PPBM5 Can Settle the Mac-vs-PC Editing Debate with Hard Numbers

Mac vs. PC is a never-ending debate, but when it comes to video editing, what we need are hard and fast numbers. It would be impossible to generate a comparison of apples to apples (zing?) by using Final Cut Pro, since that NLE is only available on one platform. Instead, Adobe's CS5 suite is the ideal candidate -- and considering CS5 is 64-bit native on both OSes, it should be a fair fight. The best way to settle this would be to open the exact same CS5 project file on a Mac and a PC, play it back, render it out, and measure it in other ways -- on various machines, at different price points -- and compare the results. If only someone would create such a benchmarking tool and upload the results to a database... As it turns out, someone has done just this.

As part of a recent online workshop I attended virtually, Adobe's Karl Soule mentioned that PCs seem to be getting 3-5% better performance in CS5 than Macs. I tracked Karl down afterwards and asked him why this was the case, and while he didn't offer an explanation for the 3-5% difference, he did say that PCs blow past Macs when it comes to super high-end configurations -- presumably, the new Mac Pros will alleviate this discrepancy.

I consider myself a technical person for better or for worse, and I'm well aware I spend way too much time using and talking about computers. However, when it comes to the vast untamed expanses of the internet, there are wayyy nerdier folks out there. Some of these nerds (absolutely no offense intended, Bill Gehrke and Harm Millaard) have put together a site specifically for benchmarking Premiere Pro, giving it the unfortunate name of PPBM5. Naming decisions aside -- the acronym sounds like it was imagined by a scatalogical toddler -- the site has the potential to answer a number of performance questions for editors. If you're looking to configure a PC for editing in CS5, this is a great resource, with real-world benchmarks across a number of different hardware configurations. They've even compared different nVidia GPUs (the purple bar is the one of interest, shorter is better):

Despite the fact that it's not "officially" enabled yet (you have to apply this hack for now), the best price-performance GPU is the recently-released GTX 480, which retails for just shy of $500 and bests the $1,700 Quadro CX (which is a generation old). The GTX 480 is PC-only right now, but it was rumored to be in the works for the Mac. We'll see if it ever arrives, given it's apparently going to be absent from the new Mac Pros.

Regardless of video card, there are no hard Mac numbers in the database right now because, as PPBM5 states, "there might possibly be a Mac version, we are looking for beta testers." So: do you have a Mac? Do you have CS5? Drop them a line and let them know you'd like to be a beta tester. Run the benchmark and let's see how the two platforms compare when it comes to editing efficiency.

I suspect the best of both worlds (meaning, PC pricing, with the Mac OS) would be to build a hackintosh specifically tailored for editing in CS5. If I built such a machine for my own editing needs (and for my budget), would you be interested in a how-to post here?

Link: PPBM5

Your Comment


Hey Men!, I would love to see how you put together your hackintosh, since I'm in Chile, and all the mac's products are waaaaaay to expensive (actually, they doble the original U.S. price when they get here) so it will be nice to see what you put together and see if I follow your example...

Great Site!!

August 4, 2010 at 8:40AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I would be very interested in seeing what you come up with for your hackintosh.... my computer is getting to be on the old side and that's exactly what I was looking to do for my next build. I just started reading your blog and am already finding it invaluable. Thanks for all the info.

August 4, 2010 at 9:04AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


A hackintosh build would be fascinating!! I hope to see it soon...

August 4, 2010 at 9:42AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Todd Rains

oh yeah, definitely man! the hackintosh route has also been something i've considered & the guide would be pretty useful to a good number of people. i believe gizmodo might have an article or 2 on it (although maybe a bit outdated at this point) and seems to be a big community on it at http://www.insanelymac.com/ in their forums.

August 4, 2010 at 10:48AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Dan Nguyen (@wy...

Definitely. Only guides I have found are outdated when it comes to running CS5.

August 4, 2010 at 8:00PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Marc Bellomo

'Best of Both worlds' is partly subjective and party as a matter of fact. Its what ever youre used to. People develop habits, finger movement - navigational sequences depending on what platform the are used to. Building a Super Hackingtosh using super components not designed for the MacOS is quite a challenge - something i have tried many times in the past four years. ANd the problem is the MAC OS itself and the poor driver support and the very narrow range of hardware it supports. Building a super computer means that you use that objective (a super computer) as your decision guide. When you are building a hackingtosh the OSX86 HCL is your decision guide - No supercomputer. If you want a super computer learn to use windows - there will be optimized drivers will be available for all components, and thats a function that manufacturers build their parts to be used in a windows environment, apple hand picks which a handful of components/chipsets/configurations that i will write drivers and optimize for osx.

August 20, 2010 at 12:05PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Informative blog on the video editing on the mac compared to pc.

March 8, 2011 at 2:59PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM