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Old December 28th, 2006, 11:47 AM   #1
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Thinking about getting a Mac Pro. Got a question....

...the Apple website for the customizing the Mac Pro offers up to four graphics cards in one unit. Is that gonna help out with the processing of the movie editing or just better graphics? Both?

Which card should I get? 2X NVidia GeForce 7300 GT with 256mb or the single and more expensive ATI Radeon X1900 XT with 512mb? Are the two Nvidias better than the one X1900 XT?
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Old December 28th, 2006, 05:04 PM   #2
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The ATI XT1900 has better openGL performance and will work better with applications that leverage the GPU.

Therefore Motion2 should perform considerably better on the XT1900 than even two 7300GT's but I'm not sure if you will see much of a difference in FCP.
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Old December 29th, 2006, 10:13 PM   #3
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I've not not see a difference in terms of basic FCP performance between the two graphics cards, apparently FCP does not take advantage of the video card memory the way Motion does (but we can always hope FCP will get smarter in a future release).
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Old December 29th, 2006, 11:58 PM   #4
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Joe,

Without knowing all the apps you intend to run I'd say you're going to be just fine with the baseline video card. I've got the dual 3/ghz MacPro with 7300GT and everything including Motion 2 runs great - much faster than it did on my Quad-Core G5, but much of that is due to the faster Intel cores.

However, if you plan on doing any CAD/CAM design or serious gaming such as Doom3 or running Flight Simulator by using a Boot Camp partition then the XT9100 would be the way to go.

A powerful graphics card does nothing to help edit video; what does help video edit processing (renders and playback) are fast drives, fast RAM and of course fast CPU's all working together; no rendering work is done by the video card, it's simply a display output device.

That's not the case with games, where most of the graphics such as shapes, shading, coloration, motion and now depth perception (in the form of simulating lens depth-of-field and other visual SFX) actually gets rendered and generated by the card itself, which is why gaming video cards always show statistics of how many polygons/rasters per second the card is capable of generating.

The short answer: Big time gamer = Get the most powerful card you can afford. Video editing = Get the card that is capable of displaying the maximum resolution of any display you intend to connect to it. And in the case of the MacPro, the base card can handle (2) 30"inch Cinema Displays at max resolution and not break a sweat.
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Old December 30th, 2006, 01:58 AM   #5
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Need VGA out?

The base card can only support one 30" Cinema display because it requires a dual link connection to drive any C.D. at greater than 1280x800.

The base graphic card has one dual link and one single link.

I got the XT1900 so it would support a second Cinema Display if I ever needed to get more real estate for a major project. (I produce commercial DVD's in addition to my regular FCP and production work.)

Right now, the second port is driving a HD LCD TV via a DVI to VGA adaptor so my team and the occasional visiting client can see my timline over my head in the studio (something the base dual/single card would have done just fine, I expect), but I really saw the card upgrade as insurance for the future.

YMMV.
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Old December 30th, 2006, 01:57 PM   #6
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I just got my Mac Pro last night and I'm still working out the kinks [I was up unti 2am trying to get the thing on the network -- "Hi I'm a Mac" shut up!] Sorry I digress...

I have not had a lot of hands on with the 7300GT, a couple of hours, but after I fired up the Mac Pro this morning [in a better mood] the one thing that I've noticed is how quick, smooth and responsive this system is with the XT1900.

I was editing a small HDV project on a 2.66 with 4GB RAM and the 7300GT and wasn't that impressed it was a bit sluggish at times. My system is identical but with the XT1900 and it sure seems to be lighter on the controls.

[Its just gotta be] can you tell I might be having a bit of buyers remorse :)

But for what this lame response is worth, I think the additional couple hundred bucks for the XT1900 is cheap insurance and well worth it.
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Old December 30th, 2006, 04:19 PM   #7
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Got the XT1900 myself and it's quite fast for gaming and 3d work in Studio MAX, Shake, etc. I have yet to compose anything that bottlenecks the GPU. 3ds Max can run multiple high-density particle simulations in real-time with no problems. It's of huge significane to your workflow if you're doing anything along these lines.

There is some misinformation going around here regarding the 7300 cards. Multiple 7300s do NOT run in SLI mode on the Mac Pro. You will see no performance increases whatsoever with multiple cards. The only reason to build a machine with more of these is to drive more displays. For example, if you do a lot of CAD work and want to run 4 displays for your viewports, you would need 2 cards. There's no benefit otherwise.
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Old December 31st, 2006, 05:35 AM   #8
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The new FCP will run Motion FX natively. You'll fell the difference in card choice at once you start using these.

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Old December 31st, 2006, 09:46 AM   #9
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Thanks for the information, everyone! The Mac Pro I ordered is the 2.66gHz with the Radion XT1900. I'll get additional RAM later since I've heard that Mac tends to be too pricey with their extra RAM.

The Mac Pro should arrive this Wednesday or Thursday. The primary use will be FCP and for quick simple projects, iMovie. This leads to another question:

Will projects from my old Powerbook work with the current FCP HD and iMovie HD?
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Old January 1st, 2007, 06:37 PM   #10
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Version conversion

As you open your current projects on your new version of FCP, it will ask you if you want to upgrade the project files.

Beware that this is a one way upgrade. If you're ever going to want to work on your projects with your old software, you'd need to output QT files and import them into earlier version timelines. They won't open natively older FCP versions after they're converted.
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Old January 1st, 2007, 10:01 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Lane
A powerful graphics card does nothing to help edit video; what does help video edit processing (renders and playback) are fast drives, fast RAM and of course fast CPU's all working together; no rendering work is done by the video card, it's simply a display output device.
That is true Robert up to a point. The latest FCP (5.1.2) added support for fxPlug architecture. There are a whole bunch of new and duplicate effects that are included with the new version. If you scroll far enough over in the effects browser, a column labeled 'effect class' will indicate which effects and transitions are fxPlug. Anything that is fxPlug uses the GPU so a good graphics card will help achieve RT performance in those cases.

-gb-
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