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Old February 23rd, 2006, 01:09 PM   #1
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Which is Notebook is Better Mac or PC?

I have an HVX 200 on order and could use advice about which laptop computer to buy so that I can transfer data from the P2 card to a laptop.
I edit on Final Cut but the new Mac BookPro laptops don't have PC card slots. Could I get a cheap PC laptop and download the data and then transfer the data to my Mac later?
Any suggestions?
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Old February 23rd, 2006, 07:39 PM   #2
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Ooooooh, that's a tough one, Scott. Currently there are plans for a PCMCIA adapter for the newer Intel Macbook slots but I haven't heard of any of them coming out yet. The trouble I see is that you're already using FCP, so if you could, I'd suggest you wait a bit until your HVX200 actually comes in as I hear they're taking a bit to come in.

If you need a laptop RIGHT NOW, then you'll have to go with a PC laptop and do as you've said, to download to the PC and transfer to Mac later.
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Old February 23rd, 2006, 09:13 PM   #3
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Scott,

In another thread (actually in a few) I've mentioned several reasons why you should not get a MacBook Pro - yet. I don't want to retype all that stuff again, but suffice it to say that if you're on the FCP platform and need a laptop you should jump on the last of the PowerBooks before they completely go away.

It will be months before the MacBook Pro & FCP become a stable platform and even then you'll still be missing some very important I/O ports that the PowerBooks have and the MacBook Pro's don't.

Read my post about configuring a PowerBook for capturing HVX footage; there's plenty of info about what you need to know.
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Old February 23rd, 2006, 10:02 PM   #4
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Ah yes! How could I forget!? Thanks, Robert, you've helped Scott more than I did! =)

Man I'm getting too old for this stuff...
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Old February 24th, 2006, 02:49 AM   #5
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I'm thinking .....

about a dual-core AMD laptop for serious magic green screen work. I use FCP on a mac and would only be using the laptop for direct X intensive work and for authoring to windows media player.
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Old February 24th, 2006, 07:17 AM   #6
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Beware of the AMD solution

Dean,

I'm not knocking the PC platform you're daydreaming about, but you should be wary of any AMD-based platform.

I used to own an IT/PC consulting firm on the side from my main business; the systems we saw in for repair the most, regardless if they were tower or laptop were AMD chipsets.

AMD has always given Intel fits especially in the late '90's when AMD often out-clocked them and chip prices were less than half than that of a comparable Intel. However, this speed has always come at a high price, that being heat, and lots of it. We always considered AMD to be the tuner-kid with a nitrous bottle in his Civic: Hit the button and you've got blazing speed, but often you'd burn the motor in the process.

And that's exactly what happens with AMD systems: The chips are so continuously hot that they literally pop the capacitors on motherboards. It was common even as recently as last year to see an AMD system fail within it's first year. And of course, laptops have far less venting than towers so we saw tons more dead laptops than towers.

My advice, is not to get starry-eyed over a dual AMD solution; if you're going to be using any PC laptop make sure you're looking at an Intel-based chipset. In our experience, the most reliable laptops with the fewest issues were either IBM Thinkpads, Fujitsu Lifebooks or the high end Sony Vaio (aluminum case). Everything else was a crapshoot.
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Old February 24th, 2006, 07:40 AM   #7
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Thanks Robert .....

I'll keep that advise in mind. I wasn't aware of the AMD heat problem!
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Old February 24th, 2006, 10:56 AM   #8
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Hmmm, that's strange, Robert. I haven't heard of heat problems related specifically to AMD since the old Athlon XP days. Those did have issues far beyond mere heat problems but things are much better these days with the AMD Athlon 64's, X2's, FX's, and Opterons. The capacitor thing I have no idea about unless you're mistaking the heat issue for the faulty capacitor drama that unfolded where a rash of motherboards were given faulty capacitors out of the Korean factories or somewhere in Asia, I can't remember exactly, it had happened last year. Other problems were with earlier motherboard designs where they placed the capcitors too close to the socket. Things have come a long way since then. As far as modern heat issues go, that's most likely due to user error or faulty third-party manufacturers.

If you do want to go with an AMD solution, I suggest going with a good brand-name dealer like Alienware, Falcon Northwest, Voodoo PC, or Polywell.
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Old February 24th, 2006, 11:59 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Robert Lane
And that's exactly what happens with AMD systems: The chips are so continuously hot that they literally pop the capacitors on motherboards. It was common even as recently as last year to see an AMD system fail within it's first year. And of course, laptops have far less venting than towers so we saw tons more dead laptops than towers.
The current crop of AMD64 (FX and X2) CPUs all run cooler than any of the current Intel desktop CPU offerings. Prescott core Intels average a good 10 to 15 degrees C hotter than AMDX2 chips. There ware a lot of problems with AMD MP/XP CPUs "overheating" and systems going down, however this was actually not a CPU issue, but an AMD 76n chipset issue. The northbridge on these mainboards would fry itself and often take CPUs or other components with it, even with boards from bigger names like Tyan, Asus and MSI. Combine that with faulty USB controllers, improperly grounded USB interfaces and buggy AGP interfaces, it's no wonder AMD got out of the chipset business.

Right now, AMD has the best CPU options for desktop systems... Hands down, no comparison. Intel's dual-core implementation is inefficeint and has several bottlenecks, including the brain-damaged approach of non-linked cache, forcing CPU to CPU communication to exit out onto the external CPU bus. In other words, the Pentium D was a half-assed, hack job solution to get something to market ASAP. The new Core Duo isn't much better. Take another look at the numbers that Apple is claiming for the Core duo and put a little thought into it... Hmmm... It's two years newer than the G5 and about the same speed. Yes, the new MacBook Pro is "4X Faster" than a PowerBook G4. Considering it has dual CPU cores, and each one is 2X as fast as the nearly 5 year old G4 chip, I should hope it's at least 4X as fast.

As for AMD system failures... Yes, quite common with AMD XP/MP CPUs and 760/760MP[X] chipsets. Not anywhere near as common with FX and X2 CPUs, but most failures come from inadequate power supplies rather than overheating CPUs and components. I see all too many PC vendors shipping dual-core AMDX2 systems and a 7800GTX video card and they only put a 400W PSU in the thing. That system is doomed for failure within the first 250 hours of intense gaming. I build about 75 to 100 systems each year, many of them for our internal use here (render farm, workstations). All the overheat problems come from the newer Intel boxes with Prescott and newer derivative core CPUs. The Northwood core systems and equivalent Xeon based options were great... And faster per clock cycle for most operations too. I have 22 AMD 4800+ dual-core systems running as a render cluster right now. They grind on animation frames 24/7 and every single one maintains temps lower than 119F for both the CPU and internal box temp. I can't get below 127F on a Pentium D without using a peltier or liquid system.

The Core Duo chips in PC notebooks (same exact chip as in the new Macs) is failing to impress the PC crowd. It's the same Centrino chip we've all had for the last couple years... No speed increases, no improvements. Just now there are two of them glued together sharing the same CPU bus, oh joy. Intel will have CPU linkage via the L1 and L2 cache in their upcoming dual CPU offerings for desktops/workstations due later this year (think summer/fall) along with some other enhancements. Hopefully this will help relieve Intel's downward spiral. Apple may have made a mistake committing themselves to exclusive Intel usage. It could be that the PC will continue to offer the most CPU power for the money when AMD will have quad-core CPUs by the end of the year and Apple won't be using them.

As for mobile notebooks... The AMD Turion mobile CPU just can't seem to get off the ground, even though it is a superior CPU to the Pentium M in many ways. Especially for applications like video, graphics, etc... It has nearly 3X the FPU performance vs. Centrino and better power management. For some reason the whole Pentium M/Centrino platform has a captivated audience right now and nobody is willing to explore other options. ...Too bad. AMD will have dual-core Turion in full mass-production within 2 months too. The only mainstream PC vendor to even be offeirng right off will be HP and only in a few select system configs. Intel hit the mobile PC marketing jackpot with the whole Centrino campaign. Most people don't even realize that Centrino is nothing... Centrino is Intel's trademarked name for combining an Intel mobile CPU with a wireless networking solution (doesn't matter which type or brand or anything) into a compact or mobile platform.
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Old February 24th, 2006, 12:05 PM   #10
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If you do want to go with an AMD solution, I suggest going with a good brand-name dealer like Alienware, Falcon Northwest, Voodoo PC, or Polywell.
I have no experience with Voodoo, but I can say that they're nothing more than an integrator that sells fancy-painted boxes. Nothing there to justify their insane price tags. Alienware I have dealt with and I won't go into details here, but people are willing to mail me if interested. I wouldn't deal with that company ever again, and I'll gladly tell anyone else to steer well away from those guys. Horrible customer service, unethical business practices and overpriced systems built out of off-the-shelf components and placed into fancy boxes at a super-premium price tag. Good marketing on their part because they're now so well known... Crap products and service overall though.
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Old February 24th, 2006, 12:05 PM   #11
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Oh, well, yeah. Alienware isn't the best but their systems do perform well if there isn't a problem. Tech support is based around people who can hardly speak english and don't know what they're doing. Half the time they're just looking up the FAQ section of the site for a solution. But, as I've said, their systems do perform well when they work.
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Old February 24th, 2006, 12:19 PM   #12
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I never understood why the heck Intel replaced the Northwoods with Prescotts. What were they thinking???
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Old February 24th, 2006, 12:21 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Jack Felis
Oh, well, yeah. Alienware isn't the best but their systems do perform well if there isn't a problem. Tech support is based around people who can hardly speak english and don't know what they're doing. Half the time they're just looking up the FAQ section of the site for a solution. But, as I've said, their systems do perform well when they work.
Yeah, that pretty much sums it up... I had a very bad experience with them on a business purchase of more than $45K. Not my decision, but I had to deal with the whole mess. Their tech support is worthless and they would do better to just sell tech support and warranties through a third party. Their systems do run well since they're one of the vendors that go all out to provide the latest and greatest. Unfortunately, they often do this at the expense of necessary compatibility testing and their prices are very much over-inflated. Any Joe Geek can buy all the same components and build the same system for a lot less money. But whatever... That has been Alienware's claim to fame -- as soon as a new video card is available for pre-order, Alienware has it in their system configurator. And by cracky, they'll sell it to you whether it will work properly with the rest of their system or not! :)
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Old February 24th, 2006, 12:32 PM   #14
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I never understood why the heck Intel replaced the Northwoods with Prescotts. What were they thinking???
Marketing... It's all marketing... Northwood hit the MHz wall at about 3.2GHz and yields of those were lower than expected. Intel was still trying to play the MHz game so they reconfigured the P4 design to be a more robust and heat tolerant with the intent of pushing speeds to 4GHz. So now they had the Prescott with a slightly different instruction pipe and it ran 15% hotter, but could tolerate nearly 35% more heat overall. Applications started seeing performance hits with Prescott (more than Intel anticipated), but instead of going counting their loss and going back to the drawing board, Intel re-optimized their compilers and pushed forward with the Prescott and subsequent designs.

And we still don't have 4GHz P4 CPUs because Intel never got a lot of other things to work like their faster bus speeds. The current P4 design is flawed in that it bottlenecks itself at about 3.4GHz when on an 800MHz bus. Now take a 3.4GHz P4-D on that 800MHz bus where it has to share that 800MHz FSB for inter-CPU communication with two CPU cores. Stupid, stupid, stupid!!! This is why Apple/IBM/Motorola, HP/DEC, and AMD all went to the serial interconnect bus ("HyperTransport"). Bus speed is serialized and it increases along with CPU speed. Unfortunately dual-core AMD/G5/PA-RISC/etc.. CPUs with this bus implementation still all share a single bus for two CPUs. The G5 and AMD chips at least have shared cache and direct communication between the CPUs without using the front side bus. Upcoming AMD quad-core CPUs will incorporate some sort of multiple channel hypertransport implementation, which is all still top secret. All we can do is wait and see what shakes loose at E3 this year.
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Old February 24th, 2006, 12:47 PM   #15
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Actually, here in the frozen tundra of Minnesnowta, we do appreciate the dual purpose chips (CPU/spaceheater).
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