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Old May 24th, 2012, 11:13 AM   #1
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Mac Pro 2.66Ghz 8 Core Nehalem - 32GB RAM Upgrade Worth it?

I'm considering upgrading the 12GB of 1066Hz DDR3 RAM in my 2009 Mac Pro (2.66GHz 8-Core Nehalem) to 32GB.

I'm (now) mainly using Adobe Production Premium CS5.5.2 (and, currently, mainly Prem Pro, some After Effects work and some Photoshop work within that suite) with some legacy projects in Apple FCS2. Raw media is on an internal RAID 0 (2x 7,200rpm drives each of 1 TB), separate to the 1TB drive with the OS/software on it, another with other stuff etc. I have lots of external drives attached via Firewire 800 for back-ups etc. and I'm shooting/editing XDCAM EX3, Canon 7D and Panasonic TM900 (1080p50 AVCHD2) stuff.

Over here it'll cost me around £300, give or take, to do this 32GB RAM upgrade - but I'm thinking it'll be well worth it. Mind you, on a number of renders the processor is maxed out (when I look on my Activity Monitor) so I'm thinking this RAM upgrade won't affect that, more the speed with which I can see applied effects when editing in the Adobe suite. Also, I rarely see my current RAM usage getting much above 6-7GB in Activity Monitor unless I have lots and lots open. Wonder why? I know FCS2 is 32 bit and won't benefit from all this RAM etc. - but I'm rarely using that now.

Upgrading my graphics card (currently ATI 4870) might also be worth a long hard look too - but that'll be a lot more expensive I think as there are very limited options for this Mac Pro. It's currenly driving two 24 inch 1920x1200 pixel Dell monitors.

In a month or so I'll also upgrade to CS6 (as I believe that may, and I stress may, speed up renders too?), but I want to wait until I've some ongoing projects out of the way first and to see how the bug reports go.

I'd greatly appreciate any comments anyone has as to if this RAM upgrade from 12 to 32GB is worthwhile. Also, if I do it, anyone in the UK got a use for/want to make me an offer for the 12GB RAM (it is 6 x 2GB sticks) that I'll be taking out!
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Old May 24th, 2012, 02:31 PM   #2
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Re: Mac Pro 2.66Ghz 8 Core Nehalem - 32GB RAM Upgrade Worth it?

I just upgraded my 2009 with a PNY quadro 4000. I kept my 16gB ram and the computer is at least 5 times faster rendering AE projects (cs5.5 and now cs6). Ram will be my next upgrade.
Get the card...it's like a new computer!
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Old May 24th, 2012, 03:59 PM   #3
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Re: Mac Pro 2.66Ghz 8 Core Nehalem - 32GB RAM Upgrade Worth it?

Thanks for the input. Sounds brilliant! Mine's a Mac Pro 4.1 so this must be the graphics card, right? Currently, about £780 including our VAT.

PNY NVIDIA Quadro 4000 2GB Graphics Card for Mac - Jigsaw24

and

http://store.apple.com/uk/product/H3...o-4000-for-mac

Looks like I need to do the card before I even think about touching the RAM then, ideally upgrade that too when funds allow but definitely the card is the priority right now, judging from your experience. Glad I asked - Thank you!
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Old May 25th, 2012, 10:43 AM   #4
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Re: Mac Pro 2.66Ghz 8 Core Nehalem - PNY NVIDIA 4000 worth it?

OK. Been doing a lot of reading around. I'm currently running 10.5.8 (Leopard) and everything is hunky-dory, fast and stable...but not as fast as it could be (if I get that new graphics card). Seems that I need to upgrade to at least 10.6.8 (Snow Leopard) for the PNY NVIDIA Quadro 4000 card to work. Seems going to 10.7.3 (Lion) is recommended by the card manufacturer - but I read of a ton of problems with older software, especially with Apple FCS 2 which needs Rosetta to work (and that's not supported by Lion, or so I read).

I absolutely need FCS 2 on my system as I have clients requesting (and paying for!) new upgrades to archived projects pretty regularly, i.e. ones that I produced for them over the last few years in FCP 6.0.6 etc.

Not sure yet from what I've read that it's worth the risk of upgrading to Snow Leopard or not? If I can get there and have trouble free FCS 2 functionality that would at least allow me to run the new 4000 card (with the driver supplied on the CD it comes with) AND have much improved performance when running CS 5.5.2 Production Premium. Obviously, since I switched to CS 5.5.2 all new projects are done on it now, maybe soon CS 6 (once they sort the silly bugs out).

I need to think some more as I'm rapidly getting out of my comfort zone trying to work out the best solution for this! I really don't want to screw up my nice stable functioning system....Help!!!!
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Old May 25th, 2012, 10:52 AM   #5
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Re: Mac Pro 2.66Ghz 8 Core Nehalem - 32GB RAM Upgrade Worth it?

And I thought Mac's were supposed to be trouble free. I have two of them in my loft, they are just number crunchers, just like my Windows PC (s).

Hope you manage to solve the problem Andy, CS6 and EX3 files just fly, a good graphics card will take care of the image processing leaving your CPU to crunch away at the system and application data.
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Old May 25th, 2012, 07:05 PM   #6
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Re: Mac Pro 2.66Ghz 8 Core Nehalem - PNY NVIDIA 4000 worth it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Wilkinson View Post
OK. Been doing a lot of reading around. I'm currently running 10.5.8 (Leopard) and everything is hunky-dory, fast and stable...but not as fast as it could be (if I get that new graphics card). Seems that I need to upgrade to at least 10.6.8 (Snow Leopard) for the PNY NVIDIA Quadro 4000 card to work. Seems going to 10.7.3 (Lion) is recommended by the card manufacturer - but I read of a ton of problems with older software, especially with Apple FCS 2 which needs Rosetta to work (and that's not supported by Lion, or so I read).

I absolutely need FCS 2 on my system as I have clients requesting (and paying for!) new upgrades to archived projects pretty regularly, i.e. ones that I produced for them over the last few years in FCP 6.0.6 etc.

Not sure yet from what I've read that it's worth the risk of upgrading to Snow Leopard or not? If I can get there and have trouble free FCS 2 functionality that would at least allow me to run the new 4000 card (with the driver supplied on the CD it comes with) AND have much improved performance when running CS 5.5.2 Production Premium. Obviously, since I switched to CS 5.5.2 all new projects are done on it now, maybe soon CS 6 (once they sort the silly bugs out).

I need to think some more as I'm rapidly getting out of my comfort zone trying to work out the best solution for this! I really don't want to screw up my nice stable functioning system....Help!!!!
I had a bear of a time going from Leopard to Snow Leopard and ended up doing a clean install of all my software which took almost 2 full days to get plugins and such reloaded.

I have not upgraded to Lion on my 4,1 MacPro and the PNY Quadro 4000 works perfectly. Can't speak for running it on Leopard.

My MacPro system is pretty much locked as I have FCS3 which clients request tweaks to projects years later. Just revised a video from 2 years ago! I have a new laptop running Lion and FCPX (which sucks.) I have since upgraded to CS6 Production Premium on both machines which is where I really see the difference with my card upgrade and the new laptops DUAL video cards! FCS will not benefit from the RAM or video card upgrade.
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Old May 28th, 2012, 05:55 AM   #7
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Re: Mac Pro 2.66Ghz 8 Core Nehalem - 32GB RAM Upgrade Worth it?

Thanks guys. Just got yet another client that needs a bunch of archived FCP projects refreshing (needs update technical specs etc. in the videos) so I'll have to put all this whole graphics card updating thing on hold for a little while longer.
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Old May 28th, 2012, 07:17 PM   #8
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Re: Mac Pro 2.66Ghz 8 Core Nehalem - 32GB RAM Upgrade Worth it?

Andy, if you need Rosetta functionality (FS2 etc), then don't upgrade the OS. If you absolutely can't afford to upgrade and buy a second Mac Pro then you might consider getting the video card, and setting up an external drive hopefully eSata, and loading the new OS setup on that. You can then choose to boot off that when you need to, and start the migration slowly, at your own pace. You can choose your boot drives inside the disk utility. When you are finally migrated, you can swap the drives and reverse the process, only using your old drive to boot off of when you need your rosetta apps. Upgrade the RAM now though. It's always going to be useful.

The wildcard here is your new video card, I'm unsure of how it may work without having the latest OS to match it's latest drivers. If they can guarantee that you can run it on the version of the OS that you have, then install it, and install the newest drivers on the second (external) boot drive.

I routinely back up my OS drive using a portable drive dock from OWC, cost is about $35. It comes with multiple ports, so I usually use it with FW800. I then run diskutility and create an image to it. Works fine. You likely could set it up to boot off that for low cost. I assume you have an eSata card in your MacPro?

I have my Mac Pro in a state of non upgrade to new versions of the OS. FCP 7 works fine on it, and I'm not moving forward with this, since Apple can't guarantee us that there will be future versions of the MacPro product line.

But the current model will serve me fine for some time to come.

By the way, Adobe allows you to run multiple versions of licensed software on the same box. I have CS 5.5 and 6.0 running side by side. It's one of the nice things about working with a company that treats it's customers as professionals.

Good luck.
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Old May 29th, 2012, 12:26 AM   #9
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Re: Mac Pro 2.66Ghz 8 Core Nehalem - 32GB RAM Upgrade Worth it?

Great suggestions. Thanks Al. I also have this mid 2008 MBP so that may allow me some options too. You've got me thinking some more!
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Old June 13th, 2012, 05:37 AM   #10
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Re: Mac Pro 2.66Ghz 8 Core Nehalem - 32GB RAM Upgrade Worth it?

OK, Courier just arrived. Phase 1 complete. I should know in a few days what this brings :-)
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Old June 16th, 2012, 05:28 AM   #11
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Re: Mac Pro 2.66Ghz 8 Core Nehalem - 32GB RAM Upgrade Worth it?

For those that have been wondering about all this extra RAM, sure it seems to help things zip along a bit - but I would not call it dramatic. Mind you, since upgrading from 12GB to 32GB earlier this week I've not done anything too taxing, just a few simple After Effects things on 1080p50 AVCHD2 28Mbps footage via Dynamic Link to relatively straighforward Prem Pro projects in CS 5.5.2 Production Premium.

I've been playing around with RAM allocation and currently have 16GB allocated to Prem Pro and the rest to anything else (i.e. primarily for After Effects most of the time). I've been studying the Mac Pros Activity Monitor. Rendering etc. will use all of that allocated 16GB often (maybe I need to go higher). However, in rendering out H.264 files I would not call it that much faster. I think these are more processor speed limited anyway. Maybe for other video formats it'll be different (.mpg files for example?)

I do notice that disc write speeds can now max out sometimes (I use 2 internal 7,200rpm WD hard discs in a RAID 0 for media used in active projects, the OS living on another internal WD 7,200rpm boot drive). I also have a forth internal WD 7,200rpm for other stuff. As before, processor usage can max out in certain tasks. I'm pretty confident that RAM is not now a limitation on my 8 core 2.66Ghz 2009 Mac Pro 4.1 - but at 32GB I would have hoped that would be the case!!! Ah well, spending just over £300 has at least done something then....

So now I'm really wondering if I need to bite the bullet and upgrade the graphics card from the fairly basic ATI 4870 that I've had since 2009 to a PNY NVIDIA Quadro 4000. That's going to cost me about £750-800 area with tax (and require me to make the gradual transition to Snow Leopard from 10.5.8 Leopard using some of the excellent tips posted earlier - for driver compatibility reasons).

http://www.jigsaw24.com/product-deta...s-card-for-mac

I'm feeling a bit out of my depth so any more insights about all this would be very much appreciated. Thanks!
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Old June 16th, 2012, 05:39 AM   #12
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Re: Mac Pro 2.66Ghz 8 Core Nehalem - 32GB RAM Upgrade Worth it?

Andy,

Money spent on CS6 and a nvidia card will be well spent. I have 16gb of RAM on my system and there is no time lag or waiting for things to render, even when I am editing multicam projects (3 full HD 1080p files)

CS6 has an amazing Warp stabilizer which I applied to some shots filmed from a light aircraft, they are rock solid now.

Here is a short clip of the Warp Stabilizer in action, the same footage has been used in both clips

http://youtu.be/V1aQ-_m-dSo
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Last edited by Vincent Oliver; June 16th, 2012 at 06:18 AM.
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Old June 17th, 2012, 01:46 PM   #13
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Re: Mac Pro 2.66Ghz 8 Core Nehalem - 32GB RAM Upgrade Worth it?

Just a quick update on this. Started a new project tonight (more TM900 1080p50 AVCHD2 28Mbps files). I put all the 35 minutes of clips on the timeline (automate to sequence etc.) and got a yellow line (as normal, i.e. they play well but not perfectly). So I decided the render the timeline to turn it all to green. I am amazed at how much faster this is happening than before. Rough guess 2-3 times faster. :-)
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Old July 4th, 2012, 01:11 PM   #14
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Re: Mac Pro 2.66Ghz 8 Core Nehalem - 32GB RAM Upgrade Worth it?

OK just another update on this. I have a few days spare between big projects that I've finished and a few that will start later this month.

I've decided to embark on the route that will hopefully allow me to, eventually, run a PNY NVIDIA Quadro 4000 card on this 2009 Mac Pro to get the advantage of that with my now much loved Adobe CS5.5 Production Premium, whilst retaining FCP 6.0.6 capability for some of my clients needs. The first stage of this requires me to run Snow Leopard (as 10.6.3 is the minimum OSX needed to run that graphics card's drivers).

1. I've now an up to date and fully tested disk image of my nice stable, fully functioning system with Leopard 10.5.8 which I can easily boot from (on an external FW800 Icy Box HDD dock). I also have a Time Machine back-up HDD which can also slot into this dock - but I don't really trust Time Machine for the "Pro Applications" - from what I've read on here in the past by people like Robert Lane.

2. I've backed up everything from the four x 1TB internal drives on numerous external (FW800) drives, often in duplicate or triplicate!!! Bay 1 is OSX and apps. Bay 2 is Render Files and Pictures/other stuff, bays 3 and 4 are software RAID 0 stripe where any media for current projects live. These are always regularly backed up on externals anyway.

3. I have also archived on external drives (and recorded the original locations of) all my render folders for both FCS2 and CS5.5 projects. The idea is that I can "put them back" anywhere where they might be needed to save a lot of re-rendering of big complex projects that I may need to re-open in the future. Likewise my iTunes Library, my pictures etc are all backed up on externals.

That's 2 days work right there above!

4. I've got a brand new 1TB WD 7,200 RPM Caviar Black HDD sitting on my desk (identical spec to the 3 year old one that's in the Mac Pro bay 1 that has my Leopard OSX and applications on it).

5. I've also got a Snow Leopard OSX disc sitting on my desk (which Apple shipped to me last week - 10.6.3 version). I had expected it to be a later version than that - as it went another few points on upgrades/bug fixes. However, it might be beneficial, from what I've read, that it is ONLY 10.6.3 since later versions may have broken stuff with FCS2 and FCP 6.0.6 (I believe - but help me out here if you know details).

What I've decided to do is remove and store my current HDD in bay 1 and replace it with the new, virgin HDD and then do a clean install of Snow Leopard on that. Then instal FCS2 and then instal Adobe CS 5.5.1 from all the original applications discs that I have, update to CS5.5.2 and then....test and test and test!!!!

I'll let you know in a few days, maybe a week, as to how that goes.

If it goes well, I'll place an order for the graphics card and instal that in about a weeks time. If I have problems with Snow Leopard and FCS2, no sweat, I'll just put the original Leopard 10.5.8 OSX HDD back in bay 1 and be satisfied that at least I gave it my best shot and did not waste the money on the graphics card upgrade. In case of real problems, I also have the extra image on an external HDD, not to mention the Time Machine disc as well.

Phew, I hope this is all worth it!

It's a belt and braces approach - I hope - but I'm no OSX guru so let me know if I missed anything before I start! (which may be tomorrow - but certainly by the weekend). I need a break from watching lots of progress bars on my screens right now! ;-)
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Last edited by Andy Wilkinson; July 4th, 2012 at 02:32 PM. Reason: typos/adding details
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Old July 4th, 2012, 02:02 PM   #15
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Re: Mac Pro 2.66Ghz 8 Core Nehalem - 32GB RAM Upgrade Worth it?

Do you want us to start a collection for you Andy, I'm sure your cat still needs some food.

Have fun and enjoy your new setup.
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