually running out of space on our g-raids, so how to deal with that and how fast do our macs need to be to be efficient with this set up?

thank you so much rob for sharing your knowledge!