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Bare Feats: new iMacs crush Mac Pros in Final Cut Pro X

updated 09:15 pm EDT, Fri July 8, 2011

Finds current models tying with Mac Pros

The speed and graphics testing site Bare Feats has tested the latest release of Final Cut Pro X on three very different models of Mac -- a 2010 Mac Pro 3.33GHz 6-core Westmere with 24G of ECC DDR3 1333MHz RAM and a Radeon HD 5870 GPU (1G GDDR5); a current-model iMac (a 2011 iMac 3.4GHz Quad Core i7 with 16G of DDR3 1333MHz RAM and a Radeon HD 6970M GPU with 2GB of VRAM onboard), and a current-model MacBook Pro (2011 MacBook Pro 2.3GHz Quad Core i7 with 8G of DDR3 1333MHz RAM and a Radeon HD 6750M with 1GB of VRAM). The results showed a surprisingly tight race.

The main finding of the tests is that the Mac Pro is in serious need of an upgrade, which is rumored to be happening in the next few weeks. Current model iMacs and MacBook Pros can come tantalizingly close or even beat the Mac Pro running Final Cut Pro X, which of course has been designed with current and future equipment in mind.

The project used for testing was a 32-second ProRes 422 (HQ) video, 1888x1062 at 23.98 FPS, with a 172.22 megabits per second data rate featuring 48KHz surround-sound audio (though the site admits that a longer HD project might have affected the results somewhat). In the Directional Blur effect test (across eight clips with background rendering turned off), the iMac surpassed the Mac Pro by three seconds, a 15 percent advantage. The iMac was also faster using the Sharpen Blur effect, besting the Mac Pro by six seconds for a 20 percent faster finish. In both tests, the MacBook Pro was within a second or so of the Mac Pro in performance.

The next two tests checked exporting and streaming, and in these areas the Mac Pro regained its crown. Transcoding the Pro Res clips into H.264 (1920x1080 at 23.98 frames per second with a 12.06 megabits per second data rate), the Mac Pro finished the job in 22.7 seconds, but barely beat the iMac, which finished just four-tenths of a second later. The MacBook Pro was well behind at 29 seconds.

Finally, the Pro Res project was loaded into Compressor 4 and exported as an elementary H.264 stream for Blu-Ray encoding and AVCHD authoring. This time the Mac Pro managed a clear win, 2.5 seconds faster than the iMac and almost 10 seconds faster than the MacBook Pro. It should be noted that the choice of GPU card in the Mac Pro could affect results, and that the site plans to test the Mac Pro again using different GPU cards to gauge the difference that factor may make.

A final interesting observation by the team: FCP X seems to "top out" at 75 percent of total CPU usage on the machines tested, utilizing 800 percent of a possible 1200 percent CPU on the six-core Westmere, and using 650 percent of a possible 800 percent CPU on the quad-core iMac. [via Bare Feats]

By Electronista Staff


    Comment buried. Show
  1. Arne_Saknussemm

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Apr 2011



    Another nail on the coffin of Apple's professional line of products.

    Just like Fina Cut Pro X, should be called iMovie Plus...

  1. tightzeit

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jul 2006


    Re: Yep

    Have to say I actually agree with you on this one for once.

    FCPX is half finished and aimed at prosumers, never been more disappointed in a much vaunted product release in my life. I actually believed they were redesigning FCP8 to address all of the problems.

  1. facebook_Randy

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Jul 2011


    Stupid Test

    FCP X is GPU OPENCL based app. It going to be faster on a faster GPU. Put a moor Modern gnu in the MacPro and then see how it does with grandcentral and proper GPU. DUMB #$% test.

  1. facebook_Randy

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Jul 2011


    MacNN WTF?

    I won't say how long I have been reading cause I well its been a long time. WHAT THE h*** HAPPENED TO THE WRITING? Its total c*** these days. No research. Improper use of standard terms. Just stupid test like this one. Well its not the test that stupid its how its written up. SHOCKING NEWS GPU BASED PROGRAM FASTER ON NEWER FASTER GPUS. WOW We where SO surprised. Can you believe this reader people? Even more shocking to us here at Macnn was that the GPU BASED PROGRAM DIDN'T USE ALL THE CPU POWER. NO WAY. We Just Don't get it.

    Seriously MACNN. WTF.

  1. facebook_Gene

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Jul 2011



    How exactly did the iMac "crush" the MacPro again? The title of your article is a "tinnnnyyy" bit misleading.

  1. DiabloConQueso

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jun 2008


    In other news...

    ...newer computers tend to be faster, not slower, than older computers.

  1. Inkling

    Senior User

    Joined: Jul 2006


    Yawn, yawn

    Nice story, but not that interesting. I'm not interested in either an all-in-one-unfixable-box iMac nor the out-sized and overpriced Mac Pro. Apple need to add to its line a mini-tower that's versatile and easy to repair.

  1. armwt

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Aug 2006


    Umm.. 12 core?

    So why'd they test on a Mac Pro with only 1/2 of the available cores?
    If you want to test the iMac against a "Mac Pro", why not test the 12-core model instead of the gimped single CPU version?

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001


    Re: ummm 12-core

    Probably because, if they did, someone would complain it was an unfair test because the MacPro had two CPUs.

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