rumblings from the earth...

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by fredoviola, Aug 28, 2012.

  1. fredoviola macrumors regular

    Oct 20, 2008
    Hi there, folks

    I'm an audio visual artist and have been a Mac user for at least 20 years. Definitely throughout my career I've worked off Macs. My first 3 Macs were towers. I preferred towers because generally the options were greater, you could add better graphics cards and memory. The peripheral support was more robust and stabile. Then about 4 years ago I signed with a label and had to go on the road. Obviously I couldn't take a Mac Pro with me. Actually, what I'd been using was the dual 2Gig G5 but it was time for a new computer and I ended up getting two new laptops which I used on the road and in the studio.

    My experience of the MacBook Pro is that it's a very well made computer with some definite weakness, and I would assume these weaknesses are universal to Laptops of any make. The problem I have had is that, for one thing, I can't install more than 8 gb of memory. I am aiming on a minimum of 32 gbs. The other major drawback is the firewire barely supports 3 external devices being connected at once, and there's only one input. That's a big problem for me, as my analog to digital convertor is firewire based as well, so I end up having to daisy-chain that with a maximum of two external firewire drives. I find if I try to add a third it may work... it may not...

    Anyway, like so many other professional users I was waiting for the new Mac Pro and was prepared to drop some major cash and make a solid investment on a new computer. I was extremely disappointed that there was no new Mac Pro. The update was very weak indeed, and there is still no Thunderbolt or USB3 support. To invest in one of these updated models would obviously be a big mistake. But I can't wait until the end of next year to buy a new computer. My laptops have started showing their age, and my projects have gotten more taxing as camera resolutions get bigger.

    So here's my question: what should I invest in? I have heard a rumor that the new iMac would be coming out in September. Is that a solid possibility? I'm really not drawn to that solution, as it just seems like something between the laptop and tower. It most likely won't be able to have as much as 32 gigs of ram. It most likely will be limited to 6 cores. I was hoping for an 8 core with, again, 32 gigs of ram and a very fast graphics card.

    Also, do the iMacs support peripherals more robustly?

    Can anyone share some good advice?
  2. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Dec 17, 2009
    Well you seem to have some mis-information in this post.

    First off, Macbook Pros back to 2011 can actually handle 16GB of RAM and iMacs back to 2009 have been able to handle 32GB of RAM. Further, if you need multiple Firewire ports, go with an iMac and use thunderbolt to Firewire adapters and you will end up with 3 firewire ports that wouldn't require daisy chaining. Or you could go with a Retina Macbook Pro with the 16GB upgrade and use the 2 Thunderbolt ports with firewire to thunderbolt and you would at least end up with 2 (requiring you two daisy chain 2 and one on it's own).

    Now whether either of those is a solution for your needs, is hard to say. To each his own. It is hard to recommend a current generation Mac Pro compared to a decked out iMac unless you need serious CPU horsepower (i.e. 12 cores at 3.06ghz).
  3. fredoviola thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 20, 2008

    Thank you for the correction about the iMac memory. I just remember trying to put together a package at the Apple online store and it seemed limited to only 16gigs. Glad to hear it can accommodate more. I do in fact need serious horse power though. I will be running After Effects with a great many layers of 4K footage on the graphics end, and musically I will be writing orchestral music and using many orchestral packages, which can be quite a hefty load. I'm sure I can get by on something less powerful, but what is the best option at this point? And do you think there's any truth to the September release rumor about the iMac? They have not been updated for some time now...


    and, btw, the laptops I'm working on right now are a 2008 and a 2009 MBP, so correct me if I'm wrong but I am quite limited to 8 gb...
  4. Draeconis macrumors 6502a

    May 6, 2008
    On the site, the current 27" iMac can be BTO'd with up to 16Gb, but if you go aftermarket (which with RAM and Apple products, you always should), you can get compatible 8Gb RAM modules, and the iMac has 4 RAM bays, so you get 32Gb :)
  5. fredoviola thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 20, 2008
  6. avemestr macrumors regular

    Aug 14, 2012
    Wait for the iMac refresh and buy that. If you've been able to do your work on an "older" MBP so far, the upcoming iMac will be more than capable.
  7. fredoviola thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 20, 2008
    thanks, that's just the trouble though, I can barely get through a project. I bought these really just for touring and not for major composition work, and it's proving to be very very underpowered for what I need to get done. Hope that refresh comes sooooooooooon! :)
  8. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    Unless "soon" is "less than 3 months", it is probably not going to be the case.

    There is a very good chance that Apple will introduce some Mac at the October iPad mini roll-out. I think Apple is going to take that opportunity to reinforce their belief that "touch tablets should be touchable and more traditional PCs should have keyboards, trackpads, and mice". Around October Microsoft and Window system vendors are going to pitching be a very different message with the release of Windows 8. I suspect Apple is going to want to "enhance their differences" around that time. A distinctly non-toucable monster iMac screen will offer extreme contrast to the iPad mini.

    Apple will likely want to release some new Mac before the of the quarter in September. But a rMBP 13" would do or even a Mac Mini. It may be the iMac if those two just aren't ready.

    Are these all bus powered devices? Firewire really isn't power distribution that happens to do data. The other potential issue is a mix of 400 and 800 devices (ordering matters).

    Weak relative the what? To the laptops that can't handle your workload? Not really. Relative to "adding USB 3"? No. "Edit 4K video"? No. You'll need to attached substantive I/O if pushing the limits there but for most work of that kind it is possible.

    Thunderbolt solves a problem Mac Pros don't have. The general solutions it addresses are largely solutions that have existed for 6+ years on Mac Pro class machines.
  9. fredoviola thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 20, 2008
    Yes, I was really hoping to replace my MBP in September. October isn't so much longer to wait though, thanks for that information. Very interesting...

    No, they all are powered separately. The Analog to Digital Converter, which incidentally is an Apogee Ensemble, does have a firewire 400 connection. And that has to be the first thing on the chain according to Apogee. So the chain begins with this unit, and then the two hard drives are connected using a 400 - 800 cable.

    Well, if I'm totally honest here, the fact is I'm not a technical minded person, thus the many mistakes I've made in this post. What I was led to believe was that the components in the "new" Mac Pro are 2 years old. People more technically savvy than myself were complaining that the chips were not the newest kind. As well there was disappointment with no USB3 and no Thunderbolt. Thunderbolt can connect something like 35 drives at once. It's just a massive upgrade to the Firewire system. And as new devices are made to use this format and less the Firewire format the Mac Pro will become more and more antiquated.

    But again, I do get your point and very much appreciate you taking the time to write! I suppose I will shift my wait until the end of October and then make my decision at that time. The problem is that I can barely get through a song without getting a low memory alert. It's very unproductive.


    Incidentally, a very fine musician I know recommended souping up a Mac Mini! Apparently if you find the right technician they can be made to be extremely fast and can accommodate a lot of memory as well. I think the drawback was the graphics card limits though. That, and finding a reliable technician to do the modification...
  10. zarf2007 macrumors regular

    Aug 27, 2010

    Just buy one of these:

    whack in more memory (after market), add a 250GB SSD for a boot drive, a 3rd party USB3 card and a GTX680 flashed......

    later if you need even more grunt just replace each CPU with six core ones when the price drops.....
  11. fredoviola thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 20, 2008
    interesting... I have never bought a refurbished product. My only worry is that it was returned to Apple as a lemon and might still be haunted with lemons... On the other hand, perhaps the lemons have been exorcised. Have you yourself had any experience with a refurbished unit?
  12. zarf2007 macrumors regular

    Aug 27, 2010
    yes, bought many items refurbished. They are generally items ordered by people and returned either unopened (buyers remorse) or opened and slightly used.
    In most cased they are indistinguishable from non refurb except they come in a plain brown box.

    in all cases they are fully tested (re-imaged if necessary) by apple and have the same warranty/ability to buy applecare.
  13. fredoviola thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 20, 2008
    thanks again! I'm pricing out memory at Crutial. Although it's an 8 core, it's actually 2 quad core processors. So should I be looking for quad core memory or 8 core memory?


    Also, will any SSD drive do in this model?
  14. zarf2007 macrumors regular

    Aug 27, 2010
    An 8-core or 12-core Mac Pro has two processors and eight memory slots

    see page 4 of this guide:

    for SSD the Intel 520 240GB is one a few friends of mine have used without problems...
  15. fredoviola thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 20, 2008
  16. zarf2007 macrumors regular

    Aug 27, 2010
  17. fredoviola thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 20, 2008
    I think I might wait on the flashed graphics card, only because I would like to buy a very pricey orchestral library and it's one or the other for me right now. Is the graphics card in the refurbished unit fast or will it be something I'll need to update right away?

    Hey, thanks so much for all this help!
  18. zarf2007 macrumors regular

    Aug 27, 2010
    the one that comes with it is fast enough for now i can upgrade later
  19. goMac macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
    FYI - You wouldn't actually want to hook 35 drives up in one Thunderbolt chain... It would be horribly slow.

    USB supports up to 128 devices, but you don't see people hooking that many drives up to a USB port for similar reasons.
  20. DPUser macrumors 6502a

    Jan 17, 2012
    I do audio and sound for picture, and completely concur with the point made that T-bolt is not necessary when one has a PCIe expandable Mac Pro that can run up to six internal HDs, four of them easily exchangable on drive sleds. The Mac Pro can use even more HDs if SATA expansion cards are added.

    The current 5770 graphics card is fine for my use, as I don't use my Mac for gaiming or other graphics-accelerated applications. I can run 3 monitors at once, which is all I need.

    I am in the process of converting a 2009 4-core into a 2010 6-core with 2 SSD's, 3 HD's, and 24 gigs of RAM right now, and expect to be using this machine for a number of years to come. I added eSATA with a $17.00 card, and will be able to use my UAudio PCIe accelerator card as well. My biggest current question is which verison of the Mac OS to use; I am leaning toward Snow Leopard, for a variety of reasons.

    If you are doing audio, I believe you will find the Mac Pro a much more satisfactory platform than an iMac.
  21. fredoviola thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 20, 2008
    snow leopard for sure. That's my opinion. I have one laptop running SL. The other running Lion. At first I didn't mind Lion but I have grown to hate it. Snow Leopard is far less intrusive.

    Ugh, just looked at benchmarks and for 1000. more the speed is nearly two times faster than this refurbished unit. Plus my Uncle works at the Mac Store so it's really only a 700. difference. What to do... ???


    Good point, I know. It's just I have had so many problems with drives dropping off the firewire chain with these two laptops. The minute I go to 3 extrernal drives I get nervous....
  22. fredoviola thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 20, 2008
    Will that SSD drive work in the mid-2012 12-core Mac Pro?
  23. zarf2007 macrumors regular

    Aug 27, 2010

    If you can afford a 12 core then go for it......wasnt sure if you then had the budget to add all of the other stuff on top of that!!

    how does buying from you uncles place compare to the two twelve core refurbs listed here?:


    yep, it will work in any 2012 mac pro...(and probably older!)
  24. fredoviola thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 20, 2008
    It's still a bit cheaper. Not much though. That was my next question. Will there be a huge different in speeds between the 3 12-cores on offer? I was hoping to buy the slowest one there, but how would that compare to the refurb you suggested? I assume it will smoke my 2009 MacBook Pro...
  25. zarf2007, Aug 28, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2012

    zarf2007 macrumors regular

    Aug 27, 2010
    hmm, i saw two 12 cores there, but both would smoke the 8 core and all would put your 2009 macbook pro into the floor!!

    I guess you would need to look at the geekbench results and compare them all and it depends if your software will fully use all cores...

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