This previous week I was asked to cut a low budget documentary film. Despite being low budget, docs can prove to be very exciting as generally my cut is the final cut. Upon my initial arrival in the edit suite, I thought I would be cutting on a PC based Avid. My eyes were deceived… this was no PC… this was a Hackintosh!
A hackintosh is basically a Mac clone running OSX, and is much cheaper to build and run. Hackintosh’s only downside is they are not normally as stable as a full blown Mac, However to my amazement this was not some ordinary hackinstosh this was the most famous hackintosh Psystar.
Before Apple laid down a permanent injunction that keeps Psystar from making Mac clones, they were the largest hackintosh company to date. Their systems were renowned for not only being as stable as Macs, but in even some configuration faster and more powerful.
Now before I explain what its like cutting on a Psystar, lets look at the configuration. It is running a 2.2 ghz Intel Core 2 Duo with 4 gigs of ram. doesn’t sound to fast? Well for cutting a small doc, shot in SD, it’s more than adequate.
Running Final Cut Pro 6 on this machine seems fine except for the fact you simply can not update. The reason being, is that any update could crash the entire system. Remember, Apple finds ways to disable things they deam is not acceptable use of their product. A perfect example is the ongoing battle of Jailbreaking the iPhone. The major issue this causes, is general lack of real support should you have issues with OSX or Final Cut Pro. (The lack of support is really a deal breaker for me and should be for anyone that is dependent on their edit suite for their career.) Seeing I was cutting in SD it was not the lack of updates was not a major issue, however if I was cutting in HD this would be an issue as I would have no access to different flavors of Pro Res. In this case cutting on the Psystar was relatively smooth and uneventful. When it came to encoding again the machine performed admirably and compressed out dallies with speed and ease.
As the week progressed small hiccups began to show. Final Cut Pro needed to be rebooted at least once a day, and the Machine itself crashed twice through out the week. As frustrating as this was, I tried to reminds myself of the benefits such as Psystar’s machines are open and able to dual boot. This means it has the ability to boot into Windows or OSX. Also they are significantly cheaper to Macs themselves often half or even a third of the cost. Well that began to wain thin as another issue popped its head. I began to have strange audio sync issues. By the end of the week I was so frustrated I moved the entire project to my Macbook Pro, and notified the producer I would finish the edit there as I wasting too much time trouble shooting rather than cutting the doc.
Well in conclusion as amazing of deal this computers sounds, the small hiccups just were not worth it. I can not ever see my self on one cutting on a Psystar, nor do I recommend it. In short maybe it was good that Apple filed the injunction against Psystar, other wise more of these machines may have creeped into our edit suites, and into our nightmares.