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Jason Higgs
Ultimate Mac
on Feb 1, 2008 at 3:17:17 am

Good evening fellow Creative Cow forum folks.

I was given a rare and coveted opportunity today by my employer. I heard the most glorious words a tech nerd like myself could hope to hear: "It is time to buy new machines so I need to you spec out a top of the line computer."

As I caught my breath and my heart started to beat regularly again I thought I would pose this question to people that would possibly offer something I had not thought of. So here it is... If you were to spec out the perfect Mac for Maya what would you add? What graphics card? Is there such a thing as too much ram? ;) I currently have a 30 inch and 19 inch monitor and after more research am hoping to set up a small render farm (2-12 other machines)

I appreciate all your feedback!


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Nick Greenup
Re: Ultimate Mac
on Feb 1, 2008 at 5:25:58 pm

A mac for maya? Please tell me you are joking.

Other users may say otherwise, but Maya on OSX has been nothing but problems for me. I would imagine you either have to get Mac, or you love mac. Either way I guess my post is pointless.

I would be happy to list my problems with maya on OSX if your interested.

Now that we have moved to intel proc in the mac its mostly the OS not the hardware.... your options are so limited on hardware if you want to get it all from mac... ie not build your own mac box.

WORKSTATION CLASS PC runnning linux or windows has always proven to out perform my mac hardware with OSX.

Are you currently running maya on Mac? If so what are the specs?





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Jason Higgs
Re: Ultimate Mac
on Feb 1, 2008 at 5:54:47 pm

Hey Nick I appreciate your feedback.

I am currently running Maya on a Dual 1.8 G5, 4 Gig of Ram, ATI Radeon 9600 Pro

The major reason we would go mac based is that Maya is not all that I do. I also use all of the Adobe apps on a daily basis (sans Premiere because Final Cut is superior) and the rest of our office is Mac based. I have no major issue when it comes to a Windows or Linux OS, I just don't use them here. My point is this will not JUST be a Maya machine.


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Nick Greenup
Re: Ultimate Mac
on Feb 1, 2008 at 9:41:58 pm

I am going to give you my recommendations based mainly on information directly from Autodesk and less from personal experience. I will get the personal experience out of the way. If you are already using maya on OSX you may know about this... but for those who havent....

I have used mainly maya 5,6, and 7 on OSX. I have little experience with a brand new top of the line mac with Maya 2008. But I have had problems with getting plugins for OSX version. This is mostly on the free plugins, but at times these are invaluable. This is terrible when working on a project with both windows and osx versions of scenes. Even if you dont need the plugin it can prevent the scene from opening on OSX. There are workarounds involving saving ASCII files and editing them by hand. NO THANKS. You may recompile plugins for use in OSX as far as I understand. I have not done this. From Autodesk.com:

"If you are building plug-ins for Maya, note that the Maya API requires a specific compiler and linker, on each of the platforms Autodesk supports in order to build compatible plug-ins. Autodesk Maya 2008 is built on: Mac OS X 10.4 with the XCode version 2.4.1 using the gcc 4.0.1 (Apple Computer, inc. build 5367 ) compiler. Using this compiler will guarantee binary compatibility when building plug-ins. "

I have had problems with view port display, batch renders, general scene freezing when opening a file not created on a OSX version of maya. This may be a coincidence but that just means it freezes a bunch in general. I have experienced fewer problems on the intel based systems.

Now some more knowledge with a source...

When choosing your new Mac Pro I would get the fastest processor you can afford. As far as processor, Two 2.8GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon (8-core) should be great. If you can afford more then go for it. You can save money by getting the RAM elsewhere. Apple charges way way way too much for as does PC people like Dell. Get it somewhere else and put your money into processor and graphics options. I would recommend 4gig total or more if possible.


It is very hard to make a recommendation for a Graphics Card. I would just get a card that works and is qualified for your other main software packages and hope it works for maya. Why would I say such a thing? Because according to Autodesk NONE of the cards you can choose (at the time of writing this) on apple.com are qualified. They have not been tested. At least not results posted to the web site. They list 12 cards for maya 2008 on OSX and all but one "passed with limitations". The one failed. There is not ONE fully qualified card that works with OSX and Maya 2008. What are these limitations? Oh just things like....

Polygons and/or NURBS may be drawn incorrectly in hardware render buffer
No Shadows in hardware renderer
CG shaders with reflection maps do not display properly

And the workarounds for these? NONE! (officially)

Some more friendly reading from Autodesk.com's "General notes about graphics cards on Mac workstation":

* The texture placement manipulator may not display. The manipulator can be forced to display by clicking the middle mouse button anywhere in the same window.
* The Alpha Gain Slider in the attribute editor for an image plane does not alter the transparency of the image plane, or the alpha gain is displayed incorrectly.
* The outline of the Paint Effects brushes or artisan brushes (e.g. sculpt) may remain on screen on the completion of a stroke, or may not be drawn at all, or may draw incorrectly.
* Refresh of scenes containing Paint Effects can be very slow, or may 'flash' during redraw.
* Hardware shadows cannot be displayed (Lighting->Shadows in pane menus).

End quote.

I guess when it comes down to it... I would focus more on getting qualified setup for Final Cut over worrying about maya. Because plain and simple maya is not going to work 100% right on any mac setup without much tweaking or hacking or at all.

Links:
Maya 2008 Qualification Chart for OSX http://download.autodesk.com/us/maya/qualcharts/Maya_OSX_2008.htm#ATI_cavea...
Maya 8.5 Qualification Chart for OSX http://download.autodesk.com/us/maya/qualcharts/maya_85_osx.html

I doubt I helped you much, but maybe relief can be had from not having to worry about it all. Just focus on other software's requirements.




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Jason Higgs
Re: Ultimate Mac
on Feb 2, 2008 at 3:16:58 am

Thanks again Nick.

Though I appreciate your feedback and completely biased opinion towards macintosh computers ;) I would like to point out that autodesks qualifying charts do not list any of the current video cards being installed by Apple. I am by no means stating that the current video cards would not have the same problem, just making a general observation.

I have yet to have any of the issues stated on my G5 (knock on wood) but perhaps my workload has not been massive enough.

Nick, I do appreciate the feedback and all of the sleuth work in regards to my question. I now plan to focus primarily on researching which of the 3 video cards Apple currently offers would be best and run with it. Have already decided on a Two 3.2GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon (8-core) processor and have already ordered ram from OWC at less than a quarter of the price Apple is asking.



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Brent Keller
Re: Ultimate Mac
on Feb 2, 2008 at 1:19:29 pm

How well will a windows version of Maya run on a Power Mac - running windows of course. I too have to head over to the Mac side for Final Cut.

Thanks



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