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Final Cut Pro X Video Editing Hardware and Software on Z97X Motherboard and i7-4790K

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748
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Z97X-UD5H
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iMac, MacBook, MacBook Pro, Mac Pro
This sticky is aimed at people who want to do Video Editing with Final Cut Pro X on a Z97X based motherboard, normally with an Intel 4790K CPU. It tries to answer most of the common questions that come up time and time again. This sticky is NOT aimed at people who will do a 30 sec video edit with iMovie once a year for their kids birthday, but rather people wanting to use Final Cut Pro X properly. I'll try to cover the hardware you need, the software you might need and the general things that people keep asking about when they say they want to make a Final Cut Pro workstation.

I do not go into Adobe Premiere as I don’t use it and any comments I make are simply uninformed noise.

You are welcome to disagree with any of it, thats the benefits of a free world.

Rob

Background

Most Hackintoshes will be able to edit video using FCPX even with the simplest of hardware. The editing workflow might not be quick, there might be serious real time effects issues whilst you are actually editing but you should be able to get a video out. It may literally take hours or days to output but it should work.

If you want to speed things up, you will need to mainly look at

a) a decent video card
b) a decent CPU
c) motherboard
d) memory

All of these are inter related and have knock on effects onto other components.

Video Card

If you want to do serious video editing, you will need a serious video card. This means a dedicated graphics card, rather than an internal on board GPU. Whilst onboard ones will work (to a degree), a dedicated card is faster in every possible way.

Since you are using FCPX, then the choice of cards is easier. The AMD cards are better optimised for FCPX than the nVidia cards. Whilst nVidia cards will work, the only nVidia cards that approach the speed of the AMD cards are the very high end TITAN cards. This is not to say the nVidia cards are not very good, it is simply that FCPX is heavily optimised to use the AMD architecture.

There are a range of AMD video cards, many of these are badge engineering exercises from AMD. e.g. the ‘older’ 7970 and the newer ‘280X’ cards are basically the same card. The 280X is slightly faster and has slightly less power consumption but it's on the margins.

FCPX works very well with the 270X and the 280X. The 280X tends to be the sweet spot for price/performance at the moment. It’s more expensive than the 270X but works very well indeed. Some 270X cards appear to have problems though, so check before you buy. I cannot tell you every single 280X card that works, all I can say is that the Sapphire Vapor-X cards work out of the box.

The 290X and the more recent 390X GPU’s are problematic and unless you want to be on the bleeding edge, are best avoided. I have no doubt this will change.

The 295X is a special mobile edition of the range and can be difficult. Unless you know it works and you have a good reason to use it, it is probably best to keep away from them.

The older AMD 5770 cards which can be picked up on eBay for less than $50 also work very, very well. Do not ignore them. A pair of AMD 5770 cards will be faster than most nVidia cards for FCPX work. They are a great way to get fast FCPX performance for peanuts. They also tend to work out of the box with zero configuration. Two 5770’s equals the performance of a 7970 in FCPX. Not bad for out-the-box and for virtually nothing.

You can use multiple, identical AMD cards to get even more performance for rendering. You have to use identical cards, so no mix and match between onboard graphics and external cards. No mixing of nVidia and AMD cards. Two identical cards will render significantly quicker than one card. You can use three cards to go even faster but most boards are simply not big enough to physically hold the cards in place.

You *may* have to use active display port adaptors to get multiple monitors working with DisplayPort. I use passive DVI connectors and have two monitors on one card and one on the other. Note that FCPX does not work across three monitors, you can only use two monitors.

If you have multiple graphics adaptors you can connect them together using Crossfire or SLI. OS X *will* ignore the connector and your GPU’s will just work anyway. However if you dual boot to Windows, Windows will recognise the connected graphics cards and use the extra speed.

CPU

Most people who want to get a decent video editing system will use an Intel i7-4790. The K variant is the unlocked version of the CPU. This is the fastest chip that fits into the Z97X motherboards. The i7 has onboard video tags which help in the video rendering workflow, so if you can afford an i7 go get it.

Other Xeon chips have high core counts and fit in the X99 mother boards. These may be even faster than the i7 4790K CPU's for some workloads but I cannot comment on these as I don't have one. However the X99 motherboards require significantly more effort to get fully working and so cannot be recommended for the first time user.

Motherboard

Once you have chosen your GPU your will need a motherboard to mount it on. There are masses of Z97X boards to choose from, most appear to be similar chipsets, differentiating themselves with graphics outputs, the number of PCIe lanes and other fringe benefits.

Since you cannot use the onboard graphics adaptor with FCPX (remember this sticky is about serious FCPX use), all of the options to do with onboard GPU are irrelevant as you will be turning off the onboard graphics otherwise FCPX will run slowly. So buy a motherboard with simple graphics capabilities.

All of the boards support 32GB, some have more PCIe lanes which theoretically means that you can get more data up to and from the graphics card quicker. In practise I have found this to make zero difference.

The one big difference on some of the Z97X boards is the inclusion of Thunderbolt. This sounds nice as you get a super fast data interface to play with. However be aware that the Thunderbolt interfaces on boards like the Gigabyte Z97X-UD7-TH are immature and do not easily work well. Thunderbolt on a hack is still a new technology. Video does not work so forget about attaching your Apple monitor up, it isn’t going to happen. Forget about hot swappable disks, most don’t swap. At the time of writing this, you need to install Windows first to upload firmware to the Thunderbolt interface and then install OS X afterwards. Also whilst it sounds great for bragging rights, most people simply cannot afford any Thunderbolt peripherals. They are expensive, look at the price of a disk enclosure and compare to a decent USB3.0 and then think what you can do with the money. BTW this is partly due to Intel licensing of the Thunderbolt chipset and, not for once, Apple’s gauge the customer policy. Ask yourself do you need Thunderbolt or simply want Thunderbolt?

I cannot recommend one motherboard over another as they appear to be mostly the same.

Memory

Your memory is critical, whatever motherboard you get, it must be explicitly supported by the memory, do not make any assumptions whatsoever that memory will work unless the memory provider states that your exact MB works with that exact memory. Check, check and check again. If you memory provider does not list your MB, go get a new memory provider.

I cannot repeat this enough, get the right memory and you will be fine. Get the wrong memory and you will be in a world of unknown crashes and hassle. Do not get memory that you think should be OK, just because it has the right latency. Do not get some cheap memory from your local store that *should* be OK. Get the right memory and it will work. I run 32GB in two machines with zero issues, as I spent the time and money to get it right first time.

For serious editing, 16GB is low, get 32GB.

The rest

PSU

Get a decent modular PSU. 650W is fine for most GPU’s. if you plan on running dual GPU’s get a 750W or an 850W modular PSU. Get a decent branded one as opposed to some no name far eastern brand in your local store. Every region is different so I cannot recommend a single brand.

Cases

Get a decent big case to let plenty of air through. Serious video editing means you don’t get one with a purple UV glow lamp in it. Make sure all the fans are aligned so they pull and push air to each other and then out the case rather than working against each other. Cable tie all your leads down. It looks nice and reduces restrictions on airflow.

Don’t get a tiny case, cram everything in because it looks nice and wonder why your fans are on full speed because there is no air flow.

Wireless

Don’t. Serious video editing produces seriously big video files. Wifi is rubbish for big files. Try moving a 60GB video files around on wifi and see how long it takes. Anyway a Z97X MB has a decent 1Gb Intel network card which will move data a lot quicker than wifi. Don’t even think about wifi for video work. Do not use the Realtek network cards as there is a reason they are cheap, they offload all the network handling to your CPU. Intel network chips have a CPU for doing network transfers themselves.

Disks

Serious video editing will eat your disk space up. Use SSD’s for boot up and for scratch space. Assume you need a 512GB SSD as a minimum.

Think about where your backups going to be held. This could easily be TB’s of space. FCPX does not allow you to save your backups to network based storage. Don’t blame me, blame the Apple engineers. Whilst you can take it with sparse mounted images, its more trouble than its worth.

If you really want to boot Windows and Linux get separate SSD’s for them. It’s a lot easier.

Lots of people seem to think they need RAID, especially RAID-0 on their main system disks. RAID has advantages and disadvantages, RAID-0 can produce spectacular read/write performance with twin SSD's. However the downside is that your chances of a disk failure (yes SSD's do fail) is now twice what it was. You need to understand how RAID works, what your risk profile for your own video editing work is and how lucky you feel. RAID is a book or a series of books just on its own. Unless you really know what you are doing I cannot recommend RAID. There's too little space here to talk about it.

Backups

Time Machine is great for kids to play with. It is not a serious, professional backup tool that will save your FCPX project. Time Machine uses a sparse based disk image to save work into, one corrupted byte and bang, there goes your backups. Some people like using Time Machine backups onto NAS drives. They are even worse, you are gambling that your data is safe. Ah you say, my Time Machine backup has never gone wrong, great, however when it does, try and work out how you are going to recover your data from a sparse data image.

Get a proper backup system like Chronosync or even Carbon Copy Cloner. By all means use Time Machine but in conjunction with proper backup software as well. Remember friends don't let friends use Time Machine.

Cooling

Many people seem to want to water-cool their i7-4790K CPU’s. Water-cooling adds expense and complexity and a decent air cooler seems to work very well, is cheaper and simpler. The Noctura ones are excellent, though not cheap and are silent. Overclocking your CPU and your memory might sound like a good idea but you introduce the potential for risk. If you want to work faster, get a second GPU and keep things stable.

Software

The latest FCPX seems to be more stable and faster than the earlier ones. Keep FCPX up to date.

Benchmarking

The BruceX is a nice benchmark to run but don’t get hung up on it. Rendering is only one part of the video workflow, a stable system that takes 180 seconds to render a clip is a lot better than an unstable one that takes 120 seconds but crashes once a day.

References
http://www.tonymacx86.com/graphics/171291-radeon-compatibility-guide-ati-amd-graphics-cards.html
tonymacx86 Buyer's Guide
 
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Joined
Mar 14, 2014
Messages
748
Motherboard
Z97X-UD5H
CPU
i7-4790K
Graphics
2 x R9 280X
Mac
iMac, MacBook, MacBook Pro, Mac Pro
Cards known to work with FCP X

These cards work almost out of the box with FCPX. They require the EFI mod but that is it. Both have been confirmed to work in dual graphics mode in FCPX, this requires two identical cards slotted in the motherboard. The cards can have the AMD CrossFire connector left on, Mac OS X will simply ignore the connector but if you boot into Windows, Windows will recognise it.

Note that there are different versions of these cards depending on the video connectors. These have been confirmed working with DVI connectors.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sapphire-Vapor-X-Graphics-Express-Display/dp/B00KRXU20I/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1449430091&sr=8-1&keywords=vapor-x+280X

The following card has also been reported to work in dual configuration mode

http://www.asus.com/US/Graphics-Cards/R9280XDC2T3GD5/overview


Please note that there is a v2 also. It takes up 3 bays by the looks of the pictures.The link above refers to the V1 model.

Cards that appear to be problematic

The XFX range of 280X cards appear to have issues with at least El Capitan and cannot be recommended at this time. If anybody can tell me that their XFX 280X card worked at the box, please let me know which cards worked and I'll update this sticky.
 
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Would this hardware setup be sufficient for 3D animation and game design work?
I'm trying to find out what parts would be best for those uses.

I imagine I'd get the most power out of a +Quad core processor and X99 board, but I'm reading that it spells trouble for hackintosh.

Any tips?
 
Joined
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I'm curious to hear more about Thunderbolt "immaturity." Is it possible that even though people get Thunderbolt working on their hackintoshes, that's not working 100% as expected in the code? Maybe it's a different chipset than what Apple uses, or somethign else is off/different? Or maybe there's only one TB2 chipset and the problem is just the Thunderbolt kext?
 
Joined
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Messages
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Motherboard
Z97X-UD5H
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i7-4790K
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2 x R9 280X
Mac
iMac, MacBook, MacBook Pro, Mac Pro
I'm curious to hear more about Thunderbolt "immaturity." Is it possible that even though people get Thunderbolt working on their hackintoshes, that's not working 100% as expected in the code? Maybe it's a different chipset than what Apple uses, or somethign else is off/different? Or maybe there's only one TB2 chipset and the problem is just the Thunderbolt kext?
Good question, however this is not the place for it. I'm trying to keep the sticky on-topic which is specifically for FCPX and hardware.

If we're not careful, the sticky loses its value as it becomes diluted with off topic 'stuff'. If the situation changes on Thunderbolt, I'll update the this sticky to reflect that.

Thanks,

Rob.
 

corei3cpu

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Users have reported a high Luxmark score running dual AMD 280x's

Luxmark = 4170



What CPU's and motherboards do you recommend work best for a Dual AMD 280x build?

Gigabyte z97?
Gigabyte x99?

Intel-i5?
Intel-i7?
Intel-Xeon E5 ?
 
Joined
Mar 14, 2014
Messages
748
Motherboard
Z97X-UD5H
CPU
i7-4790K
Graphics
2 x R9 280X
Mac
iMac, MacBook, MacBook Pro, Mac Pro
Users have reported a high Luxmark score running dual AMD 280x's

Luxmark = 4170

What CPU's and motherboards do you recommend work best for a Dual AMD 280x build?

Gigabyte z97?
Gigabyte x99?

Intel-i5?
Intel-i7?
Intel-Xeon E5 ?
Personally speaking I run a Gigabyte Z97X UD5H motherboard though I also ran a Gigabyte Z87X UD3H motherboard with the same cards and had zero issues. I like the Gigabyte range of motherboards, though they are very memory sensitive. You *must* get the right memory for the motherboards.

CPU's? Well I use a 4790K though it might as well be the non-k version as I don't overclock. CPU's are a cost of money, if you can afford an i7 4790 get that, if you can't scale your CPU expectations back to a price you can afford. The i5 will work perfectly well, though will be a little slower.

I can't recommend the Xeons as they appear to have a different motherboard setup, X99s, and the X99's require significantly more technical skills. My desktops are work horses and get used heavily 24/7. I want reliability and stability, seeking out the last 5% of speed is not worth the effort it I lose a days work because something blows up.

Rob
 
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Jun 12, 2015
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Hi everyone don't mean to go off topic but I normally use Camtasia Studio on my Windows system I noticed that Camtasia Studio is a lot cheaper on OSX have any of you tried or used Camtasia Studio on OSX with a Hackintosh.

On topic about how much does Final Cut Pro run on OSX or is it free?
 

trs96

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Only iMovie is free when you buy a Mac. FCP X will cost you 300 USD. It's well worth it if you
are a video Professional. If not just stay with iMovie, it's way better than Camtasia. If you don't
have a Mac try to find some older iLife suite disks for sale on Ebay or Amazon and then install
on your CustoMac.

http://www.amazon.com/Apple-MC623Z-A-iLife-VERSION/dp/B003XKRZES
 
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