Which G4 Power Mac Runs Final Cut Pro 2.0 The Fastest?

May 11th, 2001
rob ART morgan, Bare Feats Mad Scientist
with a little help from his DV Friends,
René Sadae and Paul Minar, and Richard Wood.

The new 2.0 version of Apple's Final Cut Pro is definitely faster than the old 1.2.5 version as you might have seen from my comparison test. So what is the ultimate Final Cut Pro "engine"?






Any dual processor G4 is going to give the very best performance since FCP is both AltiVec and MP aware. Even the Dual G4/450 was faster than the "solo" G4/733 and it's selling for only $1595 at Club Mac.

Apple supports Blue'n'White G3's running Final Cut Pro 2.0 but not Beige G3's, according to their documentation. I tried running FCP 2.0 on a Beige MT (rev 1) with the XLR8 MACh Velocity Dual G4/500 but FCP kept crashing. I don't know if it's the compatibility issue or something else. When I tested the G4 Beige and the XLR8 Carrier MPe Dual G4/400 for the 9600 with Final Cut Pro 1.0, they were both about equal to the G4/733 in the Render test.

I'm still waiting to receive an RTMac board from Matrox that was promised back in March. If what I saw at the January MacWorld is true, you won't have the ultimate Final Cut Pro "machine" until you add either the RTMac "real time render" card from Matrox or the RTMax from ProMax. Both cards are supposed to eliminate most or all of the render time.



TEST HARDWARE: Dual G4/450 (Gigabit Ethernet), PowerBook G4/500 Titanium, "solo" G4/500 (AGP), Dual G4/500 (Gigabit Ethernet), Dual G4/533 (Digital Audio), "solo" G4/733 (Digital Audio). See Apple's Tech Library for specs on G4 Desktops and the PowerBook.

All test machines had at least 256M of RAM and Final Cut Pro 2.0 was given 160MB. All were booted from the same internal ATA/100 hard drive (IBM 60GXP 40G courtesy of OWC). Final Cut Pro was launched from that drive and used it for the scratch drive and export drive. The only exception was the Titanium PowerBook which booted from, launched from, scratched to, and exported to a Granite Digital FireWire enclosure with an IBM 75GXP 30G drive courtesy of Trans International.

TEST SOFTWARE & SETTINGS: In all cases, Mac OS 9.1 with QuickTime 5.01 was used, Virtual Memory was OFF, Disk Cache was DEFAULT, and Appletalk was OFF.

The first clip from the iMovie tutorial "dog bath" was used. It is 7 seconds and 24 frames long. I applied a Gaussian Blur (Alpha+RGB channel, 2 pixel radius) to the entire clip.

Tests performed with the use of a stopwatch included:

1. Render All (Hi Res)

2. Export Final Cut Movie (DV NTSC 48KHz SuperWhite, Video & Audio, Self Contained Movie)

3. Export QuickTime Movie without Pre-Rendering (2X CD-ROM Sorenson Video)



Final Cut Pro 1.2.5 versus Final Cut 2.0

FireWire drive varies depending on model of Macintosh



FINAL CUT PRO 2.0 upgrade can be purchased through the Apple Online Store for $250 (or $125 if you are a educator). Or if you don't own it, it's $999 for civilians, $499 for educators.

Small Dog and Club Mac have deals on Dual G4 systems for as low as $1595.

Both Sonnet and XLR8 Dual G4 CPU upgrades are available at great prices through...
... Small Dog Electronics

Other World Computing
... MacGurus

See my HOT DEALS page other deals on speed products.




LINKS to SPEED tests on other web sites


DOWNLOADS that add more SPEED




© 2001 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"
Feel free to email , the webmaster and chief mad scientist