Mac Pro Options

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Xzag, Mar 19, 2012.

  1. Xzag macrumors member

    Mar 19, 2012
    Hi Mac Pro Forum,

    I am in the long line of those waiting for a Mac Pro update. If there were regular updates, I would have purchased one off the shelf, but 600+ days between refresh makes me park the $$ in the bank and contemplate other solutions. Because of that, I have come up with several alternatives, and feel that I should lean on the experience and knowledge of the MR Forum for advice.

    I am an avid photgrapher, and have a very large library of photos I would like all in one place, for ease of use, and security (I back up frequently to an external which sits in the safe, btw). I do a little video editing, but that might ramp up with all the HD videos that my kids are taking. Editing would primarily be using Aperature, Photoshop, or the iLife applications for the most part. My photos are used by several publications, but is not my source of income (yet). My end goal is to have one Mac to do the heavy lifting of archiving and photo editing, and then to have the legacy Macbooks, MBP, iPads and Airs in the rest of the household turn those into the various media projects for the family. A MP seems to foot the bill nicely here, as I can easily expand HDD, and the raw power should make projects easier. I want this system to provide the above functionality for a minimum of 3 years before I think about replacing it.

    In my mind, here are my options:
    1. Wait, and buy a MP on new release. I have circumstantial information that says that one is pending, but my frustration at having media across so many OSX devices in the house is a daily obstruction. Even if this is soon, I also wonder whether or not I really need to spend $2500-$3200 (upper limit) on the entry level system when they do release it, which brings me to....
    2. Buy a used MP. Which one based on my needs? Which one balances upgradeability of hw/sw/os vs. cost?
    3. Hackintosh. I value continuing to be in the Apple ecoshpere, and being able to drop in on the Geniuses for advice now and then. But they have left us w/o and update for so long, and the price is compelling.....I have both mechanical and electrical component experience, so the task does not seem too daunting with the resources out there on the web on the s/w side. Would this provide me a stable enough platform that I can use without worry?

    So Forum members, here is where you get to have some fun weighing in on what I should buy, where I should buy it, and how much money I should spend. If you were me, what would you do?

    Sorry for the long post, I just wanted to get most of the questions out of the way, and I thank all of you in advance for your sage advice.
  2. BigJohno macrumors 65816

    Jan 1, 2007
    San Francisco
    Like the other hundreds of post on this exact topic it all depends on if your work is suffering because you do not have a fast enough computer. The expandability is nice but a top of the line iMac will kill the base mac pro in most things. So if you want real power then you will have to spend at least 3k or more.

    I bought mine last year and am very satisfied. I know there will be a new one but thats the nature of technology. I bought the base pro but will likely upgrade it to the 6 core processor and a new video card.

    What are you currently using?
  3. Xzag thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 19, 2012
    MBP, prior to unibody, so will get killed up against MP. iMac will suit performance wise, but can't easily swap a drive out. iMAC+TB drive bay=$$$$$, so might as well go with MP. Sorry if this is a repeat, but nobody had similar requirements when I searched...
  4. wallysb01 macrumors 65816

    Jun 30, 2011
    It looks like to me you'd do just fine with a used/refurb '09/'10 model. But even with those, you might as well wait for the new Mac Pro to come out since the used/refurb prices will likely drop at least hundred bucks, or so, once they do. However, once that happens, you'll probably be tempted to just buy the new one. What's likely to be the base single processor Mac Pro, using the E5-1620, should do what you need it to with ease. And will be a nice balance of core count/clock speed compared to the current base single processor Mac Pro.

    However, $3200 is cutting it pretty close if that's your total system budget and you really need to build a complete system, especially if you want much ram and monitor. So if you're already a little strained to get up around $3000, and this isn't a machine you make money on, I think an upgraded 2009 is the way to go.

    If you're willing to do a hackintosh, I'm sure you could follow the nice instructions on a few threads on these boards about upgrading a 2009 Mac Pro to a 2010 3.33 hex core. I'd certainly rather go for buying a 2009 flashing it to a 2010, then upgrading it to a hex core, than building a hackintosh. And if you want this to be a machine you make money on, I would advise against the hackintosh route. For the simple reason that if something (soft or hardware) does break, you're left to fix it yourself. Which might mean waiting for replacement parts to come in the mail, hoping that fixes the problem, or trouble shooting some bug. Which doesn't mean it can't be done, but it does mean that it might take a bit of time to get a functioning machine back. And of course, that means money if you're getting paid to do photo editing or what not on this machine. Maybe this risk is low, but its quite a bit lower if you're using a fully supported machine. The 2009 flashed to 2010 Mac Pro, with the hex core, isn't going to be supported, but at least you could convert it back if you wanted.

    If it where me, I'd just wait for the new one and buy the base model and add some 16 GB of RAM ($200 for ECC), 2x1 TB HDD (about another $200). That plus tax and the cost of the system ($2500), will get you to about $3200. Then, I'd hope I already had a monitor :)
  5. wonderspark macrumors 68040


    Feb 4, 2010
    My roommate got tired of struggling with a 2010 MacBook Pro for his photography business, and just bought a refurb 2010 Mac Pro from Apple for $2119. 16GB of RAM from OWC was only another $128, and he's using an older Apple Cinema Display he had. He also put a $48 dual-port eSATA card in it, and couldn't be happier. $2300 spent.

    If he needed more power, a 6-core chip is only $585 away.
  6. sOwL macrumors 6502


    Sep 25, 2007
    Nerd Cave
    Hey there. In my opinion you should wait a bit on the new MP, just so you have a clear view of what the new machine will be like and how much it will cost. On the other hand, a refurbished 2008 or 2009 model might be a very good bet. Although not cheap at all, their prices have went somewhat down and they're still very powerful machines. Trust me, I'm on a 2007 MP that I've upgraded a bit since I got it and it's still a total beast, have owned it for almost like 5 years and i have yet to use another computer as fast and as stable as mine. So anyway, about Hackintosh.. While it's a great way to mess with OSX and hardware and you will for sure learn a lot of stuff in the process, but if you are talking about a machine that's meant for professional use (thus making money with it) I would say this is a No-No. No matter how good the hackintosh community has become and how advanced the techniques have become, it's still not retail and it needs somewhat more maintenance and care. Like for example holding back before updating to make sure that everything will work. So anyway, think it well before you make any choice, i hope i helped
  7. SlugBlanket, Mar 20, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2012

    SlugBlanket macrumors regular

    Mar 5, 2011
    Thinking just a little outside the box here but have you considered using an iMac which outperforms all but the most expensive Mac Pros and using a business grade NAS for your whole family's and business backup/storage ?

    The Mac Pro on it's own will primarily only benefit you with increased storage and graphics power which unless you are gaming you probably don't need. The iMac and NAS will give you more than enough power to edit photos/videos and will give your whole family access to their data without the need for a mac Pro to be always switched on. The NAS will have built-in tolerance for disk failure and can even be used as a device to back up to. There are many professional photo/video editors using iMacs; you really shouldn't ignore them without serious consideration.

    I was a NAS virgin until a few months ago but I swear by mine now. I use it to back up my machines and also to store data. I have run gigabit ethernet cabling around skirting boards so that my whole domestic network is fast and reliable. Even if you do decide to go the Mac Pro route; your whole family would benefit more I think from storing their data on a NAS rather than using the storage capabilities of the Mac Pro.

    I can recommend the Synology DS1511+ which is what I use or the DS411 II+ which is what my brother uses in his home. There are other NAS manufacturers but I have no experience of them.

    I would buy the NAS first as that will sort out your storage/backup situation and give you time to either wait for the new (if released) Mac Pro or the (definitely to be released) new iMac. Once you get the NAS you will be so busy getting your family's data sorted to satisfaction that the wait for either of those machines won't seem so long :)
  8. Rizzm macrumors 6502a

    Feb 5, 2012
    I'd wait for the refresh. I would imagine that there would be a significant price drop on the base model. $2,500 for single processor is ridiculous, even with updated hardware. <$2,000 entry fee would be very appealing.
  9. Xzag thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 19, 2012
    Hi all,

    thanks for all the opinions, keep them coming, this is exactly the "conversation" I wanted to have with an experienced group.

    the NAS option would be a no-brainer, but I tried something similar with the time capsule, and it was too slow on file retreival. If I went with a purposeful NAS, would that neccissarily improve?

    ideally, I would love to have all of this content "native" in aperature.

    will look into the MP for 2119 is good, but I will be left wondering "what if"....but then again the wait may be long...UGH!
  10. SlugBlanket macrumors regular

    Mar 5, 2011
    I don't have any experience of the Time Capsule but my brother does. The Time Capsule should really only be used as a backup device and NOT a storage device. Even with it's gigabit ethernet port it isn't optimised for multiple users to access at the same time whereas a NAS is. It's limited in it's storage and it's quite expensive compared to a NAS. It also can't perform many of the functions any home grade NAS can. I would suggest that you look into at least a 4 bay solution as you will want to make use of the redundancy to safeguard your data. A 2 bay NAS will mean that you only get to use maybe 50% of the total storage. I use a 5 bay NAS with 3 disks providing me with single disk redundancy for my general data and the other 2 disks are used solely for PC backups, also with single disk redundancy. This setup would work well for your Aperture use on your local machine

    The only downside to a NAS is that Time Machine can be problematical with them. Apple specifically does NOT support Time Machine being used with ANY NAS. Many users however have no problems with Time Machine and their NAS, some included myself have had issues. This however isn't a deal breaker as there are several industry standard backup tools that are also free that work well with using a NAS as a backup device. Notably Carbon Copy Cloner. It's free, robust and is much more flexible than Time Machine.

    The key to having a good experience with a NAS is ensuring that when you interact with it, you do so over a wired connection, especially if you are streaming movies or doing backups. Ensure that the disks you use are compatible with your choice of NAS. I find file retrieval and copying data to /from my NAS to be very fast. It takes seconds for me to copy a 1.2 GB movie file from my PC to NAS in either direction and by seconds I mean less than 5. I stress tested my NAS by having 3 computers accessing the same movie at the same time. One was playing the movie, one was fast forwarding and one was re-winding. We experienced no lag at all on either machine and that convinced me I had made the right choice. Even when we did the same thing wirelessly (N Class router) we had no issues. You don't need a business grade NAS to enjoy similar benefits but I like to buy once and hope/ensure that the investment lasts a lifetime.

    It takes a little more effort to implement a fully wired network with laying the cable etc but it really is inexpensive. I use a £25 TPLINK brand switch to give me the extra ports and 20m runs of CAT6 cabling from Amazon at a cost of about £8 each.

    There is a lot of support on this forum for many brands of NAS so any teething problems, you can be sure of real and in-depth feedback. Don't take my word for it, google synology, search this forum and I'm sure you will be happy.

    Your situation really lends itself to what any brand of NAS was designed to service namely multiple users accessing data and implementing backups from a single dedicated device all at the same time. A Mac Pro would be over-kill and would not be as easy to maintain in this role. Do you really want your Mac Pro awake 24/7 ? If a disk fails in your Mac do you have any instant redundancy? Will you also need to purchase a RAID controller for the Mac? Can you schedule your Mac to shutdown and restart around your family's needs ? If the worst happens and you get burgled, they are more likely to steal your Mac than they are to steal your NAS, especially if the NAS is tucked away out of sight in a (spacious or ventilated) cupboard. PC's can be replaced but precious photos cannot.

    The NAS route may be a little more expensive especially if you do go for a higher capacity business grade brand but the benefits as you say are kind of a no-brainer, wether you get an iMac or a Mac Pro.
  11. GermanyChris macrumors 601


    Jul 3, 2011
    I started down the hackpro road today with a case, PS, and MB. I thinks it's going to be quite the fun project. 3 Optical bays, 4 HD bays, and USB 3 in the case should serve all my needs.
  12. khollister macrumors 6502a


    Feb 1, 2003
    Orlando, FL
    I am also a photographer and while the iMacs are powerful enough in CPU, the lack of cost effective storage expansion (and replacement) sort of negates a lot of the cost advantage.

    The best deal on a Pro at the moment is a used or refurb 2010 quad 2.8 with a DIY CPU upgrade to the 3.33 6-core. That is what I'm using and it is more than enough for any photographic use. While a new 2012 Pro will likely offer some performance increase (likely around 15-20%) and thunderbolt, I am not as convinced that TB will offer the advantage in a Pro it does in the other systems. You can already connect high performance storage via PCIe SAS HBA's, and the cost is probably similar than the rather pricy TB stuff.

    The 3.33 6 core is a very powerful machine. I have a OWC SAS controller in mine - one external (4 ports, can be eSATA with breakout cable) and one internal (which I use to run SATA-3 SSD's via a breakout cable).

    Frankly Thunderbolt isn't going to do anything for me on this machine from either a storage or display standpoint. I am currently running it 24x7 transcoding my blu-ray MKV library to m4v's for the ATV3 and it just chugs along. Not that a 10-20% speed increase wouldn't be nice, but it is not a show stopper.
  13. khollister macrumors 6502a


    Feb 1, 2003
    Orlando, FL
    I have a QNAP TS-659 Pro II and get about 120-130 MBs reads and 100 MBs writes over GigE. This is a little slower than high performance internal or eSATA/SAS drives, but pretty good. You most definitely not get this kind of performance with the $200 consumer level devices. And don't even think about wireless.
  14. designs216 macrumors 65816


    Oct 26, 2009
    Down the rabbit hole
    I say get the NAS now and postpone the computer purchase. When the refresh occurs, the MPs in the refurb bin will receive a deeper discount. The hex works very well for me. Spend the cost difference you would have put down on a new machine on stuffing it with RAM, fast HDs or maybe a SSD boot drive.

    Since most of the design software I use doesn't efficiently use more than about 2 cores, the 3.33GHz hex is fast today and faster in the future when Adobe and other SW makers get their act together. Upgrades are easy to do on the MP and may be made over time to spread out the cost.

    This is the best balance of cost and upgradeability.
  15. Xzag thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 19, 2012
    Hi all,

    will impatiently wait for an update until 5/1/12, and re-assess. am discounting the hackpro option. I will look into NAS deeper.

    would a large amount of TB chips in the channel telegraph an update? Where are the Mac Pros made? Might as well direct my energy to scooping the update since I am not configuring a new system.

    Take note apple, you could have had this cash now, and then another g for a new air in may/june for the Mrs, but I will hold on to it, and you miss a refresh cycle!

    Thanks for the replies, and feel free to keep helping me to spend my money...

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