MP3,1 to nMP or iMac4,2 for prosumer?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by analog guy, Dec 20, 2013.

  1. analog guy, Dec 20, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2013

    analog guy macrumors 6502

    Mar 6, 2009
    EDIT: Should NOT be the iMac 4,2 in the title -- I'm referring to the late 2013 core i7 model.

    Like many, I have been reading the threads about the nMP. I was up late the night of the release but didn't pull the trigger on a base model figuring the CTO options would have the same build time in the morning; wrong!

    Anyway, I find myself considering something that I haven't before: an iMac. I wanted to ask the more informed about my situation and see what people think.

    Current situation:
    * MP3,1 2x2.8 with 8GB RAM running 10.8.5 (I tend to keep my desktop machines a long time)
    * 256 GB SSD (internal) for boot, apps
    * 4x1TB HD (internal) set up as a software RAID10 for data (1.2TB currently used), backed up to a 2TB Time Capsule
    * 500GB HD (internal) for Win7 via VM
    * ATI5870
    * 27" LED ACD + 2x24" ACD (mostly just use one of those)
    * FW CF card reader (digital photo import)
    * FW Apogee Duet (audio import)

    I don't really do much with video, other than some minor home stuff. For photography (prosumer/hobby), I use RAW files from a Canon 1D (LR & PS, DW--though LR is generally the only program I keep current).

    I pretty much have to run at least one virtual machine (VMWare) with Win7 at all times (currently allocate 2 cores & 3GB RAM); not doing anything too intensive -- it is mostly for VNC/remote access to another server. I just need to keep things separate. The VM file is ~30GB. It's not terribly fast.

    Of the 1.2TB of data, perhaps 1/2 of that is video files that I've saved and sometimes serve to other devices I use (iPad, ATV, MBA).

    In the recent past, I have produced my (local) radio show using Audacity for recording vinyl and mixing.

    I was considering the 6-core nMP with either 16 or 32GB RAM and the 1TB SSD. Not sure about D300 or D500.

    I thought this would be the sweet-spot for the processors. I was thinking that I could use the 1TB SSD partitioned as 256GB (startup & apps) and move most of the data I work with, along with my VM, to that. I was thinking I might notice a performance improvement.

    I could move 1 or 2 of my 1TB drives to some external enclosure to house the less frequently used video. (Have to buy some enclosure, but I guess that would be TB or USB3.)

    While I'm not rendering 4k video, I do value instantaneous response when browsing photo libraries, starting programs (sounds silly), etc.

    I'd consider ditching both 23" ACDs in favor of one 27" TB ACD.

    Reading some threads I started to think that maybe an iMac (27" core i7 with 16 or 32GB RAM) could do the trick. They are more readily available. With a 1TB SSD I feel like it would probably be an upgrade over my MP.

    I think I could add a 2nd SSD in there.

    Since i have a track record of keeping machines for 3-5+ years, I have to confess that I'm a little worried about an all-in-one. For reference, I live 300 miles from the nearest Apple store. I'm VERY technical, but if something fails, there's not much one can do.

    When the 8800GT video card failed in my MP, it was obviously a trivial replacement, and the whole system kept on going just fine.

    Am I right to fear this?

    The nice part is I get the display, but I don't want to be short-sighted.
    The MP is not exactly a slouch. I guess I could add more RAM, or buy a bigger SSD (or multiple SSDs), or upgrade to an ATI 7970 (probably not wise)...or drop in new processors... but I don't know if it is worth investing more time and money into it vs buying new.

    Any thoughts? Guess I could always order the nMP now to get in the queue and cancel in a week if I change my mind.

    I realize that this is not a desperate need. Part of me gets off on having the latest machine...I confess I like new toys.

  2. adam9c1 macrumors 68000


    May 2, 2012
    My .02

    If you move to newer machine do you have to update software?
    If so factor the price in.

    Check Activity Monitor and see if you are running low on RAM.
    8GB is more than plenty for that OS and basic apps, but check if you need to upgrade.
    I think if you have 8-3 for VM = 5 if you bump to 12 or 16 you will feel it.

    I don't know much about video cards and how they could speed you up.

    Looks like you have your data good with Raid 10, speed and safety.
    You may want to upgrade to faster drives but it's all or nothing and it will be costly.

    Do you have room on the SSD for your Windows VM?

    hope others chime in
  3. Intell macrumors P6


    Jan 24, 2010
    Why may I ask are you even considering the iMac4,2? Those are sorely underpowered compared to the MacPro3,1. With a 1.86Ghz CoreDuo, 17" LCD, and a maximum of 3.3GB of ram, even a MacPro1,1 would be better.
  4. analog guy thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mar 6, 2009
    sorry--thought that was the 27" iMac (late 2013 model) with core i7, 16-32GB RAM, 1TB SSD.

    not sure why i thought it was the 4,2. that was an error.
  5. goMac macrumors 604

    Apr 15, 2004
    An iMac could probably do what you need. I don't think a Mac Pro is totally out of the question depending on your budget, either a 4 core or a 6 core will do. But if budget is part of the issue, a 27" iMac with an SSD would totally fit your needs.

    And if you wait for the next revision, the iMac will probably be getting the nicer SSD like the Mac Pro and Macbook Pro have. Edit: Nevermind! It looks like the new iMac already made that move. Get one with the SSD and it should do you well too.
  6. analog guy thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mar 6, 2009
    thanks for the response. i don't have to update any software for either move--i'm using the latest versions of VMWare, LR and a few other custom packages, and adobe CS5 instead of CS6.

    i'm wondering if i should abandon the RAID10 setup. i backup to the time capsule.

    if i move to either iMac or nMP I'd have to get some enclosure, and i figure a RAID-capable controller would cost more. also, for the purpose of just serving these videos, maybe i should just get a faster SSD and a USB3 or TB 1 or 2 drive controller.

    to answer your question, i currently DO have room for the VM on my SSD. i probably should make that move to the MP3,1 regardless.

    would you go nMP or iMac?
  7. analog guy thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mar 6, 2009
    just editing to add that i priced out a few upgrades to the MP3,1:

    1) Add 4x2GB ($197) or 4x4GB ($450) RAM to make 16 or 24GB total. This is for OWC memory--probably a bit cheaper if I find another source.

    2) OWC PCIe SSD 960GB 820MB/s @ $1199. (I could get a Samsung SSD for $600 + a PCIe 500MB/s card for $100.) I'd move most data to the SSD and could switch from a 4-drive RAID10 to a 3 or 4-drive RAID0. Either option could presumably be used later on with a TB enclosure, if I did move to a nMP or iMac.

    Can't pull the trigger on a 27" LED TB ACD and don't feel like getting another 27" mini-DP LED ACD. Maybe this is a good thing as perhaps something will shake out with the display over the next 6-12 months (TB2 ACD?).

    I'm running an ATI 5870. Not sure if an upgrade would be possible (power supply) or make sense. CPU upgrade from my 2x2.8s may also not be possible or advisable due to cost:performance.

    Hm. $1400-1600 takes all my storage to SSD and doubles or triples RAM. Would probably buy me at least 1-2 years of service.

    Probably a dumb move if I plan to get a different machine in <=6 months, but on the other hand if I did get that machine I could then get a smaller internal SSD and use the PCIe SSD…though with the speeds of the internal SSD on the nMP it seems a shame not to max it out.

    Open to thoughts.
  8. analog guy thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mar 6, 2009
    1 more update:
    Looks like 4x2 FB-DIMMs are ~$100 and 4x4 @ $200 via sources other than OWC.

    Also, my 4x1TB internal software RAID10 is maxing out at 130/215MB/s read (random/sequential) and 120/193 MB/s writes. (XBench)

    My Samsung 840 PRO 250GB SSD is coming up at only 220/225 reads and 175/240 writes. (Advertised is up to 540 reads and 520 writes.)

    Small block performance on the RAID10 is abysmal.

    Looks like the OWC Accelsior PCI e SSD maxes out at 680 MB/s on the Mac Pro, not 811 MB/s with Ivy Bridge. (
  9. echo44 macrumors 6502

    Jan 21, 2008
    Let me know what you end up doing.
    I also was thinking about the accelsior.
    I have a 2.8 x2 in the same boat
    I do use mine for some video editing and
    Logic x. For me I have a Universal Quad Duo card as well for
    logic plug ins which is not compatible with the new Pro.
    I also have 8gb ram.
    I read somewhere people were having crashes with the accelsior
    hoping someone can chime in that has actual experience.
    I am hoping to get another 9 months out of this mac.
    To replace it I would also have to get a thunderbolt chassis to hold my hard drives
    so it will be quite the expense
  10. wildmac macrumors 65816

    Jun 13, 2003
    Another thought here...

    If the nMP is a reasonable choice for you, I would order one now, and then wait for further benchmarks to roll in. If the performance gain isn't where you want it, cancel the order. You'll have at least 2 months to sort it out, with deliveries in February now.

    Otherwise, you might be getting a system in April.. ;)
  11. propower, Dec 21, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2013

    propower macrumors 6502a

    Jul 23, 2010
    Some thoughts for you....

    - Since the new imacs and nMP all have only one internal HD and USB3/TB for expansion the eco-system that surrounds either one is the same - and WILL represent a substantial change in how things like storage are handled for all mac users -- and will have a cost hit.

    --- now with the glaring exception of high end video editing (that I know nothing about :))

    - The performance of the nMP Quad and the 3.5 imac under lets say 20% constant CPU load will be - about the same. Under 75% cpu load it will also be ~ the same with the imac getting more fan noise.

    - The differnce between the imac i7 and the nMP hex at 20% CPU load will be ~ the same - though the nMP at 20% is doing more -- the point here is that at large loads - the imac will eventually run out of CPU power - and then the nMP will be better in all ways (speed, noise etc.). If your uses can not MAX out a quad core - the nMP Hex will buy you next to nothing in performance but will be quieter.

    - For storage you will need to evaluate how best to move forward. I went with the Blackmagic Multidock - 3 SSDs (1TB and two 512G) plus one 7200 1TB spinner (BTW this drive at $79 performs almost as good as your RAID 10 !). The BM dock is all SATA II internal but acts just like an expansion bay to the imac. 4 SATA ports - raid-able - JBOD - bootable. W/R speed for my SSDs is all 350MB/s both ways. This is plenty fast for what I do. I tested RAID0 and got 700MB/s R/W - but just don't need it. For mass seldom used storage I have a synology NAS. Pegasus2, Caldigit T3 are also very nice TB solutions and accommodate 3.5" drive if you wish to stay there. I chose the BM since I am all 2.5" drives anyway and it is bootable and silent - no fan.

    The imac bang for the buck is really large. Go get a business account at Apple (pretty much anyone can) and my imac/3.5 i7/16Gram/256G SSD was about $2600. Close to the price of your upgrades!

    Sell the rest of your stuff and create the eco-system that works. Once done - the brain can noww be replaced anytime. FWIW - I love the nMP but only for those who can really tap and need its power or need its quietness under load. Otherwise it will just sit there being under used and no "better" than top end imacs. We have entered a new age where the top end machines are actually NOT faster anymore - they are more capable of parallel processing. More $$$ gets you more parallel bandwidth. If you really don't need or use or care about that - it is a waste in my mind! FWIW again - I have owned - Power Mac 9600 - Qucksilver - and MacPro 4,1. Look what I use now for Pro audio :)
  12. analog guy thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mar 6, 2009
    Thanks. I ordered an Excelsior to try out; my rationale was that it could be valuable if I keep my MP3,1 for a while longer, and when I do move on (to iMac or nMP) i could install it in a TB enclosure and put it to good use. Makes sense to run that in the one free x16 slot I have.

    I did also order a Samsung 840 1TB SSD and Sonnet Tempo, just for testing. I think I'll take a performance hit if I run it in a x4 (PCIe 1.1) slot.

    After noticing/realizing that the MP3,1 is basically SATA II, I've become more interested in getting better performance out of the SSD I have. Not sure if the Tempo in the x4 can achieve that.

    I might text them both in the x16 and x4 slots.

    If I keep the MP3,1, I'm sort of curious about a card that adds SATAIII ports (e.g.,; permits 4 drives). The Apricorn Velocity Solo x2 has one SATAIII connector, which could be split. I'd imagine these need to be in the x16 slot. Wonder which would take the least hit in the x4.

    Also ordered 8GB more RAM.

    I'll post up about the Excelsior if it will help you out.



    Yes...I was thinking about this a bit. No harm getting in the queue; would be easy to give up my spot if I change my mind.


    Thanks for the detailed response. This really makes me think about some ways I could upgrade my MP3,1 sensibly for the moment, with an eye toward making a transition to an iMac or nMP in the future less painful.

    I'll give this more thought. As posted above, I did order a PCIe SSD 1TB card, thinking that it would really speed up my MP now and could be popped into a TB enclosure in the future.

    My main worry with the iMac is the failure of the display. Most anything else I can repair, but that is the downside of an all-in-one.

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