Thinking of Getting a Mac Pro

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matt2020
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Joined: Thu May 31, 2007 2:00 am

Thinking of Getting a Mac Pro

Post by matt2020 » Fri Jun 01, 2007 5:41 am

The config is below:

• Two 3.0GHz quad-core Xeon processors (8-core)
OR
• Two dual-core processors 3.0GHz each (quad-core)
• RAM 16GB
• Top of the line graphics card - to drive 2 x 30 inch monitors
• Hard drives - 4x 750Gb drives = 3TB on board
• AirPort Extreme
• Bluetooth 2.0+EDR

Included software:
Mac OS X v10.4 Tiger
The world’s most advanced operating system including the latest versions of these system applications:
• Address Book
• DVD Player
• iCal
• iChat AV
• Mail
• Preview
• Safari
• Xcode

Brian
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Post by Brian » Fri Jun 01, 2007 5:54 am

I think you could shave about $5000 off that config without losing too much performance.

Do you need me to tell you those four hard drives are going to be louder than a single, single-platter hard drive? And that eight cores are hotter than two?

matt2020
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What would you recommend instead? (nt)

Post by matt2020 » Fri Jun 01, 2007 6:03 am

Any recommendations would be welcome.

No real budget.


BTW: I was listening to a Mac Pro today and it was very quiet
and running pretty cool, at least to touch.

stratusgd
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Post by stratusgd » Fri Jun 01, 2007 7:58 am

Honestly, you could shave a significant amount off by dropping the amount of RAM. Why do you need 16 GB? I'm a professional graphic designer, and I've never used a computer with more than 2 GB.

Noise wise, for my 2.66 Ghz Quad Core / single drive system:
On boot, the machine ramps to full speed as part of a test, but then immediately quiets down. At idle/low utilization, the fans are quiet. Not silent, but quiet. Any background noise easily covers them, and I normally have to crank my machine pretty hard to get the fans to ramp.

Now, while the new Xeon processors are relatively cool, they are still HOT. You will need a well ventilated spot, otherwise the fans will just be recirculating hot air.

The optical drive is loud, but it's an optical drive. I am not aware of any mac-based utilities to slow down your drive.

The case is very heavy, and does not vibrate.

Your two main noise points will be your video card and your hard drives. Due to the drive sleds Apple uses (similar to server-type hot swap sleds) there is no easy way to add rubber grommets or suspend the drives (you'd also have to invest in power/sata connections). And it's a problem, because my single 250GB drive is LOUD. It's fine at idle, but seeks/writes are very clearly audible. Your 4 750GB drives will be just as bad. It's not an issue with the aluminum case vibrating - "damping" the case provides no change.

The video card is an issue I'm sure you're aware of. At Idle, the 1900XT is fairly quiet, but under loud is load. You should be able to swap the cooler and have good results. There is a fan in front of the video card that pulls in a decent amount of air - if you went with a larger cooler, you could remove the PCI slot covers, and let the fan exhaust the hot air.

Avalanche
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Post by Avalanche » Fri Jun 01, 2007 9:33 am

Can one graphics card run 2 30" monitors? I was under the impression that a 30" monitor required a dual-link DVI connection, so only one per card. Maybe my understanding is outdated.

16 GB of memory, hunh?

sjoukew
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Post by sjoukew » Fri Jun 01, 2007 9:51 am

Avalanche wrote:Can one graphics card run 2 30" monitors? I was under the impression that a 30" monitor required a dual-link DVI connection, so only one per card. Maybe my understanding is outdated.
That is Correct, dual-link dvi is still 1 dvi connector, 2 connectors per graphics card ;) wikipedia

Avalanche
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Post by Avalanche » Fri Jun 01, 2007 11:33 am

Aah... The X1900 has "Dual integrated dual-link DVI transmitters." I was confused by the repeated word use. One would think this would mean you could drive four monitors with only one card, but I didn't see any reference about that.

ATI Specs
Graphics card recommendations for 30" Apple displays

bonestonne
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Post by bonestonne » Fri Jun 01, 2007 1:28 pm

O_o 16gb of RAM...what is this a major server?
3TB? what are you going to even need 1TB for yet.
2x 30"? you could easily work with dual 20"
also, if you want the worlds latest and greatest, get a linux based OS and code your own drivers for everything, then it will be as advanced as you could possibly even force it to be.

at my schools radio/tv station, we have 2 Mac Pros with dual 2.66GHz dual core processors, the better one has 4GB of RAM, both have 20" monitors, and nVidia 7900GT PCI-Ex1 cards, 250GB internal drives, and one is connected to 3 250GB glyph drives, the other is connected to a single 250GB [the more powerful only has the single 250GB external].

we do audio and video editing on them, and honestly, if you need 8 3Ghz cores for anything, its a high end server, not a workstation of any kind, because you can run really good CAD software with 2GB of RAM.
----
essentially, you're maxing out the G5, and wasting massive amounts of money doing it. they top at 16gb of RAM, they top at 4 750GB internal drives, and the quad core processors.
----
heres the other reason that what your doing is useless:
the Mac OS is very resource friendly, meaning it doesn't use a hell of a lot, ever. now, the more RAM you give it, the farther it will spread out. and when you spread anything out, it takes longer for it to get done. now, if you were running your shell in RAM [unlikely] it would be ok to have 4gb of RAM, however, the Mac OS shell doesn't run in RAM, so it wouldn't matter anyway. that and even the most memory intensive programs for apple wouldnt ever need that much. its not worth the 5000+ that would be spent on it.

if you were running a major server i'd understand the point in having all of that, but the Mac OS would work just as well on that 8-core system as my old Supermicro S2DGU system would with a pair of 784Mhz Xeon processors with 2mb L2cache each.
|Dual Intel Xeon E5-2680v2--Xigmatek SD1283 DK-II|Asus Z9PA-D8--HR-05 IFX|128gb DDR3-1600 ECC RDIMM|300gb DC SSD, 640gb, 1TB, 2TB HDDs|nVidia GTX660ti 2GB|Antec HCG-750|NZXT Source 210 Elite|M-Audio ProFire 2626|Art TubeOpto8 with Smooth Plate Tube Swap|Avid Artist Mix x2|
FartingBob wrote:A 9500GT with 1GB of RAM is the most pointless thing since NASCAR.

matt2020
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But

Post by matt2020 » Fri Jun 01, 2007 11:05 pm

Why not.


RAM: Many macrpo users say 4GB is preferably 6GB is needed for snappy
graphics using apperture and photoshop. So may be get 8GB at least. But not so much more for 16Gb.

Monitors: Start with one 30" maybe get another later if needed. The
card supports it.

Thisi is what people say on the apple forums
2GB of Ram is the minimum required by Aperture in your machine. You'll need at least 4Gb of Ram to make it more usable, and probably more if you have more apps opened at the same time or do frequent round trips to photoshop.

Aperture is a heavy GPU user. While your graphics card is fine users of this forum have reported a much better performance when doing adjustments using the Radeon X1900 XT.
If you were building a non-mac system what would parts you use to get
max performance, if you were not severely restricted by a budget?

matt2020
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Post by matt2020 » Fri Jun 01, 2007 11:28 pm

Here is a Dell quote, pretty close to MacPro quote but not as good
I think.
Q240550 - Dell(TM) XPS 710 Desktop 1 5600 5600.00
Base System XPS 710 Intel(R) Core(TM) 2 Extreme quad-core processor QX6700 1
Intel(R) Core(TM)2 Extreme Label (2.66GHz, 8MB L2 Cache, 1066MHz FSB) NVIDIA nForce(R) 590 SLI(TM) Chipset

Operating System Genuine Windows(R) XP Professional SP2 Edition
Media CD of Genuine Windows(R) XP Professional SP2
Dell Support Software, Shipping Documentations E
Dell Services: Hardware Maintenance (H) 3-year XPS Premier Service 1
3 Years 24x7 Priority User PC Phone Support (Round-The-Clock Access)
30 Days Online Training - Effective From The Invoice Date
24x7 Telephone Technical Support Hotline:
Dell Services: HelpDesk (H) Buy 3 Yrs 24x7 HelpDesk And Get Free Upgrade 3 Yrs 24x7 Phone Technical Support 1
Dell Services: Installations (H) Business Standard Install 1
Memory 4GB (4X1024) NECC Dual Channel DDR2 667MHz SDRAM Memory 1
Hard Drive (EIDE/SATA) 750GB SATA RAID 1 (Data Mirroring) 1
Info for Raid 1
750G SATA II 3.0Gb/s
750G SATA II 3.0Gb/s
2nd Hard Drive (EIDE/SATA) 750G SATA II 3.0Gb/s 1
Info for No Raid with Dual Hard Drive Hard Drive Partition Hard Drive Partition, Primary Size 60GB in C Drive, Left in D. 1
CFI Partition Order Ready
Video Card 768MB nVidia(R) GeForce(R) 8800 GTX w/TV-Out and dual DVI 1
Sound Card Integrated 7.1 PCI Soundcard 1 Speakers Dell(TM) WL6000 5.8GHz Wireless Rear 5.1 Speaker System w/ Subwoofer 1
Keyboard Dell(TM) Enhanced Multimedia USB Keyboard (English) 1
Mouse Dell(TM) Optical USB Mouse 1
Item included in the System Intergrated Intel(R) 10/100/1000 Ethernet Netwroking 1
System Driver CD Kit 1
Genuine Windows(R) XP Label 1
Packaging Shipping Material 1
Physics accelerator Card AGEIA(R) PhysX(R) physics accelerator 1
Floppy Drive & Card Reader 13-in-1 USB 2.0 Hi-Speed Media Card Reader 1
30" LCD Monitor Driver Driver COMPULSORY for order with PC (3007) 1
PC Restore Dell(TM) PC Restore 1
Security Software McAfee(TM) Security Center (English) - 15 months 1
Freights Dimension(TM) MT Handling & Insurance Charges 1
Q143007WHCB - Dell 3007WFP-HC 30 inch Ultrasharp Widescreen LCD Monitor1 1775.00 1775.00
Base System 30" UltraSharp(TM) Wide Screen Flat Panel Hi-Color LCD Monitor 1
Dell Services: Telephone Support Standard Telephone Technical Support (Mon-Fri) 1
Dell Services: Hardware Maintenance 5 Years Advanced Exchange (Next Business Day) 1
Dell Services: CompleteCover Programme 5 Years CompleteCover
Total 7375 7375.00

Anyone recommend a better/faster more powerful system for less
dollars? (The 30" is already decided, so only the computer itself
is open to change.)

matt2020
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Joined: Thu May 31, 2007 2:00 am

Post by matt2020 » Sat Jun 02, 2007 6:47 am

Bonestone said:
the Mac OS is very resource friendly, meaning it doesn't use a hell of a lot, ever. now, the more RAM you give it, the farther it will spread out. and when you spread anything out, it takes longer for it to get done. now, if you were running your shell in RAM [unlikely] it would be ok to have 4gb of RAM, however, the Mac OS shell doesn't run in RAM, so it wouldn't matter anyway. that and even the most memory intensive programs for apple wouldnt ever need that much.
"The more ram you give it the more it spreads out"
Can you explain this?

"if you were running your shell in RAM [unlikely] it would be ok to have 4gb of RAM, however, the Mac OS shell doesn't run in RAM"

I think you are way wrong about this. Do you have some reference
to show this is the case. To my knowledge (I have rewritten parts
of unix os's including the scheduler) operating system shells generally always run in ram, even DOS did, unix generic os's also (of which Mac
OS's are variants).

Seems to me a big looming limitation of windows based systems is
this 3.1 Gb limit. As I undertand it Mac does not have this problem.
But "bonesetter" you disagree?




At present windows is basically limited to 3.1Gb or so. One major advantage I saw of

Henk Poley
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Post by Henk Poley » Sat Jun 02, 2007 7:43 am

Matt, if you are going to use your system for (semi-)professional SLR photo editing I think you could better ask your questions on a more appropriate forum like the Apple discussion site, a fan site like Appleinsider, or a professional photo site.

For the price you are willing to pay, you could also just go to an Apple store or professional photo shop and let them tell you what you could use (and then check back with what they told you at one of the forums, to eleminate obvious bogus 'silver bullets').

Please note that most computers -PCs and Macs- are 'quite dated' after 3 years, and 'old' after 6. By buying the fastest you can get you may push that deadline out another 18 months or so (moore's law). But not much more, there's just not that much of a difference between cheap versus fast systems.

Also, adding RAM is very expensive from the online Apple store. You can get appropriate quality(!) RAM more cheaply elsewhere. The brick & mortar Apple shops often have deals on RAM too.

bonestonne
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Post by bonestonne » Sat Jun 02, 2007 9:36 am

ok, i know this from using a lot of very light resource OSes, but i guess its easiest to compare with vista.

If you install Vista and you have say minimum 512MB of RAM, its sluggish at first, but it runs well. if you have Vista with like 1.5GB you'll notice its pretty sluggish for a while, because the OS spreads out with all its stuff. unless you use vista on a low resource machine you wouldn't know about it....also, a lot of people try to disagree with it, but its true.
|Dual Intel Xeon E5-2680v2--Xigmatek SD1283 DK-II|Asus Z9PA-D8--HR-05 IFX|128gb DDR3-1600 ECC RDIMM|300gb DC SSD, 640gb, 1TB, 2TB HDDs|nVidia GTX660ti 2GB|Antec HCG-750|NZXT Source 210 Elite|M-Audio ProFire 2626|Art TubeOpto8 with Smooth Plate Tube Swap|Avid Artist Mix x2|
FartingBob wrote:A 9500GT with 1GB of RAM is the most pointless thing since NASCAR.

matt2020
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Fair Comment

Post by matt2020 » Sat Jun 02, 2007 9:48 am

Matt, if you are going to use your system for (semi-)professional SLR photo editing I think you could better ask your questions on a more appropriate forum like the Apple discussion site, a fan site like Appleinsider, or a professional photo site.
Thing is, I have not decided on a Mac pro or a Dell or just building
a machine from scratch.

So wondering if anyone can recommend a machine configuration
that would be quite powerful or at least comparable to either
the Macpro or Dell.

I guess I could take the Linux route. I am pretty familar with unix
os's in general but not Linux. I don't want to spend a lot of time
messing about with drivers and admin.
For the price you are willing to pay, you could also just go to an Apple store or professional photo shop and let them tell you what you could use (and then check back with what they told you at one of the forums, to eleminate obvious bogus 'silver bullets').
It does not really work that way. Apple stores just want to sell
a machine, professional photo shops don't cover computers.
Also on most photography forums people already have
a set up and are not able to make comparisons.

I haven't used a Mac at all before, but a lot of people in graphics
think they are great. So it is time to consider a Mac for this
upgrade cycle.
Please note that most computers -PCs and Macs- are 'quite dated' after 3 years, and 'old' after 6. By buying the fastest you can get you may push that deadline out another 18 months or so (moore's law). But not much more, there's just not that much of a difference between cheap versus fast systems.
Don't I know it. I have been through several cycles starting with
DOS and 1 Mb of RAM with 20 Mb disk which at the time cost around
$4K to 5K.
Also, adding RAM is very expensive from the online Apple store. You can get appropriate quality(!) RAM more cheaply elsewhere. The brick & mortar Apple shops often have deals on RAM too.
Thanks that may well become useful to know.

Still hope someone can give me some specs for their dream
machine.

t0mb0
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Post by t0mb0 » Sat Jun 02, 2007 9:51 am

What are you planning to do with 16GB of RAM? You clearly have some money burning a hole in your pocket, why not get 8GB of RAM and give the difference to charity...

Henk Poley
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Post by Henk Poley » Sat Jun 02, 2007 10:43 am

Bonestonne doesn't seem to know what he is talking about. The 'spreading' as in 'stuff gets slower when more gigabytes of RAM are used' does not occur. OS X will use the extra RAM for caching of previously accessed files, and prepared (Quartz) image data. For good measure I've also read a large part of Mac Pro: Performance and Memory and have yet to find anything like Bonestonne says.

Come to think of it.. There *might* be some 'slowdown' with running 32bit programs on 64bit OS X with more than 3GB RAM. In that it might need to 'swap' 32bit programs from higher RAM into lower RAM. This means that initial page access -after a swapout from the lower 3GB- is maybe 3 times slower (still sub-microsecond). But I don't expect that x86-64 needs such an archaic highmem swap operation, with hardware supported virtual memory and all.

btw, MacOS used to run from a BIOS-like ROM. But I don't think that that the MacOS shell has worked like that the last 15-20 years. Oh and the Mac Pro doesn't use the G5 processor anymore for over a year already, basicly since they renamed it from Powermac to Mac Pro.

mcoleg
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Post by mcoleg » Sat Jun 02, 2007 11:16 am

matt2020 wrote: Seems to me a big looming limitation of windows based systems is
this 3.1 Gb limit. As I undertand it Mac does not have this problem.
But "bonesetter" you disagree?
not the 64-bit versions. i think the consumer/ business 64-bit versions of windows support up to 64/128GB and if you want tons of ram and stable os, i think 2003 is way up there with 2TB with datacenter edition. so, this is what i know for sure - get as little ram as possible while configuring the system and get whatever terrabites of it you want from some other source - the prices on ddr2 dropped through the floor recently but not at apple/dell/whatever. just about any online store will beat their prices big time.


and now here's a couple of things i don't know.

first - i think the real ram count would be - the system's ram total divided by the number of sockets. meaning that every cpu will use it's own ram to work with.

as i said, i don't really know what boards apple is using but that's how those multisocket monstrosities operate nowadays... so, while 16GB seems an overkill, that's not to much of a stretch seeing as it's only 8GB per cpu (it's still probably a waste of money but it's you money, so, go ahead :p ).

secondly - what do think exactly pairing all that processing power with a wimpy video card? it's a workstation, right? get something with processing muscle and as much on-board memory (for that 30" monitor) as you can find.

as for recommending any you configuration - you see, it all depends on what you want to do with it. you are not building an HTPC, are you? :p

Moogles
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Post by Moogles » Sat Jun 02, 2007 2:18 pm

Seeing as how you don't appear to be limited by budget (or common sense :) why not just get the Mac Pro? If you're willing to spend all this money on a computer, the Mac Pro will certainly meet your needs. It's as "futureproof" (ridiculous term) as anything out there right now, and I'm sure it'll do whatever you tell it to do for a few years, very very well.

Sure... you could build a computer that's better suited for your needs, not as excessively configured with loads of ram, 50 cores, etc, but I don't get the impression you care very much about value for money.

You're not gonna find anything better than the Mac Pro, I believe. Definitely not the Dell. :)

mcoleg
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Post by mcoleg » Sat Jun 02, 2007 6:48 pm

Moogles, please keep in mind that as it stands now, from a hardware point of view - mac is just a very expensive pc.

not going to be more feature-proof than a pc either. whatever you buy now is absolute by the new years.

Henk Poley
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Post by Henk Poley » Sun Jun 03, 2007 1:36 am

An excellent guide on memory and the Mac Pro:

http://diglloyd.com/diglloyd/free/MacPro/memory.html

"Bottom line: even heavy Photoshop users won’t see much benefit from more than 6GB of memory."

silentpilot
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Post by silentpilot » Sun Jun 03, 2007 6:08 am

Matt,

Will this machine be used for photo post processing? You could go with a custom built machine running Linux and using Bibble Pro. I have a couple of photographer friends who shoot in raw and they use it. I know one of them runs their system with 3gb's of ram. The only drawback to a custom built solution is that Apple products generally have colour reproduction. You may wish to invest in a spider if you go the custom build route.

16GB's sounds like a lot. If you have money to spend you could go for a Sun Ultra 40 work station, I know one photographer who did this. However, with a kilowatt power supply it seems overkill, and I don't know how silent it is.

matt2020
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thanks for the feedback

Post by matt2020 » Sun Jun 03, 2007 8:54 am

Thanks Henk: the article on Mac memory is very helpful.

Also a good idea [silentpilot] re the Sun Ultra. I have used one of these
before, they are very nice machines. They seem to be priced
pretty competitively as well. e.g. even Sun Ultra 45 ~$3700,
but more once you add on all the extras. Not sure whether
they are compatible with other brand monitors.

Just an example of the memory use: I just did a photomerge in CS3
and the resultant file before flattening was ~666Mb. That is just one
file. Flattened it goes to ~333Mb and compressed Tiff ~133Mb.
So you can see it is easy to use up memory.

mcoleg
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Post by mcoleg » Sun Jun 03, 2007 2:56 pm

those are pretty large files...

i think you future system might be a prime candidate for a nice hardware raid setup. something along the lines of artec or 3ware. that should take some load off the main cpus while moving/openning/saving files.

nicko
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Post by nicko » Mon Jun 04, 2007 8:45 am

@matt2020: The question is, do you need OS X and certain application that work under it?

If your application(s) work under both, mac and win, I'd prefer mac and OS X, especially for graphic design.

And the tradition of Mac machines is that they're not very loud.

Now, you really don't need 16gb of ram, 8gb will be just fine...

pixel_pimp
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Post by pixel_pimp » Mon Jun 04, 2007 11:08 am

nicko wrote:If your application(s) work under both, mac and win, I'd prefer mac and OS X, especially for graphic design.
Can you explain why?

Nobody has ever given me a credible difference why a Mac is better suited to design work than a PC - the key software components are the same on both.

I can understand the fact that, as the machines are smartly presented, they will appeal to the aesthetically minded and I don't object to that but I don't see a functional benefit.
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bonestonne
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Post by bonestonne » Mon Jun 04, 2007 11:21 am

Still hope someone can give me some specs for their dream
machine.
Dream machine or logically available machine...i could say that i want a Footprint server, but that'll most likely never happen...by footprint server i mean four dual or even quad core processors, no less than 8 gigs of RAM, and decent hard drive space.

now thinking about the money i have, and the prices of stuff on the market, a better thing to think about [for me at least] is a Pentium D, a gig of RAM, and a motherboard thats got what i need that i'll be able to use in the future.

don't let what you want foul your mind because sometimes once you have it, theres either better, or you don't actually like what you've gotten.
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FartingBob wrote:A 9500GT with 1GB of RAM is the most pointless thing since NASCAR.

Steve_Y
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Post by Steve_Y » Mon Jun 04, 2007 1:09 pm

pixel_pimp wrote:
nicko wrote:If your application(s) work under both, mac and win, I'd prefer mac and OS X, especially for graphic design.
Can you explain why?

Nobody has ever given me a credible difference why a Mac is better suited to design work than a PC - the key software components are the same on both.

I can understand the fact that, as the machines are smartly presented, they will appeal to the aesthetically minded and I don't object to that but I don't see a functional benefit.
When the applications used are the same on either platform the difference isn't massive, but the different user interface provided by Mac OS does have an affect on the way you work. Whether that's positive or negative depends on your personal preference and the way you work.

Personally I prefer window management in Mac OS, I prefer the dock to the taskbar, I prefer having the menubar at the top of the screen, drag and drop seems to work better... There are lots of nice touches I appreciate in Mac OS X and sometimes miss in Windows.

Small differences maybe, but a lot of little improvements do add up. A lot of things just feel less kludgey and intrusive in Mac OS X. Overall I find working on it a more pleasant and productive experience than using Windows. This isn't just a matter of preferring what I'm used to; I use a PC at home and just have a Mac for work.

There are some nice features and utilities in Mac OS X that aren't available in Windows. For example Applescript provides a user friendly way of automating tasks for non-programmers. Services (a feature taken from NeXTSTEP/OPENSTEP) provide various functions within applications. Apple's integration of PDF can also offer some advantages to designers.

You can obviously get the same job done in Windows, but I think Mac OS X has enough of an advantage to be worth a few more $. In my opinion it can make more difference to workflow than a few extra Mhz of CPU speed.

nicko
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Post by nicko » Mon Jun 04, 2007 1:48 pm

Thx Steve_Y, that's just it...

ronrem
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Re: Fair Comment

Post by ronrem » Wed Jun 06, 2007 12:34 am

matt2020 wrote:
Matt, if you are going to use your system for (semi-)professional SLR photo editing I think you could better ask your questions on a more appropriate forum like the Apple discussion site, a fan site like Appleinsider, or a professional photo site.
Thing is, I have not decided on a Mac pro or a Dell or just building
a machine from scratch.

So wondering if anyone can recommend a machine configuration
that would be quite powerful or at least comparable to either
the Macpro or Dell.

I guess I could take the Linux route. I am pretty familar with unix
os's in general but not Linux. I don't want to spend a lot of time
messing about with drivers and admin.
For the price you are willing to pay, you could also just go to an Apple store or professional photo shop and let them tell you what you could use (and then check back with what they told you at one of the forums, to eleminate obvious bogus 'silver bullets').
It does not really work that way. Apple stores just want to sell
a machine, professional photo shops don't cover computers.
Also on most photography forums people already have
a set up and are not able to make comparisons.

I haven't used a Mac at all before, but a lot of people in graphics
think they are great. So it is time to consider a Mac for this
upgrade cycle.
Please note that most computers -PCs and Macs- are 'quite dated' after 3 years, and 'old' after 6. By buying the fastest you can get you may push that deadline out another 18 months or so (moore's law). But not much more, there's just not that much of a difference between cheap versus fast systems.
Don't I know it. I have been through several cycles starting with
DOS and 1 Mb of RAM with 20 Mb disk which at the time cost around
$4K to 5K.
Also, adding RAM is very expensive from the online Apple store. You can get appropriate quality(!) RAM more cheaply elsewhere. The brick & mortar Apple shops often have deals on RAM too.
Thanks that may well become useful to know.

Still hope someone can give me some specs for their dream
machine.

Basically a Mac or a PC can run Photoshop,Illustrator and dozens of other things. I used to do a lot of Graphics on a P3 450. If you are comfy with either one OS or the other...fime,but it's still Photoshop doing the main work,and the OS is ideally...staying out of the way.

If you now and then use the "save as" it really reduces the load on the RAM,and even the CPU.

Going for the totally most maxed out machine you can get now will cost HUGE....and 95% of the time will be pure overkill,while in a few years,it won't be cutting edge anymore. Aim a bit lower...then update a bit sooner and you'd come out ahead.

Of course....upgrades and mods are where the Windows machines have had the big edge,but Macs are-internally,getting more mainstream PC all the time. Apple does basically build in it's monopoly, so you are left dependant on the Hardware/software combo. Mostly that's just come down to they force you to use their mobo

How much monitor you need...would tend to be tied to how large scale your end product will be. Doing 3' x4' posters is different than doing 3" x4" stuff to print in a magazine. If you need 30" x2...that's what you need.

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