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Author Topic: Who really needs a Macpro now?  (Read 6171 times)
David Watson
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« on: June 24, 2012, 04:47:46 AM »
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I waited eagerly for the Apple WWD announcements fully expecting to hear about a new Macpro with Thunderbolt, Blueray and more.  What a dissapointment!   Anyway that prompted me to replace my MB Pro with a new MBPro Retina.  I added a Thunderbolt display and a Pegasus 12TH Thunderbolt disc system.  The idea was that if it all worked I would have a single computer rather than two as now and I could release my second CS6 install for my Mac at our other office.  So far so good.

Just out of interest I decided to do a real life speed test before I decommissioned the Macpro.  Here is what happened:

Six images taken on my D800E.  PS CS6 open, images imported into Lightroom and then fed into CS6 using the "edit in PS as a panorama option".  Timing was from the moment I pressed the button in LR. Both machines in 32bit mode.

Macpro - 2mins 55 secs
MBPro - 2 mins 10 secs

Specs are

Macpro - dual 3.2GHz, 16GB, Apple RAID, 4 x 2TB, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 285 - fast machine but no SSD's
MB Pro - Retina - 2.6GHz i7, 16GB, 500GB SSD, 12TB Pegasus Thunderbolt, Apple Thunderbolt display

Who needs a Macpro now?
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2012, 05:47:28 AM »
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This has been answered several times already.

- those who need more than 16gb ram,
- those who need to use PCI cards (audio, video, SCSI,...),
- those who need raid scratch disks,
- those who prefer to use their existing matte screens,
- those who need best in class performance (our current Mac Pros being pretty far from the cutting edge), that includes more cores, faster GPUs used as co-processors,...
- ...

Cheers,
Bernard
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Farmer
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« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2012, 05:48:53 AM »
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On a side note, why would you run them in 32bit mode?
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David Watson
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« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2012, 09:23:47 AM »
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This has been answered several times already.

- those who need more than 16gb ram,
- those who need to use PCI cards (audio, video, SCSI,...),
- those who need raid scratch disks,
- those who prefer to use their existing matte screens,
- those who need best in class performance (our current Mac Pros being pretty far from the cutting edge), that includes more cores, faster GPUs used as co-processors,...
- ...

Cheers,

Hi Bernard

That is a smallish population of photographers I think.  For most photographers the new MBPro plus Thunderbolt is IMO much more than adequate.
Bernard
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David Watson
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« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2012, 09:24:29 AM »
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On a side note, why would you run them in 32bit mode?

Didn't matter for comparison purposes as long as both machines were running in the same mode.
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David Watson
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« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2012, 09:58:16 AM »
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This has been answered several times already.

- those who need more than 16gb ram,
- those who need to use PCI cards (audio, video, SCSI,...),
- those who need raid scratch disks,
- those who prefer to use their existing matte screens,
- those who need best in class performance (our current Mac Pros being pretty far from the cutting edge), that includes more cores, faster GPUs used as co-processors,...
- ...

Cheers,

Bernard

First of all my comment was aimed at photographers and not at sound recording engineers and not at HD video editors.  Secondly you can use your existing Matt screen with an adapter. Finally I think there is a difference between so-called "best in class" and real world usability.  I admit that there are individuals who will simply demand and pay for the so-called highest specification just as there do with the cameras. 

In terms of what we actually need and will reasonably use IMO the new MBPro with a decent display and a Thunderbolt storage system is just the ticket. 

David
Bernard
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Jim Pascoe
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« Reply #6 on: June 24, 2012, 10:30:05 AM »
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You could have said the same thing four years ago - in fact until last year I did all my work on a Macbook Pro connected to a 30" monitor.  I bought a Mac Pro last year as my Macbook was limited to 4GB of RAM amongst other things.  Apple have put a lot of development into the latest MacPro's so they are great machines.  But the point of the Mac Pro is partly expandability surely.  When and if they launch a replacement I expect it will leapfrog your MacBook in performance.  Of course the MacBook Pro is fine for most photographers - it always has been (at least for the last 5 years or so).  My Mac Pro was the base spec, but I put in 10TB of storage and 16GB of RAM.  I believe the New MacBook is limited to 16GB, but my Mac Pro can be upgraded at a later date.
Maybe if I was buying today I would do the same as David, but next year who knows? 

Jim
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k bennett
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« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2012, 11:47:03 AM »
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Like anything else in photography, it depends. For me, a Macbook Pro attached to a good external monitor has been fine for several years. My 17-inch MBP does everything I need, and it's (mostly) portable. Note that I'm shooting mostly journalism and corporate, so I'm just processing raw files.

I just ordered its replacement - a new 11-inch Macbook Air, with 8GB of RAM and the fastest processor option. The latest i7 processors, 8GB or RAM, and a fast SSD make it very usable for my needs. Now I can have enough power in an even smaller package.

But if I were doing multi-row stitching, or very high megapixel medium format work, or anything that required huge amounts of RAM for Photoshop, then a Mac Pro would be the way to go.
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Farmer
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« Reply #8 on: June 24, 2012, 06:12:53 PM »
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Didn't matter for comparison purposes as long as both machines were running in the same mode.

Hmmm, I don't know about that.  I don't think it's valid to say that the variances will be matched or scaled 1:1 in 64bit mode.
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kaelaria
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« Reply #9 on: June 24, 2012, 06:37:06 PM »
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Big shock, the current gen out performed a very out dated one.  Apples and oranges.  If anything it simply speaks to how long in the tooth and unmatched Mac Pros are to current gen hardware especially PCs.
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #10 on: June 24, 2012, 06:39:23 PM »
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Outperforms in some benchmarks, clearly not when handling larger data sets:

http://macperformanceguide.com/blog/2012/20120621_3-MacBookPro-Retina-compared.html

Cheers,
Bernard
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BJL
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« Reply #11 on: June 25, 2012, 05:28:44 PM »
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This has been answered several times already.

- those who need more than 16gb ram,
...
Mostly fair points (except for overlooking using external monitors with a laptop) but clearly you are describing a small and shrinking proportion of photographer's needs in computer usage. It is like asking "who really needs medium format now?" In each case, the legitimate but shrinking "need" case is suffering declining economies of scale and slower upgrade pace in competition with the increasing capabilities of the more mass market "good enough" options. Also for much computer usage, there is also the expanding option of using servers for the heavy lifting, shifting the choice of the computer in your hands more towards convenience (e.g. portability) and away from ultimate performance. Many of my colleagues now use a MacBook as a front end to Linux servers.

Full disclosure: when my Mac Pro came due for replacement, I chose an iMac, keeping the old monitor as a second monitor.
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #12 on: June 25, 2012, 05:59:50 PM »
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Mostly fair points (except for overlooking using external monitors with a laptop) but clearly you are describing a small and shrinking proportion of photographer's needs in computer usage. It is like asking "who really needs medium format now?" In each case, the legitimate but shrinking "need" case is suffering declining economies of scale and slower upgrade pace in competition with the increasing capabilities of the more mass market "good enough" options. Also for much computer usage, there is also the expanding option of using servers for the heavy lifting, shifting the choice of the computer in your hands more towards convenience (e.g. portability) and away from ultimate performance. Many of my colleagues now use a MacBook as a front end to Linux servers.

I did not overlook the possibility to use external screens with a laptop. the problem is that it is unfortunately impossible to use the keyboard of a laptop without its screen, which means that you end up having to use a small glossy screen just in front of you (whatever the resolution), even if your 30 inch screen is also in use.

I personally find this to be a poor user experience. The problem is indeed a lot less present with an iMac since the built in screen has the right size, even if I am not a fan of its gloss.

As far as not needing more than 16GB of RAM, it may not be a real need for more than 10% of photographers, but that still represents a very significant amount of people. Indeed, there are more and more people dealing with large files (stitches, D800 files with many PS layers,...) or with several applications at the same time (LR, PS, sharpening plug ins, stitch apps, DoF stacking apps, video apps,...), I would personally argue that it has never made as much sense to equip a computer with no less than 32GB of RAM. Considering the price of desktop RAM, it is a no brainer really and I would personally not want my main machine to be a bottle neck from a memory standpoint.

Cheers,
Bernard
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k bennett
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« Reply #13 on: June 25, 2012, 08:00:04 PM »
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I did not overlook the possibility to use external screens with a laptop. the problem is that it is unfortunately impossible to use the keyboard of a laptop without its screen, which means that you end up having to use a small glossy screen just in front of you (whatever the resolution), even if your 30 inch screen is also in use.

I understand this issue, and solve it with an external keyboard. I set up my laptop just like a desktop -- with all the usual attachments: monitor, keyboard, external hard drive, ethernet cable, tablet, USB hub, etc. The laptop itself sits off to one side as a second monitor should I need a place to put a palette or a browser window. The user experience is the same as if it were a Mac Pro sitting under my desk. (Well, a slower or older Mac Pro, sure.)

I'm looking forward to a Thunderbolt hub, which may allow me to have just one cable attached to my laptop for all the external devices.
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Craig Lamson
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« Reply #14 on: June 25, 2012, 08:17:20 PM »
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I understand this issue, and solve it with an external keyboard. I set up my laptop just like a desktop -- with all the usual attachments: monitor, keyboard, external hard drive, ethernet cable, tablet, USB hub, etc. The laptop itself sits off to one side as a second monitor should I need a place to put a palette or a browser window. The user experience is the same as if it were a Mac Pro sitting under my desk. (Well, a slower or older Mac Pro, sure.)

I'm looking forward to a Thunderbolt hub, which may allow me to have just one cable attached to my laptop for all the external devices.

I use a Henge dock for my MBP and it works great.



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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #15 on: June 25, 2012, 10:19:39 PM »
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I understand this issue, and solve it with an external keyboard. I set up my laptop just like a desktop -- with all the usual attachments: monitor, keyboard, external hard drive, ethernet cable, tablet, USB hub, etc. The laptop itself sits off to one side as a second monitor should I need a place to put a palette or a browser window. The user experience is the same as if it were a Mac Pro sitting under my desk. (Well, a slower or older Mac Pro, sure.)

Yep, that's indeed a good solution, if not really optimal.

Cheers,
Bernard
« Last Edit: June 25, 2012, 10:34:31 PM by BernardLanguillier » Logged

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MrSmith
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« Reply #16 on: June 26, 2012, 01:32:51 AM »
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how do those docks work when working the computer hard and the fans kick in? a fair bit of heat escapes through the keyboard and i guess the vents at the back are designed to work with the screen open?
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David Watson
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« Reply #17 on: June 26, 2012, 02:56:38 AM »
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Bernard

I am not denying that there are applications that may or will require more memory and bus expandability.  The only point I was originally trying to make was that my new MBPro Retina was as fast as my old MPro and that I could now rationalise two computers into one with no loss of performance for my purposes  (and I suspect most other photographers as well!.

BTW I shoot with a D800E and an H4D60 and have no problem stitching or using layers.  The flash drive in the new MBpro is actually really fast and I do not see the lack of additional RAM above 16GB as an issue.

If and when Apple bring out a game changing MPro I may well buy one but given the small population of users it may never happen.
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David Watson
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« Reply #18 on: June 26, 2012, 02:59:02 AM »
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how do those docks work when working the computer hard and the fans kick in? a fair bit of heat escapes through the keyboard and i guess the vents at the back are designed to work with the screen open?

The new MBPro does not run hot.  Mine has been on constantly for 4 days now with the lid closed and no significant amount of heat.
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Craig Lamson
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« Reply #19 on: June 26, 2012, 08:01:36 AM »
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how do those docks work when working the computer hard and the fans kick in? a fair bit of heat escapes through the keyboard and i guess the vents at the back are designed to work with the screen open?

Never had an issue with heat, mine is an early 2011 15"  Fans run hard once in awhile but only for a brief time and then off they go. It runs in the dock 90%+/- of the time.
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