Mac Pro - Which one for me?

MaddieBrad

macrumors regular
Original poster
Apr 8, 2007
188
0
New York City
Hey guys,

So... I am a photographer / videographer that has been working on a 17" 2.5Ghz Core 2 Duo Macbook Pro (pre-alu) with 4GB of RAM. I work extensively in Photoshop, Lightroom, Final Cut Pro 7 & Suite. Now here is the info that makes this question interesting... I also enjoy some online gaming with FPS games like COD, and Battlefield. Historically I used my MacBook Pro for work, and then had a custom built PC rig for gaming. I have decided that I need more power on my MAC so I am going to upgrade to a Mac Pro, and ditch the PC. The hope is that I can bootcamp it and squeeze both work and play into one machine. SO.....

Explain to me what I want as far as the cores go. I can't afford the 12 core so that is not even in the mix. I am trying to decide if I should get a 8 Core 2.4Ghz machine, or do I go for the 3.33Ghz 6 core? I want the best of both worlds. I realize that memory and GPU's play a factor, but that stuff can be tweaked later. I intend to run no less than 8 Gigs of RAM (hopefully more) and I will probably upgrade the GPU to something quicker, or maybe dual GPU it.

I hope that someone can help me out!

Thanks in advance!

Brad
 

DisMyMac

macrumors 65816
Sep 30, 2009
1,087
11
I'd buy a new mini for now, and then sell or re-purpose it when the Pro is updated fairly soon.

(Note- Apple may end the Pro, which is something else to consider.)
 

Zwhaler

macrumors demi-god
Jun 10, 2006
6,796
1,096
For what you do I would go with the 3.33GHz 6-core. Upgrade to the HD5870 if you plan on running a large (24+ inches) display.

By the way your MBP isn't pre-alu it's pre unibody.
 

MaddieBrad

macrumors regular
Original poster
Apr 8, 2007
188
0
New York City
I'd buy a new mini for now, and then sell or re-purpose it when the Pro is updated fairly soon.

(Note- Apple may end the Pro, which is something else to consider.)
When is this meant to happen? I know that is always speculation, but what are the best bets?

For what you do I would go with the 3.33GHz 6-core. Upgrade to the HD5870 if you plan on running a large (24+ inches) display.
I run a pair of 30" screens, but will upgrade the GPU's for sure. I will probably run SLI or crossfire.

----------

By the way your MBP isn't pre-alu it's pre unibody.
Whatever... Its OLD. lol.
 

Zwhaler

macrumors demi-god
Jun 10, 2006
6,796
1,096
Mac OS X doesn't support SLI/CF. For 2x30" you might consider getting 2x 5770s
 

broad

macrumors member
Sep 29, 2009
46
0
Hey guys,

So... I am a photographer / videographer that has been working on a 17" 2.5Ghz Core 2 Duo Macbook Pro (pre-alu) with 4GB of RAM. I work extensively in Photoshop, Lightroom, Final Cut Pro 7 & Suite. Now here is the info that makes this question interesting... I also enjoy some online gaming with FPS games like COD, and Battlefield. Historically I used my MacBook Pro for work, and then had a custom built PC rig for gaming. I have decided that I need more power on my MAC so I am going to upgrade to a Mac Pro, and ditch the PC. The hope is that I can bootcamp it and squeeze both work and play into one machine. SO.....

Explain to me what I want as far as the cores go. I can't afford the 12 core so that is not even in the mix. I am trying to decide if I should get a 8 Core 2.4Ghz machine, or do I go for the 3.33Ghz 6 core? I want the best of both worlds. I realize that memory and GPU's play a factor, but that stuff can be tweaked later. I intend to run no less than 8 Gigs of RAM (hopefully more) and I will probably upgrade the GPU to something quicker, or maybe dual GPU it.

I hope that someone can help me out!

Thanks in advance!

Brad
the 6 core will give you the best combo of threads vs clock speed. more threads are great if you are running software that fully uses them, but the applications youre talking about wont. i would go 6 core 3.33 or maybe 4 core 3.2 if $ is a concern

keep in mind that you will get better performance from photoshop with a slower processor, more HDDs and more RAM than you will from a faster processor alone. i would suggest that if budget is a factor the 4 core 2.8 base model with 16GB RAM, a small SSD in the optical bay for your OS and apps and a few internal drives setup in a striped RAID would give you more bang for less bucks than just buying the 3.33 6 core and running as is.
 

MaddieBrad

macrumors regular
Original poster
Apr 8, 2007
188
0
New York City
Lloyd Chambers has a great website that has recommended Mac Pro systems for photographers. He has given this a ton of thought and has really covered this better than anyone else I know -- http://macperformanceguide.com
Thanks X3 lol

Good reading there.
I think I am gonna wait a little bit and see if a refresh happens in the near future. It is killing me though! My MacBook Pro is sooooooo slow.

B
 

wallysb01

macrumors 68000
Jun 30, 2011
1,576
775
Thanks X3 lol

Good reading there.
I think I am gonna wait a little bit and see if a refresh happens in the near future. It is killing me though! My MacBook Pro is sooooooo slow.
Don't expect the refresh for ~3 months, maybe more. SB-E Xeons aren't expected until sometime in the first quarter of next year, then add about a month to see the Mac Pro shipping. So we could be talking April...

I can understand a slow computer is frustrating, but if you don't really need it (like you're not losing any money because of it), its probably still smart to wait. Or if you're really have ants in your pants, buy a used/refurb then resell once the 2012 Mac Pro shows up. But if its me, I'd rather put up with a slow computer for a couple of months then buy a new computer, sell it and buy another new computer.
 

thekev

macrumors 604
Aug 5, 2010
6,782
2,071
Thanks X3 lol

Good reading there.
I think I am gonna wait a little bit and see if a refresh happens in the near future. It is killing me though! My MacBook Pro is sooooooo slow.

B
I read your posts. You need a better understanding of what software can address. Processing raw files in Lightroom or whatever you use typically makes effective use of all available cores. The 8 core isn't worth buying. The 6 core is a better buy there in most situations. Outside of FCPX your gpu won't really mean much. Photoshop barely touches it. The openGL drawing functions don't require much, but you could go with whatever the best gpu is since it would help with gaming too.

I'd like to know a bit more about what you're doing. What are you using for storage? What kind of editing? How big do your still files get? If you're working with higher resolutions or a lot of layers, the macbook pros tend to hit a wall on ram there assuming you're using CS5 or 5.5. I would wait for a refresh given how old they are, but you should mention where it's lagging. Is it taking too long to process photos? Laggy in photoshop? FCP rendering taking too long? I'd need to know more to give you ideal advice.

By the way if you're definitely going with a mac pro, and you deal with big layered files at all (I've dealt with composites that go over 100 layers and have to be saved as .psb [large document format]). If you're dealing with anything really large, you'll want to go with 12 or 16GB just because using 4GB sticks is cheap and you'd make use of it. Another thing to mention, photoshop for normal stuff doesn't really scale past 4 cpu cores. The others could still address stuff in the background but again you'd need the ram to do it. If you're coming from an older macbook pro, one of the bottlenecks is most likely storage seeing as you wouldn't have anything faster than firewire unless this was before they removed the express slot in which case you could use an eSATA adapter. Drives mounted within the mac pro still allow for superior stability.

One last thing, don't buy an Apple display or anything with an LED backlight. Their color reproduction is inferior and even the newest colorimeters do a poor job, especially with generic software.
 
Last edited:

CaptainChunk

macrumors 68020
Apr 16, 2008
2,142
6
Phoenix, AZ
You mean just run each monitor from a single card?
I can't believe that OSX doesn't support SLI/Xfire!

SLI/Xfire will still work on PC though yeah?
The idea behind running each monitor from a single card is to dedicate a full frame buffer to each monitor. In this case (two 5770 cards), each monitor would get a full 1GB of VRAM at its disposal. This can make a difference on large displays, depending on the applications you run.

SLI and Crossfire have never been supported in OS X. Ever. Besides, I personally rather have one fast graphics card over two slower ones linked together. With SLI/Crossfire, you never get 100% scalability, not to mention the quirks involved getting them to work properly in some software. A 5870 (effectively two 5770s on a single chip) will outperform two 5770s in Crossfire every time.

Crossfire configurations will work in Mac Pros booted into Windows, but there is no official way to do the same thing with SLI (hacks exist, but YMMV).
 

MaddieBrad

macrumors regular
Original poster
Apr 8, 2007
188
0
New York City
I read your posts. You need a better understanding of what software can address. Processing raw files in Lightroom or whatever you use typically makes effective use of all available cores. The 8 core isn't worth buying. The 6 core is a better buy there in most situations. Outside of FCPX your gpu won't really mean much. Photoshop barely touches it. The openGL drawing functions don't require much, but you could go with whatever the best gpu is since it would help with gaming too.

I'd like to know a bit more about what you're doing. What are you using for storage? What kind of editing? How big do your still files get? If you're working with higher resolutions or a lot of layers, the macbook pros tend to hit a wall on ram there assuming you're using CS5 or 5.5. I would wait for a refresh given how old they are, but you should mention where it's lagging. Is it taking too long to process photos? Laggy in photoshop? FCP rendering taking too long? I'd need to know more to give you ideal advice.

By the way if you're definitely going with a mac pro, and you deal with big layered files at all (I've dealt with composites that go over 100 layers and have to be saved as .psb [large document format]). If you're dealing with anything really large, you'll want to go with 12 or 16GB just because using 4GB sticks is cheap and you'd make use of it. Another thing to mention, photoshop for normal stuff doesn't really scale past 4 cpu cores. The others could still address stuff in the background but again you'd need the ram to do it. If you're coming from an older macbook pro, one of the bottlenecks is most likely storage seeing as you wouldn't have anything faster than firewire unless this was before they removed the express slot in which case you could use an eSATA adapter. Drives mounted within the mac pro still allow for superior stability.

One last thing, don't buy an Apple display or anything with an LED backlight. Their color reproduction is inferior and even the newest colorimeters do a poor job, especially with generic software.

Thanks for your post.
To answer your questions...

I am dealing with Canon Raw. Each file is typically around 30MB, and a shoot can range from 400 - 800 shots. My Photoshopping generally is limimited to between 5-10 layers. I do mostly event, and portrait photography. I also shoot video on my 5DMarkII which produces H.264 MOV files which I generally run through compressor to make very large PRORES 422 files. The speed at which compressor compresses these files is important to me as is rendering speed within FCP7. Also I render some motion stuff, as well as after effects. I use handbrake to pull my DVD's.

AS far as my storage goes I know that I will benefit greatly from SSD's, which these will be eventual upgrades. To start I will probably run 3 X 1TB 7200 RPM 300 mb/sec drives in raid. And have a 4th drive for my Win7 OS.

I understand that the GPU doesn't handle much in the software that I use, but I know that it is important to gaming so I will most likely order whatever the system comes with and get an additional high end card for the gaming. I run a pair of 30" 2560 X 1600 screens.

I also know that the RAM i get is highly important to what I do... I won't get any combination that has 1 gig sticks. I will probably get the minimum of 8 gigs (4x2GB) and then buy some RAM elsewhere. Probably another 8 Gigs to get to 16.

I am aiming my budget at 4K. If I need to go over it is ok as it is a business expense, and will be covered. :)

I hope that this answers your questions!

Thanks!
I hope this answers your questions.
 

gglockner

macrumors 6502
Nov 25, 2007
404
3
Bellevue, WA
Thanks X3 lol

Good reading there.
I think I am gonna wait a little bit and see if a refresh happens in the near future. It is killing me though! My MacBook Pro is sooooooo slow.

B
Sorry, the board was malfunctioning. I've deleted the duplicates.

Anyway, if I were you, I'd get an SSD for your MacBook Pro; it will give you a nice speed improvement, and you can always move it to the Mac Pro once you get one. (And speaking of which, Lloyd C. does a great review of SSDs as well).
 

broad

macrumors member
Sep 29, 2009
46
0
Thanks for your post.
To answer your questions...

I am dealing with Canon Raw. Each file is typically around 30MB, and a shoot can range from 400 - 800 shots. My Photoshopping generally is limimited to between 5-10 layers. I do mostly event, and portrait photography. I also shoot video on my 5DMarkII which produces H.264 MOV files which I generally run through compressor to make very large PRORES 422 files. The speed at which compressor compresses these files is important to me as is rendering speed within FCP7. Also I render some motion stuff, as well as after effects. I use handbrake to pull my DVD's.

AS far as my storage goes I know that I will benefit greatly from SSD's, which these will be eventual upgrades. To start I will probably run 3 X 1TB 7200 RPM 300 mb/sec drives in raid. And have a 4th drive for my Win7 OS.

I understand that the GPU doesn't handle much in the software that I use, but I know that it is important to gaming so I will most likely order whatever the system comes with and get an additional high end card for the gaming. I run a pair of 30" 2560 X 1600 screens.

I also know that the RAM i get is highly important to what I do... I won't get any combination that has 1 gig sticks. I will probably get the minimum of 8 gigs (4x2GB) and then buy some RAM elsewhere. Probably another 8 Gigs to get to 16.

I am aiming my budget at 4K. If I need to go over it is ok as it is a business expense, and will be covered. :)

I hope that this answers your questions!

Thanks!
I hope this answers your questions.
dont pay apple prices for RAM. get the bare minimum from them and add aftermarket RAM. if i were in your position i would put a small SSD in the 2nd ODD bay and put my OS and apps on that. i would then buy a mate to whatever 1TB drive you get from apple in the machine (probably a WD 1TB FAEX drive) and run that in a RAID 0 as your data drive. then put a cheap/small 500GB drive in bay 3 as a scratch drive which leaves you bay 4 open to put windows on.

if you want to spend ~4K then this could all done, provided you get the quad 3.2 Ghz machine.
 

CaptainChunk

macrumors 68020
Apr 16, 2008
2,142
6
Phoenix, AZ
I also know that the RAM i get is highly important to what I do... I won't get any combination that has 1 gig sticks. I will probably get the minimum of 8 gigs (4x2GB) and then buy some RAM elsewhere. Probably another 8 Gigs to get to 16.
It's still cheaper to buy a base configuration (it's 3x1GB on the single-processor models) and replace it with aftermarket RAM than buying extra RAM from Apple.

I still think for what you'll be doing, the hex-core model is the best overall value. It'll be faster at single-threaded tasks (Photoshop, games) and they even slightly edge out the base dual-processor 8-core in multithreaded tasks, at least in benchmarks. The only real advantage the 8-core model has over the hex-core is the extra RAM slots. But a 16GB (4x4GB) RAM configuration is pretty cheap at OWC (under $150) and would give you very good performance in PS.
 

johnnymg

macrumors 65816
Nov 16, 2008
1,316
6
Thanks X3 lol

Good reading there.
I think I am gonna wait a little bit and see if a refresh happens in the near future. It is killing me though! My MacBook Pro is sooooooo slow.

B
Don't believe the BS about MP going away.

My guess is the 2012 MP will be released between Feb 15 and April 15. That said, don't expect big gains in real world performance compared to the 2010 models.

6 core min for what you're doing. Refurb is a good way to go.

cheers
JohnG
 

SDColorado

macrumors 601
Nov 6, 2011
4,279
4,244
Highlands Ranch, CO
My requirements are similar to the OP's and this is the way I went. I've been very pleased.
I did a lot of reading on Lloyd's site prior to purchasing. The information he has posted was very useful. I ended up going the 6-core route as well, and I have been very happy with it.
 

gglockner

macrumors 6502
Nov 25, 2007
404
3
Bellevue, WA
Does apple care know what processor you get? So if he was going to save money and buy a quad and then upgrade it later.
Maybe it's just me, but I have a hard time understanding why someone will pay $3K or so on a Mac Pro, then void its warranty and insert a processor just save a few hundred on the original configuration from Apple.

A Mac Pro processor is not designed to be a user-upgraded part, unlike memory, drives, etc.
 

MaddieBrad

macrumors regular
Original poster
Apr 8, 2007
188
0
New York City
So what are the main benefits of an 8 core or 12 core processor then? I don't understand why from what everyone is saying that a faster 6 core is better why anyone would buy a more expensive 8 core or 12 core rig?

Thanks for all the input.

B
 

gglockner

macrumors 6502
Nov 25, 2007
404
3
Bellevue, WA
So what are the main benefits of an 8 core or 12 core processor then? I don't understand why from what everyone is saying that a faster 6 core is better why anyone would buy a more expensive 8 core or 12 core rig?
If your applications are highly multi-threaded, then more cores are preferable. This is generally the case for video processing and scientific applications. More cores are also preferable if you are running many processor-intensive applications concurrently, such as running many virtual machines at the same time.

In other cases, you're better to get a processor with a higher clock speed.
 

MaddieBrad

macrumors regular
Original poster
Apr 8, 2007
188
0
New York City
If your applications are highly multi-threaded, then more cores are preferable. This is generally the case for video processing and scientific applications. More cores are also preferable if you are running many processor-intensive applications concurrently, such as running many virtual machines at the same time.

In other cases, you're better to get a processor with a higher clock speed.

By "video processing" your speaking of something other than Final Cut and its suite of programs?
 

thekev

macrumors 604
Aug 5, 2010
6,782
2,071
You mean just run each monitor from a single card?
I can't believe that OSX doesn't support SLI/Xfire!

SLI/Xfire will still work on PC though yeah?

B
Bleh macs really aren't ideal for gaming. There will be newer cards out soon anyway. The ones currently available for the mac pro came out (PC side) in late 2009.

So what are the main benefits of an 8 core or 12 core processor then? I don't understand why from what everyone is saying that a faster 6 core is better why anyone would buy a more expensive 8 core or 12 core rig?

Thanks for all the input.

B
Photoshop uses up to four cores. Most typical software can use up to four effectively. It kind of depends if you're running stuff in both the foreground and background, but unless you're buying a lot of ram, this may not work out so well anyway. Most of what you do while sitting in front of the computer doesn't scale well to large numbers of cores. Where you pick up an advantage at high core counts is if you need to process out 800 files like you mentioned. Even then, it is completely dependent on the application. You just need to understand your own computing needs better.

That being said, the single socket mac pros are quite overpriced for what they are. Barefeats publishes some tests done with various applications. I think Digilloyd does something similar.
 
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.