Looking to buy a new MP, would like some advice

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by johnboblaw, Aug 1, 2009.

  1. johnboblaw macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2009
    #1
    Hello,

    New to the forum but full of stupid questions!

    Ok, so I have a horrible knack for waiting to buy a new computer (or gadget) until I'm convinced bigger and better is at least a year away, take the plunge, and a week later bigger and better is release for cheaper then what I just bought. As an example that is exactly what happened when I purchased my last 15" Macbook Pro a week before this last design change.

    I am now in the market for a desktop and was considering a Mac Pro with the following specs;
    - 8 core 2.66ghz
    - 16gb RAM
    - Raid Card
    - 4x 1tb hardrives
    - ATI HD 4870 512mb graphics card (not sure about this yet)
    - 2x 24" Screens
    - etc with the rest of the trimmings.

    I will be using this computer for graphic design, photography imaging and editing, and probably as a home music/video server.

    I was planning on making the leap next week but wanted to ask for some more experienced opinions on if it is the right time to invest in this beast or if I'm going to get burned again after plugging a bunch of cash into a computer.

    I obviously understand that there is a fast turnover of computer models and power but I just don't want to have serious buyers remorse a few months down the line when significantly bigger and better comes out.

    Any advise would be appreciated including setup recommendation and telling me I'm being a moron. :D

    Cheers!
     
  2. gatepc macrumors 6502

    gatepc

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2008
    Location:
    Pittsburgh PA
    #2
    I don't believe there to be any new mac pro's announced anytime soon with that said even if they do release a new model that does not make your old one any slower so why complain? its a great machine. Those specs are nice for what you will be doing but if I was you I would just get the cheapest gpu at stock and then buy the nvidia gtx 285 that is available on the apple website. I am not sure if the ati card will be supported by snow leopard. Also since snow leopard is just around the bend if you order it right now you can get a 10 dollar upgrade to snow leopard when it is released.
     
  3. johnboblaw thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2009
    #3

    Thanks for the response.

    I won't be unhappy with my MP, I would just feel swindled. I could have saved a couple hundred bucks last time around if I had just waited a week.

    Also I could use some changes to the current MP like more space for more hard-drives and wouldn't be all that happy in a new model with specs closer to what I want comes out shortly after.

    Thanks for the advice on the other graphics card. Looking it up and it certainly has some very positive reviews. Looking forward to what Snow Leopard will hook us up with.

    Cheers!
     
  4. Umbongo macrumors 601

    Umbongo

    Joined:
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    Location:
    England
    #4
    You seem to have just looked at the config page and chosen what seems good to your budget. I'm not going to go over everything (I'm sure someone else will), but you probably don't need 8 cores or the RAID card (unless you want RAID 5, but there are issues with the card still I believe) and don't buy memory or storage from Apple.

    You might want to have a good look at the 24" displays before you commit to two of them for photography work. There are way better alternatives out there.

    There are no new systems comming soon so now is a good time to buy. Just try and explain more indepth what you will use it for. Check out some of the other threads on this forum in regards to others asking for advice too and you might save your self hundreds (or thousands) of dollars, get a better setup for your needs and never notice the difference.
     
  5. gugucom macrumors 68020

    gugucom

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    May 21, 2009
    Location:
    Munich, Germany
    #5
    You don't really need a RAID card as there is already one integrated in your Mac Pro unless you want to run more than 5 drives.

    ATI4870 supports all functions of Snow Leo, but the NVIDIA would be the better and quieter card, I agree.

    Consider SSDs for boot drive. 2 of the new Gen 2 Intel 80 or 160 GB in RAID0 or even one will do huge good to the speed of your machine. They are several times faster than a hard drive. You do not necessarily need them for mass storage.

    Remember to buy backup drives. A 2TB for storage and one for Backup would be nice.
     
  6. gatepc macrumors 6502

    gatepc

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    Location:
    Pittsburgh PA
    #6
    Yes I see your point now. I doubt that when they update it again they will do any cosmetic changes since the mac pro has been almost unchanged since it was first released in terms of casing. If you need that much space I would recommend just getting a drobo which is an automated raid box its costly but it is well worth the money from what I hear.
     
  7. johnboblaw thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2009
    #7

    I have been a laptop only guy for about 6 years now but I need something more substantial these days.

    I have indeed gone down the config page and picked what I thought would work out best for what I am doing as I figured that might be the best way of going about things. As mentioned I am inexperience with newer desktops so I have tried to do some research to get myself sorted.

    I was thinking of going with RAID for easy redudancy as I can't afford to loss a TB of photos. My plan was to get the 4TB, 2 TB used and the other 2 running as backup and invest in a external "bank"(?) of hard-drives when I need to expand.

    I have also looking in the apple 24" displays and according to the buyers guide on here I should be expecting something new from Apple fairly soon. If you have some recommendations for quality screens for my application I'm all ears.

    Thanks for the advice... obviously I need all I can get.

    Cheers
     
  8. thegoldenmackid macrumors 604

    thegoldenmackid

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    dallas, texas
    #8
    Something from Dell.
     
  9. gatepc macrumors 6502

    gatepc

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    Apr 11, 2008
    Location:
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    #9
    If he does get something I suggest making sure its an IPS panel some of the cheaper Dells are TN panels and are absolutely horrible for photographic work. I personally think the apple displays are great I saw a couple reviews on the 24 inch one recently that compared them to some NIC's that were also IPS panels and in terms of sharpness proved to be much better.
     
  10. johnboblaw thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2009
    #10
    I have read a good amount about using SSDs for my boot drives but quite honestly I had no idea how to add it to the system as I believe they are 2.5" and I think the MP has 3.5" bays (which would be occupied). Advice would be appreciated as I would like to squeeze every last drop of speed I can out of this thing.

    The computer would be used for 2 main purposes. First and foremost is in my home studio to store and edit my photos and some graphic and 3D design... these are currently eating up absurd amounts of space on my Macbook Pro since I bought my D700 and D3x. So space, redudency, reliabiltiy, and speed are key for this side of things.

    The second purpose would be to act as a kind of server to the apple TV's hidden through out my house. I have a ton of movies, TV shows, and music and I figured this computer could do double duty hosting all this data. Currently I have 4x 500gb WD external Hard drives that I am switching around as needed to get to different movies and TV shows.

    Cheers for any advice I can get. I'm don't think I'm completely lost but guidance is definitely appreciated.
     
  11. johnboblaw thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Aug 1, 2009
    #11

    ahhh Drobo... I was trying my best to remember what I found in my research a while back. I was planning on getting a Drobo Pro down the road and upgrading it as needed.

    Seems like a hell of a device.
     
  12. eawmp1 macrumors 601

    eawmp1

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2008
    Location:
    FL
    #12
    Said before, but I will reiterate:

    1) DON'T purchase RAM or your additional drives from Apple. It's easy cheaper to buy from OWC/Newegg/Crucial and ridiculously easy to install yourself
    2) Don't expect any major upgrade anytime soon. The 24's are lovely. Historically it's taken Apple YEARS to upgrade the displays. Might see a larger monitor soon, however.
    3) Any/all of the internal drives can be set up as a RAID without any additional hardware/software.
    4) AppleCare (if you buy computer/monitor together BOTH can be covered under the computer umbrella)
     
  13. johnboblaw thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Aug 1, 2009
    #13
    I have not been able to compare Apple screens to anything else side by side but I was impressed by what I saw in the 24" and 30" models i saw in a local show room. Then again I'm used to my Macbook Pro screen right now so I might not be the best judge.

    What I am looking for is color and sharpness accuracy more then anything design.
     
  14. gatepc macrumors 6502

    gatepc

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    Apr 11, 2008
    Location:
    Pittsburgh PA
    #14
    And thats exactly what IPS panels do they are designed for people who need color accuracy! if you get a monitor that is not an IPS panel it will not look any where near the quality of the apple display ( which is an IPS panel ) just some quick info here. TN panels ( which are what the cheap displays usually are ) only display about 260,000 colors they emulate ( or fake ) the other colors to make a fake 16 million colors, but IPS actually have the full 16 million colors and are much more accurate. Sorry if I sound like a broken record here but IMO its pointless to have such a powerful computer to edit photo's on if the color is going to be wrong on them.
     
  15. johnboblaw thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Aug 1, 2009
    #15
    Definitely don't sound like a broken record. I appreciate the advice and I definitely agree that it is pointless to have a great photog computer without a screen that does it justice.
     
  16. Umbongo macrumors 601

    Umbongo

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    Sep 14, 2006
    Location:
    England
    #16
    At least you came here to get some feedback first :)

    OS X can do that sort of RAID without the need for the card. RAID is not a backup system though. The kind you are considering is really incase of a drive failure so you can keep on going without dataloss (hopefully). What you want could just be achieved with some backup software.

    Right now the NEC 2490 and 2690 are the "in" displays for photographers who want quality for a fair price, with the HP LP2475W being a popular choice for those on a budget. edit: The following two links are technical but the photos highlight what you can expect from a high end display. Apple's just has a high end panel. It does not have the other features that make these displays standout.

    http://www.hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1396129
    http://www.hardforum.com/showpost.php?p=1033819378&postcount=16

    See if you can find a local reseller of displays for professionals, a camera/photography equipment supplier might have them. But many people buy sight unseen going on the many glowing reccomendations of others.

    My main concern with the Apple displays would be having two of them at the correct angles for a multi-display setup and avoiding the negative effects of the glossy screen. Plus you'd need two graphics cards with the Apple displays due to there being only one connector.

    NEC have displays intended for professional users, Apple's 24" is aimed at those who want a nice experience with using their laptop as a desktop. offering it with the Mac pro is an after thought (things like those wanting to put the tower on the floor have to buy a 3rd party cable to reach).
     
  17. CaptainChunk macrumors 68020

    CaptainChunk

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2008
    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    #17
    All Macs are capable of creating software RAID arrays. It's been a feature of Mac OS X since 10.0. But anything outside of RAID 0/1/0+1 needs a hardware RAID card, regardless of the number of drives.

    OP:

    If you're going to build a hardware RAID on a 2009 MP, be aware of the limitations. Apple's RAID card is expensive for what you get and will only run internal drives (no future expansion to external arrays). IMHO, Areca, ATTO and Highpoint make much better RAID cards for the money. And now, MaxUpgrades makes a backplane conversion kit to overcome the limitation the 2009 MPs have with using internal drives on a 3rd-party RAID card.

    If you don't think you're going expand outside of using an internal RAID, Apple's RAID would be fine, I suppose. But it's an awful lot of jingle for what's basically a 4-drive card.
     
  18. Umbongo macrumors 601

    Umbongo

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    Location:
    England
    #18
    Think about how much you will really need 8 cores over 4 if you are comming from laptops. It works out about $2,000 for 8 2.66GHz cores over 4 with the same memory capacity. Also consider just going for 12GB of memory and see how you get on (6x2GB for 8 core or 3x4GB for 4 core). Save yourself some money and get better performance if you won't actually use that much.
     
  19. gugucom macrumors 68020

    gugucom

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    May 21, 2009
    Location:
    Munich, Germany
    #19
    There are 2,5 to 3,5 adapters from Icy Box available at a price of 25$. You do not really needs those though. I have just used the connectors 1 and 2. Then I added a piece of cardbord with double sided sticky tape to get a distance piece under the top of the drive. Those things are ridiculously light and that would actually secure them ok. As redundant fixture I have squeezed a foamed polyethylene bar between the drives and the fan unit. Those things are just a bit of plastic with some chips for storage and controler in them. Nothing like even a laptop hard drive. They also do not get hot as drives do.
     
  20. nanofrog macrumors G4

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    #20
    For the RAID, you can start out with a RAID 0, in conjuction with a proper backup, as no form of RAID is a replacement for having one. If needed, you can always add a hardware RAID card in later (just avoid Apple's card, as it's overpriced junk).

    You might also want to consider getting a base model, and going 3rd party for any upgrades, including the 4870. If you're willing, you can use of of the PC models and use an injector or firmware flash (other threads on this). Another option would be to get the machine as a refurb, and save a little extra cash to help make the total burden a bit easier to handle. ;)

    If you plan to do graphics work professionally, don't skimp on the monitor. You might want to consider getting only one to begin with, and see if it will serve your needs first. You can always add the second if it's needed.

    Hope this helps. :)
     
  21. SnowLeopard2008 macrumors 604

    SnowLeopard2008

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    Silicon Valley
    #21
    You might want to consider the older 2 x 23" ACD or 1 x 30" ACD altogether because some users have reported that the 24" LED ACD has a short MDP cable and if you have the tower on the floor, it might not be enough to place the monitor on the desk. Otherwise your setup looks pretty good. Also, I'm too lazy to go and check, but does that MP have Nehalem processors or Harptertown? Nehalem is the newest.
     
  22. MacMini2009 macrumors 68000

    MacMini2009

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    California
    #22
    http://www.monoprice.com/products/p...=10246&cs_id=1024602&p_id=5502&seq=1&format=2
     
  23. Cynicalone macrumors 68040

    Cynicalone

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    Location:
    Okie land
    #23
    Many people will tell you to avoid Apple RAM but remember if you buy it with the Mac Pro it is covered by the warranty. Apple is reasonable now if you don't go over 16GB.

    I have the RAID Card in my 09 Mac Pro. It is slow as hell, but there really isn't much in the way of options for the 09 models yet.

    I would not buy HDD's from Apple you can get a 2TB Western Digital Green Drive for what Apple charges for 1 1TB Drive.

    The ATI Card is fine, but if you plan to run 2 24" LED ACD's you will need to add another card. A GT 120 would do nicely for running the second display. You might have to order it separately since Apple won't let you build a system with the ATI 4870 and the GT 120 both installed. But they work fine together and are easy to install.

    That's all my advise the only other thing I would suggest is to get Apple Care. Apple parts are never cheap.
     
  24. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #24
    Most of the memory I come across tends to have a lifetime warranty. ;)

    Though having a single point of contact for problems may be something to consider, particularly for corporations. (As dealing with returns to multiple vendor's isn't really an option due to the lost time involved, not to mention th e hassle).

    That card's so bad, it's worth the hassle of using an external solution, or the adapter made by Maxupgrades. :eek: ;) :p

    Very wise advice IMO, especially at the cost of the logic boards (~$800USD for the '06 - '08 models last I checked). ;) And the combination of the logic + daughter board on the '09's may be worse yet. :eek: :rolleyes: ;)
     
  25. johnboblaw thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Aug 1, 2009
    #25
    Thanks for all the advice all around, truly appreciated.

    I got in contact with Lloyd from Macperformanceguide and after an hour on the phone I had everything explained and sorted out, he was great to talk to and a great help. This is what I ended up with.

    A refurb 8-core 2.93ghz '09 Mac Pro with basic config
    Upgrades;
    - 80gb SSD for a boot drive going in the optical bay
    - 4x 1tb internally split into 2 striped drives, one being the backup of the other
    - 6.0tb external eSATA QX for itunes and another system backup. Setup as RAID 5 so 4.5 formatted.
    - 12gb OCW 1066mhz RAM
    - FirmTek SeriTek/2EN2 Dual-Bay Hot-Swap External with a couple 1.5tb for further backups.
    - 30" NEC pro display with built in SpectraII calibration
    - Epson 3880 Printer

    All the backups are great as I can't afford to loose my photos.

    Can't wait for it all to get here. Hope you all agree that it was a good way to go.

    Cheers!
     

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