The King of Adobe CS4 Mountain
You've read what we wanted. You saw what is the price of Bright Pro* and the amount of Mac Tax. Now, here comes what we saw at Newegg.Com and stood in shock. This first system is the system we wanted, next page will bring you apple-to-apple spec comparison, even though that comparison is a little bit lacking for our needs.
CPU: 2x Intel Xeon 5520, 2.26 GHz, 80W TDP - $759.99
We decided to stick with 2.26 GHz processors, as they perfectly fit our needs.
Cooling: Zalman CNPS9500AT + Socket 1366 Adapter - $75.96
Apple comes with their aluminum towers… we decided to go with something silent as well. We have used Zalman coolers for years on desktops, and it weighs 530g. We won't put two 700g coolers on the motherboard. CNPS9500 also comes in Blue LED variant http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835118223 , but we really didn't care about the color. However, if you want your "CPUs" two glow with blue light, be our guest.
Motherboard: TYAN S7010AGM2NRF Dual LGA 1366 Intel 5520 SSI EEB Server Motherboard - $389.99
Seeing a server-class motherboard from a recognized manufacturer for less than $400 made a solid decision in our heads. We decided to use on-board RAID controller, with five drives in RAID5. On Apple, this is a $700 option and no, you cannot plug five hard drives. We like the 4+1TB option.
RAM: OCZ Platinum 12GB (6 x 2GB) DDR3 1333 (PC3-10666) - $164.99
Apple sells DDR3-1066 with their Mac Pro systems. Given the price of low-latency DDR3-1333, and the fact that our motherboard supports the faster DDR3-1333 standard, we upgraded the memory. For Apple-to-Apple comparison, check out the next page. Numbers-wise, we gained 12.82 GB/s more bandwidth when compared to memory inside Mac Pro. Yes, it is true that we decided to forfeit the benefits of ECC memory - our Nehalem-EP was burned-in with Kingston DDR3-2000 memory for 24 hours straight under maximum CPU+RAM load. If you feel our choice was flawed, you can opt to go with Kingston or Crucial.
HDD: 5x Western Digital Black Edition 1TB - $549.95
Since we decided to go with RAID5 array, Western Digital Black Edition drives with 1TB capacity and 32MB cache make for an ideal quintet in our system.
Optical: LG Black GGC-H20L SATA Blu-ray/HD DVD-ROM & 16X DVD±R DVD Burner -$94.99
We might be put on the hate-mail list, but we will not "understand" why Apple is continuously avoiding Blu-ray standard. To sell a machine for professionals and not offer an option for Blu-ray is absolutely unforgiving and makes Apple looks like amateurs. We chose a combo drive capable of reading both [now-defunct] HD-DVD and Blu-ray media, with CD/DVD burning support. Yes, we received couple of HD-DVD media, but bear in mind that most of our clients prefer MegaUpload.com anyways.
Graphics: PNY Quadro CX 1792 MB - $1,799.00
Here comes the fun part. We decided to go with nVidia Quadro CX because it gives us an opportunity to run two of our Dell 2408WFP displays AND our 46" Panasonic FullHD Plasma we use for coloring. We connected our Dell's via DisplayPort and hooked our Belkin DVI-HDMI cable. This means our system needs to have just a single graphics card, compared to Apple Mac Pro and mandatory GT 120 + FX4800 in order to have three displays and GPGPU horsepower. If you want a comparable graphics card, nVidia released Quadro FX4800 for Apple, so add $1799.00 to the price you saw in the column on the left. But, the Quadro FX4800 doesn't come with RapiHD Premiere plug-in, and our focus applications are Photoshop and Premiere.
Case: Cooler Master SC-1000-SSW1-GP Black/ Silver Aluminum - $199.99
If you thought that we'll skimp on the price of the case and save some $100 or 200, you're wrong. We went with aluminum version of Cooler Master Cosmos because we wanted to have the handles. Just like in the previous case, alternative is Lian-Li's case.
Power Supply: ZALMAN ZM1000-HP 1000W Continuous@45°C - $214.99
We decided to go with Zalman 1kW power supply. This PSU is moddable, meaning that you don't have to plug in every cable - enabling neat cabling arrangement. Secondly, due to our choice of the computer case - the power supply is staying separate from the airflow inside the system, since it intakes the air from the bottom of the case [protected from dust with a filter].
Operating System: Windows Vista Ultimate x64 - $178.49
Even though the verdict is still out, after you disable things such as Shadow Volume Copy and continuous indexing, this OS will work just fine in professional environment.
Keyboard & Mice: Logitech S510 Cordless Desktop - $44.99
A while ago, we discovered this afordable, yet really high-quality wireless Desktop & Mice set from Logitech.
Bright True Pro*
The total system price of our new CS4 Beast machine was $3,944.33 or $16.33. For only $20 more than a stock Mac Pro with 12GB memory, 1TB drive and Radeon HD4870 graphics card, we built a monstrous system featuring five hard drives, a professional graphics card able to connect to two LCD displays and a Plasma TV [coloring].
With limitations that Apple has [4 HDD, no Blu-ray etc.], we were unable to create equal Apple-To-Apple system. However, if you go with four hard drives, RAID controller and Quadro FX4800 graphics card, a Mac Pro will cost $6927, or you'll be paying a Mac Tax of a massive $2,982.67!
Prices that you read in this article were surprising, but bear in mind that this was not the only cost: Adobe Creative Suite 4 Master Collection will set you back for $2,499.00, with no Mac Tax - it costs the same on Mac and Windows platforms.
Our final verdict is: Apple Mac Pro failed provide us with "Value for Money" in our requirement - the best performance in Adobe Creative Suite 4 Master Collection - Photoshop and Premiere. We'll still continue to use our Mac Pro based systems, as we did undergo a massive investment [you can calculate our investment yourself :-] and use Final Cut Pro on them.
Disclaimer: This article was brought by our personal experience with the App store and Newegg. Prices differ from country to country, thus your experience can be better or worse. As a final note - If you plan to attack us on the base of being Apple haters, sorry - but you've missed the boat badly. Our money - our opinion.
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