Pondering Mac Pro or HP Z800

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Rsrchr123, Mar 12, 2010.

  1. Rsrchr123 macrumors regular

    Mar 12, 2010
    I know this is a Mac forum so I won't ask for advice on the HP Z800. But I am curious about folks' thoughts on the Mac Pros. My needs center around a system that can handle intensive computations (on my Dell, a single computation will take close to a month, sometimes a little more) and acoustics. I want something that runs quiet and cool. The Z800 has liquid cooling as an option but I guess the Pro does not. I'm also disappointed that the Pro has so few USB plugs. My $700 Dell has more USBs than a $2500 Pro? Doesn't seem right to me. Anyways, if they release a new version next week as some suggest, I'll have to reassess anyways. So in the meantime, any thoughts and better yet, any complaints, would be great to hear. Thank you in advance!
  2. hakuryuu macrumors 6502

    Sep 30, 2007
    Lomita, CA
    I use an early 08 Quad Mac Pro for lots photo work as well as a lot of virtualization (linux and windows, its fun being IT). I have no complaints about the noise other than the superdrive. The fans, especially at default speeds of 400 rpm, are as quiet as can be. And depending on the location even at speeds up to 1300 rpm or so would still be considered quiet in comparison to my pc at home, and I have mine on top of the desk right by my monitor at work. I normally run the fans at ~900 rpm. And it runs cool (27C idle, 33C at 400% cpu load). I hear better things about the 2009 nehalem mac pros since they fixed the audio heat problem.

    As far as parts I would say wait as long as you can. I really don't expect it to be much longer for updated Mac Pros. And the usb ports could be more plentiful, I agree, but I live with it. My Eizo monitor has two ports for the one that plugs into the back of the MP and that in turn frees up the one you might plug into the keyboard. So in total I have 6 (4 on the MP 2 on the keyboard) free ports. Not awful but not amazing. They do include a few firewire ports which I prefer for storage anyways.

    The Z800s are nice (I looked at them for replacements for some of our windows boxes at work) but it really comes down to the software you'll be using. I am 100% convinced that I prefer OS X over Windows (after easily 15 years using windows) and Linux for 95% of the things I do so if I have an option that doesn't include a windows box I will take that option every time. I am so tired of windows lately. And thats even with 7 being the best one yet.

    I would put the acoustics and cooling up against most competitors without reservation (can't beat water cooling for quiet and cool but thats not really equal). Let your software make the decision. If what you use works well on OS X, I say do it.
  3. Rsrchr123 thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 12, 2010
    Thanks for the information on that. I've been using OS X for about a year now in conjunction with occasionally switching back over to my PC. As hard as it may be to believe, I am somewhat ambivalent about OS X over Windows 7. I have 7 now on my PC and I like it. OS X handily beat XP but not 7. It's more of an equalizer than people think.

    But that aside, one of the other things I have big concerns about is the warranty. I can get a 3 year warranty with onsite maintenance for the Z 800 in the event that something went wrong that I couldn't fix. One of the biggest things I'm going to have to get past on the Pro is the lack of such a warranty. Having to haul something like that down to the Apple store and handing it over to a "genius" doesn't sit well with me. My research is proprietary and despite what might be a slight preference for OS X, I still have trouble letting go of that freedom to do things myself. Have you had to take yours into the store for anything?

    Is there anything you don't like on your Pro?

    Can you also comment on security? On my Dell, I use a boot password, the BIOS is password protected, and then I have the usual OS logon password (if I didn't mention it earlier, I run Win 7 Enterprise). My hard drive is also encrypted. The only password option I've seen is a logon password for OS X. Am I missing something?

    Aside from the work I do, I am also getting into video editing and I've read some things that say that some of the Windows machines can encode and rip multiple times faster than a Mac. Is that true?

    Also, what are the rumors on the new Pros as far as features and hardware? The Z800 has capacity way beyond what I need (who really needs 192 GB of ram) but I am impressed with its expandability. Is the Pro on the same level?
  4. hakuryuu macrumors 6502

    Sep 30, 2007
    Lomita, CA
    Oh I agree that 7 is an equalizer in many respects. But its more of a tit for tat than anything.

    As for the warranty I totally understand. Apple does offer on site with Xserves but that is a different realm entirely. But I have not had a single problem with mine so the extended warranty was kind of pointless thus far.

    As for security you can set a firmware password. This will make it so that you can't boot from the install disc or anything that would allow someone to change anything. It will boot directly to your boot drive but if someone were to try to restart to say.. boot to an external drive or make the computer run in target disk mode they would need the firmware password. And of course you can set account passwords that are as complicated and long as you want. There is a utility that helps you randomize based on some criteria you set. And you have FileVault for encryption.

    I have done a fair amount of video editing and rendering (720p and 1080p) with FCS and my machine moved along quite nicely. And while rendering I was able to go about my business without any slowdown.

    As for expandability you won't have access to some of the video cards the Z800 has, currently. However there is always a chance they may improve that situation as companies like Valve make games available for OS X, finally. You also won't have built in eSATA but you can buy a card for that. The mac pro doesn't have as many hard drive slots but thats what the eSATA card would help with. You can buy an external RAID array to connect that way if you really need it. But to me if you put 4x 2TB Western Digital drives in it you would be in great shape (especially if you get the RAID controller from apple to do RAID 5).

    gotta go to work.. i'll answer anything else from there.
  5. Rsrchr123 thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 12, 2010
    Admittedly one of the things with which I have the biggest problem with is this notion in my mind that Apple is not responsive to their customers. For example, I learned about the spike in temperatures, etc due to playing iTunes earlier this year on the Pros. While I understand that it has been fixed, there was a lot of commentary on these boards about people complaining about how their voices were falling on deaf ears and how long it took to fix. I dunno. Everything is a trade off. If Apple is smug, you can always find fault with MS.

    But this is also an example of why I had to rule out their Macbook Pro. In theory, I'd love to have one. But the heat generation and the sealed in battery ruined it for me. I will have to go with Lenovo for my laptop. Notebookreview did a temperature analysis on them and in Fahrenheit, the normal running temperatures were < 100, even if it was under load. Occasionally they would go up to the low hundreds. In comparison, the Pros were 130-140. That's a big difference and I can't find any way to rationalize it other than poor engineering.

    My Dell is pretty much toast. It doesn't work very well. I believe it has more to do with the Dell hardware than Windows 7 but I am not an expert on all things computer. I saw a demo of a Dell workstation and it was the loudest running computer I've ever had the misfortune of hearing. So I've washed my hands with Dell. I briefly considered a Sun Microsystems tower but then they got bought out by Oracle so I don't even know if they make them anymore. That basically leaves HP. And if the Z800 is good enough for Dreamworks, it will surely be good enough for me.

    I've still got some time before I buy anything and I'm hoping the rumors are right that a new Pro is going to be out next week. Regardless, I won't make a decision until I see what they look like. But right now, I'd have to say that I'm biased towards the Z 800. If the Pro doesn't win me over from the get go, I may buy a Z 800 and run it hard to see how it works and if it's no good, then switch to the Pro. I'm not sure if HP charges a restock fee but I know Apple's is 10% so I'd like to not pay $220 for the "privilege" of trying out their Pro.

    Just as a side note, one of my complaints about Apple is evident in the iPad. I thought about buying one for my folks as an anniversary gift but I am troubled by the lack of support for Flash and the inability to multitask. I also have concerns about how hot it will run. I'm on an iPhone myself and I was listening to some streaming music at my desk while I had it in my shirt pocket. After no more than ten minutes of running, I took it out to change the volume and it was scary hot to hold. Once it was out for a few minutes, it cooled back down but it got way too hot and I have concerns the iPad will suffer from the same problem.
  6. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    You can get extended Apple Care (adds 2yrs to the existing warranty) as an add-on. Given the cost of repairs, it's well worth it.

    But it's not the same as you get with other vendors such as HP or Dell, even though you actually can get a tech with a Mac (there's a distance limit, and they make you feel like they're doing you an extraordinary favor by showing up).

    Warranty wise, the PC side definitely has an advantage IMO.

    You CANNOT access the firmware in a Mac. Period. (EFI based BTW, and it makes getting hardware much more difficult, specifically PCIe cards that boot - far fewer choices).

    So there's no way to put boot password on the system. As per encryption, it's possible, and of course a password once the OS is loaded.

    Perhaps you could go with biometrics, such as a retinal scanner if your data warrants it and assuming there's a unit that is OS X compatible (only you can decide this, as I've no clue what you're doing when you say "research").

    It's just going to be some new processors for the most part (the graphics card will hopefully be an upgrade as well, and perhaps a little larger HDD). The boards will be the same however, as the new CPU's will be a drop-in replacement along with updated microcode in the firmware. So things like USB and FW port counts will remain the same.

    Personally for external HDD storage, I prefer eSATA. But I use RAID and it's a nice means for backups via PM enclosures.

    Hope this helps. :)
  7. Rsrchr123 thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 12, 2010
  8. hakuryuu macrumors 6502

    Sep 30, 2007
    Lomita, CA
    Yeah, you can.


    Once set it blocks all key modifiers thus making it impossible to even reset the PRAM without knowing the password. Setting a master password makes it so that you cannot change the password for the encryption without knowing the master password either. If by boot password you mean a password to allow the system to continue booting, then no. But if your passwords to your accounts are strong and you can't reset them thanks to the firmware password disabling anything that would allow you to do so (such as booting from an install disk and using the reset password utility) then I don't see the problem. If physical access to your machine is something to worry about then maybe you should be investing in some more physical access security. Because all the security in the world won't stop someone with the right knowledge and physical access to the machine.

    For increased security there are smart card utilities such as the ones the military uses (they use macs at the pentagon!) as well as other methods.
  9. Dr.Pants macrumors 65816


    Jan 8, 2009
    Sun Ultra 27 is still in production. From what I've heard, its a very good machine.

    Or you could build your own workstation. I personally think that if you aren't satisfied with any off-the-shelf workstation you might as well build your own.
  10. macuserx86 macrumors 6502a


    Jun 12, 2006
    Either get a Mac Pro, or build a PC yourself.

    Pre-built PCs, especially at a high level of hardware, are just pointless and over-priced.
  11. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    It's part of the standard warranty, but there's a distance limit of 50 miles or less from the nearest Apple Store.

    It's not the same though as the enterprise PC side, from those that have been able to go this route. They indicate Apple's employees act like it's a massive favor, and I'd be concerned about the turn-around time being longer (show up without the right parts if any at all). The latter is more opinion, but what I read wasn't good.

    I wasn't aware they created an application to access that bit of firmware, since they don't give direct access or a utility that can access all of the settings.

    Good to know that at least the password can be set though. :)

    There's definitely more stringent means, but I'm not sure it's needed. The OP would need to clarify before getting too far into this IMO. But there are ways of achieving it. ;)

    Those look like good systems (I've not used it, but the specs are decent). I can understand the concern that the system quality's changed with the acquisition by Oracle though.
  12. Transporteur macrumors 68030

    Nov 30, 2008
    Oh boy.... head->table!
  13. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    I decided not to touch that one... :eek: :D :p
  14. Transporteur macrumors 68030

    Nov 30, 2008
    I couldn't resist. ;)
  15. Rsrchr123 thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 12, 2010
    I appreciate all this information. I'm really not into building my own machines as it's just not my area of expertise. I am going to check into the Sun/Oracle system though.

    I'll say that over the past 24 hours, the Z800 has edged into the lead, if ever so slightly. The Mac I bought to test the waters, the Mini, keeps having a problem with Flash. I've become well versed, unfortunately, in the Apple-Flash drama, and I'm tired of it already. I know Flash has security risks and I know some say that HTML 5 (I think that's it) will one day supplant Flash. But for now, Flash is here to stay and that's just how it is. I'm tired of whatever issue that Apple has with Flash not being fixed.

    I've heard of some software that you can download for you Mac that supposedly fixes the Flash problem. Here's my question though: for a company that prides itself on their computers working out of the box, why do I even have to do that? I don't on my PC. It's analogous to why I ruled out buying a MBP - aside from the idiotic decision to seal in the batteries, they run too hot. I can get a Lenovo Thinkpad that can run cooler under load, and not have flash issues, so why bother?

    For all Apple's success, I don't think they are customer centric, or at least as much as they should. For what this new desktop will cost, I want to know that they take my voice seriously, even if I'm just one of millions. I still probably won't make a decision until I see the new pro's, provided it's sooner than later, but for now the slight advantage goes to HP.
  16. diazj3 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 19, 2008
    IMO, a Mini can give you a taste of OS X, but by no means it'll will give you a thorough experience to extrapolate it to a Mac Pro.

    I agree: flash is long from being replaced by HTML5. It's a shame Apple has started this pointless war against Adobe...

    You are right about this: there are strong questions/objections about how Apple has been tending to its Pro customers lately. Some say it's a new strategy - becoming a "mobile" business. Some say it's because its latest success in the consumer (and more profitable) market. Some say it's plain old arrogance. To Apple's defense, it's true no company would be "blessed" by tending to the Pro market exclusively - a bunch of nerds know-it-all who complain about everything and demand high end services while pressing for lower prices... but still... that's part of Apple's origins. And the competition doesn't do that good of a job at all either.

    Of course its easier to cater such consumer market - rich people who only want a slick computer to check emails, watch movies and store music and pictures... and perhaps write some stuff... while being tempted by marketing tricks, hip ads and cheap differentiation, raking in huge profits. But that's not practical in the long term - case in point: Microsoft. Apple's current success is because they went beyond and against that mind-set in form, function and quality. Some think that's going down the drain as Apple becomes too big, too fast.

    Either by accident, tech shortcomings or simple willingness, Apple's negligence for Flash is inexcusable. Flash is a reality, so any computer in such price range should run it smoothly. Jobs' quarrel with Adobe only speaks of a CEO that thinks he's gotten "too big for life", regardless of Adobe's faults. Hope they don't keep forgetting they're in the "making computers business", and don't believe what some fan-boys say (saw it in a few news and documentaries, as well as web-sites) "Steve is God" or " Steve knows what we need, even before we know it"... IMO, it's not his/their place to try dictate how we should run our computers, our phones and tablets, by excluding any base technology. It's a symbiotic environment in which Apple must do a better job adapting to. Such "imperial" attitude is what got me (and most switchers) out of the Microsoft/PC world in the first place.

    The Mac Pro is an outstanding machine, as X is an outstanding OS. Apple is an outstanding company, and offers an outstanding service. If you go this way, I assure you won't regret it. At least for the next 2-3 years. Hope Apple gets its Pro strategy together by then. As difficult as it may seem, also ANY company will be grateful to have such loyal Pro base to push its brand development and consumers forward.

  17. Infrared macrumors 68000


    Mar 28, 2007
    To an extent that is true - there are many things that Windows 7 does better
    than OS X. But the converse is also true. For example, I've found that a CPU
    intensive process under Windows can tend to monopolize the system's resources.
    Sometimes it can be impossible to switch to another process or switch back
    again (e.g., to cancel a task that is running out of control). Simply reading
    your email (not in itself that taxing) whilst something intense is running in
    the background can be painful under Windows. I think that's the sort of
    behaviour people are talking about when they refer to OS X's superior
    multitasking, and it's one of many areas where Apple's OS is, in my
    experience, superior. I won't list other areas because it would be a very
    long boring list!

    But the reality is, there are so many different aspects to an operating
    system, so many areas to compare, it's hard to come up with a definitive
    answer to the question of which OS is better. It all comes down to what your
    typical usage pattern is, etc. etc. I just happen to prefer OS X - whilst
    complaining a lot about its shortcomings! :) But it's not like either OS is
    absolutely awful.
  18. Max(IT) Suspended


    Dec 8, 2009
    Non sense.
    Can the Z800 runs Mac OSX or Mac OSX based applications? No, it can't.
    So your first choice should be based on applications you do need.
  19. Rsrchr123 thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 12, 2010
    It can run either if I do Boot Camp or Parallels. And that doesn't matter either because most of my software is available on a Mac. I'm really focused on processing power, reliability, and acoustics. I'll say that I prefer the feel of OS X but I'm not sure if that is enough to outweigh some of the cons associated with OS X.
  20. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    The Z600 and Z800 have even successfully been made into a hackintosh. The OS wouldn't be supported, but the hardware would be covered by its warranty.

    Just a thought, if you can deal with handling your own support in terms of software issues if they ever arise (methods have gotten to the point you may not have problems - it will depend on the exact hardware though).
  21. Pressure macrumors 68040


    May 30, 2006
    I just want to touch the ground here and state the following:

    USB 2.0 is hardly a pro connector by any means. All they are used for on my Mac Pro is the keyboard and mouse, which only uses one USB port. Everything else is either FireWire 800 / 400, Gigabit ethernet or eSATA.
  22. Max(IT) Suspended


    Dec 8, 2009
    Not entirely true, because you can run both only on a Mac Pro, using BootCamp or Parallel. But you can't run Mac OSX on a Z800 (please don't speak about hackintosh when speaking of professional machines ;) ).
    So I think your first decision should be based on the platform you want (you can say whatever you want but I can't live with Windows 7, even if it is the best Microsoft OS by far).
  23. Max(IT) Suspended


    Dec 8, 2009
    Absolutely true
  24. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    If it's in a corporate environment (support = IT staff), then I'm in full agreement. They'd want to string someone up for a stunt like that. :eek: :p

    But for an individual (which is the impression I have here), it's a possibility if they're willing to deal with the compromise of self support. That said, I still wouldn't bother if the system is being used to generate an income, as the downtime is too expensive if a major issue occurs (get behind on output and miss deadlines = pissed off clients = and loss of business due to unreliable reputation that's sure to follow).
  25. Rsrchr123 thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 12, 2010
    Didn't mean that I'd try to run OS X on the HP, only that the Pro could run either Parallels or Boot Camp. My communication mistake on that.

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