Purchasing 36 i7 iMacs (Help me configure a $300,000 lab)

rmbrown09

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jan 25, 2010
942
0
Seattle
Ok, so I work at a video production studio, we also teach things like After Effects and Final Cut here besides film editing.

We received a rather large grant and are now able to purchase a $300,000 dollar computer lab.

I am one of the major players in deciding what is used where in this lab, but I was wondering what you guys think.

we budgeted for 36 imacs, at $2200 a pop. What do you think would be the best setup?(Ram amounts, HD space, processor; what do you think is the most important for that price) (only the 27")

We are also purchasing 10 more MBP's at $2300 a pop. I am trying to convince them to hold on purchasing those as long as possible.

Other things in the lab
Smart Board
New Furniture
36 copies of Creative Suite (waiting till Cs5 to purchase)
36 copies of Windows 7 to run bootcamp
36 copies of Final Cut Express
Some Big freaking Network drives

2 Mac Pros at $8000 a piece.

Green Screen wall
Sound Booth
 

JacaByte

macrumors 6502
Dec 26, 2009
315
0
I would favor RAM and processor speed above hard drive capacity; since you're going to have network drives you can use them for storing really large files, that way all you'll need the local HDDs for is storing application data and software. (not video/image files) 320 GB should be plenty, I'd say, depending on what all you're going on put on there. Do some math, figure out how much space you're going to need and factor in future growth.
 

rmbrown09

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jan 25, 2010
942
0
Seattle
I would favor RAM and processor speed above hard drive capacity; since you're going to have network drives you can use them for storing really large files, that way all you'll need the local HDDs for is storing application data and software. (not video/image files) 320 GB should be plenty, I'd say, depending on what all you're going on put on there. Do some math, figure out how much space you're going to need and factor in future growth.
hmm, that's true, I figure we are going to need a ton of HD space.
We shoot mainly in 720 with our cameras, big events 1080.
Couple minutes of captured 1080 is over a gigabyte.
 

PAC88

macrumors 6502
Apr 23, 2009
457
0
what about a couple of those xserve things, stack them up on a rack.. I always thought they looked real cool and its expandable to 48gb of memory and 6tb hd. then you can still have some mbp's & mac pros sitting around
unless you need all the ports and crap from each imac
 

Gorilla Power

macrumors 6502
Mar 19, 2010
478
0
$300,000 that's frakking insane !! :eek: :eek:

Why 2 Mac Pros and the rest iMacs ? And do you need exactly 36 units or will lesser units suffice ?
 

kedruff

macrumors newbie
Jul 6, 2009
17
0
what about a couple of those xserve things, stack them up on a rack.. I always thought they looked real cool and its expandable to 48gb of memory and 6tb hd. then you can still have some mbp's & mac pros sitting around
unless you need all the ports and crap from each imac
I have to agree with this. Get some centralized storage rather than storage on the local machines. If you have the ability, I would buy rackmount servers with as much storage as possible and cluster them. You can run Linux as your operating system to save money on the OS.

You can also take a look at the new Drobo just announced. A DroboFS and 10TB of storage is $1,499.
 

Redbookpro

macrumors newbie
Feb 9, 2010
19
0
Networking equipment? Will a Switch and or load balancer or other networking equipment be included by some other group? With the connectivity to the network drives, you will want some good switch gear to connect everything at gigabit speeds.
 

reallynotnick

macrumors 6502a
Oct 21, 2005
860
268
Add an additional 4GB of RAM yourself for a total of 8GB as it is cheaper. You can't really replace the 1TB HDD in the iMac yourself but for over $200 to go from a 1TB HDD to a 2TB HDD is really expensive but it might be nice.

I'm kind of confused on what help you exactly want as it seems you already have everything budgeted out, what exactly are we playing with?
 

alphaod

macrumors Core
Feb 9, 2008
22,047
1,104
NYC
I would consider getting an XSan storage network. That way you can centralize your storage and not have to worry about swapping out internal drives and such. For machines, Mac Pros may be a better choice for the expandability. Combo those with the new Dell 27" display and that would be a killer combination.

If you're really going to use 27" iMacs, the i7 processor and 8GB of RAM would be the way to go. Of course as usual, don't buy RAM directly from Apple; you can buy 8GB RAM kits from OWC; I'm sure they can give you better pricing if you buy 36 sets of 2x2GB RAM kits. So that means you get the 4GB (2x2GB) default from Apple and then buy another 4GB (2x2GB) kit elsewhere. Drives again, you don't really need a lot of internal storage because networked storage would be easier to maintain.

As with those $8000 Mac Pro desktops, I don't really know why you need those? Are they for rendering? Sure for one job at a time, they would work fine, but maybe consider using Qmaster to enable cluster rendering of your video projects.

For the software, I know Adobe offers site licenses for their products for educational use (assuming your lab is for education seeing you received a grant); and Apple definitely offers a volume solution for Final Cut. I recalled I was able to buy Final Cut Studio for $250 as an educator discount (not academic).

Overall good luck.

FYI: I have not used Xgrid or Xsan. Qmaster I'm working on learning to distribute the rendering, but again I'm no expert on it. I've know folks that used those solutions and they work for them, but again my suggestions are simply that.

IMO: If the SmartBoard is what I'm thinking, I recall my school installed when I was attending and it was never put into good use and was a waste of good money.
 

Gabriel GR

macrumors 6502a
Jul 12, 2009
716
1
Athens, Greece
Some centralized storage with redundancy. Either in the form of Storage Servers or a Fibre Channel Storage unit and a couple of of FC cards for the Mac Pros.

Gigabit switching.

A lot of RAM (not from Apple).

and of course, Warranty.

For the Mac Pro's, it might be worth waiting for the dual 6-core machines. For your kind of work it will make a lot of difference.
 

Sir Cecil

macrumors 6502a
Mar 31, 2008
793
0
I hope this company doesn't have shareholders. If I was one, I'd be rather concerned that the person playing a prime role in setting up $300,000-worth of computers has turned for advice to a public forum where the main topic of the moment is how to fit an iPad in a school bag.
 

Matthew Yohe

macrumors 68020
Oct 12, 2006
2,198
129
Ok, so I work at a video production studio, we also teach things like After Effects and Final Cut here besides film editing.

We received a rather large grant and are now able to purchase a $300,000 dollar computer lab.

I am one of the major players in deciding what is used where in this lab, but I was wondering what you guys think.

we budgeted for 36 imacs, at $2200 a pop. What do you think would be the best setup?(Ram amounts, HD space, processor; what do you think is the most important for that price) (only the 27")

We are also purchasing 10 more MBP's at $2300 a pop. I am trying to convince them to hold on purchasing those as long as possible.

Other things in the lab
Smart Board
New Furniture
36 copies of Creative Suite (waiting till Cs5 to purchase)
36 copies of Windows 7 to run bootcamp
36 copies of Final Cut Express
Some Big freaking Network drives

2 Mac Pros at $8000 a piece.

Green Screen wall
Sound Booth

Oof. How do you plan to manage these systems? Are you sure you want to manage these systems with both OS X and Windows 7? That really becomes a pain.

Do you currently have a domain environment? Or how do you handle logins etc...

At least purchase Apple Remote Desktop.
 

Matthew Yohe

macrumors 68020
Oct 12, 2006
2,198
129
Also, have you spoken with an Apple rep yet? They surely will be able to give you a break on some of this stuff considering how much you're spending.
 

Kirbdog

macrumors regular
Helping to spend other peoples money is my favorite.

You seem to know what you are after in terms of machines. I would look at the back end, switches and network storage. As this sounds like a school, your network gear will need to fall in line as to what is already in use. (ie. Cisco or HP usually) This is were I see so many people drop the ball.
 

o2xygen

macrumors regular
Jan 25, 2009
141
0
Id pay someone to do this for you, its not just buying a ton of computers, plugging them in and viola instant mac lab.
 

itommyboy

macrumors 6502a
Feb 26, 2009
568
0
Titletown USA
You are in charge of dropping over a quarter of a million dollars on a lab setup and your on MR asking what to order and if RAM is better than more HD space? :rolleyes: I can see your boss/co-workers rolling across this post now.... /facepalm
 

richard779

macrumors newbie
Jan 27, 2009
17
0
Sydney
Ok, so I work at a video production studio, we also teach things like After Effects and Final Cut here besides film editing.

We received a rather large grant and are now able to purchase a $300,000 dollar computer lab.

I am one of the major players in deciding what is used where in this lab, but I was wondering what you guys think.

we budgeted for 36 imacs, at $2200 a pop. What do you think would be the best setup?(Ram amounts, HD space, processor; what do you think is the most important for that price) (only the 27")

We are also purchasing 10 more MBP's at $2300 a pop. I am trying to convince them to hold on purchasing those as long as possible.

Other things in the lab
Smart Board
New Furniture
36 copies of Creative Suite (waiting till Cs5 to purchase)
36 copies of Windows 7 to run bootcamp
36 copies of Final Cut Express
Some Big freaking Network drives

2 Mac Pros at $8000 a piece.

Green Screen wall
Sound Booth
Hey mate, I am very keen to help you to organise the macs and also help you to do the setup and also your SOE if you are keen please get intouch with me :)
 

spcdust

macrumors 6502a
May 6, 2008
970
0
London, UK
You are in charge of dropping over a quarter of a million dollars on a lab setup and your on MR asking what to order and if RAM is better than more HD space? :rolleyes: I can see your boss/co-workers rolling across this post now.... /facepalm
I'm inclined to agree, look into employing a specialist company to design and install this lab - a little bit of a spend at this stage could save you a packet in the long term. Also, with that much of a spend get in touch with Apple as a good discount will be a real possibility.