September 26, 2014 at 2:33AM

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Mac or Windows for editing? What do you think?

Hi fellows... I usually use both (more mac) and i see good things and bad things.

What do you think?

25 Comments

Windows hardware costs less, but Mac Thunderbolt 2.0 is amazing IO technology.

My next computer might be a Mac partly for solid Thunderbolt 2.0 support.

September 29, 2014 at 4:30PM, Edited September 29, 4:30PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
30973

That's an interesting reply, but I feel like you didn't cover any of the necessary edges of the question. Thunderbolt alone does not an editing PC make. I wouldn't edit 4K on a Macbook Pro simply because it has Thunderbolt support. It wouldn't be able to handle the data-flow in the processors and (lack of) GPU.

While Thunderbolt technology is amazing (and something I utilize using a RAID configuration), USB 3.0 is incredibly amazing as well. There are other setups you can utilize like SATA for PC that will get you the information you need, when you need it.

November 26, 2014 at 1:51PM

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Brandon Neubert
Color Artist / Writer / Director
714

I was editing 4K footage on a MacBook Pro 13". It all depends on the specs of your computer.

There is no right or wrong way. It really comes down to budget and aesthetics. You can set up an equally powerful editing platform on each. But which OS do you prefer? Which NLE do you prefer? What kind of material will you be editing. It's worth trying each and see which best fits your style and budget.

November 26, 2014 at 9:42PM

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Ron Dawson
Frame.io Blog Editor & Host of "Radio Film School"
264

Because Thunderbolt is a "bus level" connection it allows for external GPU enclosures, so you can take a fairly low end computer and add an external GPU enclosure with a high-end GPU and achieve very fast video processing.

USB 3.0 connections are roughly 4 times SLOWER than Thunderbolt 2.0.

Also, USB connections are tied to the the CPU bus, so they will slow down your CPU while transferring a large amount of data, where a Thunderbolt connection is completely independent of the CPU bus, so you can copy large amounts of data simultaneously in both directions with no slow-down of the CPU bus.

Right now there is no other IO standard that has the speed of Thunderbolt 2.0.

November 27, 2014 at 11:04AM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
30973

Thunderbolt is from Intel and is available on Windows PCs as well. Apple just happened to pick up this standard and implement it on all their newer gear, but it's not 'apply only', developed or owned by apple in any way. If thunderbolt is the sole reason to go apple...buy a Thunderbolt PCI Expansion card for your windows computer ;)

November 28, 2014 at 5:41PM

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Jeroen Rommelaars
Animator - Videographer - Motion Tracking
1019

There are a few Windows PCs ( desktops and laptops ) that come standard with Thunderbolt built-in, and you can also buy PC Motherboards from the major brands that have Thunderbolt built-in.

So going with a Thunderbolt enabled system doesn't mean buying a Mac, there are lots of PC Thunderbolt options too.

November 29, 2014 at 10:41PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
30973

I learned all of my basic editing knowledge on a Mac in high school. I taught myself how to use Final Cut Pro and I dabbled a little bit in Adobe After Effects. I was planning on attending UNCSA after I graduated high school, and I was required to buy a MacBook Pro and a full copy of FCP7.

A few months ago, I decided to switch to a Windows workflow and I spent around $900 (USD) and built a computer that is much more powerful than my MacBook and also much much cheaper. I'm still practicing with Adobe Premiere. I tried Sony Vegas, and there are way too many things about that program that I dislike.

I can say with assurance that I'm much happier with my Windows work flow. However, it may be because my Windows PC is much more powerful than my Mac, making editing and rendering so much easier and quicker.

Realistically, folks that spend so much money on their Macs seriously confuse me. You can spend $2500 on that new 27' iMac, and get the following specs:

3.5GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 - Are you kidding me? $2500 and you don't get the i7? What a joke!
Turbo Boost up to 3.9GHz
8GB (two 4GB) memory
1TB Fusion Drive1
AMD Radeon R9 M290X with 2GB video memory

Meanwhile, I went to Newegg and looked at some parts.
1000W Power Supply from EVGA
AMD Radeon R9 290X
CoolerMaster Case
2 x 1TB HDD
Mouse w/Programmable buttons (to switch to tools quicker)
2 x 8GB DDR3 RAM
Intel I7-4770k
Corsair Water Cooling Kit
Samsung 256GB SSD
Steelseries Keyboard
Logitech LS21 Speakers
2 x ASUS 23.6" Monitor
MSI Motherboard

Grand Total:
$2065.83, after taxes, after shipping. That's without counting the mail-in rebates as well.
So you get 2 monitors, a monster of a PC complete with a mouse, keyboard, and speakers, for $500 less than the new iMac.

The choice is very clear to me.

November 24, 2014 at 3:00PM

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Christopher Brazil
Audio/Video Tech
463

That comparison leaves out the freaking 5K (!), superb display on the iMac - something that will set you back around 2000$ if you buy it separately. Come on.

November 27, 2014 at 9:55PM

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You know he is comparing a simple i5 mac with a sorta monster i7 computer including dual monitor and speakers? The comparison is kinda bad, but the point is clear: You will save a ton of money of you stay away from Mac. If you compare builds with comparable parts im sure you will easily be able to pick up a 5k screen from your savings :p

November 28, 2014 at 5:57PM

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Jeroen Rommelaars
Animator - Videographer - Motion Tracking
1019

You do not need 1000w PSU for that build, not by a long shot, so you can save some money there. Also, wouldn't recommend an AMD card for video-editting, as it has no CUDA cores. Would go Nvidia for that. (apple uses AMD, i know, but they have worked real hard with AMD and adobe on that)

You can save some more on the water cooling, not really needed for that build unless you want to go the overclocking route. Speakers don't really belong in this comparison IMO.

IMO, a good quality build makes the difference between mac and self-built PCs much bigger than your initial calculations. For that money you can just go out and buy that one 5k screen...if for some reason you think you need to have that over a quality dual screen setup ;)

November 28, 2014 at 5:47PM

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Jeroen Rommelaars
Animator - Videographer - Motion Tracking
1019

Hey Jeroen.

I'm not sure if you saw, but I put the I7-4770k on this hypothetical build, not and AMD card. Also, speakers don't belong in this comparison? How do you edit without speakers? I mean.. Sure, a headset is cool and all but if you're working for a while, it can really start to feel heavy on your head.

And the 5k screens really don't look that much better than 1440 to me. I think it's just diminishing returns when you look at the price.

Finally, the comparison was meant to show that you can get a much more powerful PC for less money than the weaker iMac. I guess that was difficult to understand?

November 29, 2014 at 10:10PM

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Christopher Brazil
Audio/Video Tech
463

I'm basically just saying that the price difference can be even bigger between Windows PCs and Macs...im on your side buddy.

I did notice the 4770k, but then the prices are compared with an i5 mac, so the difference is even bigger.
Also, in your part list i see the AMD R9 290x, which I would not recommend for windows based editing machines.
The PSU is a bit overkill, so you can increase the price difference there as well.
Audio isn;t needed in this comparison because the Mac doesnt have a proper soundsystem either, or if you include the speakers in the mac you may as well compare it to speakers in a monitor instead of getting seperate speakers,...so removing speakers from the comparison increases the difference once again. Same goes for the water cooling.

And yea...5k screens..I don't see the use in those, but the MAC has it so in order to keep the comparison somewhat fair you might as well include it as an option.

Anyways, I don't think my message quite came through...

November 30, 2014 at 11:13AM

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Jeroen Rommelaars
Animator - Videographer - Motion Tracking
1019

yep - what he said. You'll get more bang for you buck with a PC.
I would recommend editing in Adobe Premiere
Good luck

November 25, 2014 at 1:56PM

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urban revolution
Creative Director
108

I edit on a maxed out iMac at work and a recently built PC at home. I built it for roughly $600.

My PC does everything I need it to, in a decent manner, and decently fast. 4 min video, h.264, 20mbps, 2pass-VBR takes about 20min to export. I'm very happy with my purchase.

The mac at work can literally do that in under a minute but i also spend $3k less. I enjoying working in premiere more on the mac, mostly cause of the magic mouse but its not worth $3k.

November 25, 2014 at 5:13PM

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Battle of the OS... Indie film makers are always trying to get the best bang for their buck and so with that said A PC is an Indie Film Maker's best friend. Spent just about $2,500 on MY PC Core i7 3.5ghz 12GB RAM (Going 32gb for the new year) ATI Radeon 6800 and a NVIDIA GPU to run Resolve and Premiere, About 4 Terabytes of HDD 1000Watt Corsair Power Supply and i can run 3D renders and Adobe Renders at once and still have enough flexibility to run Davinci Resolve. The $5000 Mac Pro at my Day Job would melt if i tried that.

November 26, 2014 at 3:02AM

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Wentworth Kelly
DP/Colorist/Drone Op
2400

I switched over to a PC as well. The guys who built it for me said it was the fastest computer they'd ever built and it cost me a heckuva lot less than a Mac. I had to use a Mac at school and my previous two jobs and I own an old iMac. I prefer the PC 100%. I use Adobe programs and they work great.

November 26, 2014 at 10:49AM

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Paul Gall
Writer / Director / Editor
182

Hello Raguel,

There is no difference between PC and Mac, outside of the price for your machine. I have a PC laptop which does a fantastic job and a desktop Mac which does excellent also. I worked last year for a production studio which used the older Mac Pro towers but have recently purchased HP Z Workstations. VFX houses often use HP Z Workstations, but I know that Pixar is Mac based also.

There is no difference between the two! The equipment is the same, the operating system doesn't matter. It really DOESN'T MATTER.

What does matter is:
+The amount of RAM you have (I'd go 6-8GB on a normal 1080p workflow)
+Your processor (I'd go Intel Quad-Core i5 or an i7 for 1080p workflow)
+A GPU (I don't have one in my laptop, but have an Intel Graphics 4000 processor which works well for nearly all my needs)

An optional goodie may include an SSD for your programs with a separate HDD for storage (My setup in my laptop).

It all comes down to cash. How much are you willing to spend? I was recently contacted by Studio TEN05 in Salt Lake City to consult them on editing hardware and software. Initially they wanted a full Mac setup, but convinced them that they would get much more bang for their buck since they needed to support full 4K UHD RAW workflows and set them up with a very quick mobile editing laptop and powerful ASUS tower for in-house production for much less money than they would have needed to spend for the same specs.

Were I to recommend a setup, I would recommend a Windows setup for the budget, despite the fact that I own a Mac and use it daily for editing myself. It just doesn't matter.

Good luck, and happy building!

November 26, 2014 at 1:46PM

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Brandon Neubert
Color Artist / Writer / Director
714

The OS really doesn't matter like everyone says. Best bang for your buck is clearly on the PC side, no question. Software runs the same. PhotoShop and some other design software is apparently better optimized on the Mac, when your compare it to the second, but whatever. For editing, the only reason to go Mac is if you're stuck with Final Cut. Otherwise, its all cross platform. Premiere has surpassed FC functionally, especially with all the Dynamic Linking in CC. Edit, Grade, add animation and compositing without any round tripping...golden!!!

November 26, 2014 at 6:02PM

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Josh.R
Motion Designer/Predator
1027

Mac all day. Apple just works.

November 27, 2014 at 3:23AM

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i work in a predominantly mac environment but i suggest, for power and GPU purposes i suggest a pc. however if you are not computer savy, i suggest a mac. it just works, and the lack of customizability actually gives it stability and easier to trouble shoot.
however, i find pc's to be much faster and powerful.
we have a few of the new mac pro's with all maxed out configuration (over $10k) but the $2.5k pc with the correct GPU and drive setup is a faster machine for video work.
also 6k dragon footage on a mac is a nightmare. the GPU doesnt hold even with the highest option.
we also tried running a quadro k5xxx in a chasis and it was slow.
expandability is a big issue, even with an external pcie enclosure.
i spoke with sonnet and they told me thunderbolt 2 supports speeds that equal 4x pcie speeds. the red rocket is 4x, red rocket-x is 16x. they both run the same speed with the new macs unfortunately.
the 2012 mac tower supplied with a red rocket was faster than the new mac pro.

one this to absolutely note is mixing pc and mac in your workflow.
in an ideal world you can have both systems in a network.
however this was a bigger problem then anticipated.
a regular 10gbit switch, and linix server catered for macs originally cannot network with a pc. vise versa as well.

to coexist both mac and pc in a network would require a fiber sans network. and unfortunately it needs a real sans controller, not a virtual solution like fiber jet.
this is an upgrade that estimated in over 100k.

also a harddrive format that is compatible on both system is fat32. fat32 only supports single files up to 4gb each. even 1080p raw footage easily is larger than that. exfat and hfs files are compatible as well but the read speeds are very slow on mac and is unworkable.

so if you are going to be working with other people. you should consider what your environment is predominantly using.

November 27, 2014 at 1:00PM

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Kazu Okuda
Filmmaker
1314

exFAT is cross system and basically has no file size limits. My require reformatting drives out of the box.

December 1, 2014 at 4:53PM

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Josh Wilkinson
Music Video Director/DP
270

Most of the independent tests with comparably priced PC's has the mac pro mopping the floor with the PC

http://youtu.be/DZVJnWcRHB8

Also, my experience with Macs is they last a lot longer without any problems and my custom built PC's break down after 3 years. Not to mention, Windows 8 is the worst operating system of all time so I wouldn't even put that horrible OS on a new PC (I'd stick with windows 7). Mac's just work not to mention FCPX is a blast to edit with. I work in premiere as well but FCPX is my preferred NLE of choice these days since they updated the media libraries.

Not true about the 6k dragon files, just edited a short shot on dragon on an low range new Mac tower and those fire pro cards cut 6k like butter. Here's a vid to show off how powerful even the 6 core mac pro is

https://vimeo.com/82691196

November 30, 2014 at 5:40PM

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Brad Jones
Director/Producer/Writer/Editor
535

It Depends on which editor you use obviously. Resolve and Premiere both function better on a PC with Nvidia cards than on a Mac.
Cost for performance PC will win easily. The only "problem" as most people have mentioned is PCs have poor thunderbolt options. Especially when you look at 6-core plus capable boards.

Usb 3 is plenty fast for all but the most taxing workflows.

The PC build I've been looking at is a 5820k (6-core chip), X99 motherboard, 32gb DDR4 ram (2.4k MTs vs the 1600 found in regular pcs), 1 TB SSD and a GTX Titan black for $2700.
Which is about 1.5k cheaper than a very roughly equivalent Mac Pro. And performs significantly better in almost every way (except Hard drive performance, but that's negligible imo)

That's also pretty easy to trim down to under 2k+ without touching the CPU. Which is important.

December 1, 2014 at 5:53PM

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Josh Wilkinson
Music Video Director/DP
270

They both do the same thing and if you are used to using apple computers stick with that. Apple has no advantage technically against a pc and you will pay more, have less ability to upgrade and pay more for software and have less choice of software. However if you have alot of money to spend and you are comfortable using apple computers I would stick with what you are used to using. So the huge advantage of PC is choice in hardware, choice of software and better performing and quality when compared dollar for dollar. Like everything else there is no limit to how money you spend on anything, but apple is a poor value for what you get. That is why world wide 4% of world use is apple and less than 1% of all software made for apple where in the PC world wide well over 90% and 99% of software. Check the stats for yourself, they don't change much has been this way for years.

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