Video Editing: Mac VS PC
here’s a silent war that’s been brewing in the tech world for over 4 decades now. Macintosh VS Microsoft — There’s other PC brands out there but let’s be real, they’d be nowhere without Bill Gates. The mastermind behind ‘PC’ computers. If you don’t know that, forget the rock — you seriously have been living in a subterranean layer 60 feet below the surface of the earth your entire life.
The ‘other’ mastermind Steve Jobs (rest in peace) created another well-loved desktop computer company called Apple — you’ve probably heard of them. Apple in the eyes of consumers is seen as the Rolls Royce of computer tech. Their designs are more sleek than most of their competitors, their operating systems combat viruses better, and the interface is super user friendly. It’s for these reasons that they’re price tag hits a little higher than most Microsoft or ‘PC’ products.
But how does that perception of dominance translate to the video editing world?
Do editors prefer Mac too for the most part or is PC a better option due to it’s customizable nature?
I’ve talked to quite a few editors about this and have come to realize a few things.
Let’s talk about it!
I’ve come to find that most editors currently have both! With the vast array of software available out there and some of them being proprietary to Mac or PC, you’re almost forced to acquire both to keep up. If you’re a video editor and you’re getting tons of work coming in from all sorts of workflows, you’re going to run into program files, updates, or hard drives that are Mac or PC only.
Most brands have been designing their software to be compatible with both options. For years, I’ve had a drive with a windows operating system in my Mac Pro tower. Some editors definitely prefer one over the other and might only choose to beef out one computer system that is their ‘primary’ work station. But I’ve found that if an editor works primarily off of a PC, he’ll at least own a MacBook laptop or an iMac Pro and vice versa.
So let’s say you’re an editor at a crossroads that’s looking to invest a large amount of money into one or the other. Which way should you go?
That’s a valid question and one we hope to help answer.
Personally, I roll with Mac. I’ve owned several Mac Pro towers over the years as well as MacBooks and iMacs. The G5 was a game changer back in the day. It dominated the video editing scene from 2003 to 2006 and was claimed to be the world’s first 64-bit desktop computer utilizing the PowerPC 970 CPU. The other thing people loved about them was their slick anodized aluminum alloy enclosure that allowed it to be somewhat customizable which was a first for Mac. But then they transitioned to the Intel Processors and discontinued the G5.
Mac then introduced their Mac Pro line with their Dual-core Xeon Woodcrest processors which was another game changer. Soon after it was replaced by the dual Quad-core Xeon Clovertown model in ’07 and in ’08 was replaced again by the dual Quad-core Xeon Harpertown model.
Out of all of Mac’s design’s over the decades, the Mac Pro has lived the longest life. There have been two new generations since the Harpertown model.
The ‘Trash Can’ as everyone called it, dropped in 2013. It was a whole new direction with it’s 12-core Xeon E5 processor, dual AMD FirePro D series GPU and PCIe-based flash storage. Apple claimed that its performance was twice that of its predecessor. The updated wireless communication and the six Thunderbolt Display support was a plus, but many people were hating on the cylindrical design which might have taken up less room, but came with a disadvantage. You were unable to upgrade with more powerful hardware. You were basically stuck with stock. Hence the reason why it got it’s name — the Trash Can.
Finally prayers were answered with the 2019 release of the third-generation Mac Pro which featured a 28-core Xeon-W processor! What!? Up to 8TB of storage!? That’s insane! Not only that, it comes equipped with PCIe slots, AMD Radeon Pro Vega GPUs, and the data ports are replaced with USB-C and Thunderbolt 3.
And Apple Afterburner, are you kidding me? Now you can finally work natively with files without severe lagging or having to transcode or use proxies. It’s features like this that may have some editors thinking about jumping ship.
On the outside, this model clearly resembles the original Mac Pro design with noticeably bigger holes for breathing. But on the inside, it comes with a genius design to keep it cool allowing it to run unconstrained. According to Apple, Heat pipes move the heat away from the chip, dispersing it along aluminum fin stacks. While three axial fans move air through the system. Rendering 3d animation files 6.8x faster, viewing native files at full quality, all possible now with this powerful machine. It’s definitely time to upgrade and pick up one of these puppies.
Full customization of the new Mac Pro will run you somewhere close to the price of a new car. But you can still pick one up stock for about 7-8k after tax which was about what the 1st-gen went for.
When it comes to PC and Mac, people are just set in their ways. Back in the day, the large majority of people invested in one or the other because that was the mindset. There wasn’t as much cross pollination as there is today. And some can’t shake that mindset. But — the people that still sit firmly on one side or the other aren’t totally without justification. Have you seen the custom, futuristic contraptions you can make with PC parts!?
Those RGB light shows though!
Microsoft ‘PC’ Computers
Now growing up in some of the 80’s and the 90’s, PC computers were dominating the scene by far. Apple was always this luxury item in the corner of the classroom that had slightly better graphics and who’s screen always seemed more vibrant and a little better. But you couldn’t afford them! They were pricey next to a PC that offered access to MS-DOS in the early days and eventually Windows in the 90’s. Those operating systems were game changing and more accessible which had the masses flocking in droves to pick up PC computers over Apple.
Apple always had a smaller housing that laid underneath the monitor, eventually leading to their iMac design which built a computer’s guts into the back of a monitor. PC always took a more custom approach, housing the motherboard in a tall vertical tower tethered by cable to a separate monitor of your choosing. Allowing an open market of brands to compete with one another and offer different tiers of quality and prices, essentially allowing PC computers and accessories to be more accessible price-wise. Microsoft developed software and hardware, but they didn’t have the stranglehold that apple used to have on their consumers.
Gamers could buy or construct their own tricked out housing that looked like something out of a sci-fi film. Computer techs found the operating system’s programs more user friendly for things like coding and 3D design/animation. And the film/ENG industry found it to be a friendlier operating system to build proprietary programs for special effects and eventually video editing all together.
Now in the early 2000’s, that authority shifts to Apple’s favor with the release of the G5 and their proprietary video editing software that was being used for feature films like Lord of the Rings. But PC computers were not left in the dust for long. Their abilities to push the max in terms of speed and overall customization always measured up next to Mac and for some was still considered superior even if the consumer market didn’t convey that same belief.
When Apple released the ‘Trash Can’ (2nd-Gen Mac Pro), that authority began to shift back toward PC’s favor and it has remained that way until the release of the 2019 3rd-Gen Mac Pro. Now, we’ll just have to see.
But certain brands like HP, Microsoft, Dell, IBM, Toshiba, Samsung, LG, Sony, Asus, Alien Hardware, Acer, Lenovo, and a handful of others all compete in the PC market to provide editors machines powerful enough to support their programs and rendering needs. AMD Radeon, Nvidia, and MSI build some of the best graphics/video cards on the market for Mac and PC.
But let’s look at the hot rod that is the Silverdraft Demon MP EXTREME Workstation! Holy smokes this thing is a beast with 56 true cores for rendering — That’s amazing! This thing costs more than most new trucks at a hefty price tag of $49,500.00. This machine directly competes with the new Mac Pro. It’s a workhouse built specifically for 3D animation/design and video editing. This work of art will most definitely have Mac heads considering a full crossover regardless of the problems it may impose. Why? — Because this computer is badass!
Check out this video of Steve Bannerman discussing the Devil and Demon series back in 2015
What do you currently own?
This might be the deciding factor in which way you should go if you’re looking to upgrade or invest. If you already own one or the other it might be worth investing in the opposite to give yourself full range of capabilities as an editor. Not to mention it’s super helpful to have a backup machine when you’re bogged down with rendering. You don’t need to choose a PC motherboard and body to gain access to a Windows operating system, but you do need a Mac motherboard and body to gain access to a Mac operating system. So if it’s the OS that’s the concern and not building a faster computer beyond the limitations of a Mac design, you can easily boot up a Windows OS on a Mac no problem. So if you’re satisfied with the speed limitations of the new Mac Pro, iMac Pro, or MacBook, invest in the Rolls Royce! If you need more speed — Go with that Lamborghini!