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Recommendation for cheapest way to config Mac Pro...


dsc106
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The base Mac Pro: $2800

 

I want to deck out the Mac Pro for as cheap as possible, whilst still maintaining a genuine Mac, high quality hardware, and tech support if possible (although that is not as big of a deal)...

 

How should I go about this? What should I make sure to get through apple, and what should I get elsewhere, ie Newegg?

 

I am thinking of sticking with the 2gb of RAM and then going on newegg and getting RAM?

 

Same w/HDDs, sticking with basic, then buying an extra 3 1tb HDDs? Or perhaps 4... is it safe to remove the default boot HDD that comes with it, put in my own (perhaps a Raptor drive or something) and just reinstall Leopard on my own?

 

Do I need to buy the $800 RAID card through Apple to do RAID, or can I get something else?

 

Graphics card - can I purchase an Nvidia card on my own to upgrade what the options are? Can I buy one not listed for purchase, or would it best to get this directly from apple? If not, what do you recommend?

 

Apple Cinema display, $1800 - yikes - is it really any better than another, cheaper top model display from Samsung or something?

 

Anything else I can cut costs on VIA apple and open the thing up and add hardware myself?

 

Any disadvantages to doing this, assuming I buy good hardware?

 

(I'm experienced and have homebuilt PCs my whole life and been running a hackintosh for a year now)

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I was also thinking a lot about buying a macpro, it is a really nice machine...

the cheapest way is to buy a single processor rig with basic configuraton, then upgrade it with parts from other sellers...

 

Driveupgrades:

A single WD 500aaks as bootdrive scores 85 in xbench disktest

Softraid with raid 0 gives you a xbench diskscore of about 120,

the basic drives used by apple score about 50.

 

Ram:

depending on the applications you use 4 to 8 gig should do it, I have 6 gig of ram in my Hack and never used it full...

Right now the 800 FB-Dimm is really expensive. So go basic, try the machine and if you need an upgrade you could buy 4 Gig of 667 FB-Dimm. The overall performance is only about 3 to 5% slower compared to 800. If that is not enough prices on the 800 should drop.

 

Display:

i have a Dell 3007, it uses the same panel as the Cinema Display, no Camera, not as stylish but here in Germany it sells for €400 less than the Apple.

 

 

I tried a overclocked quadcore Hack, with hardraid on a Sil3132.

But for my applications this was way to much, not using the computer power, only producing heat, so i downgraded to a 6420 dualcore, running at 2x2.16 GHz with 34°Celsius or 2x3.2 GHz 40°Celsius. aircooled and supersilent. Bootdrive is a WD500AAKS, this is quiet and fast, I once tried a Raptor, but ould not stand the noise....

This Configuration together with a 7900 Gt burns about 160 Watts.

 

If you really need the power of Macpro, you should do a google search on the power of the eight core beast, some guys had to tripple install applications, because one thread could only use 25% of the CPU power, so this thing is really a WORKstation.

And speaking of Power, at full speed, the Macpro can use up to 500 Watts....

 

Happy hacking and just my 2cts

 

Jürgen

 

 

 

 

For me as a normal user

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Hard disks should not be a problem. I can't see why you couldn't swap out the boot drive, unless the firmware has issues with booting from non-Apple drives.

 

RAID card would need to have driver support in OS X, and also in the firmware if you want to boot from drives attached to it. PC cards usually have a BIOS option ROM for boot support; Apple ones might have an EFI one with a driver.

 

Graphics cards - again, issues with the firmware/option ROM. From what I've read, a PC graphics card would work in Windows but not in OS X. This is why Hackintoshes need Natit, NVinject or similar props.

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Buy the Mac Pro with no hard drives and if possible no RAM, or the lowest amount of RAM possible. RAM and HDs are way overpriced from Apple and you'd save a lot by getting them from a 3rd party and installing them yourself.

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My guess would be the only change you could make to the base configuration is buying the Mac Pro in a 4 core 2.8GHZ configuration vs the standard 8 core config. If you are not big on WiFi or Dual drives you dont have to add those either. Theoretically you can upgrade the processors in the Mac Pro (as shown on anandtech) but it generally involves a lot of work and you will void your warranty.

 

As for graphics, don't quote me on this but I believe you can put virtually any PCI-e graphics card in your system while running Windows and it will be detected and function properly. Unfortunately, when it comes to booting into OS X (which is why you'd buy a mac in the first place..) users have not reported success with an upgraded/non-apple spec graphics card. You could always try installing the Titan/Natit/NVInject kexts and see if they work with your graphics card but I don't think the vanilla drivers will work with it.

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This is probably totally redundant, but I'll say it anyway! Avoid the 3.0 and 3.2 ghz models. They're a total rip-off!

 

You might wanna consider the single quad-core mac pro, which knocks the base price down to $2300. I'm not sure if it can be upgraded to octo-core later though...

 

I think the $800 RAID card is for hardware RAID. You can still do software RAID without it. I'm pretty sure...

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thanks a bunch guys.

 

1.) What are the advantages to Hardware RAID vs Software RAID? Anything really noteable, or worth $800 (yikes)

 

2.) I'd be using this as a workstation, running Final Cut Studio 2, Adobe CS3, Shake, etc. A lot of editing and encoding, along with some motion graphics, etc. So power is important, but it all comes down to the cost/benefit ratio...

 

3.) Why are the 3.0 and 3.2 ghz models a total rip-off? Is there not much speed improvement seen with the faster GHz? Is most of the speed improvement to be seen at 4-core VS 8-core? And finally, even doing video editing/motion graphics, will I still - most of the time - only utilize or need 4 cores, rather than 8?

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3.) Why are the 3.0 and 3.2 ghz models a total rip-off? Is there not much speed improvement seen with the faster GHz? Is most of the speed improvement to be seen at 4-core VS 8-core? And finally, even doing video editing/motion graphics, will I still - most of the time - only utilize or need 4 cores, rather than 8?
Well if you config the Mac Pro at the Apple store, you will see the 8-core 3.0ghz config costs $800 more, and the 3.2ghz is $1600 more, but they will only be about 7-15% faster so...you do the math. Not really worth it IMO.

 

Video editing and video tasks will definitely utilize all 8 cores, making everything much faster. The single quad core option is $500 cheaper, but for well-threaded jobs, like rendering it will twice as slow. So in my opinion, the 2.8ghz 8-core model is the best bang for the buck. (source: US Apple Store)

 

1.) What are the advantages to Hardware RAID vs Software RAID? Anything really noteable, or worth $800 (yikes)
I'm not exactly sure about everything. But I do know the Mac Pro will support Software RAID if you install more than one HDD. There are different types of RAID. Some provide reduntant storage, some use "striping" for improved performance. You might wanna explore this option, as Video is also very intensive on your hard disk. . For some good info read here : Mac Pro Review: Follow-up by Robert Mohns (go to the RAID section)

 

The hardware RAID controller will obviously be faster, because it controls RAID via hardware, not software. I'm not sure it's worth the extra $800 for you though if you wanna get the best value.

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If you need the 8 cores, don't get a 4 core and plan on adding a second CPU. It will not only cost more for the CPU than the $500 you will save, you won't have a heat sink for it, as the quad core Mac Pro doesn't come with a spare. The best thing to do is just buy a base Mac Pro, and upgrade anything else through third party (except maybe video card and/or RAID)

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