Configuration calculator?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by curvephotograph, Sep 14, 2010.

  1. curvephotograph macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2010
    #1
    Wondering if there was any simple way to work out the best way of speccing a mac to your needs between, ram, raid, ssd etc as it seems either a dark art or a good guess?

    A lot of the advice I see is buy as much ram as possible as it improves everything but I think there has to be a limit to this for example if you only use one app at a time. Personally, if I'm using lightroom I don't need photoshop open and vice versa so would 12 gb be overkill with little or no benefit over 6 or even the base 3? I only open 1 16bit tiff at a time in photoshop, and the opening/saving seems to take longer than any processor action (I could be mistaken) so an ssd might be a more useful upgrade then ram?

    My budget would buy 12gb RAM or 6 and a small ssd that could hold 2 projects at a time (I usually only work on one at a time), if I bought 6gb would I regret not getting 12 - my mind is spinning :(

    Also activity monitor used to show both cores in my old duo machine but only shows one bar for cpu activity now how do I see activity for the individual cores?
     
  2. alphaod macrumors Core

    alphaod

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2008
    Location:
    NYC
    #2
    6GB should be the minimum and allows expansion to 8GB if you're using matched sticks. 12GB is a good amount to have (and what I have). There are times where I could use more RAM, but 90% of the time it's enough. 24GB is also nice, but that gets very expensive.

    For drives, it seems like a lot of folks are buying an SSD for their boot volume and a couple big 2TB drives for other stuff.

    Unless you must run 2 video cards because you have too many displays, I think the obvious choice is to get the 5870 video card.

    For a big machine like this, AppleCare is a must. I hope you're expected this is die in a year, so to make sure it lasts (even just so you feel good), get AppleCare.

    The RAID card from Apple just sucks. If you want you can consider third party RAID cards. Bootable is what you'd want. If you're using a third party RAID card you would need the sleds from MaxUpgrades.com or TransIntl.com

    I have an eSATA card as well. eSATA is a lot faster than FW800 if your drives can go that fast. You can even get an external SSD for scratch or quick projects with eSATA.

    I use iStat menus to visualize everything. Definitely worth the price.
     
  3. Sean Dempsey macrumors 68000

    Sean Dempsey

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2006
    #3
    RAM and SSD is faster than RAM and HDD.

    I'd go the 6 gigs of ram and SSD for sure, no question. The gains between a SSD and HDD, and 6 or 12 gigs of ram don't even compare. The SSD will be orders of magnitude faster than an HDD, even with 12 gigs of ram.

    SSD no question.
     
  4. leftPCbehind209 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2010
    #4
    As I understand, the SSD have fast bootup times. Other than that they open a program faster than a HDD. Right?

    I don't see how the SSD really helps the OP. I'm basing this on saying that saving 30 seconds on the initial boot and 10 seconds on loading a program isn't really squat compared to how many hours he probably spends editing pics.

    I'm also assuming that he wouldn't put pictures, videos on his SSD drive and would keep it solely for applications.

    Maybe he should just buy RAM right now (whatever is in his budget) and hold off on an SSD.
     
  5. Sean Dempsey macrumors 68000

    Sean Dempsey

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2006
    #5
    Well, you'd be wrong.

    I had a Mac Pro with a Raptor for a system and apps drive, and all other things on other internal drives. Plenty of RAM too.

    When moving back and forth between CS5 apps, that raptor sits and churns and groans all the time. While in theory, boot up and "opening an app" is the only time a drive would need accessed, the fact of the matter is your system drive is always being hit by requests. All the time.
     
  6. leftPCbehind209 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2010
    #6
    Thanks for clarification.

    How much would it help to have an SSD if I placed 8gb (in my case ~ 320 photos) of photos onto the drive that need to be edited in Lightroom or Photoshop? What is advantage or disadvantage?
     
  7. curvephotograph thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2010
    #7
    Thanks alphaod and Sean for your help and advice.

    leftPCbehind209, the slowest part of the process and the only time I am waiting is when the 16bit tiff's load and save so I was looking to put current jobs on the ssd I think it could save me a quarter of my time. I would move them to a HDD for storage after I had edited them this is purely for handling the larger 16 bit files (I convert them to more manageable 8 bit files once finished)

    I'm not questioning the benefits of the ssd, I'm convinced, I'm wondering if I need more ram as even though I only have the stock 3 it doesn't seem to be an issue for lightroom and I only open 1 image at a time in photoshop so its always at 100% efficiency in the little menue at the bottom of the open window.

    Interesting how much of a benefit Sean finds using one as a boot drive, I might have to buy two, the boot drive only needs to be v small my current setup (system/lightroom/ps5/illustrator/indesign etc) is just 20gb.
     
  8. leftPCbehind209 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2010
    #8
    I've thought about doing exactly what you described (putting current project files - pics - onto the SSD in order to speed things up). I thought that the constant writing to the SSD killed the drive though.
     
  9. Sean Dempsey macrumors 68000

    Sean Dempsey

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2006
    #9



    Install iStat monitor on your dashboard and run it for a week, or just check your page in/outs in the activity monitor.

    If you get Page Outs, you need more ram. Here's my current in/outs for the last 3 days of uptime. This is from a Macbook Pro with 8 gigs of ram, and heavy hi-res photoshop and indesign usage:
     

    Attached Files:

  10. alphaod macrumors Core

    alphaod

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2008
    Location:
    NYC
    #10
    Last time I did an export of about 900 photos in Lightroom with 4GB of RAM it took about 2 hours; when I upgraded it to 8GB my time was cut down to 45 minutes. Aparently Lightroom used about 3.5GB for the export. So I think the additional RAM helps a lot (FYI this import was done on a MacBook Pro, so it's probably faster and less obvious on my Mac Pro).
     
  11. Sean Dempsey macrumors 68000

    Sean Dempsey

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2006
    #11
    The moment you run out of ram, its like going from a 200mph bullet train, to a 20mph bicycle, instantly.

    So always max out your budget on RAM, but I'd recommend getting a SSD as soon as you have enough ram. All you need to do is monitor your page outs for 1 day of work to see where you are at on RAM. With 8gigs of ram, I can't get any Page Outs with the work I do, so money would be better spend on an SSD.

    But, if I was getting a 30:1 ratio or more of ins/outs, I'd go for more ram.
     
  12. Honumaui macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2008
    #12
    in PS check the efficiency when working on files ! if its below %100 ever then more memory maybe ?

    in PS choose WINDOW then choose INFO then use that little triangle go to panel info and choose scratch sizes and efficiency and timing and keep that window open and play with some of your files

    if your efficiency ever drops below %100 check the scratch sizes if your number on the left is bigger than the right that is at least how much short you are on memory ;)
    this is ballpark and remember these numbers are for the last thing ran ! so run things and keep an eye on them :)
     
  13. curvephotograph thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2010
    #13
    So I ordered 12 gb of RAM and was sent 16gb free upgrade, why am I getting so many page outs? It seems to be google chrome starts it off. I know I can tell PS how much RAM to use can I tell other apps too or do they work it out for themselves?
     

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