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TOPIC: RAM upgrade Mac Pro (late 2013) worth it?

RAM upgrade Mac Pro (late 2013) worth it? 28 Feb 2019 13:19 #99086

  • Suzero
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My MacPro (late 2013) has 16GB RAM, 3.5GHz 6-core, 512GB SSD, 2x AMD Fire Pro D500 3GB DDR5 VRAM
My iMac 5K (late 2014) has 24GB RAM, i7 4GHZ 4-core, 512GB SSD, AMD Radeon R9 M295X 4GB VRAM

I switch between the two machines when working from home/office. Editing off an external SSD via USB C/3.0.

Working on a short 4K project with chroma key, the Mac Pro lags very noticeably when clicking through the timeline and needs to render to playback smoothly. The iMac does a much better job. Barely any lag.
I am not very savvy in which hardware is responsible for which tasks, so my question is: will upgrading my RAM in the MacPro help speed things up or is it more a GPU issue?

To clarify: I am not too bothered about render times - it's more the snappiness of the system whilst editing (and playback of unrendered segments).

Question 2: Considering that the MacPro is pretty old in computer years, I am hesitant to invest a huge amount in upgrading unless it'll feel like a Porsche again thanks to the upgrade,
If RAM upgrade is the way to go, I am torn between going for :
32GB for €260
48GB for €380
64GB for €500

Will 64GB be really noticeable compared to say 48GB?

Thanks in advance for any tips.

#EDIT Sorry, I just realized that I posted this in the FCPX topic instead of Hardware. My apologies.
Last Edit: 28 Feb 2019 14:19 by Suzero.
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RAM upgrade Mac Pro (late 2013) worth it? 28 Feb 2019 15:19 #99087

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I don't know that more than 16GB RAM will give you a huge improvement. More than 32GB is a waste for video editing. But hey, you'll see some improvement with a 32 upgrade. I'd just do it, unless you're planning to buy a new Mac in the next couple of months.
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RAM upgrade Mac Pro (late 2013) worth it? 01 Mar 2019 05:23 #99098

Suzero wrote:
… lags very noticeably when clicking through the timeline and needs to render to playback smoothly.….

… dare to say: adding RAM doesn't fix that.
What Ben already said: beyond 32GB is of no use anyhow…

'clicking thru timeline' creates lag usually indicates 'too slow deployment of media' but you mention usb§/SSD … hmm?
really 'just' a color-key? Even my stone-old 2012MacMini handles 4k/greenscreen without any hesitation ...
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RAM upgrade Mac Pro (late 2013) worth it? 01 Mar 2019 14:05 #99101

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Suzero wrote:
My MacPro (late 2013) has 16GB RAM, 3.5GHz 6-core, 512GB SSD, 2x AMD Fire Pro D500 3GB DDR5 VRAM
My iMac 5K (late 2014) has 24GB RAM, i7 4GHZ 4-core, 512GB SSD, AMD Radeon R9 M295X 4GB VRAM

I switch between the two machines when working from home/office. Editing off an external SSD via USB C/3.0.

Working on a short 4K project with chroma key, the Mac Pro lags very noticeably when clicking through the timeline and needs to render to playback smoothly. The iMac does a much better job. Barely any lag.....

You are probably editing 4k H264 or some variant of this such as Sony XAVC-S. Since the Xeon-powered 2013 iMac Pro does not have Quick Sync this will be much more laggy than the same material on a 2014 iMac 27. That probably explains why your iMac feels more responsive.

There is nothing you can do to upgrade the Mac Pro to fix this. It is a CPU bottleneck caused by software decoding of H264, vs Quick Sync hardware decoding.

You can create proxies and edit in proxy mode, that's about it.

The 2013 Mac Pro works pretty well on H264 1080p material or 4k ProRes but not on 4k H264.

Your best bet for a hardware upgrade is get a pre-owned or Apple-refurbished 2017 iMac 27. Those are about 2x faster than your 2014 iMac when editing 4k H264 due to the improved Kaby Lake version of Quick Sync.
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RAM upgrade Mac Pro (late 2013) worth it? 01 Mar 2019 14:18 #99102

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Thanks so much for your reply!

It will save me money and explains the lag issue for this particular footage. It is indeed Sony XAVC-i codec.
Proxy is not really an option because of the chroma keying (everything is keyed) - but perhaps transcoding to Apple Pro Res? I have already consolidated the project using Worx4 so it's not a HUGE amount of material.

Are all Macs post 2013 equipped with improved Kaby Lake version of Quick Sync? Will a 2017 refurbished iMac be faster than the 2013 MacPro for editing other codecs too?

Thanks again!
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RAM upgrade Mac Pro (late 2013) worth it? 01 Mar 2019 15:22 #99104

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Suzero wrote:
... It is indeed Sony XAVC-i codec....
Proxy is not really an option because of the chroma keying (everything is keyed) - but perhaps transcoding to Apple Pro Res? I have already consolidated the project using Worx4 so it's not a HUGE amount of material.

Are all Macs post 2013 equipped with improved Kaby Lake version of Quick Sync? Will a 2017 refurbished iMac be faster than the 2013 MacPro for editing other codecs too?!

IF it is truly XAVC-I (not XAVC-S or XAVC-L) then that is "all intraframe", which is normally faster to edit. However the behavior you describe of a 2014 iMac being smoother than a 2013 Mac Pro is consistent with a "Long GOP" or inter-frame codec. So it really hinges on what exact codec you're using.

But I haven't tested 4k XAVC-I so it's conceivable there's something sluggish about it or how FCPX handles that on the Mac Pro.

Only the 2017 iMac/MacBook Pro and later have the Intel 7th-generation "Kaby Lake" CPU which had Quick Sync improvements for AVC (aka H264) encode/decode.

I tested extensively 4k XAVC-S and Panasonic 4k H264 from a DVX200 between a 12-core D700 Mac Pro, a 2015 i7 iMac 27, a 2017 i7 iMac 27 and a 10-core Vega64 iMac Pro.

In ascending order of timeline responsiveness from slowest to fastest: 2013 Mac Pro, 2015 iMac, 2017 iMac Pro, 2017 iMac 27.

Note this could be highly codec specific, but in general the Long GOP inter-frame codecs followed this behavior. Usually an all-intraframe codec like XAVC-I is smoother to edit.

The bitrate (hence file size) for XAVC-I is roughly equal to ProRes 422, so you could transcode everything to optimized media. That will take more space but the XAVC-I is already taking a lot of space. This retains alpha channel info for chroma keying, unlike proxies. You could experimentally try a few clips or a small project to see if it improves performance and works OK.
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