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Seeking advice on buying a new mac pro

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  #1  
Old 09-30-2008, 10:25 AM
Caravaggio Caravaggio is offline
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Seeking advice on buying a new mac pro

Hello, I am trying to design a mac pro to replace my ailing PowerPC G5. I want to use this machine for high-end retouching. I may in the future try to learn some 3d modeling programs like zbrush so would like the computer to maybe be capable of handling 3d modeling. I don't play any computer games.

This is what I preliminarily choose. What do all the professional retouchers think of this machine? Is it overkill? Should I make any changes. I want it to run like a Ferrari. I will partition the hard drive so photoshop has its own scratch disk.

Mac Pro
Part Number: Z0EM
Two 3.2GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon (8-core)
16GB (4 x 4GB)
750GB 7200-rpm Serial ATA 3Gb/s
NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT 512MB (Two dual-link DVI)
One 16x SuperDrive
AirPort Extreme card (Wi-Fi)
Apple Mighty Mouse
Apple Wireless Keyboard (English) + User's Guide
Accessory kit
Apple 30 inch cinema display
Protection Plan

Thanks a lot for your help and advice.
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  #2  
Old 09-30-2008, 11:43 AM
mfischer mfischer is offline
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Re: Seeking advice on buying a new mac pro

I, personally, think its overkill.
I would go with two 2.8 CPUs and 8GB RAM.

Dont buy RAM or Harddisks from Apple. Compare some prices.

Partitioning a single drive for a dedicated scratchdisk is plain useless.
Buy dedicated harddrives.
Mine is filled with four disks, one for the system, one for data, one as scratchdisk, the last for backup.
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Old 09-30-2008, 12:21 PM
retouchn00b retouchn00b is offline
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Re: Seeking advice on buying a new mac pro

Personally, I'd recommend setting up four hard disks in a RAID 5 configuration. This will give you maximum speed with an automatic backup (if a drive fails, you can get back your data, but if you delete something important, you're still in trouble).

RAM from Apple for the Mac Pros is specialized; while normally I'd recommend not buying from Apple, in this case it's a good thing.

Hard drives are a different story. You can get 1 TB drives for as low as CAD125 if you find them on sale.

Partitioning the hard disk will do nothing. It'll probably actually make the computer slower, in fact.

I'm no expert on displays, particularly for retouching, but the Apple Cinema line hasn't been updated in at least 4 or 5 years, and I would never buy one. They're really quite expensive for what you get. That being said, I have no colour matching requirements.
The Mighty Mouse is a load of crap. I can't imagine it'd be useful for retouching; get the standard mouse and buy a decent mouse from someone else. MS makes better mice, honestly.

Get the cheapest video card unless you're planning on using it for 3d rendering, some HD movie editing, gaming, or you're going to get CS4 or better during the life of the machine.

Last edited by retouchn00b; 09-30-2008 at 12:26 PM.
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Old 09-30-2008, 01:04 PM
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Markzebra Markzebra is offline
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Re: Seeking advice on buying a new mac pro

"RAM from Apple for the Mac Pros is specialized;" - thats not really true. Kingston do good and reliable RAM of exactly the same spec, Apple RAM is marked up and overpriced, most experts say this http://www.macwarehouse.co.uk/catalogue/item/kinme011

I have a recent mac of pretty well the same spec as you are looking (not two 4 cores but two duals) - and my setup works great, best I've ever seen, well in excess of what CS3 can use it for! In my experience also having more than about 5 or 6 GIGS is pointless, Photoshop just never accesses it. On mac, before CS5 comes out it probably wont be able to either . I have 7 Gigs. There are people who claim incorrectly that it can access as much as you have, but they are self deceived, you can check Activity Monitor to confirm this.

I agree that the Mighty Mouse is a weird and not very good design, I hate them, better get a cheap PC mouse.

Biggest thing to remember you don't have to buy it all now your new mac is highly customizable, just flip it open and add what you want or need, when you need.

Last edited by Markzebra; 09-30-2008 at 01:12 PM.
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Old 09-30-2008, 01:22 PM
Caravaggio Caravaggio is offline
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Re: Seeking advice on buying a new mac pro

I also hate the mighty mouse, but they come by default with the macpro whether you want it or not.

As for the Cinema Display monitors, they may no longer be state of the art and require 3rd party calibration equipment, but I like that they are not quite as expensive as the NEC monitor I just returned, are not super bright so it won't tire my eyes and will take up less deskspace than some of the higher end monitors. I probably need a good video card as I want this computer to last through CS5! I also would like to learn how to do 3d modeling which I am guessing requires a good video card.

I am looking into setting up a RAID network of several dedicated harddrives. I need to do some research on this as I know nothing about RAID. Can I use my old power PC G5 in this nework as one of the harddrives? It is from 2004 and is not wifi.

What is the difference between a dedicated harddrive and an external one?
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Old 09-30-2008, 01:27 PM
retouchn00b retouchn00b is offline
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Re: Seeking advice on buying a new mac pro

An external hard drive is slower; runs through USB or firewire.

RAID isn't something that networks. Basically, you've got more than one hard drive (the actual number depends on a variety of things) and they appear as one hard drive to the computer. You need to get the Mac Pro RAID card if you want to do this. RAID has multiple levels, and each has certain disadvantages and benefits. RAID 5 is generally thought to be the best general purpose RAID level. I have set up a windows PC to use RAID, but haven't done it on a Mac Pro. It was pretty simple on the PC.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAID
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Old 09-30-2008, 01:28 PM
Caravaggio Caravaggio is offline
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Re: Seeking advice on buying a new mac pro

Markzebra, What exactly is the activity monitor?
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Old 09-30-2008, 01:30 PM
retouchn00b retouchn00b is offline
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Re: Seeking advice on buying a new mac pro

Quote:
Originally Posted by Caravaggio View Post
Markzebra, What exactly is the activity monitor?
Go to /Applications/Utilities. Activity Monitor is in that folder.

Activity Monitor is roughly what Ctrl-alt-del pulls up in Windows XP/Vista
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Old 09-30-2008, 03:15 PM
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Markzebra Markzebra is offline
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Re: Seeking advice on buying a new mac pro

Nope its not Task Manager - its a system utility for providing feedback of what your mac is doing on the fly, this includes disk activity, Memory(RAM) usage, even CPU usage while everything else is running - threads of activity are displayed as well as summaries. This is for problem solving if you ever need it, which you probably never will. There are other utilities for disk permissions and clean ups
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Old 09-30-2008, 03:26 PM
retouchn00b retouchn00b is offline
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Re: Seeking advice on buying a new mac pro

So…basically what Vista's task manager does, with the odd added feature.
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