Troubleshooting Final Cut Pro X

Troubleshooting Final Cut Pro X

My post on How to Speed Up Final Cut Pro with a New Graphics Card has caught a lot of attention. Some amplification on this subject appears to be warranted. I just received this email from a reader:

Would you be able to give me some input on what would be best to get FCP X actually running so I can make use of it instead of sitting around waiting more often than not…I feel as if I am wading through knee deep mud doing the simplest edits so HELP MR. WIZARD!!!  …Mikall

Believe me I know Mikall’s frustration. He has a Mac Pro for crying out loud, and it ought to run FCPX a whole lot better. I shortened his letter considerably but the details included questions about graphics cards, RAM, SSD, project layouts, etc. It can seem complicated, but here are some priorities I suggest, followed by some important reference documents:

  • 1. You need a OpenCL-enabled graphic card with minimum 1 GB RAM. If you haven’t read How to Speed Up Final Cut Pro with a New Graphics Card  I suggest you do so. If you want to learn more about OpenCL click here. Before I upgraded from my NVIDA GeForce GT 120 my computer with only 512 MB RAM, FCP7 barely ran, and from what I understand FCPX wouldn’t run at all. If you have a Mac Pro you need to do this step before you do anything else that requires money.
  • 2. Get more RAM. 8 GB is sufficient, but RAM is cheap so buy it, but only after you have upgraded your memory card. Don’t buy RAM from Apple, it is too expensive. Get it from Crucial. They have an application you download to your computer, then run, and it will find the right RAM for your computer.
  • 3. Use Event Manager X and get projects and events that you are not using off line. It only costs $4.99.
  • 4. If you are using a Mac Pro get an extra drive and put your Events and Projects there, not on your boot drive. If you can afford it get 2 or three and make a RAID. I have written about how to set it up here, and using it with multicam here. MacBook Pro users may be in a different situation. Putting your events on a slow USB drive may not be that good of an idea. I have run FCPX fine on a couple different MacBook Pros with no problem. BTW SSD’s are too expensive, and you need a LOT of disk space.

Those are the 4 biggies in my book that will get you started. I know it will cost you some money. Who wants to spend more money? Luckily, I have a solution for you, if you own Final Cut Pro Studio 3. Sell your copy of FCPS on eBay and you’ll have plenty of money to upgrade your graphics card and RAM. There still is a high demand for the old Final Cut Pro from folks who refuse or can’t upgrade, so take advantage of current demand and sell yours now if you have it. I saw mine on sitting pretty on my shelf a week or so ago and sold it on eBay for $750 in less than an hour.

In addition you should check read these links and get your head around how this software works:

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  1. March 23, 2012 at 11:11 am

    Hey Chris, big thanks for the reply and so glad my note help spur a very useful post from you.

    One last quickie, on the video card do you (or can you?) recommend the ATI Radeon 5770 or 5870?

    I’ve read quite a few posts from folks who just bought a 5770 and said it worked just great and that FCP X may or may not even take advantage of the extra features of the 5780..?

    The bottom line is that the cost for the 5770 is about $200 ledd than the 5780 and that extra $200 could easily get me moved up to 16 gig of ram or more if the 5770 will do the job.

    This is the only thing left for me before writing the check today to get my feet out of the mud (-;

    Thanks for anything you can offer on this last point.

    • Swainhart
      March 23, 2012 at 11:13 am

      I think you are on the right track. I went for the 5870 just because I wanted to make sure if would drive my two 30″ displays. But, if you can find some other folks that are happy with the 5770 then that seems to make sense. The 5770 DOES have 1GIG and that is the biggest requirement.

      Please let me know which you choose and how it works for you.

  2. March 24, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    OK, great news!

    On Friday I bought an Apple ATI Radeon 5770 upgrade kit at the local Frys electronics store and thankfully they matched the B&H Photo price of $229. Next I brought it back to my studio, opened up mt Quad Core 2009 Mac Pro and within 15 minutes had the old one out and the new 5770 in place. Next I closed her up and reconnected all of my cables, including my 2 24″ monitors (one on the DV port and one on the Mini Display port via a DVI adapter, hit the power button, then reset my P-RAM, and bingo! Everything worked perfect from the first boot. Next I launched FCP X and dove straight into some heavy duty transforms, cropping and various video effects, and lo & behold everything is just golden and wonderful with no lag time, no stutters, no weirdness or slo-mo madness of any kind!!!! Ah yes, Houston we finally have ignition!

    Next up I ordered 16 gig of Apple Certified RAM with thermal sensors from Other World Computing at $124.99 delivered, which btw was the cheapest I could find it anywhere, plus these folks are great on the phone, help you out whether you are buying form them or not, and backup what they sell with solid warranties (from my experience over many years at least). And the final good news is OWC will be issuing me a rebate check for $24 when I return my current four 2 gig sticks back to them, so all said and done I now have a very happy & functional FCP X workstation for under $340 total cash outlay to get everything upgraded and working ever so smoothly.

    Well as you might expect I could not be happier about this and all because of your blog on upgrading one’s video card to improve performance.

    Big thanks Chris and please keep those useful tips coming!


  3. chris
    February 4, 2013 at 9:17 am

    Hi, I’m trying to max-out my early 2009 MacPro with a new GFX card and more memory to help improve my FCP X performance. The Apple Specs for my machine tell me that the max memory is 8gigs – which I already have installed.
    Will upgrading to 12gigs via Crucial be a waste for me?
    (or do you think I should upgrade my whole system since your post is about 1yr old)
    Thanks for the posts – they are very helpful.

    • Swainhart
      February 4, 2013 at 9:41 am

      I think the max ram for your machine is 32 gig and yes it helps. If you download the Crucial Mac System Scanner ( it will tell you how much ram you can put into your machine. RAM is cheap now.

      Your mac has 8 slots. You can put up to 4GB of ram in each slot.

      I have 6 extra 2GB memory cards I should sell on Ebay. I replaced all my 2GB with 4GB to max out my Mac Pro (8-core Xeon 5500 Series) 3rd Gen. Early 2009. Of course I do a lot of work on my Mac and need all the power I can get. I will upgrade to a new Mac Pro if one comes out this year.

  4. chris
    February 4, 2013 at 9:56 am

    Hi Chris – thanks for the speedy response. Hmm my Early 2009 2.66 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon MacPro has 4 memory slots:

    “Your Mac contains 4 memory slots, each of which accepts
    a 1066 MHz DDR3 ECC memory module”

    As per your advice I went to Crucial, did the system scanner and they are recommending the 12gig upgrade. I’ll have to get in touch with Apple why their documentation for my machine states an 8gig maximum and take it from there. Again, thank you for your posts.

    • Swainhart
      February 4, 2013 at 9:59 am

      8GB is certainly sufficient. I am not sure how much faster FCPX would be with 12GB, but if it is not very expensive then you are not risking much.

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