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anyone recomend me a way to improve my macbook pro for editing
  • hi, was wondering if anyone could recommend me some equipment and computer parts (external graphics cards etc) in order to speed up my current editing system. im afraid im a student so spending loads on equipment is a no go, (do not tell me i need a new £5000 desktop etc as this is not practical for me) i want to add bits bit by bit as i can afford them to improve my system gradually .

    i currently own a macbook pro 15" 2011 edition with: 2.2ghz i7 , 4gb 1333 ddr3 ram , AMD radeon 6750m 512mb graphics card, 500GB TOSHIBA MK5065GSXF sata hard drive.

    how can i speed this system up? i am looking at getting 16gb of ram (which this series of macbook pro accepts) and a solid state hard drive of some sort with fast read write speeds i presume?

    is there anything i can do on the graphics card front to speed up programs like premier , speed grade, after effects and davinci resolve lite? (i know i cant change mine as its solderd in but can i plug an external one into my system?

    also my max resolution on this screen is 1440x900 - not large enough for davinci can someone tell me if there is a way to get an external moniter running from my macbook with high enough resolution to work on davinci? how do i do this?

    im running lion 10.7.5 by the way.

    ps sorry vitally i know this thread is a bit of a mess , but i simply do not understand computers enough to be able to find the information i need.

    thanks in advance everyone

  • 24 Replies sorted by
  • @jakepowell I bet if you listed what ports you have on your macbook pro, some of the guys on here would be able to tell you how to connect an external monitor with better resolution (assuming it's possible). You can also go to the Apple Store if there's one near you, but I'd make an appointment with a "Genius" at their genius bar, because a lot of staff are kinda weak on technical stuff. Those appointments are free and can be scheduled online at They should also be able to discuss Nvidia Cuda stuff with you as well and what your computer will accept on that front.

  • @jakepowell I'm in the exact same situation as you buddy. Same laptop, same exact problems. I've gone around and around but the two things you've mentioned, memory and SSD are the only two things you can do. I run a Mac Cine monitor off of mine and you still can't run Davinci because it's using the same shitty GC. I'm just going to buy a pre-made hackintosh with support from some guy down in Orange County. When I upgraded my RAM, I didn't notice that big of a change, there was a bit but not like you would think. These MBP are great for basic editing I think but as soon as you start to get into higher bit CC and Neat Video type stuff, they just can't render fast enough no matter what we do. Maybe a program like FCPX might run more streamlined on these, not entirely sure since I've never used it.

  • What software(s) you are using in your editing workflow(s) ? You have mentioned Davinci Resolve already. Is that the only lager !? Can you mention if you work for others - that means you may have all kinds of A/V dropped on you to edit ! Or you just edit your own material with a specific file format ( for now ) ?

  • Your system has a Thunderbolt port on it, so you would need to have either a Thunderbolt or Mini Display Port display, or DVI/HDMI/VGA or what not with an adapter. Externally your system can support displays up to 2560x1600

    Being that it's a thunderbolt system, you'll also have good luck boosting performance of video editing by investing in thunderbolt storage, particularly setup in a raid configuration (LaCie has some 2 drive raids, or you can get into the more pricey Promise raids). Another option is a Thunderbolt to eSata card from Lacie so you can use eSata storage and raids.

    16GB of ram would do you well. Swapping the internal drive for solid state would be nice as well. Aside from that, you're pretty much at the wall.

  • @bmorgan83 @010101 Read his post, it's a 2011 MBP, thunderbolt didn't exist then. So he's screwed, just as I am with the GC. We're stuck with this shitty one so there's no way to use Davinci. It doesn't support the needed screen size. Trust me, I wish there was!!!

  • @vicharris - Thunderbolt was introduced in the early 2011 models.

  • That's odd because I have the top of the line MCB from 2011 that has a larger processor than his and mine does not have Thunderbolt plus he didn't mention he has thunderbolt. Regardless his card doesn't support Davinci so that's a dead subject.

  • Yep, exactly what @vicharris said. More RAM and SSD will surely help. I have a similar MBP and did exactly that. Put the hard disk that came with the laptop into the optical drive bay. Running FCPX with no real problems even cutting with full res files. NeatVid is slow but can be managed. As much as I'd love to use it, Resolve has never worked well. Not enough graphics power even when running on second monitor with enough resolution. Until they come out with an Ultralite version, it's not worth it to me.

  • Vic is right. Especially if you want to run Resolve. Your best bet is to sell the current system and purchase something new. Core i7 and the latest video card is the way to go.

    If you buy a more ram and an SSD drive, you're looking at spending around $500 to make an older system slightly faster. If you sell your laptop and upgrade your system to a 27" iMac core i7 with a platter drive, you could probably net out around $1000-1200 out of pocket. If you want to get a new laptop, definitely get one with the best Nvidia card you can buy. I think it's the 680mx. That will cost you a bit more, though. Also, if you get a Retina Macbook Pro, make sure you max out the RAM, since it's not upgradeable.

    Doing post-production right is a constant investment. Keeping up with the latest tech is a tricky course. I'm currently a believer in not keeping your gear very long, but rather selling every year or two to upgrade to the fastest/best.

    Sorry to tell you what you don't want to hear. But that's the way it is.

  • @5thwall, did you ever sell your setup?

  • 2011 MBPs have thunderbolt. At the time they came out there were no peripherals for it so it was basically a mini display port. Choose "about this mac" under the apple in your toolbar. choose "more info" then "system report"...look for thunderbolt in the list of items under hardware.

  • @bug009, I did, NO HARDWARE FOUND :)

  • My port has the display port symbol but not the lighting bolt one.

  • @vicharris you mean the hackintosh? if so, almost, but decided to keep it for a while longer - at least until (if) new mac pros come out.

  • Sometimes Apple refreshes MBP twice a year.

  • hi guys , cheers for all your responses,

    @vicharris I am lucky actually in that i do have thunderbolt (little lightning blt symbol) in mine and it is core i7. (think apple made a quite quiet second release of updated models near end of 2011) so more ram and ssd ? can anyone recomend an ssd?

    @010101 software is premier pro , after effects, davinci resolve lite , and speed grade (but i havent really explored that one fully ) , just my own footage to work with , usually transcode avchd with 5d to rgb (gh2 and soon to be gh3 footage)

    @5thwall - i understand what your saying but i simply cant afford to change systems - (i get this macbook pro free with uni and dont have 1200 to blow also it needs to be a laptop for me , i have to get to and from studios and have to travel abroad with it on shoots )

    @bmorgan83 - i didnt know it supported 2560x1600 , thats good news if so. those raid drives (sorry this is going to sound so dumb) but what are they? external harddrives that make duplicates and store them ? alieviating storage on my system yes?

  • @jakepowell - a raid is when 2 or more drives are combined in one of multiple fashions creating either a single larger partition out of the drives, a faster partition where the data is spread over multiple drives, or a partition that is redundant, or a combination of these.

  • @jakepowell, After upgrading your RAM to 16 GIG and boot drive to SSD you should be OK. The only stinker in that line up of software would be Resolve. Although the " Lite " version is HD only and and if you don't run complex cycles all at once even that's good to go. That's if we are talking about possible to get work done. I have seen some of the latest and the greatest of MBP and Windows machines struggle on big AE renders and multi layered HD on Premier.

    You may want to get an " OptiBay " MCEtech. That will give you a DATA drive internally on a separate SATA stream. Then your application drive wouldn't get bugled down with i/o read/write of data. Make sure you get the external case for your optical drive that comes out of MBP - it's only $20 extra. That will be your coolest external USB burner. Just keep your workflows as simple as possible and don't try to compete with the big work stations out there. Remember that you can't rush art !

  • This is an interesting discussion about a Mac Mini with an external GPU through Thunderbolt:

  • @010101 thanks for all the advice , my workflow is simple by necessity as well as preference anyway , but thanks again and hopefully all these things will help bring it to an acceptable level, does anyone know if my graphics card supports resolve lite? ive been running it but and it functions slowly but there seems to be some glitchy artifacts , and banding happening when i use it and render out footage.... any ideas? (clueless)

    @Hallvalla , im afraid that goes over my head , thanks anyway but what is an external gpu?

  • Just so you know, you can resize the davinci window to work on laptops of smaller resolutions, I don't remember how, but I know for a fact that it's possible because I've done it.

    and I have the same exact laptop as you. :-)

  • @christianhubbard , unfortunately you can only do that through terminal on snow leopard os , i am currently on lion.... for which i dont think there is any similar work around.... (spose i could go back but that seems a little silly)

  • Not silly! Snow leopard FTW!