MAC vs PC for Indie Filmmaking (Dec 2012)

Hi everybody, I know, OS debates are plenty on the internet, but there are fewer with an emphasis on filmmaking, and even fewer ones that are up to date.
I'm an aspiring filmmaker who would like to use audio editing tools like Pro Tools and Propellerhead Reason, then Photoshop and a program for 2D animation, Adobe After Effects and EITHER Final Cut Pro, Avid Media Composer, or Adobe Premiere Pro, in that order. FCP was a leading software in film editing for a long time, but now that FCP X is said to be much worse, I'll have to see if I'll use one of the others, or maybe FCP's previous version. Even though that'd be another topic, I wanted to mention it because the choice also depends on the OS I'll be using.

Many say that one should use the system one is most comfortable with, and I've been using Windows for a long time, but I think I'd be quick to adapt to Apple. My priority is technical aspects, as I want to know which one would be better and faster at handling the above mentioned programs, as well as large files, in order to make films. And of course budget is of concern, which is why I made this thread in the first place, as Apple seems to be much more expensive and I wondered if a cheaper PC would be good enough for my needs.
Now I know there are many different choices in MACs and especially PCs, and as it'd naturally be too much to go into every one for others with the same problem I'm having, I'll just list the ones I am interested in for you to compare.

The Apple product of my choice would be the 15-inch MacBook Pro 500GB for $1799.
More details here (in english).

And my Windows machine of choice would be the LENOVO ThinkPad T530 i5-3210M 500GB for ca. 1250$.
For more details you can google the model for reviews.

Add. note: The most significant difference between the two I found was in their processors, Apple having an Intel Core i7 and the Lenovo an Intel Core i5. I think the i5 would be sufficient for my needs considering the big price difference, but if you disagree, please tell me. I also dont know if 4GB RAM (both of my choices have that) would be enough for those sort of programs. All in all I think the PC would be almost just as good as the MAC, but I'm not a great expert, so tell me if I missed any other big differences.

(PS: The prices listed in the links are in Euro, which is much more than in Dollars, so you can either convert the currency and compare, or just compare the $-prices I listed above, as that is the original pricing in the USA.)
 

Alcove Audio

Business Member
indieBIZ
Your choice of software will dictate your choice of platform/OS. Pro Tools is cross platform (Mac and PC) and I believe that AVID is as well, so you can stick with PC if you want to.

My only suggestion is that you have a computer dedicated to your craft. Then it is not cluttered up with your personal life, all of the junk that can really slow down your box. My Mac is for audio post usage only, it is not even connected to the internet. When I upgrade to a new computer the old one becomes my personal computer.

I prefer MACs mostly because I'm lazy; 90% of the time new software and hardware is plug-and-play and the other 10% is because I did something stupid.
 
Depending on your level of editing I think you should consider rethinking about whether a laptop is the best idea. A desktop would far better suit your needs, especially for animation.
I personally don't consider 4gb ram to be enough, I would go minimum 8gb and if possible try 16gb. Premiere Pro now only comes in 64bit so that's another thing you need to check up on.

Especially the Lenova I think isn't great value, I checked it up on the lEnova Australian site and it was only $600 which seems much closer to a good deal. What conutry are you purchasing from? Maybe Amazon isn't the best option?
 
I've had thinkpads in the past and absolutely hated them.

I also find it near impossible to edit without a real mouse; admittedly the MBP touchad is probably the best touchpad I've used, but it still doesn't beat an actual mouse. Plus, you can get a bigger display on a desktop which is always useful.
I switched my desktop computer over to Mac about 5 years ago and have since switched everything else so I'm no completely mac based. I really enjoy the OS and couldn't switch back to Windows.

It comes down to what you're more comfortable with. All of the software you mentioned is cross-OS with the exception of FCP.

In comparison of the specific two computers you chose, I'd go for the Macbook, but that doesn't mean you won't get a better PC if you look a bit harder and are dead set on sticking with PC.
 
ok in the apple world we all know its going to be expensive, so if you want a mac get a mac no questions asked, i myself have a 13" 2011 base mbp upgraded to 8gb ram and 750 gb momentus hybrid drive, i use after effects fcpx cinema 4d logic pro and cs6 master, no problems there.

however if you have the programmes for windows then i suggest you build your own pc because cost wise i could build a machine 4 times more powerful than mine for the same price.

that lenovo is a pile of crap its overpriced especially for a non apple product.

if your going to go non apple get a pc custom built and youl have a real beast.

have you not considered an imac at all? or you could wait til the rumoured mac pro is coming out although it will be around £2000
 
I would suggest building your own PC. You could make a pretty dam good computer for a 1000 bucks right now. Honestly macs are nice but they are overpriced. Especially since they mostly have intel processors now they are basically the exact same thing as other computers. If anything you can dual boot the Mac OSX and get a cheaper system not made or sold by apple.
 
FCP was a leading software in film editing for a long time, but now that FCP X is said to be much worse,

Not true. I have bee a FCE user but am moving to FCX. There is a learning curve,but it is some much more to use. Also FCX runs faster the FCE on the same computer. So especially if you use a laptop it will be better.
 
I would suggest building your own PC... Honestly macs are nice but they are overpriced.

I agree with pepper jack, you can make a really good pc for cheap! I have an i7 3770k clocked at 5.0Ghz with stock cooling, SSD, 8gb ram, for only $940!



But for movie editing, I admit my iMac is way nicer! I personally would get a Mac.



As for macs being overpriced, I would say not at all. They are made from way better parts then pcs, and they are designed to be used to the limit, unlike a think pad which is made for spreadsheets.



Mac Computers have gotten a lot more powerful for a lot less! Plus the screen on a MacBook Pro will make your eyes pop! A MacBook Pro can have the power of a full fledged desktop in the convenience of a light and portable package.


Personally, I do professional 4K editing in Final Cut Pro X and I'm blown away at how easy and fast I can use it and the results are perfectly stunning! It has all the features of any other professional movie editor! (FCP, Adobe, etc)


As for the i5 vs the i7, A WORLD OF DIFFRENCE!!! Lol definantly i7 no questions asked :)

Hope I helped,
Reed Mayhew
 
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I do agree with other posters that suggest that you build your own computer (or get a local computer shop to do it for you). This of course assumes you don't need it to be a laptop. You'll get more bang for your buck with a desktop pc. After Effects will appreciate extra ram and CPU power when rendering.

As for software, if you're asking these questions, it's unlike that your computer choice is really going to make too much of a difference. If you go PC, AFAIK you pretty much only lock yourself out of FCP, which from my understanding, people aren't too happy with the latest version anyway.

Avid's been the industry standard for a long time in editing software. If you're going with After Effects/Photoshop, I'd take some serious consideration into using Premier Pro. They're from the same company and there's some nice easy and quick integration between them.

Pretty much all editing software has most of the functions you're ever going to use. If there is a feature that you need, if it isn't available in the main software, there's likely to be a mod that covers it.
 
Sweetie,

A lot of People weren't happy with Final Cut Pro X because it was too easy to use. A lot of people assume that if it's easy, it's not professional and can't produce professional stuff. They were extremely wrong! People realized That they came to conclusions that weren't correct, and that it really is fabulous and the best!

It has all the features of premiere Pro, and any other expensive software, but it's faster and easier!
 
ok so heres the breakdown:

On a budget: get a custom built pc.
have a good budget: get an iMac

need to be portable and on a budget: gonna struggle and not worth it imo
need to be portable and have a good budget: get a mbp with a graphics card

so it breaks down like that, personally i hate windows, with my last job being on IT help desk windows just has countless problems that mac osx doesnt seem to occur.

theres also indie reasons why i prefer macs.. but thats not suitable info for this forum ;)
 
100% Agree!

ok so heres the breakdown:

On a budget: get a custom built pc.
have a good budget: get an iMac

need to be portable and on a budget: gonna struggle and not worth it imo
need to be portable and have a good budget: get a mbp with a graphics card

so it breaks down like that, personally i hate windows, with my last job being on IT help desk windows just has countless problems that mac osx doesnt seem to occur.

theres also indie reasons why i prefer macs.. but thats not suitable info for this forum ;)
 
Thank you and just one more option

First of all I want to thank everybody for all the great responses. They've been more helpful than anything on the subject I could find anywhere else!

I personally don't consider 4gb ram to be enough, I would go minimum 8gb and if possible try 16gb. Premiere Pro now only comes in 64bit so that's another thing you need to check up on.
Thanks for the RAM recommendation, after reading up on the differences, I think 8GB might be necessary as well. And thanks for the Premiere Pro info, I didn't know about that!

What conutry are you purchasing from? Maybe Amazon isn't the best option?
I'm purchasing it from Germany (hence the higher prices). Well, Amazon seems to have the biggest variety of computers, and a lot of people are satisfied with it as retailer. Also on the PCs they give a free 3 year guarantee, which is not the case with every retailer.


if your going to go non apple get a pc custom built and youl have a real beast.

have you not considered an imac at all?

No, because I will need for it to be portable. I know how a laptop turns out more expensive than desktop computers, but that is just not an option for me right now.


Honestly macs are nice but they are overpriced. Especially since they mostly have intel processors now they are basically the exact same thing as other computers.

That's what I thought as well. I think some time ago Mac was naturally the more efficient option, but that may just not be the case anymore.


Mac Computers have gotten a lot more powerful for a lot less! Plus the screen on a MacBook Pro will make your eyes pop! A MacBook Pro can have the power of a full fledged desktop in the convenience of a light and portable package.
Personally, I do professional 4K editing in Final Cut Pro X and I'm blown away at how easy and fast I can use it and the results are perfectly stunning! It has all the features of any other professional movie editor! (FCP, Adobe, etc)
As for the i5 vs the i7, A WORLD OF DIFFRENCE!!! Lol definantly i7 no questions asked :)

Hope I helped,
Reed Mayhew

Thanks, Reed! That is helpful, and makes the Mac more convincing. Although if i7 is better, maybe an i7 processored PC is better, as the 15-inch Macbook with i7 is definitely too pricey for me (and I wouldn't want a 13-inch screen).


ok so heres the breakdown:

On a budget: get a custom built pc.
have a good budget: get an iMac

need to be portable and on a budget: gonna struggle and not worth it imo
need to be portable and have a good budget: get a mbp with a graphics card

so it breaks down like that, personally i hate windows, with my last job being on IT help desk windows just has countless problems that mac osx doesnt seem to occur.

theres also indie reasons why i prefer macs.. but thats not suitable info for this forum ;)

Like I said, a desktop computer is (unfortunately) not an option for me right now. Your argument for the MBP seems to be the one most people use when arguing for it, but they usually go hand in hand with the "indie reasons," so I'm not sure if it's really an unbiased opinion. But I'll keep this in mind, thank you.


I've had thinkpads in the past and absolutely hated them.

I also find it near impossible to edit without a real mouse; admittedly the MBP touchad is probably the best touchpad I've used, but it still doesn't beat an actual mouse.

Thanks for sharing your experience with Thinkpads. But the problem with the mouse isn't actually a problem, because I'll just connect a mouse to the laptop.

It depends on your perspective. From FCE, FCX is a step up. From FCP, FCX is a step down.

Thanks for that piece of info. I guess that doesn't sound that bad, but I really want(ed) to go with FCP rather than FCE. And I've heard that FCX is more limited and kinda dumbed-down in comparison to FCP.


A lot of People weren't happy with Final Cut Pro X because it was too easy to use. A lot of people assume that if it's easy, it's not professional and can't produce professional stuff. They were extremely wrong! People realized That they came to conclusions that weren't correct, and that it really is fabulous and the best!

It has all the features of premiere Pro, and any other expensive software, but it's faster and easier!

Hmm, now that speaks for FCP X after all and Mac as well. I'll definitely keep that in mind.


All of the software you mentioned is cross-OS with the exception of FCP.

In comparison of the specific two computers you chose, I'd go for the Macbook, but that doesn't mean you won't get a better PC if you look a bit harder and are dead set on sticking with PC.

Yeah, but FCP is what I'd like to use most after hearing that f.ex. the Coen brothers used it for No Country For Old Men. But like I said, I don't know if the arrival of FCP X has made the others programs better choices.
I'm not dead set on sticking with PC, I'd actually prefer to try a Mac, but the price is just really much, which is why I'd like to know if a PC could be nearly as good.
And I followed your advice and did some more research, as I think you all dissuaded me from that Lenovo Thinkpad, and I have found another PC that has 8GB RAM; has (from what I've heard) a good manufacturer in Samsung; is actually 460€ cheaper than the Lenovo and 556€ cheaper than the MBP; and, most importantly, has an Intel Core i7 processor! Here it is:

Samsung 600B5B (15-inch, Intel Core i7, 2.4GHz, 8GB RAM, 500GB HDD) Notebook (1140€)
EDIT: I actually found discounts with the price for it being 999€, and more technical data in english can be found here.

Maybe some of you have thoughts on that one, that'd be super duper grand!
 
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Very good analysis! My last two cents:

A Mac may end up being a ton cheaper with the hardware + software combined.

If your pc costs $800 and you get $2000 software, that's $2800.

If you get a $1800 Mac, and $200 Final Cut Pro X, it's only $2000.


So make sure you consider what the price of the computer + software is!
 
Very good analysis! My last two cents:

A Mac may end up being a ton cheaper with the hardware + software combined.

If your pc costs $800 and you get $2000 software, that's $2800.

If you get a $1800 Mac, and $200 Final Cut Pro X, it's only $2000.


So make sure you consider what the price of the computer + software is!

A new $600 PC (including the monitor) and $100 legit copy of Sony Vegas is all a buddy of mine uses.

For a total of $700, that's an extra $1300 left over for coke & hookers (or towards film production, too).

There's no reason to have the be-all end-all version of anything, these days.
 
I'll just poke my head in here and say:

Yeah, Macs are more expensive, but I've noticed they have fantastic build quality. You get great components, well designed and nice to use. After 20 years in the PC world I've found I'm much happier with Macs and the reduced mental stress has been totally worth it.

If you're on a budget, go PC. Most of the important software works on both PC and Mac, so unless there's a specific program that you can only find on a Mac (I'm rather fond of Logic, myself), a PC is the cheaper option.

If you can afford it and want high-quality equipment that will last, Macs are still rather cost-effective in this area. (If you're getting a desktop/tower system instead of a laptop, know that Apple RAM is ungodly expensive and is one of the things I recommend getting from a separate vendor.)

For reference: I have a Mac Pro with 12 cores, 64GB of RAM, external 2TB Firewire 800 drives for projects, Adobe Premiere & AE & Photoshop, and Logic Pro 9 for scoring. It took me about four years to put all this together, but I'm very happy with it all. My PC days were rather more pain-filled, although Windows 7 is a bit of an improvement.
 
Thanks for the comment on the prices, cjagceo1, and thanks for your input, escher. I will take it into consideration. I might go with the second Windows laptop I proposed, but I'll take some more time comparing details. Thank you, everybody.
 
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