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Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 review



  • Recommended by TR
Adobe Premiere Pro CS5


Our Score


Review Price £735.30

Also available as an upgrade from previous version ~ £270 inc VAT.

Adobe Premiere is one of the oldest brands in PC video editing, although with the switch to Premiere Pro the underlying codebase was radically updated. For the CS5 version, yet another seismic change has taken place. Not only has the application moved to a 64-bit environment, but hardware graphics acceleration is now built in to a much greater extent than before.

The previous CS4 version of Premiere Pro was 64-bit aware, so could take advantage of a little more memory running on a 64-bit version of Windows. But the CS5 incarnation is native 64-bit software. So if you have more than 4GB of memory on your system, it will use whatever there is available. The downside is that as most of what's new in CS5 revolves around its new 64-bit engine, there will be no 32-bit version. So your current workflow may require more fundamental changes than just an app upgrade. All your old 32-bit plug-ins will need updating, just for starters, although quite a few manufacturers have already made the switch, such as Boris and Magic Bullet.

Premiere Pro CS5 will blend multiple streams of HD video much more smoothly than previous versions,

thanks to its 64-bit Mercury Playback Engine with graphics hardware acceleration support.

Graphics hardware acceleration extends far beyond the handful of filters supported in previous versions of Premiere Pro. The range still doesn't include everything, but about half of the filters and a few dissolves have GPU acceleration, indicated by an icon in the Effects browser. Unfortunately, this acceleration is only available for graphics hardware supporting CUDA, and initially just Nvidia's Quadro CX, FX 3800, 4800 and 5800, plus the GeForce GTX 285. So ATI users will be out in the cold, for now.

The new CS5 code is called the Mercury Playback Engine, and we have found it a clear improvement over its predecessor. Our tests were performed on a quad-core workstation running a 3GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650 with 8GB DDR3 memory, and 64-bit version of Windows 7. Graphics acceleration was provided by Nvidia's Quadro FX 4800. This system had few problems playing chromakeyed HDV superimposed over another layer of HDV. Six streams of Full HD AVCHD weren't frame perfect, but much smoother than with CS4, and scrubbing was usefully liquid as well. Most reassuringly, CPU usage approached 100 per cent during playback, showing that system resources were being fully utilised.

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August 9, 2010, 1:24 pm

Great review, thanks.

The improvements look great, but the graphics acceleration support is a bit disappointing! Even the old 7600GT nVidia cards support use as a GPGPU, it'd be a shame to not see video acceleration on the consumer-level kit, like the 9400m's in so many macbooks/mac minis.

James Morris

August 9, 2010, 1:48 pm

It is a little annoying, although there will allegedly be a wider range of supported cards as the software matures. I also tested on a system with a Quadro FX 1700 and that didn't supply hardware acceleration. I wonder if there's a feature on the newer GPUs which is required, or it could just be the age-old issue of driver/hardware qualification. With professionally-oriented applications, stability is more important than performance, so the range of hardware is limited to a small subset which there is time/budget to test thoroughly for accreditation.


August 9, 2010, 2:42 pm

Thanks James, your last point makes a lot of sense.

I'm running PrPro CS4 on a 2009 Mac Mini at the moment, and AVCHD editing is smooth, even though the 'auto quality' playback preview gives a few artefacts. Not really an issue, as I'm editing interviews, not Top Gear! I'm interested to see if they brought this acceleration to After Effects too - are you planning any more Adobe reviews from CS5?

James Morris

August 9, 2010, 3:00 pm

The acceleration does apply to After Effects CS5 too, although you'd need a supercomputer to make After Effects play back many of its capabilities in real time! Maybe one day. We don't have a review planned at the moment, but if there is sufficient interest... The other video apps haven't seen much change for CS5.


August 10, 2010, 7:29 pm

Hi James.

How does this latest version of Premiere compare to the two big hitters Avid and Final Cut Pro? Given the choice of a free copy of any of these three suites, which would you go for personally, and why?

McDermott Movies

August 11, 2010, 4:37 pm

I have been using Premiere for years and had actually become more and more frustrated with it. I stopped upgrading on CS3 as I lost confidence in Adobe. However, with CS5 I was impressed with the feature list and decided to give it one last chance. It has turned into a nightmare for me and I will never again cut a film on this program. Initially it appeared to work like a dream, but I have encountered glitch after glitch, with the helpdesk unable to offer any insightful advice to resolve my issues. The main problem has been with audio. I have been using the Panasonic SD700. CS5 coped with the video very well, top marks for this, but random glitches were heard in the audio that were not present on the source footage and which followed all the way through to output. I had to find a long winded work around that involved encoding all footage using Cineform. However, Premiere then presented another unexplainable problem - it would not inport any footage in Cineform codec over 4 minutes in length. I have since found another complex workaround for this. I am just about finished my latest film and will certainly never be returning to Premiere once again after this. There are more competent, reliable and professional software solutions out there.

James Morris

August 16, 2010, 6:37 pm

@colonelclaw I actually have free copies of Premiere Pro CS5, Avid Media Composer and Final Cut Pro, and the one I use regularly is Premiere Pro. However, this is in large part because I've been using Premiere since version 1.1. The latest version of Final Cut is excellent, and if I owned a decent Mac I'd be sorely tempted. I find Media Composer a little more difficult to get to grips with, but until the Mercury Playback Engine came along it was the most fluid PC editing app around in terms of scrubbing etc. The latest version of Media Composer also has similar video format compatibility to Premiere Pro CS5. With NVIDIA hardware, though, CS5 is the more fluid editing platform right now.

@McDermott Movies Sorry to hear about your problems. What video format did you shoot with the Panasonic SD700? Was it 50p? If so, this is a slightly unusual format, and not AVCHD. I do have some Panasonic 50p footage somewhere here I can try. But I've been editing all of TR's videos on CS5 for a couple of months now, and must say that it's the most stable, dependable Premiere Pro I've personally ever used. I'm mostly editing HDV footage.

Bob Dix Photographer

August 31, 2011, 2:50 am

Not equipped with Stabilizer is a big no, no. CS5.5 mercury engine in 64 bit on a i7 Quad Core 64 bit was sluggish compared with 32 bit Sony Vegas Movie Studio HD Platinum 11 and to use a legacy driver for HDV/mpeg-2 should not be needed, sent it back as it did not perform as good as Premiere Pro 1.5.1 for HDV which is 4 years old, nor did i think timeline operations with H.264 mov clips was that exciting. I'll think about it when the bugs are taken out, it is too sluggish ?What about an Video Stabilizer instead of having to invest in After Effects ?

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