Help customizing a Mac Pro for design please.

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by MisterK, Mar 27, 2010.

  1. MisterK macrumors 6502

    Jan 9, 2006
    Ottawa, Canada
    Hi there.

    I do most of my work in Photoshop, Illustrator, with some Flash and Dreamweaver, and I will be taking up After Effects and, eventually, Final Cut.
    It's all web and video graphics work. Just a little bit of print.

    My Photoshop files are routinely from 500MB up to about 1.5Gigs in size and I often have several open at once. Sometimes I have to open or batch change PNG sequences that are hundreds of images. Finally, I need at least 1TB of local storage.

    I have a budget of around $5000 (flexible) for a new Mac Pro tower (I already have the displays and peripherals covered). I know new ones are coming out soon, but where would you spend the money if you were me? I'd like to keep this as a workhorse for 4-5 years or longer. I'm cool with spending a few hundred on it each year to keep it up to date.

    Do I go for fastest processor up front or save that and put in more RAM? Is an SSD a good idea? Should I have 2 Hds? More? What's the deal with RAID and should I do it? What about graphics card?

    Thanks so much if you can help me. My expertise has only been with the software side of things.
  2. tersono macrumors 68000


    Jan 18, 2005
    You need RAM. A second hard drive would be a good idea too - not necessarily for RAID but as a drive for video work, reducing the problems caused by fragmentation.

    Any of the gfx cards should do what you need. Faster processor is better, but not at the expense of RAM - 8gb should be your minimum and I'd go for 12-16gb from preference.

    Don't expand your RAM from Apple though - generally cheaper to buy from Crucial afterwards and add it yourself
  3. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    Are you doing much After Effects stuff? It's the only app that can actually take advantage of multiple cores and CPU power. I would get 8-core because it has twice as much RAM slots so having much RAM is cheaper. Take a look at refurb store as well, '08 Mac Pro are great bangs for your buck.

    2.8GHz 8-core Mac Pro - 2399$

    Still leaves you 2600$ for RAM, SSD and HDs. Get 16GB RAM, 160GB SSD and some 1/2TB HDs as storage
  4. Nostromo macrumors 65816


    Dec 26, 2009
    Deep Space
    Photoshop CS5 for Mac will be a big boost IF it's going to be 64-bit and if it can run at 64-bit on a Mac.

    This will increase the amount of RAM Photoshop can use (which currently tops out at about 3 Gb).

    So: get CS5 if it's 64-bit, and get a lot of RAM.

    With CS4 the graphics card is being used more by Photoshop, but I can't tell how much importance a fast, high video-RAM card will be.

    If you plan to use CS5 extended with video, get a good graphics card.

    There are threads about flashing video cards to get better cards (like the Quadro 1,5 Gb) at a decent price, but get info on how reliable this is.
  5. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    It is
  6. ARF900 macrumors 65816


    Oct 30, 2009
    I think the low quad core proccessor will be fine, you should probably get 16 GB of ram (install it yourself as apple rips you off) and you should also probably go with the ATI card vs the GT 120

    Other than that the HDD depends how much you need, with 16 GB of RAM SSD would probably not be good because of its small size. You could get a 2 TB HDD then get another 1 TB and just use the 1 TB for backups unless you already have something for backups. You should also consider waiting for Hexacore (and possibly new GPUs) if you can wait until summer.
  7. KeriJane macrumors 6502a


    Sep 26, 2009


    I do most of what you are intending to do. PS, Illustrator, Dreamweaver and Final Cut / Premiere Pro on a 1st-gen Mac Pro.
    The Mac Pro, ANY Mac Pro is ideally suited for these tasks.

    Here's my advice for what it's worth:

    CPU Upgrade: I would advise the 8-core MP because of two things:
    1- as stated earlier, you can use more, less expensive memory modules due to the larger number of slots.
    2- Each CPU has it's own memory controller. This means double the memory bandwidth for dual-CPU systems. This can make a profound improvement in Render times. (depending on the App.. most aren't ready yet)
    Don't bother with faster CPUs. Just get the Dual-CPU option. CS4 won't utilize 8 cores properly yet, but CS5 almost certainly will be better at this.

    Memory: The 8-core comes with 6GB which is adequate for intensive PS and Final Cut sessions, but maybe not for multiple ones. I recommend having Apple do the upgrade before sale. They do not "Rip You Off", merely offer high-quality, tested and approved memory for a fair price.
    I suggest 12GB or 24GB with 6 slots full for 6-channel operation.

    Video: You want a video card with at least a 256-bit memory interface like the Radeon 4870. The GTX285 or Quadro 4800 would be nicer yet for rendering.

    Drives: You want a minimum of 2 drives.
    SSD is a very nice but very expensive option. My advice is to wait a bit for SSD... the time is not quite yet. Maybe use a small 30GB one for a scratch disk.
    Here is a really good place to save some money and get better drives than Apple offers. My suggestion is 4x Western Digital Caviar Blacks as large and as fast as you want. Unless you get the Apple RAID card, don't bother with RAID. Many drives (including the WD Blacks) can "drop out" of a RAID array and it's just not worth the risk. If you absolutely MUST have RAID, get drives with RAID-friendly firmware.

    With 4 internal drives, use #1 for Snow Leopard and Apps, use another for Capture, another for Scratch/Render files and another for Backup, or maybe for a Windows installation. Any external drives should be FireWire 800.

    Have fun with that Mac Pro,
  8. MisterK thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 9, 2006
    Ottawa, Canada
    Many Thanks

    Thanks for the help, everyone. I'm glad I came and asked. You're awesome!

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