Question about Graphics Card and Hard Drives

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by AubreyL, Jan 13, 2008.

  1. AubreyL macrumors newbie

    Jul 10, 2007
    I did more reading just now and wish I had done more research before I bought. My Windows machine is just in such bad shape that I was waiting for the new Mac Pro to do an upgrade. I use a iMac at work so I am fairly literate in OS X but know little about the Mac Pro.

    I chose the stock out of the box $2799 Mac Pro. Now I'm seeing most people are talking about the NVidea 8800 card. I know there are a lot of card options, some even over $1000. I'm also not interested in having two video cards in my system but I see his is just $200. I know it has double the memory but what other reasons are people making this choice?

    For my use this is for home use but also for my fiancee who has a home office. It kind of will be a jack of all trades from the simple such as mail, ical, iwork (pages and numbers), some office 08 work such as Powerpoint, Word, and Excel, Safari browsing, etc. For the more intensive, I do a lot of work at home in ebooks such I'll be using Adobe CS3 (Acrobat, PhotoShop, inDesign, and sometimes Illustrator) and also I'm just starting to get into desktop video such as doing Final Cut Pro Studio. I do freelance work and am getting a HD Camcorder shortly so will be doing HiDef. Because of this I went with 8Gigs. My fiancee will use it also so frequently there will be 2 ID's logged on and also I'm a big multitasker switching data between programs, copying and pasting, etc. Now my fiancee is a gamer but he has his own Windows machine. He already wants bootcamp on here but honestly I always have programs open so prefer a solution like Parallels. The only game he really likes is flight simulators and he's looking at X-Plane for the Mac. Now that I've said what we use it for, would it be worth the extra $200 of the card or is that better spent elsewhere? I know I already ordered but even if I decide later can I simply add the 8800 card and can I just purchase anywhere or do I have to purchase from Apple?

    Now my other question is about Hard Drives. I also ordered the stock 320GB drive and was actually told I'm better off doing that because I can buy a lot of accessories that are better and cheaper elsewhere than Apple and my fiancee is willing to help with the upgrades. I actually want to go with two hard drives. I want to replace the 320GB with a 750GB-1TGB drive that is used as a system drive and then get a 2nd drive that is more like a data drive. I have looked at Maxtor a lot and heard they are good and actually heard I should stay away from Seagate but I'm hearing a lot now about Fujitsu and Western Digital and saw that even their Green Power drives are good. Any suggestions of a good hard drive?

    Once again I apologize for all the questions from a Mac Pro newbie. I appreciate any assistance with this.
  2. exspes macrumors member

    Jan 10, 2008
    I think the 8800 is for people who will be doing more than just video editing - if 3d modelling, compositing, and other special effects is something you do a lot, the card's for you. If you're just cutting video, I'm thinking you don't have to have it.

    For reference, I just bought the new MP too, but before I edited on a Thinkpad with an x300 with 64mb of ram. Running Avid/Premiere under Vista. And surprisingly? It was fine, even working with P2 footage off of an HVX. I mean, not amazing, but it was never impossible.

    So, you know, if you're just editing, and you don't really care about booting into windows and firing up Crysis, you don't have to have an 8800 and buying an extra 4gb of ram will maybe do better.

    On the other hand if you ever run into a ceiling, the 8800 is $350 sold separately.

    Hard drive wise, I don't see why you'd need a whole TB on a system drive, and I am always skeptical about HD's sporting so much data density. I would recommend an inexpensive 500gb hitachi for your system drive, or if you want performance, find a 10,000 rpm drive and make that your system drive. Then go for the 750/1tb for your data drives.
  3. Banacek macrumors 6502

    Jan 13, 2008
    I would recommend multiple smaller drives instead of one big one, just from personal experience. :)
  4. MrPDaddyHimself macrumors regular


    Jan 8, 2008
    So what would be wrong with 4 1-TB drives with a RAID card? Wouldn't that be just fine?
  5. exspes macrumors member

    Jan 10, 2008
    Well, RAID isn't magic. With 4 drives running RAID5, if 2 of your drives crap out at a time - you're still out of luck. Less probable, but still...

    I think that right now, since 1tb drives are so new people are skeptical. More data in the same physical volume means that it's much higher density, meaning that nobody knows how reliable they are through the years. It's not a "don't buy" recommendation, simply be weary.
  6. Firefly2002 macrumors 65816

    Jan 9, 2008
    Well, sure, 4x1TB drives would be fine.. but it might be more than she actually wants to pay. TB drives aren't particularly cheap as of right now.

    Anyway, a year or so ago I probably would have recommended the 74 or 150GB Raptor as a "System drive" and the largest drive you could find as a storage drive, but to be honest, unless you're running as a fileserver/workstation with a heavy I/O loud (doesn't sound like it...), the Raptors are no longer the fastest drives out there, despite the 10K RPM spindle speed.

    Looking here, Tom's Hardware charts show that the 1TB Samsung Spinpoint F1 seems to take top position in most every instance. And you were definitely right to buy the Mac Pro stock.. Apple charges outrageous prices for their RAM and their- well, actually everything. For example, last gen's FB-DIMM DDR2-667 was selling for about 5-6x more in some instances than could be found elsewhere. I'm sure that the similarly-overpriced DDR2-800 version of their RAM can also be found for a great deal less money.

    They also try selling 500 GB HDDs for, what? Is it $400 apiece or so? That's ridiculous.. they can be bought for $150 or less.

    Truth be told, the GeForce 8800GT is a great card, but it's a gaming card. I suppose it'll speed up things that take advantage of it in rendering applications and such (not Photoshop, nothing like that), but if you're really trying to do workstation tasks (3d-modelling), your best bet, I suppose, would be the $2K+ workstation card they offer. This isn't really because it's all that special, it's because vendors purposely cripple the drivers and tweak the cores of normal cards so they never achieve anywhere near their potential performance in 3D rendering (though of course they run fast as possible in games).

    The extra RAM really makes no difference unless you're running new games at very high resolution, which won't matter on a mid-range card like the 2600XT anyway, since it's already ill-equipped to handle those kind of games cranked up high.

    Personally, I'm running a very old mac.. a Beige G3 desktop, with an ATA/66 PCI card and three drives inside... a 40GB, a 100GB and a 120GB, running Tiger. Two are boot drive (OS X and OS 9) and the other... I suppose is a backup drive.

    Anyway, if you need more RAM, get it, but not from Apple, they charge way too much. As for those two drives... maybe check out that link and do what you think. And again, the video card you have right now is fine unless you're expecting to become a gamer soon.

    Sorry for the long post. I'm really, really bored. Hope this helps.. kinda too tired to read it over.
  7. irishgrizzly macrumors 65816


    May 15, 2006
  8. cokersa macrumors member

    Apr 13, 2007
    Kansas City
    Just a suggestion, but you could ask your fiance if he thinks he'd ever play a game like Crysis on your Mac Pro. If so, I'd suggest you go ahead and spent the extra $200 for the 8800GT - it would be a lot more expensive to buy it later (and you have to buy it from Apple; while there are PC-based 8800GT cards that will fit in the Mac Pro, it won't work - not unless you are into hacking the flash).

    Buy the smallest hard drive and memory you can get on the system, since you CAN buy both from third parties for much cheaper. And I agree with the sentiment that you don't need a large system drive, especially if you are going to put most of your data on a separate drive. I strongly recommend that you buy at least one additional drive that is big enough to store the data from your system/data drives. That way you can use Leopard's Time Machine to back up your data.

    As to which manufacturer to buy from, in my research I found someone to complain about everyone. So I just went with Western Digital, since they are reasonably priced. I have three additional WD drives. One is a boot disk for Vista (since I dual boot), and the other two are backup drives for Leopard and Vista, respectively. I bought my additional memory from Crucial.
  9. cokersa macrumors member

    Apr 13, 2007
    Kansas City
    Nothing, except it would be extremely expensive and unnecessary for what it sounded like the OP was going to use it for.

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