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Archive 2013 · Help with post-processing Mac decision
  
 
thr1961
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Help with post-processing Mac decision


I have read through most of the threads here, but did not see my specific question addressed.

I have a number of Macs here at home, but none are "ideal" for the kind of post-processing and storage I need. I use PS6 and LR5, but have been challenged by both performance and storage issues.

I am currently using a Mid 2011 MacBook Air with a 1.7 GHz Intel i5, Intel HD graphics 3000, 4 GB of RAM and a 250 GB SSD that is nearly full.

I have access to a 13" MacBook Pro, with the a 2.3 GHz i5, 8 GB of RAM, and the same Intel Graphics. It has a 300 GB hard disk, that runs at 5400 RPM. I also have an uninstalled upgrade kit for this machine that will allow me to jump to 16 GB of RAM and to use the OWC data doubler system to pull out the DVD drive and put in a second HD that is 750 GB at 720 RPM

I have a first gen 27" cinema display, an older 24" cinema display and a third 20" older display as well.

My questions:

I think the Air is pretty much at its limits, other than sticking some sort of external storage on it; do I upgrade the MBP with the kit I have and hope it gives me better performance? Or, do I look at a Mac mini with as much RAM and disk as I can put in it? I can't see going for an iMac given the displays I have, but do want to get better graphic performance. I could also, possibly, get into a new MBP, but again can't really rationalize the price gievn all the gear I have.

I am leaning towards the Mini, but wonder how it has gone for folks. Thoughts and suggestions?

Thanks.



Nov 08, 2013 at 11:04 PM
Ian.Dobinson
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Help with post-processing Mac decision


I quite like your idea of the mini . But I do have a couple of reservations .

Is the mini user upgradeable for ram and hard drive ? Cos if not then getting a decent spec is not cheap .
I'd throw out the spinning hard drive and stick an SSD in there . And at least 8gig of ram .(but as much as possible is always better) .


But then I do have to ask are you using all those displays? Or indeed will you use all of them with the mini ?

I bet the 27" would still fetch good money on the used market . If you were to stick those funds on top of the cost of the (speced up ) mini then your probably a good way to a fully speced imac27 .
The 27 is user upgradeable for the memory so don't bother spending on that at apple prices . But do go for either the fusion drive or the SSD . (Mine has the fusion and it works very well)



Nov 08, 2013 at 11:57 PM
rddelliott
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Help with post-processing Mac decision


I have a Mac Mini 2.3 i7 with 16 GB of Ram, a 320 SSD internal drive and a 1GB internal drive. I have a 27in Apple Thunderbolt display with two 3GB external drives for photo storage and backup. I run CS6 along with Aperture and am very happy with the setup coming from a Mac Pro. It processes my RAW files from my 1Dx with no problems. I picked up the Mini as a conversion off eBay with the SSD, memory and extra internal drive installed. You can buy the Mini stripped and install the upgrades yourself depending how mechanical you are. OWC has kits and instructions.

I would suggest shedding some of your gear for a single setup. I personally do not like notebooks for photo processing, but your experience may vary.



Nov 09, 2013 at 12:32 AM
thr1961
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Help with post-processing Mac decision


Thanks for these suggestions. To clarify, the other machines and displays are being used, just by others in the house. At the end of the day, I need to have a laptop for my wife, a laptop and display for my son, and whatever processing system I decide is optimal for me. The good news is that I can pretty much swap stuff in and out as they don't really care what they have as long as it works!

I will look into the mini, assuming it has enough graphics power to drive the two primary programs. I am very comfortable doing installs etc., but don't want to buy a computer with the intent to not even use the stock parts -- your ebay upgrade sounds like a promising direction to follow, although I will look at the refurbs as well.




Nov 09, 2013 at 03:00 AM
Bifurcator
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Help with post-processing Mac decision


It sounds to me like you're the perfect candidate for a used 8-core 2.8GHz MacPro 3,1

You can get one off ebay for about $600 and add 32GB of IBM server RAM to it for $225 (or 16GB for about $100). Toss the HDD it comes with into the trashcan first thing and replace it with the fastest 128GB SSD available (I use the Samsung 840 Pro series drives at about $120). Then at about $110 a pop add two or three Seagate (ST3000DM001) Barracuda 3TB drives. Finish the thing off with an NVidia GTX 570 for $90 off ebay again and you'll have a beautiful system very capable of the performance requirements you list (and more!) for around $1k or a little less. The only other thing you might need is a $25 USB3.0 card.

In 6/mo or so when you have a little extra to spend grab some external backup rotational drives of the same size and make and maybe get a 3.2GHz processor upgrade for around $150 to $200.





Nov 09, 2013 at 03:37 AM
Ian.Dobinson
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Help with post-processing Mac decision


^^^^^
That does sound a great option



Nov 09, 2013 at 07:55 AM
thr1961
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Help with post-processing Mac decision


I like the pro idea a great deal. It also addresses a music challenge I have as I could use a drive to store my music until I get around to building a NAS.

I get the idea around SSD and the two seagates. Is the "flavor" of memory important in your view? IBM server vs going to OWC, for example?

Finally, I know nothing about video cards. I see the nvdia on eBay, but is this replacing an existing one or being added? Is there configuration required or does it all just work? Could the video piece be an add on later?

Thanks for the help and thoughts.



Nov 09, 2013 at 01:01 PM
intimistic
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Help with post-processing Mac decision


If you are not comfortable or able to install ram and hard drive/ssd upgrades

I know OWC offers the service for $99 IF you buy the upgrades from them.
http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/mac-mini/install/

I have not used this service though.


Also the mac mini server version comes with 2 1 TB 5400rpm hard drives installed. and Adding ram is easy on the new minis. HDs are much more difficult to install.

Also you do not have to use the server software. And now the drives are covered by the apple care warranty.
I not sure if that is a benefit or not … It is what it is.. just a thought.

Rumors are that the mini is due for an upgrade soon.

Some hope the upgrade will be to haswell which will offer better video performance. Maybe 4k video.
Worth a read here if interested.

http://www.imore.com/whats-haswell-mac-mini



Nov 09, 2013 at 01:55 PM
OntheRez
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Help with post-processing Mac decision


thr1961,
Bif, and Ian have both gotten to you with the used Mac Pro idea which if you intend to do any sort of serious processing is probably your best bet given that you already have a nice monitor. I have the same Air that you have and use it on extended shoots as temporary storage so I don't have to carry a zillion cards around. It works (with Aperture or LR) for me to do basic culling and minor tweaking if necessary. The Air's design brief never included graphics work as part of its purpose. The 13" could be sold to help finance a Mac Pro.

Bif has suggested the eBay approach which certainly works particularly if you have some familiarity with hardware in general and Mac in particular. If you'd like a bit more security, I've dealt with PowerMax for many years both buying from and selling to them. I just flipped thru their used Mac Pro listings and they have everything from 1.1 to 5.1 in stock. I noticed a 3.1 (Harpertown) with 12GB RAM and 1.5TB storage for about $1500. A 4.1 (Nehalam) with 6GB RAM and ~1.5TB of storage and the NVIDA GT-120 for ~$1600. Powermax offers 90 day warranties so you won't get a DOA unit. I have no connection with Powermax other than having worked with them for ~15 years. Absolutely righteous folks and fun to deal with.

So you've got plenty of options. One thought, I would consider it wise to invest in the newest processor you can afford so as to "future proof" you against future OS X upgrades. One can run Mavericks on a 2.1 machine using a boot loader, but there is a point where hardware gets too old to keep up with system advances.

Robert

Powermax does trade-ins against purchases so you might check how they would value the 13" MacBook Pro. I've dealt a lot with Michelle Ryther 800-3599 x204 and she's completely competent.



Nov 09, 2013 at 02:05 PM
mcbroomf
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Help with post-processing Mac decision


I've only ever used PCs but have been looking at adding a mac to run some mac only software.

There are some old and newer posts on Lula about mac minis, also vs old Mac Pro's
http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?board=34.0
An extensive how-to for upgrading 2009 Mac pro
http://pindelski.org/Photography/mac-pro/
Spec lists for older MPs
http://www.everymac.com/systems/apple/mac_pro/index-macpro.html

I have yet to make a decision, I was hoping that the Mini would be upgraded to the new Intel chip with 4500 graphics in the recent announcement but it got passed over. I may just wait until is does, maybe next year if they stick to their typical cycle.

Mike





Nov 09, 2013 at 02:54 PM
 

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Alan321
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Help with post-processing Mac decision


I'm afraid that the Mac Mini is not a Mac Pro Mini. The cpu speed is limited but at least you can get one with 4 cores instead of 2 (a definite advantage with modern photo software). Graphics performance was definitely not a design priority. For the most part that doesn't matter for photo use in terms of showing the photos but it may restrict some applications on the ability to use the graphics card to assist the main cpu for calculations.

The iMacs and Mac Pro let you get into the faster cpus than do the mac mini and macbooks, but then you're paying a premium for stuff you you do not need. The older Mac Pros are a decent option but if you don't beef them up then a modern Macbook pro can outrun them for moderate photo work. Unfortunately the old mac pros do not use the latest (fastest) PCIe interface or SATA 6Gbps interface but at least you can add accessories to give you USB 3 and huge amounts of on-line storage.

I want a new macbook pro with retina screen that is significantly faster than my 17" MBP but it is not to be without spending a bundle of money. For now all of the Apple alternatives are expensive compromises that I cannot live with but my application demands portability, ruling out the second hand Mac Pro option. Pity.

The old Mac Pros will give you serious upgrade capabilities that none of the other Apple computers offer, such as graphics card, more storage, faster storage (e.g. via RAID or SSDs), memory, accessory cards, and then the relatively very-non-apple options like CPU upgrades. In fact Apple is generally steering all of their new models away from user upgrades, making them poorer options for long-term ownership.

- Alan



Nov 09, 2013 at 06:10 PM
thr1961
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Help with post-processing Mac decision


I have located a mid-2010 Mac Pro, 2.4 GHz, 16 GB RAM, 1 TB HDD, and Nvidia GeoForce GT 120 graphics card (512 mb). It appears to be legit as I ran the serial number provided and it is still under Applecare for another month. Asking price is $750, but I am thinking it will go for less since they are anxious to sell it and have it gone.

Based on the pindelski site ( http://pindelski.org/Photography/2013/07/10/mac-pro-2009-part-xiii/ ) this is a pretty incredible deal and the machine is prime for being upgraded with more RAM, SSD, and better HDDs.

Any thoughts on this? Am I missing something here?



Nov 10, 2013 at 02:14 PM
Bifurcator
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Help with post-processing Mac decision


That's too much for a 2.4GHz. About $250 too much.

Try this one:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/APPLE-MAC-PRO-A1186-2X-QC-2-8GHZ-OS-MAVERICKS-MA970LL-A-Macpro3-1-LOWEST-PRICE-/390686025320?pt=Apple_Desktops&hash=item5af6b3a668

Here's some going via the bid system:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/MAC-PRO-3-1-1-3TB-10GB-VIDEO-EDITING-AVID-6-5-FINAL-CUT-PRO-ADOBE-CS6-ANIME-/181257762778?pt=Apple_Desktops&hash=item2a33cdf7da

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Apple-Mac-Pro-3-1-Tower-Early-2008-2-x-3G-8-cores-12G-Ram-OSx-10-8-5-/151162061233?pt=Apple_Desktops&hash=item2331f601b1

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Mac-Pro-2-8-GHz-Quad-Core-Xeon-Early-2008/261323678443?_trksid=p2047675.m1986&_trkparms=aid%3D555012%26algo%3DPW.MBE%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D361%26meid%3D2606557701094427829%26pid%3D100013%26prg%3D1004%26rk%3D4%26rkt%3D15%26sd%3D171156093082%26

Local Pickup: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Apple-Mac-Pro-Desktop-Quad-2-8-GHz-Intel-Zeon-MA970LL-A-January-2008/251337553515?_trksid=p2047675.m1850&_trkparms=aid%3D222002%26algo%3DSIC.FIT%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D11%26meid%3D2606467667038747411%26pid%3D100011%26prg%3D1005%26rk%3D1%26rkt%3D5%26sd%3D390689460635%26

Whatever you do be patient and don't mind auctions with bad photography or dirty looking machines. You can clean them and a lot of folks just suck at photography. Whatever you do be patient. You may not find one at a reasonable price for 10 or 20 days… then again it might show up tomorrow.

If you wanna know what the going rates are have a look at the sold listings:
http://www.ebay.com/sch/Desktops-AllInOnes-/171957/i.html?_from=R40&_nkw=mac+pro+3+1&LH_Complete=1&LH_Sold=1&rt=nc

Here's one such that's about right:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Apple-Mac-Pro-3-1-2-x-Quad-Core-2-8-16-GB-RAM-/171156093082?pt=Apple_Desktops&hash=item27d9b2b89a&nma=true&si=rjjWLzbznzNK6h6543bJP1JGjrk%253D&orig_cvip=true&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2557



Nov 10, 2013 at 04:11 PM
thr1961
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Help with post-processing Mac decision


Really? Even though it is a 5,1? The site referenced suggested that was a good machine if reasonably priced.


Nov 10, 2013 at 05:34 PM
mcbroomf
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Help with post-processing Mac decision


And in particular he says the later versions have PCI 2.0 vs 1.0, use cheaper RAM for filling out the slots (if necessary) and greater RAM capacity.


Nov 10, 2013 at 05:50 PM
thr1961
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Help with post-processing Mac decision


Exactly. Other thoughts?


Nov 10, 2013 at 06:12 PM
Bifurcator
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Help with post-processing Mac decision


Oh, a 5,1…. I missed that bit, sorry.

And this is a dual processor model?


BTW, did you read what he wrote halfway down the page*

    "Version 4,1, MB535LL/A, early-2009:
    Buy. The most desirable model, easily upgraded to 2010 or 2012 specifications."

Which is correct, the 4,1 is actually a much better deal that the 5,1. It's actually the identical hardware and with a firmware upgrade (unsupported of course) actually becomes a 5,1 - completely.





Nov 11, 2013 at 04:56 AM
aubsxc
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Help with post-processing Mac decision


thr1961 wrote:
I have located a mid-2010 Mac Pro, 2.4 GHz, 16 GB RAM, 1 TB HDD, and Nvidia GeoForce GT 120 graphics card (512 mb). It appears to be legit as I ran the serial number provided and it is still under Applecare for another month. Asking price is $750, but I am thinking it will go for less since they are anxious to sell it and have it gone.

Based on the pindelski site ( http://pindelski.org/Photography/2013/07/10/mac-pro-2009-part-xiii/ ) this is a pretty incredible deal and the machine is prime for being upgraded with more RAM, SSD, and better HDDs.

Any thoughts on this?
...Show more

$750 seems like way too much to be paying for a Nehalem based system at this time. There have been major updates to Intel CPU technology since the time this MacPro was built:

Nehalem - Westmere - Sandy Bridge - (Sandy Bridge E Sck 2011) - Ivy Bridge - (Ivy Bridge E Sck 2011) -Haswell (in the desktop based silicon lineup, with Xeon/server based equivalents)

and the processor is 5 generations old at this time. In my opinion, you would be much better served by investing in more current technology.



Nov 11, 2013 at 10:55 PM
OntheRez
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Help with post-processing Mac decision


aubsxc wrote:
$750 seems like way too much to be paying for a Nehalem based system at this time. There have been major updates to Intel CPU technology since the time this MacPro was built:

Nehalem - Westmere - Sandy Bridge - (Sandy Bridge E Sck 2011) - Ivy Bridge - (Ivy Bridge E Sck 2011) -Haswell (in the desktop based silicon lineup, with Xeon/server based equivalents)

and the processor is 5 generations old at this time. In my opinion, you would be much better served by investing in more current technology.


aubsxc,

I really have to disagree with you on this one. If it is in fact a dual quad 2.4 GHz 5.1 equipped as described, $750 is a nice price. You are completely correct that the Nehalem has been superseded by later Intel chip versions but very little of this has made it into the Mac Pro line up. Apple has put newer chips in the iMac line but not in the MP. Basically Apple has done nothing for pro users since about 2010. I'm running this machine with max RAM and now a PCI-e SSD boot drive and it is a very competent photo editing machine. Sure I'd like faster/more, but with my current rig I think I can sit out the first wave of the new MacPro while others solve its teething problems and see what its real world performance is.

Assuming the described machine is legit and works, I'd drop $750 on it without a problem.

Obviously different opinions exist on this topic.

Robert



Nov 12, 2013 at 04:11 PM
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Help with post-processing Mac decision


I agree with aubsxc 100%. The thing is that we're talking about Apple. Apple has always been behind in tech and over in price. At this time and really for the past ten years, Apple has a very limited selection of desktops. If a person wants a desktop or all-in-one computer which is sanctioned to run OS X they're pretty much stuck with old tech at very high prices. The choices are just very limited.

aubsxc is right though, If one wants the newest high-spec tech Apple is not where to be looking - at all! Even the new Mac Pro is releasing with old tech. No, in this case one is really forced to build their own machine - and yes, they can do it for about the same money as a used MacPro costs - or there a bouts. This is very well known to tech nerds and one reason why so many people laugh at Apple and Apple users.

There is a piece of good news in all this though. Most people already know this but you can totally build a screamer like we're talking about here and install Hackintosh on it with pretty much 100% compatibility. Typically the worst of it is that the user has to wait a month or two before installing the latest updates. It's kind of an advantage actually - ya get to read about any troubles and how to work around them before DL and installing.




Nov 12, 2013 at 05:24 PM
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