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Old 01-25-2016, 09:50 AM
KPereira KPereira is offline
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 11
Default 8-core 4,1 Mac Pro vs. 2.3 GHz i7 MBP


I have a relatively large project and am having problems with playback on my 4,1 Mac Pro.

8-core, 24gb Ram, SSD System Drive, GT120 Graphics, OSX 10.9.5, PT 11.3.1

I am getting a combination of CPU overload / Video Engine issues.

I am able to open up the same project on my 2.3Ghz i7 MBP, 16GB Ram, GT 750M, OSX 10.9.5, PT 11.3.1 without any errors at all.

Other smaller projects are playing fine on the Mac Pro, this one just seems to be pushing the limits.

Would I be better off with:

1) Upgrading Processors to 2x6-core 3.06 or
2) Upgrading to a Grapics card with 2gb+ of vRAM?

I feel like a newer/faster processor and 2gb of vram are the only two things that the MBP has over the Mac Pro.


Last edited by KPereira; 01-25-2016 at 10:10 AM.
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Old 01-25-2016, 10:39 AM
reichman's Avatar
reichman reichman is offline
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: New York
Posts: 2,174
Default Re: 8-core 4,1 Mac Pro vs. 2.3 GHz i7 MBP

I'm not an expert, but I'm pretty sure that GPUs don't have a big impact on video performance. My onscreen (extended desktop) video playback on a Mac Pro 6,1 isn't that great and it has big GPUs.

I would try a dedicated PCIe video card first. Cheap and easy to put an AJA or Blackmagic in there. If that doesn't work, consider bailing on the Mac Pro 4,1. Pouring more money into an older machine might be money better spent on a new Mac. Even the cheapest 4-core 6,1 has enormous CPU power.

Obviously, you've turned up the buffer all the way, and looked at Activity Monitor to see if any background tasks are eating up the CPU, right?
Nathaniel Reichman
Supervising Producer – Re-recording Mixer
Dubway Studios
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Old 01-25-2016, 10:58 AM
KPereira KPereira is offline
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 11
Default Re: 8-core 4,1 Mac Pro vs. 2.3 GHz i7 MBP

Just did a clean wipe on my mac to eliminate anything else that might be causing issues. Nothing else peaking in Activity monitor.

I am currently using a Blackmagic Intensity Pro, but to eliminate as the culprit, I tried uninstalling the driver and card itself, but still the same issue.

I do use the GPU for video playback on both computers - that is why I was wondering if the laptop with 2gb of vram might be what is making this project run better on the laptop. I have tried turning this option off on the tower with the same result.

As much as getting a 6,1 would be great, is not really an option for me at the moment, especially because my current system works great for 95% of what I do... just hitting a wall on this project. I feel like either upgrading processors, adding ram or upgrading video cards should be able to match performance of the MBP

Again, this project works fine on the laptop, but peaking on the tower.

8x2.26, 24GB RAM, SSD, GT120 Graphics (512mb)

4x2.3 i7, 16gb RAM, SSD, Intel Iris Pro (1.5gb) + GT 750M (2gb)

With the RAM, HD Speed being equal, I would think that either the slower video card or older processors would be the weaker link on the tower??
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Old 01-25-2016, 01:42 PM
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Dan Smith Dan Smith is offline
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 115
Default Re: 8-core 4,1 Mac Pro vs. 2.3 GHz i7 MBP

Check out Geekbench scores: https://browser.primatelabs.com/mac-benchmarks

Make sure you click the 64-bit multi-core tab.

While it isn't the end all computer comparison, it is still a good and useful tool. Scroll down to about the 14000 score range to find your computers. I think its the 2009 Mac Pro and the 2013 MBP. Their scores are very similar for multi-core, and single core your MBP is much more powerful.

Over 16GB of RAM you likely won't notice any difference in Pro Tools if you are running it alone and aren't using a larger disc cache (obviously).

The faster RAM, SSD, and video card are certainly contributing to the MBP having more power/being more stable.

However, in my experience replacing the system's GPU (ala AMD or NVIDIA) has had a minimal impact on system performance with Pro Tools. So likely not worth it.

Upgrading to a 12 core would extend the life of the machine and boost performance (look at the scores for similar mac pros). You would most certainly notice a difference with that upgrade over the GPU swap.

Any reason not to just use the MBP on these larger projects when the need comes up? And put the money toward a new tower when the MBP finally starts to choke on larger projects?
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Old 01-28-2016, 09:35 AM
KPereira KPereira is offline
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 11
Default Re: 8-core 4,1 Mac Pro vs. 2.3 GHz i7 MBP

Dan, thanks for the input. The main reason for not wanting to use my laptop is having to re-do all the cabling to make the switch back and forth (2 monitors, hdmi to tv, USB, Network to Euphonix, Hard Drives, Audio Interface.

Good to know the GPU won't make that much of a difference. I wasn't sure how much the enabling GPU processing for the video would help on a computer with more GPU power.

I decided to do the Processor upgrade, which will be back in my hands early next week... I will update on if that did the trick!
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Old 01-28-2016, 11:15 AM
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audiobob audiobob is offline
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Houston
Posts: 934
Default Re: 8-core 4,1 Mac Pro vs. 2.3 GHz i7 MBP

I had an older MacPro a while back and was having lots of CPU spikes. What I hadn't realized was that the internal drive I used for audio had 8meg cache. OLD! Replace with a 64meg cache drive and spikes went way down. I still have them every now and then at low buffers for low latency voice over recording..but at higher buffers for mixing it's pretty smooth. That may or may not be your problem...but was interesting.

The Video Engine seems to still need some work as well.
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