What is the Fastest NLE – Premiere, FCP, or Resolve

New chips, new computer, and new app updates mean that there is going to be another battle for fastest and most optimized NLE on Mac computers. This time it is because of the new M1 Pro and M1 Max MacBook Pros.

Now, there is a lot more that goes into choosing an NLE than just how fast it is, however, if you are looking to make the most of your shiny new MacBook Pro then it might be worth finding out. Filmmaker Tyler Stalman is breaking down the differences between the three main competitors for Mac editors: Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere Pro CC, and DaVinci Resolve.

Stalman has his hands on a top-of-the-line 16” MacBook Pro with M1 Max chip and 64GB RAM. Footage is running off an external drive, but everything is matched up in every NLE for the tests.

Just for fun, he even shows off how all three NLEs can play back the footage in real-time at the same time at full quality without even getting the fans to kick on. This shows how much more powerful these new MacBooks have gotten.

As for the footage, it is a mix from a Canon C70, R5, drones, and even some stock video. 

With Final Cut Pro, perhaps the most optimized software of the bunch, Stalman showed off how it could play back 6 streams of 8K ProRes with no issues whatsoever.

Image Credit: Apple

Premiere Pro started off well but then started dropping frames and even crashed. Moving to half resolution the six streams of 8K did just fine. In Resolve, you are seeing it stutter as well. With half and quarter resolution it was still not smooth.

Moving to more difficult Canon Raw Light footage from the R5, you are seeing that Final Cut is struggling at best quality. However, best performance instantly solves the problem.

Premiere Pro needs to be bumped down to quarter resolution for smooth performance. Resolve is the surprise winner as it manages to play it back without any issues at full resolution.

Image Credit: Blackmagic Design

A note on the general responsiveness from Stalman points out that Final Cut might be the fastest to edit in. Still, it might not be the best for you if you want something like the grading tools in Resolve or the ability to work closely with After Effects in Premiere.

Exports are the last test using some of the recommended defaults of a UHD 4K resolution with H.264 compression. Here are the results:

  • Final Cut Pro: 49 seconds
  • Premiere Pro: 56 seconds
  • DaVinci Resolve: 44 seconds

Resolve takes another win here. It’s surprising to see a third-party software being better than the native option. It is nice to see all the software putting in such a good effort on all the tests. The real winner as Stalman says is in fact the hardware here.

[source: Tyler Stalman]

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