MacMini, MacPro 3.2GHz or wait for new MacPro?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by ddjohns1, Sep 21, 2013.

  1. ddjohns1 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2013
    #1
    I need some advice on a Mac purchase. My primary application is running Lightroom 5 where I often take 200-400 shot batches of sports photos that I shoot in raw with a DSL, edit them down to 30-50 shots, and export highest quality jpegs. My 4 yr old i7 2.67GHz PC is due for replacement and I want to switch to Mac after repeated problems with Dell PCs.

    I looked through a lot of performance data, and surprisingly the MacMini i7 2.6GHz isn't bad at all. In fact on things like raw conversion to jpegs it is as fast as a MacPro 3.3GHz 6 core. On speedmark 8, the Mac Mini is actually faster than the MacPro. But on other measures like the digilloydmed benchmark the MacPro is twice as fast. These benchmarks are very confusing to me because they test different performance attributes that may or may not be relevant to me and often the configuration (ex. how much DRAM and what kind of storage using SSD or HDD) isn't defined.

    My choices assuming I need 16GB DRAM and 3TB of storage with an SSD for the boot drive are:

    A) MacMini i7 2.6GHz with 16GB of DRAM and 256K SSD with 3TB external HDD over USB3 or TB (total cost about $1650 including HDD with an EPP discount)

    B) 2012/13 Mac Pro Quad 3.2GHz refurbished by Apple upgraded to 16GB DRAM, 256k SSD and 3TB storage for about $2,700. (There are also some new models available on ebay and other sellers that would save about $300-400 of that total.)

    C) Wait to see what the Haswell based MacMini's and new MacPros look like.

    The MacMini has the obvious limitations that DRAM can't be expanded beyond 16GB for instance if I go to a Nikon 24-36MP camera, and the Intel 4000 graphics aren't that great. However, its not clear to me that graphics performance matters that much to Lightroom. Seems to matter more for photoship and video (I do occassionally build 15-20min slideshows in Proshow Gold.)

    This is what I know based on internet search, which lacks any real-world experience, so I'd really appreciate any advice from experienced Mac users!

    Dave
     
  2. amack macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2006
    Location:
    Northern Ireland
    #2
    I'd wait Dave, especially if you're using Lightroom. It's only another couple of weeks and if you don't like the performance/price of the new MP when it's finally released (which I doubt) then go for a souped up mini.

    I wouldn't buy a 3.2 Mac Pro though, nothing wrong performance wise it's just old tech and it'll not be long before Apple stop supporting it with their yearly OS updates.

    Just be patient like the rest of us:) good things and all that!
     
  3. thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2010
    #3
    Your concerns are misguided here. The only problems with the HD 4000 for that kind of thing have been bugs. There's nothing that stresses a gpu more when opening a 36MP file than an image from your phone. For what it's worth I've dealt with files up to I want to say 80MP (whatever the largest phase one is). PS can use the gpu for a few features. If you wanted 10 bit rgb displayport output, that would require a supported gpu as well as a supported display. There are only a few displays that benefit from that, and there are no gpus for it under OSX. Apple simply doesn't support it. The gpu should be the least of your concerns. Lightroom doesn't use it in any meaningful way. It doesn't even address it directly.

    If I were you, I would look at display first. I might wait for the next mini refresh, as it should be soon. I would order a mini, max ram, and test performance. If that is not sufficient, return it for a mac pro. 36MP is nothing though. I'll say it again, graphics performance is a trivial factor for photoshop. Drag racing liquify filters isn't a good measure of actual use. In the barefeats test the guy took a huge document and produced a mesh with overlaps, which means excessive calculations for something which won't even look right in the end. I really wish I could dispel the myth that you need a powerful gpu for that silly program. Your best investments are ram and a good display. I wouldn't bother with an ssd with what Apple charges for them. You can spec the mini for far less than $1600.
     
  4. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #4
    From what I've seen, Lightroom doesn't benefit from any GPU compute power... which is one of key value propositions of the new Mac Pro.

    On the other hand, Lightroom will benefit most from a high-clocked CPU and if the new Mac Pro launches with a 3.7 Quad, that's a compelling reason to consider it.

    However, the Mac Mini is due for a Haswell refresh and it could very well come with a nicely clocked quad core as well.

    If I was you, I'd go with option C and wait a month or two and see what the pricing and CPU options are like on both the refreshed Mac Mini and Mac Pro.
     
  5. kennyman, Sep 21, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2013

    kennyman macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 4, 2011
    #5
    Hi Dave,

    VirtualRain is absolutely right. I have couple of my mates at work who use Lightroom, it does not use GPU processing power well, same for extra memory or dual CPUs.

    We have actually performed some tests a long time ago with Lightroom 4, but I do not know about the improvements in Lightroom 5, unfortunately we have not upgraded to the new one yet.

    I remember there was a review/benchmark about this on MacBook Pro Retina, but I cannot figure out on which website that was posted on. From my own experience, Lightroom 4 is quite fast on the latest, 4th generation Intel processors (because it takes advantage of turbo boost). I do not know about the upcoming Mac Mini/Mac Pro performance. But whatever comes, a MP will be MP and Mac Mini is a MM.

    Found the website

    http://www.slrlounge.com/apple-vs-pc-asus-fastest-lightroom-4-computer-laptop
     
  6. ddjohns1 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2013
    #6
    Thanks, that is exactly the kind of information I was looking for. If clock speed is the only major factor, I might as well get the next MacMini.... A mac pro would probably be overkill.

    I would have thought that disk i/o speed and an SSD would make a big difference given that Lightroom is often juggling 200+ photos in a folder at a time, but I guess it doesn't matter...

    It's too bad we have to wait for Haswell machines from Apple. It would be so easy and cheap to order an HP Envy 700-030qe with the Haswell 4770 i7 3.5GHz CPU, a 256K SSD, 1GB Radeon and 3TB of HDD, and for about same the cost of the best macmini plus external drive, or maybe even less. (Of course if the HP is like the last three Dells we've had in our family, it will require 1-2 repairs to the mother board, power supply, disk drive or optical drive in the first 3 years.)

    ----------

    Sounds like sage advice. Thanks.
     
  7. kennyman macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 4, 2011
    #7
    Great I could be of help Dave! I hate threads that keep dragging without any solution lol
     
  8. phoenixsan macrumors 65816

    phoenixsan

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2012
    #8
    Well....

    if you want more freedom and have the technical prowess to fix the computers you use to your likings, dont wait for the new Mac Pro, because, as you may know already, it is a pretty closed system, with expensive options to expand. Besides that, Apple only hinted "fall" and that can be any date between today and December, if Apple keeps their word.....

    So, the B option dont looks bad at all. And I agree in buying refurbished from Apple, if still you have a chance. 1 year of warranty in an expensive piece of equipment is worth the money you can save fiddling with people in eBay or worst, in CL.....

    :):apple:
     
  9. flowrider macrumors 601

    flowrider

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2012
    #9
    D) Get a brand new 8 core Mac Pro with an Apple 1 year warranty and upgrade it yourself:

    http://www.expercom.com/product_detail.html?p=703416

    Lou
     
  10. ddjohns1 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2013
    #10
    I'm thinking the Mac Pro looks like overkill for LR5 and it will be very expensive I think...

    It appears that 4-8GB of DRAM and high core clock speed are all that matter to Lightroom, so I think it makes sense to wait and see what the hopefully forthcoming haswell boxes can do. The current mac mini i7 2.6GHz can turbo boost to 3.6GHz, so it already appears to be about as fast, and possibly faster, at running lightroom than the Mac Pro 3.2GHz. It really looks like a great value I have to say. It would definitely be more ballsy to say I have a "Pro" though, and saying you have a "Mini", well, you know :)

    hmmmm....
     
  11. flowrider macrumors 601

    flowrider

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2012
    #12
    ^^^^No place in that add do I read that the machine is new. Nor do I see AppleCare as an option. I do see that the Warranty on Parts and Labor is one year, but it does not state that it is an Apple Warranty. They list the original price as being 2,299. The Apple price for that machine is $2,499. And Returns may also be subject to a 15% restocking fee.

    So yes, IMHO, everything looks suspect to me.

    Lou
     
  12. phoenixsan macrumors 65816

    phoenixsan

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2012
    #13
    Part of my rationale.....

    with the Pro is you have more options about storage. You seems to me as an user with big graphic files. And storage always is welcome. RAM you can put in a plenty fashion on the Pro. No discussion about CPUs and hyperthreading or turbo boost. And obviously, no point in price discussion. But nobody knows for sure about when the "Haswell Macs" will come....:confused:

    :):apple:
     
  13. -hh macrumors 68020

    -hh

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2001
    Location:
    NJ Highlands, Earth
    #14
    And to continue on the Storage meme, there's also the pragmatic requirement for data backups.

    For example, one strategy could be to get a pair of ~2TB HDDs to make a RAID0 to satisfy the OP's 3TB storage requirement, and then a 3-4TB HDD to put into Bay#4 to run autonomously for Time Machine. From there, use external USB's for making copies for remote backup...

    ...and since these externals will be utilize as "one shot" type copies, the recurring reports of USB3 sleep problems can be minimized.


    -hh
     
  14. ddjohns1 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2013
    #15
    The main benefit I think of the Mac Pro for storage would be the ability to go above 16GB of DRAM, but its not clear that going above that amount would speed up the applications I use, but it is always nice to have an upgrade path.

    For overall CPU speed, the 3.2GHz or 3.3GHz turbo boost I guess to 3.5/3.6GHz so they are on par with the other Macs, and would be only slightly slower I think than a Haswell Mac at 3.9GHz when turbo boosted.

    One point major point in the MacPro's favor is reliability-- I would guess (??) the MacPro is more reliable and if it broke the modularity of the internal design would make it easier to fix than a MacMini. My main gripe with PCs is that they have lousy power supplies, low integrity motherboards, and cheap components in general. I would like to think the MacPro is built to last, and I could just buy it and let it work without any hassles.

    ----------

    I currently use Carbonite to do online trickle backups in the background. For $60/yr for unlimited storage it seems like a great deal, although my kids don't have backups for their MacBook Pros, and I've thought about getting time machine-- time machine seems like one of the main benefits of switching to mac. Could I install an HDD in the MacPro to act as the time machine for our household?

    Regarding RAID-- were you thinking the benefit would be read/write speed vs. standard internal HDD, or for faster back-up? I think I could use also use RAID via USB3 or TB with the MacMini, right?

    I saw that it is possible to get a PCIe to USB 3 card to address the lack of USB3 in the current MacPro products-- is this easy to set up and is the speed satisfactory?
     
  15. hudson1 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2012
    #16
    While on this subject, I have a very vague recollection that Aperture makes more use of the GPU than Lightroom. I could be making this up, though. Any thoughts on that one? For those currently using Aperture or perhaps current Lightroom users contemplating a switch to Aperture, it could be a consideration. TIA.
     
  16. -hh macrumors 68020

    -hh

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2001
    Location:
    NJ Highlands, Earth
    #17
    Good question. I would expect that if you were to enable file sharing, you could have the laptops remotely attach the drive and then employ it for TM. I haven't tried this, though...

    RAID0 for day-to-day performance with your primary (working) copy. Backups don't really require all that much bandwidth speed (as you already know from your Carbonite trickle).

    This is what I've had on my 'To Do' list for awhile to finish my research and buy a card...see other threads on MR - there's another good one right now that recommends specific products. More broadly, this is an area where I'm particularly pissed off at Apple for how they've functionally abandoned Mac Pro owners, as half the battle with the 3rd party USB3 cards is to find one that won't be broken with OS X updates.

    In any case, The speed of USB2 is generally satisfactory for making backups ... the problem I've experienced is a new USB3 drive on the USB2 connection - - if the system goes to sleep, the drive doesn't sleep/wake properly and screws things up. I've got two Seagate 3TBs with this same problem -- and Seagate's patches that claim to fix this problem ... doesn't. As such, I'm still giving preferntial treatment to my FW800 drives.



    -hh
     
  17. Macsonic macrumors 65816

    Macsonic

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2009
    Location:
    Earth
    #18
    I am using a Caldigit USB 3.0 combo card. It has 2 USB 3 plus 2 eSata ports. Easy to setup. After installing the card and installing the driver for OSX you're good to go. I am satisfied with the speed though I know I am not getting the maximum speed. But it's faster than Firewire 800. For Firewire 800 the transfer speed was about 70mbs while with USB 3.0 it's around 135mbs to 145mbs.

    There is also another card The Highpoint RocketU USB 3.0 Mac : http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1389517282&pf_rd_i=507846

    Orico is another popular card as this card does not need a driver and has native support. You may need to connect this to the PSU of the Mac Pro.
     
  18. scottsjack macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2010
    Location:
    Arizona
    #19
    I'm a PS CS6 user though I have tried LR a few times. One of the great things about Adobe software is that it is platform independent. I've got PS CS6 on both boot drives in my MP 3.2 quad, ML and W8.

    To be honest the W8 version is more responsive than the Mac one even though my MP's W8 installation is not ideal. Since I'm considering selling my MP I've been looking around at PC options.

    For users who don't need any more than iGPU power the HP Elitedesk looks really good. Haswell i7 3.4GHz, Intel 4600 graphics, four RAM slots and lots of USB 2 & 3 looks really good for just under $1,000. 32GB RAM and a couple of large capacity HDs might kick it up to $1500. That machine would outgun my MP for photography.
     

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