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Old September 26th, 2006, 01:11 AM   #1
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Suggest a good mac box to start with

I'm going to transition to PPro 2 to FCP and am ready to buy a Mac for editing and general post-production purposes. This is for commercial work mostly, and some longer form projects from time to time (infomercials). What's a good solid system you might recommend that's fast, has enough to start and can be expanded on up to whatever I might ever need, when I'm ready to spend more money? Any guidance here to a newbie to Macs? (Okay, I had a mac in the mid-1980s, but that doesn't count.)

Also, Kona or Decklink? Thoughts?
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Old September 26th, 2006, 06:02 AM   #2
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The Mac Pro is the most expandable and if you are considering AJA or Decklink cards then that's your only option.

However, the iMac 24" is very powerful right out of the box, the hard drive can be replaced, and with the use of Intel chips, they have stopped soldering the processor to the motherboard. This means that if you are up to it, you cpould potentially swap processors when new ones are available.
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Old September 26th, 2006, 12:53 PM   #3
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if you want to add cards there's really only one line to look at... the mac Pro's are the only ones that you can do this in.

Other than that it's a trade off of time for money. Even the lowest end Mac Pro is pretty good unless you're looking to o a lot of advanced rendering.

I'm a Decklink guy because they've allways worked great for me and are a little less expensive meaning I can get a larger array or a slightly faster processor alltogether.

I'd reccomend at least 2 gig of ram & I firmly believe that it's a good idea to not keep your media and system on the same drive, and to that end I went with a external SATA from promax (not affiliated just like their products).
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Old September 26th, 2006, 06:00 PM   #4
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Thanks, guys. Link to the promax?

How about this then:


from:

http://store.apple.com/AppleStore/We...OGpo7sz/1.?p=0

Mac Pro
Two 3.0 GHz process
4 gig memory (overkill for now, or...?)
250 gig hard drive
Do I want to add more 500 gig drives to the other bays? Or do some sort of external raid? ??

Which graphics card? (I have a 24" Dell already)

NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT 256MB (single-link DVI/dual-link DVI)
2 x NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT 256MB [Add $150]
ATI Radeon X1900 XT 512MB (2 x dual-link DVI) [Add $250]
3 x NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT 256MB [Add $300]
4 x NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT 256MB [Add $450]
NVIDIA Quadro FX 4500 512MB, Stereo 3D (2 x dual-link DVI) [Add $1650]

Do I need this one:

Fibre Channel Card
To connect to an Xserve RAID, you will need a Fibre Channel PCI Express card (host bus adapter).

This would connect to the Promax external?

This is new terrain for me, and I guess I'll be spending time in those classes at the Mac store for a bit.

This puts it in the 5 grand range, which is around where I was thinking. Or should I spend that money a little differently?

Thoughts?
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Old September 26th, 2006, 06:44 PM   #5
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250 will work for ur system drive- you may want 2 have a 500 gig or 2 for that matter as storage drives...final cut is pritty cool like that you can have like 4 i belive. 4 gigs of ram will do you just fine. the graphics cards...when it says 3x and 4x does that mean 3 or 4 7300's if thats what it means i would just go with one or maybe 2...they only way that more than one would help would be if you want 2 do work in compositing programs or somthing that will take adavantage of the multipul gpu's and in that case you would go with the quatro card- i dont know about the fiber channal card. as far as i know that is just for there server stuff. but it may have other uses. hope this helps
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Old September 26th, 2006, 08:57 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Nelson
Thanks, guys. Link to the promax?

How about this then:


from:

http://store.apple.com/AppleStore/We...OGpo7sz/1.?p=0

Mac Pro
Two 3.0 GHz process
4 gig memory (overkill for now, or...?)
250 gig hard drive
Do I want to add more 500 gig drives to the other bays? Or do some sort of external raid? ??

Which graphics card? (I have a 24" Dell already)

NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT 256MB (single-link DVI/dual-link DVI)
2 x NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT 256MB [Add $150]
ATI Radeon X1900 XT 512MB (2 x dual-link DVI) [Add $250]
3 x NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT 256MB [Add $300]
4 x NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT 256MB [Add $450]
NVIDIA Quadro FX 4500 512MB, Stereo 3D (2 x dual-link DVI) [Add $1650]

Do I need this one:

Fibre Channel Card
To connect to an Xserve RAID, you will need a Fibre Channel PCI Express card (host bus adapter).

This would connect to the Promax external?

This is new terrain for me, and I guess I'll be spending time in those classes at the Mac store for a bit.

This puts it in the 5 grand range, which is around where I was thinking. Or should I spend that money a little differently?

Thoughts?

The basic computer sounds good. I happen to like the BlackMagic cards. Don't own one but have worked with them and have installed them.

The video cards are really not going to help you edit in Final Cut so go with the stock card unless you have needs in 3D animation or Photoshop that the extra cards might address.

You could fill up the internal drive bays before going with an external SATA raid from Promax. Check with BlackMagic or Kona about the drive speeds needed for their cards. I have always gone with an external raid with the BlackMagic cards but that was with older computers.

Skip the FiberChannel, you'll need a SATA card if you go with an external RAID.

Good luck with your new system.
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Old September 27th, 2006, 04:09 PM   #7
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Great thread!

I'm planning the switch to Mac (have been for a while) and am torn between the Mac Pro and the 24" iMac. For my immediate needs (30 minute SD training videos and HDV short films) the 24" iMac with Final Cut Pro looks like a very competent editing machine.

I'm still leaning toward the Mac Pro but the 24" iMac makes a strong arguement.

Based on similar configurations (as close as I can get them on the Apple website) the the iMac looks like a savings of around $1600.

The part that scares me though about the iMac is the 3GB RAM limit. I don't know if that's a ridiculous worry or a legitimate concern. My ultimate goal (and everyone's goal) is to be able to edit HDV as easily as SD. The fact that you can stick 16GB of RAM in the Mac Pro is awesome.

I'd love to hear from anyone editing HD on something similar to the 24" iMac. If the iMac's 3GB of RAM and a 2.33 Core 2 Duo chip will slice HDV like butter, going up to the Mac Pro might be investing in power I'll never use.

On the flip side, the Mac Pro may have a longer desk life due to the expandability.

Ok, supernerd time...

By paying the extra $1600 to go from the iMac to the Mac Pro you get:

An extra gig of RAM

Faster processor -
Two 2.66GHz Dual-Core Intel Xeon vs Single 2.33GHz Intel Core 2 Duo

A slightly smaller screen (23" Cinema Display)

More Expandability: up to 16GB RAM, 3 TB internal storage (it says 2TB on their website but 4 750GB SATA drives would work), PCI Express slots, more options with graphics cards, upgrade possibility to 3.0 Ghz chips)

The details from Apple.com as of Sept 27, 2006.

24" iMac - $4852.00
(1920 x 1200 res)
2.33GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
3GB 667 DDR2 SDRAM
500GB Serial ATA Drive
NVIDIA GeForce 7600 GT 256MB SDRAM
Apple Wireless Keyboard & Mouse
Final Cut Studio
AppleCare Protection


Mac Pro $6,485.00
23" Apple Cinema Display (1920 x 1200 res)
Two 2.66GHz Dual-Core Intel Xeon
Apple Wireless Keyboard and Mouse
4GB 667MHz DDR2
500GB 7200-rpm Serial ATA 3Gb/s
NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT 256MB (single-link DVI/dual-link DVI)
Final Cut Studio
AppleCare Protection
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Old September 27th, 2006, 06:20 PM   #8
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If you intend to take advantage of programs like Motion then 3 gigs of RAM might not be the best, especially if you are intending to create HD graphics in the program. The program will work but real-time previews will be limited.

The extra drive space in the Mac Pro is another factor you should consider. How many projects will you be doing at the same time and how much footage will you need to keep on hand in the computer.

Otherwise the iMac is a very good machine.
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Old September 28th, 2006, 02:50 AM   #9
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So with this being the selection for video cards:

NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT 256MB (single-link DVI/dual-link DVI)
2 x NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT 256MB [Add $150]
ATI Radeon X1900 XT 512MB (2 x dual-link DVI) [Add $250]
3 x NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT 256MB [Add $300]
4 x NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT 256MB [Add $450]

What do you suggest? The ATI Radeon X1900? Or all the way up to the 4 x NVIDIA GeForce 7300?
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Old September 28th, 2006, 03:59 AM   #10
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From tests I've seen, the ATI gives you most bang for the buck.

Have a look at:

barefeats.com

Gunleik
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Old September 28th, 2006, 09:52 AM   #11
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Interesting comments about RAM and Motion. Most of the Motion work I'd be doing would most likely be on the standard def side, but good to know that the expandable RAM is as valuable a feature as it is.

That Mac Pro RAM is pretty expensive right now. I found a 2GB Matched Set (1GB x 2) at eshop.macsales.com for $470 which is about as low as I could find. Combined with the default Apple config that gives it 3GB of RAM (using 4 of the 8 slots - 1GB, 1GB, 512MB, 512MB) leaving 4 slots free for RAM upgrades once the prices are more reasonable.

On the hard drive side B&H Photo has a 7200rpm Hitachi 500GB drive with a 300MB/sec transfer rate and 16MB data buffer for $279. Since Apple charges $200 to bump the system drive from 250GB to 500GB, with three open drive bays is there a benefit to a system drive larger than 250GB?
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Old September 28th, 2006, 10:22 AM   #12
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The system and apps drive is cool @ 250
It's recomended not to have media on the system drive.

You could actually add 5 more drives with this solution:
http://www.hardmac.com/news/2006-09-25/#5955

Theoretically you could then set up a 5*750 (3,
3,7 TB) RAID 0 or 5 straight out of the box. Should hold up to most formats...

You won't need an XRAID before you have started off, at least.

Gunleik
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Old September 28th, 2006, 10:32 AM   #13
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Woah! Interesting article...
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