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Old December 14th, 2010, 01:09 AM   #1
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Mac Pro question

I'm wanting to get a Mac Pro tower. I'm looking on B&H's website, as they have older models as well as newer ones, but their prices still seem a little cheaper then from Apple's own store. I'm wondering, since I'm on a budget, and trying to keep my cost as low as possible.

This is the newer 8 core,

Apple Mac Pro 8-Core Desktop Computer Workstation MC561LL/A B&H

And this is the older 8 core.

Apple Mac Pro Desktop Computer Workstation MB535LL/A B&H Photo

is 2.4ghz going to be that much of a difference over the 2.26?

I'm not worried about the memory, because I plan on maxing that out later, and I'm not worried about the video card differences, as I am planning on adding the Quadro 4000 at a later date as well.

The Hard drive is 650 on one, and 1TB on the other, but I only plan on using that drive as the programs drive, and was going to fill the other 3 drive bays, and put them in a raid configuration.

So is it worth $800 more to go from 2.26 to 2.4? I guess thats the only real difference, considering what I plan on changing, once I get the computer. Or would I be better off getting a simple Quad core, in 3.2GHz?

I plan on using this for FCP, and Adobe CS5 production suite, and Red Giant Magic Bullets Suite. Probably be editing HD footage from a few different sources (canon 7D,Go Pro HD, and some other DV cameras). I'm very interested in learning After Effects, and FCP.

Thanks for the guidance, and advice, I am new to Mac, but looking forward to getting my hands dirty. Coming into a little $$ here in a few weeks, and it will cover a Mac buy, up to $3k or less. So hoping one of these systems will get me started, but also keep me going for a few years. I would like to stay below 3k, but if the difference between systems is worth jumping up to $3200, then I might have to scrape some pennys together. I'd like the 2.26 system to be good, and use the extra to get closer to Final Cut Studio software.
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Old December 14th, 2010, 07:49 AM   #2
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I have a 2x2.26 Quad Core Xeon Mac Pro. I doubt you'd see the difference with a 2.4. That money saved is well spent on backup disk space and memory. Video memory is something that probably will be noticeable for the work you mentioned but it seems you have that taken care of independently.

As for all the cores laying about, I have a control panel that lets me see utilization of each processor and it's surprising how much goes to waste. However, I recently ran across an article on ProVIdeo Coalition that makes your local available processors appear to Compressor as available cluster machines. I haven't tried it yet: ProVideo Coalition.com: Apple | Vendor Blog

I presume you noticed the "Special Deals" section of the Apple web store (It's at the bottom). THere you can save a few hundred bucks on factory refurbished units that come with As-New warranty.
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Old December 14th, 2010, 10:08 AM   #3
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"was going to fill the other 3 drive bays, and put them in a raid configuration." - not sure if this is the best configuration. I think basically you want a hard drive for your os and programs, one for your capture files, and one for your render files. Putting all of these on a RAID drive would probably decrease overall speed while greatly increasing the chance that you'd lose everything if the RAID failed (as compared to just leaving them on separate drives) -- this assumes you meant to use RAID 0, striped RAID, for speed. Using RAID 1 would be great for backup, but would definitely cause a performance hit as well.
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Old December 14th, 2010, 10:49 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Hughes View Post
"was going to fill the other 3 drive bays, and put them in a raid configuration." - not sure if this is the best configuration. I think basically you want a hard drive for your os and programs, one for your capture files, and one for your render files. Putting all of these on a RAID drive would probably decrease overall speed while greatly increasing the chance that you'd lose everything if the RAID failed (as compared to just leaving them on separate drives) -- this assumes you meant to use RAID 0, striped RAID, for speed. Using RAID 1 would be great for backup, but would definitely cause a performance hit as well.
Thanks for the info. I haven't figured out all the quirks of everything. I come from a PC background, and actually have blue printed a new PC, to do everything I stated that I wanted to do, in the original post. But, I really want FCP to be a part of my learning, so having an all in 1 system is my best option. On the pc side, I mentioned do as you stated, and was told a single RAID0 or RAID5 setup would be better performance wise, as keeping 3 separate drives. My original intent was 1 drive for programs, 1 for storage, 1 for capture, and 1 for render.

Any thoughts on the newer 3.2ghz Quad Core, vs the older 2.26 eight core, anyone?

As I stated in first post, (if I get the older 8 core), I will be maxing out memory at 32gig, and adding the Quadro4000 video card. So I'm thinking that will greatly improve the functions all FCP, After Effects, and Premier.

Thanks again,
Jeff
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Old December 14th, 2010, 11:07 AM   #5
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Well, I could certainly be wrong. This is my understanding of things, but I'm sure there are other posts and other people on here with very good ideas on this (if I'm wrong here, I'd certainly be interested to hear it and understand why).

Combining three drives into one RAID array will certainly be much faster than 1 single drive, although not nearly 3X as fast. However, FCP needs to access at least three different data sets simultaneously, and I think this is a lot faster if it can access three separate drives rather than 1 RAID drive, especially if you're gonna use software RAID, which is going to put some load on your CPU. And also because the files the RAID disk will be reading are much larger than the block size, so you'll lose a lot of the benefit of the RAID arrangement, which really works best with random access of small bits of data.

However, if you're gonna be capturing 4k footage you may have to have a RAID disk just to keep up with the write speeds necessary. You can certainly get much faster write speeds to a RAID disk than you can to any single hard drive.

Maybe you should just get 9 hard drives and set up three different RAIDS? Haha.

Regarding computer choice - I edit on a computer closer to the older 2.26 and it works fine. But we still edit mostly DV and some HDV stuff. After Effects runs fine, but I do end up having to wait for renders. A faster computer would be nice but I certainly don't feel like it's limiting me. I'm guessing the difference comes down to how dear that $600 difference is and if the HD footage you're gonna be working with is HDV or full-blow ProResHQ stuff.

Best of luck.
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Old December 14th, 2010, 11:25 AM   #6
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I have 2009 Mac Pro with 4 x 1TB drives.

OS on Drive 1
Scratch Disk Drive 2
Drives 3 & 4 in a RAID 0

Numerous GRAID-3 & 4 and other external drives for back-up clones etc. of projects on the go.

No idea if this is "the best/fastest" set-up of the MP's internal drives but it sure seems to work well with XDCAM EX3 editing :-)
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Old December 14th, 2010, 11:34 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Wilkinson View Post
I have 2009 Mac Pro with 4 x 1TB drives.

OS on Drive 1
Scratch Disk Drive 2
Drives 3 & 4 in a RAID 0

Numerous GRAID-3 & 4 and other external drives for back-up clones etc. of projects on the go.

No idea if this is "the best/fastest" set-up of the MP's internal drives but it sure seems to work well with XDCAM EX3 editing :-)
Is this the Quad core, 6 core, or 8 core? 2.26GHz?

I'm sorry if this is trivial info, since I'm going to be spending 2k to 3k on a computer, I want to be sure it will be something that will last a good 2 to 3 years. I'm sure with any electronics, this being no different. What happens to be the "latest and greatest" today, could be totally different tomorrow, and again next week. So, as I stated before, I just want to get something that will be able to handle things now, and in the future, with out having to worry about a CPU upgrade too soon in the future. I dont have a problem with upgrading drives, or video cards.
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Old December 14th, 2010, 11:49 AM   #8
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Actually it's a 8 core 2.66Ghz Nehalem - cost a bomb too. I got it (brand new) from one of the largest Apple certified sellers in the UK (Jigsaw24) at a significant saving over what it would have cost direct from Apple 18 months ago. My advice is get the fastest CPU you can afford. 4 cores is fine for most uses, 8 will rock, especially in the future (but only if you can afford it). Should be handy for me if and when we get a proper FCS upgrade that's fully "multicore aware".

You can EASILY add more RAM, hard drives/bigger drives/SSDs/better graphics cards etc. in the future, BUT you can't change the speed/architecture of the CPU.
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