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The MPG 2013 Mac Pro Working System
Related: 2013 Mac Pro, backup, bandwidth, gear, Mac Pro, memory, SSD, storage, Thunderbolt, USB
The discussion of how to migrate existing gear was written some months before actually implementing the change-over.
What follows is how it all worked out.
MPG uses the Mac Pro mainly for intensive photography, every day. Few users need this much gear, but some do, and most users will need some of it.
The key things are optimizing workflow, a well-conceived strategy for storage, and a robust backup approach. Expert advice can be helpful in all those areas, but also for saving money by not over-configuring for little or negative benefit and/or tips on how and where to buy stuff.
OWC Drive Dock for backup drives or extra storage.
USB-C about $119
USB 3.1 about $75
Thunderbolt 2 + USB about $180
The MPG working system
As initially configured.
Mac Pro itself
Because of many hours of use every day of the year (digital photography), the MPG Mac Pro pays for itself in unfettered productivity, ample storage, and robust backup. These are professional requirements for working efficiently and for minimizing any business disruption (e.g., data loss).
- 3.3 GHz 8-core CPU: upgraded to the fastest possible CPU, as proven for the MPG workflow by the real-world tests.
- 1TB flash storage (SSD): large enough for partitioning into a Boot and Master volumes. Also, superb performance.
- D700 GPUs. Probably not needed but given the other upgrades and potential future improvements to Photoshop and similar, a gamble on future value.
- 64GB memory. Essential for large Photoshop files.
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Some of these items are carry-over from the previous 2010 Mac Pro, e.g., the dual 960GB Accelsior PCIe SSDs. These are excellent to have as another high-speed SSD option, but the 1TB internal SSD is sufficient for most users (capacity and speed).
A single Thunderbay is sufficient for primary storage of large image files but a 2nd unit allows for splitting the bandwidth as well as having “always on” first-level backups (in addition to others stored safely away from the computer).
- OWC Helios 2 with dual 960GB OWC Mercury Accelsior PCIe SSD (as soon as the Helios 2 is released). Used in RAID-0 stripe mode for high performance work area.
- Dual OWC Thunderbay external 4-drive enclosures for primary storage and always-attached backups, Time Machine.
- CalDigit T3 Thunderbolt enclosure for additional storage.
- FirmTek Q6G Thunderbolt to eSATA for backward compatibility with existing eSATA enclosures.
High capacity, high-performance fault-tolerant storage for photography and video.
Non-RAID or RAID-0/1/4/5/10.
Capacities up to 84 Terabytes!
Too few ports mean that USB3 expansion is needed. Issues include bandwidth, charging power, and number of ports.
- TRIPP LITE USB3 expansion hub for additional USB3 ports, including charging of higher power devices.
- CalDigit Thunderbolt Station for additional USB3 ports with more bandwidth.
- High speed card readers.
Intensive photography work is best done on a 30-inch display with a 2nd display for palettes and extras. Emerging 4K displays have various issues and are not recommended in general as of early 2014.
- NEC PA302W as main display in landscape orientation (see review pages).
- NEC PA301W as 2nd display in portrait orientation.