The new Apple Mac Pro is turning many heads. Apple has gone beyond what the video market demands, in terms of workstation design, energy consumption, and GPU computation – to produce a revolutionary new product.

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Apple has always led the way when it came to computer design, at least as far back as I can remember. Where Apple always lagged behind (a matter of opinion and not always fact) is in raw computing power. Other manufacturers must surely be scratching their heads over this one question:

How come Apple can create so much excitement and passion over its products, by continuously reinventing and redesigning them, so that their customers (and non-customers) are willing to pay a premium for the privilege of using them?

This article is a summary of my thoughts on the new Mac Pro. I am going to try to answer the following questions:

  • Why is the Mac Pro designed as it is, and how does it help video editors and post production professionals?
  • Why should you get excited (or not)?
  • Does the new Mac Pro deliver on its video editing promises?
  • Is the new Mac Pro expensive, or can you build a PC for cheaper?
  • Which model should you buy for best bang for your buck?

Mac Pro Dustbin

What is the new Apple Mac Pro?

In many ways, the new Apple Mac Pro is simply an iteration of the old Mac Pro. It is a workstation-class computer designed for heavy lifting. In our industry, it means faster:

  • Video Editing
  • Photography Processing
  • Motion Graphics
  • Compositing and other VFX
  • 3D Animations

Before we go on, it must be understood that a workstation has many other use scenarios, like in the fields of medicine, architecture, business, data centers, and so on. The Mac Pro is not only for video.

If I had to sum up Apple’s brief in creating this Mac Pro, I’d say it was somewhat along the lines of:

It has to be half as big, but twice as good in every respect.

Does it deliver? Here’s my answer, if you don’t want to read the rest of his article:

Yes, it does. I believe it is a must-buy – if – you’re in the market for a new workstation-class computer, your favorite applications run on OS X, and you can afford the price of entry.

There is no better deal out there, period.
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A look at its technical specifications

Here are the specifications:

Intel E5 Xeons, Turbo Boost up to 3.9 GHz 3.7 GHz, 4-core, 10 MB L3 cache 3.5 GHz, 6-core, 12 MB L3 cache 3.0 GHz, 8-core, 25MB L3 cache 2.7GHz 12-core, 30MB L3 cache
DDR3 ECC 1866MHz Memory 12 GB to 64 GB
GPU, Dual AMD FirePro D300 2GB D500 3GB D700 6GB
Display Three 4K displays, or Six Thunderbolt displays
Storage 256 GB, 512 GB or 1 TB PCIe-based flash storage
Maximum Power 450 W
Typical noise level 12 dBA when idle
Optical Drive No
Warranty 1-yr, extendable to 3 years
Price range From $2,999 to $9,599

Mac Pro PCIe Flash Storage

It has the following expansion or connection options:

  • 6x Thunderbolt 2 ports, with each port able to chain 6 devices (A grand total of 36 devices can be connected!). Thunderbolt 2 is theoretically capable of 20 Gbps.
  • 4x USB 3.0 ports
  • 2x Gigabit Ethernet (1 GbE) ports
  • 1x HDMI 1.4 port
  • 1x Microphone port
  • 1x Headphone jack

It has the following wireless options:

  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi (capable of 1,300 Mbps or 162 MB/s)
  • Bluetooth v4.0

What is the cool factor for the connection ports? When you turn your Mac Pro, an in-built sensor senses the movement and lights up your connectors:

Mac Pro Connection Ports

It has a 3-pin power cord, which means they have a power supply in there somewhere. It also has a knob with a ‘lock’ icon on it which allows you to open the casing for upgrades.

The system is customizable, but not all options are available in all countries. To see all the customizable elements, check out the Apple Mac Pro Online Store.
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What’s new about the Mac Pro?

The revolution in the new Mac Pro is its totally radical design:

Mac Pro Dual GPU

To some, it might look like a trash can. But, Apple wants these on your table, and not underneath it.

One important change is the color. It’s no longer only white or grey, but black (actually a dark grey). It would surprise me if Apple didn’t introduce a ‘white’ version to match all things Apple (they did a red one). I can only guess they tried white, and it didn’t look that good.

Mac Pro Dual CPUs

I’ll discuss the ‘revolutionary’ aspects of this design later. Other than the Thunderbolt 2 ports and the faster Wi-Fi, there’s nothing really new about the innards of the Mac Pro.

The message I’m getting is: We’re future-proofing this Mac Pro, so don’t ask us for a new one for at least five years. It’s not an unfair assumption, they have the pedigree.

To supplement the addition of 802.11ac Wi-Fi. Apple has introduced a new Airport Extreme (and Time Capsule variant) series:

Airport Extreme

To complete the Mac Pro experience you might aspire to a true 4K 27″ display, which I’m sure Apple is working on. Since HDMI 1.4 can only go up to 4K 30p, I presume the connection will be Thunderbolt 2 (Displayport 1.2 or higher, which can go up to 60p). So far, the only 4K monitor you can buy directly from the store is the Sharp 32″ PN-K321 Ultra HD LED Monitor, for $3,595.

Sharp PNK321

How does it compare to something cheaper, like the Seiki 39-Inch 4K Ultra HD 120Hz LED TV for $500? The Sharp is a professional-grade monitor with professional specs:

  • 10-bit monitor (Seiki is 8-bit) – However, read note on 10-bit in the next section.
  • Up to 60p in 4K (Seiki can only go up to 30p because it only has an HDMI connector).
  • Displayport connector – Read my article on why I think Displayport is best.
  • 3-year on site warranty.

An alternative to the Sharp is the Dell UltraSharp UP3214Q 32″ Monitor for $3,400 (also 10-bit).
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It’s one thing to see pictures and read specs, and yet another to see the thing on video. Here’s an excellent unboxing video that explains the basics quite well:

Does OS X Mavericks and Final Cut Pro X 10.1 help or hinder?

Apple has already updated OS X to Mavericks, and it has some cool features. Two important features (one good and other other bad) are:

  • Support for up to three 4K displays
  • No 10-bit support

This is where professionals do a double-take. What’s the point in purchasing a 10-bit monitor if you can’t get 10-bit from the Apple Mac Pro? Since this is a long standing grey area I looked into a few resources:

OS X Mavericks Compatibility:  We did think for a while that Mavericks had finally enabled Apple to catch up with Microsoft and allow full 10 bit output to a monitor, from a compatible graphics card. However even though Mavericks does allow the creation of 10 bit look up tables in the graphics card the actual output is still 8 bit, even with Thunderbolt. So for now it looks as though they are one step closer but not there yet.

Imagescience.com.au: … 10 bit output is currently impossible with the Mac up to and including Lion (10.7).

So, the sad part is, even though the GPU is professional-grade and capable of 10-bit, and the monitor is 10-bit, OS X still does not support 10-bit, even via Thunderbolt. This means, if you are planning on using a Blackmagic Design or AJA 10-bit card in the hopes of getting 10-bit, you will be unpleasantly surprised. Therefore, at this time, I cannot recommend the Apple Mac Pro if you want to color grade in 10-bit. However, I also believe 8-bit is good enough and it’s no big deal.

Of course, if any of you have information contrary to this, please let me know and I’ll update it. Reliable sources only (with proof if possible), please.

The other new feature of Mavericks is support for OpenCL. Here’s what Apple says in their Technology Overview Whitepaper:

Deeply integrated into OS X, OpenCL accelerates applications by tapping into the parallel computing power of modern GPUs and multicore CPUs. Using a C99-based language coupled with a flexible API for managing data-parallel workloads, OpenCL opens up a new range of computationally intensive algorithms for use in your application.

You use OpenCL to transform your apps’ most performance-intensive routines into computational “kernels.” Each kernel is runtime compiled by OpenCL and efficiently scheduled for execution, automatically taking best advantage of the parallel processing capabilities of the targeted GPU or CPU.

Mavericks also supports RAID, which is nothing new:

OS X supports drive striping (RAID 0) for improved performance, drive mirroring (RAID 1) for higher reliability, and mirrored striping (RAID 10) for improving both performance and reliability of storage. In addition, you can reformat storage in the background: You can promote a single volume to a mirrored volume, split a mirrored array into two volumes, or rebuild RAID volumes.

The other important software update is Final Cut Pro X 10.1. Here’s a detailed writeup by Mark Spencer and Steve Martin on what’s new with FCP-X 10.1. You can also check out Apple’s document here. Some highlights:

  • Optimization to take advantage of multiple GPUs in the new Mac Pro.
  • HDMI and Thunderbolt output at frame sizes up to 4K (UltraHD and DCI 4K).
  • Better playback and rendering performance, plus faster opening of the application and projects.
  • You can share 4K finished videos directly to YouTube.

As you can see, Apple has ensured its software is ready to be used on the Mac Pro. I’m sure in the months to come this integration will only get better.

But what about other software?

Adobe CC has just clarified their position on CUDA/OpenCL (They say the two aren’t different things, really), and have updated the list of supported graphics cards. I strongly believe Adobe CC will be GPU agnostic very soon.

As far as other software is concerned, 3D animation programs already run well on AMD cards (though some officially certify Nvidia cards). The Foundry Mari is coming to OS X, but Nuke v7 supports Nvidia (never needed a GPU when I worked with Nuke v6) which means:

AMD Firepro GPUs are ready for the big time (they already were, just that some people didn’t want to hear about it), and the new Mac Pro is ready for every video editing software that you can throw at it. If not today, at least in a year’s time.

If you’re taking the long term view (2 to 3 years), the Mac Pro doesn’t seem like a slouch at all. If I’m very slightly skeptical, and I have to be, it’s because three years from now the PC workstations will have surged forward in hardware capability, because they are quick to copy popular technology and are able to get cheaper prices (though not yet, see below).

Where will Apple’s long term advantage come from? I don’t know, but if I had to guess, I’d say it is software. If software can’t make use of all the cores and GPUs, then they are just dead weight.

Why is the new Mac Pro revolutionary?

There are three things that make the new Apple Mac Pro revolutionary:

The Thermal Core

The way the workstation is designed, if one GPU heats up, its heat is distributed to the other GPU to keep things even:Mac Pro Thermal Core

The thermal core also keeps all the heat into one pipe-like triangle, which is then sucked up by one specially designed quiet fan, which only produces about 12 dBA when idle. This is the sound pressure level produced when whispering. Even if it doubles in volume (25 dBA), it’s still quiet enough for production audio.

Put the Mac Pro under an air-conditioning suction vent or some other cooling system and you only have to draw heat from one point. Current workstations have at least two points of heat dissipation, and this is a huge problem when it comes to cooling.

Brilliant thinking, Apple.

Why does the Mac Pro have two GPUs? Why didn’t they just put one big GPU into it? I can think of two answers (just my opinion):

  • The second GPU balances the round tower, to ensure equal weight-distribution. Otherwise, it will be ‘side-heavy’ and might easily tip over.
  • The second GPU completes the thermal core. Without it, there is no core.

Size

The new Mac Pro is only 9.9 inches tall, and 6.6 inches in diameter:

Mac Pro Size Comparison

How many dual E5 dual GPU workstations can claim to be smaller? You could put 6 of these Mac Pros on a table and they might be mistaken for a case of ‘your favorite brew’. It’s the size of Pegasus R4, but looks 10 times better.

If they make it any smaller they might as well slap on a display and call it an iPhone.

Low Power Consumption

In all the new innovations from Apple these past months, the overriding concern to reduce power consumption jumps out at you:

  • OS X Mavericks tries to reduce CPU power consumption
  • Just one Fan
  • Low power Xeon CPU
  • Low power AMD Firepro GPUs
  • No spinning disc drives
  • Maximum power of only 450 W!!

Add to this Apple’s dedication to the environment:

Apple takes a complete product life cycle approach to determining our environmental impact.

  • ENERGY STAR 6
  • EPEAT Gold5
  • BFR-free
  • PVC-free6
  • Highly recyclable

You might we wondering: How do these three features help a video editor or professional? Well, the Mac Pro consumes less power so you’ll get lower power bills. If you own a studio with multiple workstations that’s a large cost saving. The small size ensures you don’t need custom PC tables. You can also use the Mac Pro on its side, as confirmed by Apple. Just make sure it doesn’t roll over!

The low power and efficient cooling system ensures you can use the workstation at full blast in a small room and not give the editor (or your client) a sauna. Finally, the low noise allows you to monitor audio efficiently.
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Can we use the new Mac Pro for professional video editing?

Yes, you can use the new Mac Pro for professional video editing. How good is it? Here’s a video that shows you how many tracks of Redcode R3D RAW footage you can play on it:

Here’s what they have to say about it:

I can quite honestly say that, despite working with these huge file sizes and frame sizes, the editing experience has been silky smooth. Skimming, playback, shuttling, jogging and trimming are all responsive. In fact, editing 4K on the Mac Pro feels like editing HD on my current MacBook Pro…

With these settings in place, skimming and playback was very responsive, with the exception of the 4K RED RAW footage which dropped frames on playback (though skimming was absolutely fine). Not at all surprising really; a RED Rocket card attached via a Thunderbolt chassis would certainly help in this regard. However, simply switching the Viewer back to “Best Performance” resulted in smooth playback without any dropped frames…

Multiple colour corrections, effects, transitions. This thing keeps playing back! In fact at one point I took a RED RAW 4K clip into a 4K project and just started working through the list of video effects (many of which are 4K ready)…

What are the negatives?

The major gripe in the marketplace is the lack of expandability, or slots for cards like the Red Rocket, Blackmagic, AJA, etc. Apple decided it was no longer worth bothering about supporting third-party cards – these might become redundant soon anyway. Let someone else worry about supporting it via external enclosures connected by Thunderbolt. I think, all things considered, it was a rational and perfectly valid decision. In my opinion, it makes the Mac Pro more future proof, not less. Funny, but logical.

The second negative is one we’ve covered before, which is, no 10-bit monitoring on the Apple Mac Pro as of OS X Mavericks. If you’ve spent that extra money on a 10-bit display, then you won’t like this news one bit.

The third ‘negative’ is the Apple iMac!

New Mac Pro vs iMac

The iMac in its maximum configuration is quite a beast:

  • 3.5 GHz Quad-core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 3.9GHz
  • 32 GB 1600 MHz DDR3 RAM
  • 1 TB Flash Storage
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M 4 GB GDDR5

This computer comes it at about $4,118 at the time of this writing. If you want an equivalent Mac Pro, you’ll have to pay about $4,417, for the following:

  • 3.7 GHz quad-core with 10MB of L3 cache
  • 32 GB 1866 MHz DDR3 ECC RAM
  • 1 TB Flash Storage
  • Dual AMD FirePro D300 GPUs with 2 GB of GDDR5 VRAM each

Don’t forget, the iMac includes a gorgeous 27″ display. If all you want to do is edit 1080p or 2K video, then I don’t see why you can’t be happy with an iMac. The only time you’ll notice a difference is while rendering. If you’re rendering a lot (every other day, more than an hour of material, for example), that means you’re stressing the CPU and RAM often. In this instance, having a workstation class Xeon CPU and ECC RAM is preferable over the long term.

If you want to know how the iMac stacks up against PCs in terms of price and specs, check this comparison out.
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The new Mac Pro vs everybody else

Is the new Mac Pro expensive? Yes, workstations are expensive. You already know that. Can you build a cheaper PC equivalent? Let’s find out.

The Mac Pro starts at $2,999 (quad-core, 12 GB RAM, D300, 256 GB storage) or $3,999 (6-core, 16 GB RAM, D500, 256 GB storage). If you had to put together your own system, how much would it cost you?

I’m going to compare the Mac Pro with a custom build, and an HP Z820 and Dell T7600. We’ll do two comparisons, one for the lowest model ($2,999), and the other for the highest ($8,399 without expensive Apple RAM).

Note: Prices might be inaccurate and not representational of what you might ultimately have to pay. Please contact the manufacturers directly for accurate pricing in your area.

Can you build a cheaper PC workstation for $2,999?

Here’s a comparison chart (click to enlarge):

Mac Pro $2999 Comparison

What do I see? You could build a PC for roughly the same specs as the Mac Pro, for about the same price. The Mac Pro has the obvious edge for the following reasons:

  • Faster RAM.
  • Flash storage that is almost twice as fast as a SATA III SSD.
  • No need to waste time researching, hunting and purchasing parts.
  • No need to waste time assembling the PC and installing all the software.
  • No need to troubleshoot anything.
  • Three-year warranty.

The PC has the edge in one important detail: it can deliver true 10-bit video.

As far as the integrators are concerned, HP is way overpriced. Dell offers good deals on their workstations. It has an inferior CPU and slower RAM, but the GPUs are killer. Also, the Dell has a 1300 W power supply. If you wanted to buy a UPS, you’ll spend lesser for a Mac Pro than a T7600.

Ultimately, every professional must decide for himself or herself. As for me, I see no better deal than the Apple Mac Pro. The only time this might be untrue is if you live in a country where Apple charges twice the price (where I live) and somehow PC parts are much cheaper. But, it’s unlikely and rare. Still, you must do your bit of due diligence.

Can you build a cheaper PC workstation for $8,399?

Here’s a comparison chart (click to enlarge):

Mac Pro $8399 Comparison

Here, the writing is on the wall. Only the Dell T7600 comes close, but at the expense of being large and consuming a lot of power. I think the answer is quite clear: At this time, it’s unlikely you can build a PC cheaper than the new Mac Pro, with equivalent specs.

Take a bow, Apple.
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How upgradeable is it?

According to IFixit , quite a bit:

  • The CPU is upgradeable.
  • You can add an additional SSD if you wanted to, but it would be hard to find one that fits into that tiny space.
  • You can upgrade RAM (cheaper options are available).

Add this to the fact that you can add 36 Thunderbolt devices (where are they??) and four USB 3.0 devices the Mac Pro isn’t that different from any other workstation. E.g., if you wanted to add a Red Rocket you could, if an external adapter can be found. The major ‘advantage’ of a traditional chassis over the trash-can design is that you can actually fit everything into a full ATX tower. How important is this?

In my opinion, it’s a false advantage. If you really wanted, you could buy a tower separately and put everything in it! The traditional workstation tower does not offer any benefit that a Mac Pro can’t emulate. On the flip side, you can’t shrink a full ATX tower.

I think we have a winner.

Promise Pegasus2

Storage for video via Thunderbolt 2

There’s one important thing left to think about, and that is storage for video. You have 6 Thunderbolt 2 slots, 4 USB 3.0 slots, and even 2 1 GbE Ethernet slots. Apple has clearly indicated that it is tough for it to estimate the storage requirements of each individual user. If you’re shooting AVCHD you only need one-tenth the storage as Prores HQ, which is one-fifth the size of R3D RAW, and so on. Why would any company want to build a large tower that might lie empty half the time? All things considered, I believe this is the right path for workstations to take.

What about expansion? Here’s what Apple has to say:

Manufacturers like Promise, AJA, and Blackmagic are creating a host of advanced high-performance storage, video I/O, and expansion solutions for Thunderbolt 2. Another benefit of Thunderbolt: You can easily move your high-performance peripherals from one Mac to another based on the task at hand. And both generations of Thunderbolt technology are compatible with the new Mac Pro.

At the time of this writing, the Promise Pegasus2 is already out, and it’s not cheap. USB 3.0 enclosures are already widely available. Apple has left it for you to decide how organized or sloppy you want to be with your drive strategy. Contrast that with the restrictions placed on you when you try to put together a workstation PC under a systems integrator.

 Mac Pro Challenge

So, what do I think of the Apple Mac Pro? I think it is the perfect editing system for a professional who:

  • Is earning enough to justify the expense.
  • Works with uncompressed RAW and 4K video.
  • Does not want 10-bit monitoring.
  • Works with software that is compatible with OS X.

If the second point above is replaced with ‘1080p and 2K’ instead of ‘4K’, then a maxed-out 27″ iMac is all you need.

Bottom line, you can’t go wrong with the Apple Mac Pro in any scenario. It’s not only good, it’s inspiring. It’s a frigging work of art.

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30 replies on “Is the new Apple Mac Pro the Ultimate Video Editing Machine?”

  1. Don’t waste you money on this rubbish r2d2. I have a post production house and I had so many problems with this workstation. The Pro Macs has nothing to do with pro’s from the industry anymore! After 10 years of pro mac, I’ve switched to pc’s and never looked back.

  2. nigratruo Sareesh Sudhakaran antoinegrasset

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  3. Sareesh Sudhakaran antoinegrasset 
    quote:
    ———- 
    GTX, though excellent, are not workstation class. They perform
    better, but workstations are primarily about reliability, service and
    low power consumption; specifically built for a certain task, not raw
    power.
    ———–
    You seem to contradict yourself. You say that they perform better, that workstations perform worse. So why spend that much money?
    Service and reliability? They are exactly the same quality and if it breaks, you get it fixed through warranty, no problem.
    You might not be aware what the firepro and quattro series are made for: mostly for CAD and such programs, not video editing and graphics design. They often are required by the very specific programs like AutoCAD. They are also wildly overpriced, because they are often sold to companies, that have no choice but to buy them because only they have the certified drivers. The GTX series is as powerful, if not more (you can see that by the gigantic heat sink), but lack the drivers for these specific programs, hence forcing the buyers to buy the massively overpriced workstation series. 
    Raw power by the way is the thing that gets your video rendered faster, so raw power is very important, it is actually the only thing that matters. What you are saying is like pretending that a car that has half as much horse power is the better race car because it uses less fuel It will still lose every race to the faster more powerful one.
    I doubt very much that any very powerful system on the planet is energy efficient: 
    There are no graphics cards on the market that give you magically more power for less energy usage, just does not exist. You will also notice that no graphics card in the last 20 years ever had a smaller heat sink and less power consumption than a predecessor. This is because the companies are not stupid, they don’t put such large heat sinks on these puppies just for fun, they are actually needed and if you run a very powerful GPU for number crunching (I use it for Raytracing CGI with Blender 3d, via CUDA), it will get hot and drink a lot of power and create a lot of heat, that can never be avoided. BUT, thanks to CUDA it also finishes the animation or still picture 5 times faster than even the fastest CPU I have seen. (CPUs are not really that great for number crunching and massive parallel calculations)
    The Quattro and Firepro GPUs are very specific in their use and backfire on most other applications, besides being horrendously overpriced for their performance. 

    And then in the end even if you would save energy, spending 3000 dollars more for that would never work: How long would you have to run a system at full power till you accumulate that much electricity cost? YEARS or decades.
    It is the same pointless thing that some people spend 100’000 dollars on a supposedly fuel efficient race car, but will never in the life of the car be able to save the 50’000 dollars in fuel that they overspend for this more expensive puppy.

  4. ratibsoufian if you install windows8 on the macpro, does it work as a 10bit machine?
    [so there wouldn’t be the need to buy a new hardware]

  5. NormHarvey sam_benelli Sareesh Sudhakaran thank you so much! So, a cable [hdmi/dp] won’t do the trick – may be something like the HDLink Pro 3D DisplayPort could help?otherwise – if your test brings positive results – I’ll go for the cg247 ;thanks a lot sam

  6. sam_benelli Sareesh Sudhakaran

    Hi Sam
    UltraStudio includes Photoshop plug-ins so you can grab frames from the video input, or send frames to the video output, directly from within Photoshop itself! Obviously you need the CG247 to do this as the 246 does not support 10Bit over hdmi. You will only get the full image and no GUI stuff so not sure if you can actually work on your files or just preview the final image. I don’t have PS in the grading bay here so will ask the guys downstairs to run a test for me :) will let you know.

  7. NormHarvey Sareesh Sudhakaran 
    Hi, I’m really looking for your advice – hope you can help me.
    I actually own a CG246, but could go for a 247 if necessary:
    with BDM Mini [or other] would I be able to work in 10bit with photoshop CC [OS X]? And would I have inappropriate resolutions for photo retouching using a video device?
    Can I with a hdmi/display adapter (or something more complex I’m not aware of) send the signal from BDM to the eizo display port,  or must I have the CG247 to preserve the 10bit signal?

    thanks a lot,
    sam

  8. ratibsoufian Sareesh Sudhakaran Don’t know where you are getting your info but as listed on the BMD site under Ultrastudio Thunderbolt Mini Monitor Tech Specs… HDMI Color Precision = 10bit

  9. Sareesh Sudhakaran NormHarvey Using a 10bit test ramp. I do not get 10bit on my GUI monitors. Only through the BMD Mini monitor to my Eizo CG 247 (new model supporting 10bit over HDMI) I do not get 10bit if I connect this monitor directly to the Mac via display port. Using Resolve 11

  10. Sareesh Sudhakaran ratibsoufian Sorry Sareesh but you might want to do some homework before sprouting utter nonsense.. The OS is indeed limited to 8bit when connecting a display directly. However my BMD mini monitor is outputting a 10bit signal over HDMI to my Eizo CG monitor via thunderbolt. I tested this and currently use this as a 10bit grading solution. Most of your “reviews” are based on reading specs from the web and not actually reviewing the product (cheap journalism) If you do this then offer it as your personal opinion and don’t put forward your comments as fact!

  11. Sareesh Sudhakaran ratibsoufian

    I am confused. How do i get a 10bits signal out from my blackmagic decklink using HDSDI into my Sony PVM1741 ? Can I avoid going through the OS to maintain that color depth ??

  12. Victor Stan  Isn’t the stock Mac Pro with display more expensive? I agree the specs don’t look super exciting, but why should it? For 1080p work, an iMac delivers on whatever you want to throw at it. It just works.

  13. “If the second point above is replaced with ’1080p and 2K’ instead of ’4K’, then a maxed-out 27? iMac is all you need.”

    A maxed out 27″ iMac is between $3200 and $3900 depending on the amount of storage and RAM chosen. Considering it only has one graphics card, slower RAM and a lot less IO ports, I do not believe the display makes up for it. I think that even someone who is going to use it for 2K would be better off with the stock Mac Pro at $2900 and a decent display.

    The iMac is not upgrade-able so in the long term, the new Mac Pro which can have most of it’s components upgraded is a better choice. Not to mention there are better price/performance options out there when it comes to displays.

    Not to mention portability. It’s a lot easier to take the Mac Pro to a different studio or to a permanent set location and hook it up to a display rather than haul a 27″ monster with you.

  14. Sareesh Sudhakaran PooyanMN  

    Don’t get me wrong. I love the new Mac Pro. I think Apple got everything right with this one. It’s just that I’m spending like $4000 for a workstation and the monitors altogether. I think 12GB of memory and something like 256GB of storage is not enough for me. I think in order to get a complete Mac Pro workstation, you should spend much more than $3000 or $4000.

    I do want Thunderbolt actually. But It’s still very new to motherboards and I don’t have any options for getting a Thunderbolt motherboard. That’s what I miss.

    I wanted to get an HP or Dell at first, but when Mac Pro came out I realized it has better value over all of those, but still not as much value as personal build. Support is what I should sacrifice. It comes with all the parts separately, though.

    The i7 processors with the same specs as the Xeon 1600 series are priced exactly the same. So I’d rather go with the workstation processor. GTX is actually not a bad idea, and I’m still not %100 sure if I should get a Quadro over them. But better OpenGL performance in professional apps is my priority.

  15. PooyanMN Hey, if you’re happy that’s all that matters. My question is: If you don’t want the features of a Mac Pro, then why compare it at all?

    You don’t want Thunderbolt. You don’t want OS X. Even if I sold you a Mac Pro for $10 you still wouldn’t think it is better value!

    I understand why you’re going for a personal build, and I’m sure it’ll do well for your needs. One red flag is: You want service and support, but then you’re putting together parts piecemeal instead of getting an HP, Dell or Supermicro workstation.

    If money is really an issue, what’s wrong with an i7 processor and a GTX? That will probably give you more performance, and be cheaper as well. Workstation parts fail too.

  16. Sareesh Sudhakaran PooyanMN  
    Thanks for replying.

    To tell you the truth, I created this list long before Mac Pro’s specs were released and I was surprised to see its specs are very similar to what I was gonna build.

    The motherboard actually is a workstation motherboard with workstation features. The WS on the name stands for Workstation. It has 4 USB 3.0 ports, not two. Which is more than I need, because I’m not gonna use external hard drives anyway. At least not permanently.

    Yes, the Quadro graphics cards cannot be linked via SLI and they don’t need to! Just like Mac Pro’s Firepro cards that are not linked via Crossfire. Benchmarks have proven that using two Quadros or Firepros significantly improves the performance on Premiere Pro. But using SLI cards might be even worse than using a single card.
    I would use ATI FirePro W7000 instead of the Quadro because of better specs, but After Effects doesn’t recognize ATI cards for rendering, which means you can only render with CPU in after effects if you get the W7000.
    The thing is getting a workstation graphics card is not all about specs. If specs are the priority, a card such as GTX 780 Ti would be much better. It’s the stability and support that matters the most and also the performance in professional applications.
    Regarding the 4K displays; I don’t have a 4K display now and I’m not planning to buy one unless the prices drop much more than this. It actually takes me several years to get two 4K displays. In reality, 4K is still not the standard. Some TV networks are still broadcasting in SD!

    The OS is actually one of the reasons why I don’t wanna get a Mac Pro. I never got along with Mac OS and probably never will. The ONLY thing that makes me hesitate now is Final Cut Pro which only runs on Mac and a lot of people are using it.

    The power bills wouldn’t be that different. Most of the specs are very similar to Mac Pro’s.

    I think it IS better value for money. For the same price you pay for the base specs, you get Six Core CPU, which comes with the $4000 Mac Pro. 32GB of memory instead of only 12GB. You get 256GB SSD AND “8 Terabytes” of disk space, which I’m gonna use as Raid 0 for higher speed (4TB). You get a Blu-Ray burner and a case that is much more configurable than a Mac Pro.

    And there’s something not many people are not aware of. Yes, you can get a Mac Pro for $3000. But that’s not how much you’re gonna spend. You should get a monitor, mouse, keyboard and a storage solution. You know how expensive the external Thunderbolt drives are. They start at $700 and go up to $4599. I know they’re extremely fast. But we’re talking price here. For someone who doesn’t have unlimited amount of cash to spend on a workstation, this is just too expensive.

    Of course, I know my build is not perfect. You don’t get a Thunderbolt port and its size is way bigger than the Mac Pro. I would totally buy the Mac Pro right now if money wasn’t an issue. But unfortunately, it is. And that’s why I’m going for the other option.

    Thanks again for replying and for your informative reviews. I Just wanted to share my views, thought it could be of some use :)

  17. PooyanMN  I’m not sure about your prices, but let’s assume you are right.

    The motherboard is not workstation class, and it has only 2 USB 3.0 ports.

    The GPU cannot be linked via SLI, and is only 192-bit – not in the same class as the ATI. The Mac Pro can drive 3 4K displays while the K4000 can only drive 2. How is it better?

    You forgot the OS.

    And the time it’ll take you to build all this.

    And half the power bills.

    Your specs are impressive, and I love the case you’ve chosen, but I don’t think it’s better value for money over a Mac Pro.

  18. Hi Sareesh,

    I’ve been following your articles for some time and I really like your website. I read this article of yours a few days ago and I wanted to say you might wanna think again about the whole price comparison thing.
    I’ve been doing a lot of research lately to build a PC and this is the list of the components I came up with. This is actually better than Mac Pro in terms of specs. Better CPU, better memory, better storage and maybe even better GPU? The prices are almost accurate and the shipping cost is also included.

    CPU: Intel Xeon E5 1650 v2 Six Core ($600)
    Motherboard: ASUS P9X79 WS ($360)
    Memory: Kingston 32GB 1866 ECC ($417)
    GPU: GeForce Quadro K4000 ($755)
    SSD: Samsung 256GB EVO ($165)
    HDD: X2 Seagate Barracuda 4TB Raid 0 ($288)
    ODD: Pioneer Blu-Ray burner ($85)
    Case: Raven RV01 ($186)
    Power: SilverStone Strider Gold 750W ($135)
    Cooling: Corsair H100i ($100) + Cooler Master Extreme Fusion X1 ($9)

    Total Price: $3100

  19. antoinegrassetYou make an excellent point.

    However, to be fair, this is a workstation comparison.
    GTX, though excellent, are not workstation class. They perform
    better, but workstations are primarily about reliability, service and low power consumption; specifically built for a certain task, not raw power.
    Most people will be happy with an i7 and a GTX Titan – in fact, more than happy. But then, we should compare it with the price of a Mac Mini or iMac. Even then, the iMac is better value than an equivalent PC: https://wolfcrow.com/blog/mac-vs-pc-a-price-comparison/

  20. Hello !
    I’m a long and attentive reader of your blog and today I’m taking a minute to comment because I think your price comparaison between the MacPro and custom builds is falling a bit short.
    You chose to match the MacPro component as close as possible, which is great to give a sense of how much it would cost to build our own MacPro.
    But this doesn’t reveal how much would cost a setup with different components but matched performance.

    Simple example, on the hi-end configuration, your GPU choice :
    2x AMD FirePro W9000 6GB = $6800
    I propose to get instead :
    2x GTX Titan 6GB = $2000

    So you’re sparing $4800.
    And a dual Titan system can work faster than the W9000.

    For example it can render 4k streams with GPU accelerated effect in 33% less time.
    Source : http://www.pugetsystems.com/labs/articles/Adobe-Premiere-Pro-CC-Professional-GPU-Acceleration-502/#4k%28Custom%29Results
    The same can apply to CPU and other components.
    You are very right in saying that build your own computer take skills and time,
    but I wanted to put in perspective that doing it will spare you some $ and eventually allow you to have a machine that matches your need (for example a Pegasus is great, but I really prefer being able to drop cheap 2 or 4To drives in my case).
    Anyways, thanks for your working and sharing your knowledge !
    Antoine (twitter/antoinegrasset)

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