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Dude, You Gettin' a Dell? Former Apple Editors Choose 'Yes, Bro' over Mac Pro for Performance

Something weird is going on. We know the Mac Pro hasn’t had a substantial upgrade in some time. We know that something is looming over the horizon, but we don’t know what, exactly. We also know that Apple will probably over-charge us for it (or it wouldn’t quite feel right for anybody). And while it may not be fair to fault a machine that’s still quite hefty and robust for losing to brand new ones in spec tests and benchmark performance — just what are we waiting for here? Should we even be waiting for it at all? How much incentive to hold out for Apple remains when you can build your own Mac Pro, build your own specialized editing PC — or, for instance, as a recent StudioDaily feature shows many video editors are doing — switch to powerhouse Dell solutions?

Don’t take it from me — take it from these guys:


This is actually quite nostalgic for me, because I did my very first “movie editing” on a Dell desktop machine (on software called Roxio Videowave) — but from the sound of things, play time’s over. It’s hard to believe an industry leader — and one in our industry, as well — in both hardware and software would fall as behind as Apple has in this fairly significant niche, for any reason. The tech mantra of Moore’s Law doesn’t leave a lot of room to play catch up, nor treat the recently obsolete very kindly — assuming Apple still cares. Whatever the reason, the delay goes on and on, so it was only a matter of time before some significant population within that fairly significant niche made the switch to that other platform.

According to Jason De Vos of StudioDaily, Dell hired a neutral third party (a company called Principled Technologies) to perform relevant benchmark tests on the most powerfully configured Mac Pro and Dell Precision T7600 possible with $12,500 per machine with both using Intel Xeon processors. To test the type of hardcore number-crunching that comes with video editing, the study used Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5, renderin’ up all kinds of mess. At this point you may be able to guess the outcome:

The results showed the Dell Precision T7600, featuring Intel Xeon processors, outperformed Apple Mac Pro by up to 96.5% on video production tasks and is up to 28 times faster than the Mac Pro! For example, to render an entire work area for an AVCHD four-layer video, the Dell Precision T7600 with an Intel Xeon processor took only 13 seconds to do what it took the Apple Mac Pro more than 6 minutes to accomplish.

But this wasn’t some fluke test. The average time saved, incorporating every single test that was run, was 79 percent! Can you even imagine if you had that kind of time back in your day? If you do heavy video editing you could literally be wasting your day by working on a Mac Pro. And don’t forget, you get all that power at the same cost!

But it’s not just hardware and machinery, these things come in conjunction with Apple’s snoring and Adobe’s opportunistic body check to FCP in the NLE market. Nobody’s post solution system is all well-rounded or smoothly integrated as Adobe’s. All the right components are in place for mass exodus and even public outcry from loyal users — though with solid alternatives such as Dell’s really growing into place, at least there’s no risk of moral panic.

Furthermore, if Apple’s decision to “participate only in markets where we can make a significant contribution” truly will extend all the way to its ground-to-a-halt Pro line, now’s as good a time as ever to switch. Lock-in is the rigor mortis of progressive development for both the creator and his/her tools by entrenchment in that which is legacy — and if Apple is determined that it’s best they bow out of the video editing hardworld and softworld, you may find yourself recalling those classic Dell commercials in ways you really never expected to.

With some murmuring today that Microsoft may be looking to purchase Dell, things may get a whole lot more interesting in the near future.

Have you guys noticed a shift like this local to your own work and workflows? Do you see this as the changing of winds, or just a drop in the bucket until Apple releases something big?

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Related Posts

  1. The Mac Pro Gets an Update from Apple, Major Features Are Still Missing
  2. Two Weeks Remain to Get 50% Off Adobe Premiere Pro or Production Premium for Avid and Apple Editors

COMMENT POLICY

We’re all here for the same reason: to better ourselves as writers, directors, cinematographers, producers, photographers... whatever our creative pursuit. Criticism is valuable as long as it is constructive, but personal attacks are grounds for deletion; you don't have to agree with us to learn something. We’re all here to help each other, so thank you for adding to the conversation!

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  • I feel vindicated for not switching over to apple system years ago, I love my DIY windows machine. Will be building another later on this year.

  • I read Lenovo is making some good laptops as well. I never used them.

  • A lot of apple hostility coming from this site.

    • I don’t about that; I’ve seen quite the favor for Apple on many other articles… perhaps just this author?

      • That’s so Apple fan-boyish… If you don’t like the message, attack the messenger. Grow up, smell the coffee and get to work…

    • I think there’s just a lot of alternatives covered here. There’s just no Apple fanboyism happening.

    • A lot of hostility comes from Apple. I like the way you cry, appleboy.

    • I’m sure a new Mac Pro will be up to snuff in specs, but the Mac Pro is a fairly closed system in terms of upgrade options.

      Furthermore, if Apple doesn’t care about their NLE being the standard of processionals, they may not care either about their professions line either. My guess is if more production companies start jumping ship, it may just motivate the launch of a new Mac Pro.

    • A lot of fanboyism coming from some comments.

  • This is part of the reason Apple’s stock fell 10% yesterday. They’re not coming out with anything new or exciting, just continually updating what they already have.

    • BS…you should look at the gaps between there “new or exciting” product releases…

      Ipod – 2001
      Iphone – 2007
      Ipad – 2010

      • Re-inventing and selling the same thing to people.

        I call your BS and raise you more BS.

        • Exactly – you can keep changing the size and shape of the same thing, but it’s still going to be just that: the same piece of hardware.

          They had such a great growth in the years you pointed out because there were very few (if any) alternatives that were as innovative at the time as Apple’s. Couple that with the lawsuits they continually file against other companies, and it makes sense why they’ve remained king of the hill for quite some time. The rest of the market is catching up and able to do it cheaper with similar (if not better) results in many areas.

          Apple is all about simplicity for the user, which I’m all for, but refreshing their product line every six months and calling it “the greatest thing we’ve come up with yet” is ridiculous.

          Watch this:
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NnEo82-hFHE

          Now, let’s be real: it took them 11 years to conclude this? This isn’t innovation, this is common sense that they’re selling as the next “wow” factor for their line of products.

        • Terence Kearns on 02.2.13 @ 10:10AM

          Agreed. Was just thinking that to myself. The Apple execs are obviously making more money out of the domestic market (with their 17 models of iOS devices) so they’ve decided to let their professional market die on the vine. They have NO IDEA how short-sighted that is since there is a lot of product streaming power they will lose by doing that.

          I’m not happy about it because it means we will be back to a Microsoft dominated world if that happens – and judging by the epic fail of Windows 8, that’s not good for the industry.

          Jobs is gone, and so has the vision.

          And I am NOT an apple user or a Jobs fanboy. Happen to be a Windows 7 user.

      • Steve Jobs dies, now they’re resting on their laurels. When will there be a substantial update to OSX? It’s been essentially the same for years and years.

        • I half agree and half disagree – I don’t expect much crazy new changes to iphone/ipad. They’ve got it working well. If a big change comes, it will take a little bit. More than a few years. The retina in the macbooks is a big deal.

          On the other hand, why is the macpro line treated like an unwanted child? They could easily have come out with an editing powerhouse last year that would put this argument to rest – or at least put it back to the same argument of mac vs pc from 5 years ago.

          There is for sure some laurel resting going on, to some degree.

        • Apple was screwing up long before Steve Jobs died. I think other companies have simply caught up with Apple and are eating them for lunch at the moment. Time will tell whether or not Apple gets it together and shows some innovation in it’s product line again.

  • While I don’t doubt that Dell’s offerings are faster (Apple hasn’t *really* updated theirs in almost three years now, they had better be faster) I feel the results in this test are somewhat cleverly exaggerated. If you look at their methods, for some reason they are using the 2010 model, though I am quite sure the 2012 update was shipping by mid-August. They use an NVIDIA (and thus CUDA capable) card in the Dell, the Mac has an AMD card, which won’t give nearly the performance benefit in CS5.5.

    The other interesting thing is the machine is not equally spec’ed on any other hardware; if they had matched as closely as possible, the Mac Pro is almost $3000 cheaper. Just food for thought.

    • Agreed. They’re comparing the latest, greatest Dell to a Mac Pro that everyone knows is quite out of date… the AMD graphics card is pretty inexcusable and makes up a huge portion of the difference. There are several nVidia cards available for the Mac . But yes, until there is an all-new Mac Pro, Apple’s top-end pro hardware is definitely going to lag behind.

    • thanks for injecting some reason in this discussion.
      people here seem to ignore the fact that that youtube video is a Dell commercial.

  • This is a great article, if for no other reason than the line “renderin’ up all kinds of mess.”

  • I currently work on a dell laptop and I’m loving a every minute of it. I push it pretty hard and though it’s not completely decked out to handle some high power rendering and playback it performs very well with full HD footage and high frame rates.

  • I got laughed at 2 years ago for purchasing a Dell T7500, installing a CUDA gaming card and editing on PPCS5 by Apple and FCP snobs. Now 90% of those same people are using PP and saving up for a PC that is half the price of a Mac Pro and is much faster. I’m all about saving time and not about being a fanboy to a certain brand.

  • Advertising?

  • ok, beisdes the fact the tests are totally borked due to lack of CUDA card on mac… just wait until you actually try to use a PC in real production work. win 7 networking is a nightmare that doesn’t work. I wasted to so much time trying to get it to work. want to HFS+ on mac, spend an extra $79 or nothing. write NTFS on mac ? no… not hacks.

    oh cross platform codec that both macs and PC’s can write ? none except DnxHD which I don’t care for. there are so many workflow stoppers in this day and age its painful that simply should not exist.

    so reality is this article is nothing but troll baiting based on some really bad tests

  • john jeffreys on 01.24.13 @ 8:37PM

    It’s been sooo trendy to hate apple lately

    • Maybe it’s because they sit on a $100m+ of profit they squeezed out of all of us? Money that’s not being reinvested… So the buck literally stops at Apple…

  • I would probably choose a hp laptop over one from dell. I have nothing against dell but as I already have a z820 workstation which is so amazing and fast I would also choose one from them

  • I’m using a 2012 Mac Mini with upgraded 16GB ram, dual 24″ monitors, and it handles everything just fine. Unless you’re doing heavy graphics stuff you really don’t need anything better for video editing at this point. (yes I work with RED footage). Let’s face it, most people waste more time on facebook than waiting for stuff to render in final cut.

    • john jeffreys on 01.24.13 @ 9:41PM

      there is no “waiting” for render times in fcp anymore, it does it in the background. but i guess people are too busy thinking junky homemade PCs are better to know that

      • Maybe you should make your own to see how wrong you’re. I can make PCs that are reliable that will smoke a Mac for a fraction of the cost.

        • john jeffreys on 01.25.13 @ 3:34AM

          I did, I built one and it lasted a few years before blowing up. Also built a cad-machine for my father’s office and a gaming machine for my friend.

  • I’d love to know what Koo, Joe Marine and the rest of the NFS staff use as workstation.

  • It’s seems the only people who are mad are Apple fanboys.
    I used to be an Apple fanatic but after I used a Dell professional
    Workstation I made the switch. Apple does not care about you. Some of you guys are
    in denial. If you must only use a Mac then Hackintosh is the way to go.

    • john jeffreys on 01.24.13 @ 9:43PM

      Do you really think DELL, a giant corporation with its #1 priority being PROFIT (as opposed to Apple, who knows that the real profit comes from good design and service) cares about you? Their customer service is outsourced to a third world country. At least if my mac breaks I can take it to the local apple store.

      • You do realize that Apple is one of the largest corporations in the world, right? Not actually your friend but a large corporation.

      • The only time I contacted Apple for service the first thing they asked if I had a Apple care pack. I didn’t have one, so they refused service. Now just who cares about money first and foremost?

        • john jeffreys on 01.25.13 @ 3:36AM

          Thats funny, because they always replace the unit for free if it is your first time. Maybe you were giving them attitude :P I had an iPod that just fried one day, took it to the store, they threw it into a bin and gave me a new one, free. Another time, my notebook’s battery failed and they replaced it for free (but told me the next time it would be 100 dollars). And I have never bought applecare. I guess it also depends on how good of a mood the reps are

          • As an over-paying customer, I reserve any right to act like a bozo if the damn products don’t do what they’re supposed to.

  • Just watched a commercial.

  • Anthony Marino on 01.24.13 @ 9:47PM

    Seems like an amazing unit, a little much for my needs. 13 seconds? 1-2 minutes are fine for me with my single i7. Hell if its even that much slower, its probably more like a 40-45 second different between the single i7 and duel Xeons. I’m not exactly sure but I was surprised by the benchmarks regarding duel Xeons vs i7 for basic video editing. Premiere pro with 4-5 layers a 3000 dollar system won’t put you too far behind in render time behind this beast. Of course If you do heavy grades, have tons of drives, cgi well then im pretty sure the dell hits the mark. It’s definitely a fun to read about. And to the few who put apple out of the race I’d choose my words wisely. Apple just got surpassed by Mobil oil again. Apple’s huge, they can do anything they want.

  • Started using Apple computers in college four years ago, had been using PC since birth. I will never look back to the McDonalds computing of the PC flavor. I make my living doing Apple administration now. I have Mac Pro with Dual Four Cores, 16GIG memory, 4 1TB drives striped in a RAID array. The kicker, how about a 4Gbs fibre connect into 70TB XSAN, not to mention 2 LED Cinema Monitors. The point being, if you have the money to spend, nothing compares to APPLE. Usability and Design is king, don’t lie to yourself. Why hate on a company that champions these ideals, builds an OS on top of a rock-solid UNIX back end. The comment about redesigning a new OS, really? What is so absent from the current OS that is destroying your computing experience, lol. Oh yeah I forget, playing Call Duty, pffff.

  • worthless article from a purely journalistic perspective, regardless of the subject matter.

  • Never heard of any of those production companies. This is a pitch video Dell is trying to sell to the niche editor market. If they claim everybody is moving over maybe they will?

    I don’t care about brands or any of that crap, if it works the best for my workflow and I’m not talking exclusively about render times, then I use it.

    And as of right now, it’s not a Dell.

    Guess that would make a boring pitch video though.

  • I love Apple, but this days I find it hard to defend the platform. I do believe Apple no longer cares for the pro user :(. Those were the days.

  • I’m an Apple fan but they dont seem to care about pros much anymore and I’m thinking more and more that my next system will be a PC. I love the quality and design of macs. PC’s just dont feel the same. It reminds me of driving a BMW. It just feels sooooo good. But lately we lost the performance and now have only design.

  • I will use an outdated mac pro just for the os. I dont know, it just feels more efficient for me. Plus, I have the 2010 8 core model, and it is nowhere close to being slow yet…

  • trackofalljades on 01.25.13 @ 1:36AM

    There’s every reason to believe that the new workstations Tim Cook swears are coming will be announced at WWDC.

    That’s in the middle of the summer.

    Apple might do really well to rethink that likely plan, and hold one of their little “events” sooner rather than later. The ship is looking better and better to jump from all the time.

  • The background rendering is really a much required feature which Apple has introduced in FCPX but in Premiere Pro one is not required to think about rendering until the final phase. The need for background rendering was a must for FCP as seeing those red lines and “Unrendered” in previous versions is damn irritating.
    FCPX is definitely a noticeable improvement over FCP 7(ignoring GUI) but its not worth the premium paid for Mac Pros. Premiere Pro with a workstation from HP or Dell or custom one performs way better for the money spent.

  • Ha Dave Dugdale wasnt approached by Dell.

  • What’s more important aside from any Apple vs PC debate here is the mention that Microsoft is looking to buy into hardware (purchase Dell). Once that happens we’re on our way to a new powerhouse (duopoly) that won’t be for the better in terms of choice and pricing. Old dogs learning new tricks. I’m sure them guys in Redmond are paying close attention to those in Cupertino and are trying to copy their strategy of locking-in the customer. Scary thought…

    • I don’t think MS will go that deep into Dell. They just want to keep it alive, because it’s their portal to a lot of business. I don’t think they’re eager to become a big hardware player. Could be wrong, though.

  • Today Apple is an expensive-toy maker.

    I have no doubt that a sizeable portion of pro users (not just video editors: anybody who needs performance) will fly away from them. A few years ago they had the FCP card to play: if you wanted to use that, you could only use Apple hardware. Now that’s gone, and they’re an incredibly long stretch behind in performance. Way to go, Apple!

    • Exactly. I write this comment on my iPad and because of the many filmmaking aps, my next phone is likely going to be an iPhone, although I hope someone here at Nofilmschool will do a post on what filmmaking apps are available for Android/Samsung.

      • Android apps for filmmakers? Not many, I must say. I’m an Android user and this is a sizeable cause of envy towards iphone users. Then again, my phone is 95% as good as an iphone, and it cost me 1/3 of the price. That extra 5% is not worth that many $$$ for me.

  • It’s already been proved the author is not a fan of Apple (and he admitted it in the comments previously).

    I’m no fan boy, but I don’t see the reason to post such a anti-apple story unless it is clickbait.
    And as others have said, the test in the article is a nonsense anyway.

  • I bought a refurb 12-core MacPro in October when it became clear Apple wasn’t going to be releasing a new MacPro any time soon. It was expensive (I added memory & SSDs), but it remains a good buy. Why?

    Software infrastructure.

    I happen to prefer FCPX to PPro, Aperture to Lightroom and Mac OSX to Windows. Since I spend 70% of my working life processing the stuff I get on shoots, this is more important to me that a factor of 2 in raw speed.

    I can cheerfully edit RED footage natively with acceptable playback and render times even without a Red rocket and get through editing the couple of thousand Hasselblad RAW files I sell each month… with enough CPU cycles spare to be able to launch a couple of new video-and-stills heavy commercial websites as well.

    But Apple- don’t let it get to a factor of 10 in raw speed, because then the balance will have tipped for me.

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