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Thread: Specs for a new Mac Pro

  1. #51
    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: Specs for a new Mac Pro

    What is interesting in that test programs that are Ram hungry the 4 core won the race but programs that are core hungry beat the 4 core. As the article warns and we have touched on here is what applications you are using is maybe more the key to the decision process.

    For someone like me that uses C1 cores are better but LR users it will be more Ram friendly and as I mentioned early my new laptop with 2 cores matches my old MacPro 4 core and actually it beats it. I think the main reason is better DD3 ram 1056 mhz bigger L2 cache plus very fast SSD drives even though I have less ram in the laptop. Talk about confusing. LOL But in C1 the old box is much faster with the 4 cores.
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    Re: Specs for a new Mac Pro

    Thanks Guy for the link and your thoughts.

    The Barefeats test is pretty amazing because it's comparing 4 Core versus 8 Core with both machines having 12 gig mem. and same 2.93 Processor speed with the 4 Core being slightly faster in Photoshop.

    That's about a $3000 pricier machine being slightly slower!

    I would guess the 8 Core 2.26 version I was thinking of would be significantly slower than the cheaper 4 Core 2.93.

    So the only advantage 8 Core for Photoshop (and I presume LightRoom) lie possibly in the future.

    But, LightRoom is now 64 bit. Is Photoshop? Does this mean 8 Core can benefit LightRoom more than Photoshop?

    I really appreciate the help on this thread.


    Mitchell

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    Re: Specs for a new Mac Pro

    Yes the future of 8 core and PS is the future so keep that in mind . Right now it makes very little use after one core. LR I am not sure on 64 bit and have not used it for awhile but I think our system only addresses 32 anyway.
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    Re: Specs for a new Mac Pro

    Photoshop is not yet fully 64-bit. I believe that will come for Snow Leopard. In effect here, you are gambling on the speed of the 8-core in the future, at a cost today. Personally, I would strongly consider if the 4-core isn't enough. It is still a fast machine, although it doesn't take as much memory in the end. If you plan to use the same back for a few years (3-4?), then the 4-core might be a better bet, and the money saved can be used to buy the next system sooner. OR you bet that everything comes together next year with CS5, Snow Leopard and C1-8-core
    Carsten - Website

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    Re: Specs for a new Mac Pro

    Sounds like the stock market and hedging our bets. LOL

    Snow Leopard rumor is September. CS5 there are no rumors at all and c1 I caught some wind on but my bet a way's out
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Specs for a new Mac Pro

    Drives:

    1a) The fastest part of a spinning drive is the outer rim. A 3.5" drive spinning at 7200 RPM is going to be faster than a 2.5" drive of the same capacity, spinning at the same speed and at the outer rim of the drive platter, because the outer rim circumference is greater and thus more linear material passing by the head over the same period of time. Once the head on the 3.5" drive sweeps in half way, it is essentially equaling the 2.5" drive at its fastest point.

    1b) A larger capacity drive has higher density platters, so for any given speed they will generally be faster than a comparable lower capacity drive for the same reason as above; more material is passing by the head even though it's at the same rotational speed.

    1c) Cache size can have a small impact on performance, but usually only helps on large file sustained reads or writes.

    Macs:

    2a) The new 4-core Mac Pro is limited to 4 RAM slots instead of 8, and will be limited to future software improvements that utilize more cores AND more RAM. Whether that's going to be a significant limitation, only you can answer for yourself based on your planned uses.

    2b) I have never met anybody who wished they had bought a slower computer.
    Jack
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    Re: Specs for a new Mac Pro

    Thanks Carsten, Guy, and Jack.

    LightRoom is 64 bit now, but I haven't seen anything on how it runs 4 Core versus 8 Core.

    Jack, Totally agree I want the fastest machine for the buck. Just can't tell which that is: 4 Core 2.93, or 8 Core 2.26, now and in the future. !:^)

    Mitchell

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    Re: Specs for a new Mac Pro

    Okay, but the money has to make sense too. If you load up a big Mac with lots of RAM and processors, you can easily double the price of the entry-level system. The question then is at what point will that big Mac actually be faster with the apps we use? No one knows, but if it takes longer than perhaps two years, then it might be as cheap and faster to get an entry-level now, and another in two years. That second system could easily be faster than the fast system of today.

    In the end it is all gambling, as long as the performance isn't there today with the apps we use. In this economy, I would choose the Mac Pro entry machine with 6GB and a couple of big fast drives, and load it up with time, switching to a new system in perhaps 3 years, selling the old.
    Carsten - Website

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    Re: Specs for a new Mac Pro

    Quote Originally Posted by carstenw View Post
    Thanks Carsten . . . seems like I fall between stools!

    oops - no I don't (I just read a bit further down). However, if it's 960, like the guy on the site, I think I'll wait a little

    Still, I'm grateful, and if it's possible now, it'll be cheap later!
    Last edited by jonoslack; 8th April 2009 at 13:53.

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    Re: Specs for a new Mac Pro

    720 dollars for 8gbs of Ram for the 15 inch at OWC which is what I have in my box. But only for the 2.66 and 2.93
    http://eshop.macsales.com/item/Other.../8566DDR3S8GP/

    If you have the 2.4 new one than go for the 4gb one for a total of 6gb
    http://eshop.macsales.com/item/Other.../8566DDR3S4GB/

    If you have the 2.53 than you need this one instead
    http://eshop.macsales.com/item/Other.../8566DDR3S4GB/

    Actually that is the same chip
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Specs for a new Mac Pro

    Quote Originally Posted by Mitchell View Post
    Jack, Totally agree I want the fastest machine for the buck.
    Mitchell
    It's the 8-core 2.93 However, I would probably be as happy with the 8x2.66. Personally, I would not bother with the 2.26 if I wanted speed...
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    Re: Specs for a new Mac Pro

    Junky. Can we take the speed needle out now. LOL

    I should talk. I went for the fastest processor and reason being is you can't upgrade this later nor the cores. Ram and Hard drives can come anytime the need arises. That's the buy decision not always makes the most sense at first but as you build the system later you will see the gains with Ram , Striped drives , Raid 0 and scratch. At some point in time you will max it out but that will take awhile. I finally had my MacPro as fast as i could get it without getting to stupid with 32gb of ram. 12gb did great on my box after that you are picking up small percentage points on speed. Also you can look at SSD drives today or down the road as prices drop. I have SSD drives in my laptop and love them but you have to watch the write times on them plus there pricy right now.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

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    Re: Specs for a new Mac Pro

    As a replacement for my 4.5 year old PowerMac I just ordered a new Mac Pro with the dual quads and 8GB of ram (on the assumption -- maybe mistaken after reading this thread -- that PS4 and Lightroom won't be able to use much more RAM than that effectively and I'll be able to upgrade at lower costs later on). I have Apple installing two 640GB drives, one for the System and the other for Apps. What would you speed demons recommend for the PS and LR caches? A couple of small hard disks in a striped RAID? Would bigger drivers be better for a RAID (even though it is a waste for cache files)? Or should I look for a compatible SSD?

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Specs for a new Mac Pro

    For posterity, I have copied this update over from my DROBO thread in the Gear Garage as it explains my entire drive arrangement:

    I now have 6 SATA2 drives in my Mac Pro using this device: http://www.maxupgrades.com/istore/in...Product_ID=158. I have my OS residing on a striped pair of WD 640G Caviar Black drives. These drives are screaming fast for 7200 RPM drives and RAID very well, but they do have a slight amount of head seek noise, soft but audible in my Mac Pro -- and they give me a huge, fast desktop for temporary image storage. I then have 4 of the WD 640G Caviar Blue drives in RAID-0 mounted in the main bays. These are perhaps a tad slower on random I/O operation than the Blacks, but are virtually silent -- and in a 4-drive RAID-0 they are VERY fast. On that array, I have a thin outer partition (4x30G) for uber-fast CS scratch and a large 4x450G, or 1.8G partition for Image storage. I then left a small 115G partition at the very end of each drive non-RAID, and use these to store back-up and bootable copies of my OS and other miscellany.

    Note that if I were building this today, I would use 4 of the 1TB WD Caviar Black drives in the 4-drive array, but am in no hurry to replace the 640's yet. I would keep the pair of WD 640 blacks as the OS stripe.

    FWIW, I am currently running 24G of OWC RAM: 4x4G sticks plus 4x2G sticks.

    My machine as set above, is pretty snappy in its performance.

    Cheers,
    Jack
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    Re: Specs for a new Mac Pro

    Jack, I greatly appreciate your advice. Wish I had six drives to RAID! But two questions. I would have thought that having the PS cache and image storage on two partitions of the same RAID array would be counterproductive. Wouldn't read and write operations be even faster if the cache was on separate physical drives (RAID or not)? Maybe the speed improvement renders that point moot, but just wondering. Also, do you have any qualms about putting image storage on a RAID array in terms of possible individual drive failure? Thanks again, Chris

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    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: Specs for a new Mac Pro

    Quote Originally Posted by cjl View Post
    Jack, I greatly appreciate your advice. Wish I had six drives to RAID! But two questions. I would have thought that having the PS cache and image storage on two partitions of the same RAID array would be counterproductive. Wouldn't read and write operations be even faster if the cache was on separate physical drives (RAID or not)? Maybe the speed improvement renders that point moot, but just wondering. Also, do you have any qualms about putting image storage on a RAID array in terms of possible individual drive failure? Thanks again, Chris
    It's a fair question Chris:

    If you think about what's going on when you work in CS4 when you tag the scratch, it is usually a one image at a time workflow unless you are batching. Or you may be multi-tasking. So...

    1) With one image at a time, you read the file from the big partition to open it, once opened, all the reading is done. Now you work on it, ultimately adding a bunch of layers and the operation start to tag the scratch disk -- no worries because nothing else is tagging the array at that point in time. When you are ready to save it, the scratch is all done so the file write isn't interrupted.

    2) If you are batching in CS4, there may be a slow down as you read, process and write, but it is still a linear operation in CS4 -- meaning the file is read, the actions are performed, then the file is written -- so I suspect the net negative effect is small since there will be little I/O overlap.

    3) Now to multi-tasking. Say you have your raw converter busy batch processing say 200 images from a shoot while you are tweaking the large file per #1 above. Here the RC is reading, converting and writing back to the array which is heavy I/O with a pause during the processing, all going on while scratch needs to tag the outer rim. Probably here I am being penalized, but the reality is the array is still so fast my performance maybe drops to at worse what I would get with a single dedicated scratch disk.

    As re image storage on a RAID array:

    RAID is for performance only and definitely -- as I have said earlier in this thread and all over the DROBO thread -- ANY RAID array needs to be backed up. In my case, that fast working image array is backed up onsite to a DROBO, which is then further backed up to single drives stored offsite. So even if my RAID goes down while I'm working, I can continue to work off my DROBO. If the DROBO and the RAID should go down together, then I'd need to leave my chair... I'd go buy a bunch of new drives, go get the single drives out of storage, then I'd re-build the arrays and very carefully copy the data back over from the singles.

    Hope that clarifies,
    Jack
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    Re: Specs for a new Mac Pro

    Hi,

    Thanks everyone, especially Jack. I finally took the plunge and ordered an 8 core, the slowest, with memory and drives form OWC . It won't be a "little deuce coupe," but I'm sure plenty for me, now and in the future.

    Best,

    Mitchell

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