Computer Kit-Change Time?

I currently use Mac equipment, but most of what I do is Windows-based.  Although Macs can run Windows under Boot Camp, but there are some shortcomings in practice, the main ones being poor Boot Camp support for FireWire and ExpressCard:

  • On a Mac Pro bought in 2008:
    • FW800 port works OK with an external FW800 hard disk unit, but is unable to drive specialist audio/video equipment.
  • On a MacBook bought at the beginning of 2010:
    • The FW port is unusable, even for an external hard disk unit.  If I try to use it, it works initially then (e.g. after a GB or two) the FW driver crashes and remains offline.
    • The ExpressCard port does not function.
      • Interestingly, placing a Sony SxS video-recording card in the ExpressCard slot causes the operating system (Windows) to search for a matching driver.  However the card never appears in Windows Explorer. Frustratingly “almost there but not quite”…

So Boot Camp is really limitated as regards Windows-based video editing!

As an alternative to Boot Camp, I tried running windows as a virtual machine under the Mac OS application Parallels.  Rendering is surprisingly efficient under this regime, almost 100% of Boot Camp speed, but I found that:

  • FireWire is not supported (at least not in the version I tried)
  • Crashes were not too frequent, but they were more frequent, than under Boot Camp.

So maybe I should try it the other way round!  It is possible to run Mac OS on a Windows PC via an “umbrella scheme” called Hackintosh, whereby various softwares (not called Hackintosh) make the PC look sufficiently like a Mac to allow Mac OS to be installed and booted.

So what kind of PC?

  • Ideally I’d like a “luggable”, say with 24 inch screen and 8 cores.
  • But it can be a fraught business choosing equipment that is compatible with the major NLEs etc.
  • So I took a look at a renowned expert-seller of such equipment, namely DVC.  They offer the HP EliteBook 17″ HP8760W with Quadro 3000 graphic card (suitable for Avid & Adobe Premiere Pro):

Examining the potential of that laptop:

  • CPU:  It is an i7 with 4 cores, 2.3GHz with turbo up to 3.4 GHz
  • GPU: The Quadro 3000, which has 240 pipelines, 2GB memory, and consumes 75W.
  • It can run Hackintosh > Mac OS
    •  Hackintosh: How-To:
    • Google: [HP 8760w hackintosh]
        • Hp Elitebook 8740w with Mac OSX Lion 10.7.1 installed
        • Very smooth performance, no display glitches
        • With Lion, unlike Snow Leopard, the USB ports work.
        • Also the FireWire, Webcam, BlueTooth work.
          • {Though from experience I’d want to test that FireWire}
        • However  the following do not work: Track-pad, Fingerprint-reader, Card reader, WiFi.
          • WiFi is partially fixable by using a USB adaptor, but its bandwidth would then be constrained (?)

So that laptop is a definite contender…

Googling further on that model, it becomes apparent that it is available in a variety of customizations:

If I do go for that model, I shall most likely purchase it from DVC, even if I can find it cheaper elsewhere.  I’d rather not take the risk of some subtle error and want to help keep them in business for the future!

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