OH GOD, really new new computing power... what to buy!? MBP, MP, Mini?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by scottjua, Aug 8, 2011.

  1. scottjua, Aug 8, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2011

    scottjua macrumors newbie

    May 23, 2011
    I am a professional photographer, and although we've always had a mac in the house our business work, and large image editing and color work had been done on Dells for the past 8 years. I use Lightroom and Photoshop, and our images are pretty big, and we do heavy batches and have a bit open at once.

    My mid2010 13" Macbook Pro is leaps and bounds faster than our Dells now, and I am at the point where we simply need new machines to work on.

    So I am switching our entire operation over the macs over the next 6 months, starting with a new machine this or next week.

    Now, the main problem I'm having is what machine to get.

    I have multiple terabytes of storage and requirements to have even more. Yes, external storage IS doable, but internal storage is so much more convenient and faster to access.

    I also have a 30" cinema display on one machine and a 30" Dell LCD on the other, and am happy with their size and color performance.

    So what do you guys think?

    Mac Pro:

    pros: Internal Storage, takes a LOT more RAM easily. Don't need to buy mini display port to dual link dvi adapter, storage is cheap

    Cons: Older tech, CPU upgrade takes entire cost WAY up,

    MacBOOK Pro:

    pros: Portable...?? new faster processor(s)

    cons: Lion? All external storage, limited ram upgrades compared to MP tower?

    Mac Mini:

    pros: cheap, new faster processor(s)

    cons: must buy external optical drive, All external storage, limited ram upgrades compared to MP tower?

    I'm torn on whether or not I'd be getting more computing power in relative terms with either the MBPro, or mini over the MacPro tower, since we have no clue when the new ones will be announced, let alone shipping.

    Will I have a faster, high performing machine in either the Mini or MB???

    Help... I can't decide AT ALL...
  2. gullySn0wCat macrumors 6502

    Dec 7, 2010
    Get a Mac Pro, that way you can use your monitors and also have internal storage. The processors (except for the base model, which is a waste of time... until you get a 6-core CPU and UPGRADE for justice!) are faster than the MBP and Mac Mini anyway.
  3. blunti macrumors 6502a

    Mar 15, 2011
    yes the MP's are "outdated" a bit but those 12core monsters are still on the top performers when it comes to geekbench scores.

    alternatively you could get a hex 2010 MP and you WILL be happy with it!

    in fact, if you're not using the comp to it's full potential (smoke, ae) then forget the 12core models and get the hex.

    i believe they score around 15-16k in geekbench which is pretty good.

    as for photography: not sure what you're using but photoshop and lightroom flies on the hex.

    your screens are perfect. keep them. im using 2x30inch dells for film editing and i love them.

    mb pro is limited when it comes to upgrades. unless you dont mind having clutterrd cables and external drives on your desk?

    the new minis are great but same thing applies when it comes down to expandability.

    hope this helps somewhat and gl with your purchase:)

    ps: if you dont _need_ a new comp right now then just hang onto what you currently have and wait for the sandy bridge MP
  4. Macshroomer macrumors 65816


    Dec 6, 2009
    For business reasons, I had to pull the trigger from my old 1,1 2006 model in March due to productivity reasons, and besides, it makes a nice write off for this year. One of the reasons I went for it now is I can't use Lion yet, it is disgustingly buggy, not all my pro apps are playing nice with it, the new MP's will only work on 10.7+ while my 6 core screams on 10.6.8.

    I went with the 6x3.33, 32GB of ram, 120GB SSD, 12TB of internal, 2x3TB for RAID O = 6TB, 2 3TB separate and two external 6TB RAID-1 arrays via e-Sata for backup. I also upgraded from my 23" ACD to a Apple refurb 30" ACD, thumbs up non-glare. I put the OWC 120SSD in the empty lower optical ( DVD ) slot, least used 3TB drive below it in bay-1 for temp reasons and 3 more 3TB drives in bays 2,3 & 4 including the RAID-0 pair. I am dealing with a photo library of over half a million images after culling, new video projects and an enormous scanning need ahead after editing some 1,200 rolls of film for a high profile book project. So having a fast machine, lots of ram plus a total of 30 TB of storage all told is essential for everything from time efficiency to peace of mind.....

    One thing to also think about in upgrading to a new lineup is that RAM will be extraordinarily expensive at first, costing thousands to even hit the half way point in terms of maxing it out. If you start getting work done faster now, then you might only really lose a few hundred bucks in upgrading by Rev-2 of the new architecture and the new versions will have any bugs worked out of them, Thunderbolt options mature, bigger and cheaper Sata-III/6GB SSD drives, etc...

    Seriously, don't think like some of the gear heads here, think like a pro, my rig has already paid for it self, I have zero regrets, especially with an Imacon X5 attached to it all being super stable...
  5. CaptainChunk macrumors 68020


    Apr 16, 2008
    Phoenix, AZ
    Somehow I doubt a photographer using Photoshop and Lightroom is going to come close to harnessing the power of a 12-core workstation. It puzzles me why people would even mention them for this type of use.

    If this were my money in a situation like this, I'd go for the quad (perhaps the hex) and focus more of my budget on RAM and fast disk storage (hardware RAID, for example). Dual-processor systems won't do much for a photographer, IMHO.
  6. khollister, Aug 9, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2011

    khollister macrumors 6502a


    Feb 1, 2003
    Orlando, FL
    The MBP and Mini's are handicapped via 2.5" HDD's compared to the MP. If you use high resolution files with lots of layers in CS5, you will also be handicapped by the 8GB RAM limit in the Mini unless you pay astronomical sums for the 8GB DIMM's.

    A single processor MP, either the 3.2 quad or 3.33 hex is the sweet spot for photography. While LR and CS5 are not spectacularly multi-threaded for routine use, there are some filters that fully leverage all of the cores. I use perfect Resize (aka Genuine Fractals), and it pegs all 8 cores (4 real, 4 hyper-threaded virtual) in my 3.2 quad MP. Most of the Topaz Labs plugins usee all of the cores as well.

    MP RAM is pretty inexpensive now (24GB is $450 from OWC) and you can put a 5th HDD or SDD in the 2nd optical bay.

    A Mini with the Thunderbolt Promise RAID and a SSD boot disk would eliminate the disk I/O gap, but that's getting pretty expensive and you are still left with the RAM limit. And as good as Sandy Bridge processors are, a 3.2 GHz Westmere Xeon still probably trumps a 2.0 GHz i7 SB, although it is likely closer than you would think.

    The MP's have been about RAM and disk I/O for some time, not CPU horsepower unless you can leverage (and pay for) the dual processor variants.

    If the 8GB DIMM's for the Mini were reasonable and we had a wider range of cheaper Thunderbolt storage options, the Mini server with a pair of SSD's would be a very viable alternative. Hoever, you will end up spending more on that configuration today than the MP.

    a year or two down the road, an Ivy Bridge i7 mini with SSD (cheaper), Thunderbolt disks (cheaper) and at least 16GB RAM (probably cheaper) may change the equation, although we will also have Sandy Bridge or Ivy Bridge Mac Pro's with faster clocks than the thermally limited Mini's or MBP's, so there will still be a gap. Wide availability of reasonable cost Thunderbolt storage solutions will reduce one of the traditional MP advantages.
  7. -hh macrumors 68020


    Jul 17, 2001
    NJ Highlands, Earth
    It utlimately has to do with the number of HDD's that one accumulates in the photography discipline ... particularly since having a RAID for data security is automatically at least two physical drives.

    I'd say that you want at least one "working" drive and at least one RAID1 backup of it ... although preferably, you really should have at least 3 backups (YMMV on if you want each backup to also be a RAID 1).

    For example, my main system right now is (main) + (timemachine) + (2 x RAID1) + (NAS) + (remote HD) = 1 + 1 + 2(2) + 1 + 1 = 8 physical spindles. Granted, this is a bit of overkill, but a bit of benign neglect that resulted in a nasty scare (but nothing actually lost) provided the motivation to fix, then add more backups.

    I can think of two basic approaches:

    (a) A Mac Pro that emphasizes CPU GHz over cores/CPUs. Give it at least 12GB of RAM while we're at it. Add three additional internal 3.5" drives ... use one for the photogaphy work disk and take the other two and make a RAID1 for its Time Machine backup.

    (b) A Mac mini where it gets maxed out with RAM and sped up by having the 2.5" boot drive replaced with a good SSD. Get a pair of External FW800 RAID 1's, and use the first one for the photography work disk and the second RAID 1 for the Time Machine backup. FWIW, I've taken a personal liking to the "Guardian MAXimus" RAID boxes from NewerTechnology (newertech.com)

    (c) For any laptop, the mini's plan (above) could be adapted easily enough.

    For either one, consider adding a "Drive Dock" from NewerTechnology (the product name of their better one is the "Voyager Q") to be able to take additional bare hard drives and make individual backups that you can then easily relocate to some off-site location for the next layer in your data repository's integrety plan...ideally, plan on having three HDs be used this way for rolling monthly backups, and unlike a RAID, they don't have to be matching...

  8. scottjua thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 23, 2011
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    Thanks so much for all the feedback so far.

    Mac PRO it is. One decision made.

    I Intend to do my own ram upgrades via owc also. Thanks!

    Now my only decision is whether a base quad upgraded quad or hex is the best way to go.

    Part of me thinks a base would be fine as what I'm using now in the dual core dells I have are so slow the base would seem like an sr71 vs a cesna.

    For photoshop and lightroom will the updated single processors really make a tangible difference?

    Or would I be better of getting an ssd drive for those or files, or boot drive????
  9. highdefw macrumors 6502

    Apr 19, 2009
    Go for the 3.33 hex Mac Pro. It's a no brainer...
  10. Zwhaler macrumors 604


    Jun 10, 2006
    If you have to decide between quad or 6-core definitely go for the 3.33GHz 6-core, or the 8 or 12 core if possible.
  11. scottjua thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 23, 2011
    Oh geez... I just did some calculations and it looks like I can get the Dual 2.4GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon “Westmere” (8 cores) for LESS money that optioning out the base machine with a single 3.33 6 Core Westmere...

    Duh... I just never noticed...

    with that in mind, between the two, which would be better suited for my needs??? (PS CS5, Lightroom 3, and big image files)
  12. khollister macrumors 6502a


    Feb 1, 2003
    Orlando, FL
    The 3.33 hex. The extra 2 cores don't make up for the huge loss of clock speed., especially on your apps. Even if the software scaled across cores perfectly, the 3.33 hex should be slightly faster than the 2.4 octo.

    You have to go to the 12 cores to beat the 3.33 hex.
  13. scottjua thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 23, 2011
    would you guys think a max'ed out iMac should even be a consideration???

    I can deal with external drives,

    the reason I throw it in is cost... now we're thinking a max'ed mac mini or mbpro for a third machine which has less demand for power and storage on it will be purchased also.

    so a hex pro and another one of the other may be tough to do...so an iMac came to mind (just run dual monitors, and use the matte one to work on.

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