Should I purchase a Power Mac

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by pcho, May 15, 2005.

  1. pcho macrumors newbie

    May 15, 2005
    Hi all,
    I am a PC user for the past 20 yrs. Don't know much about mac's at all. I have a win 2000 server at home and numerous PC's running off it.

    I am a very keen photographer (not a pro though) but my current P4 1.8 ghz with 1 gig of ram is shoowing its age. I rely on photoshop for all my processing work and my photo files can get up to 150-200 mb when working with layers.

    I was told that power macs works better than PC's with regards to photographic and video editing.

    I tried configurating a fast PC and priced a powermac 2.7 ghz and the PC comes up to be just as expensive as the power mac. Mind you the PC is more expensive because I was using parts that was more than I need or require. The mac configuration seems just perfect, nothing seems to be over specs.

    Now what should I do, Mac or PC. I know what all of you would say, mac of couse, its a mac forum :). I just want some constructive advice. I am confused. I have changed my favour a number of times. Another thing, I have a Toshiba tablet, and my work is PC based. A bit worried about comunicating between my home PC server and my other PC's even though I was assured that it would not be a problem.

  2. combatcolin macrumors 68020


    Oct 24, 2004
    Northants, UK
    If your going to buy a Powermac make sure its a dual CPU model.

    If the software supports it, and a lot but not all do, then the increase in performance can be anywhere from nice to mind blowing.

    Photoshop is definatly worth the money for the latest Dual CPU supporting version on a Dual CPU.

    Also the PM has PCI slots, so you can chuck in a cheap video in card.

    Make sure you upgrade the graphics card, it dosn't cost that much and you get a lot more ommph for your money.

    Memory is the same as PC land, as much as you can afford - its worth getting 2 large DIMMS as the PM takes RAM in pairs.

    2 X 512MB = 1GB


    2 X 1GB = 2GB

    so that the other DIMM slots are free for you to upgrade later on.

    The entry Dual PM has 4 DIMM slots = 4GB RAM normal RAM limit
    The mid and top range PM have 8DIMM slots = 8GB normal RAM limit

    Bear in mind however, that if you buy 2GB RAM DIMMs then you can double the RAM limit.

    You also have to bear in mind that you could clear the 3rd world debt with the money you would spend on them, but they'll come down in price.

    Bluetooth is cool if you like the idea of no wires clutering up your desk, and if you have a Bluetooth phone it becomes essential.

    Macs can network into a PC network very, very easily and can read virtually all PC filetypes, if your worried about combabtility get MS Office for Mac.
  3. pcho thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 15, 2005
    Thanks a lot for advice.

    If I were to purchase a power mac I was going to get the power mac 2.7 with 4 gig of ram. Don't you think the ATI Radeon 9650 card is good enough?

  4. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004
    I don't think an improved graphics card is going to have much of an impact on Pshop performance. Better to spend extra money on a dedicated and fast SATA scratch disk to go in the second bay IMHO. Western Digital Raptor 36gb is ideal.

    Edit: Two points to bear in mind when (not if :) ) you get your Mac
    1. Set Processor Performance to Highest
    2. Install this plug-in.
  5. mad jew Moderator emeritus

    mad jew

    Apr 3, 2004
    Adelaide, Australia

    Wow. Thanks for that. I'd always assumed Photoshop took advantage of video cards quite significantly and so a better GPU would be a big benefit. You learn something new everyday. :)

    Still, a great GPU would be cool.
  6. JCT macrumors 6502

    Jan 5, 2004
    Tucson, AZ

    FWIW, I had a similar decision to make last summer, I use PShop extensively for work and quite a bit at home (also a serious amateur photog). I have been an avid PC self-builder for 15 years and had the house filled with networked PCs to prove it, including a very fast P4 .

    I had started playing with an iBook at work and started to fall hard for OS X ... hard to explain, really, but it was just a pleasure to deal with on all levels.

    I finally took the plunge and replaced that fast P4 (now my son's gaming machine) with a Dual 2.5 G5 with 5 GB RAM and a 23" Cinema Display to go along with my Artisan CRT. I did add a second HDD (a Raptor for Boot/apps) and also hooked up an external SATA RAID0 for scratch and temporary files and the system just flies. What continues to impress me about this setup is that I can truly multitask without bogging the system down, not to mention that my 100MB+ image files can be manipulated with ease. This turned out to be a prescient move in my case since I recently picked up a Nikon D2x and the files are huge!

    I stuck with the (then) stock ATI 9600 to save money to invest in RAM, I've toyed with the idea of moving to the ATI x800 xt but haven't been able to convince myself of the benefits for my particular use ..... yet. ;)

    Go for it, but be prepared to watch your PCs gather dust and start looking at Powerbooks, these darn Macs are like potato chips.


  7. khollister macrumors 6502a


    Feb 1, 2003
    Orlando, FL
    How did you connect the external array? - is there an external SATA card for the G5? Whose enclosure did you use? It seems that FW800 is NOT the way to do this based on the throughput issue with FW800 on the current G5 motherboard.

  8. JCT macrumors 6502

    Jan 5, 2004
    Tucson, AZ
    I strongly agree that FW800 is not the way to go for RAID.

    It's actually *very* simple to configure:

    I used the Seritek SATA card and 2-drive "Burly" case from
    MacGurus . I bought a copy of SoftRAID from here and that was it.

    The card and case are shown here . In my case I took the original stock 160 GB drive from my G5 and teamed it up with a identical drive. The Burly kit is all-inclusive and the components are well made, I have not had a single problem with it, and I cannot say the same about my ext FW enclosure that I use for backup.

    The Macgurus site is filled with great advice for optimizing Macs and Photoshop and the guys on the forum really know their stuff.

    No official connection, just a satisfied customer.

    Good luck!


  9. zach macrumors 65816


    Feb 14, 2003
    They're called 'video' cards for a reason :D

    However, the point of Core Image is to offload IMAGE work to the GPU as well, so as Photoshop begins to take advantage of Core Image, it will start making a HUGE difference to have a sweet graphics card.
  10. TreeHugger macrumors 6502

    Jun 30, 2004
    I definitely agree with getting a mac, especially if you will be using photoshop quite a bit.
    From personal experience I can say that Photoshop runs a lot smoother on my 1.5 ghz powerbook than on my 2ghz. P4 dell (comparisons were made when they both had only 512 mb ram.) Photoshop on the mac runs a lot better when handling bigger files (by big I mean 300+ MB tabloid spreads for yearbook covers). Its not always faster, but it wont lock up. With one gig in the PB it just blows the dell out of the water (dell still has only 512...)
  11. pcho thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 15, 2005
    Thank you blue Velvet for that info. Yes when I purchase my new power mac :)

  12. pcho thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 15, 2005
    Looks like we are in a simlilar situation. I have a dual xeon server which is a backup machine for work (off site backup) and p3 1000 win 2000 sever and plus my p4 and kids and wife's machine. I recently purchased the 1dsmk2 and the files in tiff is over 50mb and if I have 3 layers in PS it is over 150mb :(

    A couple of weeks ago I purchased a 23" HP L2335 display in anticipation of my new system irrespective on which one I decide on.

    I was going to purchase a P4 3.6 or amd fx or a dual core with the following setup

    3 raptor drives set as raid 5,
    4 sata 250 drives,
    ge force 6800 card,
    4 gig ram,
    audigy 2
    but this config cost more than the G5 dual 2.7 and I think the power mac would be faster

    I am interested in how you set your raid config.

    Anyway thanks for everyone's input and you all have been very helpful. At this point I am leaning again towards power mac but who knows tomorrow would be different:). I will be making my purchase in a months time so I am quite excited about the new toy irrespective on which one it is.

  13. macbaseball macrumors 6502a


    Feb 27, 2005
    Northern California
    Be sure to buy third party RAM. It will greatly decrease the cost, as Apple marks up their RAM a lot. I've always heard good things about
  14. CanadaRAM macrumors G5


    Oct 11, 2004
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    The higher end video cards are great for 3-D, but don't have a huge impact on 2-D programs like Photoshop. Put your money elsewhere.

    The key to hard drive management is to split your scratch disk and your data onto separate physical drives (not partitions). If you have 2 drives, make a scratch volume the first partition on your fastest drive, and put the System and apps on the 2nd. If you can swing a three disk setup, split it System and Apps, Scratch, and Data onto their own drives. You can partition your Data drive so your current work is on the first partition (the fastest area of the drive) and your archived data is on the last partition.

    The trick is your programs will alternate between reading and writing all the time, and between data and scratch, so you want to have these on separate drives so the heads of one drive can already be moving to the next needed sector while the heads of the other drive are reading or writing.

    Firmtek have a PCI-X card and a 2 drive external SATA enclosure bundle for a fairly reasonable price. I like the Seagate Barracuda drives for low noise and 5 year warranty, although the Maxtor DiamondMax 10 with 16 Mb cache looks good too.

    I am not convinced that RAID is the way to go. The RAID overhead nullifies most of the speed gain unless you are under exceedingly heavy volume, like a digital video capture system or a server. And unless you run RAID5 or 1+0, your risk of data loss increases. I would go with BV's vote for a high speed hard drive like a Western Digital Raptor for the scratch disk instead.

    I like Data Memory Systems in the USA for memory, I hope my recommendation for Canadians is obvious :p You do NOT need to pay more for low latency or high speed "performance" RAM, the Mac will not use it to advantage.

  15. combatcolin macrumors 68020


    Oct 24, 2004
    Northants, UK
    The Graphic Card upgrade is about £45 in the UK, so its quite cheap and you do get a good increase in power over the basic model.

    While it may not have a benefit in PS, you will have a card that will last longer performance wise than the standard model.
  16. combatcolin macrumors 68020


    Oct 24, 2004
    Northants, UK

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