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This is the best value for money Mac Pro configuration.

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Olly LawerThis is the best value for money Mac Pro configuration.
by on Jan 9, 2014 at 5:00:08 pm

I realise the boldness of the statement of this post!

One of our team spent the best part of a day researching Mac Pro and the subsequent performance affects with AE.

Happy to be disagreed with, but this is our conclusion. Please note, this isn't to say this is the 'best' configuration for AE, just that it's the best value for money configuration!

PROCESSOR: 3.5GHz 6-core with 12MB of L3 cache
RAM: 64GB (4 x 16GB) of 1866MHz DDR3 ECC

We did some tests based on a typical example of our work (knowing that AE performs better with higher RAM in some cases and cores in others). Although there was a performance boost when increasing the number of cores vs RAM, it wasn't notable above 2GB per core and we understand AE will only actually use 3.5GB per core maximum). The number of cores available to AE showed little performance jump for each core added. Given the price jump from 6 to 8, 12 cores, there isn't any real notable benefit of increasing beyond a 6 core machine (or arguably a 4 core machine). Although we don't know this as fact, I have the feeling that a higher GHz processor will be more of an advantage over more cores.

Having said all that, we probably could get away with 32GB ram (11 cores (inc virtual ones) with 32 RAM would equate to 2.9 GB per core - leaving 1 core for system use. Since AE can use up to 3.5GB per core and we'll be using the system for other tasks, 64GB seemed the way to go).


GRAPHICS: Dual AMD FirePro D500 GPUs with 3GB of GDDR5 VRAM each

The graphic card upgrade didn't appear to have any positive effect on AE (as we read online), so the basic one should do!


STORAGE: 512GB PCIe-based flash storage [+ £240.00]

This seems a fair balance between cost and what we plan to store on the machine, leaving enough working memory.

Please tell us if our facts are wrong before we invest.

The other option is still a custom build PC with a higher power processor!

Olly Lawer


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George GoodmanRe: This is the best value for money Mac Pro configuration.
by on Jan 9, 2014 at 7:52:52 pm

Here's where I disagree:

Get the maximum amount of cores. Sure, maybe you don't see much a benefit NOW, but AE will advance as computers do. It's easy to add ram and storage (and maybe even change your graphics card? http://www.macrumors.com/2013/10/25/graphics-cards-in-new-mac-pro-may-be-us... which will only get cheaper in time, but you need a new computer for more cores. You're playing the short game right now, I would try to future proof if you really want to save money. Start with the best brain, then build your components up as you need them.

Also, is it really only for AE? Did you include the usage of C4D lite in your tests? That could make a difference. Processing power in the gpu is becoming increasingly important.


"|_ (°_0) _|"

Sincerely,

George


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Olly LawerRe: This is the best value for money Mac Pro configuration.
by on Jan 9, 2014 at 8:02:41 pm

Oh I agree. More cores = more computing power. But that's not the evaluation. At the moment, a 6 core machine is much better value for money. By the time AE takes full advantage of multiple cores, there'll be a new Mac Pro! :)

Olly Lawer


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George GoodmanRe: This is the best value for money Mac Pro configuration.
by on Jan 9, 2014 at 8:12:51 pm

So you're going to spend another $3-5k minimum for the new machine?

It's about value, right? So you should look at it from the standpoint of what am I going to spend on computers in the next 5-10 years, not how does after effects perform at its current state on this hardware. I certainly understand your evaluation, and think it's awesome that you took the time to do it, but from a budgetary standpoint, that's how I think about it.

I think what apple has done is created the new format for the computer. I expect this model to have an unprecedented shelf life. Any new mac will only have minor improvements that don't justify an upgrade. I'm saying buy this now, and don't buy another computer for 5-10 years (okay maybe 10 is long, but you get the point).

Personally, I'm waiting until the next generation to buy (not out of choice, but from a pure budget standpoint). But, if I were in need of a new computer and had the money for it now, that's how I would go about it.


"|_ (°_0) _|"

Sincerely,

George


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Kevin CampRe: This is the best value for money Mac Pro configuration.
by on Jan 9, 2014 at 8:35:12 pm

the cpus are upgradeable in the current configuration of the new mac pros (hard to say if they'll keep it that way in the future):

http://blog.macsales.com/22188-owc-confirms-mac-pro-2013-processor-upgradea...

so you could upgrade the cpu when you felt the bang for the buck made sense.

owc also has posted some mac pro benchmarks with other non-oem cpus that they've been throwing in them.

http://blog.macsales.com/22312-owcs-mac-pro-2013-processor-upgrade-benchmar...

Kevin Camp
Senior Designer
KCPQ, KMYQ & KRCW


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Darby EdelenRe: This is the best value for money Mac Pro configuration.
by on Jan 9, 2014 at 10:01:33 pm

I haven't looked at whether the RAM is considered user servicable in the new Mac Pros (it had better be) but my "best value" move for any Mac purchase has always been to buy with as little RAM as possible (I wish you could buy it with none) and then purchase after market RAM.

The mark ups on the RAM through Apple are generally ridiculous.

Also I'd suggest that RAM upgrades are far cheaper than CPU upgrades.

http://www.datamemorysystems.com/apple-mac-pro-6-core-intel-xeon-e5-3-5ghz-...

If you order with the default amount of RAM you can save $420 on the upgrade to 64GB if you buy after market and you'll have 16GB of RAM left over to give... sell to a friend :)

Darby Edelen


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Olly LawerRe: This is the best value for money Mac Pro configuration.
by on Jan 9, 2014 at 10:26:23 pm

Totally with you on the RAM. Way expensive from Apple, but I haven't seen it available anywhere yet.

Unfortunately £10k for a new machine is really pushing it.

We have two top iMacs and two MacBook Pros. Really need another machine. iMac even with 32GB RAM just don't cut it. Hence Mac Pro consideration.

Thing is, we could buy two decent 6 core Mac Pros for the price of one 12 core and that's more valuable to us as a company than one beast.

Of course, there is always PC...a serious consideration!

Olly Lawer


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Alex GerulaitisRe: This is the best value for money Mac Pro configuration.
by on Jan 9, 2014 at 10:44:28 pm

[Olly Lawer] "We did some tests based on a typical example of our work (knowing that AE performs better with higher RAM in some cases and cores in others)."

Can't beat that. Best value is defined as unit of money per unit of productivity; if your tests show that you get more value out of 6-core configurations in your workflows, who could possibly argue with that? :)


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Walter SoykaRe: This is the best value for money Mac Pro configuration.
by on Jan 9, 2014 at 10:48:57 pm

[Olly Lawer] "we understand AE will only actually use 3.5GB per core maximum"

This was true in AE CS4 and before. Starting with CS5, Ae is 64-bit and any render process would be capable of accessing all the memory in your system.

Aside from render-time, the other way that RAM can come in handy is Ae's improved caching system. The more RAM you have, the more Ae can keep right in memory. Of course the Mac Pro also has flash PCIe storage which would be a great candidate for your Ae disk cache. Will 512 GB be enough?

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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EricBowenRe: This is the best value for money Mac Pro configuration.
by on Jan 10, 2014 at 5:23:46 pm
Last Edited By EricBowen on Jan 10, 2014 at 5:24:48 pm

I have tested AE with both single and dual 12 Core E5 V2 chips and the application will thread out to all 24 or 48 threads fine currently with CC. The only limitation to threading has to do with codecs/formats or FX. Some Codecs or Formats wont thread as well. The main problem child threading so far on Win platform is PNG however PNG threads fine with OSX. Some of the FX wont thread well but Adobe does not give a list of those. You have to test to find out. Many of the codecs such as Red R3d thread extremely well and require the greater threading for ideal performance. So this means the best configuration or the money spent is completely based on the workflow used. AE is not currently the limitation to the threading or ram allocation.

Eric-ADK
Tech Manager
support@adkvideoediting.com


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Olly LawerRe: This is the best value for money Mac Pro configuration.
by on Jan 10, 2014 at 5:34:07 pm

Thanks for the info.

I know it's hard as it depends on the workflow, but I'd love to see your tests.

If 12 cores was twice as fast rendering as 6 cores, I'd invest, but our tests showed only nominal increments in performance. Maybe 20-25% quicker with 12 as opposed to 6 cores.

Olly Lawer


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EricBowenRe: This is the best value for money Mac Pro configuration.
by on Jan 10, 2014 at 5:43:33 pm

Send me a link to the Comp I can download your using and I will test on the single 12 E5 V2 on my bench right now. Ill report back what the times are for ram preview and export.

Eric-ADK
Tech Manager
support@adkvideoediting.com


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