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Old July 15th, 2009, 01:22 PM   #1
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How does this compare?

I am doing the dreadful debate between buying a Mac or custom PC. I've always heard the Macs are way superior over PCs when it comes to performance; I've always owned PC.

I will be shooting HDV and/or AVCHD and using CS4(premiere and after effects)

My question: How/why do Macs seem to have less ram than high-end PCs and still exceed the performance? Or is this really the case...do they need more ram? I know this sounds kind of ignorant. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!

Ryan
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Old July 15th, 2009, 01:37 PM   #2
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Stay away from people that have to use terms like "way superior"; they are fanboys and they will lead you astray. You can do great work on either platform.
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Old July 15th, 2009, 02:52 PM   #3
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A mac gets it's reliability from the fact that it can limit it's hardware to what they think will work, you don't get the opportunity to choose a whole range of exotic hardware, Apple does this for you and by doing that the software designers only have to take some hardware combinations into account when designing drivers etc which gives better stability.

A pc can can be as stable as a Mac, you just need to pick the right hardware combinations or buy a turnkey station that is certified for a specific task like editing or graphic design and that will also cost you an arm and a leg.

A mac gets it's speed from it's 8 core but that's a technology that will be (or allready is?) available to pc's as well. the most important question is if you would buy a slower 8 core that Mac is offering as basic setup or a much faster 4 core? All depends how much software you have that can utilize 8 cores. If you need fast rendering speeds and you nle supports it then a 8 core is the way to go, even at slower speeds but if that's less important and most of your software is not multithreaded then it's better to have a (much) faster quad- or dualcore.
Very fast dual cores f.i. ( + 3ghz) will be faster then an 8 core mac running a 2,26 ghz when the software doesn't support more then 2 cores.

Also bear in mind that a basic 8 core Mac now can be surpassed by a good medium end pc in maybe 3 years, pc technology goes so fast that "fast" will be "slow" before you can say it.

A Mac doesn't need much memory to run fast but it depends, just like a pc, on as much memory as it can carry to run certain programs faster or run several programs simultaneously. Only if you fill up a Mac with memory you almost can buy a small car at the prizes they charge but I read that there are much cheaper solutions available.

Both Mac and Pc have their (dis)advantages, which one is better? Don't think too long about it, just pick carefully and get creative. My Dell f.i. does what it needs to do and costs a fraction of a basic Mac, it has 4 cores, 3 big drives a fast graphics card and it only has software installed that I need to be creative and it works for me.
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Old July 15th, 2009, 03:12 PM   #4
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I actually switched from PC to Mac and then back again; when I was editing HDV, Final Cut Pro offered me a better, faster solution on equivalent hardware than Premiere Pro (which is what I was using on PC.) This was around mid 2007.

When I switched to AVCHD, however, Sony Vegas was simply better and faster (plus, it could take advantage of multiple cores,) so I switched back to a PC workflow around late 2008.
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Old July 15th, 2009, 07:18 PM   #5
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I think this debate will forever rage on. Having worked with Windows all flavors and bits, linux 32/64 (various vendors), Mac from OSX 10.1 to the present, and Solaris as well, the best platform is Amiga. No kidding. Well maybe it is..but I haven't tried that one. It was the original first computer for movies tho.. having done Blade Runner and all back in the day. Who remembers the now famous NewTek LigthWave scenes? :D

Honestly tho, Jim is right.. everybody has their "favorite" for an unlimited number of reasons. Noa nailed it as well. My experience has taught me this.. I am MOST comfortable working with Windows Vista (XP prior) and Adobe products as I have the most hands on experience with those products and platform. As a software engineer, I've worked with all the above and I honestly have the hardest time getting used to OSX. The "1 button" mouse setup, even with three button mouses working these days is just too hard for me to get used to. The menus and such as well are in odd locations where as with windows, solaris and linux, they are pretty much the same layout. The stability of apps in OSX is better I would agree, but it still has some issues.

The biggest factor for me is bang for buck. I built a quad core system with 12GB ram, 1.5TB hd, dvd burner, high end video card, super case and p/s, loaded m/b, for under $1400. Your mileage may vary, and if you're not building one, hit me up via email (andjarnic@yahoo.com) and I'll help you out. If money is not an issue, then I'd consider one of three options. Either a dual-cpu quad-core system from the Mac side or the Dell/other vendor side that build video editing workstations. Either side is really good, has lots of power, usually comes with a nVidia quadro or Matrox RT card that has lots of memory and really speeds up editing and things like After Effects, and so forth. Those machines are in the 6K+ range, but they are good, supported, and will fit your needs for a few years to come easily. Most will be cpu upgradeable as well. I strongly suggest either route you go, you get at least 16GB ram and stick to the 64-bit OS. Vista 64 has worked great for me, very solid, and I think OSX is one flavor but has some native 64-bit stuff in it.

The third option, the one I go for myself..the one I will be doing next year for my next PC, is buy the components to build a dual-cpu quad core setup, 36GB set (9 slots I think.. although they may be limited to 6 right now..haven't checked out latest dual cpu m/bs), and add in a Matrox or Quadro video card for $1K or so, a good sized case, raid 0 10K drives for the main OS drive and the editing work drives, a 2TB "backup" drive for w/e use, and an external 2 drive hot-swap enlosure to store source footage and original work, etc on.. and put like 320GB or 500GB HDs in there.. and use one for each big project you work on. Take them out when all done and store it in a fire safe of some sort. I'd also opt for a 30" work monitor and a 32" or 40" HD LCD screen so you can work on the monitor, but see what the results look like on the LCD tv. End result tho is probably for under 8K you can build this uber machine, 30" monitor and 32/40" LCD panel and have a hell of a studio work setup. That's if money is no object. If you need to slim down, I'd still opt for the quad core i7 cpu, or if availalbe the 6-core AMD cpus are nice now too. 2 extra cores and 16GB or 24GB RAM will go a long way. Not sure if they are as fast as the quad core cpus of comparable price tho. You also can user cheaper/faster DDR2 memory with the AMD setup.

Anyway..that's my .02. Keep us posted on what you decide to do.
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Old July 15th, 2009, 07:39 PM   #6
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I have both PC's and Macs. Each has advantages and disadvantages. A lot of software runs on both, but I'd say offhand that there are more apps for Windows than Mac.

But with Bootcamp or Parallels or VMWare Fusion you can run a Windows real or virtual machine on a Mac - I run Vegas on my MacBook under VMWare. Not sure it would do so well for heavy duty rendering etc, but for light editing on the road it's been more than adequate.

I think the best advice would be to think about your needs (ie lots of heavy duty rendering long form projects with lots of effects vs short form projects with minimal effects - sort of capture cut and print) and then decide based on capability and cost.

I run some fluid simulations that are real processor hogs and the particular software I use limits you to 2 cores unless you want to pay an extra $1k and I wanted both multi core rendering as well as good performance for dual core, so I bought an i7 based Windows system - I had been looking at an 8 core Mac, but finally concluded that Windows was the way to go for this system at least.

I think as others have said the stability issue has more to do with Apple limiting the drivers etc rather than any inherent characteristic of the machines themselves.
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Old July 15th, 2009, 07:53 PM   #7
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I don't build my own cars, I have no desire to build by own computer. I just want to sit down, start it up and get to work. I want one company to do my support. I can't image owning a car and having the engine warranted by one company, the transmission warranted by another and the body by another. I can't tell you the number of times that I've had issues with a PC and Dell said I need to call Microsoft and when I called Microsoft, I was told to call Dell. With Apple it was one call, problem solved. I don't want to do my own computer tech support. I want to turn it on, and edit.

Apple is consistently rated the tops in customer service for a reason. Even PC Magazine rated their customer service #1.

In regard to cost, lets talk about virus's. I know a number of PC users that won't connect their editing computer to the internet because they don't want to install anti-virus, anti-malware, anti-spyware etc. and slow down their editing computer. So they need to purchase another PC to go online with. Not a very cost effective or productive system in my mind.

Everyone likes to quote Apple Ram in their comparisons. Apple uses industry standard ram in all their computers. Buy from a reliable source and save money.

The amount of software available is a moot point. I don't need 10,000 accounting programs, only 1. All of the industry standard programs are available for both Mac and PC.
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Old July 15th, 2009, 08:16 PM   #8
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Well, I agree that you only need 1 (Accounting app, editing app, x-app, y-app, etc)

And if the 1 app you like/need runs on Mac and not Windows, get a Mac. But if it runs on Windows and not Mac, get a PC. Nothing religious about it. I have a couple of both and I like them both. I see rather little difference between them.

Of course, you could get a PC for editing and a Mac for the internet - or do what I've often done and run your internet access in a virtual machine so if it becomes infested you only need to load a new instance of it.
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Old July 15th, 2009, 08:30 PM   #9
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Apologies for duplicate post
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Old July 15th, 2009, 08:36 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Andrada View Post
Of course, you could get a PC for editing and a Mac for the internet - or do what I've often done and run your internet access in a virtual machine so if it becomes infested you only need to load a new instance of it.
Or my suggestion, get a Mac for editing and also use it for the internet. I've gone the virtual route and lost bookmarks, RSS feeds, mail, images in the mail, etc. Sure I back up, but half the time the backup is infected too. Virtual machines have a place, but the software adds to the cost, and is not effective in my workflow.

In many cases, the software dictates the platform. I've used FCP since version 1.1 and is my "weapon" of choice. I used Avid (still use occasionally) for a number of years and Premiere also. None compare to FCP in my book, but that's me and each editor has to find what works best for him/her. But I make money when I'm productive and historically that is not the case when I sit at a PC.

I'm not trying to be argumentative, just bring a little balance to the discussion and dispel some of the misinformation. There is certainly a place for both platforms in the editing suite and each person needs to evaluate the options, both hardware and software.
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Old July 15th, 2009, 09:16 PM   #11
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Re being productive - I think that's primarily a software statement.. I have Final Cut on my Mac and it's fine. I like Vegas better - or probably I'm more used to it and too old and stupid to learn new tricks.

Honestly, I don't see much productivity difference regardless of which hardware platform I'm sitting in front of - maybe because I have an Apple Cinema 30 and an Apple keyboard on my PC. And I use an iPhone. I like it much better than the Windows Palm I used to have, but I have Word (and will soon have Excel) on it. And we run Office on our Mac's.

My decision to get a Windows i7 system was mostly driven by the fact that the RealFlow fluid simulator and a couple of the CG render apps I use with Cinema 4D don't have Mac versions and I was leery about running such resource hogs under VMWare. I didn't do it to save money by using the PC, as my Boxx system was actually a bit pricier than a Mac.

To net it out, I think first you have to decide which software you like or need and then see where that leads. If there are both PC and Mac versions available, then make the decision on any basis you like - cost, esthetics, coin toss, whatever makes you happy.

And if not, then the choice is obvious.
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Old July 15th, 2009, 09:57 PM   #12
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Jeff,

Sounds like you had some bitter times with the Windows side of the game and are voicing your opinion of Mac from that perspective. Regardless of what anyone says, Mac is a MUCH more expensive platform to own. There is a reason despite Mac moving up a little bit, Windows still owns > 80% of the home/business market. Despite all the cries of viruses, it's still by far more dominant.

So it really boils down to a few things, how much you can spend (or are willing to), how comfortable you are with one or the other already, and what software you may be comfortable with. If you already know Windows, know Adobe or Vegas and can get stuff done.. why switch? Don't be another Mac/iPod fan boy and buy into the hype. If you want to spend as much as 2x or more for the same hardware and a slightly more stable OS, go for the Mac. But I hope you don't have to get used to the Mac idiosyncrasies. Or.. I hope you have time to and a want to learn it.

If on the other hand money is no object, and you want to learn something fresh, OSX will definitely give that to you. Before Jeff (or any Mac advocate) slams me, OSX kicks butt. The OS is built on a unix core, it's rock solid, stable, and the GUI is pretty. The underlying hardware is identical in almost every way as what you get for 1/3 the price for a PC/Windows setup. It's like buying anything else, you pay for name brand and spec wise it's identical, or slightly different than the non-name brands. I almost always buy generic brand stuff now because most of it, when you look at the descriptions is identical ingredients and a lot of the time its the same manufacturer making it for both the name brand and generic brand.

I REALLY wish Linux would have more options. It's kind of the best of both worlds to be honest. It's more windows like in how the mouse/keyboard interact with the GUI, menus, etc.. yet has the same rock solid roots as OSX. I even tried to run the Ubuntu Studio for a while but while they do have some good software, none of it is nearly up to par with Adobe and Apples products, or Sony's. It's too bad really because the underlying Linux OS has many, if not more perks than the OSX guts while also allowing better interaction with windows, including running most windows apps right inside a sort of emulator when the need arises. The down side besides the apps is that linux is still WAY too much of a geek OS. You can quickly get yourself into trouble and while there is tons of help, it almost always needs some sort of low level response, like recompiling software and such.

Ah well, I say, bang for the buck you wont come close to beating a Windows setup. If this is your main editing machine, you really don't need it on the net, or you can just be smart and not execute apps made to take advantage of exploits in the OS. It's really simple. I've never had a virus.. I delete emails with attachments, turn off the auto-execute of VB scripts and such.

As a final note, if you do want to run a VM, VirtualBox is VERY good and free. It installs easily and as long as you have an ISO image of the OS you want to run in it, it's quite easy to install windows, linux and even OSX as a guest OS and get it up and running.
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Old July 15th, 2009, 10:14 PM   #13
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I've got a graphic design background and have used Windows from the start, being that it's always been better bang for the buck and you still the same software. This is something that my industry placement students have also noticed and hence they too have bought in to the Windows platform instead of purchasing an 'expensive' Mac.

Don't worry about the viruses and associated FUD. Mac computers get them too. The main thing is to (a) not open weird email attachments form strangers and (b) keep away from dodgy web sites.

If there is a compelling reason for a Windows machine that I can offer you, it is this .... There is no Matrox X.2 card (and drivers) for the Mac.

That alone does it for me.

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Old July 15th, 2009, 10:20 PM   #14
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Hey Kevin, I didn't know about Virtual Box - I'll look into it.

It amazes me that so many people think that this virtual stuff is new and untested.

While I was leading a compiler design team for IBM in the miid sixties (PL/1, Fortran etc) I was working at the same location as the guys doing IBM's VM system - which I think we shipped somewhere around 1967.

And I ran something called VM 386 on my PC's in the mid 80's

Virtual is good stuff and it's been around forever as we measure time in the computer biz.
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Old July 15th, 2009, 10:21 PM   #15
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Thanks guys, I appreciate the feedback! I should be a little more specific, before this gets into a PC vs Mac debate.

I use Premiere and After Effects a lot, but software isn't really an issue; I can use Adobe products on a mac if I had too.

I am just tryin to figure out if I build a $1800 PC (quad core i7 2.6ghz, 6-12gb ram, etc), how that will compare to a $2500 quad core Mac with only 3gb of ram. Is a Mac THAT much more effecient, that it only needs a fraction of the ram? How will the two compare? I hope this helps. Thanks again.

Ryan
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