More ram or HD4870 for webdesign purposes?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by kimipt, Mar 5, 2009.

  1. kimipt macrumors newbie

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    #1
    Im just a few days away from ordering my much anticipated MacPro. I will use it mainly for webdesign, including Photoshop, Coda, VirtualMachines, Illustrator, etc.

    While im still waiting for the confirmation of the possibility for more than 8Gb ram with bigger dimms, my dought for now is, should i upgrade the memory from 3gb or its a better choice go for the ATI Radeon HD 4870 now and pick the ram later?

    Just to add, most likely i'll go for the Quad core.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Amethyst macrumors 6502

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  3. Tallest Skil macrumors P6

    Tallest Skil

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    #3
    Go for the graphics card first!

    RAM will ALWAYS get cheaper. The card will never go down in price.
     
  4. chewietobbacca macrumors 6502

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    #4
    Correctamundo. Unless you're flashing the graphics card, Apple will keep it the same price. RAM can be bought by 3rd party vendors for MUCH cheaper than Apple charges, and DDR3 prices will go down significantly this year as AMD's AM3 platform appears and DDR3 becomes the standard on every side
     
  5. kimipt thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #5
    Thanks

    Thank you guys. One less decision to make. :)
     
  6. Chaos123x macrumors 68000

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    #6
    Unless you can get a flashed one.

    The PC versions are dirt cheap now.
     
  7. kimipt thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #7
    Sorry to bring this up again, but still wondering.
    Considering that im using the MacPro for webdesign (Photoshop, Illustrator, Coda, etc.), no 3d and very little video, is there any advantage for me to go for the HD4870 card instead of the standard one?

    Thanks again for you help.
     
  8. Pressure macrumors 68040

    Pressure

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    #8
    Not really but you should definitely go for ram first and foremost.

    No clue why the others scream "get the graphic card first" as the amount of ram you have installed will definitely directly affect your productivity.
     
  9. Tallest Skil macrumors P6

    Tallest Skil

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    #9
    Because the RAM will always get cheaper, maybe?
     
  10. kimipt thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #10
    I was already decided to go for the card, agreeing that its value its more likely to stay the same than the ram, which would have to be upgraded anyway.
    But my question now it's a bit different, for my usage profile, should i expect any perceivable difference if i go for the HD4870, compared to the standard one?
    Thanks again.
     
  11. NoNameBrand macrumors 6502

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    #11
    :confused::confused::confused::confused:

    None of the programs you listed use the graphics card for anything (you can tell Photoshop to, but it's not a great experience for many people).

    Buy the RAM. Get a better video card when you need it.
     
  12. kimipt thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #12
    Ok, that's what i was trying to confirm, if i could get any leverage from that hardware with the use i will give it.
     
  13. Pressure macrumors 68040

    Pressure

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    #13
    Yes but too little ram affects your productivity every day. In the end that will be much more than the $350 Apple asks for the Radeon HD 4870.

    Besides, none of the applications really tax the graphic card, let alone the Radeon HD 2600XT.

    You can always check the efficiency in Photoshop.

    If it is lower than 100%, then you should seriously consider getting more ram and use a scratch drive.
     
  14. vogelhausdesign macrumors regular

    vogelhausdesign

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    #14
    honestly.. Both.. The HD is not nearly as important for web design as the ram as far as benefit to your work. But you will need a good graphics card.

    I do interactive web/motion/print 3D and ect.. And I have both, the ram was ultimately more important.. My new machine will sit with 16GB ram, and HD4780.. However, the ram slows down your delivery date.. so I'd go with the HD right now, grit your teeth with 6GB's of ram for a bit, then upgrade to 16GB via OMW down the road.
     
  15. NoNameBrand macrumors 6502

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    #15
    1. It's OWC.

    2. The OP has a quad coming, not the octo; see "from 3gb".

    3. He doesn't need an upgraded video card, so why buy one? save the money and order RAM from OMWC or whomever.
     
  16. vogelhausdesign macrumors regular

    vogelhausdesign

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    #16
    I'm going to guess you're not a designer.. Now , of course you don't need an upgraded video card for design.. hell, if youre doing webdesign with some flash. and simple code.. why do you even need a Mac Pro? you could easily do that on a 3-4 year old machine and be fine.. However, if a client wants you to do something BIG.. and pay you lots of money for it, you're going to wish you'd shelled out the extra cash while you had the chance to save a buck or two on it.

    I'm sure OP does this as well.. I buy a machine, then pass that technologies cost on to my clients ( in a non-sleezy way, they want excellent work.. well I need excellent workstations)..

    Sorry I skipped over the part where you're only buying a Quad system.. But I think you should consider what you could be designing/working on in a year NOW, buy bigger and be happier in the long run.
     
  17. NoNameBrand macrumors 6502

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    #17
    Why, because I'm trying to give the OP some sound advice? I happen to do professional web and graphic design, amongst other things.

    The video card doesn't help with the current crop of design applications. He's not indicated that he's doing Final Cut stuff, Cinema 4D et al., or photography work with Aperture - what else, besides games, uses the GPU in Mac OS X, today? Tomorrow?

    Even if Snow Leopard makes it easy for Adobe to get their poop in a row and leverage the GPU(s), do you really think it'll be soon before CS5/6 comes out with that support? Do you really think it'd be hard to scrounge $400 for a new card when it might actually be useful?

    For me, my 5+ year old machine works fantastically well with Photoshop and Illustrator. We have no idea where the OP is coming from. If I had a G4 tower, I'd be ready to murder no less than three motion video artists for an upgrade.

    Even if the client wants something "BIG" from this designer, how is an upgraded video card going to help? Sure you can save $150 buying the fancy card when you order the Mac Pro, but if you don't need it, and the $200-300 upgrade price could be put towards RAM you will need, how does that make sense?

    It doesn't.

    If you have two possible upgrades, you can only afford one, and only one is helpful which one do you buy?

    Personally, I would order the upgraded card in a Mac Pro, but then I would actually use it with Aperture and video games.
     
  18. kimipt thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #18
    Well, all of you raise some interesting and valid points. The main reason im going for the MacPro its because my associate doesn't want a "all in one", therefore MacPro was the reasonable answer.

    Im inclined to the quad version, but even that still not decided. For now i was only pondering if the upgraded graphics card would bring any benefit for my use. Like i said, i do mostly webdesign related stuff within Photoshop, Illustrator, and such.

    While im still deciding, i would like to thank you all. This was my first post on MacRumors and im astonished by the help you can get around here. :)
     
  19. Tesselator macrumors 601

    Tesselator

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    #19
    Yeah, the GFX card isn't going to be nearly as significant an improvement as adding more RAM will be for web work. 3GB for your purposes is not enough. Your macpro experience will feel more like a Mac Mini. At 6GB (ideal for that machine) the smoothness of your web work will be much improved! If you need to be running virtual platforms a lot then 12GB (also an ideal quantity) is the better target.

    From what I understand the new '09 MacPros like threesomes! So you looking for 6x1GB sets or 6x2GB sets - three in each tray. This is the popular consensus among the power users here - you know, the type who you tell actually know WTH they're talking about... So this is a fairly certain assumption.

    I just recently purchased 8GB of new FB-DIMM (4x2GB) for $180 so it's not that expensive right now. Mine were for an older MapPro but the ones spec'ed for the '09 MacPro weren't that much more. $210 I think. And don't fret maker names. You just need to know the specs. Speed, CL rating, and warrantee length. :)
     
  20. vogelhausdesign macrumors regular

    vogelhausdesign

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    #20
    I think NoNameBrand has some valid points.. I think what I do with my design/machine greatly differs from you. Although we're both designers, RAM is a must.. the card sounds like it's not going to change anything for you
     
  21. polterdice macrumors newbie

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    Los Angeles, CA
    #21
    I'm unfamiliar with most of the programs you've mentioned, but I have used Photoshop CS4 quite a bit, so I will base my recommendations upon that software. Are we talking through Apple or 3rd party? Is money a factor? Obviously it's suggested to get ram through a 3rd party vendor.

    First off, Photoshop can be very labor intensive on the GPU. It may be a better investment to get the 4870 now. The price won't depreciate like RAM.

    With the release of CS4, Photoshop utilizes more RAM than before. However, on 32 bit systems (which CS4 operates at for macs, come on CS5 already!) it will only utilize up to 3.5 GB of RAM. Anything over 4 GB of RAM is used as a cache for scratch disk data. So decking out RAM from 3GB to 8GB will only effectively give you .5GB of RAM utilization for Photoshop. This is all assuming you're running Photoshop solo under Mac OS. If you want to utilize 8GB of RAM for photoshop CS4 you might want to look into running a 64 bit windows OS under bootcamp, which, from what I've read, can increase performance by 10%.

    It all depends on how hardcore you're running the programs. You could also get the stock options and test your programs. Everything may run perfectly. If you use a lot of plug ins and filters, RAM is what you want to look at. If you experience bog downs with visual aspects (zooms, grab functions, 3D features) you'll want a stronger GPU.

    If I had to choose between RAM and GPU I'd go with a stronger GPU, especially with visual design (RAM is usually stronger for video/audio, GPU is usually stronger for graphics:although the gap is narrowing in both). If you plan to use 2 displays, you might as well get a GT120 and test it out. You can always add a 4870 later. If you plan on using only 1 display I'd invest in the 4870 now. It has a 256 bit memory interface (128 for GT120), GDDR5 instead of GDDR3, and over 4x the memory bandwidth as the GT120. Of course if may be more powerful than you need.

    When working with graphics a strong GPU cannot be stressed enough. Photoshop uses the GPU to speed its screen redraw.

    Don't forget to either partition your main drive or get another 7200 RPM HD for a scratch disk, it's more efficient than using the drive running the OS.

    If you're getting a Mac Pro you'll more than likely upgrade both at some point, so if you want to spend money now, might as well invest in a GPU (maybe throw in another stick of RAM; although it works better in 3's, 4GB will still be stronger than 3GB, just not as efficient per stick) that won't depreciate as much RAM. If you want to save, wait and buy memory when it's cheaper and a flashed GPU if you need one. Either way, the stock options (from a Photoshop CS4 perspective) will run fine. I've used Photoshop hours on end with 1GB of RAM and a mobile 945 express chipset with a memory size of 8 MB, although I'd never suggest such settings!

    If you want to keep your options open, consider the 8 core; having 4 memory slots vs 8 memory slots can open up possibilities, especially when working in 3's vs 2's.

    My 2¢
     

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