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]