Questions regarding a Mac Pro setup (Got the Mac Pro!)

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by iBookG4user, Feb 19, 2011.

  1. iBookG4user, Feb 19, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2011

    iBookG4user macrumors 604

    iBookG4user

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2006
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    #1
    I'm looking to finally get a decent setup that will last me for a few years. My MacBook Pro just isn't cutting it anymore and there has always been a deep desire for me to own a Mac Pro. My budget is just around $5,600 for everything after taxes, shipping, etc. I'm going to be using it a lot for photography (Lightroom 3 and Photoshop CS5), some video editing down the line and gaming among other things. I'm looking for the fastest machine in my price range.

    Here's what I've come up with for the Apple configuration:
    Two 2.4GHz Quad Core
    6GB RAM
    1TB HDD
    ATI Radeon 5870
    SuperDrive
    total = $4,184.65 after tax

    Ordering from Newegg:
    3x OCZ Vertex 2 60GB
    3x Icy Dock
    APC BE450G 450 VA 257 Watts battery backup
    2x Acer G235HAbd 23'' monitors
    total = $788.34

    Ordering from OWC:
    32GB (8x4GB) RAM
    total = $597.13

    Grand total = $5570.12

    I'd put the three SSDs in a software RAID 0 and use that as my boot drive and then the 1TB as my storage drive. It probably not be an absolute need, but I'd really like to have 32GB of RAM. The graphics card was a no-brainer, as for the monitors, I was running out of money a tad, so I might have skimped a little bit. But I do have a 24" monitor currently, so it should be a decent three monitor setup :)

    My thought on the hex core vs. the eight core: The hex core would mean a $200 initial price jump over the eight core and I would lose four RAM slots which would mean that the RAM would cost $500 more. So that would be a total of $700 more and unfortunately it would push it out of my price range. (I'm rather set on 32GB of RAM, it's probably a psychological thing, but when I'm spending this much money I think 32 is a good number)

    Is there anything that is missing or I should change from my setup? I was reading up a bit on a hardware RAID 0 vs. a software RAID 0, but with an 8 core Mac Pro, there shouldn't be that much speed difference between the two, correct? Or would a hardware RAID be more beneficial?
     
  2. mdgm macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2010
    #2
    Hexacore would be better, but if your budget doesn't permit then go for the 8-core.
    The Apple Hardware RAID controller only works with mechanical hard drives so don't get it. Use Software RAID with your SSDs
     
  3. iBookG4user, Feb 19, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2011

    iBookG4user thread starter macrumors 604

    iBookG4user

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2006
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    #3
    If the hex core had eight RAM slots I would go for it, but considering it doesn't, unfortunately that puts it out of my price range to get my desired configuration.

    And yeah, I've heard that about the Apple RAID controller, I've also heard bad things about it in general, I was thinking about one of the alternatives like a rocketraid card.
     
  4. jenzjen macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2010
    #4
    Pick up your machine from the refurbished store to give you more cash for other stuff.
     
  5. iBookG4user thread starter macrumors 604

    iBookG4user

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    Location:
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    #5
    What else do you think I should get for it? :)
     
  6. MattDSLR macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2011
    Location:
    Canada
    #6
    Thats a good combo
    it will work well for you.
    Ram is a good choice
    drives I would go with two 120 gigs SSD if you can
    5770 is a great card and it will do just fine, spend your money on larger SSD
     
  7. johnnymg macrumors 65816

    johnnymg

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2008
    #7
    I would highly recommend using a single 120 GB SSD for your boot drive and 1-2 60 GB SSD's for scratch/temp. RAID 0 for boot is just asking for trouble. JMO~~~~~~ :p

    Also, save your $'s and stick with the 5770. No need for more power for what you are going to use the machine for.

    Superbiiz will save you another $200 on the RAM also. Using superbiiz sourced 1333's in my MP and they work great!

    cheers
    JohnG
     
  8. toxic macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2008
    #8
    do you really need 32GB of RAM? it's cheaper at TransIntl, btw. cheaper still if you buy non-ECC RAM.
     
  9. iBookG4user thread starter macrumors 604

    iBookG4user

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2006
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    #9
    Why would you go with two 120GB SSDs over three 60GB? Wouldn't there be more of a speed increase with using three SSDs over two SSDs? I currently have a single 100GB SSD as my boot drive in my MacBook Pro and use that as my boot drive and haven't managed to fill that up. So having 180GB as the total storage amount would be fine, I would think.

    My MacBook Pro I have set up with a 100GB SSD as boot and 500GB as storage. I have ~20% left available on the SSD whilst only 5% left on the 500GB. As I have my photos and videos stored on my HDD rather than the SSD.

    I think perhaps initially I'll keep my setup with the 3 SSD RAID as boot, but the first time it gives me issues I'll sell one of the 60GB SSDs and get a 120GB. Then I'll go with the setup that you recommended, but dang 600+MB/sec reads and writes are enticing!

    Are you sure? I will be gaming with it and read that there is a very noticeable difference between the two cards? Plus with Photoshop CS5 you can use the graphics card in conjunction with the processor, which would be helpful for creating HDRs and panoramas.

    Thanks for the tip on superbiiz! That'll save me $120 :D
    Do you happen to know where they ship from?

    Probably not, but when I'm spending over $5000 on a computer, do I want 32GB of RAM, that answer would be yes :p

    Is there a large downside to using non-ECC RAM over ECC RAM? I saw that the poster above recommended Superbiiz, which brought the price down about $120 for me.
     
  10. Umbongo macrumors 601

    Umbongo

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2006
    Location:
    England
    #10
    This is a mistake. You're going from a Macbook Pro that just isn't cutting it any more, have you used a system with 8GB, 12GB or 16GB? You are not likely to benefit much from 32GB of memory - very few users can. You should want the fastest CPU power you can get, this is where the biggest performance gains will come from.
     
  11. rmitchell248 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2010
    Location:
    Liebsthal, Germany
    #11
    the 3.33 hex core with 16gb ram would make that 2.4 8 core that your puting together feel like your macbook pro in photoshop or lightroom.


    Dont get caught up in ram and cores... you need fast processor speed and decent ram. CS5 will use 8GB on my machine as normal when working on several images and LR3 uses about 5 gb ram, I use 21 megapixel raw files and am yet to have needed more. I have not maxed out with 16gb and both programs running while using other apps in the background such as mail or surfing the web.

    Another thing is that CS5 and LR3 will not even use all of the cores that your 2.4 8 core machine will have. Essentially you will probably use 2 of your 2.4 GHZ cores vs the chance to use 2 of your 3.33 cores.

    Get the 6 core for 200 more

    get 16 GB ram for 300 less and save a hundred bucks and you will have a much better machine and save 100 dollars.
     
  12. DeeEss macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2011
    #12
    I think this is good advice.

    Though I'm of the belief that if you need the RAM you get it. I have 24GB and could benefit at times from 32. RAM does make a big difference.

    As far as RAM slots goes, I wouldn't stress about it too much. 16GB and larger sticks are already here and/or on their way so future upgradability is still viable.

    The 2010 Mac Pro's also work best in triple channel matched sets, which is why I went for 3x 8GB. The price difference will cover the step up to the 6 Core. At a later date when needed i'll step up to 16GB sticks.

    3 SSD's in RAID 0 is great. You are at the max potential of what the Mac Pro can offer here.
     
  13. Transporteur macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #13
    The following system would be much wiser for your needs:

    3.33GHz hex core
    120GB SSD for boot
    2 x 40GB SSD in RAID 0 for scratch.
    24GB RAM (3x8)
    1000VA+ UPS (450VA definitely is not enough for the Pro)

    And my strongest recommendation: do NOT buy those cheap TN displays! There is no doubt that they will look like crap. You can get much better displays for not much more. If you're serious about your work, get PVA or IPS panels!
     
  14. gpzjock macrumors 6502a

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  15. iBookG4user thread starter macrumors 604

    iBookG4user

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2006
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    #15
    My MacBook Pro has 8GB of RAM right now and I am at the limit of the RAM constantly when using it. Right now I have 120MB free and 500,000 Page outs to 1,000,000 Page ins. That was why I was a bit gun shy at getting just 16GB of RAM (And having half the RAM slots doesn't seem like a good thing). Considering that with the Mac Pro I'll likely leave Lightroom open all the time rather than just when I need to use it right now and perhaps even have photoshop open all the time.

    Hmmm, if I do go for the hex core I'll have to go with 8GB RAM sticks. Man, there are so many decisions to make, I just wish that budget wasn't starting to become this much of a concern. At this point I think I'm definitely going to stick with the 3 SSD RAID 0, I'll switch to something more "safe" if it ever becomes a problem.

    I took your word on the UPS and swapped that out with a 1000va 600 watt unit. And I'm really considering a better display, the problem is that I'm running out of budget at this point. The hex core is a strong consideration vs the eight core.

    Thanks for the tip! That looks like an awesome monitor, I'll have to see if I can fit it into the budget :)


    At this point this is the setup that I would be getting, although I'm at the absolute maximum of my budget. Any additions to this would have to make subtractions elsewhere to equalize the cost:

    From Apple:
    One 3.33GHz 6-Core Intel Xeon “Westmere”
    3GB (3x1GB)
    1TB 7200-rpm Serial ATA 3Gb/s hard drive
    ATI Radeon HD 5870 1GB
    One 18x SuperDrive
    (Plus wireless keyboard and mini-displayport to DVI adapter and printer)
    total = $4402.15

    From Superbiiz:
    3x8GB Hynix DDR3 1333 ECC
    total = $577.77

    From Newegg:
    3x Icy Dock
    3x OCZ Vertex 2 SSD 60GB
    2x Acer G235HAbd 23''
    1x CyberPower CP1000AVRLCD 1000VA 600 Watt UPS
    total = $855.45

    Grand total = $5,835.37

    I checked my finances and managed to squeeze another $250 in for the computer budget, but that's all that I could manage. I couldn't fit an IPS monitor into the budget or 32GB of RAM, unfortunately. But they'll probably get added on in a few months, as my technology budget will be a bit exhausted after this :p
     
  16. rmitchell248 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2010
    Location:
    Liebsthal, Germany
    #16
    I am with you that if you need ram get it, but with what the op is saying he will use the computer für, i think 32gb will be overkill especially when he is on a budget. he even admitted that 32 is just a big number stuck in his head and he has no basis für needing it.


     
  17. iBookG4user thread starter macrumors 604

    iBookG4user

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    #17
    There is a basis for needing it, I just hadn't explained it properly before. My MacBook Pro has 8GB of RAM right now and I am constantly getting page outs due to lack of RAM.

     
  18. rmitchell248, Feb 20, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2011

    rmitchell248 macrumors 6502

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    #18
  19. rmitchell248 macrumors 6502

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    #19
    I suppose it depends on what more you plan to do. I generally have many photos is cs5 open at a time and lr3 loaded up and can't seem to use more than 11gb at a time the most has been 12.5 when ripping handbreak, cs5 open with 10 many layer photos and lr3 open. If you had 8 gb maxes out before 10 may be all you need to satisfy the systems needs but how could you know? I Suppose it's just a guess! I personally went 16 in the same debate as you. When 8 gb sticks come down in price I can always upgrade later If my system needs justify it.
     
  20. Waragainstsleep macrumors regular

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    Oct 15, 2003
    Location:
    UK
    #20
    I also think the RAM is a mistake. You claim you want it to last you a few years and you will get more out of it for longer if you go for the CPU. I say this because adding better CPUs later is going to cost way more than adding more RAM and as others have mentioned, I suspect you don't need 32GB RAM, especially if you think 100GB boot drive is more than adequate. Who needs to load half their drive into RAM?
     
  21. toxic macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2008
    #21
    RAM prices will only go down, so buy what you need now and upgrade later.

    if you aren't running a server or a computer farm, there is no advantage to using ECC RAM.

    just because you're paging out doesn't mean you're running out of memory. I doubt you'll need more than 16GB.
     
  22. dyn macrumors 68030

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    Aug 8, 2009
    Location:
    .nl
    #22
    I have to advise against the 3 ssd's in RAID0. The ssd's are small (60GB) and will get filled easily. A filled ssd will have performance issues so you need things like garbage collection and/or TRIM. OS X and RAID setups do not currently support TRIM leaving you with garbage collection. And this is a problem. Most garbage collection implementations require you to leave the machine (or rather the ssd) idle for some time. The garbage collection will be triggered and it will clean up the ssd. Unfortunately idling disks in a RAID setup is rather difficult or even impossible. There are simply too many read and writes to the disks. RAID setups with ssd's are more prone to performance issues than a single ssd. Using smaller ssd's will make things worse.

    Then there is another problem with ssd's or rather with RAID controllers, not every RAID controller works with ssd's. There are controllers that give a lot of problems when used with ssd's instead of hdd's.

    Using RAID for your boot drive is rather silly since RAID controllers will take quite a lot of time to start up. It can add several minutes to the boot process. A single disk (hdd even!) system boots up faster. RAID has the advantage when you're working with large files, booting and starting applications is about small files. Ssd's are very good at small files and iops. This makes the use of just a single ssd more logical than 3 ssd's in RAID0. Ssd's are also good with large files but using them in RAID can increase its speed in this area. That's just about the only thing why you'd want RAID. Because it's all about large files ssd's are not a very good option. Yes, they are fast but they are also very costly when you look at diskspace. Hdd's are a better option in this regard.

    Moral of the story: it's about finding a certain balance in your system. Using a single ssd as the bootdrive and some hdd's in RAID0 as scratch disk brings you a better balance on performance and cost than the suggested 3* 60GB ssd's in RAID0.
     
  23. DocNo macrumors member

    DocNo

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    Feb 20, 2011
    #23
    Well, since it's all but impractical to add RAM slots later, and by having more slots you can start out with cheaper modules now and move to higher capacity modules after they (hopefully) drop in price later, I would forgo some of the other upgrades like the three SSD Drives in RAID and instead get the two CPU system. You can always add the rest of the stuff in your configuration later. The memory slots - not so easily. You might also take a slight performance hit if you have to bump down some MHz in the CPUs since even today not all software takes the best use of multiple cores - but that's changing as companies get more experience with mutli-core programming and optimization.

    Finally, there is no real advantage to RAIDing SSD's together - at least with the stock Apple SATA controllers. The Mercury Extreme drives from macsales.com will saturate your SATA controller as it is. Other than the convenience of having a larger drive from multiple small ones, I wouldn't bother. I picked up a 120GB SATA from macsales.com and it's big enough for my OS and my Aperture libraries. With Aperture 3 dramatically increasing the ease of managing referenced files, I now reference my RAW files on an internal RAID 0 array. Everything is backed up on TimeMachine as well as BackBlaze.com. Simply putting the Aperture library on the SSD made the largest speed gain. The machine boots a little faster than the stock 500GB SATA drive my machine came with, but with Aperture (which will fragment the heck out of it's database and thumbnail files) the SSD is night and day.

    I know there are benchmarks out there that show RAIDing SSDs makes a significant difference, but honestly in the real world on friends who have done it I didn't see a real difference. Even with Aperture and it's very performance sensitive database files! And again, you can always do it later if it does make sense.

    I would maximize my RAM potential before doing anything else...
     
  24. DocNo, Feb 20, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2011

    DocNo macrumors member

    DocNo

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    Feb 20, 2011
    #24
    Sure there is - the more RAM you have, the higher the odds you will experience a bit error. Having a machine recover gracefully vs. kernel panic seems like valuable functionality to me. Especially if I'm making my living with the computer.

    Either way, all the memory has to match and I believe that's all Apple ships in the Mac Pros.

    On a Mac it does. Very easy to see with Activity Monitor. Unlike Windows, Mac OSX does not just page for the heck of it.

    My Nehalem Mac Pro came with 6GB (a killer deal - a $99 upgrade to get to 6GB when I bought it) and last year I scored some used 2GB memory modules from macsales.com for a little under $200 - filled all my slots and now I have 16GB (you can never have enough memory slots!). I've yet to bump above that with Aperture. I haven't started playing with Final Cut Pro much yet, so I don't know if more would be better.

    I also don't think I am booting in 64bit mode, which I need to double check - that could also be holding back some memory utilization. After reading some other threads in here comments about booting into 64 bit mode caused me a forehead slapping moment :p
     
  25. toxic macrumors 68000

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    Nov 9, 2008
    #25
    and how many panics have you had from bit errors?

    if you mean "match" as in match the type, the OP wasn't intending to use the stock 1GB DIMMs anyway.

    yes, it does. if you go by page outs, you'll be chasing 64GB of memory over nothing.

    the only advantage of 64-bit mode is being able to use more than 32GB of memory.
     

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