Looking to buy a Mac Pro

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Subjectruin, May 11, 2009.

  1. Subjectruin macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 11, 2009
    #1
    I'm planning on buying a Mac Pro in the next couple of days, my first new computer in 6 years and my first ever Mac.

    I'll be using it for HD video editing (Final Cut Pro), After Effects, and Pro Tools. I'd like a powerful computer that will last me quite some time, get my work done quickly and efficiently, but I want to avoid spending money on bells and whistles I won't end up needing.

    Right now, I'm mostly debating between the Quad-core and 8-core, and whether or not it's worth it to shell out an extra $200 for the ATI Radeon graqhics card versus the standard NVIDIA. I'm graduating college soon, so I'd like to buy it ASAP to qualify for the student discount!

    What would be my ideal machine in terms of price and performance?

    Thanks so much for your responses.
     
  2. brguitarist macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 24, 2007
    Location:
    New Jersey
    #2
    If you have the money I'd go for the 8-core -- might be a bit excessive right now, but it'll allow you to slowly upgrade and it'll last you a LONG time.

    No real ideal, ideal performance: 8-core; "ideal" price: quad-core.
     
  3. Subjectruin thread starter macrumors newbie

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    May 11, 2009
    #3
    Yeah, these new Mac Pros appear to be pretty upgradable - a far cry from the days of hermetically-sealed teardrop-shaped neon blue iMacs.

    Not sure if it make a difference with the graphics cards, but I'll be using my current Sony LCD monitor with this Mac until I can afford a better one. I'm assuming that since my monitor isn't an HD monitor (it's a 17-incher, about 3 years old) I won't have much use for such a high-powered GPU. But maybe it'll make rendering and display times faster? I'm pretty lost when it comes to this stuff...
     
  4. mmulin macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2006
    #4
    Don't go with the current base model due to lower RAM expandability. This is what you will need if you really get into advanced editing. As for the RAM itself, buy it from Crucial or OWC and don't pay the Apple premium on RAM. Further, I suggest you get, again from 3rd party, at least one large & fast HD to be used as scratch disk for you pro apps.

    As for the GPU, I suggest the ATI cards. Historically, at least up to the 8800GT vs 3870HD (even the X1900) debate, ATI cards provide faster crunching in Core Image/ Open GL and deeper colour mapping. This is what the pro apps live from. Nvidia would be the better gaming choice. I can't vouch for the current Nvidia vs ATI models debate and the recent systems with either cards probably run circles around my rig.

    For you reference, I edit - although not final post, on the original 2.66 Quad, 16 GB RAM, 2x 1TB 10k HDs RAIDed as scratch, 1TB 7k HD as respiratory and final storage, plus a 500GB 7k HD for the OS and apps (all internally).
     
  5. Pika macrumors 68000

    Pika

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    Oct 5, 2008
    Location:
    Japan
    #5
    Get the 8-Core without the ATI Radeon. If your not happy with the standard NVIDIA, wait and save the money for the Nvidia Quadro FX 4800.
     
  6. Subjectruin thread starter macrumors newbie

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    May 11, 2009
    #6
    What would you recommend for the RAM expandibility? I'm reading on the apple site that that 8-core base model supports up to 32GB of 1066MHz DDR3 ECC SDRAM memory in eight slots. Whatever I buy, I'm planning on getting the base amount of RAM with hopes to expand later on. 32GBs isn't a lot? Are there other options that will allow me to expand more?

    I recently bought a Seagate 1.5TB external drive that I was planning on converting to an internal drive once I bought this new computer. I heard from somewhere that this was doable. Would you reccomend this?

    Thanks for all the help.
     
  7. Pika macrumors 68000

    Pika

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    Oct 5, 2008
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    Japan
    #7
    For Future-Proofing is never alot if you want to keep your machine for years.
     
  8. brguitarist macrumors member

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    May 24, 2007
    Location:
    New Jersey
    #8
    I would definitely do that. Wait for prices to drop a bit more then upgrade later. 6GB should be enough for a while...

    I have a Seagate 1.5TB internal so I assume it's the same drive. Making it internal should be pretty straightforward, however I'd search around for that specific external model to see if people have done it just to play it safe.
     
  9. Plutonius macrumors 603

    Plutonius

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    Feb 22, 2003
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    New Hampshire
    #9
    Get the quad with the ATI card.
     
  10. Subjectruin thread starter macrumors newbie

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    May 11, 2009
    #10
    Thanks for all the help guys.

    I guess what I'm having trouble wrapping my head around is the actual difference between the Quad and the 8-core. Realistically, how will it affect performance? And in what ways?
     
  11. wheezy macrumors 65816

    wheezy

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2005
    Location:
    Alpine, UT
    #11
    We all have high hopes for Snow Leopard and what it's gonna do with OpenCL and processing, I'd just on the ATI Card. The 4870 is a monster card that, pending a let down with Snow Leopard, should really bump up speed. If I understand OpenCL correctly...

    And go 8 core. If you're gonna go for a MacPro, get the best you can. Hopefully a new Multi-core aware Final Cut Studio comes out, and basically the 8 core would render twice as fast as the Quad core... right?

    As for hard drive... I'm in love with the 1TB Samsung F1 drive. I've hit 130MB/s in an OS X Software RAID0 (2 Drive) and that was moving data from the RAID to a single F1... I'm not a mega geek, but that's pretty darn fast. I easily hit 100MB/s moving info around usually day-to-day, whereas my Seagate and WD rarely hit 70MB/s. You're gonna want a fast scratch setup, I totally recommend those. Currently $90 from NewEgg with free 2 day shipping. I recommend it for every drive! The Seagate my MP came with was a loud piece of junk. I was afraid it would fry one day. Finally.. the Samsungs are quiet, and cool, staying around 78-85F all the time.

    It's time for bed...
     
  12. mmulin macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2006
    #12
    The Quadro won't do much benefit for video editing and the price difference is ridiculous in that case. Professional tracing and modelling, there you go.
     
  13. mmulin macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2006
    #13
    Ahh, 32GB sounds fine for these days. I falsly remembered it is limited to 16GB..

    As long the Seagate is SATA and has standard mounts for the internal brackets, you shouldn't have a problem. Unfortunately, I have bad experience with reliability of Seagate drives but YMMV.

    Anyway, if you worry Quad vs Octo.. check out http://www.barefeats.com/ for their performance testings. Have to agree though, if money is no problem and you want to be future proof for a longer while, get the Octo plus the ATI. Might be overkill now but you won't be looking back in a few years ;)
     
  14. Consultant macrumors G5

    Consultant

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    Jun 27, 2007
  15. Subjectruin thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 11, 2009
    #15
    The more I'm looking around, the more it seems like a good idea to get the Quad-core and upgrade to the 2.93Ghz chips, rather than get the 8-core with the 2.26Ghz chips. The only problems is that the Quad-core base model is limited to 8GBs of RAM. How can I order one with more RAM expandibility?
     
  16. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2007
    Location:
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    #16
    My suggestion is to go with the 8-core. Having more RAM will almost always be the best way to speed up a system. I bought the 8 core system on the belief that when Snow Leopard is released more programs will then be able to take advantage of multiple cores. Currently, most programs only use 1 or 2 cores, however the 8 core version allows you to run more programs before bogging down (assuming you have the RAM to support all those programs.)

    Graphic cards are very easy to upgrade later, if you wish to (and as prices fall). It is very difficult, if I understand correctly, to upgrade from 4 cores to 8 later on.

    As I said, I have the 8 core and work on very large Photoshop files. Its the lack of memory that bogs me down, not the CPU speed or cores. I have ridiculously little RAM, but will be upgrading very shortly.

    Good Luck - you'll love the Mac Pro, have some patience learning how to do things the "Mac Way". There is lots of info on these forums about changing over, use the search feature and you'll find most of it.

    Also, check out macperformanceguide.com - he talks about exactly what you're wondering about.
     
  17. aaquib macrumors 65816

    aaquib

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2007
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    #17
    The limitation is that there are 4 Dimm slots instead of 8. So, you can actually by 4X4GB sticks from Crucial to get 16GB of RAM which is CONFIRMED to work. The only thing is that 4GB sticks are really expensive at the moment. But like you said, you are going to stay with the stock RAM either ways.
     

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