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Another stupid question / survey for you guys

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Ok, since this worked pretty well with the mouse question, I thought I'd try it for computers.  It's getting near the time to upgrade my machine.  I'm currently working on a mid-2011 imac w/16gb memory.  For the last few months, I've started working on projects that require more detailed renderings than what I normally do.  As soon as I use higher settings in the model, this machine can take a long time to process a render.  In a short while, I'll be working on some very large, very complicated models and I know my machine won't be able to handle it.

 

So, with that being said, what type of machine are you working on?  Desktop is preferred, and I'm looking at both Mac's and PC's.  My budget limit is $3k, but that would be for a machine that I know I'll be able to keep and upgrade for several years.  

 

I've looked at the new iMac's and the Mac Pro and I'm unsure about both.  From what I've read online, a lot of Mac users have held onto their old mac pro's because of the upgradeability.  And I'm not sure the iMac will be able to handle the work down the line.

 

All recommendations are welcome. :-)

 

-db

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As a mac user I would buy the fastest iMac you can get hold of. Although you want a machine that will last you a while it's very difficult to anticipate what the future of computing will bring.

 

I have a 6 core 2013 'trashcan' Mac Pro that i love and does a great job, but it's not the ultimate cad/3d machine. There is uncertainty as to what will happen with the mac pro (there has been much debate on Architosh.com about this subject).

 

There are 2 factors to consider: when modelling you are using 1 core of your computer, when you are rendering you can use all the cores.

The obvious recommendation is to get the fastest quad core processor possible.

 

Also if you are thinking of using Thea or other similar rendering engines a NVIDEA video card can be a benefit.

 

My recommendation would be buy the fastest quad core iMac or PC you can get with an NVidea card, see how you get on.

Later, if you need more rendering capacity use any spare cash to get a 2nd machine (mac or PC) to add to a network for extra rendering.

 

Its very difficult to anticipate the future so buy for today.

 

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One other thought -- since technology progresses so fast, and the very fastest computer comes with a very high premium cost -- if you buy a computer that is not quite the fastest and offers "more bang for the buck" -- and then upgrade more frequently -- you will come out ahead in the long run.

 

These sites can be useful in finding the sweet spot on the curve for CPU and GPU's:

 

https://www.cpubenchmark.net/high_end_cpus.html

http://www.videocardbenchmark.net/high_end_gpus.html

 

So a processor like this might be a good option (if you are building the computer yourself, or can easily find one with it incorporated for a reasonable price):  https://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu.php?cpu=Intel+Core+i7-5820K+%40+3.30GHz&id=2340

 

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 Hi db.

 If I would be you I`d buy used Mac Pro 5.1 12 core. You might find a good deal in States. Here is the example Also it could adopt new GPUs. Soon we will see quite affordable 1000 series NVidias. Than you will save money on slave machines and will have ultimate home render farm. 

 Also your current iMac might be good for modeling and those MacPros are for rendering. Using network rendering will greatly improve your render times in compare even fastest and most expensive single machine.

 Best,

Anton.

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I'll throw my five cents in...

 

I've been modelling in FormZ for 3 years now, 90% of the time on Mac's but I also have a beast of a PC that I use FormZ on occasionally.

 

The reason for this, is that I find the user interface and the mouse accuracy on my PC not as tight as on the Mac side. I prefer to work on a Mac any day.

 

That said, I too have encountered the rendering issue you mention. I use Maxwell Render for all my finished images and a single Mac just hasn't got the chops for it. I first tried the home render network. I now have 5 server class machines linked up to power through renderings. Three are inexpensive used servers with Quad core Xeons. It works, and it allows me to render on other machines wheel continuing to work on my main Mac. The down side, you have numerous installs of Maxwell to maintain and trouble shoot.

 

If you are selling your images, the current solution I use is by far the most flexible. All of may production work goes to a render farm. This produces renders in time delays my home farm couldn't begin to touch and my costs are very reasonable. The render farm solution also allows you to work where ever your laptop can go where there's wifi... and still deliver top notch results. The down side, it's a fixed cost tacked onto your work. I keep my home render farm active for clients who have more time and wish to pare down their costs.

 

Lastly, and I'm really happy to hear BlueMonkey report there's lots of chatter about the MacPro's uncertain future, you want to keep your options open in terms of rendering hardware. The GPU renderers like Octane, RedShift, FurryBall and Thea (to an extent) leverage the parallel processing power of Nvidia CUDA cards to produce almost live results depending on the cards you are running. The thing is, Apple really ignored 3D and CAD professionals when they designed this sealed MacPro. AMD cards are of no use for GPU rendering, and THAT could cost you big time in the long run.

 

I have invested in Octane Render and 3 TitanX cards... The learning curve is not inconsiderable, but the speed of the engine means you can tweak your resulting image live, including on the fly depth of field. I know Maxwell is working on GPU support and IMHO, in a deadline based world, instant production level images is where we are headed... Which puts a knife in my Mac heart.

 

My planned work around? Model in FormZ on my precious macs (I work primarily on a 15" MBP with a quad core i7 and SSD drives and an Nvidia card, that allows me to launch and work with Octane on my laptop) And then I use my PC render station either as a stand alone or as a slave controlled by Octane on the MBP.

 

It's not a perfect system, but it's an option that allows me some time to consider the future and keeps my computer experience with my Macs unfettered.

 

Good luck, and let us know what you discover!

 

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...t I find the user interface and the mouse accuracy on my PC not as tight as on the Mac side. I prefer to work on a Mac any day.

 

Hi David,

 

The only issue we are aware of is that if you are using the extra Large Cursor in the Preferences on Windows, and you have a window set to a Custom size and resolution, then the mouse zooming may not be exactly at the cursor location.  If you have any other issues, please send an email to support@formz.com and let us know more details so we can help you with this.   ;)

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As a mac user I would buy the fastest iMac you can get hold of. Although you want a machine that will last you a while it's very difficult to anticipate what the future of computing will bring.

 

I have a 6 core 2013 'trashcan' Mac Pro that i love and does a great job, but it's not the ultimate cad/3d machine. There is uncertainty as to what will happen with the mac pro (there has been much debate on Architosh.com about this subject).

 

There are 2 factors to consider: when modelling you are using 1 core of your computer, when you are rendering you can use all the cores.

The obvious recommendation is to get the fastest quad core processor possible.

 

Also if you are thinking of using Thea or other similar rendering engines a NVIDEA video card can be a benefit.

 

My recommendation would be buy the fastest quad core iMac or PC you can get with an NVidea card, see how you get on.

Later, if you need more rendering capacity use any spare cash to get a 2nd machine (mac or PC) to add to a network for extra rendering.

 

Its very difficult to anticipate the future so buy for today.

My local "Mac Expert" told me not to get a trashcan Mac and to wait and see what Apple decides to do about them.  The thing I don't like about iMacs are the price.  I've gotten more stingy these last few years! :)  Although I will say that my current iMac does 95% of my work with no issues.  But, that's about to change with the new projects I'm going to be working on.  It's also why I'm considering going back to a PC.  

 

 

One other thought -- since technology progresses so fast, and the very fastest computer comes with a very high premium cost -- if you buy a computer that is not quite the fastest and offers "more bang for the buck" -- and then upgrade more frequently -- you will come out ahead in the long run.

 

These sites can be useful in finding the sweet spot on the curve for CPU and GPU's:

 

https://www.cpubenchmark.net/high_end_cpus.html

http://www.videocardbenchmark.net/high_end_gpus.html

 

So a processor like this might be a good option (if you are building the computer yourself, or can easily find one with it incorporated for a reasonable price):  https://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu.php?cpu=Intel+Core+i7-5820K+%40+3.30GHz&id=2340

I didn't even think about looking at specific processors first.  I've just been window shopping then looking up the benchmark of the graphics cards available.  Thanks for the tip!

 

 

 Hi db.

 If I would be you I`d buy used Mac Pro 5.1 12 core. You might find a good deal in States. Here is the example Also it could adopt new GPUs. Soon we will see quite affordable 1000 series NVidias. Than you will save money on slave machines and will have ultimate home render farm. 

 Also your current iMac might be good for modeling and those MacPros are for rendering. Using network rendering will greatly improve your render times in compare even fastest and most expensive single machine.

 Best,

Anton.

This is what I originally started to do, and almost purchased a machine locally until I discovered it was a 4.1 model and not a 5.1 model as advertised.  I've read multiple articles that design houses have been sticking with their towers simply due to the fact that they can use NVidia cards and have the room to upgrade components.  This almost seems the best option to get thru the next couple of years and see what's available.  Using the tower as a renderer while keeping my iMac seems like a good idea.  I'll have to look into that.

 

 

I'll throw my five cents in...

 

I've been modelling in FormZ for 3 years now, 90% of the time on Mac's but I also have a beast of a PC that I use FormZ on occasionally.

 

The reason for this, is that I find the user interface and the mouse accuracy on my PC not as tight as on the Mac side. I prefer to work on a Mac any day.

 

That said, I too have encountered the rendering issue you mention. I use Maxwell Render for all my finished images and a single Mac just hasn't got the chops for it. I first tried the home render network. I now have 5 server class machines linked up to power through renderings. Three are inexpensive used servers with Quad core Xeons. It works, and it allows me to render on other machines wheel continuing to work on my main Mac. The down side, you have numerous installs of Maxwell to maintain and trouble shoot.

 

If you are selling your images, the current solution I use is by far the most flexible. All of may production work goes to a render farm. This produces renders in time delays my home farm couldn't begin to touch and my costs are very reasonable. The render farm solution also allows you to work where ever your laptop can go where there's wifi... and still deliver top notch results. The down side, it's a fixed cost tacked onto your work. I keep my home render farm active for clients who have more time and wish to pare down their costs.

 

Lastly, and I'm really happy to hear BlueMonkey report there's lots of chatter about the MacPro's uncertain future, you want to keep your options open in terms of rendering hardware. The GPU renderers like Octane, RedShift, FurryBall and Thea (to an extent) leverage the parallel processing power of Nvidia CUDA cards to produce almost live results depending on the cards you are running. The thing is, Apple really ignored 3D and CAD professionals when they designed this sealed MacPro. AMD cards are of no use for GPU rendering, and THAT could cost you big time in the long run.

 

I have invested in Octane Render and 3 TitanX cards... The learning curve is not inconsiderable, but the speed of the engine means you can tweak your resulting image live, including on the fly depth of field. I know Maxwell is working on GPU support and IMHO, in a deadline based world, instant production level images is where we are headed... Which puts a knife in my Mac heart.

 

My planned work around? Model in FormZ on my precious macs (I work primarily on a 15" MBP with a quad core i7 and SSD drives and an Nvidia card, that allows me to launch and work with Octane on my laptop) And then I use my PC render station either as a stand alone or as a slave controlled by Octane on the MBP.

 

It's not a perfect system, but it's an option that allows me some time to consider the future and keeps my computer experience with my Macs unfettered.

 

Good luck, and let us know what you discover!

While I don't use Maxwell, I was going to start messing with Thea.  I hadn't heard of Octane Render, but wow, they have some really nice images in their gallery!  What's your typical render time using Octane Render?  Do you have any issues exporting your form-z models to Octane?  I don't have an NVidia card on my iMac, or I'd be messing with the demo right now.  Maybe this is the reason I should migrate back to a PC.  

 

...

 

Thank you guys for taking the time to respond!  You guys helped educate me on the direction rendering software is headed.  Much appreciated!

 

-db

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Be aware that you should not use 12 cores on a Mac Pro (this has 24 processors) render zone renders faster if you limit the rendering to 6 processors. Not sure if Maxwell or Thea utilizes 12 cores. Any member experience? We have a Mac Mini at studio with i7 quad core & renders quicker then Mac Pro 12 core.

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Not sure if Maxwell [...] utilizes 12 cores.

Hi Dennis-

I cannot speak for Renderzone, but Maxwell will use as many cores as you have, and performance scales almost linearly. Maxwell also uses hyperthreading effectively. So, the more cores and the faster they are, the better.

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Be aware that you should not use 12 cores on a Mac Pro (this has 24 processors) render zone renders faster if you limit the rendering to 6 processors. Not sure if Maxwell or Thea utilizes 12 cores. Any member experience? We have a Mac Mini at studio with i7 quad core & renders quicker then Mac Pro 12 core.

 

Hi Dennis,

 

We made some improvements for this with v8.5.4.  Please recheck your times, you should find that more cores can be faster with this correction.  :)

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There was a forum post to test the computer speed with a posted reference file. Can you direct me to the forum link. Is the fmz project still available for download.

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Be aware that you should not use 12 cores on a Mac Pro (this has 24 processors) render zone renders faster if you limit the rendering to 6 processors. Not sure if Maxwell or Thea utilizes 12 cores. Any member experience? We have a Mac Mini at studio with i7 quad core & renders quicker then Mac Pro 12 core.

 

From My experience, Maxwell scales linearly as you add processors. The more cores you throw at it, the faster she moves. 

 

For Maxwell, I've opted in two directions... For projects when I have a touch more time, I loop four machines to pool their CPU's (Maxwell is all CPU based, for now, atleast). That yields pretty good time for my desired resolution and detail needs. 

 

For really big or short turn around projects, I always keep some credits with Rebus RenderFarm, and that allows me to render off site without tying up my CPU's. Very handy if you ever have to work remotely with a laptop.

 

Trying to churn out big renders or animations in a single machine using Maxwell is going to be expensive because you'll be chasing the fastest newest chips which are always sold at a massive premium. 

 

Daisy chaining a few slightly older processors (my personal fave is buying older Mac Mini's (esp the 2012-2013's that have quad core i7's) off of Kijiji....) is a really economical way to crank out renders in a cost effective way. If you really want to be cost effective, buy old Dell Servers. I still have four old Dell 5740's with dual quad-core Xeon processors. They sell on average for a couple of hundred bucks, and the render speed is comparable to a quad core i7 (circa 2014) for a fraction of the price of a mac.

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To answer you question about Octane, d_b.... It is blazing fast. But there are some drawbacks to be aware of.

 

the learning curve is a little steep. This is not an integrated renderer for FormZ as of yet (I REALLY, REALLY hope that will change soon...) which means your workflow needs to change. You're not modeling, lighting, texturing and then "hit the render button".... 

 

Octane is used as a stand alone with FormZ, which means you model in FormZ, but then export to OBJ and pick up the lighting, texturing and rendering in Octane. This can make incremental adjustments to your design a little more complicated. What I've found eases this is exporting your model as separate elements you then reassemble into your scene in Octane. That way if you swap out one coffee table for another, it's as simple as updating that import.

 

Also, if you're looking at Octane to really be FAST, you're looking at some pricey Nvidia CUDA video cards. They're WAY cheaper than the Quadro cards aimed at scientific calculations.... but you're still looking at minimally a card worth around $800. For that price though, you get hundreds of processors working in parallel to chomp through the raytracing. I have three top of the line cards in a BIG enclosure (these things run HOT, really hot) and my renders (3000 x 2000 pixels on average) take a minute on average, never more than five if there are lots of reflective surfaces. The renders are never "finished" because the processors keep refining until you are satisfied.... but most of the time, I can deliver a 90-second render and have satisfied clients.

 

Final caveat about Octane, it uses UV mapping... and this is a departure from the planar mapping i have been used to for years.... be aware you will be relearning some really basic skills.... but at the end of the exercise you will be a stronger 3D professional. 

 

One last detail... you mentioned not having an Nvidia card on your Mac. I was able to work around this by buying a MBP 15" Retina which comes with an Nvidia Card along with the Iris graphics on the CPU. It's not the MOST blazingly fast GPU, but it allows me to do all my work on the Mac platform I trust, and then use a PC beast to provide the raw horsepower to chomp through the real renders. Not 100% elegant, but until Apple stops ignoring professional users, it's the best option I've been able to assemble.

Edited by David Lemelin

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I use a 5,1 12 core Mac Pro (the last tower prior to the trash can).   I have used i7 iMacs as well.   Though the rendering speed isn't quite what it is vs my Pro  it still was quite adequate.

 

Agreed on the Trash can.  it has been 3 years since Apple has updated it.  Though, then again, it took them forever to come out with a real update from the previous model.  I personally think 3k is too much for the bottom of the line model (4 cores)

 

Caveats for any mac.

 

iMacs:  Get a solid state drive for an internal, and if you are going to run spinning drives, make them all external.

             Spinning drives just suck, and they are never going to get better.  The latest iMacs are a huge pain to get apart, and unless you have a die cut

             double stick tape and template, a monumental pain to put back together again.  (the previous gen was put together with magnets and torx screws)

 

Previous Gen MacPro:  This version is now 4 years old.   Apple considers computers to be VINTAGE at 5 years.  This being said, they recently turned a 7

year iMac and a 6 year Mac mini vintage (to my knowledge, this is the first time they have done this, technology is slowing down and I suspect this is why the vintage cycle on these machines was extended)

 

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-------

 

Current Gen MacPro:  You cannot put extra HD's in.  Still is using the v2 of the Thunderbold for external equipment and v2 

             equipment are stupid expensive.   Wait to see if they diminish this model altogether, or if they update it with the 

             type C connector.    Price.

 

Hackintosh:   This is probably what I will do for my next machine.   

                      You can have the equive of a top of the line iMac for $500-$700 (sans display).  

                      The caveat here is, you will always be chasing software updates. And will never know when a new OS will break 

                       it all together.

 

 

I agree with Tech,  a solid mid model machine is the way to go.  Even with Tech (mostly processor tech)  slowing down, everybody seems way too proud for their modest speed bump top of the line.

 

 

Rendering:    More cores = better rendering time, as this is one of the few places more cores actually do you any good

                      Some video rendering use multiple cores, few photoshop filters do.  running (with active processes) multiple 

                      apps at the same time.

 

Modeling:      a better video card here is what will impress the most.

                      If you find yourself to be more of a modeler, then get a mid machine with a solid to kick ass video card.

 

Rendering:     David Lemelin's suggestion is probably the best if you hit the rendering hard.

                      Get the same machine as you would for modeling,  then get a second or more as rendering machines.

                      Cheap to moderate PC's would do well for this.  and probably give you a further life expectancy for the $$$.

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From My experience, Maxwell scales linearly as you add processors. The more cores you throw at it, the faster she moves. 

 

For Maxwell, I've opted in two directions... For projects when I have a touch more time, I loop four machines to pool their CPU's (Maxwell is all CPU based, for now, atleast). That yields pretty good time for my desired resolution and detail needs. 

 

For really big or short turn around projects, I always keep some credits with Rebus RenderFarm, and that allows me to render off site without tying up my CPU's. Very handy if you ever have to work remotely with a laptop.

 

Trying to churn out big renders or animations in a single machine using Maxwell is going to be expensive because you'll be chasing the fastest newest chips which are always sold at a massive premium. 

 

Daisy chaining a few slightly older processors (my personal fave is buying older Mac Mini's (esp the 2012-2013's that have quad core i7's) off of Kijiji....) is a really economical way to crank out renders in a cost effective way. If you really want to be cost effective, buy old Dell Servers. I still have four old Dell 5740's with dual quad-core Xeon processors. They sell on average for a couple of hundred bucks, and the render speed is comparable to a quad core i7 (circa 2014) for a fraction of the price of a mac.

 

David,

 

When you're using Mac Mini's or the old Dell Servers, how much time do you estimate it saves you?  Say you have a render that might take 1 hour to complete on your machine.  If you use 2 additional Mac Mini's (the quad core i7's), does it do it twice as fast?  Or is it time saving because you can still work on your machine while doing the network render?

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Be aware that you should not use 12 cores on a Mac Pro (this has 24 processors) render zone renders faster if you limit the rendering to 6 processors. Not sure if Maxwell or Thea utilizes 12 cores. Any member experience? We have a Mac Mini at studio with i7 quad core & renders quicker then Mac Pro 12 core.

 

Dennis,

 

I ended up purchasing a 2010 Mac Pro Tower about 3 months ago (an actual 2010, not a flashed 2009 or earlier).  It's been upgraded with 2 x 3.46Ghz 6-core Intel Xeon processors and uses DDR3 Ram.  

 

When I first got the machine, I did several small test renders to see which would be the best set-up (all in V6 - I still don't like V8.5).  I didn't notice the slowdown that you mention.  In fact, if I limited the processors to 6 instead of 24, my render times increased by more than double.  A five minute render with the 24 processors would take over 11 minutes with 6 processors.  Maybe this because of the dual processor?

 

I do know that when it's chugging on a render, my little office get's uncomfortably warm.  Wish I could do something about that.

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-------

 

Current Gen MacPro:  You cannot put extra HD's in.  Still is using the v2 of the Thunderbold for external equipment and v2 

             equipment are stupid expensive.   Wait to see if they diminish this model altogether, or if they update it with the 

             type C connector.    Price.

 

Hackintosh:   This is probably what I will do for my next machine.   

                      You can have the equive of a top of the line iMac for $500-$700 (sans display).  

                      The caveat here is, you will always be chasing software updates. And will never know when a new OS will break 

                       it all together.

 

 

I agree with Tech,  a solid mid model machine is the way to go.  Even with Tech (mostly processor tech)  slowing down, everybody seems way too proud for their modest speed bump top of the line.

 

 

Rendering:    More cores = better rendering time, as this is one of the few places more cores actually do you any good

                      Some video rendering use multiple cores, few photoshop filters do.  running (with active processes) multiple 

                      apps at the same time.

 

Modeling:      a better video card here is what will impress the most.

                      If you find yourself to be more of a modeler, then get a mid machine with a solid to kick ass video card.

 

Rendering:     David Lemelin's suggestion is probably the best if you hit the rendering hard.

                      Get the same machine as you would for modeling,  then get a second or more as rendering machines.

                      Cheap to moderate PC's would do well for this.  and probably give you a further life expectancy for the $$$.

 

Chris,

 

I almost went the Hackintosh route, but decided to play it safe for now.  I ended up purchasing a 2010 2 x 3.46Ghz 6 core mac pro.  So far, it's been ok.  I was hoping the rendering speeds would be faster.  While it is over 2x faster than my previous iMac, I was hoping for a little more gain, especially considering the GeekBench scores of each computer (~7800 for the iMac and ~30,000 for the Mac Pro).

 

My biggest complaint is how hot the machine runs, even when I'm not doing intensive work.  I've been holding off on updating the graphics card because of the heat issue.  I didn't realize about Apple marking computers obsolete until I talked to my local computer shop to see what I could do to cool things down and found out that mine was marked as obsolete and they weren't allowed to work on it (since they were an authorized Apple dealer).  

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What heat issue?  is the computer powering off on you? (as is should if it gets an overtemp from one of it's sensors)

Or, just gets hot in the office?

 

What OS do you have on it?  What video card does it have?

 

Benchmarks tend to focus on a single type of task, where rendering is using many that only some would use those specific that are tested for.

 

Does the computer lag in other places, or just when modeling?  Spinning beach ball?  if so,  get  https://www.volitans-software.com/apps/smart-utility/

to test your hard drive/s (internal)   A failing HD is a common culprit for system wide lags.

 

As mentioned by Tech, with technology moving as fast as it does,  Apple Cannot get parts for older machines, which is why the turn their status to vintage.

(By Law they have 7 years in California, or so I was told when I worked at the Fruit Stand)

 

Cheers!

¢£

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What heat issue?  is the computer powering off on you? (as is should if it gets an overtemp from one of it's sensors)

Or, just gets hot in the office?

 

What OS do you have on it?  What video card does it have?

 

Benchmarks tend to focus on a single type of task, where rendering is using many that only some would use those specific that are tested for.

 

Does the computer lag in other places, or just when modeling?  Spinning beach ball?  if so,  get  https://www.volitans-software.com/apps/smart-utility/

to test your hard drive/s (internal)   A failing HD is a common culprit for system wide lags.

 

As mentioned by Tech, with technology moving as fast as it does,  Apple Cannot get parts for older machines, which is why the turn their status to vintage.

(By Law they have 7 years in California, or so I was told when I worked at the Fruit Stand)

 

Cheers!

¢£

 

Chris,

 

The computer doesn't shut off, just makes it hot in the office.  For instance, this afternoon I've only been using my email app along Word and Excel, but the machine continues to run very warm.  It doesn't seem to lag in other areas.  I've seen some posts about using apps to control the internal fans to help with the cooling.  I'll probably look into those and see if they actually help.  I'm extremely warm natured and I'm located in the Southern US where it's very hot and humid during the warmer months, so having a hot running machine just adds to the misery. :-)

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Obviously many mac fans here.....I've been thinking of getting something like this:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B013VTRR6Q/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=1EOZ8DPV4FDV6&coliid=I2IXP5ZXAMNEE

 

That's quite a saving....tho' refurbished (manufacturer) I think it blows an imac out of the water....I'd be interested to see your thoughts.

 

I may build my own along similar lines.

 

Martin

Edited by Martin Malinski

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This era of free, major OS updates, has seemed  troublesome to me.  I love the deeper aspects of prototyping but  prototypes (like OS), demand a lot of attention to maintenance. This maintenance-mindedness interferes with deeper right brained geometric thinking.

I get a small relief dedicating a whole, smaller SSD to just formZ and using the Macmini second HD socket for two primary HDs… My minis are old now, i went ahead and cut out the front wall of the Macminis, to make plentiful HD spaces…  I still have a Cinema display from the mid 1990s!  Why create bigger land fill dumps full of toxins, (here and in Asia, from manufacturing obsolescence?)  

 

I have compared OSX Lion to newer OSX but think Lion (10.7.5) is best and fastest for multi tasking,  with light rendering for modeling. Once the system works well, time machine it for jumpstarting new drives, (using old rpm drives for storage space, trough USB, detached after uses).
 

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D_B

 

The heat is essentially from friction generated by the electrical current running in your computer.  

So just ramping up the fans, may keep the machine cooler, only because it is dumping it into the office faster.

You would do better, dumping the heat outside with an air duct.

 

¢£

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D_B

 

I have the same computer ... (2) 3.46ghz 6-Core Mac Pro but mine has a GTX 680.  Mine runs very cool and quiet, though I am in a colder climate than you and keep my office around 68*.   I noticed after upgrading the graphics card to a GTX680 that the machine ran cooler and quieter than the old 5770 Radeon, which are known to be hot, power hogs.   Also, I keep my desktop on top of my desk, rather than on the floor or under a desk where it can get extremely dusty and hot in a short amount of time.  If your fans and heatsinks get covered in dust, they will be much less effective and can cause overheating issues.  Its quite easy to keep these clean, but if you do not feel comfortable, any computer professional should be able to handle that for you.  

 

I have not had any trouble with this workhorse Mac Pro, which is a lot more than I can say for the stupid trash can Mac Pros or the iMacs, which all seem to have overheating issues when running hours and hours of rendering.  I hardly even hear the fans on my Mac Pro when rendering either, so if you are hearing them run loudly, often, I would look first at the video card and see if you can upgrade it to a lower powered, but higher performing NVIDIA unit.  Second I would look and make sure the machine is clean of dust, including the fan blades, which need to be cleaned with alcohol every couple of years.  Do not use compressed air on the fans without holding the fans from spinning, as you can overspin the bearings and cause the fan to become very loud and eventually fail.  If someone did this to your Mac in the past, that could be the cause of your additional noise and heat.

 

Hope this helps!

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