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Report on the 2019 Mac Pro

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Herb Sevush
Report on the 2019 Mac Pro
on Feb 18, 2020 at 2:01:27 pm

Early report on the 2019 Mac Pro from a PPro user.

After finally resolving the many installation problems caused, not by the computer, but by the Catalina OS that comes with it, and which can't readily be changed because of security features in the new Mac, I thought I would post my initial impressions for those who might be interested.

First off, after much research, I bought the 16 core, basic 580X GPU, 1 Gig system drive, and minimum 32 Gig memory from Apple, then added 64 gig of memory, a 2 Gig PCIe M.2 NVMe SSD drive, and a Radeon VII GPU. Total cost was a little under 11K with tax and shipping. Installation of upgrades was the easiest I've ever done with a computer, the internal layout of the 2019MP is the cleanest and easiest to work with I've ever seen.

First off, me being me, I'll start with some minor complaints.:

This is a large and heavy system, not ideal for Desktop use, but rather for under desktop installation. However to open the case you must unlock from the top and pull straight up, making it necessary to drag the case out from under the desk to work on. Further, the way the case is designed you have to remove all cables to remove the outer case, and you can't power up the system with the case off.

This means any work on the computer requires you to remove it from it's working environment, remove all cables, do your work on the system, close the case, re-attach the cables and then turn on to test if everything is working correctly.

Compare that to the ease of working with the older 2010 system, where the side lid of the case slipped off and you could test your work without needing to remove cables or close the lid.

This is an ergonomic disaster, modified by the fact that it's so easy to install new items correctly. Once again Apple has designed for no editor that I can imagine.

In addition there are only 2 i/o ports (both Thblt 3) built into the system, both on the top of the case. The 2019MP does come with an additional i/o PCIe card with 4 ports (2 Thblt 3, 2 USB 3.1) that you can reach from the back, but even with this the i/o is paltry and you've used up one of the pci slots.

I can understand the concept that with all the changes coming in i/o, leaving most of it up to the PCI slots is a way to keep things flexible for the future, but still there should have been more slots built in, at least some with older USB connectors.

The system is advertised as being very quiet, which is true, except for when you first turn it on, when the fan noise is the loudest I've heard outside an airport runway. This only last a couple of seconds, but it does take a little getting used to.

Now for the good news:

It works. Everything works. Ppro finally works as intended. Things that used to cause sluggishness or crashes simply work. Having Audition, RX-7, AE, Photoshop and Ppro open at the same time - no problem. 6 camera Multicams with a mix of HD and 4k, no problems. Warp stabilizer at warp speeds, no amount of CC or blur effects will cause sluggishness or latency in timeline playing at Full resolution.

I haven't done tests between the old and new systems to figure out just how much faster everything exports, but I'm guessing it's about a 50% improvement. Renders seem even faster, especially Warp Stabilizer on 4K.

All my plug-ins eventually were installed, the computer simply works and everything gets out of my way.

It's loverly.

It's still too expensive, I could get the same results for 60% of the cost in the Windows world, but if your stuck in OSX it's a nice way to go.

Herb Sevush
Zebra Productions
---------------------------
nothin' attached to nothin'
"Deciding the spine is the process of editing" F. Bieberkopf


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Eric Santiago
Re: Report on the 2019 Mac Pro
on Feb 18, 2020 at 2:31:20 pm

Thanks for the update.
We are waiting to order two workstations and one is exact to your base.
On another note, we had to update a 2013 D700 to Catalina and the user is finding it much slower.
Hope all these Catalina bugs go away soon./


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Tom Sefton
Re: Report on the 2019 Mac Pro
on Feb 18, 2020 at 4:20:33 pm

Just received our 16 core today. 192GB of RAM, an afterburner and a Radeon Pro II module is in ours. I've added a Radeon VII too, and will also add a m2 RAID, with perhaps a new Blackmagic PCIe I/o.

Luckily for us, we had Catalina on other iMac Pro models so the setup was incredibly quick and easy.

It is a beast in size and weight - so having it a place that allows quick access is crucial. Perhaps think we should have considered the rack mount version too......

With FCPX, it absolutely flies. Even with 8K red footage.

Co-owner at Pollen Studio
http://www.pollenstudio.co.uk


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Michael Hadley
Re: Report on the 2019 Mac Pro
on Feb 20, 2020 at 1:38:44 pm

Thanks for the update. Curious as to why you went with the AMD Radeon VII GPU. I have one, bought as a pre-order before it dropped, and I use it in an eGPU with a full spec iMac. It seems "okay," aside from the whirring fans when the machine sleeps.

It's never been an officially supported card for any mac. How is it working for you?

Thanks.


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Herb Sevush
Re: Report on the 2019 Mac Pro
on Feb 20, 2020 at 3:28:56 pm

[Michael Hadley] "Curious as to why you went with the AMD Radeon VII GPU"

There was an article that said that the VII was actually one of Radeon's more expensive server GPU's that Radeon hurriedly renamed and released it to compete with Nvidia cards before Radeon had their latest Vega and Navi based graphics cards ready. As such it was actually a loss leader, being sold for less than it cost to build, and then discontinued once they had their cheaper cards ready for release. As such it's supposed to be very good for GPU calculations and when twinned with the cheap 580X that comes standard with the Mac Pro it becomes very efficient: The 580X is used for sending video to the monitors, which it is very capable of handling, and the Radeon VII is used solely for computations.

This was the theory anyhow. It's $1800 cheaper than going with the Duo Vega card and PPro uses the CPU more than the GPU so it seemed a good idea. As for how it's working - it's working fine, it's immediately recognized by OS X Catalina and so far it seems like a good deal.

Herb Sevush
Zebra Productions
---------------------------
nothin' attached to nothin'
"Deciding the spine is the process of editing" F. Bieberkopf


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Michael Hadley
Re: Report on the 2019 Mac Pro
on Feb 20, 2020 at 3:43:22 pm

Glad the Radeon VII is working for you. Me too--I think? Performance gets cut in an external GPU. And thanks for the interesting context/history. That said, wonder why it's not been a commercial success and not officially on the list of approved cards.


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Eric Santiago
Re: Report on the 2019 Mac Pro
on Feb 20, 2020 at 5:06:53 pm

Pulled the trigger on an 8-Core (R580X) and 12-Core (VII).
Base 32GB RAM and 1TB drives.
Will do the rest of RAM third-party and add the NVMe goodies later.
Crossing fingers Catalina plays nice by the time these drop.


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Herb Sevush
Re: Report on the 2019 Mac Pro
on Feb 20, 2020 at 5:10:45 pm

[Michael Hadley] "wonder why it's not been a commercial success and not officially on the list of approved cards."

The Radeon VII already been discontinued. AMD created it purely for PR reasons as a placeholder till their line of Navi cards (5800X) were ready and were actually happy that it didn't sell much as they were losing money on every card they sold.

Herb Sevush
Zebra Productions
---------------------------
nothin' attached to nothin'
"Deciding the spine is the process of editing" F. Bieberkopf


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Erik Lindahl
Re: Report on the 2019 Mac Pro
on Feb 20, 2020 at 7:44:25 pm

One note is most apps don’t use additional cards than the one connected to your display. Some outlier are there - Resolve for example or Premiere when rendering (but not during playback oddly enough). It’s also in general best practice to match cards. As and example someone on LGG used a Radeon VII Duo + a W7100 or something for Resolve where the W-card was used for GUI and the VII’s for compute. Removing the W-card and using one of the VII’s for both GUI and compute actually improved performance in Resolve.


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Eric Santiago
Re: Report on the 2019 Mac Pro
on Feb 20, 2020 at 7:52:34 pm

[Erik Lindahl] "using one of the VII’s for both GUI and compute actually improved performance in Resolve."

This is what I'm wondering about.
I only ordered a single VII with the 12-Core.
Was I wrong on this order or should I opt for a 16-Core and settle for the Pro 580X for now?
Get a GPU later of course.
Also, is the VII worth it?


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Erik Lindahl
Re: Report on the 2019 Mac Pro
on Feb 21, 2020 at 9:17:28 am
Last Edited By Erik Lindahl on Feb 21, 2020 at 9:23:26 am

12-core with Vega II vs 16-core with R580X is very work-depending.

In general if I had to choose I’d go 12-Core Vega II.

On the other hand you could use an off-the-shelf 5700X for 1/5 of the Vega II price in the R580X machine. I’d there recommend using the 5700X as your main display, really making the R580X a glorified Thunderbolt 3 controller.

One downside is the consumer cards have very little VRAM relatively speaking. I’d like 12GB minimum.

TBH I think the coming X5700 Pro from Apple will be best features / price / performance. With 16 GB of VRAM that’s also relatively future proof.


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Eric Santiago
Re: Report on the 2019 Mac Pro
on Feb 21, 2020 at 3:44:01 pm

[Erik Lindahl] "In general if I had to choose I’d go 12-Core Vega II."

I got approved for a 16-Core and Vega II.
Now for future, which display card to add so, I can bump that Vega II up to GPU?
Generally using Dell 4Ks on this workstation at work.
Nothing fancy.


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Erik Lindahl
Re: Report on the 2019 Mac Pro
on Feb 21, 2020 at 7:54:02 pm

The Vega II’s are miles better than the 580’s. The latter are roughly 2016 tech.


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Michael Jones
Re: Report on the 2019 Mac Pro
on Feb 25, 2020 at 7:48:50 pm

Would adding a 2nd (used) MPX R580X be a worth while option? Assuming, people who upgrade later to a Pro Vega or W5700X may be selling the R580X off?



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Drew Lahat
Re: Report on the 2019 Mac Pro
on Feb 25, 2020 at 8:48:25 pm

So... can we saw off the bottom of the top cover? 😬


Any reason why on earth they designed it this way, with that little bar making the entire difference between having to disconnect everything to troubleshoot hardware, and not having to?


Absolutely great point about the futility of having a top cover when the most common scenario is placing the computer under a desk... Sonnet or OWC could fabricate a replacement cover with detachable side doors. ☺ The easier, realistic solution is to properly cable-manage, ensuring you've got 3 feet of slack tied and coiled neatly behind the machine so you can slide it out easily. (Oh and add $4 furniture glider or felt pads to those feet if you don't have carpet. Or buy those $400 wheels.)


Finally, does the rackmount version allow removing the cover without disconnecting everything? And how does it handle what would be accessing the bottom of the computer, when laid horizontally?


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Drew Lahat
Re: Report on the 2019 Mac Pro
on Feb 25, 2020 at 8:57:50 pm

"In addition there are only 2 i/o ports (both Thblt 3) built into the system"

You can use those as USB ports, no? For example with this $8 cable:
https://www.amazon.com/AmazonBasics-Type-C-Micro-B-Gen2-Cable/dp/B01GGKYIHS


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Herb Sevush
Re: Report on the 2019 Mac Pro
on Feb 25, 2020 at 9:38:50 pm

[Drew Lahat] "You can use those as USB ports, no? For example with this $8 cable:"

After spending 10K you'd think they could include more than 2 ports, whatever the format. I ended up sticking a $30 multiport into one of the top 2 ports, giving me 3 USB and some media card ports. Of course now I have this ridiculous dongle sitting on top of my gorgeously designed computer case. I guess that's another reason for putting it under the desk, where it's impossible to take the case off.

Apple design, nothing can beat it.

Herb Sevush
Zebra Productions
---------------------------
nothin' attached to nothin'
"Deciding the spine is the process of editing" F. Bieberkopf


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DXtech
Re: Report on the 2019 Mac Pro
on Feb 25, 2020 at 10:51:02 pm

Almost bought the 16 core over the weekend, but... and this is more of a Catalina concern, I still use QuickTime Pro 7.6.6 on my 5,1 and 6,1 Mac Pro and if I can't open DnX and ProRes on a 11k machine it seems pointless. What solutions are there to open, view and Convert files with as easy as QT Pro is?



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Neil Goodman
Re: Report on the 2019 Mac Pro
on Feb 26, 2020 at 1:05:46 am

a little confused - why wouldnt quicktime work? Im on a new 13inch macbook pro with catalina watching prores and dnxhd/hr quicktimes all day long.


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DXtech
Re: Report on the 2019 Mac Pro
on Feb 26, 2020 at 1:33:31 am

Anytime I try and watch a DnX using QuickTime Play ( 10.4) it always tells me it has to convert the file... and then the bar doesn't move. QT Pro 7 I can open it up right away. So if there's something in the Adobe CC I can use to open files in Catalina no matter what machine and do simple edits and tweaks to levels I'll good to go.



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steve Zavo
Re: Report on the 2019 Mac Pro
on Feb 26, 2020 at 3:27:05 am

OP,
What adapter card did you use to add your PCIe M.2 NVMe SSD drive please?
Are there others you approve?
Thanks,
Steve z
And YES, cut that bottom bar off !!!


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Herb Sevush
Re: Report on the 2019 Mac Pro
on Feb 26, 2020 at 12:44:33 pm

[steve Zavo] "What adapter card did you use to add your PCIe M.2 NVMe SSD drive"

OWC Accelsior 4M2

[steve Zavo] "Are there others you approve?"

Sonnet M.2 4x4 PCIe card

Herb Sevush
Zebra Productions
---------------------------
nothin' attached to nothin'
"Deciding the spine is the process of editing" F. Bieberkopf


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Eric Santiago
Re: Report on the 2019 Mac Pro
on Feb 26, 2020 at 3:29:19 pm

[Herb Sevush] "OWC Accelsior 4M2"

Herb what speeds are you getting?


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Eric Santiago
Re: Report on the 2019 Mac Pro
on Feb 26, 2020 at 3:33:25 pm

The issues with old QT codec and Catalina (as well as Mojave) is persistent no matter which computer we have at work.
Not a deal-breaker as far as Catalina goes but still a PITA.


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Erik Lindahl
Re: Report on the 2019 Mac Pro
on Feb 26, 2020 at 3:58:01 pm

Regarding NVMe support on the new MacPro there are quite a few options.

- OWC (up to 6 GB/s)
- Sonnet (up to 10 GB/s, BYOD)
- HighPoint (up to 14 GB/s, BYOD)

They all have their pros / cons. We went with 4TB and 8TB OWC as they are “ready to go” and built with a fanless design.

You can even raid two HighPoint cards for a total of 8 SSD’s peaking at over 25 GB/s.


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Eric Santiago
Re: Report on the 2019 Mac Pro
on Feb 26, 2020 at 8:09:32 pm

[Erik Lindahl] "You can even raid two HighPoint cards for a total of 8 SSD’s peaking at over 25 GB/s."

Do you have any specific models?


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Erik Lindahl
Re: Report on the 2019 Mac Pro
on Mar 2, 2020 at 10:38:38 pm

Sorry for the late reply.

We got the OWC-SSD, 4TB and 8TB versions. I haven’t tested all configs but...

- a single drive gets around 3GB/s read and write across the drive.
- a 3 drive raid 0 get slightly above 6 GB/s read and write across the drive.

The above goes for both 1TB or 2TB versions.

With “only” 6 TB/s r/w one could probably put the blades in a 8X slot instead of the recommended 16X slot. That said, in theory you could probably tax 2X raid 0’s quite heavily in parallel. Not sure you’d get the full 2x6000 MB/s though but probably / possibly more than 3-4 drives in raid 0 if you read / write to the respective drives.

I can also confirm doing some tests in Resolve today the importance of fast storage. One project - be that almost 6K ProRes 4444 - was heavily limited by the drive I had it on, and external USB-C drive running at up to 550 MB/s. Transferring the media to the internal OWC-drive saw real world read speeds of up to 1850 MB/s.

——

F-ing hell the forum removed 90% of my reply. Will try to add it again


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Eric Santiago
Re: Report on the 2019 Mac Pro
on Mar 3, 2020 at 2:11:07 pm

[Erik Lindahl] "F-ing hell the forum removed 90% of my reply. Will try to add it again
"


Yea I tend to type long replies in a notepad before trying to post here.
Ive lost many long winded posts due to nimble fingers :P

Looking forward to hearing more of your findings :)


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