QLab 3 is a Mac-only program. It runs on any Mac that is running macOS 10.8 through macOS 10.14.6. QLab 3 is not compatible with macOS 10.15 or later.
Because of QLab’s great flexibility and the varied scenarios in which it is used, it can be difficult to determine ahead of time how much computer power a given QLab workspace will require. What follows is a discussion of general concepts surrounding processor, GPU, RAM, and hard disk use for QLab. Please take this information not as a firm set of instructions about what to do, but rather as a set of recommendations about what to consider.
QLab is not supported on “hackintoshes” at all. Please do yourself a big favor, and just keep away from those.
QLab 3 has been run on Core 2 Duo and newer processors. The more work QLab needs to do, the happier it will be with a more powerful processor. Large numbers of audio or video cues playing back simultaneously, for example, benefit from an i7 processor and its improved handling of multithreading tasks.
For audio-only users, GPU considerations are probably negligible. For video folks, what you need depends entirely upon what you’re trying to accomplish. A late-2012 Mac Mini can drive two HD displays simultaneously; one for your operator and one for your projector. Since those two displays share a single GPU, you can improve overall performance by lowering the resolution on your operator’s display; fixed GPU power doing less work for the operator’s display means more power available for video crunching. If you use a Mac Pro “cheese grater” tower (that is, pre-2014), dedicating one modest video card for your operator display and one higher-end card for each projector, or one card per two projectors, is a good strategy. For the newer “trash can” Mac Pro, all graphics connections are on the same GPU, which is much more powerful than its predecessors. Testing is, as always, important.
Loading and playing cues uses RAM, so the more audio or video that needs to be loaded at any given moment, the higher the RAM requirement will be. 4 GB is a nice minimum amount of RAM to work with, and is conveniently the minimum amount of RAM offered with any new Mac. As with processing power, complex shows can benefit from (and may require) more RAM. QLab 3 is able to address as much RAM as your Mac provides.
For Macs with an integrated GPU, which is all Mac Minis, the MacBook, all MacBook Airs, some iMac models, and some MacBook Pro models, the GPU uses a portion of system RAM as VRAM. The size of this portion is based on the total amount of system RAM installed, so the more RAM you have, the more of it will be used for VRAM. While we don’t recommend using a Mac with an integrated GPU for video-intensive shows, if you do use such a Mac we strongly encourage you to install the maximum possible amount of RAM.
QLab is happiest with either a 7200 RPM hard drive or a solid state drive. We do not recommend using a 5400 RPM drive for anything other than the simplest shows. On the other side of the spectrum, solid state drives (SSDs) are, to put it plainly, really really fast. The more data you’re pulling off your disk and pushing out of your speakers or projectors, the more an SSD is a good idea. Note that Apple’s Fusion Drive option, though it technically includes an SSD, is not recommended for use on a show computer under any circumstances, as the user has no control over which data goes to the SSD versus the HD, nor any say in when the OS decides to shuffle data between the two.
The best way to output video from QLab is to use the built-in video connections on your Mac (including PCI cards on “cheese-grater” Mac Pros.) Using a Pro Video or Pro Bundle license, you can also output video directly to Blackmagic Design’s DeckLink, Intensity, and UltraStudio devices, although this comes at the cost of a reduction in CPU performance and an increase in latency.
We do not recommend, nor do we support, video output via DisplayLink USB-connected monitors and video adapters. While these devices can work, they are not GPU accelerated and their drivers do not have a solid history. Your mileage may vary, but Figure 53’s position is to avoid using these devices entirely.
If you have specific questions about hardware requirements, please email the support team with your show’s needs and we will be happy to advise you.
Still have a question?
Our support team is always happy to help.