Help with 09 MP final config

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by c2g, Feb 23, 2010.

  1. c2g macrumors newbie

    Jan 20, 2010
    Meeting with my IT dept this afternoon to go over final configuration options for the 09 MP I'm getting. I've monitored these forums for the past month, and I think I'm close but have a few more questions. Note: This will be the first Mac in an all-PC environment. No one at our help desk is trained to support Macs.

    1. RAID setup - Based on another thread I started, it seems to make sense to go with the 640 GB system drive, an Areca ARC-1212 card, and 3 x Western Digital 1TB RE3s. By my calculations, this would be a better setup for half the cost of going with the Apple RAID and their 3 x 1TB drives.

    My IT dept realizes this, but no one here has much experience setting up RAIDs, let alone on Macs, which they will be learning to support on the fly. Because of this, they are leaning toward the Apple RAID card, if only for Apple support reasons. Can anyone who has experience with Areca vouch for their quality of tech support and/or the ease of setting this up? Does going with a non-Apple option for a RAID have any effect on the Apple Care warranty?

    2. Graphics Card - To use my existing (PC workstation) setup of 2x24” dell monitors plus a 19” preview monitor, the Apple rep said I would need the 2xNVIDIA GeForce GT 120 option (plus the Mini DisplayPort to DVI Adapter option) to run a non-Apple display for the third monitor. He mentioned they do sell more powerful cards to handle my same monitor setup, but they would have to be purchased separately and we’d still have to get the one I just mentioned. Any suggestions?

    Other than that, we're going with 2.26 GHz octo, 32 GB RAM from OWC or Crucial (older thread going over this). Thanks for any last minute recommendations. Meeting's @ 1:00 ET.
  2. MitchLewis macrumors member

    Jan 29, 2010
    I've been researching the same thing. Here's what I've found....

    1) RAID Setup - I wouldn't recommend building/buying an internal RAID setup. There are plenty of inexpensive RAID systems available on the market right now. Sounds like you're looking for 4-TB of storage. I would recommend you buy the standard 640GB internal drive for your boot drive. You install all your applications, etc... on this drive. Then use an external RAID to store data. Here are some suggestions:

    G-Technology G-RAID 4TB (FW800 or eSATA - 2-drives - RAID 0) $490
    G-Technology G-SPEED eS 4TB (eSATA - 4-drives - RAID-5 - includes PCIe eSATA card) $1190
    G-Technology G-SPEED eS PRO 4TB (mini-SAS - 4-drives - RAID 5 - includes PCIe mini-SAS card) $2100

    You could also go with an "Apple certified" RAID
    Apple Promise SmartStor DS4600 4TB (FW800 only - 4-drives - RAID-5) $795

    Or if you don't need a lot of speed, you could buy a Drobo and have storage that can grow with your needs:
    Data Robotics Drobo 4TB (FW800 only - with 4-drives - RAID 5) $680 after mail in rebate

    I would need more information from you to give further advice. You can call me if you'd like at 509-628-7042 if you need advice quickly. BTW, an external drive has no effect on your AppleCare warranty. Plus, they are much easier to set up.

    2) GRAPHICS CARD - I've done some research on this. is a great site to review speed tests. They like the the ATI Radeon HD 4870 option (Add $200). Like the GT 120 it has a DVI and Mini DisplayPort. Maybe buy one ATI 4870 for both your 24" monitors and then use the GT 120 for your other monitor? Here is the graphics card comparison:

    Scroll to the bottom for their summary analysis.

    3) BOOT DRIVE - If you can afford it, I would recommend buying a second internal drive and combining them together as a simple RAID. This will make your applications launch much faster. The negative with doing this is that you will have to reinstall ALL the software that comes with your computer. (Snow Leopard, iLife applications, etc...) That would take considerable time, but it might be worth it if you use a lot of different applications throughout your work day.

    Good luck! :)
  3. beaker7 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 16, 2009
    Why the RAID card? Software RAID 0 works fine. Whatever you do. stay away from the Mac Pro RAID card. The Xserve one works great but the MP one is crap.
  4. c2g thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 20, 2010
    Thanks for the replies.

    RAID setup. You know, the more I read, the more I realize I have no idea what I'm talking about when it comes to RAID. The only reason I figured I needed it was to improve speed. The Apple sales rep said I'd notice a 7-10% increase in performance with a RAID setup. Compared to the cost of upgrading processor speed, it seemed like the way to go. The only backing up of video files I need to do is done on external hard drives. I work with them when I need to, then I store them away. And I'm pretty confident that they won't feel comfortable setting up an internal RAID. They're recommending I go with Apple's, but I haven't seen one positive post about them. Do I even need a RAID, I wonder...

    Graphics Card. That 4870 option to power both 24" and a GT 120 to run the preview sounds like a good solution. Since I won't do any gaming on this machine, will I notice the difference between the 4870 and GT120 when video editing?
  5. Transporteur macrumors 68030

    Nov 30, 2008
    I do. But let's wait for nanofrog. :D

    Check. Best option at the moment if you don't want to game (the GTX285 would be better for that) in case that you don't wanna mess around with flashed PC cards.

    Striping two mechanical drives won't make the app loading considerably faster. Apps don't come in large sequential files, so a RAID0 would be almost useless.
    If you really want to boost your boot drives performance, get a decent SSD.

    Which ever route you choose, there is no reason to re-install the whole system including all applications. There are several cloning applications available that will make a carbon copy of any drive you select. You can then simply replace the old drive with the new one without installing anything again.
    I recommend Carbon Copy Cloner for such tasks.
  6. c2g thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 20, 2010
    Definitely not doing any gaming, so I'm inclined to go with the ATI Radeon HD 4870.
  7. MitchLewis macrumors member

    Jan 29, 2010
    I wanted to go the SSD route, but the Apple technician I spoke with over the phone said that an SSD would be a mistake due to reliability/longevity issues. He is the one who recommend I go with two standard hard drives and stripe them into a RAID. He said that two mechanical drives striped together as a RAID would be faster than a single SSD drive and more reliable.

    I'm just repeating what the Apple tech told me. :)
  8. ncc1701d macrumors 6502

    Mar 30, 2008
    I think the biggest mistake I made buying my macpro 2009 was the apple raid card - my ego got in the way. I should have done more research here than asking different apple reps. We live and learn. Actually, I blame nanofrog for not contacting me via voodoo magic and personally and telling me that I shouldn't have done it - before he even knew me :p ;) :D

    Add to that the HDD's are too expensive and shoudl have got them myself, it makes for an expensive lesson :) Although my next Mac Pro purchase is many years off, I'll do more research here like you are doing.

    Having said all that, once you buy an apple raid card, the apple support have a section called "enterprise" and you can talk directly to them. They are like super geniuses I guess and will be able to help you set it all up - if you get their card that is...
  9. Transporteur macrumors 68030

    Nov 30, 2008
    Well, apparently the Apple technician you spoke to had no idea what he's talking about.
  10. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    The Areca ARC-1212 works great; however I did need to buy the hard drive sledges from; support is alright… not the best in the world, but it works without many problems and the user guide is pretty solid and easy to use. If you call them they will tell you how to use rEFIt to set up the card; otherwise just connect the card to a network switch, get the IP and configure the card via a browser.

    As for the GPU, I use a GTX285 and that is more than capable enough to run two 24" displays; get a GT120 if you want to run a third display… I can sell you mine :D
  11. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    These are software controlled devices, not hardware. That means they're missing a processor and cache. So they're not capable of handling parity based arrays properly (5/6/50/60), as there's no NVRAM on it to handle the write hole issue associated with parity arrays.

    FW800 is slow. eSATA is better, but you still will have a bottleneck at some point.

    Ultimately, they have limitations, and aren't the most reliable things out there, so I don't trust them enough to recommend it for a primary array. For backup, they're fine.

    These are also software based, and have the same issues associated with it.

    Understand, they're fine for 0/1/10, but that's it. Just don't ever try to use them with parity based arrays, as you will get burnt (it's just a matter of when).

    Theoretically, a stripe set (2x disks) will cut the random access times in half. Unfortunately, this is rare, and the likely improvement is more like a 2ms reduction (i.e. single drive mode = 12ms, and a stripe set of a pair would produce ~10ms; it has to do with file size and distribution).

    OS loading is random access, which isn't mechanical's strong suit, striped or not. SSD's rule for random access performance, but it's not cheap.

    Apple's card is JUNK. Don't touch it. It's really that bad.

    In the other thread, you only asked about a decent card. But what exactly are you doing?

    A card can do more than just offer a speed boost. It has to do with recovery in the event of a failure.

    A stripe set can provide you with an improved sequential throughput, but if it fails, you're data is gone. Fix the problem, and then restore the data from backup source/s. This takes time. If you can afford to do this, that's fine. If not, you need to consider a different array type (redundancy, and it varies with different levels). Throughput requirements as well as capacity requirements would also be needed to guide you to the right level.

    It seems a look at Wiki's RAID page might be in order, as it does give you an explanation of what the differences are between the levels, as well as other useful information.

    This will be fine from what information you've given. :)

    Nope. OS and applications rely on random access throughputs, not sequential.

    Good advice. I just held off on such things until there's a better understanding of what the OP's needs are (get the right solution).

    BS. Who ever told you this is full of it. :eek: :p

    Striping mechanical drives will give you a sequential throughput similar to an SSD, but not random access, which is what the OS and applications rely on as they're large numbers of small files loaded in succession.

    I'm not a telepath. It'd probably drive me to the loony bin if I were. :eek: And I'm not far from it as is. :D :p

    Areca's aren't that hard to setup either, and the manual is actually decent.

    Support is usually through email (I've never made an international call to them, so I've no idea if it's better over the phone), as they're based in Taiwan. Their English can be challenging at times, but they do know what they're doing, as they actually design, manufacture, and test their own gear unlike most other card vendors (CalDigit, Apple, Highpoint for example).
  12. joaoferro37 macrumors 6502


    Jul 31, 2008
    Vogon Planet Destructor
    I called Areca several times and had no problem at all.
  13. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    :cool: Good to hear. :D

    BTW, how was their English over the phone out of curiosity?
  14. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    I know you're not asking me, but…

    I found their English to be decent, but once they found out I was fluent in Chinese, Mandarin worked perfectly :D
  15. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    The more on this the better, so thanks for posting. :)

    Hmm...Mandarin... nope. Not at chance that'd work for me. :D :p
  16. joaoferro37 macrumors 6502


    Jul 31, 2008
    Vogon Planet Destructor

    I think the most important question is the reason getting a MP and RAID?
    Do you need speed and data integrity?
    What is the performance requirement?
  17. Max(IT) Suspended


    Dec 8, 2009
    Well, we really have no idea about long term reliability of SSDs drive, since they are quite new technology
    I'm going to get one (actually I'm waiting for another price drop), but I'm a little afraid about reliability in a supposed 4-5 years lifespan.

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