Mac Pro or PC buying conundrum?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by WaywardSon, Jan 16, 2012.

  1. WaywardSon macrumors newbie

    May 27, 2011

    Here's what started the problem, I am a graduate student/ freelancer who needs to start burning blu-rays. I've already sold my 2007 iMac, currently have a MacBook Pro, and am seriously considering buying another computer. (Given render times I often end up using both at once for school/work.)

    My options seem to be:

    1. Buy a Mac Pro--which is out of my price range.
    --->I would have to pay it off over the course of several months and being a grad student I don't really need more debt.

    2. Buy an external blu-ray burner for my laptop, and external hard drive enclosure
    --->The cheapest option, but given that trying to render a two hour conference in color takes 13 hours, and burning DVD's a similar time I can only image how long a blu-ray burn would take.

    3. Buying a high end PC.
    ---> I would get some of the faster times I wanted and feel are important, but not Final Cut Pro which means I would have to transfer files to that computer to do my DVD editing in Adobe.

    Any thoughts or suggestions? I feel really stuck on this one....
  2. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I would advise against incurring debt, as you already stated, you're a grad student so you have your hands full in that respect.

    Did you consider buying a used MacPro off craigslist or eBay?
  3. simsaladimbamba

    Nov 28, 2010
    If you want to stay in the Mac OS X environment, you could buy the Mac mini Server for render jobs (it has a quad core CPU) or a base iMac for rendering and editing. Thus you have another Mac to work on, while the other renders.
    And it is advisable to use at least one external HDD for video editing and for proper backups. I have my video footage backed up twice, thus I have three copies of it.
    And an external Blu Ray burner will be no problem too.

    Have you looked at refurbs or used Mac Pros yet?
  4. WaywardSon thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 27, 2011
    Did you consider buying a used MacPro off craigslist or eBay?[/QUOTE]

    I did think about that and saw some good deals. My biggest concerning is dropping a $2000 on something, getting scammed, and then being complete out of luck...

    I just don't feel like it is a risk I can afford to take unfortunately...unless with a refurbished Mac Pro from Apple
  5. Eidorian macrumors Penryn


    Mar 23, 2005
    The prices are still outrageous with easily obtainable Core i5 2500/i7 2600K processors. The Core i7 3820 comes out in just 4 weeks too.
  6. WaywardSon thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 27, 2011
    What is this you speak of!? I never thought of that. Could I just do that and then get an external hard drive enclosure?...Think that could work for editing a two hour feature?
  7. ashman70 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 20, 2010
    I think a used Mac Pro either from Craigslist or Ebay would be the best option. I have seen used Mac Pro 3,1 with dual quad core processors (8 cores) going for under $1000.00 with varying amounts of memory, this would really only be what might cost you to upgrade, the RAM. As someone else said, if you want to stay with OSX, I think this is your best bet, dual Xeon's even ones that are three or four years old are still more then powerful enough to do what you need.
  8. deconstruct60, Jan 16, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2012

    deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    The external drive enclosure may be an contributing issue, but probably a larger one is which software you are using to do this "burning rendering". If it is 32-bit based and single threaded then the 2.5 dual mini would be enough.

    How much memory you put in is an issue also. For example OWC has 8GB modules for mini. (total 16GB: ). They did some performance numbers and the dual core 2.5 with 16GB beats a quad core 2.0 8GB on several tasks (a link to a performance chart on from the model-module page. ) That's CS5 which is going to leverage the larger space.

    So the $1078 mini ( $799 + $279) can outperform the $999 quad. The quad isn't necessarily the biggest bang for the buck. 64-bit software that is smart about pre-fetching into very large buffers can turn in faster times than 4 cores sloughing through small buffers and 32-bit code.

    P.S. Not sure which FCP you are talking about (FCP 7.0 or FCPX ). FCPX would probably be happier on the 6630M in the 2.5 dual also. If you have a legacy software stack then an older Mac Pro probably would be a better match. Older hardware for older software.
  9. goMac macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
    Buy a used Mac Pro or an iMac. Both will meet your needs. With the iMac, you can get an external burner.

    A quad core iMac is a pretty nice editing machine. When you're graduated and making big bucks you can get a Mac Pro. :)

    Or just buy a Bluray burner. A lot cheaper, if you don't need a new machine.
  10. ActionableMango macrumors G3


    Sep 21, 2010
    I wouldn't do #1. I personally regret all the debt I racked up in school, and this is coming from a guy who graduated right into the dot com boom where anybody that wasn't a serial killer could get a great paying job. Even with that, paying the debt off took a while. Combined with the fact that the current MP is terribly outdated and overpriced for what you get at the moment, I'd really really avoid #1.

    #2 seems inadequate. If you were previously using two computers simultaneously and you're down to one, then just getting a BD burner isn't going to cut it.

    I also wouldn't do #3. Getting a PC when Final Cut Pro is a big part of your workflow is a bit nonsensical. Not to mention you'll need to pick up a bunch of Windows software that I assume you don't already have.

    The best advice I've seen in this thread is to get a Mini oriented toward your software needs, add inexpensive external storage as needed, and get an external BD burner. One advantage of the external burner is you'll be able to move it to whichever computer needs it at the moment, either the Mini or the MBP. To save money you could have a headless Mac and access it from the MBP, even while the MBP is rendering. OTOH, a cheap monitor would probably make things easier.
  11. WaywardSon thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 27, 2011
    Thanks for all the great suggestions!

    (Especially you actionablemango for breaking down why certain decisions would be did I forget these things?)

    Appreciates! :D
  12. goMac macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
    Honestly, a Mini isn't going to buy him much of anything. With a Mini he has to chose between quad core and a GPU, and both directions are unattractive.

    If you're considering a Mini, just keep what you got and get an external Bluray drive. A Mini isn't going to buy you any more speed. If Apple had a quad Mini with a GPU, it would be a better option than your Macbook Pro. But they don't, so it isn't.
  13. Actarus macrumors member

    Feb 10, 2011
    And a Hackintosh? yeah I'm serious. I've been using them for years and everything is fine. You can have a nice rig for a smaller amount of money and with a very decent card and cpu. There is a thread somewhere in macrumors about that and also at insanleymac dot com with tons of info. You'll have a nice mac/pc and will save lots of bucks.

    The problem here is the always non-existent medium range apple tower that we all would like to have, and the solution is building a hackintosh to fill this gap. That's why i'm recommending it. It works well and it's cheaper.

    My current hackintosh:

    Lion 10.7.2
    Intel Q6600 @ 3,2 Ghz
    Asus GTX 560 TI TOP
    Corsair SSD disk
    Samsung Sata2 Disk
    USB 3.0 (yeah, not a typo, it's working with drivers from the osx86 community).

    If you take a Radeon HD 6870, instead of Nvidia, it will work Out Of the Box with no additional drivers needed.

    I think it's an alternative.

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