How the crash in PC sales impacts Mac Pro buying equation

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by IceMacMac, Apr 13, 2013.

  1. IceMacMac, Apr 13, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2013

    IceMacMac macrumors 6502

    Jun 6, 2010
    I can't help but think I should take a step back and scan the horizon. I want to buy a new Mac Pro, but am still very open to switching over to a high end PC.

    And now the news that computer sales are in free fall. So this makes me wonder about an array of issues:
    1. I believe Apple was indeed poised to release a new Mac Pro this year. But will they do it into the teeth of this PC market?
    2. If I was going to buy from a vendor like I need to consider that some of these smaller vendors might disappear or merge...voiding my warranty?
    3. Should I reconsider building my own because of the coming consolidation/bankruptcies. I'd hate to pay for support and then not get it.
    4. Is it possible I could find a high powered Dell or HP at fire sale prices? (I previously would not have considered these vendors)
    5. Will we see any surplus-induced price drops for components, e.g. high-end Intel processors?

    I need to get cozy with Google Search and re-assess my plans.
  2. Tesselator macrumors 601


    Jan 9, 2008
    What are you doing that you need better than a "MacPro 4,1 8core 2.66GHZ; 32 GB RAM; 12TB RAID" ?

    And why would you think a firesale PC would be any better?

    Also where are you getting this information about PC sales falling significantly?
  3. IceMacMac thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jun 6, 2010
    I need/want a *lot* more computing power than I have now... I do professional 3d work...and even when I add in a 2008 Mac Pro and a 2011 MBPro for network rendering...some projects take days of rendering. Preview rendering can eat up a lot of time.

    Yes, Macs have seen some great advances in GPU support, but they still can't support something like a Nvidia Maximus configuration. A Titan might become available but would require extra power and cabling considerations.

    Not just any "firesale PC" would be better. But if there were heavy discounts on high end systems...with ample power supply, slots for the Maximus and 24 or more CPU threads...that might be the best value proposition. I could then run my two current Mac Pros in Windows 7, utilizing them as render slaves.

    I have a budget in mind of 7-10k, but if I find a considerably better value...I need to factor that into my decision.
  4. violst macrumors 6502


    Jun 14, 2012
    I believe this is the article about the PC market free fall that IceMacMac is talking about.

    IceMacMac you bring up some very interesting points. I am in the same boat as you and doing the same type of work that you do, heavy photoshop and 3D. I am just skating by with my 2008 3.2 8 core mac pro.

    I do believe that if apple is going to release a new mac pro its to far into development for the PC free fall news to effect the release of it, I hope.

    What I planned on doing is waiting to see what the new Mac Pro has to offer and if it is disappointing to me I will try and pick up a 2012 3.06 12 core for a discounted price and load it with ram, SSD's and the mac version of the GTX 680 or 7950. That should be enough horsepower to hold me over for a little while. At least thats my tentative game plan.
  5. Dr. Stealth macrumors 6502a

    Dr. Stealth

    Sep 14, 2004
    You're taking things WAY too seriously.....

    If you need a computer buy a computer. Buy a PC or Buy A Mac. If it doesn't work out for you, eBay the thing and buy something else. Many people here seem to make buying a computer a life altering experience. It's just a computer. A piece of electronics that will be in a landfill 5 years from now. You are not stuck with it forever.

    You could be hit by a bus tomorrow. (heaven forbid) And on your death bed you will say.... I should have bought that computer....

    I say get the best current Mac Pro you can afford. Get online and order the thing. In two days, you will be surprised how much better you will feel having that decision behind you and a new Mac Pro in front of you.

    When the new ones come out eBay yours if you so desire and get the new one. Mac Pros have great resale value.

    My 2 Cents....

    Good Luck... :)
  6. Umbongo macrumors 601


    Sep 14, 2006
    1. Yes, the workstation market is not the same as the general PC market.

    2. Companies like BOXX Technologies and Puget Systems have been around for over a decade because they are well run and understand their clients, they aren't going anywhere.

    3. What consolidations and bankruptcies? The workstation market has growth.

    4. Yes. and

    5. No because these parts have razor thin margins from retailers in the first place and there is no need to clear inventory for a few years at least as people and companies will still purchase older parts.
  7. bearcatrp macrumors 68000

    Sep 24, 2008
    Boon Docks USA
    Umbongo is correct, workstation/servers and PC's are 2 different markets. You won't be seeing any discounted workstations/servers. Those sell very well to a well defined market. But as was said prior, if you need the power to render faster, by a system that will do this for you instead of waiting. The latest 6 and 8 core xeons should render for you faster than your current system. If your making money off your system, why are you still contemplating?
  8. Tesselator, Apr 13, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2013

    Tesselator macrumors 601


    Jan 9, 2008
    Are you working out of an office/studio or a home?

    Until just recently I was extensively in the CG for film and television industry myself as well. And really the only way to beat the cost per-node curve and come out ahead on rendering times is distributive rendering. Short/small preview renders and real-time preview generators are enhanced by a single beefy Workstation but your 4,1 (with a better GPU than you have now) is enough - also by hack/upgrading it to 5,1 and adding some faster procs it becomes more than enough. The frame times are what kills and for that you need nodes nodes nodes. New spec nodes are very costly and single box systems will never cut it until something (render engine tech and/or computer architecture) radically changes. Don't hold your breath for either!

    The solution comes in two forms. The first is a buttload of headless desktop systems from early 2012 or mid/late 2011. The second is a buttload of server blades from about 2007 or 2008. In either case the farm will draw a lot of power from the mains and a home environment may not be able to handle it. I had to have my home office up-rated to handle even just 24 server blades. My studio on the other hand was rated high enough that 72 8-core blades and a few workstations, could be fed before an upgrade was needed. New-ish high-end workstations have never been a good solution for rendering large or even large-ish jobs.

    Consider for a moment that a headless 6-core box running iCore tech with 32GB RAM costs less than $1k and with a little shopping closer to $750. That's 60 Nodes running at 4.0GHz for the same price as one 12-core Apple box running at a tad over 3GHz with 32GB (Assuming the MacPro cost you $7,500).

    Older server blades are a similar deal clocking in at between $800 to $1,000 for eight 3.xGHz nodes again with 32GB RAM and of course headless. Eight of these will give you 64 nodes running 3.xGHz and for about the same price as a single MacPro.

    Power bill and licensing are the only concerns. I happen to work in LightWave3D which provides free nodes up to 999. Modo is the same deal I believe as well as C4D if I'm not mistaken. So now we're just down to the power bills - which is why I asked you if you working out of your home or an office building.

    From my experience the conclusion based on your reply to me, is that you're asking all the wrong questions. :)
  9. phoenixsan macrumors 65816


    Oct 19, 2012
    I would say....

    if you need more computing power right now, you have to asses your options carefully. If you can do it, a Hackintosh always is a good route to customize the things to your liking. Have a lot more freedom regarding hardware, but is time-consuming in terms of building, setup and get all the things working together in a nice way. If the work you do is for living, IMHO, a best solution is a proved one. Hewlett-Packard used to have a stronghold in the server market and done good products. So maybe can be a choice. Computer market is contracting because many people have realized they dont need "a computer" to do things or entertain.

    Components price dropping can occur. But with chips, have too many variables to consider.

  10. IceMacMac thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jun 6, 2010
    I'm waiting to see what Apple might release in the next 2-3 months. If I was going to buy today...I'd go for a PC workstation. And though I'm willing to switch platforms it is far from trivial considering the wide variety of apps and endless scripts/plugins I use.

    There has been a tremendous amount of change in the Mac Pro world in the past 6 months...though that change sure hasn't come from new Apple hardware. I speak of the amazing new support for high-end GPUs. The GPU is central to my work. The catch is that the kind of GPU I'll want will likely require extra power and frikking around with a brand new box doesn't appeal. It's easier for me to wait a few months and see what happens.

    Waiting also gives me more budget to spend. The notion of c4d having 40 immediate threads for bucket rendering via dual Intel E7s is quite appealing...and helps me be patient.


    I'm fortunate that I have ample business currently. Knock on wood. Every hour hacking is an hour that could have been spent doing billable client work.


    I am going to keep my eye on pricing for a generously appointed HP Z820...and on what Boxx might offer me. Boxx seems like the priciest of all options. first choice would be a fully modernized MacPro. But I won't wait more than 3 months.
  11. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    Dual E7s? I'm not sure that is a practical route. If you want a small render farm, why not investigate what some of the smaller vfx houses use for that kind of work?
  12. Bear macrumors G3

    Jul 23, 2002
    Sol III - Terra
    To answer your questions in order:
    1. Apple will still release a Mac Pro. If they don't release it they get no money from it. Apple's computer sales haven't shrunken as much as some other companies and there were still issues shipping iMacs the early part ofthe quarter.
    2. If it goes out of business, yes your warranty is void. If it merges with another company, the warranty should still be valid.
    3. Building your own is an option. Disks should have a 3 to 5 year warranty if you do, but this is another issue.
    4. Dell and HP computers have nonstandard components for some items and that would mean you need to pay high prices if certain parts need repair. The parts in question are usually case/motherboard/power supply.
    5. I don't think the high end processors will have that much surplus. And if Intel is good at managing their inventory, there probably won't be much surplus of any processor type.
  13. fastlanephil macrumors 65816


    Nov 17, 2007
    Steve Jobs proclaimed the post PC era was upon us back in 2010. I'm sure Apple was anticipating the decline of PC sales and I'm pretty certain that the 2013 pro Mac will be really something special compared to a Windows machine.
  14. goMac macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
    There's no crash in the high end PC market, only in the low end.

    This doesn't apply to any workstation lines. Only the cheap PCs like netbooks. So no, I wouldn't expect fire sales on workstations.
  15. IceMacMac thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jun 6, 2010
    I have my own studio (office).

    I am a c4d artist (among other things.) One of the renderers I'm looking to use a lot more is vrayc4d. In it's imminent 1.5 release it will allow you to tap your entire network even for quick single frame preview renders. When 2.0 of vrayC4d is released it will include RT...which taps the GPU for amazing performance. I currently have 32 threads to throw at a render. If I can increase that to 60-100 I should be in pretty good shape. For the GPU rendering I'd like to perhpas have a Nvidia Maximus configuration.

    I have no interest in the heat, bulk, electrical draw and fuss involved in buying 5 or 6 new computers. I'd probably outsource to a render farm before buying all that.

    That's a thought. But again...not crazy about stacking boxes. I'd rather one machine with say 32 or more threads...and a Maximus for the RT...then I can throw in my existing boxes.
  16. MajorPain, Apr 14, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2013

    MajorPain macrumors newbie

    May 17, 2011
    My friend has the Mac Pro 4,1 (but only a single 2.66 ghz Xeon), and we have upgraded it significantly in the following ways:

    1) Get an ATI 5570 with 1 Gig of VRAM. It will blow away the GT 120. I think OpenCL will offload rendering to it? Hell get 2 of them. The 5570 just fit right into his machine and worked immediately. Never have had the slightest problem.

    2) Use OWC and purchase 3 16 Gig sticks of RAM, bringing him to 48 Gigs (the max for his machine). You can do better if you want.

    3). We added in 3 eSata cards, and are now running, if I am remembering correctly, 6 external hard drives at eSata transfer speeds of 3 gb/sec, which is obviously almost 4x faster than Firewire 800. Still not Thunderbolt, but it is a big improvement. I admit I am not familiar with RAID. Do not know what the transfer rate is. But I will say that I think the eSata cards were $20 each if I am remembering right. I think I had to go to the manufacturer's website and download the Mac specific firmware, but we have never had a problem with the eSata cards.

    edit #1:I also want to add that my friend getting rid of the GT 120 was the single best thing done for his machine. All sorts of problems went away when that card was removed from his system.

    edit #2: It looks like the E7s are not coming out until Q3.
  17. Tesselator, Apr 14, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2013

    Tesselator macrumors 601


    Jan 9, 2008
    Good luck. You can do that but you're talking 4 or 5 times the price of the $10k budget you say you have. Of course I assume you mean 32 actual nodes as HT nodes don't actually add any performance increase when rendering. Hyper-threading is typically for applications which aren't coded to take advantage of a multi-processor system. C4D scales really well IIRC so HT won't give much if any boost.

    Also you don't need the boxes (cases). My second attempt at something like this was with Dec Alpha boards. I notched 4 wooden 2x2 stringers (vertical) and slid the motherboards in place. Then foam padded (for noise reduction) some cheap 4mm paneling and stapled it on the three sides, T&B, and used some plate glass on spring hinges for the front door. A filtered intake port at bottom and an exhaust fan at top kept it cool and silent. The top port exhausted out thru a window. I started with 12 alpha boards I think it was - which was about waste high. I did later move to an actual rack enclosure but the home made thing was fine (and virtually free). Noise free and all that too. Remember there's no video cards in these so the heat isn't too bad if you can keep the air flowing (I used a 14" scroll fan kinda like shown here). The whole thing was smaller than something like this:

  18. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    The PC sales took a plunge because less people need PCs. I don't think professional machines will affected by it in a significant way. Mac Pro has always been a niche machine.
  19. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    The "firesale PC" that were already on the market in 2012 are at the core of this drop in 2013. The "netbook" and "sub $300 bargin basement laptops" , and "sub $400 generic box with slots" are reportedly what is cratering.

    Windows 8 isn't helping and users are gap filling with tablets/smartphones, but a large part of the overall PC market's problem is the race to the bottom pricing. Cutting margins even more isn't going to help the classic PC market. What is deeply flawed is system vendors aren't about put innovative value into the computers. It is more a race to who can be the bigger Scrooge McDuck and squeeze more out of the machines while making it appear they have value.

    classic PC form factors will have to figure out how to be more competitive and differentiate or just largely get steamrolled by tablets over time. There will be some small, narrow niches left over but the overall market would continue to slide.

    While mainframes and minicomputers stalled on growth they didn't get much cheaper anymore. In fact the prices plateaued and in some cases went up.

    That is just going to come anyway. That is just Moore's Law staying on pace. Just look at the Xeon 5000 and now E5 2600 series.

    __ 5500 4 cores max ( 8 core pair )
    __ 5600 6 cores max ( 12 core pair )
    E5 2600 8 cores max ( 16 core pair )
    E5 2600 v2 10 cores max ( 20 core pair ) [ v2 coming later this year. reportedly 12 optional also later if don't care about costs. ]

    Over time the 4, 6, 8, get cheaper.

    Honestly, the substantial lack in value you are getting is in the software that doesn't leverage GPGPUs.
  20. calaverasgrande macrumors 65816


    Oct 18, 2010
    Brooklyn, New York.
    AFAIK nobody is doing their wireframes on ipads yet.
    There is no client for C4D on IOS.
    The workstation segment has always been much smaller than the general computing device market. Same as there are less pickup trucks than there are cars.
    Some folks need a vehicle that just moves them and groceries. Some folks need light duty cargo space and a station wagon is fine. Some folks need heavy duty cargo space every day and buy an F350.

    I do have to admit that I worry some decision makers at Apple worry about the receding PC market and think that they are better off putting all their eggs (apples?) in one basket.
  21. maxosx macrumors 68020

    Dec 13, 2012
    Southern California
    Apple is currently addicted to iOS. The profits they make are intoxicatingly high.

    With profits come headlines. That's what matters to Apple... The Money.

    Everything else is secondary.

    It's only natural for them to give lip service to the less profitable products like the Mac Pro.
  22. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    It's still limited in some areas, and I think a lot of these rendering engines carry a lot of baggage. Some GPGPU solutions require a lot of translation (iray from NVidia) and can require too much vram due to GB of texture data. It's not like only film hits those levels. It might seem like a niche, but we are talking about offline renderers. There are also limits to things like numbers of materials that can be addressed, which you could hit rather quickly with a complex shader stack. I really do hope more of them implement more GPGPU functionality, given the parallel nature of things like GI calculations.
  23. IceMacMac, Apr 16, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2013

    IceMacMac thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jun 6, 2010
    Huh? $40,000!?!?!?!? You are talking like a crazy man. Such a system wouldn't cost me nearly that much.

    My current dual core MP gives me 16 threads of bucket rendering in c4d. The 2010 MP gives my physicist friend 24 c4d threads. So 32 (2cpus x 8core x 2) in the next mac pro is a slam dunk -- or could be easily be configured in a DIY or Boxx type purchase.

    -The Nvidia Maximus config will run around $3,800
    -Dual Xeon $2,700-$5k
    -Case, power, cooling, RAM, etc... $2,500-$4,000
    -Storage (I already have 3 SSDs and a 12 gig RAID)
    Total: $9k-$12k

    My plan...if I went w/someone like Boxx, would be to get everything sans the Tesla...and then add that late summer.
  24. echoout macrumors 6502a

    Aug 15, 2007
    Austin, Texas
    Yep. $12K is the new $6K. Same boat.

    My main difference is I'm looking for a bigger RAID, maybe 13 gigs. ;)
  25. Tesselator, Apr 16, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2013

    Tesselator macrumors 601


    Jan 9, 2008
    ^^ LOL hehehe :)

    But yeah, of course I was talking about actual cores and not Hyper Threads.

    Whip out your stopwatch and time a render using HT and then turn off HT and time the same render. The HT render will either be the same ± a few seconds or it will be actually 2 to 5% slower. So it's not really useful to talk in terms of virtual cores. I thought I mentioned that in my reply already tho.

    So you want 18 cores? Yeah, that's quite different. ;)

    So how about a 4-way? Scroll down... Or just click on "Super-Workstations" to wimp out... :) :D

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