Help me configure my very first Mac Pro

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Nilo Santos, Sep 13, 2009.

  1. Nilo Santos macrumors newbie

    Sep 12, 2009
    I am going to be using the Mac Pro for audio recording & video production.

    After reading a lot of the posts here, I have learned that the Nehalem 8-Core would be the way to go,
    and that the 2.66ghz would be more practical to get instead of the 2.93ghz model. - Correct?

    Would the one unit suffice for both audio recording and video production?
    or would it be better to get two units of the cheaper 2.26ghz models?
    and use one for audio recording and the other for video production?

    Pls give me some advice about the RAM + Hard Drive. - What ideal RAM + HD configuration should I start with?
    Can I upgrade to higher RAM + HD later? - or will it be hard and impractical to change or upgrade what I have started with initially?

    Any other advice? - RAID, etc.

    Thanks, Nilo
  2. chrismacguy macrumors 68000

    Feb 13, 2009
    United Kingdom
    So long as it is a single person doing both, a Single unit should be fine. The 8-core 2.66Ghz would be fine. As youre doing Video, you want to have at least:
    1 Internal HD for the OS and all your programs (640GB)
    1 Internal HD for Video Scratch (1TB)
    and probably another Internal 1TB discs for data storage, project backups and audio scratch.
    RAM wise, if this is for professional (ie your job) then get about 12 - 16GB of RAM.

    That should set you up fine (I do amateur video production (Final Cut Express and Soundtrack Pro) on my White MacBook). If you plan on doing a lot of Motion work, then a better graphics card may be useful.
  3. seisend macrumors 6502a


    Feb 20, 2009
    Well, I am happy with my Mac Pro (Signature). I use it for Audio and Video production too. Here is how I managed my harddrives:

    3x 1TB Western Digital Caviar Black's in RAID 0
    1x 640GB Stock WD Windows HD

    I bought an external 1TB Lacie Drive to Backup only my User Profile with all my video's and audio projects. So if my RAID 0 system would crash, I'd need to reinstall all my programms but I this is no big deal for me and would be work for a few hours and you got a fresh installed system. I use the Intego Backup Manager which comes with the Lacie 1TB Pro HD. It backups my User Profile 1:1 daily.

    I don't recommend Time Machine for backup if you edit large videos.
  4. Genghis Khan macrumors 65816

    Genghis Khan

    Jun 3, 2007
    Melbourne, Australia
    It's REALLY easy to upgrade a Mac Pro.

    Also, Apple charge a ridiculous amount of money for their upgrades...

    So buy as base as you can (apart from the processor, unless you're up for a challenge), and then pimp it out with 3rd party HDD's and RAM)
  5. Unique Visuals macrumors regular

    Mar 17, 2007
    In the woods
    I can swap all 4 HDD in less than 5 minutes, same with memory and vid cards, tho I take more care with memory and vid cards. They are made to be swapped as easy as possible. Thats one of the advantages of a Mac workstation. I've always had Mac desktops or workstations and the Pros are by far the easiest to upgrade.

    Even newbies can do these swaps easy. Just find a decent guide online and go for it.
  6. Nilo Santos thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 12, 2009
    Great Input Guys!

    Thanks to everyone for the really great input. Therefore I will go with a base 8-Core Nehalem 2.66ghz model and upgrade the RAM and HDD from aftermarket 3rd party suppliers later at a big saving.

    This would mean a base RAM of 6GB (6x1GB) -or- 8GB (4x2GB) for $100 more (from Apple) - which of these configurations would be more advisable?

    Also on the HDD Bay#1, it will be either 640GB -or- 1TB for $100 more (from Apple) - which set-up would be more advisable?

    The ATI Radeon 4870 512mb is available for $200 more (from Apple) - This seems to be a favorite from the posts - and the price seems fair?

    I get an 18x SuperDrive with the unit -and- Dual SuperDrives for $100 more (from Apple) - I need advise on this..

    Lastly, your thoughts and advice please on the the Mac Pro RAID Card for $700 (from Apple).

    Thanks a lot, guys!
  7. Dr.Pants macrumors 65816


    Jan 8, 2009
    A 1 TB drive can be had for $100. Have your cake and eat it, too.

    Well, unless you feel like flashing the card, then yes, it is fair.

    Do you absolutely need a second optical drive? If so, anything with good reviews should work, and generally costs a lot less.

    Crap. An Areca 1680ix controller, infinitely better, can be had for a few dollars more.
  8. Nilo Santos thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 12, 2009
    A Few More Questions

    If I start with a 4-Core Nehalem 2.66ghz Quad model instead -
    Does it mean also that I can easily upgrade to an 8-Core 2.66ghz Octo model later
    by just adding another 2.66ghz Quad unit?

    What is the best way for RAM distribution? - Is it 4x2GB, 6x1GB, etc.
    as well as the HDD distribution please..

    What is the excitement about the Western Digital colors? (Black, Blue, Green, etc.) -
    and what does it all translate to in practical performance and use?

    Thanks again,
  9. Unique Visuals macrumors regular

    Mar 17, 2007
    In the woods
    Re:A Few More Questions

    No. The quad cores ship with a motherboard that only has one CPU socket. I'm not up on these chips that much so I will leave a recommendation to others. I myself would go with the 2.66 GHz octo. With the hyper-threading in these chips and SL more able to use them you will end up with 16 cores working. The octo will also give you an option to upgrade to twice the memory of the single quad chip.

    I would get the cheapest option then get more from someone like OWC that will buy back you old memory.

    The colors represent the different models and uses. The blacks are usually fastest, then blue then green. Blacks are for heavy duty workstations needing all the speed they can get. With the greens being slower and more aimed at situations where access speed isn't needed as much as saving some power or generating less heat. What counts in a hard drive is the RPM it runs at, the access times, write times and buffer. I would get the standard drive and then upgrade to blacks for speed.

    Forget the Apple raid card. I have one and its not that great.

    P.S. My first name backwards is Nilo :D Thats what I told the cops my name was when I was a kid.
  10. Bartman01 macrumors regular

    Oct 23, 2008
    The 'best' ram distribution in the 2009 models is 3 (for the quad) or 6 (for the octo) matching sticks. So 12 GB would be 3x4GB for the quad or 6x2GB for the octo. The 2009 processors access memory in tri-channel (vs dual channel for the 2008 models).

    Adding a 4th stick to each bank will slow down the memory access, but if you will notice this slowdown is debatable and dependent on the software that you use.
  11. Nilo Santos thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 12, 2009
    So how would that be for 8GB and also for 16GB and onwards to 32GB - (for the octo) - ?
  12. Bartman01 macrumors regular

    Oct 23, 2008
    For tri-channel memory you need to think in threes, not twos. To stay tri channel on the octo you need to think:
    6 * 1GB = 6
    6 * 2GB = 12
    6 * 4GB = 24

    So no 8, 16, or 32.
    You can also go to fours if more memory is more important to you than speed. Most people won't even notice the difference in speed given than memory even at the slower non-tri channel rate there are usually other bottlenecks.

    8 * 1 = 8
    8 * 2 = 16
    8 * 4 = 32

    Personally I would stick with tri-channel up to 24GB and if you need more then go to 32.

    Memory is one of the complaints about the 2009 lineup. Most other tri-channel setups give you 6 slots per CPU as a minimum instead of 4. Add to that the fact that Apple has limited the memory speed to the 1066 supported by the 2.26 processor instead of the 1333 speed supported by the 2.66 and 2.93 processors.
  13. Thedesolateone macrumors newbie

    Jun 28, 2009
    Don't buy a Mac Pro.

    Get an i7-920, with 12gb of DDR3 1600mhz RAM, two 160gb X-25M G2s in Raid-0, with two 1.5TB storage drives, a Blu-Ray rewriter, a ATI Radeon HD 4890 X2 (or possibly crossfire or SLI if you're going to be doing serious video editing). And get some decent cooling and overclock it.

    This would be a much faster and more robust computer, for a cheaper price. In fact, it would probably be the fastest computer you've ever seen. I'm currently saving up for just about the exact configuration I just said.
  14. Thedesolateone macrumors newbie

    Jun 28, 2009
    I have to emphasise this:

    This computer would be half the price
    Have a double as good graphics card
    Have much better hard drives
    Have an equivalent processor
    Have equal or better memory
  15. Nilo Santos thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 12, 2009
    Yes, I have seen these clones on Ebay made by Psystar. However, the Apple Mac OSX license agreement does not allow Mac OS to be installed on hardware which is not Apple branded.
  16. Nilo Santos thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 12, 2009
    Got it, or getting it anyway.. Great advice to someone new like me. Computers seem to be the one area where knowledge is equal to experience,
    and that's a great thing to know because everyone gets to learn. (I don't think I even understand what I just said).

    Anyway, this might be a stupid question - but can someone explain the philosophy of SSD drives,
    and their real practical usage to which configuration? + What is an SSD anyway? (feel free to include any informative links).

    P.S. Now I know why I always get so much flak from the men in black and blue..
  17. fr4c macrumors 65816


    Jul 27, 2007
    Hamster wheel
    1) How does this help the OP in anyway regarding on how to config a Mac Pro to his needs?
    2) OS X does not support SLI or Crossfire so that is a moot point.
    3) Assuming you're talking about building a Hackintosh, then installing Windows will not allow you to run.... lets say.... Final Cut, Motion, etc.
  18. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Absolutely. :)
  19. Nilo Santos thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 12, 2009
    Storage Limit?

    The Apple website says that the new Mac Pro supports up to 4TB of storage (1TB x 4 bays). Will it support 1.5TB hard drives (on Bay 1 and 2 for example) or will this be going over the limit, and/or affect any performance?
  20. Unique Visuals macrumors regular

    Mar 17, 2007
    In the woods
    in my 2008 I have 2TB drives and they work fine
  21. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    There's no artificial limits that anyone's discovered (nothing published by Apple either), so any SATA drive will work. :) So as the drive capacities increase, so will the total storage capacity of the MP's. ;)
  22. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    Well that's what they sell. You can put in whatever capacity drives you want as long as they conform to the standards of connectivity.
  23. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    Also, check out this site.... It is full of information on how to configure a Mac Pro, with graphs and articles. It is geared towards photographers so there are also article about Photoshop... but a fast Mac Pro is a fast Mac Pro.

    Link is

    Good Luck. Hope you got the Octo. I think the 8 cores will be leveraged immensely in the next few years. You shouldn't need a new system for years to come.
  24. musukosan macrumors regular

    Aug 6, 2008
    I don't mean to hi-jack the thread, but I do have a question about this. If I were to buy the the quad, could I upgrade the MB and CPU(s) later down the road? When Apple comes out with new models, will it be possible for me to buy that hardware and upgrade without buying a new MacPro?
  25. thermodynamic Suspended


    May 3, 2009
    And this is running legitimate Mac OS and nothing from that company whose name somewhat rhymes with "tripe'o'sloth"? :D

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