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Debunking Mercury Myths

Now that the word is out – April 12th is the big day when ALL of CS5 will be announced, I’m seeing a lot of misinformation on Twitter over what’s necessary to take advantage of Premiere Pro CS5 and the Mercury Playback Engine:

1. It won’t run on laptops. FALSE
I’m running it today on my MacBook Pro, and taking full advantage of 64-bit goodness and multicore optimization. Even though there’s not a supported GPU in my MacBook, the performance gains over CS4 and CS3 are very significant. In my own, unofficial testing, I would say that Mercury is 25%-30% faster in all day-to-day activities. Your mileage may vary, of course, depending on the format you edit.

2. I can only get real-time effects with an expensive graphics card. FALSE Your performance will vary depending on the CPU and amount of RAM in your system, but Premiere Pro will always try to play effects in real time on the timeline. Now, it IS true that the correct Nvidia graphics card will accelerate a LOT of effects, but to say that you absolutely need a graphics card to use effects in the timeline is a myth. In CPU-only, or software mode, Premiere Pro CS5 is taking much better advantage of RAM and multicore CPU’s, and you’ll definitely be able to play back more effects than CS4 in real-time.

3. I need to change my Operating System to run Premiere Pro CS5 POSSIBLY TRUE
Premiere Pro CS5 is a native 64-bit application, and needs a 64-bit OS in order to run. On Windows, this means running Vista or Windows 7, 64-bit edition. Mac users will need to run Leopard for most functions, and to take advantage of GPU acceleration you’ll need Snow Leopard.

4. My Mac Pro Tower can’t use an Nvidia Quadro FX4800 card. POSSIBLY TRUE Most Mac Pro Towers can upgrade to an Nvidia GeForce GTX285 or Quadro FX 4800. Sadly, however, there are some very early Mac Pro towers that are not compatible with the Nvidia cards. Go to About this Mac, click on More Info, and check your Model Identifier number. If you have 3,1 or 4,1, or higher numbers, you’re fine. If you have 1,1, you can’t upgrade your video card.

If you have any specific questions on Mercury, the latest hardware information is found here: www.adobe.com/go/64bitsupport and I will be answering any questions in the comments as I get them.


    Hi Karl
    I’m still very confused about which video card to use – I’m switching from FCP7 to APPro – here’s my system config& perhaps you can steer me in the correct direction;

    MacPro 3,1 – Quad-Core Intel Xeon 2.8Ghz 8core with 20GB RAM
    ATI Radeon HD 5870 video card GPU w/ 1 GB VRAM
    Two 23″ Apple HD Cinema Displays

    When I’m in Adobe PremPro CS5.5 and looking at the properties of the Set-Up for a project – the area where I would be able to activae the GPU is greyed out !

    I have asked Apple Genius & they have no answer for me. I’ver searched the WWW for hardware configurations – I’m lost man.

    I need to get the correct Video Card to take full advantage of the GPU & Adobe Prem Pro CS5.5 – can you help me please?

    Thanks in advance.



      Hi Mannie,

      Wow! That’s a powerful system!

      The GPU acceleration is an optional component to run Premiere Pro – you’ll get great performance with your existing video card. However, if you use effects like 3-way color correction, positioning, scaling, etc, you’ll definitely benefit from the GPU Acceleration. This requires an Nvidia-brand video card. There’s an updated list of cards for both Mac and PC here: http://www.adobe.com/products/premiere/tech-specs.html

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