Upgrade my MacPro or Buy New? Help.

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by thedirtyduo, Dec 16, 2009.

  1. thedirtyduo macrumors member

    Apr 17, 2007
    I've been using my mac pro since early 2006. I've been editing standard def dv until recently. I'm now working with AVCHD footage and have noticed a huge difference in speed. Looking at my current specs, should I upgrade or consider buying new? My wife wants me to consider upgrading to get me 1-2 more years out of this computer, if the price is around half the cost of a new MacPro.

    I would like to upgrade the Processor to a Quad, more RAM (8-12 gigs) and a the latest graphics card POSSIBLE for this machine.

    Has anyone done with lately on a Dual Core with success? What did you buy?

    I know very little about what will work with my computer.

    I need your guys expertise on upgrading components or buying new next year.

  2. xStep macrumors 68000

    Jan 28, 2003
    Less lost in L.A.
    You should mention to people what editing software you are using. It may result in better answers. For instance, Final Cut cannot access more than 4GB of RAM, so upgrading that likely won't gain you much if anything.

    The graphics card might give the biggest boost, short or swapping out the processors for quad versions. I'd like to hear from someone with those experiences.

    You might also want to mention your workflow and where it slows down so people can understand how you are processing those AVCHD files. Perhaps someone can suggest a better method.

    Cost wise, you might be better off buying the new quad iMac instead of a new tower. Its performance is competitive with some of the towers Apple currently sells. And since your hanging out at a rumor site, you're aware that new Mac Pros are not far off.
  3. thedirtyduo thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 17, 2007

    Thanks, I'm using Final Cut Pro 7 - Snow Leopard

    I'm also looking to improve rendering time as well.

    Workflow: I use "Log and Transfer" and choose the AVCHD Apple ProRes 422. I'm not sure what else to say about that.
  4. KeriJane macrumors 6502a


    Sep 26, 2009

    If you're not adept at major upgrades or computer repair, I wouldn't recommend tampering with the CPUs. The 5150s are fine for this system.
    Save up for that new Octo if you want more CPU.

    What you might want to do is work with the memory, hard drives and video card.

    I see you have 5GB ram. That means you are probably using 4 or 6 slots in an arrangement that is probably slowing you down by dropping the system out of quad-channel mode. Best results are by either using similar modules in all 8 slots or the first 2 slots on each card. For example, I noticed a huge performance advantage by going from 9GB in 6 slots to 8GB in 4 slots.

    Final Cut itself can't use more than 4GB but Snow Leopard sure can! My suggestion is for 4GB or 8GB in 4 slots or 8GB, 16GB in 8. Don't use the original 2x512mb sticks.

    Hard Drives: you didn't specify what your drive arrangement is.
    You want at least one scratch disk and a capture disk. Separate drives, not merely a separate partition. You want to set Final Cut to Capture to a disk other than the system disk and render to a separate disk also. At the very least get a second internal drive for capture and scratch. Having 4 drives total wouldn't hurt as you can have OSX on 1, Capture on 2, Video Render on 3 and Audio Render on 4. Partitions don't matter here. More partitions won't make it faster (or slower).

    Video Card: The best video card for the Mac Pro 1.1 for our purposes is the now discontinued 8800GT. Fortunately, some of the 8800GT cards made for PCs can be modified so as to duplicate the Apple supplied card. If you lack the resources or nerve to do it yourself, many people on eBay sell already modded 8800GT cards. The 8800GT is the only card that will work properly in the MP1.1 that supports this Open CL thing in Snow Leopard.

    Of course the old ATI x1900XT is quite good but very noisy.
    ATI once released a "PC/Mac" variant of the HD3870, but those thing go begging. Apparently there's been some problems with that card.

    The various ATI cards made for the newer Mac Pros reportedly work in our MP1.1s but are not supported or recommended by Apple. Use these at your own risk. They probably won't hurt anything but might have odd problems.
    You could get a 4870 and if it doesn't work out save it for that Octo...

    That 1.1 is still a very strong system.

    Good Luck,

  5. puckhead193 macrumors G3


    May 25, 2004
    Out of curiosity, how long are your export times? How long are the vidoe your exporting?
  6. LethalWolfe macrumors G3


    Jan 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    The 8800 is actually a bad card choice for any of the ProApps because of the poorly written drivers available for it. The ATi HD 2600 XT even beats the 8800 and the 2600 has half the RAM.

  7. thedirtyduo thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 17, 2007
    The 2600XT is over two years old.

    Dang, if had friends upgrade their PC's to latest technology with the same PC for well over 6 years and the best I can do is put a 2 year old graphic card in? :mad:

    Well, I guess I will have to wait.

    It frustrates me that I can barely make a less then complex composition in Motion and have it bog down to where it won't even play.

    Thanks for your thoughts.

    Lethal, what do you run on?
  8. LethalWolfe macrumors G3


    Jan 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    For my side work I pretty much have the same Mac Pro as you but w/a x1900 XT. At work we recently all got switched over to 2.93ghz 8-core machines w/12gig RAM and ATi HD 4870. Prior to the big switch we had machines ranging from early 2008 Mac Pros to 2nd Gen G5s. We've got 13 or so editors here working on a variety of projects (short form pieces for the web to half hour TV shows) w/a variety of formats (from DV to HDCAM SR) on a variety of deadlines (sometimes we have hours and sometimes we have days and on rare occasion we have weeks).

    Granted, I don't know what kind of work you do and what kind of deadlines you have, but we put out HD content on deadline for years with mainly G5s so I wouldn't sweat your 2006 Mac Pro all that much.;)

    There is a common misconception that "the pro's" always have the latest and greatest but that's far from the case. I guarantee that there are G5s, and probably even still G4s, in Hollywood cranking out content that gets b'cast nationally on a major network. In production the devil you know is much more welcome than the devil you don't. Speed is nice but reliability and predictability are much better.

  9. thedirtyduo thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 17, 2007
    Good to hear that from you!

    I work all over the place but mostly weddings since 2008.


    Thanks for you all of your guys input.
  10. LethalWolfe macrumors G3


    Jan 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    This is slightly OT, but yer website is a mess man. It has a very inconsistent design (ex. navigation buttons change between five different themes and randomly switch from being on the bottom to being on the side), misspellings (ex. it's "Mac" not "MAC" and "upon" not "apon"), and horrible navigation. The "back" button doesn't take you back but takes you to a predetermined page. From your reels page clicking "corporate" takes me to your "contact me" page, clicking "motion gfx" takes me to a music video and clicking "film/tv" takes me to your wedding demo. From the main page clicking "Film TV" takes me to a music video (which belongs in it's own category as music videos typically aren't considered film nor TV).

    This was all using Safari 4.0.3.

    When looking at your commercial reel my first question was "What 2009 commercial contest did this spot win" and that was shortly followed up by "Why is that the lead commercial when then University of Phoenix and Colorado Technical University" commercials are so much better?

    Also, if you use other peoples work on your page you really need to clearly credit the original creator of the work. The image of the car on your color correction page is from Stu Maschwitz's blog.

  11. KeithPratt macrumors 6502a

    Mar 6, 2007
  12. bearcatrp macrumors 68000

    Sep 24, 2008
    Boon Docks USA
    I did upgrade successfully a quad 2ghz to a 2.33 quad. Does help plus more ram editing AVCHD. Its not that hard either. You need to check the cost of the clovertowns needed and the ram vs another macpro. I sold mine and got a 2.8 octo mac pro. No way will I pay the ridiculous price for a nelham mac pro. The upgrade will help but your stuck in 32 bit efi. If that works for you for a couple years, then go for it. Otherwise, sell it and buy what you can afford.
  13. thedirtyduo thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 17, 2007
    Lethal and Keith thanks for the info. Those links connected to the buttons have been an issue since I've had this website.

    I changed and fixed those issues and gave credit where I needed to.

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