About to take the Mac Pro plunge, please advice

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by XLCowBoy, Apr 4, 2008.

  1. XLCowBoy macrumors newbie

    Apr 4, 2008
    Hi guys!

    Fairly new to macs here, so please take it easy.

    I'm about to take the Mac Pro plunge, coming from a fairly decent Windows machine (painfully realizing that a specced-up Wintel simply won't do for the motion /static graphics work I do), I'm just about to purchase a Mac Pro, but I need a few questions answered by people who don't have a vested interest in apple. :)

    Anyway, here goes:

    1) If I purchase the single-chip quad-core Xeon, can I purchase a second chip and install it later on?

    2) If I select the Nvidia 8800GT option, is it possible to install a second Nvidia for sli purposes? I have the same card on my wintel, and I know I can install a second on that one.

    3) Is the Nvidia 8800GT option better than the twin ATI's? I do not play any games at all. It's strictly for work (I use the full adobe suite, notably after effects, photoshop, and flash + Maya). I'm pretty happy with the Nvidia on my wintel, but I have zero experience with ATI cards, so I was wondering if they're any better for 3D and video work.

    4) If I purchase the standard 2x 1GB RAM from the apple store, would you suggest that I purchase any additional RAM from the manufacturers? I did some research, and Crucial are offering 2x1gb (Mac Pro RAM) for under $200 on their site. Sounds like a good way to save $300? What do you think?

    *) Incidentally, I was able to come up with this setup for under $3000:

    From the apple store:
    * One 2.8GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon (quad-core)
    * 2GB (2 x 1GB)
    * 500GB 7200-rpm Serial ATA 3Gb/s
    * NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT 512MB (Two dual-link DVI)
    * One 16x SuperDrive
    * Apple Mighty Mouse
    * Apple Keyboard (English) + Mac OS X
    Total: $2599

    From crucial:
    * Mac Pro 2x2gb sticks (4gb) (total of 6GB RAM), or
    * Mac Pro 4x1gb sticks (4gb) (total of 6GB RAM)
    Total: $270 or $392

    Total price: $2870 or $2992
  2. richard.mac macrumors 603


    Feb 2, 2007
    51.50024, -0.12662
    4) Yes buy RAM from third party suppliers as Apple RAM prices are a rip off. i suggest RAM from OWC macsales.com but any good quality FB-DIMM RAM is fine.
  3. krye macrumors 68000


    Aug 21, 2007
    1) Go 8 core now. Better in the long run, better ROI, and the pain it will be to source an Apple heatsink and matching Xeon later outweigh the couple hundred bucks you save now.

    2) No SLI option as far as I know.

    3) If it's worth doing, it's worth overdoing. And for $200, the 8800 is orders of magnitude better than the ATI. (If anything, buy it for the VRAM)

    4) Stick with the stock 2G. Apple RAM is extortionate! Pick up Apple-approved RAM from OWC (macsales.com)

    I ordered my stock Mac Pro with the 8800 upgrade from MacMall.com for $2994 with a $40 rebate on the shipping and no tax.

    I picked up 2G or RAM from OWC for $115. No tax.
    http://eshop.macsales.com/item/Other World Computing/64FB1MPK02GB/
  4. amik macrumors regular

    Dec 11, 2007

    Read barefeats test of the 8800gt versus the ATI cards here: http://www.barefeats.com/harper10.html

    Depending upon the software you use, 8800gt may not be the best choice at this time.
  5. FireSlash macrumors member

    Nov 11, 2007
    Also check with your employer, many give ~10% discounts (I got my 8 core CTO'd with an 8800GT upgrade for a few bucks less than what it cost stock).
  6. Virtuoso macrumors regular

    Feb 21, 2008
    SLi only work on nvidia chipset motherboards, but if you don't want it for games, you won't be needing it anyway. It's not going to speed up Photoshop.

    I don't know whether a dual ATi setup would run in Crossfire mode under Windows, but on the Mac side, the twin gfx card configurations are really for people who need to run more than 2 monitors.
  7. XLCowBoy thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 4, 2008
    @Everyone: Cheers for the tips! I'll have a look at those links. Especially the cheaper retailers (I'm trying to stick to a $3000 limit. I need to eat too! :p)

    @krye, amik, and virtuoso: AE and, subsequently, most of Adobe's products are very RAM intensive, not so much processor intensive. I edit video / create motion graphics more often than I do any 3D work. Based on Amik's link, the only benefit I'll have if I bought the 8800GT would be for the purpose of being able to "move" in OpenGL products faster, so I guess my original plan of going with the 8800GT might just be a waste of money. I think the twin ATI's make more sense?

    If the 8800GT isn't going to help much (e.g. the processors and the ram pick up the bulk of the slack), then I guess the non-sli feature isn't going to be a problem at all. :apple:

    @Fireflash: Un/fortunately, I'm freelance. :),
  8. Firefly2002 macrumors 65816

    Jan 9, 2008
    I'd like to add that, in addition to this, the extra VRAM on the 8800 makes absolutely zero difference (512 MB wouldn't help the 2600 XT in games,and it makes no difference in the GUI/motion etc), unlike what someone was suggesting.
  9. Virtuoso macrumors regular

    Feb 21, 2008
    Only if you need 4 monitors. After Effects won't use Crossfire, even if the MacPro board and the ATi drivers support it (pretty sure they don't).
  10. XLCowBoy thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 4, 2008
    Sorry for the late reply (I wasn't receiving email updates, so I thought the thread died after I last replied).

    Cheers for the advice again. Looks like it's going to cost much less than I thought it initially would. :apple:
  11. zdobson macrumors 6502

    Nov 9, 2007
    DMS ram is only $178 (2x2). Just as good from what I hear. Also, 2x2 makes more sense than 4x1. Why bother filling up so many slots?
  12. treehorn macrumors 6502


    Aug 21, 2007
    My only additional recommendation would be to not bother upgrading to a 500GB. For the additional $100 you can buy a 500GB hard drive from another retailer (like newegg.com). It's best to have the system/applications drive on a dedicated drive and then you can have the other drive for media, etc.
  13. tom. macrumors 6502


    Nov 9, 2007
    San Francisco, CA
    1) Definitely take the 8 Core now, the Apple price for the this processor is very cheap (when comparing between the 1 and 2 CPU configurations)

    2) As far as I'm aware SLi is not possible as there is no Sli controller. You can have 2 x 8800GT's for the purposes of running >2 monitors, or for better performance over 2 monitors. However they wouldn't be able to share the load of rendering one monitor like in SLi.

    3) Not sure as i purchased the 8800GT for gaming and small image rendering purposes.

    4) Stay stock on RAM and HDD, and you can get much cheaper elsewhere.
  14. XLCowBoy thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 4, 2008
    Hmmm... seems like everyone's advice is falling into the "go stock for everything 'cept for the processors" category. I use dual monitors too. Does the default Radeon allow for twin Monitors? (I would assume that's a yes, as the Nvidia 8800GT does).
  15. surflordca macrumors 6502a


    Nov 16, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    You don't know what the future holds. I would go with the 8 core and the Nvidia 8800GT. Buy as much ram as you can afford from OWC or other ram supplier as long as it not :apple:

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