“Drank the Kool-Aid” did I make a mistake?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by dansmac, Sep 12, 2011.

  1. dansmac, Sep 12, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 12, 2011

    dansmac macrumors member

    dansmac

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    Sep 11, 2011
    Location:
    Temecula, California
    #1
    I’m a professional photographer here in the Temecula Valley Wine Country located between San Diego and Los Angeles.

    Our computer needs are simple but the requirement for speed is priority one. I don’t have time to mess with configurations and optimization. For years and years we got what we thought was the best PC for the needs of the studio. As digital photography evolved and our workflow demands for computer-based image post processing exploded we find ourselves looking for computer platforms that provide speed and work 7/24 with zero issues. We would typically stay with the brands that proved reliable and offered some support if needed. Dell and IBM were selected.

    Processing thousands of images (yes thousands per photo gig) and the need to apply Photoshop filters meant every second counted. The PC’s were refreshed about every three years and we always went for the fastest possible knowing Photoshop did not really used multiple cores very good so we looked for fast processor and memory as a rule.

    [​IMG]

    But PC’s are PC’s and the constant third-party virus conflicts, difficult software upgrades, and some reliability with the applications brought us to looking at Apple in mid 2009.

    We “drank the Kool-Aid” and purchased three model 2009 Mac Pro’s with Xeon Quad cores at 2.93 GHz. Again it was our understanding that PS does not use 8 cores so we went for memory and speed.

    Assumed this move would be nirvana. No more virus updates and conflicts … no more PS crashes … and the world of Apple would be a peaceful better place with a new computer platform of super speed designed for exactly what we do.

    I’m disappointed. Yes these machines just boot up and run. But they are not that fast (Old Dell machine from 2007 actually runs CS5 faster than the mighty Mac Pro), not that reliable... PS CS5 crashes more on the Mac then the Dell. The crashes are related to the 3-rd party Actions but the same Actions run on the Dell without crashing.

    We are going to stay with the Mac Pro’s. Overall they are very good machines. But what we expected in a giant leap forward, especially with the price difference of double a similar Dell. What we actually got is a small step.

    Overall I rate my Mac Pro experience a C+…. I was hoping for an A. Maybe the "new" Mac Pro's will move us closer to our expectations. Next year is the time for a studio platform refresh.

    But some say (on this forum) that the Mac Pro line is not really Apple's "sweet spot" and we may not see much of an improvement. Wait and see...

    Dan
     
  2. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

    Staff Member

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    #2
    Mac Pros don't offer any higher performance than equivalent PC would. Since OS X has smaller marketshare, it doesn't have as wide software support as Windows does. This is evident in Adobe's products for example (PS became 64-bit later than the Windows version). You may also have poorer selection of add-ons and the ones available may not be the stablest either.

    If you're just running Adobe apps, then I would switch back to Windows. Yes, Windows has its own issues but it doesn't sound like your OS X experience has been exactly top notch either.

    The issues you are experiencing are most likely software related, meaning that a future Mac Pro won't fix them.
     
  3. Pressure, Sep 12, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2011

    Pressure macrumors 68040

    Pressure

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    Location:
    Denmark
    #3
    A shame with the issues you are experiencing but have you tried contacting these 3rd party content providers with regards to the problems you are facing?

    Here I am assuming, that since you processing "in the thousands of pictures for every gig" that you just don't use some free filters.

    And yeah, with the amount of layers I use in Photoshop on my Mac Pro I have a work habit of saving a lot. I'm surprised Adobe gets away with the train wreck that is Creative Suite for Mac OS X sometimes.

    This is the only comfort I can give you, hopefully it will put a small smile on your face, unfortunately for the wrong reasons.

    [​IMG]
     
  4. dansmac thread starter macrumors member

    dansmac

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    Temecula, California
    #4

    Don't want to you to get the wrong impression. The Mac Pro's are workhorses and we do get value to our clients with these machines.

    My disappointment is set my expectation. I really did believe the hype that Apple is much better suited for photography work and the investment would yield super results. Good but not super.

    Yes, the filters we use are from OneOne and NIK. Both well established firms that do exactly what I want. Except for the blowing up PS part on the MAC!

    We did find much better performance by using 3-rd party memory expansion. We purchased 24G for each Mac Pro (8G X3) and it did speed things up a lot. Not quite as fast as the Dell 4-core at 3.4GHz but getting better.

    (Nice note to Adobe!)....Dan
     
  5. speacock, Sep 12, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2011

    speacock macrumors member

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    #5
    I would say that our experience of Macs and PCs side by side is very similar.

    Yes the build quality of the Mac Pro is good, yes the integration testing of the very few components Apple use is good, yes they look great, yes people who work in design are familiar with OS X. But...

    The build quality is only skin deep; the case and keyboard and so on are beautifully engineered, but the components inside are the same commodity parts that are used by the average PC manufacturer.

    Usability is a matter of preference, if you're used to Windows then a Mac is harder to use and if you're used to Mac then Windows is harder to use. Both systems do some things well and some things badly, there really is nothing to choose on this front.

    In our environment, the Windows 7 PCs are much more reliable than the Macs, The Windows 7 systems typically run for 1 month without reboot, the only time they need to be restarted being the monthly patch cycle, they do not crash. One of our Macs typically crashes 2-3 times each day (and while it is a bit old, it's always done this and it appears to be software faults), the other is more reliable, but still crashes regularly. Many will say that this is the fault of Adobe not testing their software as well on the Mac as they do on Windows and they may be right, but from my perspective I don't care whose fault it is.

    The 'constant patching' that people complain about with Windows is no different, both systems need regualy updates and the frequency is roughly the same - about once per month, it really is a non-issue.

    The virus/malware/security issue is also a non-issue for me. As far as I'm concerned, both systems needs some kind of endpoint protection, I wouldn't use an internet facing system that contained valuable data without some kind of protection, whatever OS it is running, and this stance is supported by just about every security expert, security consultant, security company and followed by most large organisations and government bodies. I regularly read comments on here and other forums that usually start with the phrase 'there are no viruses in the wild for OS X'. This is misleading and a misrepresentation of the nature of modern security threats. While it is true that there are no known viruses for OS X, there are security threats and vulnerabilities: NIST lists around 900 known vulnerabilities, Sophos list 383 known malware items that can affect OS X (probably overstated but certainly more than none), Symantec list 46 threats that their product recognises. I realise this is substantially less than the several thousand that exist for Windows, but if you have no protection 1 is enough. And it's enough to make me want some extra protection and to recommend that others do the same. That said, in 20 years of using Macs I've never seen a malware infection on one (to my knowledge that is, it's nearly impossible to be certain), I've not suffered any infection myself on a Windows PC either (again, to my knowledge), though I've seen thousands and dealt with hundreds first hand. In every case I've seen, the root cause was people doing something they shouldn't and it's this that makes me say that endpoint protection is essential on any system - people.

    There is no discernable performance difference when comparing like-for-like. The Macs tend to be slightly faster in some areas but slower in others, it's swings and roundabouts. The difference is, that the same level of performance costs a lot less with a Windows PC than with a Mac.

    Having said all this, my partner is a long-term Mac user and despite witnessing all the above 1st hand and accepting it, she still plans to buy herself the new Mac Pro when it is released rather than a Windows workstation that would be 1/2 the price and more reliable, and I don't begrudge it or blame her. We work in different worlds, she's a photographer and designer, where design, style and familiarity are key. I work in corporate IT where cost and reliability are key.

    For my own personal use, If I could buy an Apple laptop for the same kind of price as an equivalently specified/equivalent quality PC laptop, then I probably would just because they look really nice. (though I'd probably run Windows 7 on it - just personal preference).
     
  6. nanofrog macrumors G4

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    #6
    As others have said, there's no difference in the hardware (PC workstations and Mac Pros are built from the same commodity electronic components available). So there aren't unique electronics platforms used any longer to differentiate it from PC counterparts, which was the case back during the Power PC processor days.

    Also keep in mind, you can use a Mac Pro with Windows, so you can choose to continue on with the Mac Pro for the hardware, or move back to PC's. Given Photoshop is the primary software application, a PC would be cheaper than a Single Processor Mac Pro however (selection of the right system is critical). For example, the 2009/10 SP models are ~$1000 USD more expensive then their PC counterparts (SP workstations, not consumer systems; for example, the Dell T3500 vs. the SP Mac Pro running the same CPU model would be a fair comparison).

    In regards to your issues, it's definitely software related. Unfortunately, as also mentioned, OS X is a small market share vs. Windows, so fixes can come faster under the Windows side, as there is a greater financial motivation to do so.

    Viruses shouldn't be that much of an issue with a good anti-virus application and some basic common sense (stay away from porn, gambling, and torrent sites for example :p). I realize it's not impossible to get an infection by staying out of risky websites, but you can speed up repairing issues by keeping a cloned copy of your OS/applications disk.
     
  7. speacock macrumors member

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  8. index1489 macrumors member

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  9. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #9
    BTW, take a look here, as it compares the Sandy Bridge E5 (LGA2011 socket) to other Intel and one AMD part.
     
  10. aziatiklover macrumors 68030

    aziatiklover

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    #10
    Sounds like you are disappointed on third party software than the actual mac. :rolleyes:
     
  11. Kissaragi, Sep 12, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2011

    Kissaragi macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2006
    #11
    Am I wrong to not be surprised a 3.4 GHz dell is faster than a 2.93 GHz Mac Pro?

    It is surprising that PS is less stable, I've never had a problem with CS3 on my 2.6 GHz mac pro. My usage is much lighter than yours however, so guess that makes a big differnce.

    Hope you get things stable and back to speed soon, at least youll spend less time updating on OSX.
     
  12. speacock macrumors member

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    Jul 26, 2011
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    UK
    #12
    Agree, but would point out that it doesn't matter how good the OS or hardware is if the applications you want to run are unreliable.

    My own experience is that Windows is more reliable, it may be that this is caused by Adobe software not by the hardware or by OS X, but from my perspective it doesn't matter whose fault it is, what I see is one system being reliable and the other not. I don't buy a computer to run an OS, I buy it to run applications.
     
  13. derbothaus macrumors 601

    derbothaus

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2010
    #13
    This. Very easy and you can do pound for pound comparisons. It is the software that is the discrepancy not the hardware as others have pointed out. A Xeon is a Xeon etc... GHz matter the most. 3.4GHz quad will be faster than 2.93GHz Octo in most Adobe apps. Plugins use their own engines and can leverage whatever they code into use. Some will use all cores of multicore Mac's.
    You will see the hardware in the new Mac Pro blow up that 3.4GHz Dell as it is most likely i7-2600, the new Pro's will most likely have 6-core chips and Dual 6-core with same or better single thread execution (Adobe's favorite legacy)and higher turbo at 3.9GHz+. If your concerns are real, setting up a Win environment on your current HW is no problem and then just pick a winner.
    The reason most users have a legacy opinion that Mac's are better at "graphics" than PC's came from the days of Colorsync and Apples default gamma profiles for CRT's. Those day's are gone. Adobe has to care again.
     
  14. dansmac thread starter macrumors member

    dansmac

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    Sep 11, 2011
    Location:
    Temecula, California
    #14
    No Windows on our Macs ---

    Thanks for all the suggestions. I did dual boot when we first purchased the Mac Pro’s but not for performance or stability issues. Just a few apps we liked on Windows were not available for the Mac at that time. Since then we have not done a dual boot thingy for the last 2 years.

    The concept for the Mac was pretty simple: Super reliable and fast platform more dedicated to the arts (photography) than desktop business (MS Office Suite).

    There are a lot of things I do like about the Apple experience. OS X is clean user experience and although not as “tweakable” - the restricted modifications make for a consistent and pleasant experience for photography studio use.

    I must say however the surprise that the core applications from Adobe (Photoshop CS5 and Lightroom 3) have more stability issues on the Mac over the PC. That was (and still is) a shock.

    I’m not willing to load Windows back on the Mac platform. If I want Windows / Adobe I would simply go back to the Dell boxes.

    I’m trying really hard to keep the Mac Pro’s going for our studio. Hands down a better user experience for our business. We don’t have the time or desire to “tweak” and experiment. The only mod we have done is expanded memory. It seems we did spend a lot of valuable studio time playing with the Dell boxes to optimize them for our work. And if you need to resolve a problem with Dell….well forget it. No matter what the issue Dell ALWAYS told us THEIR hardware is not an issue and take it up with the software vendor … always!

    My personal experience for what we do in the studio with the Mac Pro over the last few years

    Build Quality: A
    User Experience: B+ (I hate “Finder”)
    Hardware Reliably: A
    Performance (Value for $$): C
    Application Reliably: C-



    ...Dan
     
  15. derbothaus macrumors 601

    derbothaus

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2010
    #15
    You really should make your opinion's known to Adobe as they would be the company bringing your C grades up a notch.

    For Finder try this. I love it especially if you are a Unix cat.
    http://www.cocoatech.com/
    Leagues better. Slightly less responsive than Finder but options make up for it.
     
  16. dansmac thread starter macrumors member

    dansmac

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    #16
    Yep. I did purchase and install Path Finder. MUCH better then Finder. But it seems a bit strange a company (Apple) that promotes a superior user experience (and for the most part achieves that goal) has a horrible file/folder explorer tool....Dan
     
  17. wpotere Guest

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2010
    #17

    You are about 5 years late on that belief. This used to be the case but not so much anymore. In fact, the PC can fun PS as well as a Mac as you have found out. Basically once Apple switched to the Intel processor they are equivalent to a PC when it comes to speed.
     
  18. dansmac thread starter macrumors member

    dansmac

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    Temecula, California
    #18
    Speed is only one parameter. What we wanted was (is) the “Apple Experience” … wonderful user interface, extremely reliable, great technical support (if needed), and so on.

    Again, for the most part we’re satisfied. The crashes on the Adobe apps are the big and unpleasant surprise.

    As far as Intel on the Mac, we actually waited until a fast Xeon Intel was available from Apple. The PowerPC are terrible performers for any 32-bit and 64-bit applications like CS4 and CS5.

    …and I got a cool logo sticker for my car window! …

    Dan
     
  19. Consultant macrumors G5

    Consultant

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    #19
    I don't have problems with Adobe CS software on a Mac.
     
  20. scottsjack macrumors 68000

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    Arizona
    #20
    FWIW I'm dual booting on a 2010 Mac Pro 3.4 quad. The Snow Leopard side has PS CS 5 on it. The Windows 7 side has PS CS 3. While it's probably not fair to compare CS 5 against CS 3 I note that Mac side is easier to set up applications and easier to find PS related data like the XMP folders.

    The Windows side feels snappier and doesn't have those miserable pauses with the beachball like the Mac side does. PS Mac slows down a lot in either Bridge or PS and I have to select another app and come back in order to gain UI control.

    I will have to get PS CS6 for Windows in order to maintain upgrade eligibility and will probably move Photoshop work over to NTSF drives.
     
  21. wpotere, Sep 12, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2011

    wpotere Guest

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    #21

    Well, if speed isn't a factor, then be happy with what you have. Are you running Lion by chance?

    Hate to say this, but my PC has been more reliable than my Mac over the years. The upside is that they do have decent support where with the PC it was dependent on the hardware vendor. I did have an issue with my EVGA video card and they replaced it no questions asked and it was quick as well. So, on the PC side I have no issues with support.

    My initial response was to you belief that Photography was better on Mac and as I said, this was the case. However, it isn't any longer. Also, if you are happy with that sticker then enjoy what you have. I think you will find your PCs to perform just as well.
     
  22. goMac macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2004
    #22
    There isn't much you can do about Adobe. They do a good job of keeping the Mac and Windows versions even on functionality, but they're still abysmal Mac programmers. Same issue with third party plugins.

    What I like about Mac hardware is how solid it is. It just keeps running, I've hardly had to spend any time doing upkeep on my 08 Mac Pro. In the entire time I've owned it, through all the OS upgrades, I'm just thinking about re-installing the OS. (Too many beta tests have made things funky.)

    But Adobe is kind of a necessarily evil, especially Photoshop. Software that is better written can run way faster than the Windows equivalents. But Photoshop really does nothing to take advantage of the acceleration options available in OS X, sadly.

    If you're using better written software, the Mac Pro is definitely worth it. Even some of Adobe's products, like Premiere and After Effects, will fly on a Mac Pro in situations that would bring an iMac to it's knees. But it honestly sounds like you might be better off with iMacs. Photoshop just doesn't use resources efficiently enough to take advantage of a Mac Pro.
     
  23. dansmac thread starter macrumors member

    dansmac

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    Temecula, California
    #23
    Speed is not the "only" factor. It is important but the whole experience in total is important for our studio.

    The Mac Pro is not slow but just not as fast as my Dell running the same application. A complex Action in CS5 will take about 8 seconds on the Mac and 5 seconds on the PC. Doesn't seem like a big deal. But if I run that action on 1,000 images during the day it will take an additional hour (50 minutes) of non-value wait time on the Mac. Not a job killer but would like to see a bit more performance for the money invested.

    Yes we have updated to Loin....
     
  24. goMac macrumors 603

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    #24
    I actually would have stayed with Snow Leopard. I've had a dramatic uptick in bugs since Lion. Especially related to graphics.
     
  25. wpotere Guest

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    Oct 7, 2010
    #25
    As I said, your expectations that it would be better (and by that I mean faster) on Mac is old school. They are the same computers for the most part with the only difference being the OS. Is it better? Meh... It is a computer and my PC runs just as good as any Mac.

    As for the crashes, you might be looking at some Lion issues. I actually downgraded my Mac from Lion as I had a lot of crashes and it was hogging memory. I have tried a clean install of it as well and that didn't really help. Hopefully they will push a patch out to fix a lot of the problems. I wouldn't be surprised if you were having issues because of this.
     

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