Mac Pro Advice, Please

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by gvdv, May 14, 2007.

  1. gvdv macrumors regular

    Feb 18, 2007
    O.K., I'm ready to make my Mac Pro purchase. (First Mac, because I'm a PC guy, and being a Beatles fan, I won't say Apple).

    I hope that people here will give me their advice because I have found these forums to be the best computer forums on the net (and I'm on a few).

    I want to do primarily audio recording (buying an RME Fireface 400 audio interface, and probably starting with Logic Pro) and video editing (Final Cut Pro), so I was waiting for the 800 Xeons to come out, hoping that the 400's would go down in price. Apparently this hasn't happened (yet).

    So, here's what I would like, and what I'm asking for advice about
    - Mac Pro - should I go 400 or 800? If 400 I think I'll go 3.0
    - 3 internal hard drives (1 Mac internal and 2 third party - which should I go
    for given that I want quiet, large storage drives of at least 300 - 500 GB
    each? Does firewire 800 have to be a consideration or should I go firewire
    - I have no idea about graphics card
    - What third party monitor(s) should I go for? Think I'll make do with a single
    monitor at first, then go dual
    - 3 GB RAM - minimum Mac configuration and the rest third party

    Additional questions
    - How difficult/easy is it to physically add a third party hard drive and memory to the Mac
    Pro? Would I be able to do it myself without any horrendous hardware/software problems?
    - I understand that Mac Certified RAM is the way to go - does anyone have
    any recommendations about where to get this (I'm in Toronto)? I have read
    that there are some modifications that one might have to make in order to
    minimize heat build up. Is this right?
    - Is it better for me to go with a minimum system configuration and then
    upgrade later? What are the potential hardware problems with upgrading
    later? I understand that voiding the warrantee is one of these.

    I'd very much appreciate any advice that people could give me,

  2. trainguy77 macrumors 68040

    Nov 13, 2003
    I would go with the the dell 24".
    Hard drives are the easiest to install of any computer currently on the market in my opinion. You simply pull out a sled from inside the machine screw 4 screws in. Insert drive...done. Ram is pretty easy. More difficult then the hard drives but easier then PCs You should have no problem doing it yourself.
  3. bearbo macrumors 68000


    Jul 20, 2006

    It's not difficult to install 3rd party harddrive. If you have had any computer open up, do something, close it up experience, you'd do fine.

    As long as you get the right RAM with the big ol' heat sink, not the heat spreader, you'll probably be fine. Go with the better vendors, such as crucial, ramjet, OtherWorldComputing.

    Upgrades? Which ones are you talking about? RAM, Harddrive, video cards are user upgradable stuff, warranty only doesn't cover the thing you bought from 3rd party. If you bought from Apple, it's under the warranty.

    And now. Woo, I'm so gonna get burned for this.

    1. The whole I won't say Apple thing won't get you far here. Why do you have to be so one or the other?
    2. There is no 800 Xeon, or 400 Xeon (unless I'm really out of the touch). There's the dual Quad-Core, and dual Dual-Core. But they aren't called 800 and 400. (Sorry, I had to point that out.)
    3. Internal drive do not use firewire 400 nor 800. Firewire 400 and 800 are for external drives.
    4. You'd think if you are so good to be on a few computer forums, you'd know this basics.
  4. dmw007 macrumors G4


    May 26, 2005
    Working for MI-6
    I agree, I have a Dell 2407FPW 24" LCD and it is an awesome monitor! :)
  5. gvdv thread starter macrumors regular

    Feb 18, 2007
    hi dmw007, trainguy 77, and bearbo,
    Thanks for the replies.

    I really appreciate them.

    bearbo, just quoting aspects of your message below and replying to it.

    Thanks for the reply.

    Re. the Quad (I wasn't talking about the Dual Core as you said), I was mistaken, so thanks for the correction (but, actually, the website specifies the "8-core Intel Xeon-based Mac Pro", so I was half way there).

    Re. upgrades, I was wondering if it would be worth it financially and in terms of technical ease to start with a minium hard drive and/or processor, and/or memory configuration and then upgrade or if I should go for the highest specs. that I can afford when I first buy. I was speculating that a combination of going for a good basic Mac configuration and then adding good third party components/peripherals (memory, hard drives) would be a good price compromise. I hope that's clear.

    I'm not looking to "get far" regarding any comments.....and, conversely, not looking to "burn" anyone (that was my whole point about what Apple did to The Beatles - check the lawsuits).

    Yes, in terms of firewire 400/800 I accidentally left out a question that I thought I had included (sorry about that); I was wondering if - instead of going for two extra third party internal drives, there might be some reason that people would suggest external drives, and if so, what people would recommend.

    I never said or implied in any way, state or form that I was "good" or knowledgeable about computers or Macs: in fact, I think that the implication of what I said was that I valued the quality of advice available here in comparison to some of the other sites of which I am a member. One of the reasons that I seek advice from people is that I 'know' very little about the technical aspects of computers.

    In fact, your reply bearbo, is the only one on Macrumors which I experienced as critical in any way - one of the things that I like about Macrumors is that this kind of thing is conspicuously absent in my experience (until now, that is).

    For the record, I know very little about Mac computers, and as I mentioned, have historically owned PC's (did this attract your ire?), and am eager to delve into the Mac world. It's a choice which I have spent several years making, and which I can ill afford, hence needing to make as wise a choice as possible.

    Hope this clarifies a few things, and I'd appreciate your suggestions (and those of others here) on the matters I was unclear about in my initial post, and on the other questions in my post that weren't addressed.

    All the best,
  6. fairnymph macrumors 6502


    Mar 12, 2007
    Chapel Hill, NC
    You'd never go for external drives over internal UNLESS you have many large-sized data that you need to easily and quickly access from multiple computers.

    SATA faster than firewire. Plus external drives are more expensive as they require an enclosure.

    I like seagate and hitachi drives myself, as a personal preference.
  7. FFTT macrumors 68030


    Apr 17, 2004
    A Stoned Throw From Ground Zero
    There's no problem with 3rd party HD's and you can probable do best at
    New Egg on those.

    RAM is a bit more tricky because you need to add your RAM in matched sets
    of 4 DIMMS.

    OtherWorldComputing OWC ( carries the correct MacPro certified RAM and you can also try, but be sure to insist on MacPro RAM "with the correct oversized heat sinks".

    Frankly, Apple's 4 GB upgrade is not so badly over the top and for audio, you really should start with 4 GB on a Mac Pro.

    There's a whole bunch of Pros running Logic extremely well on the Mac Pro
    Quad, so if you still have lots of other things to buy like an RME Fireface
    and your software, Mics, cables, nearfields, etc. save yourself some money for those.

    By all means, if you qualify for the education discount, definitely be sure to
    verify that with your sales rep.

    Once critical thing you must always pay attention to is to NEVER connect or disconnect any FireWire cable with your computer on.
    Doing so, you'll risk damaging your firewire port.
  8. bearbo macrumors 68000


    Jul 20, 2006

    I'm not, by any mean, trying to belittle you. I just (sometimes) can't stand these little things :).

    And I was probably in a bad mood just now.

    Welcome Aboard.

  9. FFTT macrumors 68030


    Apr 17, 2004
    A Stoned Throw From Ground Zero
    I've recorded music for years and all this digital recording stuff still confuses the crap out of me!.

    At least it's LESS confusing when you know it's not your computer causing the problems.
  10. fairnymph macrumors 6502


    Mar 12, 2007
    Chapel Hill, NC

    What if I am

    a) file sharing between two macs, and then I eject/unmount the HD I'm accessing over the firewire, and then disconnect the cable on both ends?

    b)hooked up to an external HD, then eject/unmount and disconnect cable?

    I never turn off the primary computer when I do these things. So far it has never caused any problems...but it's bad for the ports? I am very curious to know why. It'll be a hassle to turn off my computer every time. :(
  11. synth3tik macrumors 68040


    Oct 11, 2006
    Minneapolis, MN
    I like the Dell 2407FPW 24" LCD too. Although I went for the 23" ACD, identical though.

    Audio on a Mac Pro is just sweet and the RME firewire is one beast of a IO. As you know the RME uses firewire 400. I have not seen any yet using firewire 800. I have had no issues with the firewire itself. Hard drive installation is, well if you can fasten 4 screws to a drive sled your covered. I use a Raptor 10k drive as my main drive. This adds some noise, but the Mac Pro runs soooo quite anyway any noise would be noticeable. If you want to keep it quite I would just get a couple 500G 7.2K SATA drives. I always try to not buy hard drives from the same production run and like to switch venders (eliminate wide spread HD failures). Here is what I have for HDs

    150G Raptor 10K system Drive-internal
    250G Vista/VM machines (partitioned)-internal
    2X500G Media drive (RAID0)-internal
    1TB WD MyBook Pro back up drive 2X500G w/ RAID0-External via firewire 800.

    I do a lot of music and graphics and some video, store a lot of music and movies and the set up works great. The back up is set to back up the complete Media HD, my VM machines (excluding Vista as it's in boot camp) and my user folder every 12 hours.

    As for software, did you run Logic back when it was still produced my Emagic?
    Or have you used it on a Mac? It's not the easiest program to learn, but you may have that all covered. I would also check out Ableton Live, it is just great in the studio. Also Audacity is a great freeware program that I use instead of peak as it can read .ogg files.

    You'll love the beast.
  12. 2ndPath macrumors 6502

    Feb 21, 2006
    Well, firewire is a hot plugging technology. So it should be no problem to connect it to or disconnect it from a machine while the machine is running. In the real world that is usually working nicely. However, things can break. I had a broken port on a Powerbook and read that in later models Apple had added a protective circuit to the firewire port. I don't know how prone the Mac Pro is to that kind of problem.
  13. FFTT macrumors 68030


    Apr 17, 2004
    A Stoned Throw From Ground Zero
    I know for certain that M-Audio cautions users on this.

    Yes you CAN disconnect external drives as long as you've ejected the
    drive from your desktop, but doing this with an audio interface is not
    a good idea.

    It all has to do with how the device is powered, but also with audio gear
    you have to be careful about damaging your monitors.

    As a rule of thumb, it's best to turn off your system before you unplug
    a F/W device, especially at the computer side of the connection.
  14. gvdv thread starter macrumors regular

    Feb 18, 2007
    FFTT, Fairnymph, bearbo, synth3tik, and 2ndPath,
    Many thanks for all of the very useful advice here, and bearbo, sorry if I, too, got a bit hot under the collar - I very much appreciate your cool head prevailing and your advice here.

    To answer some questions that have been asked (of me, I think), I haven't run Logic before, but do plan to get Logic Express at some point, although I understand that it's only a 16 bit program.

    My original plan was to go PC and use Cakewalk's Sonar 6 and I toyed with the idea of going through Parallels or Bootcamp to use this on the Mac, but don't think that this would work very well.

    I also want to run Final Cut Pro for video editing.

    Having just returned an all-in-one 16 track multitrack to the store I bought it from (in preparation for buying the Mac Pro), my computer DAW-land, so I have a few more questions.

    How noticeable do people think that the latency will be when audio recording - if I monitor with and without effects - using the RME Fireface 400 with 4 GB RAM with the Mac Pro 3.0? I really don't want there to be any as I can't stand it.

    I've read elsewhere that the Western Digital hard drives provide a good mix of quietness and performance.

    Synth3tik, do you find that the Raptor gets hot at all? It sounds like might be a bit noisy for me, I must say.

    Must go and do some research on the Dell 2407 FPW LCD monitor that you all recommended.



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