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Neat Video and Apple Silicon Macs

New Mac’s Apple Silicon chips have become a very hot topic among tech-lovers. Even though lots of conversations are happening all around the world, some of the questions are still not answered. Our Neat team decided to take some time and contribute to the web’s knowledge base.

Does Neat Video work on new Apple Silicon (M1) Macs?

Some of the Neat Video 5 plug-ins can work on new Apple Silicon Macs.

You may be able to run Neat Video 5 on Apple Silicon Macs in the following two ways:

  1. Using the Universal Binary versions of Neat Video 5 plug-ins;
  2. Using the Intel versions of Neat Video 5 plug-ins with the Rosetta translator provided by macOS 11.x.

Lets consider these two options in more detail below:

  1. The native or Universal Binary versions that can run on Apple Silicon Macs are currently available for two Neat Video 5 plug-ins:

    • Neat Video 5.4 plug-in for Resolve
    • Neat Video 5.4 plug-in for OpenFX hosts

These plug-ins can directly work with Resolve 17.1 and Fusion Studio 17.1 that already have Universal Binary versions at this time.

Other host applications, such as for example Premiere Pro and After Effects, are likely to add the Universal Binary versions soon too, and then the corresponding Neat Video 5 plug-ins will be updated as well.

  1. It is also possible to run the Intel versions of some host applications (for example FCP X, Premiere Pro, etc.) on Apple Silicon Macs with the assistance of the Rosetta translator provided by macOS 11.x. When running an Intel version of the host application, it will automatically work via Rosetta and will also use Intel-based plug-ins via Rosetta. So even if you do not yet have a Universal Binary version of the host application and/or a Universal Binary version of the Neat Video plug-in for it, you can install the Intel versions of both host and plug-in on your Apple Silicon Mac and run them in Rosetta mode.

The plug-ins that are known to work this way are:

  • Neat Video 5 plug-in for Premiere
  • Neat Video 5 plug-in for After Effects
  • Neat Video 5 plug-in for Final Cut
  • Neat Video 5 plug-in for Resolve
  • Neat Video 5 plug-in for OpenFX hosts
  • Neat Image 8 plug-in for Photoshop

Neat Image 8 Standalone (it is Intel-based at the moment) can also work via Rosetta on Apple Silicon Macs as well.

When will support for Apple Silicon Macs be added to all products?

We are committed to supporting the Apple Silicon Mac platform in the latest major version 5 of Neat Video. We are working on adding this support and try to complete this work as soon as technically possible.

The work also depends on the availability of the native or Universal Binary versions of the host applications. For example, Premiere Pro, Premiere Elements, After Effects, several OpenFX hosts, Media Composer, etc., do not yet offer such a version that can natively run on the new M1 processor. Once those applications and their Software Development Kits are updated for M1, we will be able to add the required support in the plug-ins as well.

Currently we are working on a brand new plugin for Final Cut to add native Apple Silicon support and to overcome some technical issues that emerged after the recent Final Cut updates.

Is it going to be a free update?

It is going to be a minor update so it will be free for the current users of Neat Video 5.

What do I need to do to install the new version?

There are no special rules about installing a new Neat Video plug-in compatible with Apple Silicon Macs. To install a new version of Neat Video simply log into your account and download the latest version of Neat Video from My Products. If you are offered a choice of Universal Binary version and Intel version, choose the Universal Binary to download and install. If there is no Universal Binary version, then this plug-in does not include direct support for M1 computers yet.

Before installing the new version make sure to save your project(s) and close the video editing application(s). Follow the instruction provided by the installer to start it correctly and then follow the steps of the installation wizard as usual.

Do I need to remove the Intel version first?

There is no need to manually remove the Intel version of Neat Video before installing the Universal Binary version of the Neat Video plug-in. The new Universal Binary version will automatically replace the older Intel version.

Is Neat Video faster on M1 Macs than on Intel Macs?

At the moment Apple Silicon Macs are available in three versions: Mac Mini, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro 13”. Those three models show very similar performance as they all use the same M1 CPU and are able to deliver about 13 FPS working in the CPU-only mode in Neat Video speed test.

The best Intel-based 16-inch MacBook Pro is also reaching about 13 FPS when working in the CPU-only mode in Neat Video speed test. So the performance of M1 Macs is on the level of the best Intel-based MacBook Pro.

M1 Macs clearly outperform other Intel-based Macs: Mac Mini, MacBook Air и MacBook Pro 13”.

The higher-end Intel-based Mac machines like iMac, iMac Pro, MacPro, which have not only faster CPUs but also discrete GPUs, may be faster than the current M1 computers. That is normal since M1 is primarily meant for the lower-end Macs. The higher-end Macs will likely receive newer Apple Silicon CPUs and will probably be able to outperform their Intel counterparts.

Do native Apple Silicon versions of Neat Video work faster than the Intel versions (via Rosetta) on the same computers? How much faster?

Since Rosetta does code translation and that takes time and reduces performance, running Intel versions on Apple Silicon will be somewhat slower than running native Apple Silicon versions (Universal Binaries) of the same software.

Our direct measurements with NeatBench show that the native Apple Silicon code works about 30% faster than the Intel code executed via Rosetta on the same Apple Silicon hardware. So it is better to run native versions on such Macs. This is why we highly recommend updating to the latest Universal Binary versions of Neat Video 5 where available and when your main video editing software already natively supports Apple Silicon.

Which M1 Mac is better for Neat Video: MacBook Air, MacBook Pro or MacMini?

Even though the M1 chip is the same in MacBook Air, Mac Mini and MacBook Pro 13-inch, those computers have been built with different levels of sustained CPU loads in mind. That means their sustained performance is going to be somewhat different as well.

If you use Neat Video (which places a steady high load on the CPU) or other “heavy” effects, then it is better to opt for Apple Silicon Mac Mini or MacBook Pro 13-inch. Those computers have a fan, unlike the new MacBook Air, which may overheat and reduce the CPU speed during rendering.

Does memory size make any difference to Neat Video?

We recommend choosing the configuration with the largest amount of memory (16 GB) as that is very important for video processing applications, especially when working with high-resolution videos. Our tests done on two similarly configured Mac Minis with 8 GB and 16 GB of RAM show that the 8 GB Mac Mini takes about 7% more time to render the same test projects in Resolve 17 than the 16 GB computer does. This difference is almost the same in FullHD and 4K projects.

The above recommendations are mostly related to Neat Video. Neat Image can work well with any of those three new Apple Silicon Macs as the high load is not steady and 8 GB memory onboard is sufficient for most image processing tasks.

Is it worth purchasing an M1 Mac now to run Neat Video or better wait for higher-end Macs to be updated?

The M1 chip is just the first model of Apple Silicon. It is likely that the newer and more powerful chips will be created for higher-end Macs in the coming months and years. It is reasonable to expect MacBook Pro 16 to get a faster Apple Silicon chip, which will then outperform all Intel-based Apple laptops when running Neat Video, at least when it comes to CPU-only performance. The high-end desktop Macs will likely receive newer Apple Silicon CPU models too and will then be able to outperform their Intel counterparts.

If your current Intel Mac is able to make 13 FPS or more (measured with the FullHD frame size) working in the CPU-only mode in Neat Video speed test (Neat Video menu > Preferences > Performance > Optimize Settings), then a switch to an M1 computer will likely not make your render faster. Those users who want to upgrade from Intel-based MacBook Air, Mac Mini, MacBook Pro 13-inch, and some MacBook Pro 16-inch computers, will find M1 working faster than their current Intel-based Macs.

Please keep in mind that not all video editing applications and plug-ins have been fully updated to natively support M1 computers yet. Make sure those are updated before jumping to the new Apple Silicon platform.