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Old October 27th, 2009, 04:27 PM   #1
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real differences between mac notebooks?

So I am thinking of getting a macbook pro, and see that there are several models to choose from. Looking at the 15inch ones, for instance, there's one with a 2.53 ghz processor, 2.66, and 2.8? Is the difference between these as small as it looks? Am I missing something? Yes, I see that they get progressively larger HDs as the price goes up as well. Thanks.
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Old October 27th, 2009, 06:35 PM   #2
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Generally the significant differences are: size & speed of hard disk, amount of memory, max amount of memory allowed, and the amount of video RAM. Generally for the video RAM 512MB or higher is better for apps like Motion or running dual monitors. And of course, it's nice to get lots of RAM when running Snow Leopard and pro apps.

But yeah, the difference in CPU speeds is generally insignificant. It might be more cost effective to just plan for long renders, and use the money saved for a hardware rendering solution.
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Old October 27th, 2009, 07:02 PM   #3
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It might be more cost effective to just plan for long renders, and use the money saved for a hardware rendering solution.
Can you tell me where to get one of these hardware rendering solutions of which you speak?
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Old October 27th, 2009, 10:53 PM   #4
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if you're rendering to H264 then the Matrox CompresHD is king of the hill with the Elgato Turbo .264 HD not far behind
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Old October 27th, 2009, 11:22 PM   #5
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WEll, I guess I don't really have sophisticated needs right now, hell, I'm still dealing with SD miniDV video except on this animation project I'm working on, but it would be nice to have something a little future proof. . .so can any of these notebooks deal with HD better than any others?
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Old October 28th, 2009, 12:59 PM   #6
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About the only advantage to getting a 2.66 ghz or 2.8 ghz 15" MBP is the video card. Internal hard drives have never really a big issue for me when dealing with video editing. I hardly ever handle a video project on an internal drive. My internal drives are usually strictly for the software itself and maybe a few simple graphics and so forth. This is why I really wish Macs would allow the video card to be an add on option for any system. With that said don't be scared by the integrated Nvidia 9400. While it will be slower for gpu related project it isn't a show stopper. The same rule of spend a bit more time rendering also applies to the gpu. This also only really applies to Motion and Color. FCP itself doesn't see very much advantage of one gpu over the other. If you can of course go for the bigger gpu but the Nvidia 9400 is not the end of the world for FCS either.
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Old October 28th, 2009, 01:44 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Andy Mees View Post
if you're rendering to H264 then the Matrox CompresHD is king of the hill with the Elgato Turbo .264 HD not far behind
I have both and actually I use my Elgato far more than the CompresHD.
Haven't done a side by side but I swear its faster (as both are single pass).

On Topic:
Another thing to consider is Front Side Bus or how fast the RAM is capable of clocking in.
The non-unibody MBP's have a significantly slower bus speed which tends to bottleneck some performance factors.

Also, I'd watch out of the new 15" unibody MBP. They lack a Express34 slot which is vital for connecting specific peripherals (ie - Matrox MX02, Sonnet Qio, P2 Cards, e-Sata cards).

If it were me, I'd only be looking at non-unibody 15" or the new unibody 17", as they both contain this vital port.

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Old October 28th, 2009, 02:25 PM   #8
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Um, okay. . .how do you tell if it's unibody/nonunibody? I noticed that you can buy them with different amounts of RAM. Can you add the RAM later yourself? Apple's RAM is notoriously expensive, and if I bought it with the minimum of 4 GB but with the option to add more, I could buy on the cheap. if you can add your own with laptops, I have no idea.
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Old October 28th, 2009, 02:36 PM   #9
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You can add your own memory.

Macbook: MacBook: How to remove or install memory

Macbook Pro: MacBook Pro: How to remove or install memory

I was a fool once and purchased memory from Apple not thinking anything of it. Don't be like me :)
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Old October 28th, 2009, 03:17 PM   #10
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Oh it's too late. . .I'm already a fool many times a day. But no, I wouldn't buy the Apple memory.

Does one need 8 GB of RAM?
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Old October 28th, 2009, 10:58 PM   #11
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And another thing. . .I see that the different notebooks have different amounts of "VR". . .the highest end one with 512 MB and the next one down with 256. Is this video RAM, virtual RAM? Google doesn't want to help me. What is it and what does it do for me?
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Old October 29th, 2009, 12:21 AM   #12
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It's VRAM. More VRAM memory generally lets you get in more 3D effects if you're running 3D-intensive apps (often games). But it may also allow for some greater performance boosts for certain apps if you're using a supported GPU-accelerated video card with a recent OS version.

As to whether or not this makes any difference really depends on what sort of apps you normally use on a daily basis. Most of Final Cut doesn't take advantage of GPU acceleration though the FxPlug plugins often does. Even then, it's not clear to me if increasing VRAM for a supported video card would directly lead to greater GPU acceleration, so...
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Old October 29th, 2009, 01:06 AM   #13
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Ah. Well, I have FCS2, but have really never messed with motion. Use DVD studio and FCP a lot, as well as program called Anime Studio, a flash-like animation/drawing program. And logic for occasionally recording/mixing music.
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Old October 29th, 2009, 01:46 AM   #14
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Sorry, Josh, just realized I'd completely failed to answer your initial question. :-)

I still have high hopes of passing Reading Comprehension 101 some day. ;-) Or at least I can dream!

Anyway, so... VRAM = video memory. Basically, the dedicated memory solely intended for video card or processor functions. The nicer video cards/chips will have their own high speed memory that they don't have to share with rest of the system.

More VRAM generally means that 3D apps can stuff more data within it without suffering a performance slowdown. That's generally true of many 3D apps. But then we come to FCS where, because of how it's currently programmed (and should change as Apple implements 64-bit Cocoa coding in FCS over time), it's not yet able to take full advantage of video-related processor acceleration in the entire suite.

Some small parts of FCS is still able to take advantage, but not completely and in somewhat relatively limited circumstances compared to what you were originally envisioning.

What it comes down to is... if I had the choice between a Mac laptop with Nvidia graphics vs. Intel graphics, I'd go for the Nvidia every single time. But with a typical FCS workflow, I couldn't be sure that merely using a laptop with more VRAM would necessarily result in a clear performance boost.
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Old October 29th, 2009, 02:02 AM   #15
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WEll, here's where I'm at right now: there are, I think, 3 15" models of macbook pro at the moment. Considering HD space, it's either the most expensive one for me, or the one below it. it's about a $200 difference. I think they're all Nvidia cards, aren't they? Unless there are more customization options than I'm aware of. I'm getting my info from Macmall.com
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