My 12-core 3.33GHz Mac Pro is too darn slow for Final Cut Pro X!
Yes, it’s great that Final Cut Pro X is now 64-bit and that it uses CPU cycles like politicians spend other people’s money— but it’s amazing to me that professionals would consider working with anything less than what I have— it takes a long time.
I am a Final Cut Pro X beginner, so experts out there might work differently, but I have to start somewhere, and FCP X seems a lot more intelligible to me than the previous inscrutable version.
Based on what I’m seeing, here are my recommendations:
- Minimum 240GB 6G SSD for system/apps (480GB 6G SSD preferred).
- 48GB or 96GB system memory.
- 12-core Mac Pro with 5870 video card (or better) mandatory for serious use (no data as yet on the benefit of ultra high end video card).
- Four fast internal hard drives (e.g. 4 X Hitachi 3TB). RAID X 2 or RAID X 4.
- External always-connected backup so work can be protected each day.
- Backup plan with backup drives (at least two full copies).
- Dual displays.
For a Mac Pro like my setup, get a quote for an MPG Pro Workstation.
For the discussion below, I enabled a variety of nifty features, anticipating that using the features would chew up some CPU cycles.
CPU and memory usage
Show further below is the CPU core usage on my 12-core 3.33Ghz Mac Pro while importing a 750MB MP4 1080p video clip.
Memory usage peaked at about 2.0GB briefly, so the 48GB memory I have in my Mac Pro was not needed for the Import.
The Background Tasks window shows what FCP X is doing— what percent done so far on various tasks. This is in-the-background work, so you can do whatever else you want to do at the same time.
For a short while at the beginning, FCP X uses a disappointing 400% of the 2400% possible CPU usage.
But then it picks up steam for other phases, and uses between 1300% and 1800% of CPU power. To be fair, anything beyond 1200% starts to involve virtual CPU cores (not real ones), and doesn’t mean a whole lot in practice. In other words, this is an outstanding use of CPU cores— anything of 1200% or better is all that can really be hoped for.