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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Desktops > What's the best Mac Pro configuration for me?

What's the best Mac Pro configuration for me?
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Aug 9, 2006, 09:29 PM
 
I'm a video editor by trade, working mostly in SD but gradually making the transition to HD. Although I use my employers' PowerMac G5 at work, I've been using my PowerBook G4 (Rev. A) at home for freelance jobs and personal projects. Unfortunately, it's very long in the tooth now. I'm more than ready to upgrade to a Mac Pro, but I'm on a bit of a tight budget (£1400, to be exact). The only configuration I can realistically afford is this one:

- Two 2GHz Dual-Core Intel Xeon
- 1GB (2 x 512MB)
- NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT 256MB (single-link DVI/dual-link DVI)
- 250GB 7200-rpm Serial ATA 3Gb/s
- 1 x SuperDrive
- Both Bluetooth 2.0+EDR and AirPort Extreme
- Apple Keyboard & Mighty Mouse (wireless)

With the higher education discount (I do some of my work through the local University) this comes to around £1350, leaving me around £50 for an extra 1GB RAM from Crucial. My question is this: will the above system be able to cope with heavy Final Cut Pro usage, including HD? I'm most concerned by the cheaper graphics card and lack of RAM.

Any thoughts?
     
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Aug 9, 2006, 09:32 PM
 
The GPU wont be a problem. Get more RAM A S A P (beyond the 2 GB) and you're set.
     
S_Young  (op)
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Aug 9, 2006, 09:38 PM
 
Wow, that was fast!

I'm relieved about the GPU. How much RAM would you say is necessary for Final Cut Pro? I don't want to buy any more than I need.
     
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Aug 9, 2006, 09:56 PM
 
Final Cut Pro will be fine (with gobs of RAM), but Motion may be slow in GPU-intensive parts tasks.

For HD I'd start with at least 3GB and see how much swapping (page in/out in Activity Monitor) you get working on large projects.

edit: You seem to have underestimated or misquoted memory prices. Crucial has a 1GB kit (2x512M) for £129.24 inc. VAT and a 2GB kit (2x1G) for £218.54 inc. VAT. Since you do have 8 slots available you could go with the 1G add for 2GB total for now without putting a crimp on future memory upgrades.
( Last edited by mduell; Aug 9, 2006 at 10:08 PM. )
     
S_Young  (op)
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Aug 10, 2006, 06:40 AM
 
Yes, I had seriously underestimated Crucial's RAM prices! I don't know where I got the £50 figure from - I must have misread it on their site. Your idea is a good one, though. Even at nearly triple what I had expected to pay, Crucial's memory is still a darn sight cheaper than Apple's. If I add another 2 x 512MB, I'm still left with four free RAM slots for future upgrades.

I'm still a bit concerned about the GPU. I don't use Motion very much (that could change, mind you) but I'm thinking of buying Aperture at some point. Would the NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT 256MB struggle with that, too? Would it be worth upgrading the video card? I can't really afford it at the moment, but maybe in a few months...
     
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Aug 10, 2006, 07:40 AM
 
Originally Posted by S_Young
Yes, I had seriously underestimated Crucial's RAM prices!
I hear ya, is it me or do they seem more expensive now? When I bought my mini, I was shocked to see there ram prices were nearly the same as apple's so much so I just bought apple ram since its not considered a user replaceable component on the mini.

Perhaps its because FBB is so new. I may wait a little while to see if the prices drop. I suppose I could live with a gig but 2+ would be better.
Michael
     
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Aug 10, 2006, 07:46 AM
 
I'm getting the same setup like you, but I will downgrade to a 160gig hard drive and buy an extra drive with the money saved.
Should work just fine for what you wanna go do with it.
     
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Aug 10, 2006, 10:43 AM
 
The 7300GT should be fine for most Aperture work. It may get a little bogged down if you've got dozens of effects on hundreds of photos.
     
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Aug 10, 2006, 10:54 AM
 
Is the 7300GT seriously THAT bad?

I don't know squat about NVIDIA, but surely its better than the x1600's in the iMacs and the MBPs, and they aren't too shabby....
iMac Core Duo 1.83 Ghz | 1.25GB RAM | 160HD, MacBook Core Duo 1.83 Ghz | 13.3" | 60HD | 1.0GB RAM
     
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Aug 10, 2006, 11:02 AM
 
Originally Posted by harrisjamieh
Is the 7300GT seriously THAT bad?

I don't know squat about NVIDIA, but surely its better than the x1600's in the iMacs and the MBPs, and they aren't too shabby....


The 7300-7600-7900 series from nVidia is the same generation as the 1400-1600-1900 series from ATi.

They way they're positioned in their product lines and clocked, the 7300GT in the Mac Pro is about the same performance as the X1600 in the iMac.
     
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Aug 10, 2006, 04:39 PM
 
Originally Posted by mduell
They way they're positioned in their product lines and clocked, the 7300GT in the Mac Pro is about the same performance as the X1600 in the iMac.
That's sad.

Funny though, Apple seems to be doing exactly the opposite of what gamers want. They put 4 cores in there - even in the lowest model - but then they skimp on the GPU. At least it can be upgraded to the X1900. Although $350 is quite a steep upgrade price.
     
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Aug 10, 2006, 05:59 PM
 
Originally Posted by Simon
At least it can be upgraded to the X1900. Although $350 is quite a steep upgrade price.
Espically for a card that retails for $337. And of course the Mac Pro's card is underclocked.

I was pretty excited about the Mac Pro during the keynote, but with all the crap Apple is doing (crazy CPU change prices, graphics options/prices and incompatibility, backward PCIe arrangement, etc), I'm becoming less and less enthused.
     
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Aug 10, 2006, 09:14 PM
 
Originally Posted by mduell
Espically for a card that retails for $337. And of course the Mac Pro's card is underclocked.
Also keep in mind if you buy the 1900XT from Apple as an aftermarket upgrade, you'll pay $500 for the card. Sure doesn't help their "myth" of macs being in the same pricing ballbark as pcs.

If you are going to upgrade the GPU and don't really need the power yet, I think it makes more sense to wait another generation or two. Hopefully when the MacPros are upgraded again around Macworld or a little after, they will offer another GPU option (esp because ATI's chipset license on intel is pulled after this year). It kind of sucks that right now the only highend GPU option is the X1900, and that adds 5 weeks to the ship time and costs a more than it should. I'd prefer something from nvidia instead (7900).

I'll be waiting a year or so before I upgrade the GPU. At least that way I'll be getting more for my money's worth. By then someone may have even figured out how to get PC cards working for us so we can avoid the fruit tax (and have more options).
Genius. You know who.
     
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Aug 11, 2006, 03:45 AM
 
Originally Posted by nforcer
Also keep in mind if you buy the 1900XT from Apple as an aftermarket upgrade, you'll pay $500 for the card.
Of course. When you BTO the 1900 they save a 7300. They're obviously valuing the 7300 at $150. The question is if that's a decent price tag.
     
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Aug 11, 2006, 07:51 PM
 
Originally Posted by Simon
Of course. When you BTO the 1900 they save a 7300. They're obviously valuing the 7300 at $150. The question is if that's a decent price tag.
The retail price of a 7300GT is about half that. Here's one for $79.

90% markup on 7300GT, 79% markup on the X1900XT. Feels like the good old OpenFirmware days!
     
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Aug 12, 2006, 02:39 AM
 
Hehe. If it worked back then, it'll probably work now.

Btw, the example you gave there only has one DVI (is it DDL?) port. That's the reason for the lower price.
     
   
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