Hardcore hobbyist/some freelance. Is the base quad enough?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by budha, Aug 13, 2010.

  1. budha macrumors member

    Mar 5, 2008
    Hello everyone. I'm trying really hard not to get into the obsessive power hungry (must have as much speed as possible!) mindset (4 vs 6 etc).

    I am a hardcore hobbyist and do some freelance occasionally on the side. I'm still young and I'm still learning how to get really good at motion graphics/after effects. I will probably do this for a living one day, but this will be my personal machine that I want to practice on.

    I will be using my machine for:

    Lightroom/Photoshop (20mb RAW files)
    Video editing/transcoding/compressing
    After Effects
    Cinema 4d (not insane stuff, but I want to use it to enhance motion graphics/do camera mapping, tracking etc)

    Will I be good w/ the 2.8 quad and 12gb of ram? Will this be fine for pretty much everything I do? I don't have insane deadlines, so will the speed be good enough? I want the Mac pro because of the multiple use of harddrives, future potential of having a RAID, etc.

    Thanks for slapping some reality on me!

    btw I am running a 2.5 year old MBP and it's really slow...that's why I want to upgrade.
  2. philipma1957 macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
    Howell, New Jersey
    same boat as you i am going for the 2.8 quad with the better graphics. will add ram and maybe a good cpu later
  3. johnnymg macrumors 65816


    Nov 16, 2008
    The 2.8 will work just fine for a prosumer with programs like yours.

    That said, you won't see too much joy for the 2.8 around here. The consensus appears to be that the 3.2 is the logical base configuration from a price/performance perspective.

  4. brentsg macrumors 68040

    Oct 15, 2008
    Yes the 3.2 is the price/performance choice for the quad but the 2.8 will be a GREAT machine.

    For about a year I had a quad 2.66 i7 Windows box that I used for prosumer/hobbyist tasks such as gaming, video encoding, video editing, etc. I upgraded it to the hexa 3.33 CPU when that was released. While the upgrade is fantastic for video encoding, I do not believe that the difference is noticeable for any of my other tasks.

    Also, I don't use your other programs but 6GB RAM has served me very well in this box.
  5. SatyMahajan macrumors regular

    Apr 26, 2009
    Cambridge, MA
    Here are my suggestions (hopefully encouraging):

    1. Set a budget. Don't break it (If you have $2500...don't spend $3699 for a six-core). Being in debt is no way to future proof anything. Know that many people have used FAR lesser machines than a 2010 2.8 Quad Mac Pro to create great work!
    2. Know you WILL upgrade at some point (6 months, 2 years, 6 years, it'll happen).
    3. Know that any of the Mac Pros will eat your MBP for lunch. Especially for compressing/transcoding, AE, and C4D rendering :D So the quad will be WAY better than what you currently have.

    For what you're doing, the 2.8 will be an enjoyable machine. If you have the budget, 3.2/8GB might be a better value (a little more than 2.8/12GB assuming RAM from OWC). Can always add more RAM later. Dual Channel vs. Triple Channel is a non issue with the apps you've mentioned.

    I hope this helps!
  6. budha thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 5, 2008
    Thanks for the encouragement everyone.

    Byte, to be clear, none of the Adobe programs utilize triple channel ram? So if I put a 4th stick in there, it wouldn't mess anything up? I'll be using CS5 for the next few years at least.

    Is there a HUGE real world difference between 2.8 and 3.2. Are we talking about saving only 5 minutes here on a 30 minute h.264 job?

    For the 350 I save on not going to the 3.2, I could get the ram I need to reach 12.

  7. SatyMahajan macrumors regular

    Apr 26, 2009
    Cambridge, MA
    2.8 will be just fine. Most apps will not utilize the additional gains in memory bandwidth between dual and triple channel in real-world use. The tests that show a difference are synthetic tests that saturate memory bandwidth beyond what would normally happen in an app (even AE CS5). Most often, the bottleneck is going to be the hard drive over all else (which is why the mantra lately is SSD boot drive). If you have the choice, more memory is always better for After Effects. Also, to be clear, there's no difference in the type of RAM. It's just the config (i.e. using multiples of 2 chips will give you dual channel, multiples of 3 will give you triple channel, so you can always change later).

    If it makes you feel better, I do everything you want to do (Adobe CS3, C4D, Motion, FCP, Handbrake) plus Xcode and Logic music production flawlessly with my 2.26 Octo (16GB RAM, 4TB, 4870), which is worse at single threaded tasks than your new 2.8 quad. People on this forum have mentioned in the past about what a "bad value" that machine was. I find value in the tool and what I can make with it, not statistics. I set a budget, it fit the bill, and paid for itself.

    Good luck! Whatever you choose, you will enjoy it. Don't let anyone on this forum convince you that you made a bad choice. As long as you make a choice within your means and are able to do what you set out, it's a win.
  8. Quash macrumors regular

    Sep 27, 2007
    On a 30 minutes h.264 job the 3.2 quad is a maximum of 14% faster. Never more if the bottleneck is elsewhere the it's less to none at all.
  9. ghostchild macrumors 6502


    Jun 17, 2007
    im the same as you, but i got the 3.2 was about to get the 6 core for more future proof but spending the extra 1000 or so on ram and hd.
  10. Bartman01 macrumors regular

    Oct 23, 2008
    The more I look at either of the bottom 2 quad offerings, the more I talk myself out of getting a Mac. Both are the older Nehalem chips and not the newer Westmere. For the cost (or less) of the low end quad I can put together a 6 core system with 12 GB of RAM (in 2 triple channels) and an SSD that with a little work will run OSX.

    For the price of the single 6 core base machine I could both build my own system for heavy duty workloads/VMs and get a loaded Mac mini for day to day tasks or OSX only software.

    I've got a month or so before I am ready to do anything, but my old machine just isn't cutting it anymore. I was really wanting a Mac Pro at the last refresh but just couldn't justify the prices they were asking for the base models then - nothing has changed now.
  11. Chupa Chupa macrumors G5

    Chupa Chupa

    Jul 16, 2002

    I'm a hobbyist/prosumer myself, and had Mac towers since the mid '90s, sometime top line, sometimes, bottom rung, sometimes, clones (in the clone era). Last machine was an '06 2.66 QC, which I just sold. My wallet really likes the 2.8 QC low end based on some of the Geekbench scores. It's "inexpensive" enough that I can still afford to load it up w/ RAM as you suggest.

    That said, I'm waiting for MacWorld or BareFeats to post some real world application benchmarks. I don't see any point to order now since nothing is shipping, and won't be for another week. A few days patience will give us the answer as to whether the 3.2Ghz offers greater performance than the 14% premium over the base QC. I suspect it will be 10-12% improvement for 14% more dollars, not a huge value. But if I'm wrong and it gives, say a 20% boost, I'll have to reconsider.
  12. johnnymg macrumors 65816


    Nov 16, 2008
    There are a few hac builders on MR's and it seems that the general consensus is that the hassle factor makes building/maintaining one well............ a bit of a hassle. :p

    I'm still hoping the reviews/comparison indicate the 3.2 is a good compromise between power and cost. My real peeve is that Apple/Intel is still using slow mem for the 3.2. Apple has smartly spec'd the MP's to "persuade" prosumers into the hex. Hate them when buying and love them when I see my 401K quarterly statement. :)

  13. jamesedward macrumors member


    Jun 22, 2010
    Im a Graphic designer / photographer and I have been running of a 2008 2.2GHZ mac book and I can say that I really don't have all that many problems with it, I'l run photoshop, illustrator, deamweaver, and others.

    The main reason I'm moving on to macpro is that 120GB means regular problems with scratch disk and full drive affecting performance and future expansion.

    anyway I'm waiting 2.8 8gig macpro with the 5870.

    If the difference between the book and and pro is what one might expect
    your (and mine ) will walk the for mentioned tasks without even breaking a
  14. Bartman01 macrumors regular

    Oct 23, 2008
    I hear you, but for a personal machine -a little hassle is worth the massive savings of a decked out 6 core at base 4 core Mac Pro pricing (or even less). I'm not the type to constantly change out hardware, so once I got it running it would be fine for a while. Any anytime major changes are made (updates to OS or hardware) it seems pretty straight forward to image the drive and be ready to restore the image if things go south.

    To answer the original question (which I neglected to do in my original post): yes, the base model is 'enough' until your paying jobs require more power - but IMO you are overpaying for last years chip architecture. That is what is keeping me from pulling the trigger, and I am in a similar place as you.
  15. budha thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 5, 2008
    Sorry to start up this thread again, but knowing my situation...What would you recommend for a hard drive setup? I keep hearing about using a striped RAID as the scratch disk etc...but the only thing I do w/ photos is edit the RAW images in LR and PSCS4 (eventually CS5) and output them on the web. I use AE all the time, but I will never be working with uncompressed footage ever. Probably XDcam/p2 files.

    I think I definitely want a drive for boot, a drive for media, a drive for a scratch, and a 2tb time machine. Will this be fine, or will it really hurt my performance?

    edit: Rather than a SSD, would a Raptor 10k work well as a boot drive?
  16. Honumaui macrumors 6502a

    Apr 18, 2008
    for LR just put the cache on the same disc for now ?
    you can create a scratch disc for PS ? but since its a hobby for now just point it at the same disc as your files

    going to SSD over a short stroked dedicated cache drive this is for Lightroom will save you about .25 seconds per image in develop mode before the sliders go white and you can edit ? a SSD gets them in view in about half a sec vs .75 on my setup when I tested

    I would say pots up the drives you have now and any budget and you will get some feedback of ideas

  17. budha thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 5, 2008
    Hono, I guess what I'm getting at is that I want it to run well, but I want to be reasonable for my situation.

    I was thinking going all WD Caviar Black. 1 for the boot, 1 for media, 1 for scratch, and a 2tb for the time machine.

    All would be 7200rpm.
  18. Honumaui macrumors 6502a

    Apr 18, 2008
    that would be fine :) those times I got on a 3,1 or a 2.66 8 core ?

    one thing I might say that works really well is not to even worry about a dedicated scratch only but use part of a bu disc ?

    so something like

    tray 1) WD black boot (whatever size)
    tray 2) WD Black Storage lets just say 1TB drive
    tray 3) WD Black partitioned into two parts 100 gig for scratch and 900 left over for Backing up your storage or tray 2 drive
    tray 4) 2TB time machine

    this way you get your fast outside scratch and you get one more layer of BU
    I am tough on the have at least 2 BU cause if your main HD goes down you are now left with one set of work and !!!! thats to scary for me and think its wise to have that second layer built in

    the only thing I would say would be to have a clone of your boot ? its handy to get back up and running quickly if you need to
    simple enough to have another HD and put it in your extra optical bay and use that as a boot bu or clone
  19. Honumaui macrumors 6502a

    Apr 18, 2008
    one other reason I did all the testing on SSD was to get every last inch I could out of storage for myself ? and cause no one ever had real answers about SSD and Lightroom ?

    they all said OH ITS SO FAST ? well fast compared to ? and they would say you need two in raid 0 or your catalogs had to be on it also

    and as you can see SSD are faster I guess you could say %50 faster but in reality to some people that .25 seconds in dev mode is not a big deal ?
    and it also gives you some solid times to say is updating to SSD worth it !

    hope that helps :)

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