Video Production Advice: Matrox MX02 on iMac


Video Production Advice


Following a previous post of mine about the Matrox MX02 Mini Max, I received a follow-up question from an Iranian Videographer, who asks for advice about the Matrox MX02 Mini MAX and Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 on his iMac.

Video Production Question

Hi Shawn,

I’m editing on adobe premiere CS5, and also AE CS5 on an iMac core i5 with 8 GB of DDR3 Memory, 1st : while i’m working on a Full HD project, by any simple changes of color levels or adding a dissolve, i have to render the shot to see it on realtime and by adding more filters and effects or using a dynamic link between AE & Premiere the render’s getting harder and the export is getting too too longer (about 25 minutes for exporting a 5 minute video clip !!!)
I am going to buy a “Mxo2 mini max” to solve the render problem and get rid of these render things,
Am i doing a right?!! or i need to upgrade my iMac to a core i7 with 12 or 16 GB of memory?
what do you think?

and thank you by th way … 😀

Matrox MXO2 Mini MAX - A hardware solution for Adobe Premiere Pro CS6


Video Production Response

Hi Amir,
Great questions. Yeah, you are doing it wrong. When editing on an iMac with Adobe Premiere Pro, your editing experience will be very unsatisfying. Editing on any computer, Windows or Mac that doesn’t have an approved NVidia CUDA card and to a lesser extent some of the Radeon cards on last year’s Macbook Pro laptops, means you are relying on the CPU in the computer to do all the video rendering and encoding.

This was ok when we edited SD video but with HD video there is almost 7x more pixel information and I find as editors we colour correct and apply effects more now than 10 years ago.

The CPU is also not as efficient at processing video as compared to a dedicated hardware solution like the Matrox RT.X2 which when paired with Adobe Premiere Pro CS3, CS4, and CS5 offered real-time effects, accelerated exports, and other goodies like the Matrox IBP codec and HDMI monitoring.

When Adobe announced that Premiere Pro CS5.0 was going to support GPU acceleration with approved NVidia CUDA cards much of the benefit of running a hardware solution like the Matrox RT.X2 became obsolete because the two couldn’t work together at the same time and the GPU solution was very good.

Unfortunately neither of these solutions work on an iMac because the RT.X2 isn’t supported on Macs and iMacs all have the wrong video card. They also can’t be upgraded to anything that is both good enough to provide any benefit to Premiere Pro and is supported.

Unfortunately the Matrox MX02 Mini Max doesn’t provide any acceleration for effects and colour correction so you will not notice any benefits to real-time previews. But it will accelerate the export times to H.264 significantly. I pair the Matrox MX02 Mini Max with my Windows Corei7 laptop when I need fast export times on a mobile device.

Matrox MXO2 Mini MAX inputs and outputs

I do not believe upgrading your iMac to a core i7 with 16GB of memory will do much. What you really want is a computer that has a supported GPU card. On the Mac side there are very few supported graphics cards but the obvious one is the GTX 285, although that was end of life before CS5 launched. You can buy them used for $150-$250 and this makes them a great deal, if you can find one. There are more expensive Quadro cards but they are a lot more expensive and I don’t feel they offer the best value. The new Macbook Pros with Retina display have a supported video card but this is a laptop and for the money you could buy a much faster Windows system. You would also need to upgrade to CS6 for proper support.

A much better plan is to admit that when it come to video editing, editing on a Mac is a bad idea. I’m sorry, but it is. The proof is here. Apple doesn’t care about this segment of the market and waiting until next year for Apple to release new products that are 1/2 as good as a Windows system is getting old for many Mac users, which is why they are ditching Macs in droves for Windows. Just ask FCP users. And then ask MacPro users. Heck even iPhone users are feeling their phone is falling behind Samsung Android models. My 2 year old Windows laptop is still faster than the latest Retina Display MBP so I wouldn’t recommend that as a solution but it really is the only Mac solution that has decent video editing performance when paired with Adobe Premiere Pro CS6.

Sorry if this all sounds harsh but you asked and I answered.


6 replies
  1. javio says:

    Thanks for such a great article here. I was searching for something like this for quite a long time and at last I’ve found it on your blog.

  2. David K says:

    Thanks Shawn. All your posts are super interesting and helpful.

    I am curious, can you comment on the Mac world of editing using PRO-RES? Like I buy what you are saying, being a life long PC advocate in the creative world for audio and video professionals. However, I just worked with a director and editor who converted all original HD footage off a Canon DSLR to Pro-Res and then edited in FCP and I think could of chosen Premiere CS6… and they had stellar results, and workflow, and nothing sluggish during editing and rendering. And I would not say they had the latest and greatest iMac’s or Macbook Pro’s at all, or even any with the right accelerators Cuda wise. Everything you say though is accurate, a few year old Macbook Pro is worthless with Premiere doing HD, maybe even SD. So, I am asking about PRO-RES as I kinda missed it’s history and how it fits now into workflows for FCP folks and keeping them on their beloved platforms vs. moving over?

    Lastly, it is the mx02 mini max that got me to your site, as a producer on projects, I can’t watch creatives anymore struggle with choosing to not be able to make creative choices and have the freedom to do so even in the very last minute of editing before a blu-ray has to be encoded out for the film’s premiere, but not being able to do so as they will have to sit there for at minimum 5-8hours for a 1 hour movie to re-encode… And is the mx02 mini max the best choice for both MAC and PC video editing universes or just use it on the PC side to encode with Encore, even if the video was rendered out of FCP on the Mac etc.? Speaking mostly about the workflows to ultimately output DVD and HD content onto Blu Ray…

    thanks –


    • Shawn Lam, MPV says:

      Thanks David. Editing on a Mac with ProRes is a very easy workflow, except you have to first transcode your footage to ProRes (unless you captured it natively with an external ProRes recorder). The challenge comes when you need to export the footage and you add effects. For faster export performance you will benefit from hardware support, either a GPU or open CL card or the MX02 Mini Max.

      I should note that Adobe now supports Open CL and any CUDA card that has high enough specs (as opposed to only those they have tested and officially approved) so Mac users can now benefit from hardware acceleration on Adobe Premiere Pro CC.

      At this point I can’t comment on the Matrox MX02 Mini Max in various configurations simply because too much has changed. Adobe now has Transmit Transmit and I’m not sure if this will make any impact on rendering times.

  3. Allen Harper says:

    Thanks for the great advice Shawn. Your blog contains very informative details about video production. The way you explain things do not not just helps the one who ask it, it does pass valuable information to everyone who are interested in media production. Keep posting more.

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