View Full Version : mac pro buying advice needed

Mike S
09-17-2006, 03:50 PM
I am a photographer using photoshop a lot with a G4 and am now considering
buying a mac pro.
Should I buy now or wait for the new processor Clovertown? I have a lot of images to process and the time it takes is killing me. I don't know if putting up with the torture for a new processor is worth it.
Should I use the video card that comes with the mac pro or buy a different one. I hear that a good video card is important for photoshop and I know nothing about video cards.
Thanks for any help.

09-17-2006, 04:43 PM
Unless things have changed in the last year,

I have a G4 sawtooth with a Rage 128 vga card running Panther. I am running a sony 17" monitor now and have just bought a Dell 2005FPW. I would like to run both monitors with seperate cards for...

I would not hesitate. I also wouldn't worry about CS3 or whether having 8 cores will help (http://bbs.xlr8yourmac.com/ubb/Forum32/HTML/000339.html) - total speculation, and it would mean software optimizations to take advantage, or even if Apple will use them. The Pro's 4 cores will clearly help from where you are today by a huge margin.

I would save money and not fret or worry, $250 on video? better spent on the RAM that you will need. And on some SATA disk drives.

Mac Pro 2.66GHz with 4-5GB RAM and disk drives.

I am very pleased, waited a long time for something like this, though I don't use Photoshop but these people do (http://discussions.apple.com/search.jspa?objID=c194&search=Go&q=photoshop) and Barefeats (and others) have done some preliminary tests.

09-17-2006, 04:54 PM
And, it is highly likely that at some point in the future you can buy the latest greatest CPU for a song and drop 'em in yourself. No doubt you saw on the web someone has already dropped some early Clovertowns in a MacPro and it booted right up.....so we know it is doable.

Get your MacPro now and upgrade it yourself later.

09-17-2006, 05:45 PM
I am a photographer using photoshop a lot with a G4 and am now considering
buying a mac pro.
Should I buy now or wait for the new processor Clovertown? I have a lot of images to process and the time it takes is killing me. I don't know if putting up with the torture for a new processor is worth it.
Should I use the video card that comes with the mac pro or buy a different one. I hear that a good video card is important for photoshop and I know nothing about video cards.
Thanks for any help.

Welcome to the forums Mike.

I'll take a stab at this- from everything I've been reading and observing, here's my take on this:

Should I buy now or wait for the new processor Clovertown? I have a lot of images to process and the time it takes is killing me. I don't know if putting up with the torture for a new processor is worth it.

This depends. If you're losing $ with your present system/workflow- or, could be making a lot more $ as a result of upgrading right now-

I'd purchase the fastest Mac Pro now. And I don't think I'd seriously consider a low-priced G5 at all unless money is a real issue. Why?

Because even under the quasi-64bit OS Tiger, the Rosetta emulator, and 32bit Photoshop CS2- you'll still be running Photoshop much faster than a G4. And currently, not that much slower than a G5 Quad which is the fastest G5 for Photoshop.
But the G5 is a dead-end street with a limited hardware upgrade path which can only hold it's own with the slowest Mac Pro. And who knows how well CS3 will play with PowerPC quad- I'm sure it will be heavily optimized for Intel...

So as far as software is concerned, you'd be very well positioned. CS3 under Leopard in 2007 should be all the more faster since it will be natively a Universal Binary app, maybe even fully 64bit, and Leopard will be all or mostly 64bit. At that point you'll really be able to take advantage of really large amounts of RAM, and possibly CS3 will offload some of of it's work to the GPU (that last part is pure speculation on my part).

It's probably true the faster Clovertons will eventually eclipse the current Mac Pro- and an 8-core Mac Pro will certainly be a thing to behold but-

You'll have a darned fast machine anyway and you may even be able to upgrade the processors at some point. Possibly.
Also, as RAM prices stabilize, you'll better be able to afford larger amounts of memory.

You can- and IMHO- start right away with a really fast GPU- the ATI 1900, which is a good hedge because more and more apps will be using the GPU in addition to CPU. Photoshop in it's current incarnation does not benefit from a faster graphics card. This has been shown in test after test and in direct quotes from Adobe engineers. However, that is something which could change. A good handful of pro apps both 2D and 3D do directly benefit from a faster GPU, and that is sure to increase in number. Whether Photoshop goes that route, who know...

If you can wait because your image processing time is mostly an inconvenience, and your not really losing $ or losing potential revenue, I'd wait. Why?

You'll have the possibility of a faster and maybe 8-core machine, probably faster RAM speed, faster hard drives, and in general- various second-generation refinements.

09-17-2006, 05:56 PM

I would not get the "fastest" MacPro, the cost of 3GHz isn't really cost effective.

ATI's X1900 XT - it is beginning to look like there could be good reason to wait to buy, do it later for instance. Too many threads pointing at some problems. Some with Dell compatibility, many of course with Windows, but some people can't even boot and run the current version of Apple Hardware Test.

Allow 2GB for Rosetta PPC compatibility etc. and 4GB RAM for CS2 seems to be ideal - and rather expensive.

I know 10.4.8 will improve things and isn't due for 2-4 weeks. Apple is on its 3rd build that MacPro ships with currently. And updated SMC revision.

Me, I didn't do plastic but I did have to dip into my "future mac saving account" war chest.

09-17-2006, 09:20 PM
I would also vote for fastest you can afford. 4 GB RAM, a few SATA drives and don't worry about graphics card. As Intel Macs mature I suspect we'll see PC graphics cards ported. That happenstance will beat the hell out of the current costly and not all that glamorous choices we have now.

If you are making your living on the machine, get the most CPU, minimum 4 GB RAM and go for it. It will certainly blow your socks off.


Mike S
09-17-2006, 10:11 PM
Thanks everyone for all the replies and support.
I have not lost money just opportunity to move forward with projects that are past due because of lack of time due to so many jobs and family.
I thought the new mac pro would relieve some pressure but not at the expense of short term relief for long term regret.
My conclusion from these replies is that I should buy now but with the stock video card and upgrade that later.
Also I should buy the mid range processor because the bandwidth of the bus speed limits the effect of the faster processor.
I should buy as much ram as I can afford and upgrade to the newest OS.

The only thing I am not sure of is, will the new mac's have an improved infrasturcture that maybe worth waiting for?

Oh! the agony!

09-18-2006, 12:28 PM
I understand wanting to get the "sweet spot" in model selection. But ask yourself this: What is lacking from the current MacPro? Of course we will continue to see overall speed increases in the next revisions...both Intel and AMD seem to be going at each other with continuous improvement. That is a given these days. But are there any features or specific ability it lacks for you?

I really think Apple has done a good job of taking the G5 case and addressing almost every concern: 4 internal HD bays that are even easier to access, two optical bays, quieter, 6 SATA buses.

Did see this at MacFixIt.com today:

The Xeon processors are socketed, using dual 771 pin LGA sockets. This means that the processors are upgradeable.

So it might make sense to buy towards the bottom of the MacPro line, and save some $ for RAM, with the idea of upgrading to 8 way computing over in Clovertown about a year from now when prices have fallen. One side effect of this is that MacPros will likely hold their value even better than G5s, and that G5s will start to deflate in price at a faster rate in the near future, as they are as much a dead-end machine as an imac. Well, maybe not that much, but close.

Same for video cards. The longer you can wait, the more zoom your $ will buy. Still too soon to know if cheaper PC only cards will work, with or without any limitations, but if anybody knows, it will be these strange dogs (http://strangedogs.proboards40.com/index.cgi?board=experiments&action=display&thread=1156617904).

One thing to expect, maybe two revs from today's model, is a smaller case. There were some rumbings about it before the current model came out. One thing on my wish list is a native hardware RAID controller. But that is wishful thinking, no real reason to expect it, nor would I wait for one. Could be a "hell freezes over" wait....

09-18-2006, 01:04 PM
If you were using a G5, I could the logic of waiting. But not with 5-6 yr old G4 technology.

There is no problem other than $800 for a small 14% at most boost from the 3GHz. If I had to do it over, I would have gotten the 2.66GHz probably. Not that I need it or find myself lacking, only that $300 'savings' for a .66GHz (x 4 is about 2.5GHGz! ). That is like "throwing away" half a G5 (or quarter of Quad G5).

When buying, buy as much as you can, then try to stay as long with it as possible. Well, you have stayed wtih G4 long enough. And $2500 for today's stock system is a good investment. Which I doubt you'll outgrow anytime soon. 10.5 and CS3 will only improve what it can do.

Mac controllers now need EFI boot firmware, not Open Firmware.

RAM prices are likely to stay rather high much longer than anyone anticipated. So I wouldn't count on changes there. I would **guess** and only guess, that the only substantive change in the MP/Xeon might be switching from using current FB-DIMMs to DDR3 in two year time frame.

Even if you didn't lose out on bids or projects, they took 4-8x longer. When I compare the MDD I had and MP now, there is at least 300% improvement or more in day to day tasks. Thinks that brought a single cpu to its knees just don't register (great shock absorbers! to take the bumps out of the road).

09-19-2006, 04:41 AM
Hi there
I use my Mac primarily for Photography. I just upgraded from a Power Mac Quad to the latest MacPro. Photoshop speed is identical to the PowerPC Quad, BUT Adobe Lightroom as well as Capture One (optimised for Intel) is twice as fast.

I don't know what you use PShop for, but I now do most of my work in Adobe Lightroom (crop, develop RAW, screenshows, PDF porfolios etc), (except for the occasional heavy duty photoshop act) and you may want to look into that (www.luminous-landscape.com for some ideas).

In any case - and I agree with what was said before, I wouldn't wait. Go for the 2.66 version, 4 gigs of RAM, lots of harddrives (doesn't make a real difference whether you go for 500 gigs that come with the Mac or WD Raptors in terms of speed, it's all quite fast - and go for some cheapo USB HD's for Backup (500GB for 200USD these days)

Go for the ATI's X1900 XT so you can attach two 30" Monitors and then editing images really becomes productive, and the prices on those 30" displays just dropped (and remember you just saved some money my buying the 2.66GHz version and not hte 3GHz :-)

All the problems with this graphics card seem to arise one you install WinXP, but why in heaven do you want to do that?? I have it running one 30" Dell and a 30" Apple display under OSX and it works like a charm.

when I show my images in a professional slideshow on a 30" display to my clients, they're simply blown away.

If you're on a budget, get yourself a PowerPC Quad on ebay, but get one or two 30" displays, they will transform the way you work !!


09-19-2006, 06:35 PM
Don't forget that 10.4.8 is getting close, and there have been reports already that Rosetta performance is greatly increased. Don't know about PS specifically, but X86 Macs could see a big increase across the board with non-UB apps in a matter of weeks.

Might be worth waiting those couple weeks to see the reports when 10.4.8 GM hits the web?

Mike S
09-19-2006, 06:53 PM
Thanks Boys!
I have the courage and of course the excitement to go ahead and do it, and you guys have given me the info and confidence to feel good about making the move and I thank you very much!
All the best,
soon to be mac pro

09-20-2006, 05:37 AM
Take a read of someone's comparison G5 Quad vs Mac Pro (http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?threadID=627916)

Then head over to Hardmac: First contact with a Mac Pro:

[Upd.] We just made a test with a very surprising reuslt. We launched on the Mac Pro Altivec Fractal Carbon G5. It's the 64 bits version,which runs via Rosetta. This machine reaches 20 GigaFlops! A result that could be compared to an hypothetical 2.9 GHz dual G5. And very far from the 3.1 Gflops reached by a MacBook Core duo at 2.16 GHz!

[Upd2] Even better with a version that's not optimized for G5s, reaching 24 GFlops. Quite paradoxically, after the G5 Quad that reaches about 30 GFlops, it's the fastest Altivec machine...