Build A Dream MacPro Aperture Computer

by Scott Bourne

Effective with the latest Apple tower, the MacPro, Apple is stressing its new Build To Order sales approach. Instead of multiple configurations, there's a standard configuration and everything else is custom.


If you're buying a new computer for the sake of running an Aperture workstation, take heed. The standard configuration MacPro may not satisfy you. Here are my suggestions for building the best system you can at the lowest cost.


13 Comments

Gary Goldberg
2006-11-02 16:42:01
Good advice, but I would add that setting up the system on a RAID-0 stripe delivers a noticeable speedup on even this machine setup. Order the 160GB drive from Apple, then purchase a similar drive from a third-party vendor with the $75 you saved.


The Mac Pro w/ ATI card is an amazing machine with Aperture.

Tao
2006-11-03 07:24:00
Just actually bought this exact config.
Note though that if you don't go with the X1900 to start with (I did), you can still upgrade one later though. Apple does sell them separately:
http://store.apple.com/Apple/WebObjects/dkstore.woa/6304041/wa/PSLID?find=ATI+X1900&btn.x=0&btn.y=0&wosid=3b1KjIJm2XVr2mXSEz02EkLf9en


Stephen
2006-11-03 23:33:31
Helpful article. Thanks! This is nitpicking, but the name of the computer is "Mac Pro" (with a space). Apple avoids merging "Mac" with other words in its product names.
Stephen
2006-11-04 11:27:42
Oh my, I completely forgot about the MacBook in my generalization. At any rate, they don't merge "Mac" and "Pro".
James
2006-11-06 09:22:35
Apple seems to be pushing the MacBook Pro as a good system for an Aperture workflow. Any thoughts on the ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 graphics processor that ships in the MacBook Pros?
Allan White
2006-11-06 13:27:29
One point on the RAID setup: make sure you have a separate boot drive (at least 3 total), or you're doubling the chance of losing data due to a drive failure. The only time I'd recommend booting off of an array is when there's a redundant setup, such as RAID 0+1 or 5 (I think that's right).


For serious storage, consider an attached SATA array with SATA card. You can get up to 200mb/sec that way if it's properly set up. There's some nice 4-drive bays out there with SATA, USB and FW800 ports.


Q: Can Aperture utilize up to 5 GB of RAM?

Josh
2006-11-12 10:27:27
The statement that Aperture relies largely on the GPU for processing is misleading. While it is very important, a lot of things bottleneck at the processor, even on a 3Ghz MacPro. For example, watch your processor meter when exporting or building albums.


2.66 is the sweetspot since the 3Ghz upgrade does not add much speed for the money, but jumping down to 2.0 only saves you $300 (Nov 06). Remember you are buying a $2500 computer (at least). Don't quibble about $300. Unless you are planning on trading in with the next year, more speed means the computer will last you longer.


And remember to get AppleCare!

Josh
2006-11-12 10:41:27
Regarding Allan's question about the MacBook Pro as an Aperture machine, I can speak from experience.


I have run Aperture on a 17" Powerbook 1.5Ghz, a PowerMac G5 Dual 2, a 17" MacBook Pro 2.16, and a MacPro 2.66.


Aperture runs better on my MacBook Pro than it ever did on my massively upgraded PowerMac. Aperture was sluggish on my PowerMac with 5GB of RAM, an ATI x800, and a high speed 1.2TB storage array. The MacBook Pro runs circles around the G5 with just 2GB of RAM and a 7200RPM hard drive.


If you don't need mobility all the time, get a MacPro. If you do, get a MacBook Pro.

Steve
2006-11-29 17:56:20
Hey Josh,


How does your MacBook Pro compare to your MacPro 2.66 though in terms of performance?

Steve Robertson
2006-12-01 08:29:14
I am considering upgrading my current work environment for the processing and storage of my digital photos and have some questions on the best path in your opion. I would like to centralize data to make it available from any mac or pc on the network. I would also like to access the system remotely from anywhere in the world for possible uploads or downloads.


1) When purchasing a new Mac Pro, should I only purchase the standard hard drive for the system and apps and then a 3rd party internal hd for a backup using the upcoming time machine. Or maybe setup the 2 drives in a RAID fashion.


2) What is your recommendation on using XServe and configuration for a professional photographer setup with large amount of storage in a RAID environment for use with Aperature and Photoshop?


So, I would like to see more discussion on the ultimate system with using a MacBook Pro in the field with digital photos stored in Aperature's library and then transfering those to your desktop system in your studio where Aperature just references the files maybe stored on an XServer or RAID box.

MARK
2007-03-24 18:04:25
I LOVE MAC AND WANT TO BUY A NEW COMPUTER. WHICH ONE WOULD YOU SUGGEST THAT WOULD BE THE EASIEST TO GROW. AND OUTSIDE OF THE GRAPHIC CARD FOR FOR APERTURE, SHOULD I JUST GET THE MIN. AND PURCHASE THE REST FROM 3RD PARTY? DO I NEED TO GET THE ORIGINAL DISPLAY THAT IS MAC OR CAN I BUY A THIRD PARTY DISPLAY THAT IS JUST AS GOOD THAT WOULD WORK WITH THE MAC PRO. MAYBE EVEN ONE WITH A GREAT CAMERA? SPEAKING OF CAMERA WHAT CAMERA SHOULD I GET FOR THE COMPUTER?


ALSO WHAT WOULD SUGGEST IS THE BEST BACK UP SOFTWARE AND BACKUP DVD/CD AND ON THE SYS 10.4+ WHAT EXACTLY NEEDS TO BE BACKED UP AND WHERE DO I BACK MY THING TO. THE SAME DRIVE OR A DIFFERENT DRIVE. YOU SEE I HAVE BEEN USING SYS 9.04 WHERE I WOULD JUST DRAG AND DROP THE SYSTEM FOLDR VIA TOAST TO ANOTHER INTERNAL HARD DRIVE. WHAT EXACTLY DO I NEED TO KEEP UP TO DATE AND BACKUP AND WITH WHAT SOFTWARE. PLEASE HELP ME WITH THESE QUESTIONS? I WOULD BE VERY APPRECIATIVE. SINCERELY YOURS. MARK KORNGUTE

Bakari C
2007-06-17 17:06:43
Thanks for this article. I used your exact recommendations for purchasing my new Mac Pro.
Taylor Mason
2007-11-02 08:34:12
Does anyone a specific drive manufacturer you'd recommend using? I'm Raid my drives in Bays 3 and 4, but I want to make sure they have the screw holes in the correct area for the mounting plate. I'm looking at Seagate 7200rpm 750 gig drives.....see link below. will these work? Thanks


http://www.xpcgear.com/st37506.html