A few questions about the Mac Pro

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by dh2005, Nov 20, 2011.

  1. dh2005 macrumors 6502a

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    #1
    Hello folks,

    I'm awaiting - I'm hoping - the announcement of the new Mac Pros in early 2012. Yes, they're opulent machines, and somewhat excessive for my needs, but screw it: I want the meanest Mac I can afford.

    I was wondering whether someone could talk me through the practical differences of owning a Pro to a high-end Windows PC. My questions are:


    1. Can I buy, and fit, regular upgrade components as I would with a PC, or do the parts need to be Apple-certified? I'm thinking particularly about graphics cards, optical drives and SSDs.

    2. Thinking again about graphics cards; are there any processing-power advantages to running two graphics cards in CrossFire through OS X? I assume Pros have two (or more) PCIe slots, yes...?

    3. How noisy is the Pro to run? This isn't a massive deal for me, but I'm curious. I assume that fatboy PSU can really make itself known in a quiet office...!


    In addition to this, feel free to tell me anything that you think someone looking to buy a Mac Pro should know. I'll be running OS X, save for gaming in Windows 7 with the aid of Boot Camp.

    Thanks in advance,



    DH.
     
  2. Macman45 macrumors demi-god

    Macman45

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    #2
    Firstly

    Are you talking about the Macbook Pro, or an iMac? The pro is a laptop (Obviously) and that makes it harder, but not any harder than upgrading a Windows laptop.

    If you are replacing a Windows based desktop take a good hard look at the iMac's I have a 27" (july 2011) i7 2gb Vram 16 GB Ram, and work with video and music. The iMac is a superb machine, and never misses a beat.

    For other studio and portability tasks I have a 13" Macbook Air (I7 256 4GB Ram) and a hefty 17" Macbook Pro (2 months old once again high spec) The pro is a fast multitasked and although I do most rendering etc. on my iMac, I have used the Pro and it works well.

    As to noise, there isn't any! The only time i have ever heard the fans rev up is on the last EFI update...During general usage, they run quietly. I guess your choice is between portability and desktop grunt. If you really miss Windows (can't see why you would) you can use Bootcamp to run both OSX Lion and Windows on the same machine.
     
  3. d-m-a-x macrumors 6502

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    #3
    1. Depending on the Mac Pro (2006-2012) you get you do need to use compatible parts. For the most part the price range is similar.

    2. I am not familiar with cross fire, but there is 4 pci slots with one dedicated for graphics

    3. the machine runs pretty quiet, but not absolutely silent as there are fans. But it is defiantly not a vacuum cleaner
     
  4. dh2005 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #4
    Macman45;

    Thanks for the reply.

    Actually, I'm talking about the server-class Mac Pro series:

    http://www.apple.com/uk/macpro/


    I already own an MBP - I'm using it right now - and I owned a 2010 27" iMac until recently, when I sold it to a friend of mine. Lovely machine it was, but I'm somebody who likes the ability to upgrade my computer and - unless anybody can offer me another suggestion? - I think the Mac Pro is the way I'm gonna have to go to achieve this. The alternative is to buy a top-end iMac every year, and sell my previous machine on eBay, which I don't really fancy doing.

    ----------


    Thanks for this.

    Hm. Only one graphics card slot? Does this mean that two graphics cards can't be used simultaneously? That would be a drag. And rather surprising, given the specs of these machines...
     
  5. toxic macrumors 68000

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    #5
    2006-2008 Mac Pros need specific memory heatsinks (and thermal sensor?). 2009-2010 Pros can use any DDR3 ECC (unregistered), but are a bit picky about non-ECC, and don't need heatsinks. swapping CPUs in dual-CPU 2009 models is complicated for some reason I don't remember, not sure if it's still true for 2010. beyond that, hardware isn't an issue. you can put in anything that fits, your problem will be drivers in OSX.

    there are two PCIe 2.0 x16 slots, one double-wide, but Mac Pros do not support CrossFire/SLI.

    I wouldn't call mine silent, or even all that quiet, but it's not at all noisy. I dunno if I have a particularly noisy fan somewhere since others consider Mac Pros pretty quiet. the noise is from the case fans (and graphics card), so if you can find similar ones you can swap them out.
     
  6. dh2005 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #6
    Thanks for the detailed reply.

    So, are you saying that CrossFire/SLI cannot be achieved with Mac Pro hardware, even in Windows?
     
  7. initialsBB macrumors 6502a

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    #7
    In Windows via bootcamp, yes, but not under OS X.
     
  8. dh2005, Nov 20, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2011

    dh2005 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #8
    I see. So - and forgive me if this is a thick-headed question - where is the purpose in Apple offering a second 5770 as a BTO? If you want to run a second display, I would expect that the 5770 has two outputs anyway. Is this not so?


    Thanks for the advice, everyone. Keep it coming.
     
  9. The-Pro macrumors 65816

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    #9
    The 5770 has three display connectors. If you need to run more then three, thats where you benefit from a second card. Also some 3D applications which take advantages of the GPU can use all GPU in the system. So even if two 5770's aren't crossfired the program can use both for the calculation even if only one has displays attached. So basically if more than 3 screens or more processing power is needed thats when two 5770's can be used in OSX. Apple offered the option of 4x GT 120's in the 2009 Mac Pros, for driving large display walls.
     
  10. dh2005 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #10
    I see. Thanks.

    When it comes to selecting graphics cards, does one need to wait for Apple to 'get around to' a particular card for OS X driver-support, or can you fit the latest and greatest card available?
     
  11. The-Pro macrumors 65816

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    #11
    Graphics cards which aren't official apple cards will need to be flashed with some sort of tool. This changes the EFI or something and makes them work. However, a problem is that with the release of an OS update your card can just stop working, either until you reflash it or for ever depending on the changes in the update. Also when using other graphics cards you wont have a boot screen.
    In windows (through bootcamp), from what i've read you can use pretty much any GPU.
    There is also a limit on what GPU's you can add due to the power consumption and requirements of the card. Some cards need 8pin power cables or other things. The mac pro offers two 6pin connecters. Which is why you can order 2x 5770 (each use one 6 pin power cable) and not 2x 5870 (each use 2 6 pin power cables). Lots of people get other or more cards to work by adding/using an extra PSU (power supply)

    I'd just stick with the apple cards for OSX and if you need more power in Bootcamp look into others that might work.
     
  12. dh2005 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #12
    Right. I see there are a few things for me to think about, here.

    First things first: I need Apple to release a new Mac Pro! Then, when I can see clearly what I'm dealing with, I can make a fully-informed decision.


    Any further advice is welcome.
     
  13. The-Pro macrumors 65816

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    #13
    So you know, upgrading CPU's in a 2010 model is apparently really easy. Lots of people on these forums have bought the 2.8 quad (base model) bought a 6 core 3.33Ghz CPU and upgraded themselves in like 15 mins. You can also do this with the 8 core models.
     
  14. philipma1957 macrumors 603

    philipma1957

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    #14
  15. CIA macrumors 6502a

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    Running a MacPro using Windows, the box becomes a PC. Anything that will work with windows PC's will work fine. Graphics cards, expansion cards, Blu-Ray, you name it. The MacPro is a PC.

    Under OSX, it's a different story.
    Blu-Ray burners work, but will not play back Blu-Ray Movies.

    Graphics cards are more or less limited to what Apple has shipped. There is a active community of flashers out there working on getting PC (read: way less money) video cards to work with OSX. They also have made great progress of getting some unsupported cards working. Just remember that for graphics cards, drivers are really key. It may "work" but without a proper driver, it won't work all that well.

    Hard Drives/SSD's all work fine regardless of OS. I haven't done any homework on the fancy PCI based SSD drives though.
     
  16. Neodym macrumors 68000

    Neodym

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    #16
    Some are working in a MacPro, but normally you are not able to boot from those. IIRC the biggest problem are experienced with devices that internally raid two "standard" SSD's together in a hardware RAID-0.
     
  17. dh2005 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Thanks for the further advice, folks.

    It's my plan to run this machine with a 256GB SSD as a boot drive, and a 2TB hard drive in the second bay to provide some thuggish capacity for media files etc. If I partitioned the SSD so that Windows and OS X were both on the SSD, could I also partition the HDD so that, say, both operating systems had 1TB to play with, each? Obviously these wouldn't be boot partitions, so I assume the process is different...?
     
  18. ActionableMango macrumors 604

    ActionableMango

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    #18
    I would prefer separate drives myself, but yes, you can do that if you like.
     
  19. dh2005 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #19
    Right. I see what you mean.

    I trust the HDD(s) would spin-down if they weren't being used? By which I mean, if I was only using the SSD, there'd be no ticking coming from the other drive bays...?

    Drive noise really pisses me off. Hence the SSD.
     
  20. ActionableMango macrumors 604

    ActionableMango

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    #20
    That's a common misconception. I play blu-ray movies back in OS X with no prior ripping.

    By default they will spin down. It depends on your power saving settings in both OS X and Windows.
     
  21. theSeb macrumors 604

    theSeb

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    #21
    If you're running Windows 7 then I would just leave the 2 TB HDD as one partition but reformat it into exFAT so that both operating systems can write/read to one place. It's a set-up that works better for me in this situation.
     
  22. dh2005 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #22
    Oh! So, there's a format that they can both use? I never even thought of that...!

    Are there any downsides to using exFAT? As in, is the file-handling crap, does it get fragmented, are transfer-rates slow etc.?
     
  23. Neodym macrumors 68000

    Neodym

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  24. theSeb macrumors 604

    theSeb

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  25. ActionableMango macrumors 604

    ActionableMango

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    I use exFAT for a shared data drive. It's okay for that purpose. Unfortunately Time Machine will not back up an exFAT partition, nor will it backup to an exFAT partition. The last I checked, Acronis for Windows will not back up exFAT either, so right now I'm running the risk of total loss on that drive.
     

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