Workstation choices - high end PC or Mac Pro

Started Feb 5, 2014 | Discussions thread
Jim Cockfield Forum Pro • Posts: 16,333
You're 8 bit now...

mike in london wrote:

Tom_N wrote:

mike in london wrote:

I already have a great monitor (27" NEC) so dont want to get rid of that, but need a good workstation.

If your NEC monitor is 10bit, you will loose it by moving to OS X platform.

Yes it is its the NEC spectraview reference 271. What would I lose by moving to OSX?


He's probably referring to 10-bit-per-channel workflow support, which you only get if everything in the chain (including the application, the operating system, the video card driver, and the monitor) supports it.

From reading these forums, my impression is that 10-bit support is spotty under Windows (present only in Photoshop and a few other programs, and requiring specific video cards), and more or less non-existent under Mac OS X.

Thus moving to Mac OS X might mean using the monitor only as a monitor with very good 8-bit-per-channel color resolution even if the hardware is capable of more.

So photoshop under Mac OS X doesnt support 10 bit at all?

You're at 8 bit per channel to your display now, because the drivers for your GeForce card do not support 10 bit per channel output to a display. Only the AMD Firepro and Nvidia Quadro cards have drivers that support that feature in Windows, and only with specific applications.

Basically, OS X does not support 10 bit per channel (regardless of video card); and Windows (7,8, etc.) does not support 10 bit per channel either. But, some applications employ some "hacks" that allow 10 bit per channel with some applications by using OpenCL buffers to handle the 10 bit per channel portion, while allowing the 8 bit per channel output for the OS to be rendered, too. It's a mess.

Anyway, very few apps with Windows support it. Photoshop CS6 will if you're using a Firepro or Quadro Card with a 10 bit per channel panel. But, a number of users have reported that only Quadro cards work with PHotoshop CC (Creative Cloud) for providing 10 bit per channel output to a display (there are some ongoing issues with Firepro cards with the latest Photoshop CC release). Again, it's a mess.

But, your GeForce card won't provide 10 bit per channel output anyway. Only the Quadro Cards have drivers that support that feature with Photoshop. Now... with Linux, 10 bit per channel output works with both GeForce and Quadro cards (and some Firepro cards support it under Linux, too; even though the Radeon cards do not support it)

But, not with Windows (only Quadro cards have that feature, and only with *very* few applicationis). For example, your Capture One software doesn't support it. But, newer versions of Photoshop will, provided you're using a Quadro or Firepro card with CS6; or you're using a Quadro Card with Photoshop CC.

So, I wouldn't "hold your breath" waiting for Apple to provide 10 bit per channel color support by default, and I wouldn't depend on Photoshop supporting it in OS X either. That could happen, now that Apple has released a Mac Pro with dual Firepro cards (perhaps they'll release a newer OS X update in the future with 10 bit per channel color support), and Adobe may end up doing that at some point, too (providing 10 bit per channel color support with Photoshop running under OS X).

But, for now, 10 bit per channel color is more of a "hack", requiring the use of heavily customized code in apps like CS6 or CC, and only works with the drivers for specific video card chipsets under Winkdows (and OS X is not working yet from what I've read about it).

IOW, neither the Windows or OS X operating systems support 10 bit per channel output to a display.  But, Adobe has worked to try and provide that feature with some of the Quadro and Firepro chipsets in Windows.  But, for right this minute, it looks like getting that feature to work with Firepro under the latest Photoshop CC releases is "iffy" at best (you'd be better off sticking with an Nvidia Quadro card); and you're not going to get it with PHotoshop under OS X at all right this minute.

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