Mac Pro 5.1 worth it?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by throttlemeister, Dec 29, 2015.

  1. throttlemeister macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2009
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    Netherlands
    #1
    I do quite a lot of photo and video work (privately, not professionally), and up to now been happily working on my rMBP and cMBP before that. However, now that I am going to be doing more video work compared to previously most of just still photos, I am starting to feel the limits of my 2012 rMBP.

    However, the choices within the Apple system are a bit limited and combined with the prices, I was thinking about building my own Windows PC again. Basically Mac Pro power for Macbook Air prices, but without OS X. You know how it works. Then again, I really like working on OS X.

    Then I was thinking I could get a second hand 12 core Mac Pro 5.1 for reasonable money, fill it up with memory, add some storage, PCIe M.2 flash storage, possible upgrade the CPU's and video card and I could possibly end up having a pretty hefty beast of a machine for the price of a new 27" iMac.

    Since I don't need the screen of the iMac as I prefer to work on my Cintiq, and a new Mac Pro is way too expensive for what I do this might be the ticket.

    Am I crazy thinking along these lines and should I leave the old Mac Pro's where they belong, in the past? Or is this indeed a valid strategy to get a reasonably priced powerhouse that can last me another 4-5 years?
     
  2. iamnotme macrumors regular

    iamnotme

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2015
    Location:
    SW Ontario, Canada
    #2
    Well a 12 core mac pro has power to spare. If your apps use multi cores, it will eat everything for the price and still come very close to the current mac pro.
    Since the CPU is old now, the single core performance is average at best but with multi core, this thing really flies. I only had mine for a couple of weeks but I'm in love.
    Screen Shot 2015-12-29 at 8.50.19 AM.png
     
  3. piper1012 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2015
    #3
    4-5 years might be pushing it. 2-3 years for sure. This is basically what I just did. I bought a refurbished 2010 8 core that will soon become a 12 core. Update to PCI-e SSD, 32 GB ram, AMD R9 280x graphics card for FCPX. I'll be interested to see how it performs.

    I think your video workflow will really be the deciding factor. I'll be using this machine for 1080p single cam workflows. Pretty basic stuff, but I will be using a few effects and making heavy use of titles. I have no doubt a 12 core cMP can handle that with ease. The question then becomes how soon will my clients begin asking for 4k (pretty soon!) and how well will this machine handle a 4k workflow. The single GPU might become a weak point for 4k, but I could add another with an external PSU. I'll just have to wait and see.

    In the mean time, I'll have just over $2k in this machine when it is fully modded. If I just book 1 hour per month for the next 2 years, I've made money (and had some fun). Biggest no-brainer ever for my studio.
     
  4. throttlemeister thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #4
    @iamnotme: Good point. Essentially, it will mean giving up performance of Lightroom in favor of Photoshop and video editing. (your 12 core is about 25% slower single core and about twice as fast multicore than my rMBP) Of course that is just CPU and static benchmarks never tell the real world story; desktop graphics cards are also faster than laptop counterparts so that may muddle the waters a bit more with software that has graphics acceleration.

    @piper1012: my video workflow is basically the same as yours: 1080p, action cam stuff that needs editing. Nothing too fancy. Won't have any clients other than me though, so 4K not likely coming any time soon. :)

    Anyone please correct me if I am wrong, but regardless of static benchmarks the MBP feels a bit overwhelmed when pushing heavy loads, more so than a desktop would?

    Anyway, I still might be better off building myself...
     
  5. piper1012 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2015
    #5
    Your MBP could be throttling down on heavy loads (rendering) if its getting too hot...

    I also have a 2012 rMBP (i7, 2.2ghz, 8MB ram) that I have used on occasion for editing when I had no other option. Can't say for sure if it ever slowed itself down, but it does get hot and it is pretty slow. I try not to use it. I can't work efficiently on a laptop. I like my desktop setups much better.
     
  6. jetjaguar macrumors 68030

    jetjaguar

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2009
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    somewhere
    #6
    Ive been thinking of getting a 5,1 and upgrading but I wondering if it is worth it. It is definitely better to just build a pc but then I have to use windows. Currently researching a hackintosh.
     
  7. Bytehoven macrumors regular

    Bytehoven

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2015
    Location:
    Up Shellpot Creek
    #7
    I can attest the 2010-2012 cMP can easily handle a 4K workflow with the proper hardware support.

    I'd be happy to recommend a specific build out if you tell what software you would be using for the video editing. But the basic parameters are...

    48GB Ram or more (I run 64GB)

    GTX 980 or better for CUDA accelerated video editor like Premiere (I use a GTX 980 Ti)

    similar performance Open CL accelerated ADM GPU for FCP X

    A good "calibrated" 4K monitor if you're going to do any color grading. I use the ViewSonic VP2780 which is factory calibrated for HD-709, AdobeRGB, sRGB, EBU as well as a handful of gamma ranges rom 1.8 to 2.6. It's a beautiful display and one of the least expensive as well.

    500GB - 1TB internal SSD for OS X and Apps (I run an older Crucial 512GB SSD)

    mini SAS external RAID storage for all video/audio files, preferable using a SAS RAID Controller PCIe card like the ATTO R680 or similar offering from NewerTech, LSI or Areca. I would not recommend using a "software" raid solution.

    USB 3.0/eSATA PCIe card for faster uploading of USB camera drives and flash readers (I use the Sonnet Tempo Duo. I also use this to support back up solutions for the main RAID system)

    Best choices for hard drives or SSD for the video source RAID... let me know if you want more info on this subject.
     
  8. piper1012 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2015
    #8
    That is the key for a 4k cMP. Overkill for what I need the machine to do, but I might need a Raid Array rig like that for this machine someday.

    And don't forget an updated GPU...R9 280X for FCPX.
     
  9. Bytehoven macrumors regular

    Bytehoven

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2015
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    #9
    If I ever get deep into FCP X to serve a client, I would probably own both e top end AMD for FCP X and the nVIDIA for CUDA duties, and then just put in which ever I need for the current project. But I don't anticipate any of my existing clients asking for FCP X since almost everyone I know went a different way when Apple abandoned FCPro 7.0.3.
     
  10. piper1012 macrumors newbie

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    Dec 28, 2015
    #10
    Don't I know it! I probably know close to 50 professionals that have switched to Adobe. Only one other fellow and myself have stayed with FCPX. I have a powerful dedicated Adobe PC in the studio if I have to work in PPro (use it for LR and PS mostly), but if the client doesn't care what I cut in, or if I get a vote -- I like FCPX. Call me crazy.
     
  11. Bytehoven, Jan 1, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2016

    Bytehoven macrumors regular

    Bytehoven

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2015
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    Up Shellpot Creek
    #11
    Never! :) I think if I was trying to make the switch now with FCP X in it's current form, I might have made a different decision. I do own FCP X but don't want to use it out of some illogical sense of retribution. Illogical because I already paid Apple my $$$. That said... the times have tried to just play around in the program... I hated the way it handles source material, bundling it all in a single file. Very much like AVID which I always hated as far as the flexibility to manage the source files directly outside of the program. But maybe I'm over looking something. The other thing which made me angry, I tried to use FCP X and Logic Pro X as a more advanced sound design setup and it was a complete fail. But that was a little over a year ago. Maybe Logic has been tweaked to properly support importing FCP X projects and lay out useable track assignments.

    As far as Premiere Pro... I was a motion graphic Render Boy before I got into editing, so I love the way AE and PPro work so seamlessly together without Duck or some other hack.

    It's funny... years ago when I was running a Targa RTX 2000 on a Mac G4, I was using Premiere and loved it. I only switched to the 1st Final Cut because Targa codec support died with OS 9. I still have that Targa RTX hardware and I kept the G4 for many years to support those legacy projects. Now I'm doing something similar, keeping a Mac Mini with 10.7.5 to support a boat load of FCPro 7.0.3 legacy projects. Thanks Apple! :) I'm having Deja Vu all over agin.
     
  12. piper1012, Jan 1, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2016

    piper1012 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2015
    #12
    FCPX is much better since the recent updates. 10.0 was a little rough. As for Logic, I've been on Pro Tools since version 5 so you can guess where I come down on that issue. The Adobe suite is great for moving assets around from program to program, but I hate the cloud and subscription model. FCPX is just easy and fast to work in for me. I also really dig how FCPX does color correction. Fast and simple. Most the media I work with needs a lot of help!
     

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