Can you help recommend a MacPro for our church?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by jrm27, Jun 4, 2012.

  1. jrm27 macrumors 6502

    Jan 3, 2008
    Hi all,

    Our church is using an old MacPro to run all of our sunday morning media. We also use it to record music (ProTools LE 8.0.3) throughout the week. I am in charge of the tech budget and would like to upgrade our computer. First a little bot about the computer, it's history, and why I'd like to upgrade.

    We bought the computer used probably about 5 years ago. At the time, I believe, we upgraded the RAM to 8 gigs. About a year ago we had a total hard disk crash, causing some serious data loss. Someone had come in a few months prior to the crash and disconnected the time machine drive (I never noticed), thus we lost a lot of info. I immediately went out and bought three new internal drives, restored from our last backup (months earlier) and set up one of the internal drives as our time machine drive. Much better now.

    Lately, however, the computer is starting to have more problems. We use it to run our media presentation software (ProPresenter). I make video content that we show with the software and over the last few months we are seeing stuttering video, lag, and other general problems. Also, we use it to record music through our ProTools setup. Problems often surface there.

    We have installed two identical video cards. One feeds our main screens in the church sanctuary, another feeds a signal to our overflow areas.

    I've included screenshots of some of the current specs here:



    So, I want to replace it with a computer with enough horsepower to do what we need, run hi-def video (1080) to multiple video outputs, and handle recording. Can someone point me in the right direction? Thanks!

  2. goMac macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
    Lowest end Mac Pro should be fine. One 5770 should do the job just fine, still way more powerful than what you have now.

    I'd almost recommend a Mini for this work, but your drive requirements sound like a little more than the Mini is normally capable of.
  3. jrm27 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 3, 2008
    thanks goMac. What specifically about our drive needs would you think pulls us away from a mac pro? Would a current mac mini be better than our old mac pro?

    just wondering and trying to learn!
  4. goMac macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
    Nothing you're doing really requires the speed of a Mac Pro, except that a Mac Mini doesn't really have the storage options you need. That's why a low end Mac Pro should be ok.

    If you really wanted, you could probably go with a Mini with an external drive or larger setup. The boot drive is still going to be slow, but an SSD in that slot could speed it up. I'd upgrade to the discrete GPU if you're going that route.

    Audio recording and presenting really does not require a high end machine.

    One thing you didn't mention... you said you're editing video... are you editing the video on this machine? Video playback doesn't require much but editing might.
  5. Mike Valmike macrumors 6502a

    Feb 27, 2012
    Chandler, Arizona
    So far everything goMac has said is the same as what I would have. Sounds like you have a good handle on your working needs for this. As he said, there's probably a way you can use a Mini or even iMac on this, but given that storage is a key part of your usage, probably better to stick with the original plan.

    Just so you are aware, it's widely speculated (as Apple never comments or confirms new release info) that we will see a new Mac Pro this summer, possibly as soon as at the WWDC next week. It might be worth your while to at least give it until the middle of the month before you pull the trigger on a buy, just to be prudent. If you end up going with the 2010 Mac Pro anyway, whether because you need it right now or because Apple doesn't announce anything next week, or what have you, buy it refurbished from the Apple refurb page or from Amazon Warehouse and save a nice chunk of change. There's very little incentive to buy a Mac Pro from new stock from Apple or a reseller right now. You pay more and gain essentially nothing versus your other options.
  6. jrm27, Jun 4, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2012

    jrm27 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 3, 2008
    Thanks for the info. That is good to know.

    Actually, all video creation/editing is done on my imac. It chokes up a bit when rendering in after effects, but such is life. I'm thinking that once we replace the computer for the sanctuary, I might set up the old mac as a rendering machine to take some of the load off my imac. But thats for a different thread.

    Will the mac mini be able to feed multiple displays? I thought it only has one video out. Can the graphics card handle the load of pushing to basically three displays? The main one used to operate the mini, the one that feeds the main sanctuary, and the one that feeds the overflow section?

    I'm okay with externals drives for storage space, we've locked down access to the room where the computer is kept, so no one is going to be disconnecting anything.
  7. leftywamumonkey macrumors 6502a


    Jun 23, 2010
    A 2011 27" iMac would be fine since it has two TB ports.
  8. Darien Red Sox macrumors regular

    Dec 13, 2010
    CT, USA
    Are these two the same? If so you could use a splitter to split whatever single you are running to them.
  9. goMac macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
    True, but OP already has a screen, and once you start adding external drives to an iMac (along with the enclosure) the price difference between that and a Mac Pro starts to break down.
  10. TableSyrup macrumors 6502

    May 29, 2012
    Your recording and video streaming needs SHOULD require as much power as you can get your hands on to oprate Pro Tools stably (The Mac Pro's are the most stable solution for Pro Tools, period)

    Pro Tools, as killer as it is, does not play well with 3rd party - particularly LE Native systems

    1st - I would take the current Mac Pro to an Apple Store for an overnight diagnostic - FREE

    A mac pro 1,1 - with 16GB or 32GB should be plenty, since, at most, you are pulling 16 or so channels during recording
    Bumping it up to an Apple 5770 video card will help tremendously
    I suspect faulty RAM or Video Card/s here, or failing hard drives (I'm assuming you are running a separate internal drive for your Audio Sessions - EXCLUSIVELY for that purpose) - hopefully not a processor, PSU, or Logic Board issue
    Although, all of those are fairly easily addressed
    You could very likely replace ram, and video cards, and be just fine
    Also, what OS are you running? I'm thinking you should be on PTLE8.0.5, but that depends on OS
    You could bump RAM to 16GB or 32GB and swap the processors for X5355's or X5365's (5355's far more cost effective), and SSD for System and Audio if you can, and then you have tons of RAM and 8 cores -PLENTY for PTLE while simultaneously streaming video
    This would be a cheaper solution than a newer Mac Pro - and still offers performance exceeding what you should need for your purposes

    Given more substantial issues, if that's the case, and if you have the budget, then I would suggest a 2009 or newer Mac Pro with as much RAM as you can offer it, and PT10HD which will run in native mode with full capability (Like PT10 (native) with the complete production toolkit) but at a better price

    Either way - I would start with taking it in to an Apple Store and having them run diagnostics - FREE - and you can have it back with answers the next day

    Also, another reason to stay with the Mac Pros - if you guys ever decide to move to HD, HD Native, or HDX, you can still run that machine.
  11. laserbeam273 macrumors 6502

    Sep 7, 2010
    I know at my church we use iMacs for the bulk of the media coverage, and we run some pretty epic sets. They're loaded with SSDs too. Though TableSyrup has some solid points there as well.

    Does your church have a ethernet network? To me it makes sense to run backups over a network rather than locally, as if the machine fails in a spectacular manner, or is stolen (like two of our iMacs recently :(), then you'll still be safe if you run it over a network.

    I wouldn't get a mini though.
  12. Cindori macrumors 68040


    Jan 17, 2008
    Run hi-def video and handle recording? An iPhone has enough horsepower to do that. You don't need anything other then a Mac Mini.
  13. prodeveloping macrumors newbie

    Jan 20, 2011
    I think for sanctuary use you're going to want to stick with a Mac Pro, as opposed to a Mini, because of the video output options (in addition to having the option for internal drives).

    While it sounds like a Mini could run your current setup, what if you decide to add a confidence monitor or change to a multi-screen setup (like PP5 can do)? If you're doing any live video work, you might eventually want to add the Alpha Keying module too.

    The suggestion of upgrading video cards/RAM on the current machine is valid too -- no reason not to at least try and get that working better (even if you got a new Pro, you'd still have a very capable machine).
  14. Litany macrumors member

    Jun 5, 2012
    Ditto. Best leave some tithes for the crystal roof or something more ornamental to attract more customers...erm....suckers....erm........followers.
  15. jrm27, Jun 5, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2012

    jrm27 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 3, 2008
    Well, it's kind of a convoluted setup. We originally tried using an splitter to split the source, but it created some problems. Not sure why, and the company we were working with couldn't figure it out either. The picture became corrupted, and something was causing the resolutions to be messed up. We found that installing the second video card was the most reliable setup. In basically mirrors one of the outputs from the original video card.

    These are all valid points. We currently do all our recording to a dedicated hard drive within the unit. It hasn't caused any problems. Granted, we dont tax it too hard. When we record a 16 channel setup, it is done from the front fo the room with a MacbookPro, a Digi003 and a Presonus Digimax to interface with. Otherwise, we use the MacPro for other lighter recording duties, mixing, etc...

    I didn't know apple did free overnight diagnostics. That's cool. The nearest Apple store is about 120 miles away, so next time I can get everything together and be somewhere close for at least 24 hours, I think taking it in could prove very beneficial. Good idea, thanks.

    I've been toying around the idea of imacs... My main concern is expandability for video output if needed. We're in the process of acquiring a scaler/switcher, so hopefully that takes care of a lot of the need for an extra video out from the computer. I personally use an imac for all the media creation and it has been rock solid. Plus, I like the small footprint without a tower. It's always nice when you can maximize space. Would the video outs of the imac be sufficient over time? Do you think they are powerful enough? I just want to make sure that we're not pushing everything 100% to make it work.. in the past that seems to be where we start to run into trouble.

    We do have an ethernet network. Some of the computers run the backup through it to our local server, but with a recent server failure (there was still a second backup elsewhere), I've personally been more comfortable with an additional local drive for that computer to back up to. But maybe its time to revisit that.

    These are good points. Thanks for helping me think of them. I'm pretty sure we wont be going multi-screen anytime soon. But that is always something to consider. Currently, we do run a confidence monitor, but it gets the feed that is going everywhere (the main screen and the overflow room). It actually works out nicely. But being able to have the flexibility to evolve the setup sure would be nice.

    I certainly would like to get the old machine working better. It would be great to be able to use it as a solid resource for other areas in our church. heck even using it to supplement the video work would be great... if we could get it working better and more solidly.

    Thanks all! Please keep the input coming. This is very helpful.
  16. TableSyrup macrumors 6502

    May 29, 2012
    The long diagnostic takes around 4 or 5 hours if the machine isn't 'slumping' it's way through it - so a good hunk of the day nearby should suffice

    Did a reinstall take place prior to the issues?

    You might wanna go through the Mac optimization routine for Pro Tools again to ensure you have the machine configured properly

    Also, I haven't noticed it so much with PT8, at least not on my machines (ballsy-ish) - but....
    Pro tools will 'look' at ANY drive connected, and DOES NOT play well with USB - so if you have ANY USB drives attached (HDD's, Flash, etc) , this can cause PT to bog the system.
    Has to do with disk allocation on a slow bus
    Just something to try. Remove any USB drives while running PT
  17. jrm27 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 3, 2008
    I'll check out the mac optimization routines... its always good to double check that.

    As far as a reinstall taking place prior to the issues, no. Its just something that has kind of gotten worse over time.

    Yes, you are correct, PT does not like USB attached drives. We never record to them, but we'll try disconnecting during the next recording and see if that helps too.
  18. Ironsoccerman macrumors member

    Aug 1, 2011
    Detroit, MI
    Make sure you know that the new Mac Pro is likely coming out next week if that is still on your mind :p
  19. jrm27 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 3, 2008
  20. hamean macrumors member

    Dec 16, 2010

    I wouldnt use a mini for your application. In your setup, failure is not an option and you need a rock solid solution. A mini will give you a maximum of two video outs with an additional USB solution for a stage display. Even then, that would be a lot of pixels to push especially with a couple HD moving backgrounds in there. I love having that internal time machine backup.

    Im a worship pastor/ technical director myself. We use a 2007 MBP to push a stage display and 720p projection image and usb stage display with propresenter; we are mobile so a laptop it is. We tried using a macmini for awhile but the usb to dvi adapter didnt like it.

    I also have a mac pro 1,1 in my office, a super solid machine but here we are in year 6.

    I would get a newer mac pro, maybe not latest generation, but one with newer guts. Also, i just put a 5770 in my 1,1 so so I could run FCPx, and it might prolong your MPs life as well. If you go new, get the base model with upgraded ram (assuming a refresh and not a product overhaul).

    Also a Mac Pro would allow seamless expansion With a matrox triple head to go card if you choose to add environmental or side screen stuff later.

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