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Need advice on MacPro upgrade: RAM vs SSD

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Mike MacKenzie
Need advice on MacPro upgrade: RAM vs SSD
on Jun 2, 2012 at 6:08:44 pm

Hey everyone...

I currently have a 2x2.8 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon (early '08) with an NVIDIA Quadro FX 4800 card, and sadly just 10GB RAM. Running Lion. This system has been perfectly fine up until CS6 reared its ray-tracing little head, so I need to beef things up a bit.

I'm naively waiting for Apple to update the Pro line (I know, I know), but in the meantime I'm willing to drop another $300 on my machine. What do you think would do the most to speed up After Effects, another 8GB RAM or an SSD? Also, any opinions on SSDs, including hybrids are welcome.

Thanks!

PS please no advice on switching to a non-Mac solution, I've been using Macs since the eighties and it's a cold-dead-hands kinda situation with me.


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Roland R. Kahlenberg
Re: Need advice on MacPro upgrade: RAM vs SSD
on Jun 2, 2012 at 8:44:55 pm

Your Quadro FX4800 is one of the few Mac-based GPUs that provides GPU-accelerated ray-tracing (RT) in CS6. If you're looking at improving RT speeds then neither a RAM upgrade nor an SSD will help as much as you think.

I suggest that you look at a purchase where the item can be of use on any new MacPro that may come onto the market. IOW don't buy something that's going to give you short-term satisfaction. One option you've not mentioned and one that will actually help with your RT work is a GPU. You may want to look at a Quadro 4000.

HTH
RoRK

Intensive AE & Mocha Training in Singapore and Malaysia
Adobe ACE/ACI (version 7) & Imagineer Systems Inc Approved Mocha Trainer


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Mike MacKenzie
Re: Need advice on MacPro upgrade: RAM vs SSD
on Jun 2, 2012 at 9:31:41 pm

Would the 4000 really be significantly faster than the card I have in now?

Motion Graphics Designer / Art Director
Boston, MA

System:
Mac/Leopard
2 x 2.8 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon
10 GB 800 MHz DDR2 FB-DIMM


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Roland R. Kahlenberg
Re: Need advice on MacPro upgrade: RAM vs SSD
on Jun 3, 2012 at 12:42:33 am

You should see improvement for sure but unfortunately I'm not in a position to quantify the improvement. Perhaps more 'googling' will be of use.

HTH
RoRK

Intensive AE & Mocha Training in Singapore and Malaysia
Adobe ACE/ACI (version 7) & Imagineer Systems Inc Approved Mocha Trainer


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Jon Bagge
Re: Need advice on MacPro upgrade: RAM vs SSD
on Jun 3, 2012 at 11:55:03 am

I'd get more RAM. 10GB is nothing on an 8 core machine. Get 24 or 32GB before you consider any other upgrade.

--------------
http://www.jonbagge.net
Jon Bagge - Editor - London, UK
Avid - FCP - After Effects


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Mike MacKenzie
Re: Need advice on MacPro upgrade: RAM vs SSD
on Jun 3, 2012 at 2:19:44 pm

I did both, 500gb SSD & additional 8gb RAM. Thanks for all the suggestions!

Motion Graphics Designer / Art Director
Boston, MA

System:
Mac/Leopard
2 x 2.8 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon
NVIDIA Quadro FX 4800
NVIDIA Quadro FX 4800
10 GB 800 MHz DDR2 FB-DIMM


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Roland R. Kahlenberg
Re: Need advice on MacPro upgrade: RAM vs SSD
on Jun 3, 2012 at 3:11:31 pm

2 SSDs would have been better, a smaller (abt 180GB) for OS and cache files and a larger one for project media. The additional 8GB of RAM will come in handy but it's not a certainty that it'll be usable in a new system.

Anyways, enjoy your purchases and do keep some spare cash for speedier ray-tracing renders.

Cheers
RoRK

Intensive AE & Mocha Training in Singapore and Malaysia
Adobe ACE/ACI (version 7) & Imagineer Systems Inc Approved Mocha Trainer


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Mike MacKenzie
Re: Need advice on MacPro upgrade: RAM vs SSD
on Jun 3, 2012 at 3:57:42 pm

Would there be any point in partitioning the SSD along the lines you suggest?

Motion Graphics Designer / Art Director
Boston, MA

System:
Mac/Leopard
2 x 2.8 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon
NVIDIA Quadro FX 4800
NVIDIA Quadro FX 4800
10 GB 800 MHz DDR2 FB-DIMM


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Roland R. Kahlenberg
Re: Need advice on MacPro upgrade: RAM vs SSD
on Jun 3, 2012 at 4:24:56 pm

[Mike MacKenzie] "Would there be any point in partitioning the SSD along the lines you suggest?
"


The point I'm making is related to writing and reading data from the HDs. One SSD to store media, where data is read from and then written onto another HD where it is then read from.

If both read and write operations occurred from a single disc, then latency issues can be expected as the drive switches from one operation to the other. However, if each disc was made to specialize to either read or write, then productivity gains can be attained.

How big your cache and media drives are, will depend very much on the type of projects you undertake. For me, an average project requires about 100GB of media and that's without house-cleaning in mid-project. With house-cleaning done frequently, it'll probably be around 60GB.

Cache requirements are very much up to speculation/experience. I find that I work pretty well with 30GB BUT that's possibly because I only have a 128GB OS+cache SSD drive. My thoughts are that 50GB set aside for AE caching should be sufficient - but again, your ideal may differ.

More info here - http://blogs.adobe.com/toddkopriva/2011/02/optimizing-for-performance-adobe...

HTH
RoRK

Intensive AE & Mocha Training in Singapore and Malaysia
Adobe ACE/ACI (version 7) & Imagineer Systems Inc Approved Mocha Trainer


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Mike MacKenzie
Re: Need advice on MacPro upgrade: RAM vs SSD
on Jun 3, 2012 at 4:43:42 pm

I mainly do motion graphics for short format projects that don't require huge amounts of video assets on my end; I mainly deal in AI and PSD for assets, with the occasional clip thrown in. I really appreciate your advice, and probably would have gone the dual-SSD route had I read that before ordering. That being said, a number of people have told me that 10gb is woeful on an eight-core machine doing AE work, although speed has never been a hindrance until now.

Motion Graphics Designer / Art Director
Boston, MA

System:
Mac/Leopard
2 x 2.8 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon
NVIDIA Quadro FX 4800
10 GB 800 MHz DDR2 FB-DIMM


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Roland R. Kahlenberg
Re: Need advice on MacPro upgrade: RAM vs SSD
on Jun 3, 2012 at 4:54:20 pm

10GB of RAM is woeful BUT I was also considering that any purchase you make now will be usable in a new system should you go that way, later down the road. It'll be quite sad to purchase RAM that may not work on your next system purchase.

It's never an easy task being in your situation - which is any time you want to make a purchase. You've got to look at how long your purchases will last and when you'll be able to upgrade parts/systems etc.

Hopefully, you've got a better picture. FWIW, the SSD isn't such a bad choice since it'll work with your existing system and any addition you might go for later on.

But at 500GB and knowing your work requirements, it's best to use it as an OS+cache drive. Then store your media onto a fast RAID.

HTH
RoRK

Intensive AE & Mocha Training in Singapore and Malaysia
Adobe ACE/ACI (version 7) & Imagineer Systems Inc Approved Mocha Trainer


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