Questions about new MacPro I just bought...

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by DHart, Sep 19, 2008.

  1. DHart macrumors 6502


    Jan 17, 2008
    I need some help with a couple of things. I just bought a new Mac Pro with 8-core (2 - 2.8 GHz Quad Cores).

    It has 2 GB of memory. I heard I need to upgrade memory in matched pairs. Can I do anything with the 2 GB that the computer comes with? I'd like to get to 6 or 8 GB total memory.... what would be the best way to do this? OWC shows a variety of options (1 GB modules, 2 GB modules, etc.) but I don't know what to buy to be able to make use of the 2 GB that will be in my new MacPro. Do the Mac Pros come with one 2 GB module in one bay or two 1 GB modules in two bays? Suggestions on what to buy to work with what is in the computer?

    Are the Mac Pros noisy (fan wise)? I'm hoping not.

    I read that the drive bays can take up to 750 GB hard drives... so, will 1 GB drives not be fully accessible in the Mac Pro? (I have a 1 GB Seagate Barracuda I was planning to install in the Mac Pro).

    The computer comes with a ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT.... is this a decent graphics card for Photoshop use or will I be wanting to upgrade?

    I just ordered the computer from Mac Connection and it will arrive tomorrow... I'm so excited.... I've been wanting this for so long!

    Thanks for your advice. :apple:
  2. apfhex macrumors 68030


    Aug 8, 2006
    Northern California
    If it's like mine, Apple gave you 4x512 GB chips. For my 6GB I added 2x2 GB. 2 GB sticks from OWC were a better deal than other sizes.

    No, they're very quiet.

    That should work fine. If you look around here I think you'll find other MP owners who have done the same.

    That's fine for Photoshop and similar apps, which don't really take advantage of the graphics card much.
  3. sickmacdoc macrumors 68020


    Jun 14, 2008
    New Hampshire
    I go the same Mac Pro about two months ago, so I can say with confidence that it does come with 2 1Gb memory sticks stock. They are installed as 1 in carrier A and 1 in Carrier B.

    I purchased 4 2Gb sticks from OWC (make sure you get the 800Mhz variety, not the 667Mhz for the 1st gen Mac Pro BTW) for a total of 10Gb. I just followed the chart that came along with the memory, again paying attention to the 2nd gen. chart which varies from the 1st gen chart (although for the life of me I can't remember what the difference is at the moment). If I remember right, if you are going to 6Gb (using the 2Gb modules and your existing 1Gb modules) you will put the 2 2Gb modules in the first two slots of carrier A, and the 2 1Gb modules in the first two slots of carrier B.

    No, with the exception of a fan rampup for a couple of seconds when the machine is booted each time, the fans are close to silent.

    1Tb drives certainly do work fine in the 2nd gen that you got anyways- I can't answer for 1st gen. I have 3 1Tb Samsung F1 Spinpoints and 1 750Gb F1 in mine and all is working great.

    All I can say it that I have no complaints about the HD2600XT card in mine- used a LOT with Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Illustrator, etc. With the horsepower available in the 2.8 Mac Pro I have sure never felt that the video card has been any hindrance at all. I am quite happy with it.

    Anyhow, enjoy it- it is quite a treat to be able to run two copies of Toast for instance, each compressing and writing video independently to the two optical drives with such high compression speeds without bothering other stuff I am doing on the MP (I immediately took out the Pioneer 112 that came in mine and replaced it and added a second Pioneer 115- couldn't pass them up at < $30 each at!).
  4. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    HDD size isn't actually limited in the Mac Pro. Only the drive size available at the moment you buy it. 1.5TB drives are now available, so you can put 6TB of drive capacity total in the 4 drive bays. If you are willing to place HDD's in the optical bays, there is a kit available that can let you put in an additional 4 drives. :eek: Perhaps overkill for some, but only you can say for your needs. ;)

    The video card is also up to you. Some people might be quite happy with the XT2600, while others want something faster. Many have acquired or shown a great deal of interest in the 8800GT and the HD3870. Most anything else, with a hassle or two, can be installed, but is limited to windows only. :(
  5. DHart thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jan 17, 2008
    Cool.... having one or two 1 TB drives in the Pro will be fine for me!

    As for the speed of the XT2600... where does one notice the speed?

    • Does it affect how quickly folders open and close?
    • Does it affect how quickly long lists of file names in folders are drawn?
    • Does it affect how quickly the screen draws the image on a large Photoshop file?

    Would I really notice a speed difference in any of these three areas by upgrading the video card to something beefier? And if so, what would be the smartest buy in a video card for my use as a pro still-photographer?
  6. Chundles macrumors G4


    Jul 4, 2005
    1. No - that's the proc, HDD and RAM.

    2. No.

    3. Probably but not much.

    It's the 3D stuff, video rendering, core image heavy apps ie. NOT CS3 and that sort of stuff where the graphics card makes a difference.

    For 2D stuff the stock one is great.
  7. Fast Shadow macrumors 6502a

    Feb 9, 2004
    Hollywood, CA
    The 2600XT is decent but if you are a heavy user of core graphics (lots of Color, Motion, Aperture) you may find it wanting. Same goes for higher end games. If you decide to upgrade you should decide what you want to do and pick accordingly. The 3870 is faster in core graphics than the 8800GT, but the 8800GT is faster with most games - particularly under Windows.
  8. DHart thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jan 17, 2008
    No games or video work going on with my computers.... the most challenging apps I use are just a lot of (all day long):

    Photoshop CS3
    Lightroom 2.0
    iViewMedia Pro

    Are these considered "core" graphics apps?

    I also run the usual Safari, Mail, Excel, Word, iTunes, Dreamweaver
  9. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008

    You could try something really simple. Use the XT2600. A lot. As in load it with whatever you plan to throw at it. Then see if it can handle it. If so, you're done. :D

    If not, upgrade. Currently, for Core Image based apps, (non 3D stuff), you could upgrade to the HD3870. Or you could wait and see what else comes along.

    If you find you do need 3D apps, find a viable card. Though the 8800GT is slightly better than the HD3870 for 3D, it's not the best for Core Image, and doesn't have a nice balance. I'd recommend waiting, as the HD4870 has been announced for the Mac Pro. No date yet. :(
  10. nick9191 macrumors 68040

    Feb 17, 2008
    The 2600XT will be a great card. Under OS X ATI graphics drivers are more mature so you will see little performance difference between the two.
  11. DHart thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jan 17, 2008
    Yes, trying the XT2600 is a must as the computer will arrive today with that card in it. Sounds like it is assuredly so that it will meet my needs splendidly!
    I'm so excited to finally get a Mac Pro. (I've had dozens of Macs over the years since starting out with a 512 in 1985 or so!)

    I was so close to buying a 3.06 iMac 24" but the persistent screen issues steered me to an NEC LCD2490WUXi (24" IPS panel). Now the MacPro will drive my new 24" NEC. (Awesome monitor, BTW.)

    Here's another workstation (which will now become secondary) that I have set-up in my studio: (I must say that this MacBook set-up has truly performed remarkably well as a Photoshop editing and general purpose workstation.... but I can't wait to see how much zippier the MacPro is going to be!)

  12. DHart thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jan 17, 2008
    I got the MacPro today. Sure was a breeze popping in the 1 TB Seagate drive. Installing the Wi-Fi card was a bit tricky, but with some guidance from an online tutorial, I got it done in about 10 minutes.

    Everything is functioning perfectly.

    Have done some Photoshop CS3 editing and have found that my 2.2 GHz MacBook (driving a premium 24" monitor) was more potent for PS work than I thought it was. The MacPro isn't really much more noticibly fast.

    I do have 4 GB of RAM in the MacBook and only 2 GB of RAM in the MacPro, so when my additional 8 GB of RAM arrives (bringing the Pro to 10 GB) I may see a little more sprightly performance. But that probably won't speed up filters much.

    I am surprised that I am not seeing significantly more zippy performance with the MacPro... I probably had inflated expectations. I suppose if I was doing super CPU intensive apps, I would see greater difference, but for all standard apps (Mail, Safari, Excel, Word, Photoshop, Lightroom, iTunes, etc.) the 2.2GHz MacBook does a remarkably sprightly job compared to the "big dog" Mac Pro (nearly equal!). And the modest MacBook 2.2 GHz C2D performs Photoshop quite admirably compared to the MacPro 8-core. I definitely had inflated expectations for the mighty 8-core Pro that were brought back to reality today. 4-cores would have been just as effective for me.

    All in all, I'm very happy with the 8-core MP and down the road will probably be glad I got the 8-core, but must say that for the apps that I use as a pro photographer and general computer user, I think I would have been equally pleased with a 24" iMac 3.06 C2D... if I got a good display that is. ;-)
  13. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    The RAM may help a little, but the apps are designed for a single thread. Snow Leopard will help this issue, but likely won't be fully resolved until the app developers manage to create versions that use multiple cores. :(
  14. Fast Shadow macrumors 6502a

    Feb 9, 2004
    Hollywood, CA
  15. zer0tails macrumors 65816


    Mar 23, 2008
    Congrats on the new mac pro :) I'm ordering the same one in a day or two and hope I'll have as good an experience as yours.
  16. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea

    Congratulations! You will come to really enjoy the Mac Pro. I've recently upgraded to one very similar to yours as well. I am no Apple expert, but I learn a lot from these forums. I may be wrong (others can correct me, please) but what I have come to understand (though I have not done any benchmarking) is:

    • Depending on your file sizes, the extra ram may make a big difference. PS uses several times more ram per image than the actual image. Right now, with only 2 GB of ram you are likely using your scratch file.
    • Change your scratch disk (PS preferences) to the fastest, least used disk (you probably already know this).
    • For PhotoShop work your ATI card is fine. All those "speed" gains you want are CPU dependent, or constrained by how fast the system can read/write to virtual memory (see above).
    • Eight cores won't help you do any one thing faster. Most applications only take advantage of one core at a time, so an application using one core of your MacBook is almost as fast as using one core of your MacPro. However, 8 cores means you can open 8 applications, and they will each use one core (theoritically at least). To see the difference between the MB and MP, open up several CPU intensive applications. The MP should barely slow down.

    Hmmm - I just had a thought, I wonder if I can open up more than one instance of PS, and have each instance use one core..... I'll have to check.

    Good Luck. I think you'll see an improvement with the extra ram. Remember to multitask to take advantage of the 8 cores.
  17. Fast Shadow macrumors 6502a

    Feb 9, 2004
    Hollywood, CA
    Keep in mind that Photoshop is also not nearly as optimized for Intel Macs as it should be, let alone multi core Intel Macs. Also, OSX itself is in need of optimization. That's a big part of what Snow Leopard is going to be about, according to Apple at least.
  18. DHart thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jan 17, 2008
    I typically have at least eight or nine apps open simultaneously:

    Photoshop CS3
    Lightroom 2
    Safari (with multiple windows)

    And often open:
    Photomatix Pro

    in addition to my staple apps shown above.

    I would expect that the MacPro with 10 GB of RAM should be snappier with all of this than my MacBook with 4 GB. But remarkably, the MacBook 2.2 GHz with 4 GB of RAM handles all of this reasonably well (well, except for the noisy fan kicking in during PS3 use, which bugged the heck out of me!) Next month's MacBook refresh should bring in some super capable machines.

    Hoping that with Snow Leopard and PS4 for the Mac, the MacPro 8-core will really come into it's own for me. I certainly don't regret buying it now because it does offer great benefits (4 drive bays which I'm using, uber RAM capacity which I'll take to 10 GB, and independence from a "built-in" monitor), but today, unfortunately, the bad boy 8-core processor doesn't seem to offer that much more than a 2.8 or 3.06 C2D iMac or 2.4 MacBook for the 2D user.
  19. brendon2020 macrumors 6502

    Jul 14, 2007
    have a mac pro at work (same as yours) and the previous gen at home and both are very quiet.
  20. Fast Shadow macrumors 6502a

    Feb 9, 2004
    Hollywood, CA
    For anyone who's interested in a wi-fi retrofit into the Mac Pro, the Apple Store charges about $75 including the part and labor.
  21. DHart thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jan 17, 2008
    MacPro two 2.8 GHz Quad Cores (8-core) was $2599 and wi-fi card was $49. I got both from MacConnection. $56 for next day delivery. No sales tax. 8 GB of memory from OtherWorld for $256.

    Installing the wi-fi card is a little tricky, but with help from this page, it's no problem:

    (Be sure to connect the two antenna wires BEFORE you insert the card into it's slot.) A pair of surgical forceps (gauze clamps with fine point) was helpful in getting to the antenna wires.
  22. Michael73 macrumors 65816

    Feb 27, 2007
    I was helping my father with a new website. He had 15 minutes of raw video footage he want to compress and put on the website. Using his friend's macbook it took around 5 hours to compress. Using my MP and Handbrake (a multi-core optimized app) I did the same 2-pass encode in about 7 minutes.

    AND, it appears that with today's launch of CS4 there is some PS is going to take advantage of GPU accelerated graphics.

    The MP you got hasn't even come into it's own yet...
  23. DHart thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jan 17, 2008
    Yes. I know it will just get better and better over time.
  24. fredr500 macrumors regular

    Apr 12, 2007
    RAM disk?

    With 10GB of RAM and CS3 only using 3GB, would he be better off setting up a 3-4GB RAM disk for the scratch files?

    Unless he's running a lot of apps much of that memory is going to sit there just generating heat....

    I'm thinking of going from 5GB to 9GB on my first gen 2.6Ghx pro just for that reason, especially with 4GB at $100 now.

  25. DHart thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jan 17, 2008
    No need for a RAM Disk with OS 10.5 or later, the OS automatically spills Photoshop's needs to available ram before going to the scratch disk (hard drive). If you have 6 or more GB of RAM, set PS Performance to 100% (3 GB) and let the OS use the extra RAM.

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