Torn Between 2012 MP or nMP for Audio Recording

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by cinealta, Dec 2, 2013.

  1. cinealta macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2012
    #1
    It's Dec 2013 and I'm still torn between getting a nMP or getting one of the 2012 MP refurbs (with Apple Care) I see popping up on the Apple Store every once in awhile. I don't see a compelling argument either way and am seeking advice.

    I will be using Logic Pro X and software instruments. AFAIK, I will need a fast CPU & plenty of RAM. But I don't need to run 4K monitors or powerful video cards. An SSD + three 7200 Sata2 drives would be fine for my work.

    I don't really have a hard budget but would prefer to spend as much money on audio gear rather than unused computer capability if possible. I don't need Thunderbolt. My monitor is dual DVI. My A/D interface is Firewire.

    A refurbed 3.33 6-core is approx $2,500. AFAIK, a 6-core nMP will start at $4,000. If I am interpreting the benchmarks correctly, a similarly clocked Xeon E5 6-core will be about 15% faster than the Westmere. Is that speed difference worth $1,500 extra (if I don't need dual d500 graphics cards)?

    I've been using a 2009 Mac Mini with external firewire drives until now. If possible, I'd rather have an encapsulated, bullet-proof workhorse and not have to deal with an external spaghetti of USB 3.0 wires, Drobos not mounting etc. Is there a truly compelling reason for someone in my shoes to get the nMP? Thanks for your advice!
     
  2. fastlanephil macrumors 6502a

    fastlanephil

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    Nov 17, 2007
    #2
    I'd wait until the nMac pro is available to see exactly what it offers Logic Pro X users.
     
  3. leifislive macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2006
    #3
    I cannot comment on how many instruments, tracks, reverbs etc. you'll be running. I am mainly doing mixing with my flashed 4,1-5,1 6-core; so from my perspective, I think you will have a hard time to use the full capacity of a 6-core MP 5,1, if you don't run out of power with a 2009 mac mini.

    There is also PCIe inside the MP 5,1, so if you need that, or may need that, it'll save you further money and gives more flexibility. The only downside of the "old" MP is in my opinion, that it is supposedly making more noise than the new one, however, we all haven't heard the noise of the nMP under heavy load.

    Did you have a look at gearslutz and check, who is running out of power with a 6-core MP 5,1?

    Btw., I calculated the increase in CPU power to be roughly 25%. I decided not to upgrade to the nMP, it doesn't make any sense in terms of investment to me... ;)

    Regerads
    Leif
     
  4. flat five macrumors 601

    flat five

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2007
    Location:
    newyorkcity
    #4
    get the new one.

    looking back, do you want a G5 or a mac pro? G5 or G4? powerbook or macbook.. which version of imac would you want? or iphone etc.

    that's how this will look in a few years.
     
  5. cinealta thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Dec 9, 2012
    #5
    No one I've seen on GS is running out of power on the 6-core for mixing (track count + effects) but my x-factor is software instruments. I use a lot and would prefer not to run a VEP slave (latency) or commit to rendering VSTs etc. Don't really need the PCIe (not running Pro Tools cards or anything).

    Another x-factor will be to what extent Logic X can take advantage of open CL processing on the nMP's dual graphics cards? AFAIK, open CL is not optimized for real-time, low-latency applications eg audio.
     
  6. leifislive macrumors newbie

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    Dec 12, 2006
    #6
    How far (performance-wise) can you presently go with your MacMini setup and what exactly/ how much do you intend/ assume to need in the future?
     
  7. costabunny macrumors 68020

    costabunny

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    May 15, 2008
    Location:
    Weymouth, UK
    #7
    I would suggest the existing mac pro as it will do your work and you could put those disks internally. Cost wise it makes sense.

    If your budget allows and you can plan for replacing the firewires ( or getting adapters as the nMP has none), then it will be more powerful.

    I guess its a personal choice really. I recently wen the older pro route due in part to budget, but also its 6core is plenty of oopmh for my work. I do run logic x but not for anything big (i leave that to the muso in the family).

    I use primarily for vm windows coreldraw and photoshop with a fair bit of video transcoding.

    I guess i am saying if you can afford it and can solve the external disk enclosure; get a new hex core.
     
  8. Mike Biggen macrumors member

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    Jun 23, 2010
    #8
    Keep in mind that, based on the leaked Geekbench results (http://www.macrumors.com/2013/11/06...tions-and-performance-for-apples-new-mac-pro/), the 3,000$ quad core should perform very similarly to the previous 3.33GHz hex core in multithreaded tasks and will be better in single threaded tasks. There's no way I'd spend 2,500$ on a machine with 3.5 year old internals unless I really needed PCIe slots, especially since it lacks 6Gbps SATA, USB 3, and Thunderbolt.
     
  9. Liquidstate, Dec 3, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2013

    Liquidstate macrumors member

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    Jun 11, 2012
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    Pacific Northwest
    #9
    I went with a refurb cheesegrater cMP because I have legacy gear, but I realize this is not your situation. That said, FWIW, here are a few issues I considered.

    Firewire is an uninterruptible protocol (which makes it perfect for audio), and Thunderbolt includes a high speed signal aggregator in the conversion between protocols. I'm not sure anyone knows if this will be a significant factor, but I don't like consumer adapter cables in my signal chain.

    Regardless, audio doesn't need more than FW as far as speed is concerned.

    The reason no one knows much is because there are very few pro level audio Thunderbolt devices that are available. Almost nothing except the UA Apollo.

    The pro audio people I know (way heavier duty than I am) have said the studios will all buy one, and then play with it. They won't use them until they are sure they are stable. Hey, they might buy a nMP, love it, and immediately start replacing the cMP's. But again, who knows?

    We know the nMP will offer significant advantages for the pro video people. We've yet to find out if there are advantages for pro audio.

    Time will tell. I'd suggest, if you can wait, let the early buyers, also known as beta testers, wring it out a bit. Especially considering the radical design and the level of investment.
     
  10. Mike Biggen macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2010
    #10
    What? There are so many inaccuracies here it makes my head spin. The tower's case isn't the heat sink, those are attached directly to the CPUs and don't touch the case. No one knows how loud the nMP will be under load...except Apple, who posted that information on the Mac Pro's section of their site (roughly 18.5 dBA for the nMP vs 27.5 dBA). You said fans -- there is only one fan. There's no question at all as to whether any of them will use Thunderbolt 2 or Thunderbolt 1. Their website says TB2, they said TB2 during both of their presentations, and they're already shipping computers with TB2.
     
  11. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2009
    #11
    You don't need to buy the D500's to get to 6 cores. On the Mac Pro tech specs page the 4 core entry model lists three other optional processors: 6 , 8, and 12 cores. The 6 core add-on is likely in the $450-500 range from the base configuration.

    Short term the only downside may be that BTO orders will probably take longer to ship if on a quick deadline.

    If you have any modern software that uses AVX SIMD instructions to do float math the speed up is alot more just 15% faster. If using software which ignores AVX then 15% is more representative.


    There is no need for a spaghetti of USB or Thunderbolt wires. If need 3-4 HDDs buy an enclosure that holds 3-4 drives. Sure you could put the CPU in the same box with a 2009-2012 model but at some point probably going to want to do back-ups and some external drive is going to be hooked up. the sky didn't fall when you were getting work down with your Mini.
     
  12. cinealta, Dec 3, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2013

    cinealta thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Dec 9, 2012
    #12
    Are there a few 3-4 bay USB 3.0 enclosures (JBOD, non-RAID) which you would recommend for me to use with WD Blacks (7200, Sata3) for the nMP? Thanks.

    The Mini + external firewire drives is fine for recording/mixing with effects (plugins) but the CPU & external drive tops out when using software instruments. So I need a faster CPU & more RAM for sure.

    Yes you're right. 6-core E5-1650 is 31% faster than 6-core Westmere.
     
  13. Jambalaya macrumors 6502a

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    Jun 21, 2013
    Location:
    UK
    #13
    I am not the most expert but ...

    It seems from Mac Mini 2009 to a nMP is one extreme to the other in terms of power. Surely one on the models in the middle/upper middle of the range will suit you better than the top of the range (and priced that way) nMP. What about an iMac ?
     
  14. cinealta thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Dec 9, 2012
    #14
    Already have a beautiful 30" ultrasharp, matte display. Like to keep CPU & drives out of the recording/mixing area (fans etc). Like expandability for future needs etc. Held out on the Mini for so long to jump to a MP, question is which one?
     
  15. Liquidstate, Dec 3, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2013

    Liquidstate macrumors member

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    #15
    Thanks for these corrections. I edited my post.
     
  16. propower macrumors 6502a

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    Jul 23, 2010
    #16
    WRT this - no - a hex or 12 core MacPro will do everything you ask for here!

    WRT the nMP. The quad will most likely equal or better the old Hex but you WILL need to update everything to thunderbolt - storage - interface - etc.

    NOTE: If you go for the nMP I challenge you to find a significant difference between the nMP quad and the 3.5GHz i7 imac (the one I chose for ProTools HDN :)
     
  17. flat five macrumors 601

    flat five

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    Feb 6, 2007
    Location:
    newyorkcity
    #17
    some of this stuff comes down to how confident you are in your equipment if you plan on seeing this for a couple thousand hours per year.


    [​IMG]

    and the xeons are confidence boosters #
     
  18. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #18
    This is probably the best reviewed unit I've come across...
    http://oyendigital.com/hard-drives/store/3R5-EB3-M.html
     
  19. cinealta thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2012
    #19
    That looks nice. With regard to reliability, mounting, fan noise, drivers etc would one of those be preferable to 5 separate SansDigital TowerStors for JBOD?
    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009AR2KU2/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_S_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=2SR6QZC6DU083&coliid=I3GBGA2AFL0U1S

    Also, do you know if the USB 3.0 on the nMP exceeds the throughput of the SATA 2 bay connections on the 2012 MP?

    Thanks for your advice.

    ----------

    Any ballpark for the add-on of the 3 Ghz 8-core (eg an E5-1680 v2) from base?
     
  20. costabunny macrumors 68020

    costabunny

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    #20
    Well as sataII is 3gb/s and usb3 is 5gb/s its faster. My seagate 7200 is faster in a usb3 enclosure than it is internally.
     
  21. Jambalaya macrumors 6502a

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    Jun 21, 2013
    Location:
    UK
    #21
    Very interesting.

    @cinealta - understood now re choice. I've been hanging onto my 2009 Mini giving it extra life with ram and hdd upgrades but hanker after an iMac hence my interest in your thread / thought process :)
     
  22. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    #22
    I would only consider separate enclosures if I had one or two drives otherwise cabling becomes a mess. And USB3 can exceed SATA2 but not all USB3 enclosures are created equal... Some perform poorly, and others well. Try to find reviews of any product you're considering to see what it's performance is like.

    And my guess is the 8-core is an added $1500-$2000.
     
  23. theSeb macrumors 604

    theSeb

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    Location:
    Poole, England
    #23
    I have a hard time believing your claims that a single 7200 RPM HDD is faster using SATA III or USB 3 in comparison to SATA II, since it is impossible for a single 7200 rpm HDD to saturate a SATA II connection. In addition command queuing is not supported via USB 3, so transfers of many small files via USB 3 will be slower than SATA II, or III. Could you elaborate on your testing techniques, size of files and tools used to measure please?
     
  24. spoonie1972 macrumors 6502a

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    Aug 17, 2012
    Location:
    Toronto
    #24
    internal memory, SSD and chip speeds aside, i'm interested to see if TB/TB2 etc can get latency numbers lower than their current PCIe forebears.

    Maybe the core-audio will get a reworking at some point after, or mid-mavericks.

    while i'm dreaming, i'd like a pony.
     
  25. costabunny macrumors 68020

    costabunny

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    #25
    simple - Black magic speed test (on 4Gb file size). The drive does not achieve its potential internally. 120Mb/s is the most it seems to sustain. Putting in a CIT USB3/SATAIII enclosure attached to the Inateck USB3 PCIe card it results in hitting just a touch under 180Mb/s in the same black magic test, and shows just over 150 write.

    I even hooked it up to the Velocity Solo X2 to make sure it wasn't miss-reading the USB3 drive, and again the same good speeds.

    I was just as surprised when I first used it. I can only put it down to the chipset used in the Mac Pro. I am well aware of the saturation levels and normally I'd agree that a SATAIII platter based drive should not perform quicker on SATAIII interface than on a SATAII one.

    While my testing wasn't scientific or structured in any way (when testing I would do it far more thoroughly), this was just a quick test on the drive to see if it would behave differently in an external. The drive was giving me trouble (disappearing from the OS randomly) but there were no errors in its log.

    Since then the disk has finally failed with log entries so that Seagate can replace it.
     

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