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Rich Rubasch
Mac Hardware
on Nov 18, 2015 at 8:57:27 pm

Hi all;

We have 6 older MacPro towers going back to 2007. Most are 2010 4.1 or 5.1 machines. All are pretty maxed out, except for graphic cards which we will be upgrading soon as we migrate to Premier CC 2015. At that point we have gone as far as we can. We have the Aja Kona LH cards in all the machines to a Blackmagic router system. Each Mac has 4 terabytes of very fast RAID media (560MB/sec)

What are you guys doing with the new MacPro trash cans and your external PCI card needs? Does the MacPro's internal video card stand up to say the Nvidia GTX 980Ti? I'm actually thinking of upgrading our oldest MacPro tower to a 2010 5.1 12 core model and souping it up, rather than a trash can and a Thunderboldt PCI breakout box.

Anyone have both a trash can MacPro and an old tower with similar RAM and graphics card and drives and can comment on performance between the two? BTW, all our Macs are in a server room and we run long USB and monitor cables to each workstation. 42" Plasma monitors are in each room and signals can be routed via SDI to each monitor independently via the Blackmagic router taking the signal off each Macs Aja card. It's pretty slick with the PCI cards inside....

Rich Rubasch
Tilt Media Inc.
Video Production, Post, Studio Sound Stage
Founder/President/Editor/Designer/Animator
http://www.tiltmedia.com

Rich Rubasch
Tilt Media Inc.
Video Production, Post, Studio Sound Stage
Founder/President/Editor/Designer/Animator
http://www.tiltmedia.com


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John Davidson
Re: Mac Hardware
on Nov 18, 2015 at 10:04:21 pm

Rich, while I love the trash cans, I find the iMac 5k to be superior in just about every way. I wouldn't recommend buying new Mac Pros till they are upgraded.

Instead of USB cables and old monitor cables, run ethernet with 10GBe for server connections - I bet you already have those run anyways. Apple TV's to your plasmas, or Blackmagic thunderbolt mini monitors. You'll want a Netgear 10Gbe switch, Promise TB2 lighting adapters. and card to connect the switch to the server over PCI.

For wireless solutions I recommend a new Airport Extreme with wireless ac to maximize the speed of streaming to Apple TVs. Any mac could screen share to any apple tv enabled Plasma.

This solution gives us server connections of about 800Mb's read/write over SMB. The old towers are still great for running as a server.

Bob Zelin can help you with all of this.

John Davidson | President / Creative Director | Magic Feather Inc.


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Rich Rubasch
Re: Mac Hardware
on Nov 19, 2015 at 4:45:42 am

Thanks John, So you aren't even using a video card like an AJA Kona etc? You just send the output of the Mac to the monitor via screen sharing to the Apple TV? Does that become a third monitor? We each have two 16:9 computer monitors at each desk and the Plasma is for critical viewing only, not the computer interface.

Not sure I am on board with going iMac....I almost feel I can get by with used 2012 towers souped up for now until the trash can (or even a PC solution) becomes the next jump. We have four striped drives inside each Mac tower and getting 560MB/sec (that's megabytes not megabits!) which rock. And with the PCI SSD startup discs we all start up in about 15 seconds! Apps load in seconds. It's pretty sweet actually.

One more note I did not mention....we have an HP switch that allows port aggregation so we are using both gigabit ports on each Mac Pro aggregated together and have more than doubled two-way traffic speeds on the network....it's not 10 gig E but it is better than single port gigabit by a long shot. Cost about $300 to set it up too!

Rich Rubasch
Tilt Media Inc.
Video Production, Post, Studio Sound Stage
Founder/President/Editor/Designer/Animator
http://www.tiltmedia.com


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John Davidson
Re: Mac Hardware
on Nov 19, 2015 at 5:32:53 am

Black magic mini monitors give you SDI out as well as HDMI via Thunderbolt. That's actually what I use, but I believe that Airplay does turn the display into a second monitor with FCPX or as an extended desktop from your computer. Those older 2012 mac pros are basically 5 year old technology. Old 3G drive speeds, USB 2, no Thunderbolt. We use ours as the server now. It works great for that.

Up to you though. The iMacs did just get a pretty solid update, so they're very fresh.

PS - if you lose a drive in that internal RAID 1 it's all gone. We lost a drive in the server Mac Pro 3 weeks ago. Luckily it was empty when it croaked!

John Davidson | President / Creative Director | Magic Feather Inc.


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Rich Rubasch
Re: Mac Hardware
on Nov 19, 2015 at 3:54:31 pm

So how do you critically monitor the output of Premier or Final Cut to a broadcast monitor? Via Apple TV? My coworker said he tried it but it had lag and would not recommend it in a professional environment. Do you not use any video I/O card in your environment and have you completely eliminated the PCI entirely?

I really like editing on local drives on each workstation...it is very efficient and with the aggregated network very fast. Just not sure how to do that with an iMac.

Anyone else out there with trash cans and older towers?

Rich Rubasch
Tilt Media Inc.
Video Production, Post, Studio Sound Stage
Founder/President/Editor/Designer/Animator
http://www.tiltmedia.com


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John Davidson
Re: Mac Hardware
on Nov 19, 2015 at 5:29:48 pm

Blackmagic Mini monitors. I typed that in both previous posts. Go check it out.

John Davidson | President / Creative Director | Magic Feather Inc.


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Rich Rubasch
Re: Mac Hardware
on Nov 19, 2015 at 6:15:03 pm

Got it. Good price too! But on 5 systems I am disgarding all my current PCI cards, all my monitors (2 per system) and the other PCI cards (USB3 and PCI SSD) in order to go iMac. Easy decision for the one system shop, but exponential in a 5-6 system shop.

Thanks John....good stuff.

Rich Rubasch
Tilt Media Inc.
Video Production, Post, Studio Sound Stage
Founder/President/Editor/Designer/Animator
http://www.tiltmedia.com


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John Davidson
Re: Mac Hardware
on Nov 23, 2015 at 6:21:44 pm

All I can tell you Rich is that our iMacs perform much faster and better than our 2 2013 Mac Pros. 7 Systems (not including servers) and every day the Mac Pro guys complain to me about AE having horrible render times, FCPX exporting slowly, etc. It seems that even El Capitan isn't working great with Mac Pros.

I understand the idea of getting rid of formerly valuable hardware is difficult. I've been donating lots of our stuff to the local non-profit station here and before Jan 1 I'm giving them a basically brand new HDCam D1800 deck. Its hard letting go of the past. The benefit is less crap to deal with and manage, and that - especially on multiple systems - is a wonderful thing.

John Davidson | President / Creative Director | Magic Feather Inc.


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Craig Alan
Re: Mac Hardware
on Nov 27, 2015 at 7:20:50 pm

Hi John,

Timely post for me. Configuring an iMac 5K.

Does FCP X use multicores?
Asking if the i7 config is worth the upgrade (see http://barefeats.com/imac5k16.html).

Would getting the minimum ram and using OWC ram chips be a good option?

(I would save the original apple chips for trouble shooting and repairs under warranty like I have done in the past)

Is this the best graphic card config?: AMD Radeon R9 M395X GPU (4GB GDDR5)

Is the fusion drive nearly as good as the flash options? I'm thinking either 1TB fusion or 500gig flash.

Any other advice for new iMac configure would be welcome.

I'm hoping that when Thunderbolt 3/USB-C MacPro comes out that using the iMac 5K in target disc mode will be an option to save $2000+ on a 5k monitor. Was hoping the new MacPro would be here by now.

In the real world how much faster is Thunderbolt 2 than 1 - I have a bunch of thunderbolt 1 raids that need to have their individual drives updated to 4TB x4.
And I plan on getting one of these:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/985459-REG/highpoint_5212_2_bay_thund...

for backups and archiving.

Any advice on brands of 4TB bare drives for all this.

Thanks for your posts - been helpful in the past.


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John Davidson
Re: Mac Hardware
on Nov 28, 2015 at 7:21:44 pm

You can totally get your own ram from OWC and save yourself a few coins. Nothing wrong with that. I think you'll be pleased with the 5K iMac performance and won't need a new Mac Pro. Very unlikely you'll ever have any real world use for anything more than TB2 speeds. TB2 is very useful for things like getting 4K HDMI output of an iMac via a Belkin dock. If your RAID 1 TB's still work, don't worry about any additional enclosures.

I wouldn't recommend buying the Highpoint box. I've had annoyances w/ that company.

Bob Zelin recommends Hitachi Deskstars. They even go up to 6TB if you want them. I assume your RAID TB1 enclosure is a Promise Pegasus or similar. They'll have specs on what drives their systems can handle (mine still kicks butt to this day on my home iMac).

Don't go Fusion - get an SSD 1TB. Get the most expensive GPU Apple offers. If you want a dual monitor setup, use an extra Thunderbolt Display and tether it to the iMac. It'll look something like this:


This system is using:

iMac 5k, 1TB SSD, everything maxed out
Areca TB2 Array w/ 4TB Hitachi Deskstars (32 TB)
Bose Companion USB Speaker system
Apple Cinema Display (left)
Belkin TB2 Dock w/ HDMI out connected to a 50" LG 4k tv.
Black magic mini-monitor w HDMI and SDI out
Promise TB2 10GbE connection to 128 TB network server (speeds approx 800MBps r/w)
Casio 88 weight key piano connected via USB
iPad Pro (awesome to make a list of client notes with checkboxes via 'notes' app.)
And for fun, the back light is a Satechi LED bluetooth control RGB light strip.

I have zero need for a Mac Pro and I wouldn't hold my breath on USB-C on a Mac Pro update. Everything you want is covered with USB3 and TB2.

That help?

John Davidson | President / Creative Director | Magic Feather Inc.


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Craig Alan
Re: Mac Hardware
on Nov 28, 2015 at 8:04:40 pm

Yes. Thanks.

I think Bob Zelin recommended the Highpoint dock. I'll check again in article on backing up.

OWC now makes one but not a lot of feedback yet.
What do you use for backups? I guess i could use my voyager with usb 3.

Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Canon 5D Mark III/70D, Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV40, Sony Z7U/VX2000/PD170; FCP 6 certified; FCP X write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Josh Cease
Re: Mac Hardware
on Jan 25, 2016 at 2:37:24 am

Hi John,

Curious why you wouldn't go Fusion drive?

From some research, it seems like it moves your most used programs to the SSD part of the fusion drive keeping things running optimally / fast.

What are the main worries with it? Thanks!


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Victor Richardson
Re: Mac Hardware
on May 18, 2016 at 7:10:40 pm

"All I can tell you Rich is that our iMacs perform much faster and better than our 2 2013 Mac Pros. 7 Systems (not including servers) and every day the Mac Pro guys complain to me about AE having horrible render times, FCPX exporting slowly, etc. It seems that even El Capitan isn't working great with Mac Pros."

I have to strongly agree with John on this. The iMacs are far superior to the 2x more costly Mac Pros in almost every aspect.
We have four late 2013(bought in 2014) 2.7GHz, 12-core, Mac Pros with 64GB RAM, dual AMD D500 cards, and 2TB Fusion drives.
We also have four 27" iMacs with 4.0GHz, 4-core i7, 32GB RAM, 1TB Fusion drives

We are a production/post house that does a lot of 4k extreme sports projects, working almost exclusively in Premiere Pro/After Effects. Every Mac Pro has serious render/export problems on complex projects. They just plain fail mid-render or export. On top of that, if there are dual monitors plugged into the trash can, we have found artifacts in the exports. Unplug one of the screens, not artifacts. We can take the exact same project files onto our iMacs and they render/export flawlessly in seemingly less time.

All four Mac Pros have died with critical parts failures, multiple times, several costing over $1k, others covered under warranty. We have had the dual AMD video cards replaced in three of them, one of those twice($546 a repair). There is an actual internal Apple recall on those video cards in systems manufactured between February 8, 2015 and April 11, 2015. They will not willingly offer this information, you have to demand it when you bring in your dead Mac Pro. We had to pay to repair two of our MP's because they did not fall within that four month range...even though they had the exact same parts failure.

On top of that, two of our MP's have had critical parts failures with the RAM modules. Not just the RAM memory chips, but the slot with the RAM slides into. As it turns out, there is supposedly a processor on that slot mechanism. As a result, the replacement costs $1,200.

The worst part of this, besides that the MP's cost $8k-10k fully decked out, is that you will endure months of intermittent crashes, reboots, etc before those parts finally die outright. The lost productivity, frustration, confusion, and missed delivery schedules is insane. And Apple is not owning up to its design problems and QB issues. They are full aware , just not coming clean with their customers.

So, you can get two iMacs for the price of one Mac Pro. They work just as well at editing and after effects, and no parts failures.
And, if notice.....the Mac Pro is the only Apple product that has not had any real parts upgrades in the 4 years since it was introduced. While the iMac has been continually improved. A rep at a primary Mac reseller in Hollywood told me that, alone, should be a fairly big indication that Apple is letting the Mac Pro die on the vine. And that the company views the iMac as their future pro editing/post product, and not the Mac Pro.

Go iMac, young man!

BTW, there is this really strange and infuriating company policy at Apple where they will not give customers copies of their products service history. Sure, you get an email when turning in the machine for repair, and another billing one upon completion. But, try to get a copy after that. There is absolutely no way to do so. You cannot view repair history in your Apple Support profile, only current cases in repair. They cannot give you a copy print out at the Apple Store. And the online/phone reps cannot send you one.

I was hired after as IT Director after my company's office manager was fired. He did not keep repair files for any of the computers. I have spent countless hours on the phone, and in person, with Apple reps trying to put together a complete history of the computers at our company. It has been one of the most frustrating things I've come across, They will give you minimal information on the phone, and in the shop, even though they can see the entire history on their computers. They will NOT give you a print out of such info.


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