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Buying a Mac Pro: more RAM or faster processor?

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Lance Gambis
Buying a Mac Pro: more RAM or faster processor?
on Apr 12, 2011 at 3:27:15 pm

I apologize if this question has been covered previously. I searched but did not find anything.

I'm upgrading my 2005 G5 and I'm seeking guidance with regards to the optimal, most cost-effective configuration for a video editing station for semi-professional projects. I'm working with Final Cut Express and most of my projects are short films of 30 minutes or less.

My budget including Applecare and an external dedicated hard drive is $3000-3200. I already have monitors. My questions:
1. How much extra RAM should I get, and should I get it pre-installed or buy it separately?
2. If you have to choose between getting less RAM and a faster machine, which one is better?
3. Is there any reason NOT to get Applecare?

Let me know if there are any factors I need to consider.


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Dennis Leppell
Re: Buying a Mac Pro: more RAM or faster processor?
on Apr 12, 2011 at 7:01:26 pm

Most will tell you the get the best (all-round balanced) system you can afford, but I would go for more processor now vs. RAM....You can't upgrade your processor after you buy it.

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Dennis Dean
Re: Buying a Mac Pro: more RAM or faster processor?
on Apr 13, 2011 at 1:57:53 am

I would concur another very important aspect is having your media on a separate RAID array. I'm no expert but it seems as tho part of what's happening happens in your CPU, part is dependent on RAM, and another part of what happens - simply swinging the files around - happens on your drive. A RAID array makes a huge difference.


Dennis Dean
The Dean Group
-It's about results-

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Zane Barker
Re: Buying a Mac Pro: more RAM or faster processor?
on Apr 13, 2011 at 2:15:49 am

If your running final cut express then I see no reason that you should be getting a Mac Pro.

Save some money and get an iMac.

**Hindsight is always 1080p**

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David Eaks
Re: Buying a Mac Pro: more RAM or faster processor?
on Apr 13, 2011 at 2:48:49 am

1- None, buy it separately.
2- Faster machine is "better", upgrade RAM yourself.
3- Yes, if the cost means you have to get a lesser machine.

In my opinion, buy the fastest machine you can afford. Get the basic stock RAM and then upgrade it yourself. Haven't checked recently but Apple's RAM is overpriced.

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Al Bergstein
Re: Buying a Mac Pro: more RAM or faster processor?
on Apr 13, 2011 at 5:29:06 am

Lance, I concur with the others on the issue of buying more proc power than RAM initially. But I would caution you that the current crop of Mac Pros I doubt will be upgradeable to really take advantage of Thunderbolt technology, and I personally feel it may be the most in demand feature in the near future. As I understand it, it needs the new Intel procs, to gain the throughput, so retrofits are likely to have bottlenecks, if work right at all. Perhaps there's something I'm missing in my analysis though?

If what I think is true, then saving up for a newer machine (when they arrive) with TB is best. Getting a very cheap older one is next best (I bought mine used on Craigslist and got it for 1/2 price of newest technology from a laid off bank worker, it's worked fine for me for the last year + 3 months, and I don't have Applecare). I won't buy any machine at this point without TB (Windows or Mac), so I'm holding off on all purchases and using my current machines longer. However, you have a machine that could really benefit from any sort of upgrade. It's a hard choice. Maybe the idea of a iMac is actually the best choice if you can't buy 'right'. The i7's will be a great chip for a long time to come, I've seen it blow the socks off the Intel core duo's in the windows video editing I also do, and that's in 64 bit editing. I would assume that for your limited needs even after 64 bit conversion, you will be ok with it. Your downside is that you will be stuck without esata for expansion, but maybe you could live without it for a while. Just make sure your RAID array has both esata & FW800. Some don't. Then sell your iMac when the next gen comes out and/or you need the new features, and consider the difference your rental fee for using it between now and then.

If you are getting Applecare I assume you are buying new, or refurbished, or through the developer store, so I think that I would say it's worth it, because these particular machines are VERY expensive and if they die for any reason, the parts cost will likely be higher than the Applecare. I always buy Applecare on new machines.

Hope this helps...


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