6 Replies Latest reply: Nov 21, 2012 12:27 PM by M125X
M125X Level 1 (0 points)

Hey everyone,


I am thinking of getting a MBP for FCPX.


I am new to Mac's and have always used PC's but with all of the trouble I have had with my PC's lately, and the fact that I have an iPhone, iPod, and everything seems to be moving to the "cloud" I think it is time to go with what seems like the superior product, an Apple Laptop


So my question to you:

I am on a budget, but don't want to be regretting not spending enough in the long run.


I want to do some video editing and I have always used Sony Vegas in the past. With FCPX only being $300 now, that seems much more reasonable than the way FCP7 was previously priced.


What sort of system spec's should I shoot for?


I am reading that the minimums are as follows:

  • Mac computer with an Intel Core 2 Duo processor or better.
  • 2GB of RAM (4GB of RAM recommended).
  • OpenCL-capable graphics card or
    Intel HD Graphics 3000 or later.
  • 256MB of VRAM (512MB of VRAM recommended).
  • Display with 1280-by-768 resolution or higher.
  • OS X v10.6.8 or OS X v10.7.5 or OS X v10.8.2 or later.
  • 2.4GB of disk space.


So if I got a 15" Macbook Pro (without Retina display... do I really need the Retina?) here are the specs and my questions:

  • 2.3GHz Quad-core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 3.3GHz
    • Or should I go for the 2.6GHz Quad-core Intel Core?
  • 8GB 1600MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 2x4GB
    • I figured this would be a good upgrade from the 4GB of RAM
  • 500GB Serial ATA Drive @ 5400 rpm
    • ATA versus SSD? What size do you think?
  • MacBook Pro 15-inch Glossy Widescreen Display
    • Are the high-res glossy or anti-glare any better? Is the regular screen pretty easy on the eyes?
  • Any other tips or suggestions for what to get? I want this to run as smoothly as possible, and I want this to be a computer that will last me a few years. I am currently on year 5 of my laptop PC, so I hope that the Apple's are as good of a product.




  • Tony Gay Level 4 (1,630 points)

    My two immediate thoughts, I am sure there will be more.


    1. Go with the highest spec machine you are able to afford, or you will spend your render times wishing for more speed.


    2. Store all of your vision on en external USB3 or Thunderbolt hard drive, the 5400speed drive is not fast enough for video work.



  • Alchroma Level 6 (18,265 points)

    I recently ditched my Mac Pro and went to an MBPro.

    Shopped around for a late 2011 17" as the deals are good if there are any left.

    They have been discontinued.

    You get larger screen, thunderbolt port and expresscard34 for additional add ons if required.

    Mine is great except for heat during exports and transcoding so think about some type of cooling gadget.



  • klong Level 1 (25 points)

    As Tony writes, try to get the faster machine if you can afford. fcpx needs: a fast hard drive, a fast processor and lots of memory (ram).

    Just a bit of my own experience: I am presently working with fcpx 1005 on a retina macbook pro (15", 2.7GHz, 16GB ram, the faster video card, and 500GB SSD internal drive). I was waiting for a mac pro so I settled for this machine and it lives up to all my expectations. I am editing material in ProRes 1080p30 with a lot of processing (effects) and usually 4-5 layers. The machine performs better than I would have imagined.


    - Internal hard drive: of course the internal SSD hard drive helps but you can skip that if money is tight. Try and put a 7200 rpm drive, the price difference should not be so great and there still will be a difference.


    - RAM is vital: on a regular project, as soon as you use color correction and plugins fcpx eats all the ram it can get. I used to work on a 6GB ram macbook pro until last summer and needed to quit and relaunch fcpx constantly. Now I have 16GB in the new macbook pro and the memory-hungry situation is just slightly better. The performance of course is much better in the sense that fcpx tends less to forget things, to show the beach ball or to act erratically. All this is due to lack of RAM. So do not spare on that and put in the maximum your machine can take.


    - The speed of the processor will make a difference between smooth and less smooth performance, and render times of course.


    - fcpx, also, is now GPU optimized and a faster video card in the macbook pro will make a definite difference. Same as for CPU.


    - external hard drives: don't even think of editing on your internal drive. Think that all your system and apps are installed there, so you want to keep this drive from running hot and die prematurely.

    Use USB3 or eSATA drive enclosures. With an adaptor expresscard (like sonnet) you will get a decent performance and be able to read several ProRes 422 layers and a lot of ProRes Proxy layers and not despair in front of a sluggish machine. (I just upgraded from eSATA to TBolt RAID. This also helps with hi-res material and when you load an event with a lot of video files - much faster display). But both usb3 and eSATA are quite fine. If you can try and use a dual-drive enclosure you will get a real measurable performance boost.


    - Screen: the retina is showing the images with a LOT better definition than the regular monitor. It is not too relfective. In studio, with a normal lighting arrangement it is fine. My other machines were all non-reflective and of course that's perfect. Stil the retina without question is better.


    What else… well good luck.

  • M125X Level 1 (0 points)

    Thanks everyone for the well thought out responses.


    Since you mention an external harddrive... Is it really going to be faster editing through a wire (Thunderbolt I assume?) than it would be saving and taking unedited clips directly from the SSD or ATA storage? But if you get an external harddrive that is Thunderbolt and SSD, the cheapest is $480 for SSD or $240 for USB 3.0 (which wouldn't be maximizing the speed of being able to transfer data, correct?


    I read somewhere online that you upgrade to SSD later (macsales.com?)... Is this something that people on this forum recommend for someone who is on a budget?


    It sounds like 2.6GHz is best for editing in terms of getting a clearer, smoother experience.


    I'm going to the Apple store today to get out the difference between the retina display and no retina display. One think I am not a huge fan of is how the Retina display does not have a CD/DVD drive and you need to buy the external.


    If you had the same specs with retina, would the CPU/RAM be struggling to keep up due to the extra resolution?


    Sorry for so many questions but I am trying my best to learn about Apple's as I can. I've been doing a lot of googling lately and reading many threads on this site too!



  • klong Level 1 (25 points)

    If you had the same specs with retina, would the CPU/RAM be struggling to keep up due to the extra resolution?

    It is true that according to reviews, the Retina takes some GPU power to manage more pixels.

    On the other hand, the machine is fast enough to handle it  nicely. I use the mbp retina 2.7GHz with 16GB ram and the optional faster video card. As a second monitor I have a 23" cinema display. The main window (timeline, etc.) is on the Cinema display (larger work area) and the full screen monitor on the retina mbp. The results are very good. There is a very obvious difference in image quality, and the retina, even before slight calibration, show an image crisper, much closer to that of the camera.

    What you gain in image resolution is really worth it since it gets you much closer to having a broadcast monitor on your desktop.

    The only time I see the CPU-GPU struggle is of course when you  process your clips with plugins, but that's normal.

  • M125X Level 1 (0 points)

    Thank you for the resonses!