Help on choosing rendering machine

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by surfi2000, Oct 8, 2009.

  1. surfi2000 macrumors newbie

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    Oct 8, 2009
    #1
    Hi,

    I am planning on buying a Mac Pro. I want to use it for Maya and nothing else. Would this be a good choice or is it better to build a PC? I was thinking of getting the 8 core with 8GB ram and the ATI graphics card.

    If I use bootcamp for certain applications will windows support the full speed(drivers etc.) or would it be faster on mac side?

    Thanks
     
  2. giffut macrumors 6502

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    #2
    Frankly ...

    ... speaking I don´t think you can beat the Mac Pro offering when related to professional work. You should get the entry octo core if you are tight on budget, otherwise take the fastest one. The ATI is a good beginning, but Maya would certainly much more benefit from the expensive NVIDIA quadro FX4800 option.

    Generally speaking 3D rendering needs as fast a CPU you can get, and a fully supported graphics card, which basically means: You are forced to spend some serious money (tight budgets require other strategies, like building cheap render nodes from second hand commodity hardware).
     
  3. Umbongo macrumors 601

    Umbongo

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    #3
    The FX4800 only benefits Maya under windows though.
     
  4. Genghis Khan macrumors 65816

    Genghis Khan

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    #4
    +1
     
  5. surfi2000 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #5
    Would I lose speed or functionality if I do the rendering in windows on a mac pro?

    What would be the difference between using the high end ati card on the apple website compared to the NVIDIA quadro?

    Would you suggest building a PC instead?

    I am using a 2.93 4GB MBP at the moment. Would the mac pro 8 core with 8GB and the ati card be a lot quicker?
     
  6. Umbongo macrumors 601

    Umbongo

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    #6
    No. Windows is better suited to 3D work anyway.

    The NVIDIA Quadros and ATI FireGL cards have optimised drivers so that with many 3D applications they can render the viewport much faster than a gaming card as you force your model to be redrawn by manipulating it. No cards have this under OS X so there is little benefit to the Quadro if you won't use windows. However the high end consumer cards like the Radeon 4870 are very powerful now so unless your work is complex you may be fine with a GeForce or Radeon card rather than a professional one.
     
  7. gugucom macrumors 68020

    gugucom

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    #7
    If disk I/O becomes an issue you need to install AHCI driver for SATA to get to the speed that the disks run in OS X. But it is not so difficult with proper procedure.
     
  8. maven8 macrumors member

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    Nov 30, 2007
    #8
    I am planning on buying a Mac Pro. I want to use it for Maya and nothing else. Would this be a good choice or is it better to build a PC?

    If you had asked this last year I would have said it depends. If a large percentage of the time the machine will be rendering, and if you need to have multiple processors with multiple cores to make things as fast as possible the mac pro was a good deal. Thanks to apple's pricing deal with intel building a similarly priced PC was rather hard, and something like a Boxx workstation was not any cheaper.
    With the latest 2009 version though this has become less obvious. The prices are higher, and it's possible to build something equivalent for less. It won't be as pretty perhaps, but it would be more upgradeable.

    Now it's really important to know what you're going to do with the machine. A multi processor PC is not going to be cheap, and although the dual processor macs are overpriced in my opinion you do get server hardware and the 2009 models are very fast. If however you need a workstation where you simply need to work quickly (say you're doing a lot of modeling, lighting texturing, but not as much rendering) a dual processor machine is not a necessity, and a core i7 PC would be just fine for day to day work.

    Also note that I found a couple of things through experimentation... Maya is very effected by Ram speed. it ran barely 2 seconds faster on my old 8 core mac pro with it's slow 667mhz FB-Dimms, compared to my new 3.06 17" macbook pro. (the older versions of maya don't seem to use more then 4 cores well either). Because of this I actually ditched the old 8 core for a 2009 quad core with it's DD3 memory.
    Graphics cards do very little for rendering speed. As someone here said it would make your viewports render faster, but seems to do little or nothing to speed up actual rendering. I suppose it would only make a difference if you were using the hardware render view. Add to this the fact that Nvidia Quadro cards are often nothing more then consumer cards with different drivers, and it seems like quite a ripoff.

    Lastly running windows in bootcamp is not any slower. The mac pro IS a PC, it runs the same hardware as a PC workstation would. As long as you find all the right drivers you're fine. I could even get crucified for saying this on a mac forum but I prefer 64bit windows to mac os for maya any day.
     
  9. zoomungus macrumors member

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    #9



    Funny you should say that, I have a dell dual xeon server I use for rendering and some of the fittings look familiar;)
     
  10. surfi2000 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #10
    If I get a normal consumer card and do a soft mod to make it quadro would that help and would it cause any damage?

    Is the price difference between ready mac pro and DIY PC very big? I'd rather have a complete computer if the price difference is only small.

    So overall you think for pure rendering it would be good to get the Mac Pro 8 core with 8GB DDR3 and the ati graphic card on windows or would you go towards a DIY PC?
     
  11. giffut macrumors 6502

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    #11
    If ...

    ... you use Maya 2010, the Quadro FX4800 is listed as fully supported, with NVIDIAs drivers for OSX: http://usa.autodesk.com/adsk/servlet/pc/item?siteID=123112&id=13583898

    But it seems not wise to invest in Maya OSX as long as 64bit support and other things from Autodesk are severly lacking behind compared to the the windows version. Many people recommend Cinema 4D, regarding Macintosh centric 3D software. Give it a try, if you haven´t made up your mind yet and you are certain that you want a Mac Pro and OSX to be used.
     
  12. surfi2000 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #12
    I have cinema 4D for mac. I am currently moving to Maya and windows. Just needing to fit the right machine to do the job :D
     
  13. gugucom macrumors 68020

    gugucom

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    #13
    Tutor used the 2,26 Nehalems from his Mac Pro to build overclocked quad render PCs. Search for his threads and you will find it. I think he clocked them up to 4 GHz and got them to Cinebench 26.000. :eek:

    It shows that the Mac Pro is really conservative regarding performance.
     
  14. maven8 macrumors member

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    #14
    If I get a normal consumer card and do a soft mod to make it quadro would that help and would it cause any damage?

    Hopefully someone with more experience can answer this one, since I've only done it once and that was waaaaay back during the geforce 4 days. It was relatively simple and didn't do any damage but I didn't see a huge improvement either. In my opinion the Quadro cards make sense in niche applications, like driving massive arrays of displays (say you had 8 screens) etc.

    Is the price difference between ready mac pro and DIY PC very big? I'd rather have a complete computer if the price difference is only small.

    It would depend on the mac pro. With the 8 core it's there but it's not very big, because the dual capable xeons and the dual capable motherboards are very pricy. And that depends on the configuration too. The 2.26 is clearly overpriced if you ask me, but if you spring for the 2.66 or 2.93 it's hard to save a lot of money since the processors are so expensive.
    With the quad you could absolutely build a PC much cheaper. For me it came down to the fact that I need to run OSX and windows for the applications that I use.

    So overall you think for pure rendering it would be good to get the Mac Pro 8 core with 8GB DDR3 and the ati graphic card on windows or would you go towards a DIY PC?

    If you can afford the 8 core (and I wouldn't settle for anything less then a dual 2.66 if I was getting an 8 core) and you don't want the hassle of building and maintaining your own PC it makes sense. The current generation is fast, uses a good architecture (no more FSB, no more FB-Dimms). And is even semi upgradable. (though the 8 core is much harder to swap processors in then the quad if you read this forum).
    Basically the problem that I, and I think a few other people here have with them is that Apple is charging so much. They could have easily kept the prices the same as the previous generation but the top of the line model is pushing 6000 dollars!
    If you have the money you do get a fast machine. it's a much better buy then my first gen 8 core was, with it's 32bit EFI, IDE optical drives, crappy ram and end of the line processors was.
     
  15. surfi2000 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #15
    If I am not mistaken doesn't the NVIDIA GeForce GT 120 512MB support SLI? Wouldn't this mean I could get two NVIDIA GeForce GT 120 512MB which would work out cheaper than getting the ATI? The only question then is if that would be more expensive. Any ideas?
     
  16. maven8 macrumors member

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  17. surfi2000 thread starter macrumors newbie

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  18. Umbongo macrumors 601

    Umbongo

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    #18
    You can get improvements on a few applications, but many dont see the bonuses of the Quadro drivers on a GeForce card. There are usually benchmarks at sites that tell you how to do it. It's not an easy choice (GeForce vs. Quadro) to make for an individual, especially if you haven't seen the differences first hand. If you decide on a professional card check our 3dprofessor.org and other sites like it first. You don't need to drop $1,000-$2,000 on a workstation card to do complex modelling.

    The difference between a Mac Pro and a similar system built from a site like Newegg is around $1100 in hardware (no OS, mouse, keyboard).

    I know you weren't quoting me, but for 3D work unless you really like everything else about OS X then Windows is the way to go. There just isn't the same support for OS X.
     
  19. surfi2000 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #19
    Would it be possible to get a PC with the same result as a mac pro 8 core with 8GB ram and the high spec ati for £2000?

    What is more beneficial: 12GB ram instead of 8GB or upgrading from NVIDIA GeForce GT 120 512MB to ATI Radeon HD 4870 512MB
     
  20. gugucom macrumors 68020

    gugucom

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    #20
    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=766942

    Tutor upgraded a 2009 Octad to 3,2 GHz W5580 CPUs and used the 2,26 W5520 CPUs to build two Quad render machines.

    He paid 1400$ for the parts and his CPU would be 400$ if you buy it on the market. He later published pics with higher over clocking than shown in the linked thread. If I remember right he got those machines over 4 GHz and over 20.000 Cinebench.

    He seriously over clocked the Nehalems and made them fly in a way that is impressive for a 1800$ system.
     
  21. Umbongo macrumors 601

    Umbongo

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    #21
    You can get a good, expandable, dual scoket board from Tyan or Supermicro for around £300. Check out the SuperMicro X8DAi and Tyan S7010 for their starter workstation boards. You pay for more PCI-E 2.0 slots and integrated graphics.

    You can get a high quality E-ATX case (I like Lian Li) and an 850W or 1KW power supply, optical drive and prephrials for under £400.

    Memory is around £55-£65 for 2GB. Crucial have the best range and an great return policy. You want it to be dual ranked, Registered, ECC, 1066MHz (or 1333MHz with 2.66GHz+).

    You can get a 1GB 4870 for under £150 and a 5870 for £300.

    Processors are:
    2 x 2.26GHz = £575
    2 x 2.40GHz = £800
    2 x 2.53Ghz = £1150
    2 x 2.66GHz = £1450

    So you can do an 8 core 2.26GHz, 12GB RAM (with expandability) and 1GB 4870 for around £1800. Add on Windows 7 and a hard disk and you can do it for under £2,000 inc VAT.

    2.26GHz Apple refurbs are £2,149 if you want to try and save some that way, but they don't come on every week.
     
  22. surfi2000 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #22
    I did some rendering on my macbook pro 2.93 4GB with the NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GT enabled. One took 45 second and the other 2min 36 for simple liquid animation in realflow. On a mac pro 2.66 quad with 6GB memory and the high end ati it took 38 second instead of 45 and 2 min 26 instead of 2 min 36. I don't feel that this is a big difference. Will the difference be much bigger with the 8 core, 16GB ram and the high end ati?
     
  23. maddogeco macrumors member

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    May 11, 2008
    #23
    more ram or more graphics cards for after effects?

    im thinking of getting a mac pro for working on after effects project next year. Would i be better off spending my money on 4x NVIDIA GeForce GT 120 512MB [A$ 900.00] or buying more spending my money on more ram?

    im leaning towards more graphics card thinking that with grand central and open gl this will speed up my rendering times and buy getting 8GB (4x2GB) of ram i can upgrade it later quiet easily.

    will more graphic cards help rendering? or is 1 big one better?
    what are your opinions?
     
  24. Tesselator macrumors 601

    Tesselator

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    #24
    Umm, yes, building a PC would be better than the 2009 MacPro. I hate to say it cuz I hate Windows but it's true. For the same money you can build two PCs with the same rendering power as the 2.93 octad. So... If it's just Maya operation you want I would go with a headless overclocked 8 core render-box controlled by the same machine you model and animate on - preferably an overclocked quad.
     
  25. Gomff macrumors 6502a

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    #25
    I've been into 3d for about 15 years and I've never sprung for a Quadro. I've always preferred to go for a near top gaming class card and to spend the extra cash on processor speed and memory.

    The Quadro undoubtedly performs better with **really** high poly counts in windows, but IMHO gaming cards are good enough to cope with quite a lot these days. If your scene is really slowing down, you can always hide geometry to speed things up when needed.

    I also hate to say it but PC's are better value at this point in time than Macs. It was different last year with the 2008 Octos (which I have) but the Nehalems are too pricey. The only argument for paying the extra for a Mac would be because you want OS X and don't want to build a hackintosh. I think Apple should look at this issue as they've gone backwards from last year, when they won a few 3d people over.

    3D is one of the few areas where multiple CPUs really pays off, as long as your renderer is truly multi threaded.
     

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