Pushing Apple’s new Mac Pro and Final Cut Pro X to the limit (with video)

“The brief was simple, push the new Mac Pro and FCPX to the limit. Never mind 4k or 8K, we went large on everything until things broke. Alex Gollner and Peter Wiggins perform the ultimate stress test,” fcp.co reports. “A few notes before we start. The footage that we used was the ProRes demo material from the new Blackmagic 4K Cinema Camera. We also left FCPX set to Better Quality. (Actually we forgot abut the setting until about halfway through the tests!) All Libraries were local and the big media was stored locally as well to benefit from the fast SSD storage.”

“Here’s our trusty Mac Pro configuration: 3 GHz 8-core Xeon, 64 GB 1867 MHz DDR3 ECC RAM, AMD FirePro D700 6144 MB, OS X 10.9,” fcp.co reports. “So first question: What is the largest number of connected clips you can have stacked up in FCPX?”

“We would like to say that this is a comparison to FCP7, where the maximum amount of video tracks was 99, but as FCPX doesn’t have tracks, we chose to occupy the ‘lanes’ with connected clips. Alex started to add 4K connected clips one on top of each other at 1 frame intervals. He got up to 100 quite quickly,” fcp.co reports. “The Mac Pro handled this with ease, then we went to 200 connected clips, again no problem. Feeling confident, we decided to cut and paste. Pasting 200 connected clips to make a total of 400 took a second, pasting those 400 again took two and a half and pasting 800 took four seconds with the dreaded beach ball appearing momentarily. We did turn the Timeline Index off as we noticed a considerable lag when things got large with it enabled. Time to go bigger. We stopped at 1600 connected clips, but proved that FCPX doesn’t really have a lane limit. Your main problem here will be seeing all the clips in the GUI.”

fcp.co reports, “Then we had to see if it would play. To give the Mac Pro a chance, we reduced the number of clips in lanes down to 1000.”

Much more in the full article, including a 500,000 pixel wide by 1080 pixels high project, here.


  1. I’m afraid I don’t see how this is a test of the new Mac Pro. Now if all those lanes were somehow composited one into another, then I’d be very, very impressed. But a 100 percent opaque layer on top of another simply blocks it out. This “test” maxes out the access time to the files, but does not showcase the graphics processing power of the new Mac Pro.

    Or am I missing something about the “connected”-ness factor?

    1. the point about the lanes is not so much about accessing all those lanes, rather then FCP 7 use to have a track cap of 100, and with FCPX you can have a extremely large amount of lanes. not really for compositing sake…not really for any sake…other than to know it can do it.

  2. I am here to tell you that this proves the processor is good, but not the program. There are very simple broadcast requirements needed for broadcast video jobs that FCP X (EX) cannot do. The day may come but it is not here now. Audio channels are a nightmare, there is no ability to create .MXF files without a 3rd party plug-in that is thousands of $, but worse, even with the plug-in, simple audio outputs are not possible without crazy exports to additional programs. There are also MANY examples of a Maxed out IMACs with i7’s rendering MUCH faster than the Xeon, and bizarrely, the 8 core works better than 12.. no doubt the XEON is powerful for sustained renders, like this example or CAD, OR GAMING, but not FAST renders. FCP Vista EX is OK if you are ONE person, working on a Youtube or web content video, PERIOD. I’ll say it again, the new Mac Pro lets you HATE FCPX faster.

  3. AKA

    Yesterday I attached a 500 horsepower peterbilt 579 to my trailer to haul my load. I felt manly. Used to grab my crotch when I stepped down out of it. Had me a woman in every truck stop across the country.

    Now a bunch a snarky engineers have squeezed all that power down into something the size of a smart car and it freaks me out so I keep playing with it. No woman will speak to me when I drive up now.

    DAMMIT APPLE! I’m a professional!

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