Should I replace iMac with Mac Pro as high schooler?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by risherwood, Dec 17, 2011.

  1. risherwood macrumors newbie

    Dec 17, 2011
    Hey everyone this is my first post and I wanted to get some opinions. Currently I'm 16 years old and I have a 2011 base iMac with 12gb ram that i purchased a few months ago. I edit lots of video on adobe premiere pro cs5 and after effects cs5 for school projects as well as a youtube channel and other various projects. I use a canon rebel t3i, which shoots full 1080p video (obviously eats up hard drive space very fast). My iMac works well enough for right now...has crashed a few times but it does the job. My only concern is 1. Hard drive space 2. Speed decrease over time 3. no customization. So because of these concerns I have been looking into getting a 2008 Xeon dual quad core Mac Pro to replace my iMac. It would cost roughly what I could sell my iMac for (craigslist) so I am wondering if it is worth it. Although the mac pro is a couple years old it has 32gb of space for RAM, 4 hard drives bays, and 8 processors compared to 4 in my iMac. My iMac has 500gb and i only have around 80-100gb left after owning it for only a few months...and I feel like it's going to be a pain to buy an external hard drive as a scratch disk. Is upgrading to a Mac pro worth it? I feel like it would really be a good idea since it would be faster (8 processors and 32gb of ram on premiere would be a breeze) and lots of options of customization in the future like hard drive and video card upgrades. I have someone interested in buying my imac and someone interested in selling me their 3ghz dual quad core 2008 mac pro. Is this something you guys think I should do? I would love to hear any and all opinions.
  2. monokakata macrumors 68000


    May 8, 2008
    Hilo, Hawai'i
    If you're worried about drive space, then those 4 drive bays will be a huge plus for you -- not to mention that if you buy more sleds, you can pop different drives in and out in a minute or two. For expansion, it's unbeatable.

    32 gigs RAM is sweet too.

    Don't forget that you'll need a monitor, but you'll have a lot to choose from.

    And, sad to say, another thing not to forget is that drive prices are sky-high at the moment. Before the Thailand floods you could have packed 8 TB into that puppy for maybe $400. Now, who knows? A lot.
  3. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    While still in HS, I would say No.

    The primary reasoning for this, is even though you are obviously interested in this area (presume you mean to make it your major in college), it's still a hobby technically speaking = not earning a living at it (yet anyway...).

    Granted, an iMac has it's limitations, one isn't entirely correct. You can use the ThunderBolt port as a means of increasing storage capacity as well as throughputs, which is a real-world bottleneck in any base system (regardless of the vendor). There are a few solutions on the market already, and hopefully, more will continue to release. So that issue can be addressed at least if you do consume your existing drive's capacity before finishing HS. Should be cheaper too. ;)

    So I'd at least wait until you actually start college before thinking about upgrading to a new system. By then, the industry may make significant changes by that time, and shift to Windows or Linux based systems.. There's no way to know, so it's best to keep your options open in the future IMO.

    It would also be advisable to pay attention to what school you attend is using, as that would give you an idea as to what to buy if they don't provide labs with sufficient equipment (or you insist on having your own and skipping the use of school labs).

    My 2 cents anyway... ;)
  4. risherwood thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 17, 2011
    Thanks for the input so far... but in terms of editing smoothly am I going to notice a huge different with 8 cores? It actually kind of does support me...I make money off youtube videos. Also a side question...My iMac has crashed probably 15 times since I bought it....any theories? Thanks
  5. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    It will depend on what applications you use in your Adobe suites. And whether or not upgrading would be based on how much time you spend on them (i.e. if most of your time is spent in Photoshop, then it may not be financially justifiable to buy a system with more cores; but if your time is spent mostly in software that does utilize any available to it, then you may have an argument for doing so).

    For example, Photoshop only uses 2x cores. Rendering animation can utilize more. Audio too.

    As per earning a living with it, that's a matter of perspective.... Please understand, I'm not trying to pick on you in any manner; I'm glad to see you're being entrepreneurial about your work, and using that to support your "computer habit" (quite a few of us would be members in Computer Junkies Anonymous if it existed, and I'd probably be mandated by court order to appear at meetings :p). But since it's likely you live at home, you don't have to cover housing, food, utilities, ... So from that perspective, I don't see you in that position. Yet anyway, given your apparent interest in this field. :)

    As per your crashing issues, we'd need more information (could be anything from hardware to software). Check your memory and thermal data to start with, as you may be paging out a lot, or something is getting too hot. You might even want to disable power management settings for your HDD (could be timing out).
  6. risherwood thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 17, 2011
    The main adobe application I'm using is premiere and after effects...not sure how many cores they would use. Also in terms of external storage for my iMac I was considering the Fantom 2TB 3.0 usb external this a good option? I dont have all the money in the world for space (maybe 200 max). Whats the best way to partition it? Stuff im not using on the hard drive along with a time machine backup? Or should I just put all video, including projects im working on onto the HDD. I currently have 12gb/16gb of it worth 45 to max it out to 16gb? I would assume it is since ive maxed out ram before whilst editing. Haha I know your not picking on me about making a living, but just wondering also do you have any suggestions on how I can make money with my given talents? I don't know anyone in my town who can edit and shoot as well as I can (including my award winning TV/vid production teacher). I earn maybe 115 a month off youtube which isn't bad, but if you by any chance had any ideas that would be great.
  7. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    there really aren't "lots" of video card options. Apple cards, a few normal ones can be dropped in, some more can be modded. limited NVidia options for those who need their tech. PCI cards can be limited, too, if they need drivers.

    I'm guessing you have the 2.7 i5. in that case 3 GHz 2008 would be ~30% faster in CPU/memory (based on Geekbench). memory (DDR2 ECC) is a lot more expensive, though, plus the cost of a new monitor. might be better just to get a Pegasus or Lacie, or wait for other enclosures to come out, if IO is your primary concern.
  8. Bwa macrumors 6502

    Jun 20, 2007
    Boston & San Jose
    My 2008 Mac Pro is slower for compute tasks than my late 2009 Core i7 HP for the same tasks. I am not sure that a 2008 Mac Pro is going to be an upgrade for you, despite some of the other advantages. I'd be careful here. The 2008 is a very old machine at this point.

    Also, you said the iMac "works well enough" right now. I'd look at a fast external Thunderbolt RAID if you're running low on storage and need throughput, and forgo the Mac Pro.
  9. risherwood thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 17, 2011
    Thanks Bwa

    but how much would thunderbolt raid cost? Isn't it like 500 bucks for a mere 1tb? Wouldn't USB 3.0 be a better option? I see a 2tb usb 3.0 for just $160.
  10. ashman70 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 20, 2010
    There is no way of knowing that a Mac Pro might not crash as often with the same software you are using currently on your iMac. As others have suggested, since your iMac has thunderbolt, you should look into external storage that can utilize that. A Mac Pro may be a good choice for you down the line, however I think what you have now meets your needs, albeit except for storage, but you have viable options for that. In the meantime you can still save for a Mac Pro if you feel its what you want, but save for the newest model you can afford and if possible buy new with Apple Care.
  11. Bwa macrumors 6502

    Jun 20, 2007
    Boston & San Jose
    Fast storage is expensive. My SAS setup was about $2,000 for 8 TB.

    If you're on a smaller budget, FW800 RAIDs like the OWC external 4 disk system might be a good bet. That's about $1,200 for 12 TB (maybe a little more now with price increases). It's not nearly as fast, but it's a lot of capacity.

    I have no USB 3 experience myself.
  12. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    As it happens, these two applications within CS5.5 can use more than 4x cores.

    No, as it's horribly slow.

    To edit, rip, or animate quickly, you need fast disk I/O (i.e. we have members running hardware RAID systems over 600MB/s in order to keep up with how they use their systems, and it's not cheap).

    To give you an idea how crazy things can get...:
    • New MP $6.2k (12 core beast @ 2.93GHz)
    • Storage $4.5k
    • Memory $1.5k (96GB)
    • Monitor $5k
    Obviously this is the insanity level, but you should be able to get an idea of what you could end up getting into if you have enough business to justify it. ;)
    Building a sufficient system is a balance of getting performance out of all areas sufficient for how you're using the equipment.

    For example, you can have all the cores in the world, but if you don't have enough memory, or use a single disk to feed everything, then you're cores are starving most of the time. Any bottleneck in the system will cause you problems, so it's about balancing the memory capacity and disk I/O with the available cores.

    In the case of your current system, your storage subsystem is your biggest bottleneck, followed by memory.

    Unfortunately, $200 isn't going to get you much (USB or FW is all that would be feasible on that budget, and they're not fast interfaces these days). For performance, you'll need to use ThunderBolt for sufficient throughput, and those options aren't exactly inexpensive ATM. So it would be best to save up (still not seeing any eSATA to ThunderBolt adapters yet). BTW, the starting cost on a Pegasus R4 is $1150.

    Pay attention to your memory usage to be sure.

    The iMac has a limited memory capacity (32GB), so you've limits as to how much you can put in it (32GB is possible by buying 4x 8GB SODIMM's, but you have to replace all existing memory in order to fit that much in, and that would run you ~$350 using 2x of these).

    And you'd still be short on storage I/O (still the slowest/weakest link in the chain).

    Talk to your teacher as they know the local area (personal contacts tend to generate the best results in my experience). Past that, see what you can do as per finding work online, and even knock on a few company's doors (in that profession/need someone that does it), and see if you can show them examples of your work.

    Improvements in HDD I/O would do more than just buying more cores, as the disk I/O issue would exist for any new system as well.

    Granted, additional cores would be faster with the applications he's using, but the costs start to climb past what's being considered, and given the budget of $200 for storage, more than can be handled ATM (new system + monitor suitable for color accuracy + enough memory + HDD's/SSD's for disk I/O sufficient enough to keep those cores fed).
  13. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    The imac is lacking usb 3, and I don't think there are any third party cards that support that mac pro with stable drivers. On the 8 core comment, it's a 2008 model. Each of those eight cores is slower core for core than the four in your current machine, meaning anything that doesn't scale as far as eight will be slower. Ram is too expensive for the 2008 machine. It required FB dimms.

    May I ask a bit more about the crashes? There are different factors that cause them. Is it the entire machine experiencing a kernel panic or After Effects/Premiere crashing. As i've mentioned in other threads, Adobe applications tend to push a lot of data around, and they don't always play well with certain OS level functions. Basically don't expect it to crash less on that mac pro, and I'm not sure it would actually feel significantly faster unless you put a lot of money into maxing out certain features, which isn't worth doing on an older model. FWIW spotlight interfering with scratch disks is one of the most common sources of crashes with adobe applications on OSX. It's been that way for years:mad:. I'm not even sure who to blame. Spotlight should have some option not to index hidden files or something of that sort.

    The drive bay thing is something that has annoyed me with Apple for some time. The mac pro is the only real option with any kind of space internally. If you wait a bit we'll either see usb 3 on the mac or an increased number of thunderbolt peripherals. You could buy usb3 external drives today, but they would run as usb2. Be careful what you do buy. Some of them like Lacie run exceptionally hot and have a reputation for dying just out of warranty under heavier use.

    I hope this helps. Give me more details on the crashes. With the amount of installed ram, it should at least be capable of running with decent stability. I do recall After Effects paging a fair amount of data to disk, which might be an issue with a fuller hard drive. It's hard to tell though. You aren't working on footage with any kind of insane resolution.
  14. risherwood thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 17, 2011
    So im a little confused about this whole HDD situation. You said that USB or FW isn't a feasible option, and the insanely expensive systems you use transfer data at 600mb/s....yet usb 3.0 transfers a little over 600mb/s according to this source

    Is there something I'm missing here?

    Does the data transfer speed mainly affect how long it takes to move stuff back and forth, or are you talking about it like im using the external hdd as a place to put stuff while I use it? I was mainly imagining using it say, just to put a bunch of videos I wasn't using onto it to free up space on my internal 500gb HDD. Would using an external hard drive in any way speed up my computer by "feeding" the cores more? You say it's the bottleneck in terms of speed on my system but I find that confusing. Can you maybe explain it a bit? Sorry if Im not understanding correctly


    In terms of the crashing it's a system wide crash where a grey curtain slides down my screen and says Please restart your computer or something to that effect in like 10 languages. I'm not sure why...could it have something to do with the software on my computer? It seems to happen randomly..not when my computer is under a heavy workload or during certain programs. Also how do i delete programs that can't be dragged into trash? I have certain programs like crossover and some bottler program but they can't be deleted via dragging from launchpad to how do i do it? thanks


    Would this allow me to use usb 3.0?

    or is it impossible?
  15. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    USB 3 is not an option. no iMac supports it and won't until Ivy Bridge chips ship in spring/summer 2012. Mac Pros can with a PCI card with NEC chipset, but again that's additional cost on top of a display and (probably) memory.

    your real options are 1) buy a TB enclosure, 2) have OWC add an eSATA port to your iMac and buy an eSATA enclosure, 3) use a gigabit NAS, or 4) use FW800. that's pretty much in order of speed.
  16. romezone macrumors newbie

    Sep 23, 2011
    I currently cut with the base iMac 2010 (Final Cut 7). The first thing I would recommend is having your scratch disk separate from the location of your project file. Having everything both on one drive is taxing and could be the reason for your crashes. Get an external hard drive made specifically for video editing. Brands I would recommend include G-tech, Lacie, OWC and Caldigit. With the iMac your best choice of interface is Firewire 800, use it (you can daisy chain em too). Through Firewire I've been able to handle two multicam streams of 1080p Prores. You can also get a raid 0 drive, but you'll still have that firewire bottleneck so it isn't that much better than a single drive. I started with a 1tb Lacie, then started archiving things to bare drives. Over time I just had too many current projects that I needed to access so I got a second drive, a 2tb Caldigit AV. This set up has worked for me so far.

    With that said, I wouldn't mind having a MacPro! The advantages include the ability to add eSata (which I think at this point is a much more viable option than thunderbolt because of prices), the ability to add drives into the 4 empty internal slots and even use them in raid, more cores/better processors for faster renders (although the current top end i7 iMacs can hold there own).

    In my personally opinion I think you should try to stick with the iMac for now and connect it to a quality external via Firewire 800... but if money is not an issue then go for the Pro.

    Lastly, another good place to get advice for stuff like this are the Creative Cow Forums. There are a lot of industry experts over there who are highly knowledgeable about things like this.
  17. steveOooo macrumors 6502a

    Jun 30, 2008
    Just ge a g raid 4tb FireWire external drive - I bought mine for £220 off fleabay - £400 cheaper than a tb alternative and does fine - editing video ou should have all your video / media files on an external anyway.
    No need for a mac pro for hobbiest stuff - only get if your getting regular paid work. The iMac is fine for most of what your doing.
  18. derbothaus macrumors 601


    Jul 17, 2010
    Just to add. After Effects will use all cores and all memory and should be specced out accordingly. 4GB-8GB or more per core is a good rule of thumb. It scales almost perfectly across all cores. An older Mac Pro IS a possibility and should be considered by anyone using AE primarily. Regular tasks may be faster on the 2011 iMacs (any of them) but AE can get a boost from extra core allocation to memory. Not to mention the fact you can actually use "Desktop" graphics cards) I would stay clear of the 2008's though. Memory prices still seems high @300.00 per 8GB 2x4GB kit. 2009 or higher only at this point (you want the 2 threads per core ability of hyperthreading) or just keep the iMac and get 16-32GB memory and use TB or FW800 depending on the bandwidth needs.
    I just built a 12-core 2.93GHz monster for 4K 3D work. 64GB Memory, 3x240GB SSD's in RAID0, 120GB SSD boot etc. etc. Crazy. Your new found industry has a very easy buying guide. Get the fastest available all the time every time. It is never enough.
  19. robbie12345 macrumors 6502

    Nov 5, 2011
    United States
    don't go for it

    they are making thunderbolt external drives that are just as fast as the ones in them also the mac pro will be a major downgrade to you in terms of speed because other then audio nothing can really utilize all 8 cores

    the ram is not a question because you don't need 32gb at all and the ram on it is about 2x as slow plus u will need a monitor idk why u went for the 21.5 inch 2i5ghz though if you clearly need a bigger drive why didn't you go for the 2.1 pro 27 inch with 2 tb
  20. risherwood thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 17, 2011
    I didn't go for the 27 inch iMac with 2tb because I'm in high school and unemployed haha. Would it be worth considering selling my imac I have now (I can get about 1150) and getting a 27" with 1 or 2tb of HDD space? Or should I buy an external hard disk and max out ram?

    Also does anyone know if this hard drive would be good?

    I know its not TB or eSata or any of that stuff but keep in mind, im in HIGHSCHOOL and UNEMPLOYED so in terms of low budget, is that the best hard drive to go for? And is maxing ram from 12gb to 16gb for 40 worth it? The iMac can only hold 16gb ram right? I've read places that it can hold 32gb but that must be incorrect
  21. derbothaus macrumors 601


    Jul 17, 2010
    Doesn't sound like you know about or run After Effects. It uses ALL cores available and memory is never enough. And the Ram is not 2x slower. Just because the clock is 800MHz vs. 1330MHz or 1600MHz does not mean the memory is twice as slow in actual applications. I guarantee an 8-core Mac Pro with a decent clock speed with 6+GB RAM allocated to each core and a 5770 or 5870 or GTX285 or even a 4870 will beat an i5 iMac in After Effects. It has special needs.


    Nope. That is correct. Pretty expensive though as the density needs to be 8GB per stick. It'll cost about $500.00 for the 32GB allotment.
  22. juanm macrumors 65816


    May 1, 2006
    Fury 161
    Honestly, keep your iMac and invest in good redundant external storage. If you feel like it, when your warranty is over, swap your system hard drive for an SSD.
  23. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Unfortunately you are missing something, as no Mac currently made has USB 3.0 in it.

    The only way to get that right now is via a PCIe card in the MP, and it doesn't work that well.

    So the only high speed option on the iMac is the ThunderBolt ports.

    Throughputs are the rate at which the data is moved between the system and the storage medium.

    So if you see say 60MB/s, that's how fast it would be able to move a large sequential file. Divide the total capacity by the data rate, and you'll get the time necessary to complete the operation. So the faster the data rate, the quicker the data is moved between the system (memory) and the drive and vice versa (lower data rate = longer to complete the operation).

    As per the Iomega you've linked, it seems OK according to the feedback on Amazon. But it's going to be limited on speed given it's interfaces (USB 2.0 and FW800). So though it will offer additional storage, it's not really going to be able to speed up your workflow considerably.

    I found some on newegg that would put it at ~$350 (Corsair 8GB x2 kit for ~$175 per). Timings and voltage specifications are correct for the iMac (9-9-9-24 @ 1.5V).
  24. goMac macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
    I had a Mac pro level tower in high school. I don't see why not.

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