Mac Pro upgrade

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by razyl123, Sep 3, 2008.

  1. razyl123 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2008
    Location:
    Sydney
    #1
    Hi all,

    My first post on this forum, wanted to hear some opinions on a possible upgrade i will do. I currently have:

    -20" imac 2.16ghz Intel Core 2 Duo
    -3GB RAM
    -50GB hard drive space free
    -3 external hard drives with my photos

    I use it for my photography business, and usually have at least Lightroom, Firefox, Entourage, iTunes, and few others open all at once. Then when i am into full photo processing mode I also might have an album design program, Dreamweaver, Adobe Bridge and Photoshop open as well.....and this is when things can get REALLY sluggish. I try to keep the number of programs open to a minimum but sometimes it cant be helped.

    To stop the coloured spinning wheel of slowness appearing so often, I would like to upgrade to a Powermac set up. I'm likely to get it configured with:

    -Two 2.8GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon
    -2GB RAM (but will install more asap, probably up to 8GB)
    -2 or 3 x 500GB drives
    -ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT 256MB graphics card (but could get GeForce 8800)

    My main questions are:

    -how much performance improvement can I expect over my current iMac? I have searched the net and can find some comparisons but some user experiences would be good
    -how much RAM should I install above the 2GB? any brand / specs?
    -will a better graphics card help performance as well?

    Thanks in advance
    Darryn

    http://www.mckayphotography.com.au/
     
  2. CWallace macrumors 603

    CWallace

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2007
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    #2
    Bare Feats will provide some benchmarks for you to compare.

    You will likely be fine with the ATI 2600 card, especially since it seems to do a bit better with the Core Animation used in OS X. However, as Apple adopts nVidia's CUDA technology with Snow Leopard, you might see better performance down the road with the 8800GT.

    I would imagine 4-8GB of RAM will be decent. Read the guides on how to install FB-DIMMS to maximize your performance.
     
  3. O. Frabjous-Dey macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2006
    #3
    The beachballing comes from your RAM usage. Every one of the programs you listed takes quite a lot of memory to run.

    Unless you're intent on upgrading your system wholesale, you'll get the best bang for your buck by jamming more RAM into your iMac.

    I don't think a better graphics card is going to help you much with your applications. Photoshop doesn't use the GPU at all.
     
  4. O. Frabjous-Dey macrumors regular

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  5. razyl123 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #5
    Thanks!
     
  6. razyl123 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #6
    Good call on the RAM, I'm pretty sure that's what is killing me at the moment. 3GB is fine for general stuff but when i'm exporting photos from LR and doing a few other things it's clearly not enough.

    I dont think the new iMac with a max 4GB RAM is enough either.....so Mac Pro is the only way to go......just quite expensive!

    Darryn
     
  7. razyl123 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #7
    What about installing more than one ATI Radeon 2600 cards? The apple store has options for up to 4 cards......would this be better than 1 GrForce 8800?

    Thanks
     
  8. Umbongo macrumors 601

    Umbongo

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    Location:
    England
    #8
    They don't work together, they are just for powering more than 2 displays.
     
  9. razyl123 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #9
    Ok cool, thanks for that
     
  10. SimD macrumors regular

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    Apr 15, 2008
    #10
    The 8-core Mac Pro might be a little overkill (of course it's future-proof). For your specific needs, I'd say a single Quad 2.8 should be more than sufficient and miles ahead your current setup.

    As has been said by Frab, RAM is what you need!

    I'd also like to say: Fantastic photo work!
    :apple:
     
  11. razyl123 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #11
    Thanks :)

    Do you mean a new mac pro but with just the single quad core configuration option? The price difference in A$710....so not too bad for the second quad even if it helps just a little....and makes it a bit more future proof.

    Darryn
     
  12. razyl123 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #12
    For the RAM, i've been recommended from this place OWC: http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/

    Anyone used them before?

    Likely to get either a 4 x 2GB set (total of 10GB) or might stretch to a 6 x 2GB set for a total of 14GB........that would have to sort out my RAM issues!!!

    Darryn
     
  13. CWallace macrumors 603

    CWallace

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    Seattle, WA
    #13
    It is cheaper to buy the 2nd CPU from Apple and it will be covered under warranty.

    I use OWC and Crucial RAM in my Macs. Bulletproof.
     
  14. SimD macrumors regular

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    Apr 15, 2008
    #14
    Been using OWC for well over a year for RAM, Externals and the likes and have never had a problem.

    So +1 for OWC.

    Also, about the 8-core.. I recommend it only if you're really on a tight budget. What I really meant in my first post is that a Quad will get the job done, but the 8-core is playing it safe and real, because it is true that the price difference isn't much for such a leap.

    I'd say start with the 4GB RAM in the iMac and if you still don't see any improvement, make the jump to the Mac Pro. If you do sell the iMac, the loses from purchasing the RAM will be recovered as your resale value will have gone up! Or, if you plan on keeping the iMac, well there.. it's faster :)

    Which ever path you go, I wish you the best of luck! :apple:
     
  15. razyl123 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #15
    Thanks mate! Yeh would def go for the 2 quads, not much price difference considering the overall spend.

    I cant upgrade my current iMac any more than the current 3GB RAM, so the next step up is either a new iMac (max 4GB RAM) (I'm not going to upgrade for just 1GB more of RAM!) or the Mac Pro. And long term the Mac Pro is the way to go, even if it is a bit of overkill for speed and max RAM.
     
  16. DoFoT9 macrumors P6

    DoFoT9

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    Location:
    Singapore
    #16
    hey mate.

    the 2x 2.8ghz quad core sounds perfect for your needs!!

    as has been said he main issue here is the maximum RAM, i wouldn't worry so much about the CPU speed because a quad core would quite easily handle those tasks, even when multitasking it would be exceptional. a single core would still be quite adequate for you but if you are looking after longevity for your machine then the 8-core will give you at least another 3 years!!

    8gb RAM is a MUST for you!! make sure you get paired sticks so that everything runs at full speeds yada yada yada..

    goodluck!
     
  17. razyl123 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #17
    Yeh will do that after reading the Barefeats tests on memory configurations. Here's a question then: if i start with 2 x 1GB as the standard Apple config, am I better to get 6 x 1GB (to make a total of 8GB) or 4 x 2GB (total 10GB but 2 slots empty) or stretch to 6 x 2GB (total of 14GB) to fill the slots?
     
  18. DoFoT9 macrumors P6

    DoFoT9

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    #18
    im pretty sure if you have paired sticks, they will all run at the same speeds... so its totally up to you if depending on how much RAM you need, 10gb would be plenty for at least 2-3years, after that an upgrade might be needed.
     
  19. razyl123 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #19
    Yeh I think anything over 8GB should be ok for what I'm doing. From the Barefeats testing it looks like filling all the RAM slots is ideal, but I might go for 4 x 2GB to add the to the 2 x 1GB (=10GB total) for starters and then if I need extra RAM I can add either another 2 x 2GB or 2 x 4GB later on.

    Thanks to all who gave suggestions, very helpful and much appreciated :)
     
  20. photoshopbymark macrumors newbie

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    Sep 4, 2008
    #20
    dual vs. quad vs 2xquad

    Just curious, ya'll have been mentioning the advantages of more cores. Does anyone know the specifics? What do the extra CPU's do? Do they each get a seperate task? Do the share tasks. Does one stand by for the 1st to bog to step in?

    I've done a little reading from my PC days and from what I remember its prorgram dependant, and nearly all programs written don't take advantage of multiple cores.
     
  21. gazfocus macrumors 68000

    gazfocus

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    #21
    For the RAM, I personally would go with the 2GB sticks, purely because if you fill up with 1GB sticks, they will become redundant when you want to add more. So from that point of view, it's more cost effective to have 6 slots filled with 4 x 2GB and 2 x 1GB, than all 8 slots filled with 8 x 1GB
     
  22. CWallace macrumors 603

    CWallace

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    Seattle, WA
    #22
    Right now, there admittedly isn't much to do with the extra cores. Most software that does use it is more specialized applications aimed at more professional markets.

    However, with the next version of OS X - Snow Leopard - Apple is working to allow the OS itself to take advantage of the extra cores and CPUs and provide a programming and OS environment that will help application developers take advantage of those extra cores.
     
  23. rikoshay macrumors member

    rikoshay

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    No. California (in the Redwoods)
    #23
    Keep in mind: Apple recommends that in a Mac Pro you install RAM modules in ALL slots for the fastest & most efficient operation.
     
  24. razyl123 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #24
    Yeh good point, I wont get 1GB sticks....except the ones that come from apple as the minimum RAM configuration
     

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