Buying a Mac Pro

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by remster45, May 18, 2013.

  1. remster45 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2007
    Location:
    Mississauga, ON
    #1
    I currently have an 17" MacBook Pro hooked up to a 27" Apple Cinema Display. Unfortunately, it's no longer cutting it for me. It's slow, it's over 5 years old, and I need something more powerful.

    I'm one of those who has a lot of things open at once. I do a lot of audio editing and the occasional video projects. I'm also one of those people who love having the top of the line lol.

    I am aware of the 'possibility' of a new Mac Pro soon, but to be honest, if I get an upgraded Mac Pro now, it will be perfect for what I need.

    I am considering the following:

    Mac Pro
    3.33GHz 6-core Xeon
    ATI Radeon 5870

    I will upgrade the RAM later on and I will also buy a 128GB SSD for the OS and a 4TB drive for all my data. The stock 1TB will be used for backups. I am a DJ so I have hundreds of GBs of music and videos to manage.

    Basically, 99% of the time I use my MacBook at home at my desk (unless I DJ) which I will still keep for that sole purpose. This is why I want an upgraded Mac Pro now which will hopefully last me many, many years. I also have a 2nd monitor which I will put to use and will also be upgrading my TV in the same room which I could use as a potential 3rd monitor when sitting on the couch.

    I love the fact that I can change anything in the Mac Pro by myself, unlike the new Apple computers. This is important to me and what if the "new" Mac Pro doesn't allow that?

    Seems like I already made a decision lol but I just wanted to hear some comments on what you think. Thanks!
     
  2. Tesselator macrumors 601

    Tesselator

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2008
    Location:
    Japan
    #2
    If me it would all depend on the price I could get the mac you're looking at for. Right, 6-core 4.5GHz or 4.25GHz boxes cost under $1k with all new parts. ;)

    Also, if there is another MacPro release you can be certain that it will be user serviceable. There's little or no doubt about that.
     
  3. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2008
    Location:
    Finland
    #3
    While the current Mac Pro is "just fine", remember that you're investing thousands of $ on it so are you sure you want to buy the current model? It has more or less been confirmed that a new Mac Pro is coming this year (Tim himself said that in an email), hence I'd wait. Your current Mac has been okay for all these years so it should suffice for the next few months too.
     
  4. Macsonic macrumors 65816

    Macsonic

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2009
    Location:
    Earth
    #4
    Hi remster45. The Mac Pro 3.33GHz 6-core Xeon is a good choice for your needs in my opinion. The 6 core is the sweet spot. We know a new 2013 MPro is in the horizon but if you need the expandability for your work specially in managing large files, getting one if fine. Though the current Mac Pro is a 3 year old technology, if the specs are adequate for your needs you should be fine.

    Your other option is get a refurbished MP or a good used one if you want to save some funds for your upgrading needs.
     
  5. bernuli macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2011
    #5


    I recently purchased that config from Apple, and brought the RAM up to 48GB with datamem.com.

    Love the machine but wish I did not go for the 5870 as there are way more powerful graphics cards out now.

    My only issue is the built to order Macs ship in the Apple box as is, and get a little roughed up in the shipping process.

    If I buy another one, I will just get a stock 3.2GHz from an actual Apple store and upgrade the graphics card right away, and the CPU after the prices come down a little.


    B
     
  6. Liquidstate macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2012
    Location:
    Pacific Northwest
    #6
    I just bought a refurb Mac Pro from Apple on purpose. Here's why, in case it might help you decide on the right path for your needs.

    I also do audio, but it's a project studio running Pro Tools and blahblah. I rely upon mid 2000 gear that is mostly FW and SPDIF. Most of my gear is no longer being made (instead, small companies are offering upgrades). Life goes on. Yeah, I investigated the UA Apollo, but decided my system has a more analog sound. So I am staying with what works for me.

    While no one knows for sure what the new Mac Pro will be, it is in Apple's DNA to disrupt markets. It would appear that the main thing holding back the new Mac Pro isn't Apple, but Intel. Some of the tech experts on MR have forecasted it will be at least mid-fall before Intel has the next Xeons with native Thunderbolt and USB3. That is also in accord with what Tim Cook suggested. And obviously, Jony is going to change the form factor as well.

    But I think what's most important to your needs is the shift to Thunderbolt and USB3, and no Firewire. The idea that Firewire components can be hooked up to Thunderbolt hubs without taking a latency hit or having converter issues with the Firewire signal is, as yet, unproven for serious audio use. And thus far, there's little or no available pro-level Thunderbolt audio gear (depending on the level you're working at). And Thunderbolt has been out there long enough for that to start happening. And we also have no idea what Apple is going to do regarding PCI cards.

    Since you are mainly audio editing in the box, I presume you're not using externals. So a new Mac Pro might be a great machine for your purposes. But also take into account Apple's increasing use of proprietary connectors for externals.

    The new Mac Pro will probably be an awesome machine. But if you have legacy gear (or software apps) that you rely upon, and you don't want to go through the chaos of the bleeding edge, then some serious due diligence would probably be a good idea.

    Only time will tell if I made the right decision or blew it. If you have the time, why not wait until fall 2013 and then make an informed decision rather than having to throw the Apple dice.
     
  7. remster45 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2007
    Location:
    Mississauga, ON
    #7
    Thanks for all the responses! Those are all good points to consider.

    Personally, what bugs me the most is when a computer lags. Like I said, I always have lots of windows open working on different things. I want to be able to switch apps without getting a spinning beach ball. I want to be able to simply scroll through albums of pictures and videos without waiting a few seconds for them to change. I'm constantly editing music, downloading and uploading large files, and managing large photo libraries, all of which my MacBook lags hard with. This is why I want to buy a Mac Pro so it can maintain the speed for years to come.

    The only thing if I decide to buy is if I should go with the stock ATI 5770 or the upgraded 5870. I plan to have three monitors at once which I know both can handle, but which card would be best for managing huge photo and video libraries without any lag? I want to avoid all lag!!!! Haha.

    My MacBook Pro has 256MB of video memory as a comparison so I'm sure anything would be better lol.

    Also, the external drives I have use FW800 which I find the speeds to be quite decent. Even if I want USB 3.0 in the future, I can just buy a PCI card, right?
     
  8. Tesselator, May 19, 2013
    Last edited: May 19, 2013

    Tesselator macrumors 601

    Tesselator

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2008
    Location:
    Japan
    #8
    The concerns you're airing are addressed primarily by having enough fast RAM installed and secondarily by equipping the machine with fast responsive storage. For storage SDD and Hybrid Drives (either SSHD drives or Apple's Fusion configuration) are of course the answer. I recently did some testing with various profiling software and a stopwatch and found that OS X doesn't settle down and behave itself as one would expect until it has 24GB of RAM available to it. It's pretty good at 16GB but still not all the way there. And this is entirely Apple's fault for mangling the latest VM subsystems in Lion and ML. It should be good at 4 to 8GB if Apple had a clue how to utilize those subsystems. You can also turn off the worst one of these subsystems and gain back a little sanity either instead of or in conjunction with adding more RAM:

    • sudo launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.dynamic_pager.plist
    followed by a reboot and you can turn it on again with:

    • sudo launchctl load -wF /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.dynamic_pager.plist
    I'm going the 'in conjunction with' route myself with $300 32GB of RAM and the dynamic_pager switched off. Ooo, so nice! No beach balls in months! Folders of thousands and thousands of high-rez images update instantly. All applications load in seconds. And the machine has never been so stable - OMG what a difference! Of course these are the results of more proper use of Cache so things need to be cached - which happens the first time they're accessed. With 16GB of RAM or more and the dynamic_pager turned off if you use your system for more than an hour the speed up is pretty incredible!





    Unless you have more than 5 they will all just install internally. I'd ditch the firewire if it were me! If you need/want them to be specifically external I'd sell the FW cases on flea-bay and use an eSATA cradle (docking interface). I dunno if FW PCIe cards exist tho I assume they do - have a search! :)
     
  9. remster45 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2007
    Location:
    Mississauga, ON
    #9
    My MacBook Pro is already maxed out. I upgraded it over the years. I have hundreds of GB of music and other data so a sole SSD in my MacBook won't really do me any good.
     
  10. Tesselator macrumors 601

    Tesselator

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2008
    Location:
    Japan
    #10
    Of course, I'm not suggesting you upgrade your laptop in order to use it as a desktop or workstation. :p I'm just letting you know some of what you need to be aware of for making decisions. ;)
     
  11. remster45 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2007
    Location:
    Mississauga, ON
    #11
    Good point though in your previous post. My MacBook is maxed out at 8GB and that's sort of the bear minimum these days it seems.
     
  12. scottsjack macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2010
    Location:
    Arizona
    #12
    Lagging. Now that is something that I can relate to. All three of my Macs beachball excessively. It strikes me as odd that a late 2008 C2D 2.4GHZ MBP with 8 GB RAM, a late 2009 C2D 2.66HZ mini with 8GB RAM and a 2010 MP 3.2 quad with 24GB RAM all beachball the same. Last night the mini, my EyeTV DVR when into permanent-beachball mode will editing a video.

    The laptop and the laptop-in-a-box each have a WD 7200RPM 750GB Scorpio Black drives. The MP has a WD RE4 2TB boot drive and RE4 4TB data drives. They all beachball equally when multiple apps are opened.

    When the Snow Leopard HDD is installed in the MBP (yes it's that old!) or the ML boot disk in the MP is swapped for a SL one the beachballing/lagging is a bit less.

    When I boot the MP to Windows 8 the Windows equivalent to beachballing rarely occurs. My conclusion is that the Mac OS is responsible for beachballing, Mountain Lion more so than Snow Leopard.
     
  13. remster45 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2007
    Location:
    Mississauga, ON
    #13
    That's interesting. Now that I think about it, the lagging and choppiness got worse once ML came. Choppy scrolling is terrible!!!! :mad:
     
  14. Tesselator macrumors 601

    Tesselator

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2008
    Location:
    Japan
    #14
    Try entering the commands I pasted in the message above. Your beach-balling will stop!
     

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