New computer!

October 28, 2021

Here is a truth about me… I am a PC man. I’ve been in PCs since the day they started and never drifted away, to the point that I even held many Microsoft certifications and earned most of my living from them… I was a carreer Microsoft guy with pretty much all their certifications from MCSE (Engineer or Expert) to MCT (Trainer), so for me to wander off the path, it had to be for a very serious reason… and it was.

One of the best improvements that I have made to the quality of my videos in terms of software used, is moving from Pinnacle Studio to Premiere Pro to Blackmagic’s DaVinci Resolve… but last Christmas when Blackmagic released their speed editor with a free license to the Studio version of Resolve, I gifted myself with this and things just improved to the next level, but that is where the next level of challenges were as well!

You see, the editing of my videos was slowly getting better, more complex, higher resolutions… and slower! I moved the editing from my MSI laptop to my desktop downstairs and even then projects took me several days for a 3-5 minute video and most of that time was spent waiting for the system to plod along. Yes, I used all the tricks like lowering screen and timeline resolutions, using proxy files and what not, but these all only get you so far.

I started looking at PC parts to get in to the old ways and build my own editing computer, but damned if Covid didn’t ruin that for me as parts were both hard to come by and of course EXTREMELY expensive. For example, the video card that I wanted was not to be found ANYWHERE in over a year, and to add insult to injury, it’s list price of $1200 was now a market price of $4000-$5000 US… ludicrous!

So I turned my attention and quite grudgingly looked at the “competition”. Last year Apple released a new architecture called the ARM technology… this came from their cellphones and promised blazing speeds in super small sizes and transferred well to computers. Honestly, I was never a fan of Apple. Sure, I had an iPhone and a couple of their iPads and they were nice enough, but I was never a fan of their eco-system. They really limited you and forced you to use things their way, and I found it intrusive. They were also expensive as hell… except now the entire PC market has gone bonkers-nuts, and Apple was still merely… expensive.

So, I caved… and a couple weeks ago ordered… an Apple Mac Mini . Now, not just any, mind you, I ordered the one with the new M1 chipset that was supposed to be very quick and because most of my computer purchases are for many years, I ordered it with the most RAM (16gb) and the biggest hard drive (2TB SSD). The entire cost of the Apple computer and 34″ monitor was less than half of the cost of the PC video card alone!!

The thing was TINY and QUIET, basically taking up less real estate than my MSI laptop so it was perfect for being placed on the main floor of our home, but I’ll cut to the chase… it also did things that no other computer in my home (at the time), could, and it was QUICK.

Let me show you a small screen capture:

The one on the left is the original picture, the one on the right is the remastered one. It’s easier to see the differences when you lay the pics side-by-side. The one on the right is cleaner, brighter, less noise, more detailed, richer and truer colours. It also has a nicer vignette added to it and on top of it the sound has been touched up, a little more bass and a touch on the high end makes it sound richer and clearer. The final touch was that I took this 1080p/60FPS footage and turned it in to a 4K 60fps file!

Here is a single video discussing the Mac Mini M1 and Davinci Resolve:

Along with that experience, I picked up a 34″ ultra-wide screen from LG and this combo along with a small Apple magic keyboard, basic mouse and the Blackmagic Speed Editor, looked to me to be an incredible combo. As I am typing this, it is outputting a ProRes 444 file that has a heavy Fusion green screen effect and colour grading that includes 6 nodes of changes including noise reduction! The noise reduction alone would kill most PCs , but I am up-sizing it from 1080p to 4K. Sure it exports very slowly, but this is something that I could never do in the first place on the Windows computers, half these settings were so heavy for my fastest computers that the application would just die and close. I wasted 3 frustrating days trying to export a 5 second clip… without success… but this Mac Mini is chugging through all this, and much, more in style!

It is doing so well that I intend to amuse myself by remastering all my old videos and placing them aside on my YouTube channel, just for reference and I won’t “advertise” that I am placing them there, that is mostly for me, and can be a reference for comparison between old and new results.

I am enjoying this computer more than I thought I would!