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Thread: which model mac pro

  1. #1
    photohagen
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    which model mac pro

    need to buy a new mac pro but i am very undecided as to which model to purchase. i own a p65+ digital back, alpa max, and do a lot of stitching in cs5. should i get a 12 core model, or a 3.33GHz 6-Core Westmere model with 32 gigs of ram from OWC, etc. etc. lots of choices regarding the basic system. i'm not going to deal with ssd drives right now. they're way over priced. i think getting as much ram as possible is the way to go but i'm still unsure about the basic system. there's a huge price difference going the 12 core vs the 6 core route. i understand that photoshop does not work optimally on the 12 core model because it doesn't utilize all the cores. but it is perhaps safe to assume that this is something photoshop will eventually remedy. would going the 6 core route be short sighted? i don't know. i've looked at the digilloyd site but i am still undecided. if you have any real-world hands-on experience or opinions that you could offer, i would be much obliged.

    richard

  2. #2
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    Re: which model mac pro

    Aside from the diglloyd tests, you may want to check some of the testing of various models of MacPros on bearfeats.com They have done various tests with real world apps, games, etc., in different configuration of machines, amount of RAM, different graphics cards, etc. Go tho their main page, and scroll down a bit to see the various tests and results reported.

    Basically, seems like the 6-core chip holds its own quite well, and may be the best bang for the buck for most applications. If you are planning to spend on that much RAM, you probably will not have any issues. That being said, I would still go for the best graphics card and seriously think about an SSD at some point, as when the OS and apps are running on the SSD, things will work a lot faster.

    As for waiting on Photoshop to accommodate the full 12-core configuration, I would not hold my breath for that improvement very soon. Could be wrong, but that does not seem to be a priority for PS. They have been trying to keep the backward compatibility going with that app, and that means sidestepping some of the changes that could make large multi-core operations work better. That seems to hold for other Adobe apps as well, while some other apps appear very able to utilize all the cores you can offer.

    Just something to think about.

    LJ

    P.S. This post probably should have gone in the "Gear Garage" forum section, so others may have seen it and responded, not just MF users.

  3. #3
    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: which model mac pro

    I moved this discussion to here, the Gear Garage, since that's where it really belongs.

    Cheers,
    Jack
    home: www.getdpi.com

    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Re: which model mac pro

    The total amount of RAM would be my concern with such large files since you are only limited to 32 with the 6-core, but up to 64 with the 12-core. I'm about ready to buy a new Mac as well (will use with an 80gb back so the files will be large), and am interested in all the discussions. As for the SSDs, I thought they really just launched apps faster - do the programs (like CS5, Capture One, or Helicon - the three that I would use the most) really run faster too?

    Jack - you work with large files all the time, what are your thoughts?

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: which model mac pro

    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Woodland View Post

    Jack - you work with large files all the time, what are your thoughts?
    With the current generation of Mac Pro's, it's really a tough call, but here are my thoughts:

    It seems that Photoshop CS5 cannot efficiently utilize more than 4 cores, so core speed becomes more of a consideration than total number of cores. Core speed is a linear performance gain, and since you can get a 12% faster processor (3.33 vs 2.93) in the single 6-core configuration, this would seem best suited to Photoshop. But now you're limited to 4x8G or 32G RAM. At first this seems like a limitation over the 12-core machines 64G potential, but the reality is that many benchmark tests actually show an efficiency falloff for RAM, so 3x8G for 24G in the 3.33 6-core machine regularly BEATS 32, 48 and even 64G in the 2.93 12-core box. Hence, logic dictates that the 6-core 3.33 with 3x8G RAM is probably the current sweet-spot. At least for Photoshop...

    However, if you step up to software that utilizes more cores, all bets are off. Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on your point of view) there are not very many pieces of software that utilize more than 4 cores effectively other than for high-end video processing. And C1...

    So if you're a Phase shooter, which the OP is, it creates a sort of dilemma. What I do know, is that the net real difference between running C1 on the 4-core 3.33 and a 8-core 2.93, was about 20% faster on the 8-core machine. Assuming that trend holds for the 6 and 12 core machines -- and I'd guess it's a little less of a difference, so call it 15% -- then were talking saving maybe 1 minute for every 6 or 7 minutes of actual batch processing. So I'd need to factor in how I use C1 and Photoshop --- and in MY case, mostly I toggle C1 to process an image in the background while I'm searching/editing other files. And of course I then when I do batch in C1, I'd have to wait a bit longer on a machine with fewer cores.

    Next I factor in how much time I spend in C1 versus PS. In my case, they're about equal, and given the PS gains on the 6-core box about equal the C1 gains on the 12-core box, it is kind of a performance toss-up for me --- though it may balance differently for you. For the rest of the stuff I do, either configuration is plenty fast enough for the amount if time I use it, or way overkill for things I do all the time, so not even worth a worry.

    But there is then the cost consideration, and it's not trivial. The 3.33 6-core box is about $2400 base cheaper than the 2.93 12-core box -- and that $2400 will basically pay for 24G RAM (3x8G RAM is $900 at OWC), AND 3 200G RAID edition SSD's ($600 each at OWC), making it a very attractive choice indeed!

    So, my humble two-cent conclusion is: It's a close-enough call between the 3.33 6-core and the 2.93 12 core on performance, that given the cost savings I'd opt for the 3.33 6-core machine if I were buying today.

    Hope that helps,
    Jack
    home: www.getdpi.com

    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

  6. #6
    photohagen
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    Re: which model mac pro

    my apologies for posting in the wrong forum. . . .

    i would like to thank everyone for posting their thoughts. i found all of them very helpful. i am finding this decision particularly difficult. i don't find buying cameras and digital backs as difficult even though it takes time to do the research and they cost so much more money.

    i know Lj doesn't agree, and who knows, he might be right, but i do think adobe will address the core issue in future releases of photoshop. but i agree with jack, as of today the practical decision would be to buy the 6 core. one gnawing question remains: is buying the 6 core 3.33 machine today, buying into obsolescence more quickly than say buying the 12 core model(s)?

    cheers all!

    richard

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: which model mac pro

    There is one other option...

    Buy the base model 12-core, yank the processors and replace them with a matched PAIR of 6-core 3.33 plugs. Yeah, this would be costly, like $10K, but you could sell off the base cores and recoup a little --- and you'd have the best of both worlds...
    Jack
    home: www.getdpi.com

    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

  8. #8
    photohagen
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    Re: which model mac pro

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    There is one other option...

    Buy the base model 12-core, yank the processors and replace them with a matched PAIR of 6-core 3.33 plugs. Yeah, this would be costly, like $10K, but you could sell off the base cores and recoup a little --- and you'd have the best of both worlds...

    yes. if i understand the situation regarding cores and upgradability, this is an interesting option for more than one reason and goes to the point i was making regarding obsolescence. if in a year, circumstances warrant more than 32gb ram or a second processor, buying the 6 core/3.33 box preempts those possibilities. however, if i buy a 12 core machine (let's say a two 2.66GHz 6-core) from the outset, it would cost about $1200 more than buying the 6 core, and my photoshop might perform less than optimally, but at least the scalability of the machine is not limited. i could add the faster processor and more ram down the road if circumstances warrant doing so.

    richard

  9. #9
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    Re: which model mac pro

    Yank the processors.....are you guys guiding missiles? Anyway, it seems your time waiting measured in seconds vs the amount of money you can't wait to burn determine which model you buy. BTW, inside sources say next version of Photoshop is a game changer.

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