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Title: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
Post by: Justice C. Bigler on October 19, 2016, 02:34:34 pm
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 (http://www.sonnettech.com/product/xmacproserver/index.html) 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).
Title: Re: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
Post by: Jon Fu on October 19, 2016, 03:26:35 pm
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.

You might want to wait until October 27: http://www.macrumors.com/2016/10/18/apple-to-introduce-new-macs-at-october-27-event/

It might be easier then to make an informed purchasing decision, considering how outdated Apple's current lineup is.
Title: Re: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
Post by: Justice C. Bigler on October 19, 2016, 03:50:43 pm
You might want to wait until October 27: http://www.macrumors.com/2016/10/18/apple-to-introduce-new-macs-at-october-27-event/ (http://www.macrumors.com/2016/10/18/apple-to-introduce-new-macs-at-october-27-event/)

It might be easier then to make an informed purchasing decision, considering how outdated Apple's current lineup is.
Not hearing any rumors about the Mac Pro getting any upgrades, updates, refreshes, or replacements. Sounds like it's going to be laptops and the 5K display only.
Title: Re: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
Post by: Scott Helmke on October 19, 2016, 03:52:25 pm
My friends who have been using Macs professionally are currently unhappy (and getting more unhappy) with Apple.
Title: Re: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
Post by: Justice C. Bigler on October 19, 2016, 03:58:06 pm
My friends who have been using Macs professionally are currently unhappy (and getting more unhappy) with Apple.
Seriously, do you know what I would give to have Figure 53 port QLab to Windows?


That is the ONLY piece of software that I need that requires Mac OS only. And SOME of my software like RF Guru will ONLY run on Windows.   :-\



Title: Re: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
Post by: Brian Jojade on October 19, 2016, 05:04:13 pm
While the Mac Pro hasn't been updated in some time, it's still a pretty awesome machine.  No current rumors of an imminent update happening.  If an update does come, I doubt that it would be able to do your audio editing that much better than the current hardware anyway.

I doubt Apple will EOL the Mac Pro.  As far as support goes, Apple maintains support for hardware for 5 years from the date the product is discontinued.  Even if you bought it and they discontinued it tomorrow, you will have at least 5 years of support. 
Title: Re: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
Post by: Cailen Waddell on October 19, 2016, 05:58:03 pm
I use a 2012 Mac Pro tower.  With a good aftermarket video card, it has no problem driving an operator display and 2 1080p qlab displays.  I'm sure it would be fine with more with a better video card....

I know you can't buy used but if you have a 2012 pro already, upgrading it with cards, a new processor, and an ssd might do more to prolong the life of the investment...


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Title: Re: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
Post by: Justice C. Bigler on October 19, 2016, 06:50:33 pm
...but if you have a 2012 pro already, upgrading it with cards, a new processor, and an ssd might do more to prolong the life of the investment...
I have a 2006 Mac Pro 1.0, the first, first gen Intel Mac Pro. It's done. And I've decided that I don't want to try hacking the boot loader to get a more modern OS (Than 10.6.8 )to run on it.


I've got the money, I'm just going to get a new system, whatever that ends up being.
Title: Re: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
Post by: Jeff Lelko on October 19, 2016, 08:06:15 pm
No comment on the Mac Pro debate (not an Apple user beyond my iPad), but if you decide to use a Windows machine I've had good luck running Show Cue System as a substitute for QLab.  There are certainly differences between the two, but SCS has always managed to suit my needs and is reasonably priced. 
Title: Re: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
Post by: Cailen Waddell on October 19, 2016, 08:06:44 pm
I have a 2006 Mac Pro 1.0, the first, first gen Intel Mac Pro. It's done. And I've decided that I don't want to try hacking the boot loader to get a more modern OS (Than 10.6.8 )to run on it.


I've got the money, I'm just going to get a new system, whatever that ends up being.
Every ten years whether you need it or not?


Yeah - then get the most maxed out graphics you can....

Fwiw - we have a bunch of laptops we use for a video camp.  We got tech services to put them on a 3 year lease like staff laptops.  Now they get replaced every 3 years whether they need it or not...I know that's not always a municipal option....




Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Title: Re: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
Post by: Riley Casey on October 19, 2016, 08:47:47 pm
Fun facts  ... http://www.computerworld.com/article/3131906/apple-mac/ibm-says-macs-are-even-cheaper-to-run-than-it-thought.html

More to the point, how heavy duty are your PT sessions?  A less than ultimate Mac would do a fine job of running Q Lab and PT assuming you aren't mixing 40 channel sessions with loads of plug ins.  As an audio workstation in a live venue are you largely capturing multi track, doing some light editing and running shows live or are you indeed doing significant mix down of large multitrack sessions?  Support is less of an issue with Macs than PCs btw because to a much larger extent things really do "just work" on the Mac side.
Title: Re: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
Post by: brian maddox on October 19, 2016, 11:20:09 pm
Fun facts  ... http://www.computerworld.com/article/3131906/apple-mac/ibm-says-macs-are-even-cheaper-to-run-than-it-thought.html

More to the point, how heavy duty are your PT sessions?  A less than ultimate Mac would do a fine job of running Q Lab and PT assuming you aren't mixing 40 channel sessions with loads of plug ins.  As an audio workstation in a live venue are you largely capturing multi track, doing some light editing and running shows live or are you indeed doing significant mix down of large multitrack sessions?  Support is less of an issue with Macs than PCs btw because to a much larger extent things really do "just work" on the Mac side.

I agree with 'the artist formerly known as Ed'. 😀

You probably don't need Mac Pro level power.  A high end iMac will probably do nicely, and may have a longer support life.  When I was looking at a very similar question, I elected to go iMac and was very happy with the results.

An All the bells and whistles iMac Is a pretty serious machine.  And the thunderbolt enables just about any add on you can think of.  I was doing 64 channel mixes with a LOT of plugins and barely crashed the surface of available processor power.

So my advice is spend your money on a serious iMac.  27". All the bells and whistles.  You'll be happy with the results.
Title: Re: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
Post by: Erik Jerde on October 20, 2016, 01:25:43 am
Be careful with the sonnet enclosure that your cards are supported.  I've got a h264 encoder card that doesn't work in their enclosures (or any I think).  It's one of the big reasons that a 2009 Mac Pro lives on and gets regular use.
Title: Re: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
Post by: Justice C. Bigler on October 20, 2016, 02:02:22 am
I would only get a 21.5" iMac. The 27" screen is too big and I don't have space for it in my booth and it would just look obnoxious with my FOH set up in the theatre. With the Mac Pro that I am specing I am going to also include a 22" (non Apple) 4k display.

Plus the 21.5" iMacs only come with an integrated Intel GPU, which I doubt will run the occasional video playback that we do.

I'll wait and see what gets announced next week. But I'm not getting my hopes up.
Title: Re: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
Post by: Kevin McDonough on October 20, 2016, 05:38:30 am

Hey

Yeah I would defo wait till after the 27th and see what Apple announces, before making any final decision.


No comment on the Mac Pro debate (not an Apple user beyond my iPad), but if you decide to use a Windows machine I've had good luck running Show Cue System as a substitute for QLab.  There are certainly differences between the two, but SCS has always managed to suit my needs and is reasonably priced.


I would also second this statement too though. If you feel you need to move away from Mac and are looking for a windows alternative, I've been using SCS for years and it's been great. I playback audio, video and midi regularly and on a stable PC have never had it crash or freak out. The user interface isn't as pretty as Qlab, but its very feature rich and once you know your way around it can be very powerful.


K
Title: Re: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
Post by: Milt Hathaway on October 20, 2016, 09:29:12 am
Plus the 21.5" iMacs only come with an integrated Intel GPU, which I doubt will run the occasional video playback that we do.

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.
Title: Re: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
Post by: David Simpson on October 20, 2016, 10:12:18 am
Just wanted to chime in with another vote of support for Show Cue Systems, should you go the windows route. I have been using it for about 8 years now, never had a single issue at all, very quick to learn, and great support / software updates.

~Dave
Title: Re: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
Post by: Justice C. Bigler on October 20, 2016, 10:44:23 am
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.
How many separate video outputs are you running?
Title: Re: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
Post by: Riley Casey on October 20, 2016, 10:48:42 am
Justice, have you posted any of your questions on the Q Lab Google group?

https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/qlab
Title: Re: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
Post by: Justice C. Bigler on October 20, 2016, 10:55:00 am
Justice, have you posted any of your questions on the Q Lab Google group?

https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/qlab (https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/qlab)
No.


I'd rather hear from normal users rather than the cult of QLab. I've always been less than enthused about the responses that I get from the QLab Google group or figure 53 themselves.


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.
Title: Re: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
Post by: John L Nobile 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. 
Title: Re: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
Post by: Bryan French 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.
Title: Re: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
Post by: Chris Edwards 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?
Title: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
Post by: Cailen Waddell 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
Title: Re: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
Post by: Raul Suarez 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.
Title: Re: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
Post by: Al Rettich 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 (http://www.sonnettech.com/product/xmacproserver/index.html) 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).
Title: Re: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
Post by: Justice C. Bigler 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.
Title: Re: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
Post by: Justice C. Bigler 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.
Title: Re: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
Post by: Scott Holtzman 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/

Title: Re: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
Post by: Sean T Hayes 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.
Title: Re: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
Post by: Jelmer de Jong on October 23, 2016, 06:08:23 am
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.

If you only record and playback like virtual soundcheck then every computer since 2010 with a decent SSD as storage will do. Audio data is very small and when you do not edit or want realtime plugins there is very few cpu usage.
24bit/96KHz is only 288Kbyte per track per second, 19MByte/s for 64 channels. That's not rocketsience.
Title: Re: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
Post by: Thomas Dameron on October 25, 2016, 07:13:46 am
If you only record and playback like virtual soundcheck then every computer since 2010 with a decent SSD as storage will do. Audio data is very small and when you do not edit or want realtime plugins there is very few cpu usage.
24bit/96KHz is only 288Kbyte per track per second, 19MByte/s for 64 channels. That's not rocketsience.

+1.  Justice, I know you're married to PT and that's a lot more resource heavy, but FWIW I regularly track 56ch using Reaper while running Smaart 7 and a number of other programs on a not particularly new, not particularly fast Mini.  None of the vitals exceed 20% ever, they're usually in the single digits.

I appreciate that you're making sure that your budget $$ goes as far as it can, but any Q-Lab driving video outs should be the determining factor.  Otherwise an iMac or even a modern Mini will be bringing a tank to a gun fight.

thomas d.
Title: Re: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
Post by: Justice C. Bigler on October 27, 2016, 03:59:29 pm
Well, that was a giant let down.   :(
Title: Re: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
Post by: Steven Eudaly on October 27, 2016, 04:07:34 pm
Well, that was a giant let down.   :(

Seriously though. I remember a time when every announcement brought at least a shimmer of improvement. Now it feels like every new product is a slight punch in the gut.
Title: Re: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
Post by: Mac Kerr on October 27, 2016, 06:49:17 pm
Seriously though. I remember a time when every announcement brought at least a shimmer of improvement. Now it feels like every new product is a slight punch in the gut.

What were you expecting? I know Justice is disappointed because there was no new Mac Pro, but one wasn't ever even hinted at. For a laptop update, which was due, it seems like a pretty good step up to me. Faster processor, faster more capable graphics processor, faster memory, more memory, more faster SSD storage, and the function keys that show what each app has changed them to, as well as letting you customize what they are, are all pretty cool. As well the app developers are finding ways to integrate the touch bar in new ways. Who is doing more in computer announcements these days?

Mac
Title: Re: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
Post by: Steven Eudaly on October 27, 2016, 07:16:14 pm
What were you expecting? I know Justice is disappointed because there was no new Mac Pro, but one wasn't ever even hinted at. For a laptop update, which was due, it seems like a pretty good step up to me. Faster processor, faster more capable graphics processor, faster memory, more memory, more faster SSD storage, and the function keys that show what each app has changed them to, as well as letting you customize what they are, are all pretty cool. As well the app developers are finding ways to integrate the touch bar in new ways. Who is doing more in computer announcements these days?

Mac

Sure, lots of cool frills, but I don't like that the cheaper models have less of an already limited IO. I'm also don't know why we seem to be decreasing available local storage. Yes, I understand lots of consumers are using the cloud more, but the MacBook Pro was originally meant for professional use, right? I've got over 1TB of SSD in my 2010 MacBook Pro.

I'm being nitpicky, yes. I agree they still seem to innovate more than most, my needs are just out of line with the average consumer and I like to get bent out of shape about it even though that's nobody's fault but my own.  ::)
Title: Re: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
Post by: Ned Ward on October 29, 2016, 09:39:55 pm
Justice -

as a Pro Tools user, why not just run Pro Tools and Q-Lab on the Mac? Mac OS has always been more stable than the Windows side at Avid, and then you can run one machine.

In terms of the current trashcans, more than serviceable for the kind of Pro Tools sessions you're talking about. For recording, the Mac Pro won't be the limiter - it will be your drives and interface.  I know Russ at Pro Tools Expert upgraded and is happy with the performance - some benchmarks here: http://www.pro-tools-expert.com/home-page/2014/11/18/apple-mac-pro-6-core-intel-xeon-e5-35-ghz-running-pro-tools.html?rq=Mac%20Pro

As to Apple not updating the Mac Pro Thursday, eh. You can head over to OWC and buy a faster processor now- pops right in.
Title: Re: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
Post by: Justice C. Bigler on October 29, 2016, 10:26:57 pm
As to Apple not updating the Mac Pro Thursday, eh. You can head over to OWC and buy a faster processor now- pops right in.
Does the CPU actually come out of the Mac Pro? I was under the impression that they are hard soldered in? I know you can swap RAM, but didn't think you could anything else.
Title: Re: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
Post by: Cailen Waddell on October 29, 2016, 10:31:03 pm
Does the CPU actually come out of the Mac Pro? I was under the impression that they are hard soldered in? I know you can swap RAM, but didn't think you could anything else.

They are socketed.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Title: Re: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
Post by: Justice C. Bigler on October 29, 2016, 11:01:13 pm
So, speaking of adding SSDs to the system...

I know you can buy PCIe cards to use NVMe SSDs in a system and gain the advantages of the new super fast V-NAND SSDs like the Samsung 950 Pro. Would this still work with a PCIe card in an Thunderbolt expansion chassis, like the Sonnet Tech xMac Pro Server? Will you still get the nearly 1,500MB/s write speeds? Or will they throttle back to the 750MB/s speeds that the traditional SSDs get with more traditional SSDs?
Title: Re: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
Post by: Bryan French on October 30, 2016, 01:22:07 am
Who is doing more in computer announcements these days?

I was more impressed with the Microsoft announcements on Wednesday than I was with the Mac updates. I do amateur photography on the side and Apple doesn't offer me anything close to what the Surface Studio can do at the price point Microsoft is offering it. I was a bit bummed to hear it's not getting released until early next year....
Title: Re: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
Post by: Bryan French on October 30, 2016, 01:33:07 am
So, speaking of adding SSDs to the system...

I know you can buy PCIe cards to use NVMe SSDs in a system and gain the advantages of the new super fast V-NAND SSDs like the Samsung 950 Pro. Would this still work with a PCIe card in an Thunderbolt expansion chassis, like the Sonnet Tech xMac Pro Server? Will you still get the nearly 1,500MB/s write speeds? Or will they throttle back to the 750MB/s speeds that the traditional SSDs get with more traditional SSDs?

Assuming everything is colpatible, the throughput of Thunderbolt 2 wouldn't be a limiting factor. Thunderbolt 2 offers 2 bi-directional 20Gbps, or 2,500 MB/s channels. Card compatibility would be something to ask sonnet about, though.
Title: Re: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
Post by: Justice C. Bigler on October 30, 2016, 02:47:49 am
I was more impressed with the Microsoft announcements on Wednesday than I was with the Mac updates. I do amateur photography on the side and Apple doesn't offer me anything close to what the Surface Studio can do at the price point Microsoft is offering it. I was a bit bummed to hear it's not getting released until early next year....
The MS Surface Studio is cool, but no Thunderbolt or USB-C ports and no PCIe slots...so where how and where do you connect your Protools HD Native or HDX cards?


All these new computers seem great for photogs and graphics designers, but fall short for us audio people who have some very specific connectivity requirements and need secondary and tertiary storage drives.
Title: Re: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
Post by: Jelmer de Jong on October 30, 2016, 09:33:54 am
So, speaking of adding SSDs to the system...

I know you can buy PCIe cards to use NVMe SSDs in a system and gain the advantages of the new super fast V-NAND SSDs like the Samsung 950 Pro. Would this still work with a PCIe card in an Thunderbolt expansion chassis, like the Sonnet Tech xMac Pro Server? Will you still get the nearly 1,500MB/s write speeds? Or will they throttle back to the 750MB/s speeds that the traditional SSDs get with more traditional SSDs?
Bandwidth is more than enough, latency is higher than a internal solution. If you do not care about latency the external solution will be fine. Rear/Write latency is generally a issue with high, but small and unpredictable I/O like a database or running multiple operating systems via Parallels/VMware. Your 56ch audio project with a video or two doesn't suffer from the additional latency(less than a ms) of a external PCI chassis.
Title: Re: Is it worth buying a Mac Pro now?
Post by: Bryan French on October 30, 2016, 11:36:16 am
The MS Surface Studio is cool, but no Thunderbolt or USB-C ports and no PCIe slots...so where how and where do you connect your Protools HD Native or HDX cards?


All these new computers seem great for photogs and graphics designers, but fall short for us audio people who have some very specific connectivity requirements and need secondary and tertiary storage drives.

I didn't intend to recommend the surface studio for audio use, it was more of a reply to the question about who else is making waves in the computer world these days.

Back to your original question, then. As I understand it, you need a computer to record 64 channels of audio and drive 3-4 displays. The Mac Pro with an external hard drive bay is the only offering from Apple that I would recommend for your use case. If you're comfortable leaving the Apple camp then there's plenty of workstation class PC towers that would be able to handle your storage requirements internally and have the graphical horsepower to drive your displays.