Final configuration choice (update: now how do I install the wireless?)

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by alphaod, Aug 17, 2009.

  1. alphaod macrumors Core

    alphaod

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    #1
    I'm heading out to the store tomorrow to get either the 2.66GHz 8-core or the 2.93GHz 8-core Mac Pro.

    I'm stuck with a dilemma.

    If I get the 2.66GHz model, I will buy a Intel X25-E 64GB drive as my boot disk and then get 3x 300GB VelociRaptors in RAID 5 along with the Mac Pro RAID card. It will also house 6x2GB for a total of 12GB of RAM.

    If I get the 2.93GHz model, I will buy 4x 300GB VelociRaptors in RAID10 and just use the built-in RAID option. This will be also mean I will only get 6x1GB for 6GB of RAM.

    I will buy the Radeon 4870 for either choice.

    Which would offer me a better long term choice? Yes I know this sounds silly, but I'm trying not to spend too much (This is already over my initial budgeted price—about twice as much :eek:). The total purchase price for both configurations is about the same. My intended usage life is 3-4 years.

    I already have a Drobo for backing up, so I have that covered.
     
  2. Dreamail macrumors 6502

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    #2
    Two good choices.

    Taking a step back, I'd say you should get the higher-end variant of those components which are not easily upgradable in the future.

    The Apple RAID card used to be sold only with new Mac Pros, so people who wanted one, needed to purchase it with a new system.
    But I think this changed and you can purchase the Apple RAID card later.
    So maybe not needed right away.

    How easy is it to upgrade the 2.66GHz CPUs with 2.93 or 3.2 CPUs later on?
    If this is a pain then perhaps worth getting faster CPUs now, seeing as it should last you as long as possible.


    Otherwise you didn't state what you intend to use it for today and maybe 1-2 years from now (if you know).

    If render speed is what you need, on all 16 threads, then the 2.93 model is better.

    If a responsive system is what you need then the X25-E and 12GB RAM will get you much further.
    But then both these items you can easily upgrade at any time later, e.g. in half a year if/when Intel upgrades the Enterprise SSDs as well and DDR3 4GB RAM sticks come down in price.

    If data security is important then perhaps the Apple RAID card is the better choice as it has proper battery buffered write caches.
    Software RAID makes little sense if you don't even have a backup battery.
    Yet neither of the two help you much in case of system crashes, which the new Mac Pros do experience once in a while (at least mine who must use some older, probably buggy drivers).

    If you want to boot into Windows too software RAID might not be for you either, in case you want to use the RAID in Windows too. The Apple RAID card can boot in Windows too AFAIK.

    I'm still not convinced Apple will not introduce a BTO BluRay option for Mac Pros once Snow Leopard is introduced.
    If BluRay is of great interest to you, you might want to wait with your purchase until Snow Leopard is formally introduced. Only 3-4 weeks it seems.


    Any more specific uses?
     
  3. Cynicalone macrumors 68040

    Cynicalone

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    #3
    Of those two choices I would get the 2.93Ghz model. My reasons in no particular order.
    • You can add RAM later, probably for less since DD3 will continue to come down in price.
    • You can add a larger SSD later basically for the same reasons as the RAM these prices are dropping very fast.
    • The Apple RAID Card is worthless. I have the 09 version it is a worthless POS.
     
  4. nanofrog macrumors G4

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    #4
    Absolutely. :D

    OP, if you want a proper RAID card, you can do much better for the same money. Take a look at Areca (ARC-1212/1222, or ARC-1680 series, Atto, or even Highpoint's 43xx series). I'd avoid anything else from Highpoint, or CalDigit (anything).

    You'd get better performance, stability, better OS support (some driver, some boot possibilities) and depending on the model, additional features, such as Partition Table backups on the card and upgradable cache.
     
  5. alphaod thread starter macrumors Core

    alphaod

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    #5
    Well my laptop isn't working out very well as a desktop and the Mac mini is a POS if I try to do anything other than viewing pictures. I know neither or these machines cut it since my load is about 6.0 almost 24/7, with 8GB of swap and about 10 million pages in and outs.

    Right now my uses are regular usage (AKA browsing etc.), with occasional photography processing via Lightroom and Photoshop. I just came back from a trip with a crap load of HD video footage, so I will be buying Final Cut Studio and One-to-One to learn it.

    I will not be installing Windows on this computer at all. I already have a Windows tablet computer and that's sufficient for me.

    Honestly, I probably will never see 16 threads being used to the max and if anything, I'd see better single core performance boosts from running multiple applications.

    I know the SSDs are dropping in price, but I want a responsive machine; I care about random access more than sequential; boot times do not matter as I do not shutdown my computer. I will run a UPS as a battery backup.

    Bluray is really is little concern me with the exception of an archival medium. I really would like to record many of my already backed up photographs to a few Bluray disks and store them off-site in a deposit box or something.

    I don't see myself upgrading anything really, short of adding more RAM as needed or replacing the video card.

    Since everyone is telling me the RAID card is worthless, I will not buy it then.

    I will probably not upgrade my internal drives once I have them set up since I'm too lazy to do so. The most I'll do is get a eSATA card and expand to external drives are needed. If I don't get the SSD now, it's unlikely I'll go back and replace the internal boot disks with SSDs later.

    I'll look into that in the future then.

    That is, if I get around to it. :p

    Anyways thanks for the late-night replies (at least late for me); it looks like I'll be buying the 2.93GHz model.
     
  6. nanofrog macrumors G4

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    #6
    If you aren't planning to boot often, SSD may not be worth it to you, as this is it's strong point. As I understand it (from Tessellator), once you make the initial load of the application, subsequent loads occur faster (assuming the system's not been shut off). At least that's what was happening with his video editing software, as I'm not sure on other applications. I'd think this may be different for audio software though, as not all the parts are loaded unless engaged by the user. So it would seem to be application specific.

    Just a thought. ;)

    BTW, I hope you enjoy it, and good luck. :)
     
  7. alphaod thread starter macrumors Core

    alphaod

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    #7
    Thanks.

    I will post some more when I get the machine.
     
  8. jjahshik32 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2006
    #8
    I chose the 2.66GHz 8 core. It seems to be a good amount faster than the 2.26GHz version while not lagging too far behind the 2.93GHz model.

    Also under turbo boost the 2.66GHz gets up to 2.93GHz so I thought that was fast enough.
     
  9. Dreamail macrumors 6502

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    #9
    I see your point about being lazy with upgrades.
    'Never change a running system' also comes into play.

    If you're not going for a RAID card, and since you will have a UPS, perhaps instead of the Intel Enterprise SSD consider an OCZ Colossus 3.5" SSD.
    These are basically 4 OCZ Vertex drives in an internal RAID.
    And from what I understand SSDs really start to fly in a 2-3+ RAID setup. That's when they offer faster speed throughout, not only for booting.

    http://www.anandtech.com/storage/showdoc.aspx?i=3608


    Basically you would be getting:
    a) high-end RAID speed
    b) SSD
    c) relatively high storage capacity (up to 1TB!)
    All in one nifty package.

    The Colossus drives should become available within 2 weeks.


    This would be instead of:
    a) the Apple RAID card
    b) the Intel SSD
    c) the Velociraptors
    And be about the same price as all the above.
    Granted, the Colossus uses MLC, but it should still last 5-10 years, well within your intended usage for the Mac Pro.
     
  10. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    Vancouver, BC
    #10
    The 2.66 is the most sensible choice. The 2.93 is well into diminishing returns territory.

    Instead of getting the Apple RAID Card, get a fourth Raptor and run them in RAID10 from the drive bays. Install your boot SSD in the optical bay.

    Alternatively, get a pair of SSD's and run them in RAID0 for your serious work and a pair of Raptors in RAID0 for your larger storage needs and then a really big drive for backups (in the optical bay).

    The latter is what I would do.
     
  11. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #11
    The Colossus 1TB is a nice drive to be sure, but given the basis on which it's built, it's not the perfect solution either, unless that performance needs to be from a single SATA port (the bottleneck, as it's limited to 375MB/s).

    The VR's would be a mistake these days as well, as larger drives such as the Caviar Black's can give similar results, especially if partitioned to run on the outermost tracks (short stroke setup), even for Random Access.

    At best, put the OS & apps on a pair of SSD's (stripe set), and set a stripe of large drives up for data (additional capacity is likely going to be needed over what a pair of VR's can deliver).
     
  12. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    #12
    I'm able to put my active project files on my SSD's but I'm working with short videos (eg. 5-10 minutes). You are correct that it's not feasible for larger projects.

    As you say... the choice of drives for the larger array really depends on storage needs.

    Also, I see the OP has a Drobo so no need for a 5th drive for backups (I missed that earlier).
     
  13. Dreamail macrumors 6502

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    #13
    If SSD speed is your real concern there are other solutions too.
    E.g. the 1TB Z-Drive, a PCI-Express solution.
    http://www.amazon.com/OCZ-Technology-OCZSSDPCIE-1ZDRV1T-Z-Drive-PCI-Express/dp/B00284ABEQ
    Though that price is still a bit insane.

    Yet if you really want to go SSD high-end there's the FusionIO ioDrive:
    http://www.fusionio.com/PDFs/Data_Sheet_ioDrive_2.pdf
    Likely one of the fastest non-volatile storage solution on the planet.

    But for 'mere mortals' the product to watch out for is the ioXtreme:
    http://www.fusionio.com/ioxtreme/
    Alas no Mac drivers yet. They emailed me that they're working on them, but it'll still be a few months.
     
  14. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    #14
    :D I'm interested PCIe solutions, and in particular, the ioDrive Duo. But given the pricing, it will be a while before I leap. ;)

    I'll stick with mechanical drives in RAID until the cost/GB lowers enough for my tastes. :)
     
  15. alphaod thread starter macrumors Core

    alphaod

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    NYC
    #15
    Got to the store. There were only one of each configuration at the store. Apparently someone had already bought the 2.93 model a few minutes before me, so the result is that I ended up getting the 2.66 model. I'm still pretty content and I believe this configuration is sufficient for my needs. I still need to go pick up the 4 HDDs to install into this machine. I won't be getting the RAID card at the moment.

    I do have an issue being that I bought the wireless card upgrade kit, but there is no antennae in the box that came with the card. Is it just plug and play with the antennae already installed on the computer?
     
  16. TheStrudel macrumors 65816

    TheStrudel

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    Jan 5, 2008
    #16
    Aren't none of those mac compatible yet? They all look fascinating, but I wasn't aware any would actually work in a mac yet. I know the page lists it, but I've yet to see a single article on the web about actually using one.

    I'm very interested in OCZ's vertex and colossus drives. Here's hoping that a year will push prices down to affordable.
     
  17. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    #17
    AFAIK, they haven't shipped yet, just announced in press releases.
     
  18. alphaod thread starter macrumors Core

    alphaod

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    #18
    I got home installed my 4 VelociRaptors :D. Got to the wireless, but it says the store should have installed it, but they didn't, so now I have to do it.

    Unfortunately there are no instructions… I got the point where I know where to install it, but the issue is there are 3 antenna cables labeled 1, 2, and 3, but there are only 2 connections on the Airport card. Which cables do I use? I read the Mac Pro guide here, but that's for the last generation model, so I'm not sure if things have changed considering the Bluetooth is now integrated into the computer.
     
  19. Dreamail macrumors 6502

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    #19
    As I had said before:

    The OCZ colossus drives have been announced and should (consensus of several tech websites) ship before the end of August. Likely last week of August. That'll be in about 2 weeks from today.

    FusionIO sent me an email that they are working on Mac drivers, but none exist yet.
    Their priority is to ship all announced products, including the ioXtreme, with Windows drivers.
    It shouldn't take a year but Mac drivers won't be here next month either.
    End of the year hopefully (their words).
     
  20. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    #20
    :cool: Thanks for the update in the FusionIO. At least they're being honest about the Mac support. :)
     

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