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Mac Pro problems and suggestions

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Andrew Stoneberger
Mac Pro problems and suggestions
on May 23, 2016 at 3:25:20 am

I apologize if this is the wrong forum section, but this is the closet thing I found to "hardware".

Like most that purchased the Mac Pro trashcan for performance in video editing (Premiere and After Effects), I am EXTREMELY disappointed with all of the problems, most noticeably the performance I am getting from a 5 thousand dollar system. I have decided to list my computer on eBay and cross my fingers.

Here is my question.

Should I just bite the bullet and switch back to PC? Or can I get superior performance with a beefed up Mac Pro 5,1 2012 model?

I have been researching and it seems you can get them with the PCIe SSD hard drives, nVidia Titan Cards (and Quadro of course) loaded with RAM. It seems the best processor you can get in these things are the Dual 3.46 ghz 6-Core (12 total) Xeon processors. seems they may be a bit out-dated.

I would really like to keep the stability of the OSX system and of course all of my apps/files/workflow, etc with minimal downtime by just restoring from a time machine backup.

Could I see a much more significant boost in performance by going back to PC or should I stick it out with the 5,1 steel box?

My budget is around $5K. I already have plenty of external drives and RAIDs. Would like to stick with OSX. Any advice or suggestions? I was kind of looking at something like this

http://www.ebay.com/itm/3-46GHz-12-Core-Mac-Pro-128GB-RAM-960GB-PCIe-SSD-16...

If the link is bad or you dont want to go to ebay here is the description:

This is a REAL 5,1 Mac Pro, NOT a modified 2009 model. It has been MAXED OUT with the 12-core 3.46GHz (X5690 3.73GHz Turbo Boost) and 128GB of 1333MHz registered ECC RAM.

The main drive is a super fast 960GB PCIe flash solid state. Along with the SSD, there are also four 4TB 7200RPM hard drives. A MASSIVE 17TB total storage capacity, plus two 6Gb/s eSATA ports for external storage.

The graphics card is a 12GB GeForce GTX Titan X, fully Mac compatible. The card can drive up to four displays simultaneously. There is a dual-link DVI, three DisplayPorts, and an HDMI. 3072 CUDA cores!

The standard ports include two Gigabit Ethernet, five USB 2.0, four FireWire 800, and optical digital audio in/out. A powered four-port USB 3.0 card is included, along with AirPort wireless and bluetooth modules.

I havent had a PC since 2012 so I am kind of rusty with the new hardware technology. But would be willing to go back to PC for a better performing machine for $5K than this trashcan that is the bane of my existence. Thanks for any advice. My apologies if this is the wrong section.


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John Hartley
Re: Mac Pro problems and suggestions
on Jun 16, 2016 at 12:52:52 pm

Hi Andrew,

Late response, but I have maxed out Mac Pro 2012, so might be able to provide some useful pointers.

Firstly though I would recommend that you run some tests on your current setup, as the gap performance gap between top configured Mac Pro new and old is not huge, you need to understand where your performance issues lie...

For CPU / compute test you can use "Geekbench" - this provides comparative performance benchmark. If you look at the results for new Mac Pro then have 64-Bit Multiprocessor scores around 32K , while on my 3.46GHz Mac Pro I get around 31K.

For Disk Performance which is critical for hi-res video editing test with "Blackmagic Disk Speed Test" as a free utility from Blackmagic this is aimed specifically to video editors. Historically I had Apple Pro RAID setup up on my Mac Pro, but this was completely inadequate for handling hi-res video. I now have Areca 1883 card installed. This has major advantage over eSATA based solutions as it provides support for both 12Gb/sec SAS drives as well as 6Gb/sec SATA drives and combinations of these. With this I can get 300-400 MB/sec Write/Read with SAS 12GB/sec RAID setup and 400-500 MB/sec Write/Read with single Sandisk Optimus 6Gb/sec SAS SSD. This compare to 1500-1800 MB/sec Write/Read I see on my Mac Book Pro with latest PCIe x4 Lane SSD (which is the same ones they are now using in new Mac Pro.
So I would expect that you should see big improvement with new Mac Pro with disk performance.
On an aside note, I also have 10Gb/sec Smalltree Ethernet card in my Mac Pro and get 600-700MB/sec via AFP back to Xserve based file server.

Next up is Graphics Accelerators and this might be where you are hitting issues. It used to be that Adobe After Effects and Premier used Nvidia CUDA based acceleration, which makes a huge impact on performance. The new Mac Pro has AMD based graphics which do not support CUDA but do support OpenCL. I have currently got Adobe Creative Suite 6 applications and support for these has now stopped from Adobe, as they have moved to Creative Cloud Suite. Currently the "best" classic Mac Pro graphics you can get are Nvidia GeForce GTX Titan X cards with custom ROM that ensure they book up and play nicely on Mac (MacVidCards is source of most of these). However there is a catch.... and that is that while Nvidia still provides both Mac OS X Open GL and CUDA drivers for these newer cards ... the Adobe applications do not support the new faster cards....
I am not sure what the situation is with Creative Cloud apps, but in your post you indicate that After Effects and Premier performance is main problem, which may indicate issue with graphics acceleration....
Going back a generation of Nvidia graphics cards to officially supported Quadro could help here and even older generation Quadro with Adobe acceleration support which likely deliver much better performance than new gen with no applications support.

So finally other pros/cons of new vs old Mac Pro:
Old Mac Pro allows you to install PCIe cards which provides support for: SATA/SAS RAID, Fibre Channel, 10Gb Ethernet, USB 3.0, Nvidia CUDA Graphics Cards & various specialist Video / Audio cards.
New Mac Pro provides you with PCIe based SSD which provide fast access but not large size, Thunderbolt which provides way to get most of the above connectivity, but it is more complicated and results in need for lots for individual seperate adaptor boxes...

I hope this was helpful.

Cheers.

John
(Mac Pro Users / Australia)


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