Head spinning- MacPro for Vid/photo editing.

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by LevinPhotoVideo, Aug 20, 2010.

  1. LevinPhotoVideo macrumors newbie

    Aug 17, 2010
    OK. The info here has been really helpful and I am just one thread (this one) from making my decision to order a new machine today or tomorrow.

    The choices I've been working with for my needs are:

    A) Quad with 3.3 upgrade 6 core, 6 GB memory, 5870 card== $4124.00US Apple store


    B) 2.4 8 core, 8GB memory, 5870 card= $3849.00US Apple Store.

    I'd also be purchasing the 27" Apple display when that is available.

    My first question is this: It's been stated that the six core ends up being less money than the eight core. But as you can see when I configure the above machines, the six core comes out well above the 8. Am I missing something?

    I am looking at this machine to do FCP, Compressor, color, and Photoshop primarily. Either set up would do the job I'm guessing. And I'd like to not upgrade to a new machine for four to five years!

    If that is the case, would going the 8 core route be the way to go? I know that (for now) FCP does not take advantage of the architecture of the multi-core/processor?

    Again, I won't waste any more time with any more questions, but just want to finalize this with the great opinions and suggestions you guys have.

    Thanks so much.

  2. J the Ninja macrumors 68000

    Jul 14, 2008
    Hex is going to be a lot better at Photoshop, a lot of the stuff it does is harder to thread. The hex is actually STILL faster even if the program can use every core in the octo, due to the higher clock. So assuming FCP's renderer can be threaded up the yinyang (and they actually do it, instead of say.....idk, copying and pasting Motion's engine and doing it all on the GPU)....the hex still wins. The tradeoff is half the RAM slots and a few hundred extra $$. Compressor can use every core....but yet again, the hex wins, since 6x3.33=20 and 8x2.4=19.2. Color is mostly the GPU, and you have a 5870 either way.

    So it's up to you. I'd take the hex, personally.
  3. wonderspark macrumors 68040


    Feb 4, 2010
    The speed of the 6-core will be much better for you, in my opinion. I edit HD video, photos, etc. on a quad core 3.33, and it's been a hassle-free joy to work on.
  4. TheBritishBloke macrumors 68030


    Jul 21, 2009
    United Kingdom
    Hardly anything even utilises 8-Cores, so the much higher clock of the Hex-Core unit will be much more beneficial to you.
  5. ghostchild macrumors 6502


    Jun 17, 2007
    I got the 3.2ghz quad for your type of work. i will bump the HDs and Ram myself.
  6. butch10x macrumors regular

    Jul 30, 2010

    This is the exact setup i ordered 4 days ago. Still not shipped yet. Adding 12gb ram and a 2tb WD Caviar HD from OWC. I'm so excited, I'm wearing a diaper just in case. I'm upping from a MBP 2007 core 2 duo. I just received my NEC 27 multisync w/ calibrator 2 days ago. That monitor is just pure bliss! It too is waiting for the MacPro.

    I do heavy Lightroom and Photshop work primarily.
  7. SeanDL macrumors newbie

    Apr 27, 2010
    I had this exact same question and was debating between the same two systems as yourself. I personally deal with After Effects a lot more than a do Photoshop, so that ultimately influenced my decision.

    At the end of the day, the hex is pretty clearly the better system. I did however go with the 8 core model, simply because with the added system cost plus the added cost of the higher RAM modules required for the hex I just couldn't afford it. The 8 core fell just squarely inside my budget with 8 gigs of ram and room to grow. Does that mean it's the best system for the job? Absolutely not, however I know it's going to be a huge improvement over what I've been using in the past.

    If you can afford the added cost of the hex I say absolutely, no question, go for it. The geekbench scores have proven it outperforms the 8 core.

    I think what we should always remember to show, though, is that for most new Mac Pro owners any single one of these machines is likely to be a significant upgrade over the aging machine that came before.
  8. LevinPhotoVideo thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 17, 2010
    You guys are great. Thanks for your responses.

    I am upgrading from a 1.8 single processor 3.5 GB memory G5 Mac, if you can believe that. I've had many good years out of this machine, but I can't even install the upgrade to FCS 3 until I get in to intel.

    So yeah, an increase in performance is an under statement in my case.:)

    Is my choice with the 5870 graphics card over the 5770 wise for the type of work I do?

    And I suppose it's to soon to tell, but in your opinion, if the two machines were side by side (the 6 and the 8) and both were given some intensive render/filter operation, would the difference in speed be really noticeable?

    I'm pretty sold on the hex, but my only concern is if Apple comes out with an update sooner than later to FCS that somehow takes advantage of more cores, meaning the eight might be right.

    And a last question, the quote for the hex included an upgrade from 3 to 6GB of memory.

    1)Ideally, I'd like at least 8GB of memory, preferably 12GB. Should I order that machine with the stock 3GB memory, throw that out that memory and order from OWC or some other place to get my memory?

    So if I get the Hex core mentioned in my 1st post with the stock 3GB memory, upgrade card, etc. that makes the price $3899.00US, saving me $225.00 for some memory upgrade.

    2) Should one of the four slots remain empty? I read that that may (or may not) make a difference.

    3) Which type of memory? I think this machine takes two speeds(?) Either way which type would be best?

    Thank you again for your help. Don't know what I would do without the wealth of info on the net!!!

  9. SeanDL macrumors newbie

    Apr 27, 2010
    Even if FCP upgrades for better multicore support the hex is still likely to be faster. It's more expensive for a reason.

    You want to use three channels vs. four if at all possible, in a perfect world, and make sure it's 1333 instead of 1066 if you can. You are much better off just buying the base 3 gigs and tossing them (figuratively, dont actually throw them out) and installing after market RAM.

    As for the side by side comparison, tests will be coming. But the higher clock of the hex is going to yield better results for applications which don't yet handle multiple CPU's well. In Final Cut it will be a big help; in Adobe Premiere, less so. For you the hex seems like a pretty obvious choice since you can afford the added costs associated with the CPU and limited RAM slots.
  10. wonderspark macrumors 68040


    Feb 4, 2010
    Get minimum RAM and hard drive options, and buy 1333MHz RAM from OWC or Transintl. Get drives 3rd party as well. I'd choose the 5870 card.
  11. advres Guest


    Oct 3, 2003
    I'd go 3.2 quad, ditch the Apple screen and get a Dell Ultrasharp, get a cheap capture card like the Blackmagic Intensity Pro or Matrox MXO2, fill it with RAM from OWC and get a good set of studio monitors. You will have a machine that will last you plenty of time, will smoke your G5 and you'll have better peripherals than all the monkeys who spend $5000 on just the tower.

    Also, what are you doing for storage? Maybe get a Qx2 4 bay?
  12. LevinPhotoVideo thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 17, 2010

    Thanks for that. So with a 12gb memory upgrade (3x4) from OWC that adds $519.99US bring the machine up to $4419 + $900 for display + 2TB WD Caviar Black(second bay) $200 = $5519.00US

    I have to say that I usually get more memory than I think I need when I buy a machine and tha keeps me going the entire usable life of the computer. So I think 12 oughta hold me forever with this machine.

    Stuff adds up fast. Can I use one of the 1GB modules in the fourth slot, giving me a total of 13GB memory?

    I'll have to check, but I thought that some of the memory places bought back OEM memory.

    Thanks again.

  13. LevinPhotoVideo thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 17, 2010

    Yeah, the MXO, that's also on the list. I'm thinking the Mini, although I like the added conectivity of the MXO2, but it's a bunch more money.

    My plan is the be able to capture video off the "block" of the camera (canon XF300/305 or HVX170) into the Matrox, and into FC, uncompressed. For studio stuff now.

    I also need to pick up a small-ish cheap HDTV to monitor/grade color from FC. Not sure which one, but something affordable.

    As far as external storage, I like the Caldigit drives. I have a Lacie 1TB that's filling up fast. ProRes doesn't help.

    After this, the next thing I need to shop around for is WORK!!!

  14. SeanDL macrumors newbie

    Apr 27, 2010
    No you can't add the 1 GB to make 13. Even if you could you wouldn't want to, placing a stick in the 4th slot limits the RAM from the optimal tripple channel mode (some have said to single channel instead of even dual, but I've never seen conclusive evidence of this and am uncertain how true it is, so don't quote me on it).

    Some places do buy back the stock RAM, but it's good to have around in case your machine ever encounters 'problems' and you need Apple to troubleshoot. They'll generally complain about third party RAM even if it has nothing to do with the issue, so being able to pop the sticks they shipped it with back in will be beneficial.

    As for the cost, your rising figure is exactly why I personally went with the 8 core over the 6. I'm envious of anyone who can afford it though.
  15. advres Guest


    Oct 3, 2003
    The mini rocks too!

    Honestly I don't think you want to grade on any monitor cheaper quality than an UltraSharp. I'm getting a Dreamcolor next week. I use just a crappy Sceptre 1080p LCD TV for monitoring but the color is done on my good monitor which I think works good for me. So I monitor my edit on the TV and do color of the system screen. In a perfect world I could afford 2 dreamcolors, but that just isn't happening right now.

    LOL, yeah that is always fun. When I left my old post-company and moved here to Boston to go out on my own it was very touch and go. Work for a few weeks, have a few weeks off, etc. Now after 2 years of being in this city I finally have year round work and things are starting to click. Good luck to you!
  16. LevinPhotoVideo thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 17, 2010

    I might revisit the 8 core with 8gb memory like you have. I may be getting a little ahead of my self here, and with the economy and all....if I get supper busy I can then re-evaluate. So with the 8 core with 8gb mem 5870 a second (third party) 2 TB hd bay two, 27" display, that can be had for $4949.00, leaving me with $500.00 to get the Matrox mini. This also might help keep the marriage working

    Maybe this makes sense, though not as screaming hot!

    I need a drink real soon like right now, so this will be my last (sober) post for today.

    advres- I'm looking into the Dells and HP monitors, though for something about the same size as the 27" Apple display, seems like about the same money, so I guess 6 of these half dozen of the other.

    Thanks everyone, I real do need to step away from the CRT (yes, CRT) for a while.


  17. advres Guest


    Oct 3, 2003
    True, but the Apples are glossy and the others are matte. I don't know about you but I would hate to edit on a gloss screen all day.

    Cracking a beer too. Get away from your machine! :D
  18. reel2reel macrumors 6502a


    Jul 24, 2009
    Most *definitely* go for the 5870. I'm not sure if it's an OS or FCP bug, but some of the editors in our shop need to unhook one monitor (in a dual monitor setup) when rendering certain Plugins (Keylight, for example, and fxplugs) because there's not enough VRAM to support them with two monitors plugged in. So more VRAM the better.

    Definitely the Matrox over the BlackMagic. AJA makes the comparable LHi, too, which is awesome, but probably a bit more expensive. One of the Matrox rigs offers you both PCI and Expresscard hookups, which is awesome if you use a laptop, too.

    I use a 30" Dell because I'm not a fan of dual monitors and I love all the screen real estate. It's great for big timelines.

  19. aaaaaaron macrumors regular

    Jun 30, 2010
    future speed

    so let's pretend I have a lot of money or I upgrade over time, would a 3.33 hex with 32gb ram outperform a 2.4 quad with 64gb ram?

    maybe silly, but if i plan to keep upgrading the computer over time, i might eventually max out the ram. what do you think?

    also, would a photographer benefit by getting the 5870 over the 5770 if I would only be running a single, maybe dual, monitor set-up?
  20. reel2reel macrumors 6502a


    Jul 24, 2009
    I think it really depends what you do. I personally think what you're doing *now* is the most important thing and the future is not worth worrying about. If you feel a burning need to upgrade in a couple years, you can always sell and upgrade.
  21. aaaaaaron macrumors regular

    Jun 30, 2010
    I guess you're right :)

    mac mini it is, haha
  22. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009

    If the data in your working set, (data being crunched and/or have loaded into memory; other open projects ), is 32GB or more (e.g., 40GB of data) then no. Essentially, if you starve the hex core by making it memory saturated there is no advantage. The hex core machine will start virtual memory swaping and the 2.4 machine will breeze on past.

    If the data in your working set is smaller than 32GB then the yes. The 2.4 wouldn't be better able to offset the additional speed and cores. [ Although, I think you are talking about Dual Quad 2.4GHz . I don't see any single Quad 2.4s in the line up. So there is no core number deficient. ]

    If you spend the gap in money between the 2.4 and 3.33 hex on substantially better I/O ( significantly more memory and/or significantly better storage I/O) you can trade off the drop in core clock speed.

    Is your working set really going to get that big though? Workloads that require over 32GB of memory. Sure you can simultaneously open up 64 photos for editing, but do you really need to do that now or in the future ?

    The best thing to do is measure how much memory using right now. Even better to periodically measure what your working set memory high water mark is maybe every 1-2 months. Over time plot that. As you use your system over time that will give you better foundation for making predictions.

    Longer term perhaps. There is a difference is OpenCL performance between the two. Certain plug-ins and a subset of operations may leverage OpenCL in the future.

    For the ones that currently leverage OpenGL there is a difference now.
  23. brentsg macrumors 68040

    Oct 15, 2008
    I'd be weighing the 3.2 Quad vs the 3.33 Hex if I were you. Unless I knew I needed the additional memory slots now.. I wouldn't be looking at the Octo.

    The additional clock speed of the hex is going to keep it ahead of the 8 core. And since so few pieces of software can properly utilize 6 cores, the quad 3.2 is a good value.

    Note that my workhorse is a 3.33 Hex Win7/Linux box.
  24. 2contagious macrumors 6502a


    Apr 29, 2008
    Sorry for quoting you on it Sean, but I wanted to ask if it's possible to have only one of the four slots filled..I mean getting rid of the stock 3x1GB set up and replace it with a single 8GB stick, leaving the other three slots empty. Is this possible / what you meant by 'single channel'? I would then only get that one 8GB stick (for financial reasons) and buy a second and a third later on.

    PS: Also, about the 5770 and 5870 graphics cards.. which one would be less noisy? (Would a 6 core Mac Pro be noisy in general?)
  25. SeanDL macrumors newbie

    Apr 27, 2010

    I've also seen it written on here before (but can't find it now, so whoever initially posted this my apologies for not quoting you) that the general rule is
    1 stick: single channel
    2 sticks: dual channel
    3 sticks :tripple channel
    4 sticks: single channel

    True or not I don't know. I've always done RAM in pairs, and I'm waiting for my own machine still (Wednesday is so far away).

    As for noise: http://twitter.com/diglloyd/status/21683252522

    I think that applies more to the CPU than the videocard itself but apparently yes the hex is more audible than past machines.

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