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Old June 3rd, 2005, 07:20 AM   #1
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Who's cheapest? Mac vs PC...?

Hi guys

(excuse me for my bad english - I'm Danish! (From Denmark - not the cake!))

I'm gonna invest in a new computer and software for professional dv-editing (avid, fcp, premier or others.)

There are many opinions on what machine to choose - mac or pc - but as money is a limited source to me I would really like to have some opinions on the price!

Mac is easy: only 4 different powermacs to chose from.
But how do I compare the pcs to that. There are so many different components!

Also I have noticed that the processor can not be changed in the powermac, which means I'll have to by a whole new computer in a matter of 5 years or so, instead of just upgrading the components when I need it.

I am sure, that I do need one of the programs mentioned above - I'm gonna make documentary films and stuff.

I hope some of you guys, that have more experience in editing, can give me some advice. Thanks!

Best regards Casper
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Old June 3rd, 2005, 07:35 AM   #2
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Casper,

That's a tough question to answer but I'll try. I finally invested in a Mac computer after editing a project on a borrowed machine. Some of the other software included in the initial purchase of the Mac also persuaded me. You are right about the limited upgrade ability of the Mac machine but that is also their strength. With limited configurations available, it is much easier to code software that will work without issues.

However, I still have and still need to use the Windows based machine for other tasks that aren't supported on the Apple platform. I also like that the Apple, starting with version 10 (OS X) is based on Unix which is a very mature, stable, secure operating system. It's also a lean and mean OS which allows you to perform operations with less computing horsepower. This took a long time for me to come to grips with. I used to be one of those who didn't think very highly of Apple but their hardware and software has really improved over the past several years.

In short, if you can afford it, have both systems at your disposal!

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P.S. As a caution to all, DV-INFO does not allow 'platform wars'. Please post any views on this matter in a constructive, well mannered way.
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Old June 3rd, 2005, 08:25 AM   #3
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you might want to decide on your editing system first. I know thats hard to do without test driving them. But some systems only work on specific platforms.

Final Cut Pro only runs on Mac for instance. If you decide on FCP, then it's MAC.

Premiere and Vegas only run on PC's. Same thing.

Avid ships with copies for Mac AND Pc's.

I know it seems like a 'chicken and egg' sort of question, which comes first, the platform or the NLE system. But you should know up front that some NLE's are platform specific, so if you choose the platform, you are also chooing your NLE options.
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Old June 3rd, 2005, 08:29 AM   #4
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It's not Mac vs. PC, it's now Mac or PC?

PC's = more options, greater numbers of users and support.
Mac G5 = less options, very stable, don't need to be a part-time IT

If you can get ANY workstation to last five-years, then you've nearly realized and ROI twice-over. Most machines typically last only three years. By then, the chipsets have changed and you'll need a new Mobo, graphics-card etc., etc. Might as well just get a whole new system.

My experience with the G5's: we have three of them in-house for 2D and layout for over a year, and these are never turned off. Not a single issue. We also have a three-year old G4 notebook, same story. Mac's win in the stability, get more work done department.

It's a PC world. Much or your content will/may need to be shared/exchanged with PC based systems. Also, you'll have a lot more software with more features to choose from. If you go Mac, make sure you've clearly defined your intended graphics pipeline and how your going to get mac square peg into windows round hole. Otherwise, both platforms will do what you want.

A good resource for HD workflows on a mac is Mike Curtis' blog at www.hdforindies.com -read his FAQ.

I was quoted on two HD-SDI uncompressed systems, a mac dual G5 and a BOXX dual opteron. I was mildly surprised to find the mac quote was actually cheaper.

You are somewhat correct on upgrading a system on the cheap, but not in five-years, more like five months. Windows 64bit is round the corner, and so are the dual-core 64bit AMD chipsets (forget Intels, the run too hot, and had to be stepped down). Should your software/Hardware get a 64bit update, the performance advantage will make for a compelling reason to stick with a windows PC. I believe the AMD mobo's will allow such a swap-out, (have to check on that one). Anyway, I'm sure mac's will address the multi-core challenge, but as you already know, that would require a whole new box.

But for today, both platforms will suffice. I know the lure of the mac, it's OS and quality of hardware is a site to behold. Being very stable, you won't have to play as part-time IT tech, focusing more on your work instead.

I use software that works on both platforms (adobe, macromedia (which is now adobe) and lightwave). I just have to drop Premiere Pro in favor of FCP. No problem, both are essentially the same in features, etc.

In closing, I would layout and compare the workflows in both platforms, and see which is more appealing. When my budget is approved, I'll pay a visit to some facilities that rent workstation time, and do my own comparison. If there are production houses in your local, maybe you pay a visit and see for yourself? Take care.

Pete
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Old June 3rd, 2005, 01:31 PM   #5
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I have no idea what the economics are in Denmark, so the answer might be different for your country. I live in Canada and things are typically a little cheaper in the US if you know where to shop (on average, everything in the States is more expensive though).

If you look on the low end, PCs are typically cheaper than a Mac if you compare performance. A Pentium (not Celeron) system will be pretty cheap and will usually be faster than a single processor 1.8ghz G5 (which is a lot more expensive!). On the PC side, a Pentium (not Celeron) system is likely your best bet for price/performance. In your case (I assume you will edit DV, and not HDV or HD) a PC would definitely be cheapest.

Of course performance always isn't everything... in my opinion, Macs are definitely easier to use. You don't have to worry about spyware, viruses, or configuration issues. The operating system and programs are typically intuitive and easy to use.

Quote:
Also I have noticed that the processor can not be changed in the powermac, which means I'll have to by a whole new computer in a matter of 5 years or so, instead of just upgrading the components when I need it.
Typically the upgrade path for whatever system you buy now is limited. If you buy a newest-generation PC (which is a little more expensive sometimes), an upgrade in 5 years may be difficult to find. Supposing you find an upgrade, at best it would make your computer 2X faster.

On the other hand, computers double in speed about every 5 years. So it may make more sense to not spend too much money on your computer and just replace the whole computer. As you get higher in performance, you pay substantially more (which isn't worth it unless you use your computer for video editing a lot). The new dual core AMD processors coming out will cost substantially more (like 3 times?) and offer 0-90% improved performance over a single core processor of the same clock speed and cache.
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Old June 3rd, 2005, 03:03 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenn Chan
.... The new dual core AMD processors coming out will cost substantially more (like 3 times?) and offer 0-90% improved performance over a single core processor of the same clock speed and cache.
That'll have to be tested when they come out in July, and I sure hope Tom's Hardware puts them through their paces.

Also, I think it'll take a 64bit OS to realize any real performance. Being that most software has yet to be recompiled, and 64bit drivers released, it may be more like 5 months until we see a real benefit. At least lightwave 3d is ready.


Pete
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Old June 3rd, 2005, 03:39 PM   #7
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Some sites like techreport.com and anandtech.com have benchmarks of dual core AMD processors. From the Opteron results you can extrapolate to single processor dual cores. I think they have benches of those too.

Similarly, there are benchmarks of programs running on the 64-bit version of winXP. There aren't really any substantial performance gains from what I've seen.

2- In my opinion Tom's Hardware is not very good for benchmarks. They have some shaky testing methodologies.

Also: A lot of the hardware sites don't even run benchmarks relevant to video editing. Probably the only relevant benchmark is MPEG2 encoding with the Main Concept encoder, and maybe Windows Media Encoder.
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Old June 3rd, 2005, 06:34 PM   #8
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I'm pretty much sick and tired about the Mac stability myth. It is complete B-S. I've seen plenty of crashy Macs. It seems like every time an editor is showing me something on FCP, his Mac has an "issue" from locking up to refusing to eject CDs, to losing files.

Years ago, PCs were pretty unstable, so Mac's by comparison got a rep for being stable. Now that PCs are overall pretty stable, the difference is gone.

One good thing about a PC, is that if something does go wrong, you can actually do something to fix it yourself.

In the end, buy whichever you are already comfortable using.
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Old June 3rd, 2005, 07:22 PM   #9
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Sorry, my Mac really is very stable. I can't remember when I had a crash in FCP, certainly never since I've gotten the G5 and FCP 4.5. However nothing is perfect. People are having a lot of issues with the current upgrade cycle of MacOS X 10.4 "Tiger", Quicktime 7 and FCP 5, which is why I'm putting these off for awhile personally.

Certain buggy applications crash, but rarely bring down the operating system. I'm using a very powerful, but buggy 3d application, "Vue 5 Infinite" which crashes often (but it has features which make it worth the trouble). Once it locked up my whole machine, probably related to the graphics card. However, it's a multi platform program and if you visit the forums on their website you'll see that PC users have serious issues with memory allocation that don't plague the Mac version.

I have a 15" powerbook which is suffering from RAM problems (affecting a number of people with this model evidently). It's in the shop right now for the second time with this problem, although repair is completely covered under my Applecare warranty. So nothing is perfect when it comes to computers.

Under MacOS 9 there were plenty of crashes and performance was much worse. But now that OS X has matured it's really changed the Mac landscape. The unix core is something which Microsoft just doesn't have

For tech support Consumer Reports Magazine singled out Apple for customer satisfaction and said they offered the most reliable hardware http://www.macworld.com/news/2004/12...umer/index.php

But getting back to the thread's topic, it might be hard to build a case that Macs are "the cheapest," but owning the cheapest computer hasn't been my goal. I do agree that you should buy what you're comfortable with. Try to spend some time using the top software packages on both machines.
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Old June 3rd, 2005, 07:43 PM   #10
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Hmmm, when is a 'crash' just a 'lockup'?

When you own a Mac. Because Mac's never crash. They might 'freeze' the might get 'the spinning beach ball of death' they might 'suddenly lock up' they might get buggy...

but they never, ever crash.

Spent a year working with my partner behind me cutting on his Mac with FCP. It crashed... er, excuse me, locked up about once a week. Had to call in a tech to work on it last week, because he was having 'issues'. The tech showed up (@ $135 an hour) and suddenly, he couldn't duplicate those issues.

Yeah, solid as a rock.
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Old June 3rd, 2005, 08:10 PM   #11
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I used a Mac running OS X when I worked at a graphic design firm. It was rock solid. Then, so has been my Windows XP computer I use for video editing. Of course I'm careful only to load the programs I need for video, and I don't use it for surfing the Internet or e-mail.

Quote:
refusing to eject CDs
I remember that one. That was one annoying thing about the Mac. They really need to add an eject button on the CD/DVD drive.
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Old June 3rd, 2005, 08:22 PM   #12
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This is a little old, but here's what a Mac guy thinks...

http://www.dojo.net/copone/hupa/videot/HappyMacUser.wmv
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Old June 3rd, 2005, 08:51 PM   #13
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A mac is very expensive for what you get. The OS makes the make seem good, but really, your paying a very large chunk of change for something quite crappy. I know that Macs are used by the pros blah blah blah. For a layman, building your own PC is the best. Ive done it myself, o, 5-6 times already i believe, and you can basically build yourself your own for around 1500$ and have a smokin fast PC with great memory, psu, motherboard, and gfx. try newegg.com, cheifvalue.com or pricewatch.com(i think its pricewatch.com). anyways newegg is very reliable and great on pricing, even for overseas people.
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Old June 3rd, 2005, 10:42 PM   #14
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First, I'm a pc user whom has associates that use macs.

Do you folks really use your windows PC's? Do you edit uncompressed video, make composites, build animation and CAD files, and record live productions with them? I've not talking about editing DV, surfing the web and playing games. I mean really run them ragged? Never turning the things off, (except when having to reboot), leaving them on overnight to render animation sequences, DVD files, etc.?

I have a background in mechanical engineering, and my first cad programs was EMS running on $35,000 unix workstations. We never turned those off either, and for some fifteen years they just kept chugging along. They litterally outlasted their usefulness.

Then we migrated to Solid Edge on NT workstations. Crash, crash, crash.
However, we didn't complain, afterall these were just $3000 windows boxes and not unix workstations. No one argued about the stability of unix, the early windows boxes made that readily apparent. When rumors of XP were emerging, we wondered if Microsoft had finally given up the DOS, and decided to go with unix. Man, what a stable machine that would be! Heck, we'd pay double to get that version over this NT garbage.

Five years later, along comes unix on an Apple. Just like the unix boxes of old, the looks and feel of the OS was solid, and of course, sparse and so not like windows. Then came the G5's and it was a perfect marriage of hardware and code. Also like unix, there are limited choices of software, but of those choices, you didn't really need anything else -they just work.

We have three dual G5's under OSX that have been running for over a year without a single issue. Except for the occassional power failure from the electric service, these are never turned off, used daily and refuse to quit.

I've owned three Dells and two HP's since those days, and everyone of them crashed and burned. Not because of poor craftmanship in hardware, bare bones from the factory they run well. Because there's just too many issues with software/driver conflicts and configs.

Apple got it right with specialized software for specialized purposes.

Everyone of these threads winds up with I hate windows, I hate macs. In my opinion, since the days of Unix and up until the G5, none those platforms were worth squat. But we managed and got work done anyways.

Now apple is fine tuning their unix box, and windows has yet to introduce it's version called 'Longhorn'. Remember, Longhorn was due Jan 2005, but had to put on hold so the coders could muster up service pack 2 for XP, because it was so full of holes. However, installing SP2 required a rebuild, and many of us had to wait for software vendors to release updates. I still refuse to load that service pack in fear of breaking my already fragile system, and having to reload windows, drivers, updates, and make necessary changes which quite litterally takes me a week to perform.

I have office xp, both adobe suites, Studio MX, Lightwave, a video toaster, Digital fusion, Solid Edge, and host of about thirty misc apps for specific needs. Each of these have to loaded in a certain order and updated via the internet. Lightwave and Toaster, and Digital fusion require special configs, and practically all of them have plugins, and filters -many with their own registrations and settings.

When longhorn comes out, who knows what cra* we'll face as we all become paying beta testers of that one.

Somehow, the simple works out the box elegance of a Mac seems very appealing. If it applies to my workflow, I'll take the plunge. Otherwise, it's business as usual with being a multimedia developer, part time IT tech.

Pete
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Old June 3rd, 2005, 11:30 PM   #15
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Quote:
A mac is very expensive for what you get. The OS makes the make seem good, but really, your paying a very large chunk of change for something quite crappy.
Would you care to support your statement?

I think most people would agree that Final Cut/Mac is definitely a very solid editing system, unless you are comparing it to Avids at several times the price (i.e. Avid DS).

Certainly at the lower price points (i.e. working with DV) you can get a system that's as good as a Mac for less money. I don't see how you can say it's something "quite crappy" though. But of course you have your opinion and I have mine.

Quote:
I know that Macs are used by the pros blah blah blah. For a layman, building your own PC is the best. Ive done it myself, o, 5-6 times already i believe, and you can basically build yourself your own for around 1500$ and have a smokin fast PC with great memory, psu, motherboard, and gfx.
Certainly building your own PC can save you money. However, you have to worry about making sure your parts are compatible. And you have to spend time reading manuals and assembling the time. There's also a very small risk you may damage the CPU when you install it (i.e. not putting heatsink on, inserting CPU wrong way) [this does happen].

It may be worth your money to get your PC custom-built by a vendor like monarchcomputer.com (probably won't work for Denmark) or a local computer shop.

In the States, it can be cheaper to buy a Dell (look for hot deals from them) than to assemble your computer. For a system equivalent to a Dimension 3000 (unsuitable for video editing), assembling your computer is somewhere around >$80USD more expensive. This does not include your time. The Dell thing only works for base systems- Dell is generally very overpriced.

Quote:
try newegg.com, cheifvalue.com or pricewatch.com(i think its pricewatch.com). anyways newegg is very reliable and great on pricing, even for overseas people.
Does newegg actually sell to overseas people?
2- When buying internationally, you may face very high brokerage fees from the shipping company. This can really kill a deal.
3- Poster lives in Denmark.
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