Workstation choices - high end PC or Mac Pro

Started 10 months ago | Discussions thread
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Re: Workstation choices - high end PC or Mac Pro
In reply to mike in london, 10 months ago

mike in london wrote:

I have been a PC user (W8) and have been all my computer life until recently. I bought a rMBP recently as I couldn't find a well made high performance PC laptop I liked as W8 handles high res laptop screens so badly.

I don't understand the point of paying premium ultra high resolution laptop. I once compared my 13" 1080p laptop side by side to my friend's 15" rMBP, and none of us could claimed he could notice the resolution difference in normal viewing distance (for the comparison, we used tiff files where were scans of medium format films; we also compared texts). Personally, if I wanted to spend all that money on a rMBP, I would have bought a 4K monitor instead: the Dell's 24" 4K isn't even that expensive ($1300). I understand people have different priorities.

As per Win8, I have tried it on a high resolution laptop so don't know about it. However, I am guessing the upcoming W8.2 must be much better in this regard since the 4K monitors and laptops are already in the market. Is w7 any better, in your opinion?

I was totally smitten with it and now my old (6 years old!) PC workstation is becoming unreliable and I need a replacement.

How has it become unreliable? Has any piece of hardware failed? Can't you replace that piece?

I already have a great monitor (27" NEC) so dont want to get rid of that, but need a good workstation.

If your NEC monitor is 10bit, you will loose it by moving to OS X platform.

I am considering the Mac Pro but it seems a bit overkill for just PShop and Capture One use but its the only real alternative, but it would work out more expensive (a lot more) than a high end PC (which I can fit internal extra drives in) as i will have to buy a thunderbolt 2 external data drive to go with it too.

In my opinion Mac Pro is not just 'a bit overkill'; it's simply not designed and made for Photoshop. First of all, the new Mac Pro is a single processor system while traditionally workstations had two CPUs. If Mac Pro is a workstation, then one can probably call many single CPU computers workstation too. The new Mac pro is a single CPU but dual GPU system. As far as I know, even the latest version of CC Photoshop cannot make use of more than one GPU and Adobe even recommends connecting all monitors to the same GPU when using PS(I just checked it on Adobe web site). On the other hand, Photoshop has long been able to make use of two processors. Is there any image editing software that can take advantage of two GPU? So in my opinion, for your needs, you are better off with a dual CPU single GPU system at best though, even a single CPU, single GPU may be all you need.

Next, the new Mac Pro has six thunderbolt ports. Do you really need all that may ports? Are you going to buy six monitors and thunderbolt hard drives (I actually thought Thunderbolt devices can be chained so that one would not need that many ports, would we?).

Anyway, if Thunderbolt is that important, Asus already has a motherboard with an add-on Thunderbolt card in the market so that the PC world isn't absolutely deprived of it. Price wise a 6core 16GB RAM Mac Pro costs $4000 and an 8TB Thunderbolt external hard drive costs $800 for a total of $4800. One can have a top quality PC (single CPU/GPU, certainly a with a raid card and all useful bells and whistles) for about $1500 which, for the sake of your purpose/usage, it performs almost equally as good as (and in some aspects even better than) a Mac Pro.

Now if your heart is set on a Mac Pro, by all means you should buy it. Likewise, my heart is set on a FJ Cruiser even though I don't need it, cannot afford it and, it is a gas hug. In such a situation there is no point trying to rationalize my emotional desire.

If I could and was to spend $4800 on my computer system, I would personally buy a $1500-$2000 high end PC + a $3500 32" 4K monitor. I believe my eyes would glaze by watching a finely detailed image on a large and high resolution display. It would be an indispensable experience.

I keep dithering between getting a high spec PC built and getting the Mac pro as it will cost me much less to get a PC which runs faster (benchmark tested too) but am drawn to the Mac Pro so I am fully Mac which seems to make more sense...

Spending several thousand dollars to be fully Mac?! Well, it's your money, your feelings. Do what you feel like doing.

Is it too mad to run a W7 (would probably swap back, but that seems such a retrograde step) workstation and a rMBP together or does will it not be that much of a problem?

I don't personally see anything wrong with it. I have used both Mac and PC platforms (as well as Linux, Unix, etc.) during my life. Since I have always had at least two computers (one laptop and one desktop), in transitional periods, I happened to simultaneously have a Mac and a PC. The main issue is when transferring files and so far, the fastest way I know of, is through external devices. You need to format them in a file system that is readable by both PC and Mac that is, FAT32. NTFS works but requires extra software on the Mac platform (I wouldn't recommend it).

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www.mikecurryphotography.com

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