Thread: New Mac Pro Configuration Recommendations

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  1. #1 New Mac Pro Configuration Recommendations 
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    The Mac is coming out tomorrow to buy, and I wanted to know if anyone can recommend a good configuration for the Mac Pro so we do not overspend.

    Any feedback?
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  2. #2  
    Senior Member AndreeMarkefors's Avatar
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    I just posted the following in another thread:

    The base model is more or less a skeleton to get into the platform and you don't want that.

    Going up to 12-core you get faster single thread performance and you lift the memory to 2933MHz (instead of 2666MHz with the 8-core). Depending on price, you'll want 12 or 16 core...

    Same with graphics, you want to go to the first level up: from 580X to Radeon Pro Vega II. Both cards are getting long in the tooth, but the 580X has no place in the new Mac Pro. Already the base Pro Vega II (not talking about the Pro Vega II Duo, which is two Pro Vega II combined) comes with 32GB of RAM—nice for 8K.

    System RAM: you don't want the base 32GB. It's only 4 modules and you want to use 6. From 48GB and up you're good. In my experience people need less RAM than they think. RAM won't make the computer faster per se, but having too little will slow it down. As an example, DaVinci Resolve runs fine with as low as 16GB. Once you do 3D or compositing where textures and such needs to be read into memory.... then you need more.

    Disk space needs no explanation. But if the stock config really only comes with 256GB (one module), you at least need to go to 1TB (over two modules).
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  3. #3  
    Senior Member Mark Andersen's Avatar
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    Thanks for your input, what about the Afterburner? How will this help?
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  4. #4  
    I’m fully expecting the 16-core, possibly the 24-core to be the sweet spot. Pricing structure will say a lot, but I think 16-core with 96GB RAM and a Vega Pro II Duo MPX GPU would be the target starting point for those really using FCPX and Resolve. Depending on price and a few other factors, the next logical step up would be to the 24-core CPU. Then probably a move to 192GB RAM to better support the CPU, especially if working full time in 4K+ workflows. I’m not so sure FCPX will benefit from more than 16 cores (32 threads). Adobe software definitely won’t... My primary Resolve system is still a 20-core E5v2 (2 x 10 core) Xeon workstation I built over 5 years ago. It’s long in the tooth and the plan was to replace it with this new Mac Pro. The RAM is the bottleneck in that system, not the CPU cores. I breathed new life into it a while back by upgrading it to dual 1080TI GPUs... But the RAM speed keeps it choked up. I’m actually building a 24-core ThreadRipper system right now, still waiting on a couple parts. It may replace the aging Xeon box and I may not buy the Mac Pro at this time. Everything should be a bit more clear tomorrow when we see pricing.

    Not sure what to make of the Afterburner card just yet...

    I foresee a lot of people ordering the Mac Pro tower and skipping the XDR display. Yeah, we all want one, but it may make financial sense for many to save $4000 by going with the 5K LG monitor instead. If you do get the XDR Pro Display, don’t buy the $1000 stand. Get a good arm to mount it, you’ll be happier and will save a good chunk there too.
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  5. #5  
    Quote Originally Posted by AndreeMarkefors View Post
    Same with graphics, you want to go to the first level up: from 580X to Radeon Pro Vega II. Both cards are getting long in the tooth, but the 580X has no place in the new Mac Pro. Already the base Pro Vega II (not talking about the Pro Vega II Duo, which is two Pro Vega II combined) comes with 32GB of RAM—nice for 8K.
    Will be interesting to see GPU pricing. Might make more sense to go with two separate Vega Pro II MPX modules instead of the Duo if you want/need two GPUs. They are a bit old... Going to be interesting to see if nVidia jumps back onboard. I kinda have my doubts.

    System RAM: you don't want the base 32GB. It's only 4 modules and you want to use 6. From 48GB and up you're good. In my experience people need less RAM than they think. RAM won't make the computer faster per se, but having too little will slow it down. As an example, DaVinci Resolve runs fine with as low as 16GB. Once you do 3D or compositing where textures and such needs to be read into memory.... then you need more.
    I think 48GB will be too little, especially with 12+ cores. I would say that’s the minimum, as I recommend 3~4 GB per core as a starting point. Really it’s about 3GB per thread as that allows for 2GB per process maximum plus overhead. I run 256GB in my dual Xeon 20-core Resolve system. That’s overkill, but 128GB would not cut it in many situations. Like I mentioned above, I think 96GB is going to be a nice target for 12 or 16 core configurations and 24 and 28 core setups may really want to consider 192GB.

    Of course that comes down to what all is being done on the system.

    Disk space needs no explanation. But if the stock config really only comes with 256GB (one module), you at least need to go to 1TB (over two modules).
    4TB max SSD in this system is an insult, IMO. There is supposed to be a larger storage option designed to fit an MPX module setup. OK, I know there is and I’ve seen one of them in action when I got to see the Mac Pro last month. It’s not an Apple product, but third party. It still may be a build option when configuring. IIRC, the setup I saw was 32TB. I want to say that it’s from Promise, but that was not discussed when I got my hands-on.
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  6. #6  
    Senior Member AndreeMarkefors's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Kilgroe View Post
    I’m fully expecting…
    I agree with what you're saying Jeff. My answer above is mostly directed to those who want to get on board with the new Mac Pro but feel it's already "expensive" as it is.

    But Apple's published base configuration has a few... "misalignments", let say, that I feel any buyer should try to avoid—and some reasoning behind why.

    For myself, the first config I'll throw together to see the price will be:

    16-core, Pro Vega II, 96GB, 2TB.
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  7. #7  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Andersen View Post
    Thanks for your input, what about the Afterburner? How will this help?
    Well, it's pretty much in the description: accelerates ProRes and ProRes RAW in FCPX, QuickTime X and supported 3rd party apps.

    I see it as more of a specialty card for locked in workflows.
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  8. #8  
    Senior Member Mark Andersen's Avatar
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    I’ve ordered the LG monitor, saving the extra cash for a new MacBook Pro that’s maxed out for location work.
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  9. #9  
    Senior Member AndreeMarkefors's Avatar
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    Configurator is up:

    Cheapest sensible model:
    12 core | wait for Radeon Pro W5700X | 48GB | 1TB is $8499 (est. based on $800 for gfx)

    Preferred entry:
    16 core | Pro Vega II 32GB | 96GB | 2TB is $12.199

    Current max:
    28 core | Dual Pro Vega II Duo 64GB | 1.5TB | 4TB is $50.199

    Internal storage will be available in 8TB soon.
    Last edited by AndreeMarkefors; 12-10-2019 at 10:45 PM. Reason: new options in configurator
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  10. #10  
    $17,599 gets you:

    3.2GHz 16‑core Intel Xeon W processor, Turbo Boost up to 4.4GHz
    96GB (6x16GB) of DDR4 ECC memory
    Radeon Pro Vega II Duo with 2x32GB of HBM2 memory
    4TB SSD storage
    Apple Afterburner card
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