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Old February 1st, 2012, 08:39 AM   #1
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Memory vs Performance

I have a 17" MBP with the standard 4GB of memory. I see the aftermarket 8GB memory is cheap but going up to 16GB is a much larger price increase.

I see that FCPX will use up all the memory you give it but do you actually see as much improvement between 8 to 16GB as you see going from 4 to 8GB?

Is it worth the extra bucks?
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Old February 1st, 2012, 09:07 AM   #2
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Re: Memory vs Performance

I also have a 17" MBP quad 2.2 and upgraded my ram from 4GB to 8GB but didn't notice much of a difference in FCPX. Now this was the .0 release which I got a refund for since it didn't work very well for me at the time. Perhaps the newer releases will work better with the extra ram and others can chime in.

Now with the update to FCPX and the fact that I wiped my computer to start fresh with Lion I might consider trying the trial again to see if it works better this time.
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Old February 1st, 2012, 01:05 PM   #3
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Got the same Memory question here

I'm running on a MacBook Pro 2.53 duo core and a Mac Pro 2.66 quad core, both with only 4GB of memory. The memory on the MacBook is much cheaper than on the Mac Pro.

So, same question here, what are the upgrade cost/performance options?

One plus with adding memory is that should take some of the load off the hard drive and therefore, in theory, I suppose it should last longer.

I know the computers need memory but the big question is what to go with?
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Old February 1st, 2012, 03:18 PM   #4
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Re: Memory vs Performance

Everything behaves better with more memory. I have 16gb on my MacPro and generally FCPX has been behaving itself since I upgraded from 8gbs a few months ago. The new version I haven't used much yet but I can tell you that an upconverted multicam project from FCP7 with only 3 cameras didn't run as smoothly as with FCP7 on the same computer. I will test the same files by making a new multicam project in FCPX soon to see if this has anything to do with the XML conversion (although I can't see why it would).
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Old February 2nd, 2012, 08:17 AM   #5
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Re: Memory vs Performance

I upgraded my macpro from the standard amount of memory (can't remember if it was 6 or 8!) to 24 and didn't notice a scrap of difference in any program! No speed increase, nothing. I wondered if I'd done something wrong but the computer confirmed that I had installed the memory correctly. I should add that FCPX was running fine before and still is. It even runs very well on my four year old macbook pro.
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Old February 2nd, 2012, 05:47 PM   #6
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Re: Memory vs Performance

In my experience Ram doesn't always equal performance.

Ram allows you to do more or have more open but Ram in itself is not a magical tool to make software run faster. If you only work with X amount of video in a FCPX project and that video fits well within what 4GB of Ram would handle then bumping to 8 GB is not going to make that X amount of video run faster. Now if you had 2X or 5X the amount of video then Ram would help a lot.

I should also point out I use After Effects a lot and while I noticed I could push my comps harder after upgrading to 8 GB it did not overall make the basic or simple projects run any faster. I can ram preview a lot more now which is cool.

Just my experience so far.
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Old February 2nd, 2012, 09:58 PM   #7
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Re: Memory vs Performance

After Effects works a lot better with more RAM when you run previews of larger projects.
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Old February 3rd, 2012, 02:51 PM   #8
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Re: Memory vs Performance

In an earlier thread I posted this, but when I went from 8GB to 16GB of ram on my Mac Pro there was a massive improvement in FCP X performance. Massive.
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Old February 4th, 2012, 10:48 AM   #9
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Re: Memory vs Performance

Exactly. It all depends on the size of the projects. If you plan on working on larger or complex projects then yes more Ram helps a lot. If you are somebody who has a system struggling with two videos on a timeline then more Ram will not help very much and they should consider a new system.
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Old February 4th, 2012, 07:17 PM   #10
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Re: Memory vs Performance - Comparisons

This is an interesting web page that compares speed with memory.

What is interesting is the Solid State Drive (SSD) and how it really speeds things up. It's a little pricy but the benefits can be longer battery life between charges, perhaps cooler running (I would hope), and protection from lost data in the event of an impact of the computer with a hard object. Also, no hard-drive crashes.

The downside obviously is initial cost.

Apple MacBook, MacBook Pro, iMac, Mac Pro Memory Benchmarks and Upgrade Performance Testing
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Old February 4th, 2012, 09:19 PM   #11
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Re: Memory vs Performance

I understand the SSD are the best for performance but I also heard that some SSDs use more power than a hard drive and the overall failure rate is about the same. Anything can fail, but the modern hard drive is pretty good, I just try to replace mine before they get too old. I don't think it will be to long before hard drives are a thing of the past like floppies.

In a related note I bought a Seagate GoFlex Desktop drive and it failed the second time I plugged it in. I looked on their site and a lot of people were having the same problem. I think I'm going to put the replacement on eBay when it shows up...
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Old February 6th, 2012, 07:54 AM   #12
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Re: Memory vs Performance

You have to be careful with SSD's. I have seen a lot of them fail to the point where they seem to be just as trust worthy as a normal hard drive. The speed advantage also depends on what you put on the drive. Yes OSX will boot faster and FCPX will load faster but unless you buy a large enough one for all of your video and graphics it will not help with the editing process. If you worked 100% native you might be able get a project or two on a larger SSD. If you do work native keep in mind the datarate of those files is so low that your storage medium is no longer the bottleneck in your system. Your cpu and memory are the new bottlenecks.

If you plan on using a SDD for external storage you are better off spending the $1000.00 on a Promise thunderbolt raid configured in a raid 5. Great speed and the raid 5 will offer better protection. Remember with a SSD you are still depending on a single drive and if that single drive fails your stuff is gone. With a raid 5 you can have a hardware failure and still be ok. Not to mention for the same speed you get 4TB instead of 480GB.
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Old February 16th, 2012, 12:59 PM   #13
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Re: Memory vs Performance

After 3 months and a few 'gentler' jobs of on-site editing (where FCPX excels), I felt confident to step up a gear on a more major job: 2k assets from 3 different cameras, two formats plus iPhone and two IP timelapse cameras, with total assets at 24 hours or thereabouts.

What I'm seeing is a huge performance difference depending on how many projects are open.

With two main edits, a dozen offshoot edits and a BTS, with versions of each, it was rapidly obvious on a 8GB MacBook Pro that

i) internal SSD is brilliant - apps decloak rather than launch, whole system moves on castors, very happy bunny - best 800 I spent. (ouch)

ii) Projects (aka Sequences) fill up RAM. Use something like Event Manager to park stuff you're not working on, and get some speed back

iii) Because I was shooting AND ingesting as well as part editing on site, and absolutely LOVING the 'hide already ingested material' bit of FCPX's ingest window for AVCHD, I stupidly (stupidly) decided to not bother transcoding rushes. Big mistake.

The same project in a 16GB RAM machine is fine, up to the point that the AVCHD material is still too frumpy for my liking, like eggshell in your omlette - it's not going to kill you, but it puts a bit of a pall on things.

So: 16GB in any Mac that's going to do serious FCPX work with versions of projects and half a dozen or more projects on the go. SSD for the App and System.

Do I really want a Thunderbolt SSD? Yes of course I do, but not at any price. I think the two bottlenecks in FCPX is RAM and 'not exactly edit ready' (pointing the finger at FS100's AVCHD here) formats.

After all, it all encourages us to get new Macs with lots of RAM and Thunderbolt - its as if Apple made more money on their hardware than their software. Fancy that. :-/
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Old February 17th, 2012, 03:15 PM   #14
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Re: Memory vs Performance

Can a graphics card upgrade improve performance?

I am running two monitors off a stock Nvidia GeForce GT120 and I am wondering if the card is being overwhelmed as I run FCPX on both monitors.

The only upgrade card I see for my MacPro 2009 is an ATI 5870 for $450. Worth it? Will that drive two monitors in FCPX?

Update: I switched to a single 24" monitor and playback improved substantially but it's not so good for my clients as the image is so small. So the question is.... Upgrade the card for $450 or a single monitor set-up with a new 27" monitor ($900 from Apple, $400 from Samsung or Viewsonic) as that's the largest that can go in my set-up.
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Last edited by William Hohauser; February 18th, 2012 at 08:21 AM.
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Old February 22nd, 2012, 07:09 PM   #15
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Re: Memory vs Performance

Well I answered the questions myself, the thread question and my question.

The graphics card has a lot to do with FCPX performance especially with the 10.0.3 upgrade. I was exporting 1080 60p programs with a number of different frame rates and file types and the computer was getting bogged down to the point that even the screen savers were stuttering even though the Activity Monitor didn't show much going on with the CPU. After researching the ATI Radeon 5870 graphics card, I discovered that it was about three times the speed of my Nvidia GT 120 card.

So out came $450 dollars and in went the card today. Yesterday an hour program HD export took 2 hours to complete. Today it took less than 45 minutes. All the time, the CPUs were at 1/4 usage at most, usually less.
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