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Mac Pro v/s Normal Workstation

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January 26, 2010 9:22:49 AM

Hi,

I'm a motion graphic designer working mainly on after effects CS3. I need to buy a new workstation. Now as 'Mac Pro' too comes with Intel Board & Processors my question is what is the difference between MAC & 'Intel workstation with windows7' -OR- in what ways 'Mac Pro' is better than normal workstation if both have same configuration?
January 26, 2010 11:46:18 AM

Basically there is none, except the BIOS is replaced by EFI in Mac Pro, but that won't affect performance.

So a similar configuration will give you a similar performance. Similar means 2 X latest XEON with HT (so in AE CS4, you will have 16 cores availables including 8 virtual). From my experience though, those cores aren't use effectively most of the time because they sharing the whole system ressources.

I prefer a more balanced configuration with a 920 + HT OCed@4GHz, 12GB ram and SSD drives. The OC really offset most of the advantage a dual Xeon platform might have.

For about the same money as a Mac Pro you can throw in the mix an NVidia Quadro that will accelerate some of the real-time rendering in AE and 3D applications.
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January 26, 2010 12:28:59 PM

I concur - unless there is a specific piece of Mac software you need (such as Final Cut) or you simply MUST have OSX, there's no reason to go Mac. Your money will be better spent in building a PC - you can match spec with a Mac and come out a lot cheaper, or match price with a Mac and get a superior system.

Shame you're not using CS4 because I'd strongly recommend the Quadro CX if you were price-matching a Mac.

And if you really like the way Macs look, get a silver Silverstone Fortress FT02 case!
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January 26, 2010 2:33:55 PM

Thnx guys for your valuable inputs. For me looks are not yet important..i just need a powerful system with speedy rendering & previews so that i can complete my jobs without a stress. f**k i'm tired of this C2D desktop thing.

Can you guys suggest me a best configuration for workstation under $1600.
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January 26, 2010 2:51:35 PM

Core i7 920 overclocked to 4GHz
Asus P6TD Deluxe motherboard
12GB Patriot Sector 5 Viper II 1600MHz RAM at CAS7

is the core system.

Storage-wise it's entirely up to you on what you'd need. A pair or 4 Samsung SpointPoint F3 1TB HDDs could be good - 2 drives in a RAID 1 for data redundancy or 4 drives in a RAID 0+1 (a mirrored stripe - stripe 2 drives together for fast data access and then mirror them onto another stripe for data redundancy).

As all your work will be CPU and RAM based you won't see much benefit from having SSDs

In order to cool that CPU I'd recommend going top-of-the-line air cooling with a Prolimatech Megahalems or Thermalright Ultra-120 Extreme Rev C (make sure it's a Rev C) with a pair of high static pressure 120mm fans on it.

The beauty of that motherboard (and most in Asus's line) is that they have a real-time overclocking tool called Turbo-V where you can create overclocking profiles and switch between them in Windows when you need it. That way you can keep your system at stock or mild overclock for working then crank the beast up to full OC for rendering purposes - basically you don't need your system screaming at full OC all the time.

There are nice workstation boards from Asus but they don't offer too much over the one I listed, certainly for your budget you won't be using any kit that would benefit from things like the SAS controller or whatever.

The only other thing is the graphics card. Now rendering will be a CPU procedure, but OpenGL is always a good thing to have for 3D programmes if you use it. I doubt your budget will allow for a decent workstation card like a Quadro or FirePro, but you can still use a half-decent gaming card for much the same purposes - a Radeon 5770 or even 5850 would give you some good 3D acceleration in author mode for your apps, plus will game quite nicely too.
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January 27, 2010 1:44:00 AM

Thank you Lephronn for your suggestion, I'll definately think about this one but form my past experiences i have always prefered INTEL. Would be nice to see your take on INTEL based configuration. I can increase my budget to some extent. What about: Intel® Workstation Board S5520SC along with XEON Processors 5500 Series?

http://www.intel.com/products/workstation/motherboards/...
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January 27, 2010 8:04:11 AM

my system IS an Intel system - it's Intel Core i7 - I never go AMD for high-workload pro systems.

I didn't suggest dual processor motherboards because it will more than likely take you past the $1,600 budget. I'm also not sure what their overclocking capabilities are like. Plus I wouldn't go with an Intel motherboard anyway - Asus and SuperMicro make better dual-processor boards.

Also, After Effects CS3 is multi-core aware, but I don't know if that extends to multiple cores over multiple processors.

CS4 is multi-processor aware however.
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January 28, 2010 4:19:51 AM

Thanks LePhuronn for sharing your experience & tech details. Thnx
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January 28, 2010 7:59:13 AM

No worries - give me a shout if you have any more questions
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