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Is there any point in upgrading MacPro early 2009

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Kannan Raghavan
Is there any point in upgrading MacPro early 2009
on Apr 16, 2015 at 6:58:53 am

Hi guys,
After freelancing for a long time I finally set up an edit studio. I use a early 2009 MacPro with 24GB RAM, Quadro 4000, ATI HD 5770, Caldigit VR external eSATA RAID (RAID 0,I know, not ideal), 2 drive internal RAID 0. I use PremierePro CC 2014 and FCP X. A Matrox MX02 feeds a FSI 17" broadcast monitor.
Is there any point in upgrading my MacPro as against buying a new MP? It costs a lot more, I know. Since I spent quite a lot of money in setting up this place, I'd rather not spend a lot on hardware.
The upgrades I am looking at are more RAM (32GB?), SSD OS drive from OWC, external 8 bay SAS RAID5 (should be compatible with Thunderbolt 2 for future upgrades) with Areca 1882X card in the MP from one of the vendors here. After spending money on these upgrades, I don't want this MP to go obsolete in a couple of years' time.
Any help is greatly appreciated.
Cheers
Kannan

Kannan Raghavan
The Big Toad Films Pte. Ltd.


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Matt Klein
Re: Is there any point in upgrading MacPro early 2009
on Apr 16, 2015 at 7:56:57 am
Last Edited By Matt Klein on Apr 17, 2015 at 7:56:16 am

Heh, just this hour I decided to upgrade my Mac Pro 2009 4,1 instead of a new mac pro. There's a lot of issues here, not sure which ones are important to you, but i will just dump all of them here.

Geekbench for the Mac Pro 4,1 is somewhat weak. The new 5K iMac gets double the results for both single and multicore activity. The 2013 mac pro is better than that only with multicore depending on which model. So if you're waiting long times for renders and its killing you, well that's one issue.

Then there's the NVMe issue. Check out the Intel 750 PCIe SSD that's due out soon. 2200MB per second, with insane random IOPS numbers, 400GB for $400. This probably won't work in the Mac Pro 4,1 but that is the technology that should be in the next Mac Pro as the flash storage. They just put it in the 13" macbook pro and it gets 1400MB per sec. Not sure if this is important, but I thought I will wait for the next mac pro with SkyLake Intel chip and this NVMe technology.

Next, graphics card. Not sure about the details, it seems that yours is fine. The 2013 mac pro simply screams with 12gb graphics memory, but that would only help with playback stuttering issues and some faster rendering/exports. So again, if the current setup is lagging or having too many issues than you would benefit from an upgrade.

Next, drive speed. Some info above, but I ended up getting a PCI card that holds an SSD on Amazon for $50 which gives it SATA III full speed. Capricorn Velocity PCI card. People with Mac Pro 4,1 are reporting 460MB/sec read writes with about 10,000 random IOPS. Any spinning drive gets about 100 IOPS. I got a 1TB Samsung 850 EVO and will boot off of that. (Avoid the 840 EVO!)

Finally, I got a Nvidia GTX 750ti graphics card ($130) to power a Dell 4K IPS screen ($600).

So, to summarize the above, I spent about $1K to keep my mac pro 4,1 going until a better mac pro comes along. Not sure if any of the speed bottlenecks are causing you too much delay, but the 2013 mac pro is certainly a screamer. And there's a few USB 3.0 and thunderbolt breakout boxes to handle the peripherals.


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Kannan Raghavan
Re: Is there any point in upgrading MacPro early 2009
on Apr 16, 2015 at 10:41:52 am

Thanks Matt, Andrew.
My biggest concern s the external RAID. If i spend quite a bit on that, in another couple of years' time, I'll have to look for Thunderbolt 2 RAIDS. Which would be a bummer. I know some SAS RAID arrays have Thunderbolt adapters, but still...
Right now i'm working only in HD. But in another 6 months time, I definitely should be 4K ready as the jobs are creeping up.
I either wait until Sep/Oct to see if the MacPro gets an upgrade or just get the latest specced out iMac and in future (when the money comes rolling in) use it as the second system...
I have quite a bit of transcoding to do as well. The MP would trump in this dept., I guess.

Kannan Raghavan
The Big Toad Films Pte. Ltd.


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Andrew Kimery
Re: Is there any point in upgrading MacPro early 2009
on Apr 16, 2015 at 8:01:25 am

First, how is your current MP *not* meeting your needs and how will the upgrades you've mentioned make your current MP start meeting those needs.

Second, how much more time you can squeeze out of your current MP totally depends on the type of work you need done. Working in just HD? I wouldn't worry too much as it can swing that, but it will just be slower than a new computer. Working in UHD or 4K? I would start to worry as it can swing that but it will be a lot slower (maybe too slow) than a new computer. Working in 5K or 6K? Probably not going to be a pleasant, if even viable, experience.

I have a 2009 MP too and, honestly, I'm amazed it's still even useful. Getting another 2 years out of a machine from 2009 as your main rig is pretty optimistic, IMO.


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Oliver Peters
Re: Is there any point in upgrading MacPro early 2009
on Apr 16, 2015 at 2:29:00 pm

I have the same vintage machine. If you run FCP X primarily, a new machine will be vastly superior. I have a Retina MBP, so there's a clear difference. If you run Resolve, Adobe CC or Avid MC, then the 2009 is still great - especially after an upgrade. However, how much money do you want to put into the machine. You are still only going to get another year or two of viability out of it. Is this worth the investment? I would think that three (or more) years of life is pushing it.

- Oliver

Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
Orlando, FL
http://www.oliverpeters.com


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Lance Bachelder
Re: Is there any point in upgrading MacPro early 2009
on Apr 16, 2015 at 5:20:34 pm

Love this thread! I too have the dual 2.93 4,1 and really struggling the past couple of weeks over next move as I have a Red feature starting soon as we want to cut native .rd3.

Was considering the OWC Mercury Accelsior for boot/FCPX Library, upping RAM from 16 to 48, internal RAID card and top it off with off the shelf GTX 980 which rivals DUAL D700 performance for $550. BUT, memory, motherboard all old and slow and still bottlenecks performance. So is it worth it to spend a couple of grand to keep a classic running for maybe 2 more shows or go new MacPro or 5K iMac? That's the question. I'd hate to spend 5 or 6 grand on a new Mac Pro ow and then see a upgraded version announce at WWDC in June.

After seeing Kinefinity 6K footage at NAB playing on a 5K iMac (stunning!) I'm really leaning that way. You can get into a fully loaded iMac via Apple refurb store for well under $4K and then add new Mac Pro later?

Decisions...

It was at a Vegas premiere that I resolved to become an avid FCPX user.

Lance Bachelder
Writer, Editor, Director
Downtown Long Beach, California
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1680680/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1


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Rich Rubasch
Re: Is there any point in upgrading MacPro early 2009
on Apr 16, 2015 at 7:10:18 pm

We have almost exactly what Lance just posted on 5 old MacPros but we did one more thing. We striped four internal Seagate Constellation 2 TB drives on the internal SATA bays into two partitions....one is 2TB and for just project files, and the other larger one is for Media and Capture Scratch. Getting almost as fast as the internal PCI SSD boot drive on that RAID...close to 500MB per second. They must be Constellation....Barracuda's were not as fast.

It is RADI 0 so we expect to lose these drives and have a nightly backup protocol of the project files, but this has been awesome.

And since we network between computers for media, we took it one more step. We bought an HP switch that allows aggregation so every Mac send BOT ethernet ports to the switch and we set up aggregates for each Mac. Now we went from around 138 MB per second up to 280 MB per second just by aggregating across the network. It also solved two way traffic jams as it uses the other cable when necessary to send/receive.

We are about at max power, but that new IBM PCI SSD does sound tasty!

Rich Rubasch
Tilt Media Inc.
Video Production, Post, Studio Sound Stage
Founder/President/Editor/Designer/Animator
http://www.tiltmedia.com


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Jason Porthouse
Re: Is there any point in upgrading MacPro early 2009
on Apr 16, 2015 at 10:20:51 pm

Well, I've done just that but on a Mac Pro 1,1. Really.

After using SFOTT to create a Mavericks install, and putting that on a Crucial SSD, it's transformed the machine. OK so it's no speed demon, but X runs very well considering. 24 gigs of RAM help - it originally had 8 and that was pretty painful for X (though fine for 7 and Media Composer). Storage is 3 striped 2tb drives giving about 560MB/sec (good backup mandatory). Oh and the GPU is a 5770 of some dubious provenance.

Caveat here - I'm not doing masses of graphics work, mainly documentary stuff. It does bog down a little with lots of CC and multiple titles but I just go and have a coffee...

I'm never going to attempt 4k on it (proxy excepted) and know it's days are numbered, at least as my main edit machine - but I'm currently cutting 2 eps of a BBC factual show on it in full res using Avid and it's absolutely fine. If your workflow is mainly HD then I'd stick with it, and see what the revised NMP is like.

The fact that this is on a machine from 2006/7 does my head in. But I'm not going to argue. Total cost for upgrades was about £400 btw, as opposed to at least £4k for the NMP. That's a lot of billable hours ;-)

_________________________________

Before you criticise a man, walk a mile in his shoes.
Then when you do criticise him, you'll be a mile away. And have his shoes.



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Kannan Raghavan
Re: Is there any point in upgrading MacPro early 2009
on Apr 17, 2015 at 5:10:50 am

Rich, Jason,
Thanks for taking the time to chime in:)
Will look into getting an iMac5K soon.
Cheers
Kannan

Kannan Raghavan
The Big Toad Films Pte. Ltd.


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Kannan Raghavan
Re: Is there any point in upgrading MacPro early 2009
on Apr 17, 2015 at 5:09:10 am

I was looking at OWC for the upgrade options too. But, like you say, theiMac5K is probably what I'll go for. And then later, when the money starts coming in, probably the updated MP tower:)
Thanks for your input Lance
Kannan

Kannan Raghavan
The Big Toad Films Pte. Ltd.


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Kannan Raghavan
Re: Is there any point in upgrading MacPro early 2009
on Apr 17, 2015 at 4:46:40 am

Hi Oliver,
I run both FCP X and PrPro CC 2014. Right now my projects are all HD. At least for another 6 months. But potential clients are already enquiring if I'm 4K ready, if I have Thunderbolt card readers etc(!?)
So, I'll probably use this current Mac without upgrades for another 2-3 months max and then go for an iMac 5K. The MP once it is updated and if I have the money.
Thanks a lot for your inputmate:)

Kannan Raghavan
The Big Toad Films Pte. Ltd.


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