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Looking for hardware advice for Premiere Pro

New Here ,
Jun 21, 2020 Jun 21, 2020

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Greetings,

I am looking for some Adobe vets to help me out. Next year I plan on teaching Adobe Cloud to students so I've been saving my money to buy a new Apple computer. I was wondering if there are any mac users on this forum that could guide me on the bare minimum Macbook I need to buy to run Premiere. This is the only app that I'm concerned about as far as hardware and performance are concerned. 

Thank You,

Rich

 

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Community Expert ,
Jun 21, 2020 Jun 21, 2020

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I've moved this to the Video Hardware forum.

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LEGEND ,
Jun 21, 2020 Jun 21, 2020

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Unfortunately, your choices in Mac laptops are few, and extremely expensive. For Premiere Pro, the only current MacBooks that you should be looking at is the large 16" model as that large model is the only one that is available with a discrete GPU at all. All of the smaller and cheaper MacBooks rely only on the integrated Intel graphics (they have absolutely no discrete GPU whatsoever, nor are they available with one even as an option), which steal as much as over 6 GB of what little RAM they are typically equipped with, leaving you with an insufficient amount of available system RAM to run Premiere Pro properly.

 

Prices for the 16" model start at a whopping $2,400 - and that's with only a 6-core/12-thread 9th-Generation i7 CPU and only 16 GB of total RAM.

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Community Expert ,
Jun 21, 2020 Jun 21, 2020

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I’m not going to talk in terms of the “bare minimum Macbook” because that will not serve you well as a teacher and user. You can run Premiere Pro on the least expensive Macs they sell, but you will have continuing frustrations with a weak or inadequately cooled CPU (as in the MacBook Air), weak graphics, not enough RAM, and not enough storage. If you are going to be spending a lot of hours teaching Premiere Pro every week, you have to aim and budget higher than bare minimum.

 

From the reports I’ve seen, the base 16" MacBook Pro is a good middle ground for Premiere Pro. Although it is $2399 list price, in the last few months discounts have become quite common. You might want to keep an eye on the Appleinsider Deals web page, which lists current prices at major retailers. Discounts of $250–300 are available at the time I post this.

 

But even though many consider the base 16" model to have a good CPU and GPU for video editing, consider your long term needs carefully in case you need to upgrade the 16GB RAM and 256GB internal storage. 16GB RAM could be enough if you will mostly run Premiere Pro with as few other applications open as possible. But if you need to run Premiere Pro together with Media Encoder, After Effects, and Photoshop also open at the same time, you need the 32GB RAM upgrade. Similarly, the 256GB internal storage could be enough, especially if it will be normal practice for you to connect large SSD storage and cache drives as part of your daily setup. But if everything must fit in the laptop with no external drives, you will probably want to upgrade to 1TB minimum of internal storage. Yes, these significantly raise the price, but as a video teacher you probably already tell your students that almost no other activity raises the price of the computer you need more than serious video editing. Overall, video editing needs higher spec hardware than photo editing or even gaming in many cases. “Bare minimum” never works out in video editing, except maybe for cuts-only 1080p.

 

If that $2399 list price sounds like a lot, you have to put that into perspective (in Mac terms). The same price for the 2016–2019 15" MacBook Pros got you much less powerful hardware, less RAM, less storage, and the old keyboard with reliability problems —  they were a much worse deal overall. That is why I chose not to buy a 15" during that period. When the 16" MacBook Pro came out in late 2019, Apple beefed up the specs of the base $2399 model to be roughly equal to what you used to have to pay over a thousand dollars more for in the last 15" model, so the 16" was seen as a tremendously better value (again, in Mac terms). For example, the GPU in the base 16" is better than the upgrade GPU in the last 15", so you don’t necessarily need to upgrade it. And by all accounts, they fixed the keyboard in the 16".

 

The 6-core CPU is not necessarily bad; six cores tends to be the point of diminishing returns. For one thing, more and more of the heavy lifting in video applications is being done by the GPU. Also, the higher-end CPU options have a higher chance of not meeting their full potential due due to cooling and power limitations in that thin laptop case.

 

I run Premiere Pro on a recent quad-core i5 13" MacBook Pro, because Premiere Pro is not its main job, but it’s good enough for the occasional times I run Premiere Pro. It helps that I connect it to an eGPU when not mobile, because the integrated graphics of the 13" are just OK, but not enough to get real video editing work done fast. I also connect it to an external SSD that serves as a Premiere Pro media cache drive. But I chose the 13" knowing that it would need external help to edit video with an experience closer to a 15-16" MacBook Pro with an internal discrete GPU. If Premiere Pro was my primary application, I would have considered nothing less than the 16" MacBook Pro.

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New Here ,
Jun 22, 2020 Jun 22, 2020

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Thank you so much for all the information. It def puts everything in perspective for me. Do you think waiting for the reported spec bump on the iMacs would be a better choice? 

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LEGEND ,
Jun 22, 2020 Jun 22, 2020

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To be honest, that has yet to be seen. Apple might shoot itself in the foot for the forthcoming iMacs by not including a discrete GPU or sufficient RAM in its base models, just as it did all of the cheaper MacBooks. The current but outgoing 2019 models all have a discrete GPU even if those GPUs are now two generations old.

 

EDIT: I now saw that Apple is beginning the transition away from the x86-64 architecture. The forthcoming iMac will not use an Intel or an AMD CPU at all. In fact, it will not be compatible at all with any existing Windows or Mac software without a software emulator that robs performance. Instead, it will use an ARM-based SoC of Apple's own design similar to but much higher in performance than that used in the current iPads. As a result, the next major version of OSX (10.16) may be the last. Afterwards, all Macs will run strictly on a derivative of the mobile iOS. And you can bet that Premiere Pro will run extremely poorly, if it even runs at all, on these newer Macs that are transitioning to a completely proprietary computing architecture (which may make it difficult or even impossible to transfer even media files between Windows and Mac).

 

In other words, OSX as we know it is obsolete. Accordingly, I would not be surprised at all that a future version of Premiere Pro will be Windows only.

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Community Expert ,
Jun 22, 2020 Jun 22, 2020

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I found this:

 

"Despite a unified chip design, Macs will still run the macOS operating system, rather than the iOS software of the iPhone and iPad. Apple is exploring tools that will ensure apps developed for older Intel-based Macs still work on the new machines."

 

from here:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-04-23/apple-aims-to-sell-macs-with-its-own-chips-starti...

 

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LEGEND ,
Jun 22, 2020 Jun 22, 2020

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Thanks for the heads up! It is that at some point in the future, new versions of OSX will only run on Macs with Apple's own chips, while older versions of OSX designed for Intel-based Macs are expected to receive critical security updates (also known as "Vintage" support status) for a few years after discontinuation.

 

And there will be a transition period in which the Mac version of Premiere Pro will run on both the old and the new OSX, until at some point (likely 2022 or 2023) Premiere Pro for Mac will only run on the newer "proprietary" software system.

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Community Expert ,
Jun 22, 2020 Jun 22, 2020

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On an iMac instead, sure, you’ll get more performance for the same money if you don’t mind giving up portability. I just finished watching the Apple WWDC presentation and no iMac was announced (no new models at all). The key is whether you want to wait and see if a new iMac will be offered before you need to gear up for training.

 

The Apple presentation today confirmed that Apple is moving Macs to Apple ARM-based CPUs. Existing Mac apps will run on them using Rosetta 2 (like the Rosetta layer that ran PowerPC apps on Intel CPU Macs). Apple name-dropped Adobe and Microsoft as companies they are working with, and they showed Lightroom on the new CPU.

 

RjL190365 wrote:

Accordingly, I would not be surprised at all that a future version of Premiere Pro will be Windows only.

 

I would be surprised. It would be against the trend. Adobe Premiere debuted on the Mac, then for a few years in the late 1990s it looked like the Mac was withering, so when Adobe did a major rewrite of Premiere into Premiere Pro, they dumped the Mac in the early 2000s. You couldn’t get Premiere Pro for the Mac for several years. But something in the numbers told Adobe they needed to get Premiere Pro back on the Mac, so they put in the investment to do that. Then Adobe bought the Windows audio program CoolEdit Pro, renamed it Adobe Audition, and surprisingly, they went to the effort to port the whole thing to the Mac. So the trend is that Adobe feels the Mac must be supported, even to the point of bringing Windows-only acquisitions to the Mac. I think this makes it unlikely that Premiere Pro would leave the Mac.

 

A CPU transition alone will not make Adobe leave the Mac. This has been proven many times over the last 30 years. Adobe has followed Apple through platform transitions including but not limited to 680x0 to PowerPC CPUs, Classic Mac OS to Mac OS X, PowerPC to Intel CPUs, 32-bit to 64-bit code, and Carbon to Cocoa. They know how to do this. For the Adobe target market, Mac users have always represented too much revenue to ignore.

 

Premiere Pro is even more likely to stay on the Mac if the new Macs have great performance. That is a big reason Apple is going to Apple silicon in the first place. Everybody knows how well the A-series CPU performs in a thin iPad/iPhone case with no vents or fan, far outperforming all Android hardware and even many laptops. This implies that performance (compared to current Intel CPUs) could be even higher for a future A-series CPU designed for a properly cooled MacBook Pro or desktop Mac. I would love to run Premiere Pro on that.

 

RjL190365 wrote:

Afterwards, all Macs will run strictly on a derivative of the mobile iOS.

 

That doesn’t seem like an accurate characterization. iOS is a derivative of macOS, and iOS and the Apple A-series CPUs are optimized for each other. macOS will simply be fully optimized for A-series processors; there is nothing in this morning’s WWDC demo of macOS 10.16 that indicates that macOS will lose all desktop features. It will simply be optimized for A-series CPUs like iOS is, and if that is achieved, we can expect the same old macOS, but running on faster, cooler, more efficient CPUs.

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Engaged ,
Jun 22, 2020 Jun 22, 2020

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I'm not wanting to hijack this thread but reading this all has been very helpful and I am hoping people with knowledge would be able to chime in on my own thread which I created here: https://community.adobe.com/t5/video-hardware/what-does-apple-s-move-to-arm-mean-for-the-future-of-a...

 

Thanks!

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