Workstation choices - high end PC or Mac Pro

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mike in london
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Workstation choices - high end PC or Mac Pro
6 months ago

Ive been a photographer for 30 years now and use Phase One for my landscapes and Nikon D700 for my portraits, but have a quandary recently...

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 was totally smitten with it and now my old (6 years old!) PC workstation is becoming unreliable and I need a replacement. I already have a great monitor (27" NEC) so dont want to get rid of that, but need a good workstation. 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.

Not really comfortable just plugging the rMBP in to the monitor as often my wife needs to use the laptop at the same time as I'm using the main computer.

I keep dithering between getting a high spec PC bulit 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...

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?

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chillzatl
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Re: Workstation choices - high end PC or Mac Pro
In reply to mike in london, 6 months ago

your options seem pretty clear. Spend more for a computer with less expandability, performance and fewer software options or spend less for something without those limitations. That's really what it comes down to because the actual "doing of things" between the two is so similar that it's a wash.

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juvx
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Re: Workstation choices - high end PC or Mac Pro
In reply to chillzatl, 6 months ago

I was in a similar situation.

I've had a rMBP for over a year and its by far the best computer iv ever owned. Once you get used to it and practice the touchpad is better than any mouse iv ever used. In fact i edit most of photos in lightroom while laying down in bed watching tv and can be very efficient and fast.

First off i would recommended getting used to your rMPB. turn OFF click to select in your mac options so you only have to tap the touchpad to select something, not click it down. Makes a big difference. Get used to all the multi touch gestures. I've been a PC guy all my life, iv built no less then 10 PCs myself and the rMBP is the BEST computer iv ever owned and its not even close.

Second of all. the rMBP is very powerful as is. It has a dedicated graphics card, latest intel i7 and fast SSD, penty of memory and can easily tackle anything including video editing etc. Why would you spend 3000-4000$+ on a mac pro when you already have all you need on the laptop. So, that being said. Look for a dock for it for when you want to sit like a desktop. Dock it to your keyboard and mouse and monitor, external HDD etc. Its really easy. Iv done this at my 2nd house and its so fast you don't realize you are on a laptop. Keep in mind this way you'll have 2 screens to work with if you want. Your main monitor and you retina display.

Please dont spend 3000-4000$ on the mac pro

If you don't want to doc your rMBP like I suggested just buy a high quality gaming PC. Why gaming PC if you dont game? It has a powerful graphics card and all the components needed for video editing, pic editing etc. You can get a really good one for around 2k. I would recommend falcon Northwest Tiki. Its small, powerful and stylish, great company too.

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Tom_N
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Re: Workstation choices - high end PC or Mac Pro
In reply to chillzatl, 6 months ago

chillzatl wrote:

your options seem pretty clear. Spend more for a computer with less expandability, performance and fewer software options

Yes, you could spend more for a Windows workstation that does not fully match the specifications of the Mac Pro (Xeon CPU(s), PCI-E flash, twin video cards, lots of Thunderbolt 2 ports).  But why would you want to do so?

As for the OP, if he wants a Mac-based system, I think he would be best-served with a different Mac, such as an iMac, a quad-core Mac Mini, or even a Mac notebook paired with an external (monitor + keyboard + mouse).  In its current configuration, the new Mac Pro looks to be a machine aimed at videographers, researchers, and the like (who need lots of power and can pay for a machine with it) than at still photographers.

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Ron AKA
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Re: Workstation choices - high end PC or Mac Pro
In reply to mike in london, 6 months ago

Mac uses the same hardware as the PC, and the only real difference is a 50% price premium and a pretty box. I'm not aware of any issues running higher resolution with Windows 8? That should be determined by your graphics card and driver, not Windows.

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juvx
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Re: Workstation choices - high end PC or Mac Pro
In reply to Tom_N, 6 months ago

Tom_N wrote:

chillzatl wrote:

your options seem pretty clear. Spend more for a computer with less expandability, performance and fewer software options

Yes, you could spend more for a Windows workstation that does not fully match the specifications of the Mac Pro (Xeon CPU(s), PCI-E flash, twin video cards, lots of Thunderbolt 2 ports). But why would you want to do so?

As for the OP, if he wants a Mac-based system, I think he would be best-served with a different Mac, such as an iMac, a quad-core Mac Mini, or even a Mac notebook paired with an external (monitor + keyboard + mouse). In its current configuration, the new Mac Pro looks to be a machine aimed at videographers, researchers, and the like (who need lots of power and can pay for a machine with it) than at still photographers.

Why buy an imac or mac mini when he already has a rMBP thats just as powerful. Just dock it.

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Tom_N
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Re: Workstation choices - high end PC or Mac Pro
In reply to mike in london, 6 months ago

mike in london wrote:

Not really comfortable just plugging the rMBP in to the monitor as often my wife needs to use the laptop at the same time as I'm using the main computer.

You could get a Mac Mini (with the NEC as the main and only monitor) … or an iMac (with the NEC as a second monitor, running in extended desktop mode).  Then your current laptop would be free for your wife's use.

Alternately, you could get a second Mac laptop for her.

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juvx
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Re: Workstation choices - high end PC or Mac Pro
In reply to Ron AKA, 6 months ago

Also, make damn sure you upgrade to windows 8.1 Its much better then the standard 8.

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juvx
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Re: Workstation choices - high end PC or Mac Pro
In reply to Tom_N, 6 months ago

Tom_N wrote:

mike in london wrote:

Not really comfortable just plugging the rMBP in to the monitor as often my wife needs to use the laptop at the same time as I'm using the main computer.

You could get a Mac Mini (with the NEC as the main and only monitor) … or an iMac (with the NEC as a second monitor, running in extended desktop mode). Then your current laptop would be free for your wife's use.

Alternately, you could get a second Mac laptop for her.

Yeah get her a 13 macbook air for her for like 1000$ on ebay. Very light and fast. Amazing machine.

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Austinian
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Re: Workstation choices - high end PC or Mac Pro
In reply to mike in london, 6 months ago

I build my own PCs, but I found this Mac Pro review technically interesting enough to read:

http://arstechnica.com/apple/2014/01/two-steps-forward-a-review-of-the-2013-mac-pro/

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Tom_N
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Re: Workstation choices - high end PC or Mac Pro
In reply to Ron AKA, 6 months ago

Ron AKA wrote:

I'm not aware of any issues running higher resolution with Windows 8? That should be determined by your graphics card and driver, not Windows.

Mac OS X knows how to use extra pixels on ultra-high-resolution screens for something other than squeezing a bunch of microscopic content onto the screen just to increase desktop workspace size.  The operating system does this in a such a way that legacy applications continue to work properly (albeit in pixel-doubling fashion), while Retina-aware applications can draw in increased detail.

Judging by the posts I've seen on these forums, this is something that Windows doesn't know how to do.  Whether to play nicely with high-DPI screens is apparently left up to the applications, which implies that in practice, a lot of them aren't going to play nicely at all.  Or so it seems from posts.

And no, this isn't just a "graphics card and driver" issue – managing an API transition in a way that supports both forwards and backwards compatibility should be Windows' responsibility.

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juvx
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Re: Workstation choices - high end PC or Mac Pro
In reply to Tom_N, 6 months ago

Tom_N wrote:

Ron AKA wrote:

I'm not aware of any issues running higher resolution with Windows 8? That should be determined by your graphics card and driver, not Windows.

Mac OS X knows how to use extra pixels on ultra-high-resolution screens for something other than squeezing a bunch of microscopic content onto the screen just to increase desktop workspace size. The operating system does this in a such a way that legacy applications continue to work properly (albeit in pixel-doubling fashion), while Retina-aware applications can draw in increased detail.

Judging by the posts I've seen on these forums, this is something that Windows doesn't know how to do. Whether to play nicely with high-DPI screens is apparently left up to the applications, which implies that in practice, a lot of them aren't going to play nicely at all. Or so it seems from posts.

And no, this isn't just a "graphics card and driver" issue – managing an API transition in a way that supports both forwards and backwards compatibility should be Windows' responsibility.

Windows 8.1 implements it just fine. I use both MacOS and windows 8.1.

You are correct though, its a OS issue and not hardware. Everyone that has windows 8 really should upgrade to 8.1 its free and improved the experience big time.

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gs85739az
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Re: Workstation choices - high end PC or Mac Pro
In reply to mike in london, 6 months ago

You might consider asking this question on the Mac forum, they are the experts about Mac's and adore their Macs...

My thoughts on Apple OSX is that is NOT intuitive and as easy to use as advertised, but..you already have a Retina MBP, using it daily, it seems to be working for you that you would consider even buying the MacPro, but make your life as easy as you can, especially in regards to work flow.

You can dual boot any Apple computer and use Windows 7, 8,etc as needed.

An "alternative" high end PC deskop or laptop[yes, Sager/Clevo are very good]would give you ALL the computing energy you'd ever need, be more expandable for much less money...

You obviously multi-task, so using different OS's won't bother you as much as they would "most" computer users.

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MtnGoatJoe
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Re: Workstation choices - high end PC or Mac Pro
In reply to juvx, 6 months ago

Depending on what your wife does with your computer, the answer could be as simple as buying her an iPad.

That said, the Mac Pro is a hell of a machine. You can't really get an "equivilent" windows PC because Apple made design and functionality choices that just don't translate. So, yes, you can buy a VERY fast PC for the same price or cheaper, but the Mac Pro is a workstation class machine. SIX Thunderbolt ports prove the point. The Mac Pro can push three 4K displays, render full-resolution 4K video, and simultaniously render effects in the background. Plus, those six Thinderbolt ports, they can attach external PCI chassis, and they're the fastest external bus money can buy.

Does all that make the Mac Pro better than a PC? Well, that depends. I would say for video editing the answer is yes. For photo editing, a Mac Pro would be nice, but overkill.

So, like I said, maybe the solution is an iPad for the wife or a Mac Mini for you. YMMV.

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tkbslc
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Honestly, doesn't matter
In reply to mike in london, 6 months ago

You'll get the same arguments Mac vs PC discussions always give.

From a pure price performance ratio, PC is king. But if you really like your new Mac laptop, then it could be very nice to be using the same OS and software licenses for both systems. Macs look nicer for sure.

You might also look at a higher end iMac. The Quad core mac pro is only going to be marginally faster than the top end iMac , yet it's nearly double the price factoring in monitors.

In the end, if you get similarly configured PC or Mac, the software is going to run the same.  You need to decide on things like price, OS and other intangibles.   So it probably doesn't matter.

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mike in london
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Re: Workstation choices - high end PC or Mac Pro
In reply to juvx, 6 months ago

juvx wrote:

Tom_N wrote:

chillzatl wrote:

your options seem pretty clear. Spend more for a computer with less expandability, performance and fewer software options

Yes, you could spend more for a Windows workstation that does not fully match the specifications of the Mac Pro (Xeon CPU(s), PCI-E flash, twin video cards, lots of Thunderbolt 2 ports). But why would you want to do so?

As for the OP, if he wants a Mac-based system, I think he would be best-served with a different Mac, such as an iMac, a quad-core Mac Mini, or even a Mac notebook paired with an external (monitor + keyboard + mouse). In its current configuration, the new Mac Pro looks to be a machine aimed at videographers, researchers, and the like (who need lots of power and can pay for a machine with it) than at still photographers.

Why buy an imac or mac mini when he already has a rMBP thats just as powerful. Just dock it.

Ideally yes but this...

"Not really comfortable just plugging the rMBP in to the monitor as often my wife needs to use the laptop at the same time as I'm using the main computer."

Mike

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mike in london
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Re: Workstation choices - high end PC or Mac Pro
In reply to MtnGoatJoe, 6 months ago

MtnGoatJoe wrote:

Depending on what your wife does with your computer, the answer could be as simple as buying her an iPad.

That said, the Mac Pro is a hell of a machine. You can't really get an "equivilent" windows PC because Apple made design and functionality choices that just don't translate. So, yes, you can buy a VERY fast PC for the same price or cheaper, but the Mac Pro is a workstation class machine. SIX Thunderbolt ports prove the point. The Mac Pro can push three 4K displays, render full-resolution 4K video, and simultaniously render effects in the background. Plus, those six Thinderbolt ports, they can attach external PCI chassis, and they're the fastest external bus money can buy.

Does all that make the Mac Pro better than a PC? Well, that depends. I would say for video editing the answer is yes. For photo editing, a Mac Pro would be nice, but overkill.

So, like I said, maybe the solution is an iPad for the wife or a Mac Mini for you. YMMV.

also dithering as the mac mini is surely due an update soon isnt it? otherwise its my choice (apart from lack of ports)

Mike

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mike in london
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Re: Workstation choices - high end PC or Mac Pro
In reply to mike in london, 6 months ago

how many of you have a PC and a Mac?

to me it doesnt seem to make sense to have both

technically the Mac pro is the logical choice for those with high end monitors like mine from the Apple range if you already have a rMBP isnt it?

Mike

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Austinian
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Re: Workstation choices - high end PC or Mac Pro
In reply to mike in london, 6 months ago

mike in london wrote:

how many of you have a PC and a Mac?

to me it doesnt seem to make sense to have both

technically the Mac pro is the logical choice for those with high end monitors like mine from the Apple range if you already have a rMBP isnt it?

Looking at Apple's Mac website, since you don't want an integrated monitor, it appears that Apple gives you no desktop choices in between the Mac Mini and Mac Pro. That's amazing.

Good luck deciding, but from how you're phrasing your posts it sounds to me like you really want a Mac Pro.

If the cost isn't a concern, why not? Buy a Mac Pro and enjoy yourself!

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Scott Eaton
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are you serious....
In reply to Austinian, 6 months ago

>>>it appears that Apple gives you no desktop choices in between the Mac Mini and Mac Pro. That's amazing.

It's not amazing. It's been Apple's sales model for about a decade now. The iMac is kept castrated as to create a need for the Mac Pro. Last decent true power desktop no  / Pro Apple made was the G4. The G5 was only as good as Apple's marketing hype could find a reason to switch to Intel.

When you're marketing to knuckleheads who think Intel builds special processors for Apple and the Xeon has some magical processing capabilities....

I work primarily in data centers now, but for the record the term 'workstation' went out of vogue about the time terms like 'baud' and 'SGI' become obsolete. No CIO I know of will sign a rec for a 'workstation' class machine because they are a waste of money. Xeon's on desktop  = money throw in the toilet because the Xeon's only real advantage is more physical processors, and more physical processors only benefits horizontal scaling and not vertical.

An E-5 quad core will get raped by a six Core i7, and the i7 machine is a lot cheaper. Good luck finding that architecture in an Apple product, because if you did there woulnd't be a market for the Mac Pro now would there? You can of course get i7 machines with the same horsepower as the Mac pro at 1/3 to 1/4 the price. The fact OSX won't install on them does not change reality.

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