• Andy Sutton

20 years a Mac user...

Updated: Dec 2, 2019

I bought my first Apple Mac back in 1998. It was a Graphite SE iMac. It had two Firewire 400 ports which meant you could capture DV video from a camcorder (Sony TRV-900) and run a fast hard drive too. For the first time I could edit properly at home for a fraction of the cost of professional NLE edit systems like Avid and Lightworks, the systems I used at work!

My iMac SE Graphite

I bought my iMac when I was an edit assistant wanting to cut. It had USB, a modem and all was good. It was perfectly designed for the tools of the time. I invested in an early version (on CDs) of Final Cut Pro and I was off and running!

At work I made TV shows on Avid and at home I made short films, edited friends wedding videos and made music videos on FCP. I was learning to be an editor on two very different systems.

The PC's (Lightworks) and Mac systems (Quadra Power Mac 8100) at work were tricked out with SCSI interfaces, drives and Avid Media Composer GPU effects units. These systems costs hundreds of thousands of pounds. They communicated to digital tape decks that cost the same amount as my first house. The principles of NLE remained constant.

After that first iMac - I had a further 3 MacBook Pro laptops, 2 Mac Mini's and they all have done their job wonderfully. I loved FCP Studio and grew to enjoy working on FCPX with the updates that arrived later.

In 2014, the BBC invested heavily in Adobe Premiere Pro as a more cost effective editing platform than Avid. Final Cut Pro Studio had been discontinued, so Adobe partnered up with the BBC. I started cutting a show for the BBC on a Late 2015 iMac with CUDA graphics and shared media storage. It did the job for broadcast work and I got to know Premiere inside out.

I subscribed to Adobe Creative Cloud and loaded it on my MacBook Pro. It ran really slowly on my MacBook that handled 1080p well in FCPX. The frustration began to creep in and I started to shoot less home movies and side projects because I could not edit at home.

In 2015 I bought my first 4k camera - a Lumix G7 and my Macbook failed with 4k. I made proxies and I kept cutting but it wasn't slick... About 12 months ago - my MacBook Pro 13" passed away after 10 years of hard work. Keyboard and motherboard failed, twice.

My Tricked out Lumix G7 with a SmallRig Cage, Radio and Top Mic!

Did I rush off to buy the latest and greatest Mac laptop on the market? No. Something had changed. Not just with the hardware but with me too.

The new MacBook Pro lacks ports and compared to PC laptops it is under powered and that is by design. The top of the range Macbook is £ 2700! That is for an i7 processor, 16gb of RAM and a Radeon Pro 555X GPU. It also lacks an SD card reader. It wasn't the right fit for me any more.

Now, if I'm editing at home - I would pick Premiere as it can do everything well. Creative Cloud does represent the full suite of programmes and having edited and onlined broadcast programmes on it, it's a very capable solution. FCPX is not supported by many broadcast clients in London or Bristol.

I also started seeing reviews online about the Mac limitations from content creators on YouTube. Every concern I had was being voiced by someone else. My lifelong association with Apple for editing was coming to an end.

Last summer I bought and quickly sold an MSI GF62 laptop. It was an i5 with 8gb of RAM. This was the first PC I had bought in a long time and I got it wrong. It was under powered for what I needed and Premiere ran on it, but it too struggled with 4k.

Things got a little better when I bought a Lacie USB3 drive - but it stuttered and dropped frames despite the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 which enabled hardware acceleration. I sold it on eBay the following week and it made a gamer very happy.

I'm now looking at buying a top spec PC laptop that can cut 4K footage either in Premiere Pro, Avid or DaVinci Resolve. The three I'm considering are the Dell XPS 15, Razorblade 15 or the Alienware M15. All these laptops have all the ports a pro editor needs, a GPU that allows for accelerated rendering and playback, and 16 or 32gb of RAM.

Even if I went for the highest spec PC laptop I'll be saving over £800 when compared to the 2019 MacBook Pro. However, if you add up all the hours (days) I've spent researching the different models and makes on YouTube, I could have edited a feature film in that time!

Over the past 20 years I have been a massive fan of Apple and all their innovations and I'm certain that a mac would suit someone who is checking emails, editing only on FCPX or running a business with some web design or Photoshop - but it isn't the pro choice it used to be. It was my profession it once catered for, now the pro means something else to Apple.

I'm not alone. Along with those YouTube creators - it turns out the feeling is mutual. Here's an article that caught my eye. "Why I'm never buying an Apple again" from Business Insider.

I'm buying a new PC this month and I will be doing reviews of all the kit I try and buy.