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Author Topic: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?  (Read 11656 times)

John L Nobile

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Re: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
« Reply #20 on: October 20, 2016, 11:24:39 am »

I've had a Mac Pro for over 2 years now. Used it 4 nights a week running Logic trax (midi and audio) and using UAD's Apollo. Never had a single issue with it and never taxed it's CPU. Ran a 1080p and 4k monitor on it.

It wasn't cheap and it made my previous interfaces obsolete but it's done everything I've asked of it.

Been using Apple products since the IIe and always had trouble free, long time use. Longest was 10 years so I'm expecting that from this "ashcan". The only thing I'm worried about is Apple's latest habit of making their hardware obsolete.

BTW, lugging the ashcan around is so much easier than the towers. 
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Bryan French

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Re: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
« Reply #21 on: October 20, 2016, 01:33:14 pm »

The main question in this thread is less about QLab itself or what to move to if I move to Windows, and more about whether the current Mac Pro represents a good investment in funds at this time.

Is the current Mac Pro a good investment? If it were my money, definitely not.

The current Mac Pro was last updated in December 2013, or just over 1000 days ago. From a purely technological standpoint most of its components are outdated by at minimum 3 years, some of them more so. As an example, the processors are Ivy Bridge, an architecture that was released in mid-2012. Intel has released three generations of Xenon processors (Haswell, Broadwell, and Skylake) since then, and Apple hasn't updated it.

I'm not saying that it isn't a capable computer. I'm saying that with an Apple announcement scheduled for next Thursday (Oct. 27) it isn't a wise use of funds to buy an Apple computer right now. Wait until after the event if you want to buy a Mac. If they don't update the Mac Pro, then I'd recommend going with a Windows workstation from a value perspective.
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Chris Edwards

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Re: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
« Reply #22 on: October 20, 2016, 08:10:37 pm »

Couldn't you buy a decked out custom PC for everything non Qlab?  With the money you save from not buying a Mac Pro you can purchase a Mac Mini for Qlab?
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Cailen Waddell

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Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
« Reply #23 on: October 20, 2016, 09:30:47 pm »

Y'all a Mac mini has shit for graphics and frame drops like a bitch when running multiple 1080 screens. 

That is a specific requirement.

Edit: Also - I have been in tech all week so apologize for my mood.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
« Last Edit: October 20, 2016, 10:15:29 pm by Cailen Waddell »
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Raul Suarez

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Re: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
« Reply #24 on: October 20, 2016, 09:44:00 pm »

What about doing it in reverse and running fusion on a pc to allow an OSX system for Qlab?  Not sure if that is workable.
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Raul Suarez
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Al Rettich

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Re: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
« Reply #25 on: October 21, 2016, 08:26:50 pm »

We utilize a Mac Mini maxed with RAM for both record and playback in a small theatrical production we use. In fact, they're working on getting the MAC MINI to see MIDI commands so when he hits the next scene it'll fire the next audio cue with QLab.. Been working great for the past 18 months..
I have money to spend on a new audio workstation for our large concert hall. Intended primary uses are Protools recording and QLab playback (including up to 3 video screens), though not at at the same time.

4 years ago when I requested this money, I was going to buy an Apple Mac Pro. Today, there is no sign that Apple has any intention of ever updating their horrible Trash Can that they call a Mac Pro.

Is it worth buying a Mac Pro at this point? QLab is the only piece of software that I use that requires the Macintosh operating system. Otherwise I would be running Windows.

So, my options are: 1) buy the Mac Pro as intended and cry when Apple either replaces it with a better design in 6 months or a year or 2) cry when they EOL it in 6 months.

Or 3) Buy a Windows system, like a Protools PC and switch to SFX as our primary audio playback system. (God knows I wish that Figure 53 would port QLab to Windows).

Other pieces of this system which will not change are a Protools HDX Core package with the HDX card and HD software, a Focusrite Red 4Pre and HD32R, and a Sonnet XMac Pro Server rack mount chassis for the Mac Pro if I go that direction. The Protools PC would not need the Sonnet chassis since it will contain the HDX card and internal hard drives, obviously.

I have serious doubts about using a Mac Mini (which seem the be the most popular systems for QLab) for Protools since they lack the quad core processors that Protools seems to run best on, especially since I want it to record up to 64 channels at a time. And either an iMac or Mac Mini would still require a Sonnet or similar expansion chassis for the HDX card and other storage media.

What do you guys think?

I can't buy any used or refurbished equipment, and I can't install a hacked operating system like a Hackintosh (Plus Figure53 doesn't support QLab on Hackintoshes anyway).
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Justice C. Bigler

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Re: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
« Reply #26 on: October 21, 2016, 08:56:12 pm »

In fact, they're working on getting the MAC MINI to see MIDI commands so when he hits the next scene it'll fire the next audio cue with QLab..


This is easy to do, as long as the console supports it. But, our LS9s do not offer the function to send a MIDI Control or Program change through the User Defined Keys. But our CL5 and PM5D do and I have it built into our default console show file set up. It takes about 10 seconds to set it up, once I remember which way the MIDI cables need to be plugged in.
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Justice C. Bigler
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Justice C. Bigler

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Re: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
« Reply #27 on: October 21, 2016, 09:03:38 pm »

We utilize a Mac Mini maxed with RAM for both record and playback in a small theatrical production we use.
The maximum amount of RAM that you can get in a Mac Mini is only 16GB, which just seems...pedestrian in late 2016.


I want 64GB of RAM in this machine. Why? Just because, that's why. This is our big concert hall, I figure I should have at least a 2 to 3 MB of RAM for each seat in the house, right?


I'm am seriously leaning towards breaking this system up and getting a Mac Mini for QLab and a Protools-PC for everything else. The cost will be about the same as a single Mac Pro.
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Justice C. Bigler
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Scott Holtzman

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Re: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
« Reply #28 on: October 22, 2016, 04:00:31 am »

The maximum amount of RAM that you can get in a Mac Mini is only 16GB, which just seems...pedestrian in late 2016.


I want 64GB of RAM in this machine. Why? Just because, that's why. This is our big concert hall, I figure I should have at least a 2 to 3 MB of RAM for each seat in the house, right?


I'm am seriously leaning towards breaking this system up and getting a Mac Mini for QLab and a Protools-PC for everything else. The cost will be about the same as a single Mac Pro.

The real world gains of the last three generations of Intel core have been very underwhelming.  Skylake makes good gains in core density and power consumption but in the real world the CPU spends more than half it's  time waiting on I/O.

If you have a machine with DDR3 memory (just a rule of thumb on generations).  Unless you are rendering or some other corner case the CPU bandwidth will go unnoticed.

If you want to make a big improvement use an SSD and stuff the machine full of RAM.  If you want an even bigger improvement the new M.2 interface SSD drives allows you to connect them directly  to a PCI express Lane.  Four Samsung 850 EVO's on one of these cards is the fastest desktop experience I have ever had.  I am running 4 Micron M.2 OEM SSD'd on my personal desktop:

http://amfeltec.com/products/pci-express-carrier-board-for-m-2-ssd-modules/

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Scott AKA "Skyking" Holtzman

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Sean T Hayes

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Re: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
« Reply #29 on: October 22, 2016, 08:31:53 pm »

My standard QLab (etc.) video playback machines are 2011-vintage Mac Book Pros, integrated GPU and all. In most cases drive speed will have more affect on video playback than the GPU will.

This certainly depends on video encoding...

I do a lot of video playback in Qlab on Macbook Pro's (everything from 2011-current model) If the file is not playing nicely, a quick trick I use is to re-encode to ProRes... As long as you are on an SSD I find that ProRes will play much much smoother.

If you CPU/GPU is not up the the decompression of your file, give ProRes a try. But yes, drive speed can be the determining factor on which file compression will playback better.
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Re: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
« Reply #29 on: October 22, 2016, 08:31:53 pm »


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