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:
Video is no longer available: youtube.com/watch?v=3TyswmRCdl8
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?