Do I even need a Mac Pro anymore?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by badlydrawnboy, Jun 16, 2013.

  1. badlydrawnboy macrumors 65816

    Oct 20, 2003
    I bought a Mac Pro in 2008 (3,1). At the time I was doing a lot of photography and using Photoshop extensively, working on relatively large images (Canon 5D II) with several layers. I upgraded it with an 120 GB SSD boot drive, a few 2 TB WD Caviar Blacks for media, and a 480 GB SSD I use for data and ACR scratch. I have 24 GB of RAM.

    Fast forward to today. I'm still doing a bit of photography, but my workflow has changed a lot. I use Lightroom 90% of the time, and the few times I do export to Photoshop it's to use a filter like Silver Efex Pro or Photokit Sharpener. I'm rarely working on images with several layers.

    I've noticed that my 2011 MacBook Pro is almost as fast, and in some ways feels snappier, with Lightroom than my 3,1 Mac Pro. I know the most recent MBPs and iMacs are far quicker still than the 2011 MBP I have.

    I've read all about the new Mac Pro, but now I'm wondering if I even need that. I'm not a gamer, I don't do video stuff, and my photography work is mostly limited to Lightroom. Maybe an iMac with external TB storage is enough for me? The one downside of this solution is that I have an NEC PA271 monitor that I really love, and prefer to the iMac display. That said, I don't do ultra-critical color work so I suppose I could just sell the NEC if I buy an iMac.

    Another option would be to buy a 2010 Mac Pro, but that doesn't really make sense to me. I'd like to have TB ports and USB 3.0, since that's obviously the future for peripherals.

    What do you think?
  2. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    I presently use the quad 2.0 Mac Mini with 16 gig of RAM and SSD drives and a NEC PA241w monitor.

    While my Photoshop file sizes are slightly smaller than yours for the most part, I also work with scanned images that are substantial (photo restoration etc.) in file size. The Mac Mini works well enough and though it isn't quite as fast as a more powerful Mac Pro or top iMac it does quite well. I suspect that the newer quad Mac Minis would fit the bill well for you if you max the RAM and use an SSD drive or two within.

    Hopefully, later this year the newer Macs will handle larger memory modules and thus be good moderate work stations for photo work. Later this year I'll either opt for a newer Mac Mini or check out (after a few reviews of hands on) the new Mac Pro (or should I say - Mac Mini Pro).

    Last - some people enjoy using two monitors when working with Photoshop and or Lightroom or both at once. In this you could use an iMac and your 27" monitor. For me, 24" or 27" is excellent useful screen real estate and I prefer one monitor.
  3. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California

    Any current Mac (except the "'air" does not allow for enough RAM) can handle making light edits in LR. Get the screen you like and fast enough storage.

    The MBP, your current monitor and a fast TB based disk array would make for a pretty high-end system.
  4. badlydrawnboy thread starter macrumors 65816

    Oct 20, 2003
    I already have a MBP and am planning to upgrade it when they come out with the new models soon. But I don't want to use that as my primary system, unless I can find a way to do it that minimizes desktop clutter. Also, my wife and I currently share the Mac Pro/MBP, so we need more than one computer between us.
  5. durruti macrumors regular


    Mar 26, 2004
    You could wait until if/when the Haswell Mac Minis become available.
  6. badlydrawnboy thread starter macrumors 65816

    Oct 20, 2003
    Has that been rumored? I've heard about new Mac Pro, Macbook Pro refresh, but not Mac Mini refresh.

    I definitely noticed an increase in performance when I went from 16 GB to my current 24 GB with the Mac Pro. The Mini is limited to 16 GB, right?
  7. dmax35 macrumors 6502

    Jun 21, 2012
    If you switch over to Nikon, you wouldn't have to do so much workflow behind the scenes.. :D Sorry just had to throw out and I'm kidding.

    You bring up a very valid point, many other photographers deal with the same situation.
  8. OS6-OSX macrumors 6502a


    Jun 13, 2004
    1. Check the Adobe forum to see what specs the 3.1 MP's have that use lightroom
    2. You did not mention your OS on the MP or MBP. Perhaps 10.8 will have Lightroom feeling "snappier".
    3. A 2010 MP does not make sense unless you run into a great deal because of people interested in the MP 6.1
    4. You did not list the video card in the 3.1 If it's a 256mb-512mb card an upgrade there may be needed.
    5. To sale your NEC and have to stare into an "Apple" screen may just drive you insane! :D
    6. I am not into photography but would never sale my LaCie 324 to stare into an Apple anything!
    7. Buy a 24inch LED LCD tv and use as your 2nd monitor.

    If the OS is still $29.99 you can get a shot to keep everything intact for a small price. Maybe better to plug a spare HD into slots 2-4 for 10.8 just in case there are any conflicts (no Rosetta)
  9. ValSalva macrumors 68040


    Jun 26, 2009
    Burpelson AFB
    If the Haswell rMBP's drive 4K displays I think a lot of people in similar situations to the OP will go with those instead of the Mac Pro. For users not doing heavy video or 3D work the graphics in the new Mac Pro are overkill. It's too bad the dual workstation graphics cards are the price of a single socket Xeon.
  10. badlydrawnboy thread starter macrumors 65816

    Oct 20, 2003
    That's exactly what I was suspecting: that the new MP might be overkill for me.

    However, I don't think 8 GB of RAM in the rMBP is enough for what I do. The advantage to the iMac is that it goes up to 32 GB, which would probably be plenty. The disadvantage is that it's attached to a display. If the Mac Mini gets Haswell and the upper limit of RAM is upgraded to 32 GB, that might be the best choice.
  11. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    That is correct. The chipset will technically take 32 on boards that take 4 sodimms. Apple doesn't do that with mobile chips. If you were looking at one of those, I would say go with the 2.3ghz quad version at $800. Max ram. Add ssd for scratch disks. It's not a bad solution. The imacs would probably be somewhat faster if you are using all available ram. They can go to 32, but you'll be using a semi-shiny screen.

    Don't make too many assumptions on the baseline options yet. They don't offer as much expansion as the old ones, so the motivation to buy one should really be performance driven either way.
  12. badlydrawnboy thread starter macrumors 65816

    Oct 20, 2003
    2. I'm running 10.8.4 on both.
    4. I upgraded to a Radeon 5770.
    5. That's what I'm concerned about, though I hear the new iMac displays are much, much better in terms of glare/reflection than they used to be.
  13. ValSalva macrumors 68040


    Jun 26, 2009
    Burpelson AFB
    That's a quandary I'm in too. I was hoping that the new Haswell 15" rMBP will get a BTO option for 32GB of RAM but that's a pipe dream. But 8GB is definitely not enough.

    I thought of the mini too but it only has one TB port. One TB port is fine if you have TB displays for daisy chaining but I have two DisplayPort displays and need the two TB ports for each display.
  14. badlydrawnboy thread starter macrumors 65816

    Oct 20, 2003
    Glad you pointed that out. More than one TB port would definitely be a plus. What about something like the Belkin Thunderbolt Express dock?
  15. ValSalva macrumors 68040


    Jun 26, 2009
    Burpelson AFB
    Thanks for the link. The one review mentioned having potential trouble with his display connected to the dock:

    It might not work with two displays. Nevertheless, I'm going to bookmark that and keep it in mind. Maybe the price will come down :eek: :eek:
  16. barmann macrumors 6502a

    Oct 25, 2010
    Any relation to this fellow ? ;)

    Funny how your MP 3.1 feels slower than your MBP ; any chance you run Lightroom in 32bit mode on the MP ?
    Don't know if 32bit LR is even available for Mountain Lion, but maybe worth checking .

    I'm not using LR, but have seen complaints about its performance many times , like here ; to be fair, the same goes for Aperture, Capture1 and even Bridge, anything involving image library management .

    Anyways; I don't think that replacing your well specced MP 3.1 with a later model would gain you much re. performance , and still there would be no USB 3.0, TB, etc ..

    An iMac or MBP offers the latter, but you'd run most of your files through a bottleneck, aka external storage (depending on who you ask) .
    16GB of RAM should be plenty for LR, with either Mac; with the MBP you can use your NEC display; only you can decide if the iMac screen is acceptable , it isn't for me .
  17. badlydrawnboy thread starter macrumors 65816

    Oct 20, 2003
    I just found this review of the 2012 iMac on Lloyd Chambers' site. For most usage scenarios, it's considerably faster than even a maxed out 2010 Mac Pro.

    I wish I could just buy the computer part of the iMac! Seems my choice is to sacrifice display quality and buy an iMac and sell my NEC PA271, or just wait for the new Mac Pro and be content with overkill. Wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. I've been fine for 5 years with the 2008 Mac Pro; I'm sure I'd be good for at least another 5 years with the new one.
  18. Chupa Chupa macrumors G5

    Chupa Chupa

    Jul 16, 2002
    Yes, I agree, and Apple did for a brief time a couple years ago w/ the high end mini. But then for no explicable reason they removed the discrete video. You sound like you are in the same Purgatory I'm in -- the new MP is almost too much computer (I'm not editing 4K media anytime soon), the iMac too inflexible + I prefer 2x 24" monitors to 1 27", the mini, flexible but not powerful enough, thus no real solution.

    I'm waiting it out to see how much the entry MP costs and also if they bring the discrete video back to the mini. If the MP ends up starting with a "3" and no video in the mini I guess I'll suck it up and buy a tricked out 27" iMac, but that won't be a satisfying purchase.
  19. badlydrawnboy thread starter macrumors 65816

    Oct 20, 2003
    Yep, we're in exactly the same place, it seems. I use an NEC 27" in landscape and have an NEC 24" next to it in portrait that I use for editing long text documents, etc. Of course I could still use the 24" next to the iMac, but then I'd have to sell the NEC 27" which I'd rather not do since I prefer it as a display.

    I, too, would rather not spend $3,499 on the computer—especially since I will have to spend $1–2k on an external storage solution, since neither the new MP nor the iMac have the internal storage abilities of my current MP. The crappy thing is that regardless of whether I buy a maxed iMac or new MP, I'm guessing I'll be spending in the neighborhood of $5k at least.
  20. fa8362 macrumors 65816

    Jul 7, 2008
    No. You don't need a Mac Pro. You don't even need an iMac. An 2.3GHz i7 Mac Mini with 16 GB of RAM is more than plenty for what you do. That setup is $900 and change. Save your money.
  21. badlydrawnboy thread starter macrumors 65816

    Oct 20, 2003
    How do I drive two non-Thunderbolt displays with this set-up?

    And will this be faster than my current 3,1 MP 2.8 Ghz quad-core Xeon with ATI Radeon 5770, 24 GB RAM, SSD boot drive?
  22. fa8362, Jun 17, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2013

    fa8362 macrumors 65816

    Jul 7, 2008
    Just hook them up with the appropriate adapter. The mini has a display port and an HDMI port. If I recall correctly, it comes with a display port to DVI adapter.

    Faster? Just look it up:

    If your is the Intel Xeon W3530 2800 MHz (4 cores), then yes. That model benchmarks at 8600 and change.

    Those are general benchmarks, so there might be an exception or two on a specific task, but those benchmarks will predict performance on most operations. My own i7 2.3GHz with 16 GB of RAM benched at 10,900 and change. Or you can get the 2.6GHz option which benchmarks at about 11,700.

    You can add a SSD boot drive to the Mini. Rather than open the Mini, I'd do it externally and connect it via USB 3.0.

    I haven't done it, but people who have say the performance difference is not noticeable vs installing it internally.
  23. designs216 macrumors 65816


    Oct 26, 2009
    Down the rabbit hole
    I made the switch from MP to MBP when the quad core processors debuted in the Pro laptops. It enabled me to have one compact powerhouse that can not only handled heavy lifting but also travel to client meetings. Add to that the capability for fast external storage and the case becomes even more compelling.
  24. badlydrawnboy thread starter macrumors 65816

    Oct 20, 2003
    Thanks for that benchmark link; I'd never seen that before.

    Not sure if the Mini makes sense for me, since it's barely better than my 3,1 MP in terms of benchmark/performance (11,678 vs. 10,839).

    According to that list I'd be better off with a 2012 MP. But I wouldn't want to buy a Mac w/o USB 3.0, in particular, or TB.
  25. badlydrawnboy thread starter macrumors 65816

    Oct 20, 2003

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