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TOPIC: Best FCP HDD Configuration for Mac Pro 5,1

Best FCP HDD Configuration for Mac Pro 5,1 12 May 2020 15:16 #107129

Hi, folks, first time posting on this great forum. I have upgraded my Mac Pro 5,1 quite a bit, and want to determine the best drives and GPU performance for FCP work, given the new setup and limitations.

Here's what I have:

Mac Pro (2009) flashed to 5,1
Mojave 10.14.6
Just installed (2) 6-core 3.33ghz X5680 CPUs, so I'm running 12-core
64 GB 1333 MHz DDR3
Boot drive is a Hitachi 500gb SSD
Sapphire Pulse RX580 8gb. GPU

All of my FCP work has been loaded on 4 or 5 G-Drives of different vintages and size - anything from 2TB to 6TB. I really want to streamline the locations of my libraries, projects, media, FCP backups, etc.

Forgive me that with all of these DIY upgrades, I am embarrassed to say I don't understand the RAID concept, nor do I know what my system is capable of working with - internally or externally.

So, question #1 is what storage solutions would make the most sense, and are there any overwhelming benefits to RAID vs the daisy-chain of G-Drives I use now?

Question #2: I've read that some people have set up hardware acceleration on their GPU, and the RX580 is frequently mentioned as a candidate. What is this, and is it something I should consider for my system?

IMPORTANT NOTE: Almost all of my work is shot and edited in 1080p - very little has been done in 4k, and even then most times it gets down-converted anyway. I don't use Motion or Aftereffects.

Thanks in advance!

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Best FCP HDD Configuration for Mac Pro 5,1 13 May 2020 16:55 #107142

  • VidGreg
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Hey Coop Welcome to the forums
Bottom line is that IMHO your computer setup should serve you just fine given your current usage, but…
this is a complex issue.
Here is an article by Larry Jordan from long ago in tech terms that is a good beginning explanation of storage needs and bandwidth needs…

What I really like about this article is highlighting how we need to evaluate the entire system and to understand that your throughput is restricted by the slowest element in your active system. So long as your system is fast and powerful enough to handle the the your own edit experience, there is really no benefit to faster systems/elements.
For the most part, FCPX will load active clips into RAM and you have a fantastic amount (64GB) that should handle all your present usage if doing single streams and even multi-cam especially true for all 8bit/1920x1080 codecs. This may not hold true for multiple streams and effects for 4K footage.
So unless you experience beachballs that are directly attributed to editing, you are good to go.

IMHO you would not see a benefit to using a RAID setup. Simple explanation of RAID is that you link multiple drives together for faster I/O data transfer speeds.
You can establish a RAID either internally or externally, but your computer only has USB2 and Firewire800 external ports built-in, so your speeds would be limited and not recommended for connecting an external RAID. You could add a USB3 PCI card to increase I/O speeds to 6GB which is faster than most drives including ssd. There was/is an Apple ProRaid internal card available for your computer if you want. Not sure current status

Your computer does not support hardware acceleration. This is available in some Macs but is a hardware chip that is part of the logic board and does not apply to xeon processors like your CPU.

Curious as to why you want to… "I really want to streamline the locations of my libraries, projects, media, FCP backups, etc.". Most people simply archive old projects, but maybe you are working on long term projects and wish to consolidate your media or reuse clips. For new projects, I use an external ssd connected via TB1 (15" rMBP) to hold my current project media files while I edit, once done I then archive to hdds then delete the files for the next project.

Happy Editing
Hope this Helps, Greg

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Best FCP HDD Configuration for Mac Pro 5,1 13 May 2020 18:06 #107143

  • joema
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Besides the good advice from VidGreg, if your hard drives are approaching (or over) 5 yrs old, there is possibly a 20% annual probability of failure. In that case they should likely be replaced. The Mac Pro 5,1 can hold several internal SATA hard drives, and current models are quite fast and large. I think the 5,1 had a SATA-II (3 Gpbs) interface but I think newer SATA-III drives are backward compatible.

Re hardware acceleration, what Greg said is correct, but there is a possibility the right version of a newer AMD GPU might work for this. They have UVD/VCE hardware transcode acceleration and there is apparently support in MacOS and FCPX for this because I've seen some Hackintosh builders claim they got it working, but I don't know the procedure on a Mac Pro 5,1. Pursuing that would be a science project.

Personally I would think about getting a new machine -- you have gotten lots of use from it and 10 yrs is pretty old. An 8-core 2019 iMac 27 is probably a lot faster plus has Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C for disk expansion.

As Greg said, if you are editing 1080p H264 files, the data rate is very low. It's mostly a CPU-limited decode/encode task, or GPU for effects. If you transcode to optimized media or might in the future edit 4k, (which would likely require transcoding on a MP 5,1), then that becomes an I/O issue.

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Last edit: by joema.
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