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MacBook Pro Benchmarks: Final Cut Studio 5.1

Native performance beats dual-proc G5 By Dave Nagel
You already know that Apple's MacBook Pro is fast. Certainly much faster than the previous generation of Apple's laptops. But how does it hold up against G5 desktop systems? That's a question you'd want answered if you're considering switching from a PowerPC-based Mac to the current offering of Intel-based Macs for professional production. In this first benchmark analysis, we'll compare a 2.16 GHz MacBook Pro running against a dual 2 GHz G5 desktop running Apple's new Final Cut Studio 5.1.  

To this end, we've tested the MacBook Pro against the fairly common dual 2 GHz G5 desktop in performance involving rendering and encoding from Final Cut Pro, Motion and Compressor. And the results were surprising. Not only did the MacBook hold up against the dual-proc G5, but it actually surpassed it in several tests. Before we take a look at the results, I should note that this is not a review of the MacBook or of Final Cut Studio. It's just an analysis of performance of Final Cut Studio running on the highest-end Intel-based Mac currently available. We will offer formal reviews in the near future, along with further performance benchmarks involving applications running under Rosetta and Windows software running on Mac hardware.

For these tests, we used a MacBook Pro running at 2.1 GHz with 2 GB RAM ad a stock 100 GB hard drive. The dual 2 GHz G5 was also equipped with 2 GB RAM. Both systems were running Final Cut Studio 5.1, which is the first Universal Binary version of Apple's video production, motion graphics ad DVD authoring suite.

Final Cut Pro 5.1
For Final Cut Pro, we ran four individual tests to compare performance on a variety of functions and in both HD and SD. In all cases, the results were fairly close. The dual G5 beat the MacBook by a second in one test, while the MacBook won out by a few seconds in each of the other three--nothing dramatic, but certainly illustrating that the MacBook is at least on par with the G5 workstation. Here are the results.

All results in minutes:seconds. Lower is better.
Final Cut Pro 5.1 Rendering
Test 1
Test 2
Test 3
Test 4
Dual 2 GHz G5
Dual-Core 2.16 GHzMacBook Pro

The firs test involved rendering two DVCPro HD 720p60 clips in a sequence. Each clip had a single effect applied to it. The first one used Color Corrector 3-Way. The second used the Curl effect. Between the two, a Swing transition was applied. This was the only test in which the G5 beat the MacBook Pro, and that by a slim margin.

The second test also involved two DVCPro 720p60 clips. The first had Pond Ripple and Lens Flare effects applied to it. The second had Gaussian Blur, Fisheye and Color Balance filters applied to it. Between the clips was a Ripple Dissolve transition.

The third test involved three layers of 720p HD footage with seven total clips and four transitions. The transitions included Page Peel, Center Split Side, Channel Map and Ripple Dissolve. Filters involved in this test included Color Key, Luma Key, Pond Ripple, Lens Flare, Gaussian Blur, Fisheye and Color Balance.

And the last project tested Final Cut Pro's rendering of SD footage rendring filters like Wind Blur, Color Offset and Unsharp Mask.

Motion 2
In Apple Motion 2, the results were skewed much more heavily in favor of the MacBook Pro. Motion relies heavily on GPU processing power for much of its functionality, but the graphics cards in the MacBook and the G5 used for these tests are virtually identical. (In fact, in Cinebench tests, the 256 MB ATI Radeon 9600 Pro in the desktop system scores slightly higher than the 256 MB ATI X1600 in the MacBook Pro.) So the principal differences are seen in the raw crunching power of the dual-core Intel chip versus dual single-core PowerPC chips in the G5. In all cases, the MacBook Pro shaved at least one-third off the total render time compared with the G5.

Here are the results of the tests.

All results in minutes:seconds. Lower is better.
Motion 2.1 Rendering
Test 1
Test 2
Test 3
Test 4
Dual 2 GHz G5
Dual-Core 2.16 GHzMacBook Pro

Test 1 involved particles and nothing but particles in an NTSC DV-resolution project. Included in the project were the following systems using default values from Motion's library of presets: Cloud Transport, Clockwork, Heavy Sparks, Spiral and Star Tunnel.

The second test involved even more particle systems, six in total, and this time in DVCPro 720p. They included Magic Dust, Meta Wash, Smoke Cloud, Shell, Rocket and Spiral.

For the third test, we focused on effects rendered over multiple video layers in a D1-format project. Effects were applied to individual clips and to layers as a whole and included Radial Blur, Bevel, Refraction, Echo and Fun House.

And the final project involved multiple layers of video, text, shapes and replicators with behaviors and effects. Behaviors included Randomize, Grunge 4, Spring, Wind and Sequence Replicator. Effects included Echo, Fun House, Black Hole, Refraction and Radial Blur. The project was at D1 resolution.

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Related Keywords:apple macbook pro, final cut studio, benchmarks, speed tests, mac os x

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