Buying 3.2 Mac Pro - need help with the details

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by gtmangalath, Jun 6, 2008.

  1. gtmangalath macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2008
    #1
    People, I would appreciate some expert advice – from what I have seen, this is the place to find it.

    My present Edit setup
    , which I use for professional video editing and audio recording:

    G5 Dual 2.0 with FCP 4.5 HD.
    Video input with an IO
    Storage is Huge HMV-900-MAX S.No. 3H334 (First drive)
    and HMV 320S-800-M S No. HMV 04L139 (Second drive).
    Three Lacie 500 GB drives
    Controlled with an Adaptec 39160.

    Planned upgrade:

    I plan to upgrade my system to a mac pro on which I will run the FCP Studio 2. Based on my limited reading, I plan to buy a 3.2 Ghz Quad core system and add the parts separately as that appears to be the most cost-effective way to build a new edit system.

    Questions:

    I plan to buy Ram from OWC. How much Ram should I buy? 8 GB or 16 GB?

    Do I need to buy a Mac Pro Raid Card? Is it only available from apple, or can it be purchased from a seller at a lower price?

    Do I need more than one 320 GB internal drive?

    What card will I need to acquire to control the Huge drives?

    What graphics card do I need? Do I stay with the stock ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT or trade up?

    I need to buy this system over the next two weeks, so I would appreciate any help I can get.

    My apologies if any of these queries have already been asked.

    Many thanks.

    George
     
  2. acarle208 macrumors member

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    Apr 6, 2008
  3. nick9191 macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2008
    Location:
    Britain
    #3
    I can't speak for the other questions, and certainly a lot of them are down to personal preference, however one I can answer is:

    Stick with the ATI, believe it or not this card outperforms the 8800GT in the work you will be doing.
     
  4. Consultant macrumors G5

    Consultant

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2007
    #4
    For the price of the RAID card, if you don't need the features, you can get a UPS battery, SATA card, and external raid.

    barefeats.com for graphic card benchmarks.

    You don't need any additional card to control "huge drives".
     
  5. QCassidy352 macrumors G3

    QCassidy352

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    Bay Area
    #5
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU like Mac OS X; en) AppleWebKit/420.1 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/3.0 Mobile/4A102 Safari/419.3)

    I'm a little confused. You do professional a/v but don't know if you need more than a 320 GB HD? Not trying to give you a hard time, but I'm trying to understand where you're coming from.
     
  6. Genghis Khan macrumors 65816

    Genghis Khan

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2007
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    #6
    Questions:

    I plan to buy Ram from OWC. How much Ram should I buy? 8 GB or 16 GB?

    - personal preference. but the computer will be so much faster than what you're used to that 8Gb will do fine, and you can always upgrade to 16Gb, or 32Gb, later if you need. That said, it's up to you.

    Do I need to buy a Mac Pro Raid Card? Is it only available from apple, or can it be purchased from a seller at a lower price?

    This is, again, up to you. Do you need the faster storage access e.t.c. ... and as far as i know, you can only buy it from apple

    Do I need more than one 320 GB internal drive?

    If you decided yes to the above question, you'll have to invest in internal HDD's for your Mac Pro. My personal preference is to keep the HDD's inside my computer, both for speed and aesthetics.

    What card will I need to acquire to control the Huge drives?

    ...a RAID card?...

    What graphics card do I need? Do I stay with the stock ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT or trade up?

    I'm not an expert on graphics cards, but it has been said several times on this forum that the stock ATI Radeon HD 2600 is better and film editing than the NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT. If you want better graphics performance, just buy additional HD 2600's :p. But again, only you can know if you'll need it or not.

    Good luck with your Mac Pro :)
     
  7. gtmangalath thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2008
    #7
    Not enormous. The idea is to spend wisely and well, with a view to optimise resources. So 16 GB of Ram may cost more, but if it makes my system perform better so that I will have minimal dealys while editing, it makes sense to spend that extrs instead of 8 GB.

    G
     
  8. gtmangalath thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jun 6, 2008
    #8
    My apologies - perhaps my question lacked clarity. Between my two Huge drives and three Lacie externals, I have over 3 TB of space. So addditional space in an internal drive is not a major requirement in my book.

    I could be - and probably am - wrong.

    G
     
  9. gtmangalath thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2008
    #9
     
  10. Decrepit macrumors 65816

    Decrepit

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2007
    Location:
    Foothills to the Rocky Mountains
    #10
    How do the Huge drive attach?

    From what I can tell, Huge is the brand, not an adjective. They're internal, right? Where do they plug in?

    The Lacie drives are external, right? USB or Firewire?

    I don't think that the Apple RAID card would work with any of your drives if they're what I think they are.

    So you don't want that RAID card. But I don't know if you'll be able to move across the Huge drives you're using now.

    Therefore, I'd go with the 320GB drive and consider a 2nd one since the internal interface will be so much faster than the USB/Firewire drives you have.
     
  11. teflon macrumors 6502a

    teflon

    Joined:
    May 28, 2007
    #11
    For ram, I would just get 8gb at first, but in all 2gb sticks so you leave plenty of space for upgrades in the future when your needs/budgets grows.
     
  12. gtmangalath thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2008
    #12
    Apple's Suggested Config

    I spoke with a Mac Expert (two of them, actually) at the Apple Store and this is the final suggested config for my 3.2 8-core:

    Mac Pro 3.2 – Two Quad core Intel Zeon

    8 or 16 GB of Ram (as much as the budget can stand – apparently Motion needs a lot of Ram)

    Mac Pro Raid Card

    One 300 GB 15,000 rpm SAS drive (expand to more SAS drives when they get larger and cheaper – for now, all my software, especially Final Cut Studio 2.0 will run that much faster)

    NVIDIA Geforce 8800 GT 512 Mb – with 512, this has more capacity that the ATI card.

    Dual channel 4 GB PCI Fibre PCI Express Card – use this to interface with my external Huge drives which are my basic storage for media

    Questions:

    1. Do you agree with this configuration?

    2. Can any of these parts be purchased safely outside of the Apple Store? I plan to purchase all my Ram upgrades at OWC, but they do not appear to have any of the other stuff.

    Thank you for all your answers. This is turning into a rather expensive package and I need all the help I can get!

    G
     
  13. Umbongo macrumors 601

    Umbongo

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2006
    Location:
    England
    #13
    The Mac Pro suggested will certainly handle the work you want to do very well, but based on what you are currently using I'm going to guess it is overkill. If your current system has been enough that you didn't upgrade to a Mac Pro at an earlier opportunity then I imagine you will be fine with an 8 Core 2.8GHz system with 8GB of memory (to start with) and a 750GB/1TB drive for your main drive. What I've just suggest will run you about $3200 retail compared to what the Apple employee suggested for over $7000.

    So I guess you need to evaluate what the real benefits are and if they are worth well over double the price. If I were in your situation and unsure how the performance benefits would affect my workflow I'd buy the cheaper option. Then if I did find myself pushing it to the limits consistantly I'd sell and buy something more powerful, probably losing very little as base configurations hold their price well. A much better gamble than spending over seven grand on something I may never fully utilize. It's not like you aren't going to be able to do what you want on a weaker system, it's just about time.
     
  14. Battlefield Fan macrumors 65816

    Battlefield Fan

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2008
    #14
    with what the guy said above me. The processor is one of the most expense parts so why risk buying one or two that in two years can't get the job done? Out of all the parts in the mac pro make sure you get a good processor because the graphics card, hard drives and ram can all be easily added later and often at a cheaper price.

    Sure a 3.2 8 core seems intense for most of us but this guy seems like he might need it down the road. How long are you planning on keeping the mp? If your going to keep it for 4+ years and might upgrade to fcp 3 down the road if it comes out then go with the 3.2. (keep in mind apple offers a 3.0 ghz 8 core for $800 less

    Also ATI just anouced the 3780 for the mac pro. It would blow the 8800 gt out of the water for video editing and it has 512 mb of video ram.(check the front page of mac rumors for more information.)

    any questions just ask:apple:
     
  15. Umbongo macrumors 601

    Umbongo

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    Sep 14, 2006
    Location:
    England
    #15
    With the way things are going with Intel and Apple, and looking at recent release history and pricing, no one who needs the processor upgrades to be more efficient should be looking at keeping a Mac Pro for 4 years as their main workstation. Especially when major architecture changes and performance increases are only 6 months away.
     
  16. Battlefield Fan macrumors 65816

    Battlefield Fan

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2008
    #16
    yes but with the price a mac pro not every one can afford to shell out $5000+ every 2 or 3 years. Also why not just go with a good processor because like you said they are updating every 6 to 12 months.

    Just some thoughts...:apple:
     
  17. mkoval11 macrumors member

    mkoval11

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2008
    Location:
    Metro Washington DC Area
    #17
    MacPro, My Way...

    Here's what did just 4 weeks ago...

    Purchased the MacPro basic unit at retail store in Maryland with my educators discount. I teach graduate school part-time so I saved $200. The base unit cost me $2599. I purchased (2) 23" Apple Cinema Displays for the $1,500 that the extra processors would have cost. I just could not see spending another $1,500 for .6GHz. I ran some real world tests in the retail store on both the 2.8 and 3.2 with the 256MB card and the times were extremely close. I rendered an 8 element 1GB movie on both at the exact same time. The 3.2 finished about 20 seconds faster. Both took over 15 minutes.

    I also have a new MBP which I use for other tasks when rendering some heavy duty content.

    I purchased the 8800GT from CDW and shipped it to my home. No tax and free shipping. I then stored the original card in case i needed it for rebuild or emergency reasons. Since you generally cant run to your local BestBuy for a video card, I wanted the second around.

    Do not purchase the second optical drive from Apple. I love Apple but thats one of the biggest rip-offs I've ever seen. I went to the local computer OEM house and purchased a Samsung IDE 20X DVD-RW with Lightscribe for $19 brand new. It takes 2 minutes to install but don't forget to remove the DVD face plate otherwise the MacPro door wont open. Generally you just pop it off with a small screwdriver of pocket knife.

    I then purchased 4 2GB FB Memory Chips from CDW for a total of 10GB. Its too much. I really only needed 6, but the heck. The memory was lees than $90 a stick...

    Now for hard drives. I too use FCP. I chose not to go any higher than the 320 that Apple ships. You're going to like this. The first thing I did was to remove that and stick it in my closet. I found at BestBuy Western Digital Firewire 800 External Mac Editions 750GB for $129 on closeout. I purchased two of them and proceeded to remove them from the case and placed them directly into drive slot 2 and 3. At the same time I purchased a 1TB Western Digital SATA drive for $199 and that went into slot 1. I installed a 500GB WD I had laying around for back-up in slot 4. Drive 1 is the boot (I reinstalled the software without ever booting to the 320) and Drive 4 is Time Machine. Drive 2 and 3 is used exclusively as my scratch disks for FCP.

    I added a pair of Bose Companion 3 speakers.

    The 2.8 with 10GB of RAM and all that HD space is ridiculous. I love the machine. It the fastest computer I've ever owned and highly recommend it.

    I hope this helps. Enjoy...
     
  18. wheezy macrumors 65816

    wheezy

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2005
    Location:
    Alpine, UT
    #18
    I too am working on building a Mac Pro for me in the next month or so, however, I'll be focusing more on Photography and Graphic (Web mostly) Design, so as far as I can figure RAM and the right VCard are what I want to spend my money on, so I'll be 'dumbing' down to the single Quad core chip and spend my $500 on the other things. I'll probably stick with the standard ATI card and then buy that new one they just announced when it's for sale.

    However, I have done video editing in the past and as far as I can tell, you really need CPU to crunch through the rendering. From what I'm guessing right now OS X and FCP still aren't fully utilizing 8-core but you can bet it will before you plan on upgrading again in a few years, so I would go for the baseline 8 core machine.

    That's my half-educated 2 cents.
     
  19. gtmangalath thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2008
    #19
    My thoughts...

    Thank you for all the advice, guys.

    Mkoval11, nice config. These are my thoughts on the config that I have in mind.

    The 3.2 processor. I have been running Studio 2 on my G5 2.0 Dual and it has been showing signs of strain, particularly when I try the Apple Colour. I have not even dared start up Motion. From what I read, these are the guys that are processor and Ram hungry. So I believe that I should go for the 3.2 processor, as I will lose more if I buy the 2.8 and try to upgrade a year or two later. At least, that is the way my reasoning is right now – would be glad to hear any arguments against.

    Ram – Same reasoning as above – 8 Gb or 16Gb? I plan to buy from OWC – is CDW any cheaper Mkoval11? Or is there some other reason you purchased from there?

    Mac Pro Card. Was not planning to buy this, as I do not need to strip all my drives into a single Raid. Two reasons for including it in my config

    - The expert at the Apple Store insisted that having the Mac Pro Card would free up my processor whenever I needed to transfer data in between my internal drives or onto my external drives. Mkoval11, did you find any drop in performance just because you did not use a Mac pro card?
    - I would need to have a Mac pro card to run a SAS drive. However, after reading all your answers, I am pretty sure I will not go in for a SAS card at this point. So it all comes down to whether I need the Mac pro Card to make my interface between drives more efficient.

    The Dual channel Ethernet card – will need this to connect up my Huge drives and interface with my G5, which I plan to run concurrently. Apparently, I will need at Cat 8E or a 7E cable for this. Any ideas? Also, is this card only available through Apple or can I pick it up elsewhere for less?

    Finally, the hard drives. I like the idea of buying them outside Apple. I know this is a controversial topic as everyone has his favorite brands, but is Western digital the best? My thought is to stay with the 320 GD Sata that Apple supplies for my software and put in another three 1 TB drives which will give me plenty of internal storage. If you agree, any recommendations on the make of these drive?

    Thanks a lot guys, for the advice. This really helps.

    G
     
  20. mkoval11 macrumors member

    mkoval11

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2008
    Location:
    Metro Washington DC Area
    #20
    Follow-up

    Good morning:

    I'd get the RAID card if your budget allows. I'm planning on getting that shortly. Mine was not a budget concern but just wanted to make sure I did a build smart. This is the first MacPro I've owned after years of iMac's and MBP's and of course dozens of PC's. I've used WD drives for years and in my business which I am the head of the tech department for 6,000 PC's, I use Western Digital as well as Hitachi and Maxtor every now and then. Using SAS 15K drives will increase Read/Write throughput via the RAID but this will come at a hefty price. If you boot off the 320 and then use 3 SAS 15K in your RAID you will get some excellent times if you stripe at level 1 but not not that much capacity since the drives are only 300GB. A better solution would be SATA since its going to give you storage and very good speeds. Of course none of this matters if you have a SAN which you're storing your data to. My MacPro is at home as its my personal machine so my storage is inside my Mac. Remember to also add a USB External or a Time Capsule with a capacity of at least 500GB for Time Machine unless your going to do something else.

    RAID Configuration
    If you want a bit of protection, then stripe at RAID 5. I'm not a 100% up to speed on the Apple RAID card yet so you may want to see if it supported Nested Levels. If it does you opt for a RAID 5+0 config if its supported. Maybe someone else can chime in on this.

    I went with CDW because I have a huge contract with them for business purchases and they offered me an excellent price. What ever you do, don't buy from Apple. 8GB is really a hard configuration because you're getting 2 from Apple in your base. I'd start with the 4 2GB configuration I have. That will give you 10GB total. See attachment. Thats a lot. I use Motion and it seems very happy with 10. This also leaves 2 slots open so you can toss in another 4 or even 8 if you like.

    Finally, it looks like you want to go fiber on your network connection. The Apple Fiber card is really designed to connect your MacPro into a SAN either Apple's XSAN or something else via a fiber switch. In my data center at our HQ, I have a pair of Apple XServes connected via the Apple fiber card into my Cisco 9909 which is connected to my 3 EMC 380's. I have a 4,000 Sq. Foot Level 2.5 DC with 300 servers and 150TB of SAN storage. If you want any data on that, I'd be happy to share outside of this thread.

    If you looking to connect your G5 and new Mac together, short runs of GBIT Ethernet via a decent switch should be more than enough. Unless you're planning to connect to a SAN, this should be fine. I connect my MacPro to my two home iMac (one 20" silver Intel and one 17" G5) and data transfer is screaming fast. My home is all hardwired with Cat 5e and some Cat 6 which I did for an expansion. I also have a pair of AirPort Extremes.

    I hope all of this helps a bit more. My name is Mike and you can email me at mike@LNF.com if you have any additional questions.
     

    Attached Files:

  21. Umbongo macrumors 601

    Umbongo

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2006
    Location:
    England
    #21
    I'm not sure what you mean by you will lose more when you try to upgrade. Forget about buying new processors, you will be looking at a new machine and you won't get anywhere near $1600 back for selling a 3.2GHz system over a 2.8GHz system. You are only going to be getting a ~10% performance increase, and when you consider that whatever Mac Pro you get will be offering such a large performance increase over your G5 you probably wouldn't be able to tell the difference you are likely just wasting your money.

    Don't get me wrong, plenty of people can make use of the processor upgrades Apple offer. In my experience though, for most people, especially those who don't know if they actually need it or not, the extra expense can't be justified. But that is for you to calculate, and if you measure your processing in tens of hours a week, every week and your time is valuble it very well may be worth it, but again I would think if that is the case for you, then you'd surely have upgraded when the Mac Pros came out 22 months ago, or at least when the 8 cores came out over a year ago. Not trying to insult you, just trying to get you to think about what you are actually getting for your money.

    You don't need to buy it all in one go, buy 8GB (4x2GB) and monitor your usage.

    I wouldn't bother using a RAID card unless you need it for hardware configurtion i.e. RAID 5 or SAS drives. If you do reconsider on the SAS, do bare in mind SAS drives tend to be very noisey.

    I believe you can buy it from other sources, but I doubt it is considerably cheaper, so it is probably best to get it through Apple. I don't know much about Huge drives, but you seem a little unsure on this so just check that you actually need it. How are you currently connecting them to your G5?

    I personally reccomend WD at the moment, but Seagate are a fine alternative. Go with whatever you feel comfortable with though.
     
  22. Battlefield Fan macrumors 65816

    Battlefield Fan

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2008
    #22
    after talking to workers at micro center 2 weeks ago when I was building my own pc they all said seagate was the best. They said western digital is fine but seagate tends to be one of the best. I know apple used seagate drives for the longest time.
     
  23. rikoshay macrumors member

    rikoshay

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2006
    Location:
    No. California (in the Redwoods)
    #23
    BTW, Apple recommends using every RAM slot in a Mac Pro, citing faster & more efficient operation than with bigger DIMMs & fewer slots used. I ended up getting 12GB for mine, & have used it all at times, like with the Boinx SETI program, or with Studio Artist.
     
  24. gtmangalath thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jun 6, 2008
    #24
    Follow-up

    Thank you, Mike. I will post you immediately.
     
  25. gtmangalath thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2008
    #25
    All Ram slots

    I agree. This concurs with advice I read in three other pages. Ram works best if you fill all the slots. Initially wondered whether this was just great marketing - to fill all the slots you would have to buy a lot of Ram sticks and then have to junk the lot when you upgrade - but I guess you guys kow what you are doing.

    G
     

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