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Thread: Macbook Pro 13 or 15 for video editing

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Macbook Pro 13 or 15 for video editing

    To improve my mobility and as a general upgrade, I plan to buy a MBP for my photo and video editing within the next couple of months. Although I prefer the size, weight and price of the 13", the 15" offers two advantages in addition to the larger screen:

    - The matt screen option
    - The AMD Radeon HD 6750M with 1GB GDDR5

    The first would be my preference, but when it comes to the graphics processor, I ask myself how significant it will be for HD video editing and playback. Does anybody here have an idea?

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    Re: Macbook Pro 13 or 15 for video editing

    Depends on what software you plan to run on the video side... I wouldn't make any decision video wise until we find out more about FCP X

    I am guessing that bigger fast GPU's will make for better video editing with FCP if what I took from the videos posted of the sneak peak at NAB is correct



    K

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    Re: Macbook Pro 13 or 15 for video editing

    FCP X is what I have in mind. Seems like the obvious option on a Mac now. The safe bet would obviously be the 15", but maybe I should hold back until we know more. Time is going very fast anyway these days

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    Senior Member kevinparis's Avatar
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    Re: Macbook Pro 13 or 15 for video editing

    cant imagine a major rev on the macbook pro anytime soon - but if i was buying today for using FCP X I would get the most cores and the biggest GPU around - thats where FCP X is going to find it performance.

    K

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    Re: Macbook Pro 13 or 15 for video editing

    Quote Originally Posted by kevinparis View Post
    cant imagine a major rev on the macbook pro anytime soon - but if i was buying today for using FCP X I would get the most cores and the biggest GPU around - thats where FCP X is going to find it performance.

    K
    That's my gut feeling, so maybe I should aim in that direction. More power will also leave me better prepared for whatever comes up in the future.

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    Re: Macbook Pro 13 or 15 for video editing

    >but if i was buying today for using FCP X I would get the most cores and the biggest GPU around - thats where FCP X is going to find it performance.

    And the most memory (8GB). The problem with slow disks may get solved once we get Thunderbolt drives.

    As FCP X claims realtime rendering it has to tax all(!) resources) and the GPU is one of them. I actually think the MBP will work great with FCP X (FCP 7 is used by many pros to pre-edit scenes today).
    Uwe Steinmueller
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    Re: Macbook Pro 13 or 15 for video editing

    You're looking at much higher end software than I'm using at present. FC Express 4 is doing just fine for me at present on MBP13" ... I'm still in the early learning phase of the video editing business anyway. ;-)

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    Contributing Editor ustein's Avatar
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    Re: Macbook Pro 13 or 15 for video editing

    >FC Express 4 is doing just fine for me at present on MBP13"

    This is 32 bit and has no realtime rendering (also FCP is not 64 bit).
    Uwe Steinmueller
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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: Macbook Pro 13 or 15 for video editing

    Quote Originally Posted by ustein View Post

    And the most memory (8GB). The problem with slow disks may get solved once we get Thunderbolt drives.
    ... which leads to the next dilemma: 750GB 5400 rpm or 500GB 7200 rpm (512GB SSD would be nice, but it's kind of... $1,100 )? I would definitely prefer as much space as possible, since the old rule "hard disks are either new or full" still applies, but if the faster disk will speed up things radically, I guess a compromise is interesting.

    An alternative would be to throw out the CD/DVD drive and replace it with another HDD, and hoping that I won't need to burn anything when travelling, but now we're talking inserting hard, pointed devices in to a virginal, new $2,000+ gadget to remove something that Mr. Jobs has placed there at a moment of incomprehensible genius.... well, almost anyway

    Have anybody tried? Is it doable for an amateur, or would it be advisable to ask somebody with a higher screwdriver education?

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    Re: Macbook Pro 13 or 15 for video editing

    Quote Originally Posted by ustein View Post
    FC Express 4 is doing just fine for me at present on MBP13"
    This is 32 bit and has no realtime rendering (also FCP is not 64 bit).
    Very true, but it works fine for what I'm doing right now. It was free on a coupon deal some time ago and I've barely started learning it.

    Until I know where I want to go with my video efforts, I don't see the point of buying more software. Once I get the flow of video editing down, moving to FCP X will not be difficult if that's where I need to go. If I go pro with it, I suspect I'll need a Mac Pro tower to do what I want anyway, not a laptop.

    Heck, I started editing movies with iMovie on the iPod Touch the other day. Even that does a good enough job at the moment. ;-)

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    Re: Macbook Pro 13 or 15 for video editing

    Quote Originally Posted by Jorgen Udvang View Post
    ... which leads to the next dilemma: 750GB 5400 rpm or 500GB 7200 rpm (512GB SSD would be nice, but it's kind of... $1,100 )? I would definitely prefer as much space as possible, since the old rule "hard disks are either new or full" still applies, but if the faster disk will speed up things radically, I guess a compromise is interesting.
    ...
    All the video*editing folks I've spoken with tell me the same thing: put data on a FW800 or eSATA external drive. Keep the internal drive mostly empty other than for os, account and application essentials. I use 500G internal drives and 1-2T external drives.

    I'm planning to take a course in video editing very soon. It's a bit much for an amateur like me to get my head around all by myself, even with a good book to learn from.

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    Re: Macbook Pro 13 or 15 for video editing

    Quote Originally Posted by Jorgen Udvang View Post
    ... which leads to the next dilemma: 750GB 5400 rpm or 500GB 7200 rpm (512GB SSD would be nice, but it's kind of... $1,100 )? I would definitely prefer as much space as possible, since the old rule "hard disks are either new or full" still applies, but if the faster disk will speed up things radically, I guess a compromise is interesting.

    An alternative would be to throw out the CD/DVD drive and replace it with another HDD, and hoping that I won't need to burn anything when travelling, but now we're talking inserting hard, pointed devices in to a virginal, new $2,000+ gadget to remove something that Mr. Jobs has placed there at a moment of incomprehensible genius.... well, almost anyway

    Have anybody tried? Is it doable for an amateur, or would it be advisable to ask somebody with a higher screwdriver education?
    I think this is where thunderbolt is going to come in handy. The products are just starting to be announced. Here is a rundown of stuff at the NAB show in Las Vegas this week. The way I understand it a Thunderbolt port/drive is going to be faster than one of the internal drives.

    http://www.jigsawbroadcast.com/news/...ws-thunderbolt

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    Re: Macbook Pro 13 or 15 for video editing

    Quote Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
    All the video*editing folks I've spoken with tell me the same thing: put data on a FW800 or eSATA external drive. Keep the internal drive mostly empty other than for os, account and application essentials. I use 500G internal drives and 1-2T external drives.

    I'm planning to take a course in video editing very soon. It's a bit much for an amateur like me to get my head around all by myself, even with a good book to learn from.
    I don't think the eSata option exists anymore. There is no express port on a 15" MBP for an eSata card. Enter Thunderbolt.

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    Re: Macbook Pro 13 or 15 for video editing

    Quote Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
    All the video*editing folks I've spoken with tell me the same thing: put data on a FW800 or eSATA external drive. Keep the internal drive mostly empty other than for os, account and application essentials. I use 500G internal drives and 1-2T external drives.
    That's the ideal solution, but I'll be editing while I'm out an about also, and apart from a backup drive, I try to avoid carrying more stuff than necessary. Each external (rugged) drive is 250g. It all ads up, you know

    Oh well... I guess I can carry two of them

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    Re: Macbook Pro 13 or 15 for video editing

    Quote Originally Posted by TEBnewyork View Post
    I think this is where thunderbolt is going to come in handy. The products are just starting to be announced. Here is a rundown of stuff at the NAB show in Las Vegas this week. The way I understand it a Thunderbolt port/drive is going to be faster than one of the internal drives.

    http://www.jigsawbroadcast.com/news/...ws-thunderbolt
    Can the thunderbolt interface power a HDD?

    I found that Lacie has a 500GB 7200 rpm (or 1TB 5400 rpm) rugged external drive with FW800 that seems perfect for my needs. Good solution.

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    Subscriber Member kit laughlin's Avatar
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    Re: Macbook Pro 13 or 15 for video editing

    Thunderbolt can power a number of HDDs. I just took delivery of a MBP 15", quad-core, i7, best graphics card, and I am so glad I did. Make sure you get the hi-rez matt screen option, too.

    Using geekbench.com, this new machine smokes the just-the-last model dual-core MBP, top spec version (also i7); (11, 700 compared to 5,100), and utterly smokes my quad-core MacPro (around 4,000).

    BTW, the 1TB LaCies are about the same throughput as the 7,200rpm smaller ones, because of information density. I can expand. I edit HD video using FCP 7 using a 1TB LaCie Rugged as the Capture disk. Works perfectly.

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    Re: Macbook Pro 13 or 15 for video editing

    Quote Originally Posted by kit laughlin View Post
    BTW, the 1TB LaCies are about the same throughput as the 7,200rpm smaller ones, because of information density. I can expand. I edit HD video using FCP 7 using a 1TB LaCie Rugged as the Capture disk. Works perfectly.
    I actually suspected that. Having worked with computers since the early seventies, my experience has been that higher information density beats faster rpm most of the time. In addition, it also means better reliability because of less physical movement within the HDD.

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    Re: Macbook Pro 13 or 15 for video editing

    >Very true, but it works fine for what I'm doing right now.

    Godfrey, my comment was related to the original question: MBP + FCP X. I did not debate whether it is fine for your needs. FCP X will be likely more taxing on the hardware.
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    Re: Macbook Pro 13 or 15 for video editing

    Quote Originally Posted by ustein View Post
    Godfrey, my comment was related to the original question: MBP + FCP X. I did not debate whether it is fine for your needs. FCP X will be likely more taxing on the hardware.
    Uwe,

    Maybe, maybe not. It will not run as fast as on faster hardware, for sure. But how fast is useful, how slow is unusable? It is really required for the work you want to do, or are much of the added features a benefit to convenience and ease, not production necessity? These are the qualitative questions that no one seems to address. There seems to be an unwritten assumption that "if it isn't the fastest, biggest, latest, most expensive ... it isn't useful at all."

    I see this sort of assumption all the time in the discussions here and elsewhere. That's why I add my counterpoint. For amateur and fine art use, do we really always have to spend the top dollar for everything, really always have to have the most processor, the most memory, the biggest hard drives, etc etc at the highest prices? I don't think so.

    The quantitative question .. "How much in computing resources does it need to function well?" ... is not answerable in detail until the software is released. It can only be speculated about, and the speculation invariably turns to "I must buy the biggest, fastest, most in every direction..." I find that a daunting prospect.

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    Re: Macbook Pro 13 or 15 for video editing

    >hat "if it isn't the fastest, biggest, latest, most expensive ... it isn't useful at all."

    True. But the OP plans to buy a new MBP anyway. Also video is very performance hungry or you wait a lot.
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    Re: Macbook Pro 13 or 15 for video editing

    Quote Originally Posted by ustein View Post
    >hat "if it isn't the fastest, biggest, latest, most expensive ... it isn't useful at all."

    True. But the OP plans to buy a new MBP anyway. Also video is very performance hungry or you wait a lot.
    Important point: I've been using the cheapest, slowest Mac Minis for years now, and while that hasn't been a problem for stock photography and similar work, it's a severe limitation when working on volume jobs and indeed with video. I was aiming for a MB Air to start with, to save weight and space, but since an increasing volume of my work is commercial with tight deadlines, I've come to the conclusion that having a faster computer will save me time that I can put to good use elsewhere, or simply finish my work earlier, so that I get more time to spare (or hanging out on forums like this ).

    My ultimate aim is to have a completely portable photo/video system that will fit into a smallish bag and can be taken as carry-on luggage when flying, enabling me to edit photos as well as footage wherever I happen to be. These are individual needs, and some may consider this more or less unreachable goals, but I seem to be getting there, slowly.

    So while my colleagues hurry back to the big city after "getting the images they need", I stay where I am, getting the photos that are not needed but may be desirable anyhow, and edit what I have at the hotel in the evening, having some local food as an added bonus. The young monks that I posted recently on the Nikon thread is a direct result of this "stay behind" attitude. All the other photographers had left when that happened.

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    Re: Macbook Pro 13 or 15 for video editing

    Guy is a good barometer on the 15" MBP. He had the last version and upgraded to the new quad core 15". His laptop is his primary machine and he has to pump out a lot of MF files. With his new MBP his processing speeds in C1 are remarkably better. I mention C1 because it is a core intensive application. The 13" MBP is not available in a quad core version.

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    Re: Macbook Pro 13 or 15 for video editing

    Quote Originally Posted by Jorgen Udvang View Post
    Important point: I've been using the cheapest, slowest Mac Minis for years now, and while that hasn't been a problem for stock photography and similar work, it's a severe limitation when working on volume jobs and indeed with video. I was aiming for a MB Air to start with, to save weight and space, but since an increasing volume of my work is commercial with tight deadlines, I've come to the conclusion that having a faster computer will save me time that I can put to good use elsewhere, or simply finish my work earlier, so that I get more time to spare (or hanging out on forums like this ).

    My ultimate aim is to have a completely portable photo/video system that will fit into a smallish bag and can be taken as carry-on luggage when flying, enabling me to edit photos as well as footage wherever I happen to be. These are individual needs, and some may consider this more or less unreachable goals, but I seem to be getting there, slowly.

    So while my colleagues hurry back to the big city after "getting the images they need", I stay where I am, getting the photos that are not needed but may be desirable anyhow, and edit what I have at the hotel in the evening, having some local food as an added bonus. The young monks that I posted recently on the Nikon thread is a direct result of this "stay behind" attitude. All the other photographers had left when that happened.
    In which case, for your needs, the additional $800-1000 hit and the persistent hit on size/weight/power/etc may well be the right solution, even for your still work.

    And Guy wants to work with 40-50-etc Mpixel still work, of course you need more processing power for that than you do for piddly little 12-16 Mpixel still work if you want the same level of throughput and flexibility.

    Happily, I have my 'completely portable photo/video system' now, and I'm happy enough with its capabilities for the work I'm presently doing. When and if I need more performance, I'll buy it. I don't have to have it before then, although it's always nice to have if I can afford the price tag and am willing to carry the additional weight.

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    Re: Macbook Pro 13 or 15 for video editing

    Quote Originally Posted by TEBnewyork View Post
    Guy is a good barometer on the 15" MBP. He had the last version and upgraded to the new quad core 15". His laptop is his primary machine and he has to pump out a lot of MF files. With his new MBP his processing speeds in C1 are remarkably better. I mention C1 because it is a core intensive application. The 13" MBP is not available in a quad core version.
    Do you know whether he uses the high resolution matte screen, which I would assume he does, and whether he finds it taxing on his eyes, particularly while using some of the tool tabs in C1?

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    Re: Macbook Pro 13 or 15 for video editing

    Morning Ralph . I use the new 2011 Quad core 15 inch with the high res. matte screen. But i also use a 30 in NEC wide Gamut monitor attached to it when in the office. The 15 inch can be taxing on the eyes if your sitting there for quite sometime working on it. In a lot of cases like safari I have made my fonts bigger as well. Now if your not mobile than treat yourself to a REAL monitor . I highly recommend the NEC 24 or 30 inch wide gamut with the spectro meter for color calibration. Or if your feeling rich the Eizo monitors. They are both wide gamuts and you can see almost all of the Adobe RBG color space. I love working with the NEC as i can SEE exactly what my files should be in the correct color space I use for printing and output to clients.

    Now going back to laptops . It is my only machine so i needed to ramp it up. So here is what i have today but i need to add more ram as well. 2011 15 inch 2.3 Quad cores with 8gb of Ram and soon OWC 240 gb 6g Sata III drive, today I am running a Intel 510 which will get moved over to the optical bay once the OWC comes in. So in short the OS will be on the OWC and the second drive will hold backup OS and storage but 2 SSD drives. Now the Ram can go as high as 16gb but the price on that right now is 1600 so waiting for price to drop. But I may just go for 12 at 879 soon here. Pushing CS5 the ram would help but C1 being core dependent i have increased my processing times 2 fold over my older duo core. So just the quad cores alone i am screaming 53 percent faster than before. That is a great increase in processing speeds.
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    Re: Macbook Pro 13 or 15 for video editing

    Ralph,

    I have the identical machine to Guy, but with the OWC 120GB SSD drive in place of the Apple original, and 8GB RAM also (I agree: $1,600 is way over the top). SSDs are far and away the best performance 'bang for the buck" improvement you can do to a laptop, and the OWC ones are "over-provisioned', meaning that their performance will stay high over time. Go over to macperformance.com, run by our friend Lloyd Chambers, for a detailed explanation of the whys and wherefores. And mine drives a 30" HD display when at home too. I use 7,200 rpm FireWire drives for source and output files; Guy's will be set up to have two SSDs set up in his optical bay for this, but I prefer to have this work as the factory built it. I will buy a pair of SSDs in a single Thunderbolt-coupled unit when these become available later this year.

    Using the 'geekbench.com' tests, my new quad-core laptop outperforms my MacPro tower quad-core, by 2.5 to 1, yielding a measure of 11,500 on those tests. It outperforms last year's 15" MBP by over 2 to 1.

    And I also recommend getting the hi-rez anti-glare screen. I was so impressed with this machine's performance I sold the desktop unit: first time since PCs were invented!

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    Re: Macbook Pro 13 or 15 for video editing

    Jorgen, the MacBook Air is useless for photo processing work, too, BTW. I have one of these too (typing on it right now!), but it is a toy, for email, surfing the net, and photo forums! Even though I have sold the desktop, I always have a second machine, and this is (IMHO) the best second machine out there. The reason is that I can do various net-based tasks while the MBP is (for example) processing video or stills, something it does most days.

    The MacBook Air (MBA) only has a dual-core 1.6GB processor and 4GB RAM, and that was the top specs available when I bought it in Canada late last year. I have left this one standard, because I travel all the time and it is v. handy for that. If I am travelling for a photo job, though, I would not leave home without the 15", though it is over twice the weight.

    Reasons: the MBA has no option for the matt screen (tho' it is high rez version) and in the field, shiny screens are simply unusable. On my last John Deere shoot, the art director and I were huddled inside the car to look at images... it was not possible outside to see the older shiny screen that the previous model featured. As well, when the MBA is doing any processing, rather than what I am doing now, it is slow.

    And the MBA only has two USB connectors. It can drive an external screen, but I never have, so do not know its limits in this regard. HTH

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    Re: Macbook Pro 13 or 15 for video editing

    Kit,
    I have already decided on the MBP 15, more or less maxed out (but within Apple's own specs). There's a growing pile of nickels and dimes on my desk. Hopefully, it will be tall enough some time during May.

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    Re: Macbook Pro 13 or 15 for video editing

    Thank you for the helpful feedback, particularly in regard to the eye strain of the high resolution MacBook Pro screen. For future trips of several months duration I certainly regret that they do not make a standard resolution matte screen.
    I've long been familiar with Lloyd Chambers' fine site and the useful information obtainable there. Indeed, I just got an OWC 240 GB SSD, which unfortunately failed after a few days usage. OWC customer and technical service is excellent, but the problems of sending the disk in for a replacement from abroad (postal service and Customs) are dissuasive enough to make this a write-off.

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    Re: Macbook Pro 13 or 15 for video editing

    I´m actually getting the base 15" version with a high rez matte screen myself, but I´m going to add a 640GB 7200rpm HDD, 8GB RAM, and an external WD 1TB HDD. Couldn´t justify getting the next in the food chain, as I never play games, won´t touch video editing (it frightens me!), and funds are limited.

    Good informative thread!

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    Re: Macbook Pro 13 or 15 for video editing

    I went to have a look at the MBP 15" today. Earlier, I've only kind of looked in that general direction, but things look different when I'm planning to buy it. Very different. It's biiiiiig, and heavy too and in a year or two, there will probably be an MBA with the same kind of performance. Think, think, think....

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    Re: Macbook Pro 13 or 15 for video editing

    Heh, had to go back to the Apple Store today, got out of there with a 21.5" iMac, as I decided I need a bigger screen more than I need four cores. It´s amazing to work with!

    Got out with the same impression as you, Jørgen. The 15" is pretty big and heavy, and the screen has less than great viewing angles.

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    Re: Macbook Pro 13 or 15 for video editing

    I have the 17" mac book pro, and I am about to setup the external eSATA as a scratch disc... ¿I could get a considerable boot in performance but replacing the HD with a SSD, but with reduced capacity?

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